Friday, 1 February 2013

Freedom Bookshop

When I saw this picture I started shaking. It's Freedom Bookshop in  London, reported as being firebombed at 5.30 this morning. There was nobody injured and tomorrow, Saturday, people are going to help start with the clean up. I have yet to make contact with Andy or any of the others at Freedom but this picture and others have been whizzing round the globe and offers of support, solidarity and money are being posted and, I hope, being sent in. Whatever the insurance position the shop will need the support of radicals of every hue. Freedom Bookshop has been the main anarchist bookshop in London for as long as I can remember. I've read the magazine Freedom off and on since the early 1970s. For a period I used to sell it, and Peace News, on demonstrations and have written for it from time to time. I subscribed to its sister journal Raven and have most copies of its earlier sister journal, Anarchy, which was edited by my late friend and colleague Colin Ward, many of whose books we have published over the years. Five Leaves has also published a book of essays by Nicolas Walter, who, like Colin, was an editor of Freedom and I've bought many Freedom-published books over the years.
Naturally, over the years, politics change and the people around the Freedom empire change. I know the worker Andy Meikle a bit and accept that the shop has priorities other than "Colin Wardism" but any political differences we or anyone else on the left might have with Freedom have to be put to one side. Five Leaves will be offering what support we can, money and stock. It is almost not worth saying that an attack on Freedom Bookshop is an attack on us all.
And the other reason is that I was at Mushroom Bookshop in Nottingham when it was physically attacked by fascists and have many friends who have withstood similar attacks in other bookshops, including attempted arson attacks. The only arson attack at Mushroom was when someone put burning rags into the letterbox on the overnight gate (the letterbox was not on the shop for security reasons), it burned but fell outwards into the street and little damage was done. Others were less lucky.
At the moment there is no word of any signature attached to the incident but whatever the reason or background we will be expressing our solidarity with Freedom in every way we can.

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