Jacinda Ardern: No Friend of the Working Class

Credit: pinknews.co.uk

Since her resignation in January, a lot has been said about the record of Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party and the impact of her leadership. Many in the media have given her high praise. ‘Progressive’ media have been particularly laudatory. The Guardian, for instance, declared that she had won the public’s admiration through her “empathy” and “decisiveness”. Similarly, current Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took to Twitter to comment that she had “showed the world how to lead with intellect and strength”. 

While it is true that Ardern’s popularity has dwindled (and that her reputation as a bold leader of a progressive government is wholly unearned), the right wing press has predictably failed to offer a convincing critique of her legacy. Instead, as usual, they have opted to spew standard reactionary talking points. 

The reality is that Ardern’s Labour Party managed capitalism in Aotearoa (NZ) in the interests of the ruling class. When the progressive myth-making about her government is put aside, we find that her record in office is one which demonstrates the bankruptcy of parliamentary politics as a vehicle for change (let alone overthrowing capitalism!)

An Economy That Works and Delivers (For Capitalists)

Upon becoming Prime Minister, Ardern stated that the Labour Party must pursue “An economy that works and delivers for all New Zealanders”. In one session of parliament she sparked both praise and outrage by declaring herself to be a “democratic socialist” (although she prefers “progressive”). Identifying as a ‘democratic socialist’ seems to mean less and less with each passing day. When considered in the context of Ardern’s Labour government the emptiness of the label takes on new levels of absurdity.

Take, for instance, the New Zealand Labour Party’s promise under Ardern to reverse the austerity measures introduced in the National Party’s 1991 budget. Pushed through by leader Ruth Richardson in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’, this budget drastically cut the unemployment wage, sick leave benefits, family income support measures, and increased fees for supposedly ‘free’ schools and hospitals. On top of this, the old public housing system was placed under new corporate management. These unpopular measures would only serve to increase inequality and generally diminish the standard of living for a generation. 

Ardern’s Labour government failed to reverse this assault on the working class in Aotearoa. Her actual record would even ultimately disappoint many advocacy groups which had initially been enthused by her election. Far from pushing the programme of radical reform they had hoped for, Ardern’s government showed great consistency with its predecessors. Her final budget followed the usual pattern, consisting of a measly one off payment of $350 for those earning under $70,000, a temporary reduction in fuel duties and public transport costs, and vague support for the creation of ‘employment opportunities’. 

Education saw an increase in funding in the form of continued building projects, but absent from Ardern’s budget was any  plan to reduce of student fees (or, more importantly, their abolition). Ardern also did little to reverse the effects of a corporatised public housing scheme, with the Labour Party pledging to increase public funding, without fundamentally altering the structure of Aotearoa’s housing policy. According to Labour’s own ‘budget at a glance’, the major achievement of the budget, and Labour’s management of the economy, was the implementation of ‘fiscal discipline’.

Ihumatao struggle Credit: newshub.co.nz

Tino rangatiratanga? Same old same old

Jacinda Ardern made a speciality of combining symbolic progressive gestures with the continuation of Right wing policies in practice and nowhere was this more blatant than in the treatment of Maori people. She got high marks from Maori leaders for spending five days with them during and after the Waitangi Day ceremonies in 2018, but working class Maori people never saw any benefit from it. When push came to shove in the struggle over Ihumatao in Tamaki Makaurau/Aukland, it was Ardern’s police that showed up to act as thugs for the capitalist property developer. The struggle for tino rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty, which has never been ceded) continues, with no discernible difference from the days of National governments.

The Hypocrisy of the “Be Kind” Government

Just as the idea of Ardern as an ‘economic populist’ is in stark contrast to her actual record, the image of her government as being defined by ‘kindness’ is hardly appropriate. Amidst the worst of the  Covid crisis, her government dedicated 5 billion dollars worth of taxpayer money to business bailouts. Meanwhile, the average worker, having lost up to 70% of their pay, could expect only a 25 dollar per week increase to core social security payments. When adjusted for inflation this ‘increase’ isn’t even enough to make up for  the cuts made in the 1991 Richardson budget. A 6 month rent holiday was also initially declared, but after this all that the government could muster was a pitiful plea that individual landlords should give ‘security to tenants’ during the crisis. 

