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Bloomsbury socialist bookshop attacked by far-right supporters

Trump trolls trash bookshop; Forbes library editorial gets a grilling; how now, #HAUtalk; Theresa May’s many, many cookbooks. Welcome back to A Week In Book News.

Trump supporters attack bookshop; UKIP suspends members

History is not short of stories of books destroyed by tyrants and mobs. Last Saturday, Trump supporters took it upon themselves to rearrange the Bookmarks Marxist workshop in Bloomsbury, London. They turned up in MAGA-style red baseball hats, destroyed books, shouted abuse at staff and waved placards.

According to the staff, the attackers didn’t seem to get what the books are about.

Today, far-right party UKIP announced it has suspended three members over the incident.

Bookmarks is run by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). It also happens to be the official bookseller of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), located around the corner from the bookshop on Great Russell Street.

Great Russell Street is not just home to the TUC but also to the British Museum which was formerly the old British Library. Karl Marx was a member. No doubt he formed his views whilst poring over some copies in the library.

“The Communist Manifesto” is in circulation but we live in a democracy. Why would anyone feel threatened by a bookshop in Bloomsbury dedicated to the philosophies of labour – even if they are Marxist? Marxism is just one of the many schools of thought that examine the politics of economy and labour production.

Unless you think that social equality and labour rights are concepts exclusive to Marxism – and you are opposed to those ideas anyway.

More about Bookmarks

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Forbes: sod the libraries, let’s use Amazon for books

In late July 2018, Forbes published – and then retracted – an article written by Panos Mourdoukoutas recommending Amazon to replace libraries to save taxpayers’ money.

Mourdoukoutas writes on business and investment strategy for Forbes. He is also Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post, an American university.

Forbes is known for its sponsored articles and lack of rigour in journalism, so it’s only fair that the book-loving public stuck their oar in and gave Forbes and Mourdokoutas a piece of their mind:

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How now, #HAUtalk?

The social media storm over the allegations of bullying and professional misconduct at HAU Journal, the anthropology publication based at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) seems to have died down.

But it has opened a dialogue over the politics and opaque managerial structure within anthropology, the combative attitude of anthropologists, the less-than-ideal career path, the pointless hierarchies, the financial destitution as well as the nepotism and the bullying which are prevalent not only in that field but also in academic publishing and postgraduate schools in and out of the UK.

It pains us, as an anthropology postgrad, to follow #HAUtalk on Twitter and to follow the arguments on various blogs. Many of us have experienced what’s been discussed, many of us have seen the professors going at each other in seminars and many of us are aware of the wrongdoings. Many of us have careers not dependent on anthropology, so we brushed it aside as “just another postgrad experience” and moved on. It is sad when you respect an academic for his or her works, and then you are told over dinner by a trusted fellow postgrad that so-and-so is a jerk. Until #HAUTalk happened, nobody bothered telling the emperor he has no clothes on – and that he’s really out of shape.

To outsiders, it is odd given that the ability to seamlessly blend with informants in ‘foreign’ cultures over a long period of time is a plus in that field. Anthropologists get on with their informants but not with each other.

We don’t know much about Giovanni da Col and David Graeber. The only recollection we have of da Col was him rolling his eyes when we asked Graeber a question da Col thought was naff. That was at a talk organised by HAU Books at SOAS a couple of years back.

But that’s not enough information to go by. We enjoyed that particular talk on Roberte Hamayon’s book, “Why we play”, thinking that the insights given by Michael Puett, Carlo Severi and Graeber were informative for our works on labour in fintech and banking. We came for the knowledge and we weren’t disappointed.

If anthropologists don’t sort themselves out, then how are they going to be of use in policy making? By indulging in polemics, what use is their wealth of knowledge to society when Western political leaders fan the flame of racism, fascists attack bookshops in broad daylight and a hackney horse economist suggests on Forbes that libraries are a waste of space?

We need you to be clever, anthropologists.

About HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory

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Theresa May’s cookbooks

If you’ve been following our blog and social media posts, you’d know that Story Of Books chill out by reading kid’s fictions, novellas, novels and comic books. Lately, it’s comic books. We’ve been doing some water colouring.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on national television that she relaxes by watching the crime TV series NCIS and cooking. She has some 150 cookbooks.

The public responds:


2 comments on “Bloomsbury socialist bookshop attacked by far-right supporters

  1. Pingback: Five Minutes With: Matt Voigts, Journalist & Researcher, Digital Privacy

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