An infoshop is a cross between a radical bookstore and a movement archive. Activists go there to read or buy movement literature; buy paraphenalia such as stickers, masks and spray paint; attend meetings, lectures or films; or just plain hang out.
Infoshops are prevalent in Europe, especially in Germany where there are over sixty. They form a decentralized information network, distributing magazines, flyers etc. to local activists and providing information about local activities to other infoshops. Many papers are produced at infoshops and distributed through the infoshop network. When urgent communication is needed, in cases of a state crackdown or fascist attack. Infoshops can call or fax other infoshops who can then mobilize local activists.
The infoshop network is an important part of autonomist left movements in many European countries. Infoshops meet twice a year European wide. At these gatherings infoshop collectives see what other groups are doing, exchange information, and discuss strategy and theory.
Most infoshops rent their space, but many are in squats. Others use part of a cafe or center. Some are run by one collective, while others have a different group in charge each day. None of them have paid positions. Most infoshops have a women-only day either weekly or monthly.
In addition to the groups running the infoshop, other groups use it as a meeting place, and as a mailing address. The latter is especially useful for security reasons. Instead of using a private address, which can be dangerous because of fascists and police repression, groups can have a mailbox at an infoshop. If the group has problems with their mail being open or stolen, they can use a double envelope: inner addressed to the group and outer to the infoshop.
Infoshops could play a useful role here as well. With all the anarchist and leftist papers around, no one person can get them all. Infoshops, receiving numerous movement papers, would help keep the movement better informed. Infoshops can be equipped with a telephone, fax, or computer, making communications that much easier between groups. And infoshops serve the role of a movement center, building community and facilitating action.
This originally appeared in:
700 Eshleman Hall
Berkeley, CA 94702