Firestorm Bookstore Co-op is a collectively-owned radical bookstore and community event space in Asheville, North Carolina that describes itself as an essentially anti-capitalist business, in as much as they can be.
And on May 7, someone smashed their through their window and robbed the cash register. (They also behind a live bird, although it's possible the bird also entered later.)
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Well, someone did a crime. 🤔 This morning our co-operative was robbed. Someone smashed in the front door, emptied the register, and left behind a live bird (also totally possible that the bird came in separately). Hopefully they also took a good book, because they definitely didn't leave with a lot of money. Y'all, the anarchist bookstore is not sitting on piles of cash. 🙄 Crime elsewhere! . This is not a great time to take a financial hit, but we're OK. We got a lot of text messages from folks who saw the mess and were concerned <3. If anyone wants to help us cover the losses (looks like about $150 in cash plus $450 in physical damage) now would be a cool time to buy a book or five. . Also, no, we didn't call the police. There really isn't anything that law enforcement could do for us that we can't do for ourselves and if someone is desperate enough to risk their freedom for $150, maybe we've all failed them. It's tough feeling vulnerable, and seeing our storefront broken open brought up a lot of emotions, including anger—but incarceration isn't justice and punishment can only multiply harm.
I've written here before to mention that I perform lengthy sets of Irish folk music around St. Patrick's Day*, and there are quite a few of those popular pub songs that include (well-deserved, IMHO) shout-outs to James Connolly, a stalwart champion of workers' rights who was executed by British soldiers after the 1916 Easter Rising. As I get older, I haven't found myself getting more conservative, like the Boomers told me I would; instead, I find myself realizing more and more that James Connolly was right about a damn lot of things.
One of my favorite writings of his — which I find I reference in casual conversation more than I should probably admit — is this piece on the differences between "state monopolies" and "socialism." Originally published in the June 10, 1899 issue of Workers’ Republic, this short essay impressively articulates the differences between centralized government control of a society, and what it means to actually put that ownership into collective public hands.
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Socialism properly implies above all things the co-operative control by the workers of the machinery of production; without this co-operative control the public ownership by the State is not Socialism – it is only State capitalism. The demands of the middle-class reformers, from the Railway Reform League down, are simply plans to facilitate the business transactions of the capitalist class. State Telephones – to cheapen messages in the interest of the middle class who are the principal users of the telephone system; State Railways – to cheapen carriage of goods in the interest of the middle-class trader; State-construction of piers, docks, etc.
Former tech worker Kshama Sawant (previously) won an unprecedented victory in 2013 by running for Seattle city council as on the Socialist Alternative ticket, raising unprecedented sums in small-money donations, and then winning the election after a last-minute surge in the polls.
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