What’s Your Shelf?

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Powell’s, a huge Portland, Ore. bookstore, is the only one I know that sorts political titles by the topic”ideology.” It offers an expansive acreage of books on pinks and reds; territory a quarter that size for conservative books, a similar zone for books on “radical right and fascist” topics (anti-KKK and anti-militia, mostly), and the two smallest areas: libertarian and anarchist. As I poked around I noticed a constant stream of browsers, men and women in their 20s, all casually dressed, all studious. Their interest was the anarchist shelf. And only part of that: a volume of Max Stirner, and another of the individualist anarchists of the 19th century, remained untouched. Their fascination was the new stuff by authors I had never heard of, railing against globalization and the WTD. The whole time I was there, only one person went to the “leftism” shelves, and he finally came· to me asking about Michael Parenti, a rabid anti-capitalist I’d sometimes heard on NPR, and Noam Chomsky. Another left-anarchist. Gad. I decided it was time to leave.

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