Lowest of all is the Ardern government’s treatment of nurses. The Labour Party government allowed migrant nurses to enter the country at the height of the Covid pandemic as essential workers under temporary residency, with the idea being that after fighting off and saving the country from one of the worst pandemics in history they were going to be deported. It was only due to the campaigning of the National Nurses Union and other solidarity campaigners that the rights of these ‘essential workers’ were defended from the immigration policy of Ardern’s Labour Party.

Anti-Nuclear, Pro-War

At the beginning of her tenure as Prime Minister, Ardern stated that fighting climate change was her generation’s ‘nuclear free moment’. But as the climate activist Greta Thunberg has pointed out, in 2019 Aotearoa’s carbon emissions increased by 2%, and increased again in 2022 by 1.7%.

In fact, Ardern seems to have also missed the point of the Aotearoa ‘Nuclear free movement’. In 1984, Aotearoa declared itself to be nuclear free following large anti-war demonstrations. Ardern, however, clearly does not align herself with the anti-war and anti-imperialist nature of that movement. While previous governments had indirectly supported NATO by supplying funds, as in the lead up to the invasion of Afghanistan, Ardern was the first Aotearoa Prime Minister to formally meet with the organisation.

Ardern used her address to this imperialist alliance (largely run by the United States) to claim Aotearoa’s support for ‘standing firm’ against China. In other words, Ardern has nothing in common with the anti-war movement she claims to be inspired by. Her record has been one of aligning Aotearoa with American imperialism in a catastrophically dangerous rivalry with China. Neither alignment is in the interest of the working class, which must always be united across borders against our sabre rattling governments.

No Parliamentary Path to Social Change

The failure of Ardern’s Labour government to live up to her ‘democratic socialist’ (or even ‘progressive’) pretensions can’t be reduced to a simple matter of ‘betrayal’ or ‘neoliberal ideology’. The reforms implemented by Labour and Socialist parties all over the world have been under sustained attack for decades now, and the inability of their sincere adherents to reverse that trend is due to their fundamental misunderstanding of how social change occurs under capitalism. 

Workers’ rights, the welfare state, and other victories were never the result of electing ‘good politicians’ with ‘the right ideas’. They came as a result of an organised working class being able to hit bosses and governments where it hurts – the pocket. Through constant strike action, and the threat of socialist revolution, it became in the interests of capitalism as a system to allow left-wing governments to be elected, to concede reforms, and to divert working class anger into manageable channels. Many workers came to see parliament and arbitration processes for industrial disputes as a viable way to change the world. Ultimately, this integration of the workers’ movement into the State ended up sacrificing our real source of power: the ability of the rank and file to disrupt profit and defend its use of militant action.

In the late 1970s, left wing political parties were then faced with the same problem as right wing ones ― addressing the mounting crisis of profitability. If workers can win higher wages for less work; if there is a safety net which makes the threat of unemployment less of a cause for obedience among workers; the entire capitalism system becomes destabilised and is thrown into crisis. There is no solution to this within capitalism. The choice became social revolution or what we now call ‘neoliberalism’. Around the world, parties of every ideological position chose the latter.

Ardern’s Labour stood no chance to repeat the achievements of past Labour governments, because the real source of left wing reforms ― a large, militant workers’ movement outside of parliament ― does not exist. The working class of every country must rebuild this kind of movement if we want to change the world. And when the next crisis of profitability comes we will be faced by the same choice: undo all of our gains, or commit to overthrowing capitalism for good. We at the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group know which side we are on.


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Earthquake in Turkey, Syria and Kurdistan

International anarchist call for solidarity

The earthquakes of 6 February and their aftershocks have devastated entire regions. The death toll is in the tens of thousands and continues to rise. Access to water, electricity, gas, food and other basic necessities is reduced or non-existent for millions of people.

Our comrades in anarchist organisations, grassroots unions and popular organisations are working together and are directly involved in the relief efforts.

We are now launching a fundraising drive to support the work of these organisations.

The AKP regime prevents progressive organisations from collecting donations and providing much-needed relief and solidarity.

To give but one example: on the day of the earthquakes – in a show of solidarity known only by the workers and oppressed – the Independent Mine Workers’ Union immediately declared it was ready to send its members to the affected areas to help with search and rescue operations in the most critical 24 hours after the earthquakes. They were prevented from doing so for two days by the state.

