Owner of Toronto's anti-capitalist cafe responds to backlash about the concept
A Toronto cafe that proudly declares itself anti-capitalist is getting lots of reaction right now, so much so that the owner has had to respond.
The Anarchist Cafe on Jarvis St. bills itself as "an anti-capitalist cafe, shop and radical community space on stolen land."
This new cafe in Toronto is proudly anti-capitalist ☕️ #Toronto #TorontoCafe pic.twitter.com/5yPvwyIR0Q— blogTO (@blogTO) May 23, 2022
"The owner is a rich white guy from Vancouver who opened up a coffee shop in a low-income neighbourhood," a stitch on TikTok responds, relabelling the business entirely.
"Both videos as well as this comment section is the absolute worst thing that exists on TikTok," someone responded in a comment which got close to 200 likes.
Nothing says anti-cap like charging $10 for a cup of coffee— Archon.exe 🧀𓃰 (@ArchonOf) May 25, 2022
Viva la revolution
Obviously the mission statement of the cafe is divisive to say the least. On May 30, Anarchist Cafe owner Gabriel Sims-Fewer posted a statement to the Instagram for the business titled "Dear Leftists." He's also added a "Frequently Asked Questions" section to the cafe's website.
I mean...seriously...how does this even work? If he's anti-capitalist then how can he justify charging money for anything?— Harley Mitchell (@HarleyMitchy) May 25, 2022
The post thanks "hundreds" who have "expressed completely undeserved praise" and feel like "genuine friends and coconspirators," as well as people who have been "asking important and critical questions."
for an "anti-capitalist" charging $4.75 for a donut or a cookie seems like a bit much pic.twitter.com/JHiJ1fjpvK— H word from CIVIC-TV and //MOVIES (@Hwordname) May 24, 2022
It then goes on to call out "leftists," saying "if you're too cynical to hope that someone might be legit," "...get f---ed."
"I've got a lot of of patience for the idiots who don't even know what capitalism is, and are deeply submerged in their Stockholm-syndrome, but leftists whose main form of political engagement is trying to drag down other leftists are inexcusable," Sims-Fewer wrote in a comment on his own post.
So all their stuff is free, I take it?— ŠarŠarrāni (@Nebuchadnezzar9) May 24, 2022
I mean,you wouldn’t want to engage in capitalism by charging money. That’d me hypocritical.
Sims-Fewer says the environment he experiences at the cafe in person differs a lot from the online reactions.
"I've honestly been taken aback by the number and diversity of the people who have not only wanted to check the place out, but have gone out of their way to tell me how excited they are by the idea, and how much they support what I'm doing," Sims-Fewer tells blogTO.
"There's been a spree of people who've never actually be to the place spamming the google reviews with one star, but my entire goal is to oppose fundamental things about the status quo of this society and the world it's in, so if I'm not pissing people off on the internet I'm definitely not doing what I set out to."
He says he gets lots of messages asking if he's hiring, expressing support, asking what he's doing and how he's doing it, and from other leftist small businesses expressing encouragement.
"I've gotten a few Instagram comments and emails by people who either don't know what capitalism is, and therefore can't understand what it means to oppose a system while also having no choice but to exist in that system, and generally just trolls who are part and parcel of what the internet and social media have done to communication," says Sims-Fewer.
Being anti capitalism is like being anti oxygen.— Nogovozach (@nogovozach) May 24, 2022
He hopes to continue moving forward with hosting events, meetings and book clubs at the space, and finding ways to collaborate with local activists and organizers, and contribute to the community.
"My initial three months of work is barely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I'd like the place to be, so I'm just going to keep gradually trying to make it better," says Sims-Fewer.
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