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Physical space is the focus for the left once again

For many, the firebombing of the Freedom Press anarchist bookshop in Whitechapel last month was shocking – not only in its vicious nature, but also in the revelation that London still had such an institution.

But as the Press struggle to get the pamphlets moving once again, the incident offers a more potent message to the new left-wing cafe and cultural space Firebox: just how difficult it is for fringe left spaces to survive, especially in the modern day.

Once London was littered with radical bookshops and community centres, but they are few and far between these days. It looked like a downward spiral to zero – until Counterfire, the political and cultural project that developed after a split from the Socialist Workers’ Party in 2010, acquired a shopfront in King’s Cross and established London’s first radical cafe in decades.

It’s gone from strength to strength, serving lattes and dissent in equal measure. This month, they are offering a 10 per cent discount for Camden council workers. The upcoming programme includes a May Day comedy fundraiser featuring Stuart Lee and more.

Yet in view of the attacks on the Freedom Press, they are already fundraising for basic security precautions such as shutters and an alarm system. Pledges from £5 upwards can get you a series of Firebox perks, from free entry to events to signed books to walking tours.

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