A state which would prefer to have workers risking their lives underground, extracting profits for the ruling class rather than saving the lives of tens of thousands of people buried under the rubble of their own homes. Buried under buildings constructed by housing mafias that – with the complicity of the state, which neglects to enforce building codes and safety regulations – do whatever they can to reap a profit by ignoring safety standards and cutting costs; even if it costs tens of thousands of people their lives.

Humanitarian aid is confiscated and redistributed by the AKP and its Islamo-fascist offices. Fascists and their counterparts in the civil Police threaten to ‘disappear’ ordinary people working around the clock to feed and provide aid to those displaced by the earthquakes.

Clearly, the state and its supporters are more concerned with maintaining the capitalist system than savings the lives of tens of thousands. This is why they disrupt and delay grassroots solidarity and mutual aid.

In this horrific tragedy, which is still far from over, the system of state and capitalism are responsible for far more deaths and much more suffering than that caused by the earthquakes themselves. But we will wrap our open wounds in the solidarity of the workers and oppressed.

In order to guarantee the safety of our comrades we will not disclose the names of the organisations for which the donations are intended. They are anarchist organisations, grassroots unions and popular organisations with whom we already work and who have our full trust.

The donations are collected by our comrades in Switzerland who already have an international solidarity structure. In addition to our anarchist and trade unionist comrades, part of the donations will go to the Swiss branch of the Kurdistan Red Crescent (Heyva Sor).

Send your donations to:

Association pour la Promotion de la Solidarité Internationale (APSI)
Place Chauderon 5
1003 Lausanne

IBAN: CH84 0900 0000 1469 7613 8
Name of the Bank: PostFinance SA; Mingerstrasse 20; 3030 Bern; Switzerland

☆ Alternativa Libertaria (AL/FdCA) – Italy
☆ Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) – Aotearoa/New Zealand
☆ Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU) – Uruguay
☆ Embat, Organització Llibertària de Catalunya – Catalonia, Spain
☆ Libertäre Aktion (LA) – Switzerland
☆ Organisation Socialiste Libertaire (OSL) – Switzerland
☆ Grupo Libertario Vía Libre – Colombia
☆ Karala – Turkey
☆ Corodenação Anarquista Brasileira – Brazil
☆ Die Plattform – Germany
☆ Anarchist Yondae – South Korea
☆ Rusga Libertária – Brazil
☆ Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro (FARJ) – Brazil
☆ Organização Anarquista Socialismo Libertário (OASL) – Brazil
☆ Coletivo Mineiro Popular Anarquista (COMPA) – Brazil
☆ Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL) – France
☆ Tekoşîna Anarşîst (TA) – Rojava
☆ Federación Anarquista de Rosario (FAR) – Argentina
☆ Organización Anarquista de Cordoba (OAC) – Argentina
☆ Organización Anarquista de Tucumán (OAT) – Argentina
☆ Organización Anarquista de Santa Cruz (OASC) – Argentina
☆ Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra (BRRN) – United States
☆ Federación Anarquista Santiago (FAS) – Chile
☆ Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) – Australia
☆ Anarchist Communist Group (ACG) Great Britain

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Chinese Workers Strike Back

This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 11 No 6, published 31 December 2022.

What is the significance of the recent protests in China and what should we take from them here in Australia?

The capitalist press have mostly stuck to a simplistic explanation based purely on opposition to Covid lockdowns. Clearly, the draconian policing of a ‘Zero Covid’ policy which had become unrealistic (implemented as a substitute for a poorly executed vaccination effort and significantly privatised health system) has been a major source of anger. An important event in building popular support for the protests was a deadly fire in a Xinjiang apartment building, which resulted in at least ten people dying. Many locals blamed the inadequate response time by firefighters on Covid restrictions.

But there is much more to these protests than just anger over Covid restrictions. Furthermore, we can easily debunk conspiratorial narratives that this is some kind of right-wing or Western controlled movement. Instead, it is a manifestation of class war, which many Chinese workers continue to frame in socialist terms.

The Foxconn Strike

Particularly neglected in Western coverage of China is the component of labour struggle. A major development in the build up to the protests was the militant confrontation between workers and police at the Foxconn mega-factory in the city of Zhengzhou.

Foxconn is a Taiwanese company best known for producing iPhones for Apple, as well as working conditions so brutal that ‘suicide nets’ have been built outside of factory windows, to prevent workers leaping to their deaths. To comply with government Covid restrictions, Foxconn had forced workers to live in the factory from October through to November in appalling conditions. Eventually, many workers escaped and quit, forcing the State to work with the company to offer pay raises and bonuses to attract new workers.

