Owner of Toronto’s anti-capitalist cafe reacts to backlash over concept


A Toronto café that proudly declares itself anti-capitalist is getting a lot of reactions right now, so much so that the owner had to react.

The Anarchist Cafe on Jarvis St. bills itself as “an anti-capitalist cafe, shop and radical community space on stolen land.”

“The owner is a wealthy white man from Vancouver who opened a cafe in a low-income neighborhood,” a point on TikTok responds, fully relabeling the business.

“Both videos plus this comment section are the worst thing there is on TikTok,” someone replied in a comment that got nearly 200 likes.

Clearly, the cafe’s mission statement is controversial to say the least. On May 30, Anarchist Cafe owner Gabriel Sims-Fewer posted a statement on Instagram for the company titled “Dear Leftists.” It also added a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to the cafe’s website.

The message thanks “hundreds” who have “expressed completely undeserved praise” and feel like “true friends and co-conspirators”, as well as people who have “asked important and critical questions”.

He then proceeds to call out “leftists”, saying “if you’re too cynical to hope someone might be legit”, “…fuck you”.

“I have a lot of patience for idiots who don’t even know what capitalism is and who are deeply overwhelmed by their Stockholm Syndrome, but leftists whose primary form of political engagement is trying to drag other leftists are inexcusable,” Sims-Fewer wrote in a comment on her own post.

Sims-Fewer says the environment he experiences at the cafe in person differs a lot from reactions online.

“Honestly, I was surprised by the number and diversity of people who not only wanted to check the place out, but went out of their way to tell me how excited they were about the idea and how they were supportive of what I do,” Sims-Fewer told blogTO.

“There have been a series of people who have never gone out there to spam reviews of Google with a star, but my goal is to take issue with some fundamental things about the status quo of this society and the world in which she happens to be, so if I’m not pissing people off on the internet, I’m definitely not doing what I set out to do.”

He says he gets a lot of messages asking if he’s hiring, expressing support, asking what he’s doing and how he’s doing it, and other left-leaning small businesses expressing encouragement.

“I’ve had a few Instagram comments and emails from people who don’t know what capitalism is, and therefore can’t understand what it means to oppose a system while having no other choice. than to exist in this system, and usually just trolls that are part and parcel of what the internet and social media have done to communication,” says Sims-Fewer.

He hopes to keep moving forward by hosting events, meetings and book clubs in the space, and finding ways to collaborate with local activists and organizers and contribute to the community.

“My first three months on the job are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I’d like the place to be, so I’m going to keep trying to improve it incrementally,” Sims-Fewer says.


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