When the workers arrived they found that the promises of higher pay didn’t materialise. On top of this, they became furious about the handling of Covid – in this case because workers who tested positive for Covid were not being separated from others. In other words, when Foxconn workers once again stormed out of the factory and confronted police, they did so on the basis of pay and workplace safety.

From Social Media to the Street

News of the strike spread across Chinese social media and messenger apps. Whatsonweibo, which monitors these platforms, reported that

a clear majority of the people speak out in support of the Foxconn workers. They post old propaganda posters that emphasize how the Chinese working class will lead the revolution, and recommend other Weibo users to read Karl Marx. “Is the working class still leading?”, they ask.”

Despite what many people think, protest is not rare in China. There is intense working class militancy, frequent struggles in rural areas over land and social services, and also student protest. What is rare is dissent against the political system as a whole, the rapid spread of protest across the country, and the intermingling of different struggles.

In the case of the recent protests, we saw both uncommon examples of political dissent and its rapid spread across various regions. There was widespread mourning of those who died in the Xinjiang fire, with some making open reference to the repression of the Uygurs. Workers took to the streets singing the Internationale. Slogans calling for the fall of Xi Jinping and the Chinese “Communist” Party dictatorship could be heard in multiple cities. University students began calling for freedom of speech and democracy. Others held up sheets of blank A4 paper – a defiant symbol conveying the same message.

In one video, a person opposed to the protests echoes the narrative that the West is behind the unrest. The man asks the crowd if they know that “foreign forces” are manipulating them. Someone with a megaphone responds: “The foreign forces you are talking about, are they Marx and Engels?” In another video, a student comes amazingly close to a famous phrase from Bakunin: “No socialism without freedom! No freedom without socialism!”

Certain Covid restrictions have now been eased, particularly in cities where the rebellion was strongest. Protest has waned, but now the Party’s incompetent management of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system, which could easily lead people back to striking and hitting the streets.

No War Between Nations, No Peace Between Classes

In Australia, the major political parties are increasingly militaristic in their attitudes towards China, and the capitalist media repeatedly warns us about the supposed ‘Chinese threat’. Incredibly, even when the people of China rise up against their own ruling class, the framing of the coverage barely changes at all. When Chinese workers show that they also oppose their government, it is seen as just another opportunity to encourage Australians to embrace militarisation and a readiness for the possibility of war.

The working class of Australia has no interest in a war against Chinese workers and Chinese workers have no interest in a war with us. Militarisation and war is a ruling class game. We have far more in common with each other than either of us do with the ruling classes of our countries. And just as so many Chinese workers (under much harsher conditions than our own) have had the bravery to fight the bosses and politicians who exploit and oppress them, rather than embrace a nationalist fight against ‘foreign forces’, we should also recognise that our main enemy is here at home. They manage our workplaces and make our laws. The only war worth fighting is the class war against them.



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Inflation Explodes

This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 11 No 5, published 31 October 2022.

The trend of government departments and capitalists to severely underestimate inflation in Australia continued with the announcement on October 26 that inflation had risen to a whopping 7.3%.

Back in June, the Fair Work Commission’s decision on the minimum wage was released. Their report was based on the expectation of inflation gradually hitting a peak of 7.8% by December, before quickly falling in the new year. Having weighed up the considerations of various groups representing big business, as well as the timid counter-proposals of the ACTU, a decision was reached to raise minimum wage rates below $869.60 per week by 5.2%, and those above it by 4.6%.

This pitiful result (which barely kept up with inflation at the time) was quickly out of date. Now, with a general rise of prices of 7.3% (and bound to go higher), it is nothing short of class war.

When the bosses and politicians sit back as inflation shows no signs of slowing, they are cutting the purchasing power of our wages, and condemning the poorest workers to precariousness and poverty.

For now, it seems their plan is to simply watch as the Reserve Bank of Australia cranks up interest rates (i.e., increases the cost of borrowing money). For those lucky enough to have bought a home, this means rising mortgages. For businesses, this means less investment – and that’s exactly the point. Many capitalists are now openly calling for central banks to intentionally induce a recession.

Why would capitalists prefer a recession to runaway inflation? Capital is worried about inflation for many reasons, but the most important is the fear of class struggle and a price-wage spiral.

Currently, Australia has a ‘tight labour market’, meaning workers have more job options than usual. Because of this, bosses have to adjust to the pressures of workers being more willing to quit, or even to organise and demand higher wages, so that they can pay for rising rents, utility bills, and other price hikes. To maintain their current rate of profit, capitalists will typically look to pass on the cost of paying higher wages to the consumer by raising the prices of their products… And so inflation rises again…And with it, the risk of demands for even higher wages!

But raising prices is not always possible – there has to be sufficient demand to buy the product at the new price. And here the capitalist is faced simply with a declining rate of profit, and therefore their very survival in the market.

Because of this, the ruling class are increasingly willing to intentionally induce a recession, and restore the power of capital over labour through high unemployment.

So where are things headed and how do we respond? The crisis in the UK is a warning of things to come, and the MACG believes that we should be looking at how the working class of that country is fighting back.

A grassroots direct action campaign called Don’t Pay UK has been organised in response to soaring heating bills, with a non-payment strike set for December 1. As of today, 235,954 people have pledged to take part. But even before striking, British capital and politicians have taken notice. Leaked documents from the energy company E.ON show executives warning the British government of the “existential” risk posed by the strike, with projected losses of up to £265 million per month across the industry. Government action swiftly followed, with the then Chancellor of the Exchequer introducing a two year price cap of £2500.

This is the power of self-organised direct action – even under right wing governments! But British workers aren’t just stopping at non-payment of bills. As in the US (and to an extent even here in Australia), there has been a very important uptick in strike action. A lot of attention is rightfully being given to the RMT rail strikes, and we wholeheartedly support their fight. But far less has been given to the rapid spread of wildcat strikes across Amazon warehouses back in August. It is worth quoting one of these workers:

We only planned to go on strike two hours before it actually happened. We had seen the strikes at Tilbury and Rugeley fulfilment centres on TikTok… and it inspired us to strike. [We] started spreading the idea of a walkout through word of mouth… By 1pm, we had over 300 people who walked out… At the beginning, we had no help with the strikes from any trade unions. We organised it all ourselves.”

Like the RMT struggle, the fight of the self-organised Amazon workers is far from over. But through their example, we can see the way forward for turning the class war back in our favour.



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URJ Open Letter to Victorian Socialists re “March for the Babies”

The MACG publishes this letter, as it relates to an event which we endorsed and publicised.  The reprehensible behaviour of the Victorian Socialists in abandoning the demonstration before the arrival of the anti-abortionists has provided a timely demonstration of how electoralism and building a revolutionary movement pull in two opposite directions. We also point out we are not opposed in principle to confrontations with the police and believe they are sometimes positively necessary, but the balance of forces on the ground should always be a strong consideration and VS behaved in reckless disregard of the circumstances.

Open Letter to Victorian Socialists

concerning the counteraction against the March for the Babies

27th October 2022

On 8 October United for Reproductive Justice (URJ) organised a contingent for the counteraction against the March for the Babies, which Victorian Socialists (VS) had called. URJ includes veterans of organising against fascists, the far right and the anti-abortion movement. Expecting violence from the far right and their police protectors, URJ reached out to VS for information about marshalling and other preparations for this eventuality. Having received no responses, URJ made preparations for any contingency and we went with a clear policy of disciplined unity — because this is what is required when standing up to such dangerous forces.

URJ anticipated the possibility of pointlessly risky and dangerous behaviour. And this is indeed what transpired, when marshals led the VS rally of about 200 away from Parliament House toward a huge wall of police, shielded and on horseback. It became clear that the idea was for some to try to break through, ostensibly to intercept the March for the Babies, who weren’t even there. The result was two people, maybe more, being injured by pepper spray. This reckless action left everyone exposed to police attack.

What we didn’t expect was that Victorian Socialists would abandon the counteraction. There was no counteraction! VS led a charge back to Parliament House, made a couple of triumphal speeches and then packed up and left. All this before the March for the Babies arrived.

This is how not to build a movement capable of defeating the far right, whether in defending abortion rights or fighting for any form of justice. The VS “counteraction” appeared more like a pre-election stunt given that two members of Victorian Socialists are contesting the Western Metropolitan Regional seat against March for the Babies organiser Bernie Finn. It accomplished nothing for abortion rights, which the counteraction claimed to be about.

Waging a fight for free, safe, legal abortion on demand and full reproductive justice for all women, trans and nonbinary people — encompassing First Nations sovereignty, housing, healthcare, jobs, equal pay, bodily self-determination for people with disability, full rights regardless of visa status, and so much more — takes the democratic, principled, inclusive building of a massive united front.

United for Reproductive Justice formed from organisations and activists coming together to begin this process. We welcome anyone who wants to be part of building a strong reproductive justice movement, including Victorian Socialists and those who came out to stand up to the March for the Babies.

In solidarity

Jaimie Jeffrey and Debbie Brennan

on behalf of United for Reproductive Justice

Email: unitedforreproductivejustice@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/United.for.Reproductive.Justice/

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Counter-rally Against the March for the Babies 8 October

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group has endorsed this call-out. We urge all members of the working class to defend abortion rights. Note that we have made no decision in relation to the list of demands that URJ sets out.

United for Reproductive Justice (URJ) is organising a diversely gendered contingent to be part of a counter-mobilisation against the anti-abortion “March for the Babies.” Initiated by Radical Women, URJ is a growing coalition of grassroots organisations and activists involved in movements, from unions and prisoner rights to disability and First Nations justice. Our common ground is bodily autonomy and reproductive justice for all.

The Supreme Court’s decimation of abortion rights in the United States has emboldened the far right across the world. Here in Australia, we expect to see a large turnout at this year’s “March for the Babies” in Melbourne on October 8. Its aim is to recriminalise abortion, and we know that assaults on women, trans, gender diverse and non-binary people would not stop there. It is critical at this pivotal time that we stand up for our rights to bodily autonomy and full reproductive justice.

United for Reproductive Justice calls for:

  • Federally legislated free, safe, legal abortion on demand without apology
  • Reproductive self-determination for First Nations, queer, trans and gender diverse people, those with disabilities and those who are incarcerated, on visas and living in regional/remote communities.
  • End forced sterilisation; stop discriminatory surveillance and child removals by the state.
  • Provide well-resourced, free, culturally appropriate services to guarantee genuine birthing choices and access to reproductive technology, under community control.
  • Mandatory training for medical students in all aspects of reproductive healthcare.
  • Free education at all levels; medically sound sex education.
  • Secure, quality housing for all; massively expand public housing.
  • Well-funded services and supports for those escaping family violence and sexual abuse.
  • Employment security and equal pay for all workers; end exemptions for religious and other institutions from discrimination law.
  • Fully fund welfare supports as a right for everyone, regardless of visa status.

On 8 October, join our contingent. To join or get more details, contact URJ unitedforreproductivejustice@gmail.com. All genders are welcome! There will be plenty of placards, or bring your own!

We will join the planned counteraction at Parliament House, on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation whose sovereignty has never been ceded.

Endorsers (in progress): 3CR Community Radio; Doin’ Time prisoner radio network, 3CR; Freedom Socialist Party; Homes Not Prisons; Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne; Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group; Radical Women; Rainbow Atheists; What Were You Wearing?


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The Queen of England (as well as of Australia, Canada and numerous other former British colonies) has died.  Mass media have suspended normal programming to talk about nothing else and their actions can best be described as competitive hagiography, not only of the Queen herself, but even of the Empire she represented.  

Behind the non-stop coverage there is a real anxiety.  The death of a monarch has always been a moment of crisis, and when the dead monarch has had an exceptionally long reign the crisis is especially acute. In days when the monarch wielded political power (which is still the case in some countries), it could open windows of opportunity for struggle, and even for power to change hands (a potential which was sometimes realised).  Today, under capitalism, ‘constitutional monarchies’ are nationalist spectacles for the masses, so the crisis is different.  It is the end of one show and the beginning of another.  Will it rate as well?  How will people feel about the new star?  How should the new show be promoted? Will it help to perpetuate subservience to tradition, the manufactured image of a unified nation, and a seemingly unchangeable ‘natural order’?

For us, the death of the monarch raises a few different issues. Firstly, there is the question of inherited privilege: Elizabeth’s eldest son is due to take the throne as Charles III, but how did he acquire that right?  He hasn’t been voted in, he didn’t top the class in a competitive examination, and he wasn’t subjected to a process of interviews and submission of references.  He became heir to the throne by, as some would say, choosing his parents carefully.

As the epitome of inherited privilege, monarchy is an affront to every libertarian and egalitarian sensibility.  Once upon a time, the emerging capitalist class was enthusiastic about abolishing monarchies, seeking to replace them with democratic republics based on a formal recognition of equal rights.  It was promised (with varying levels of sincerity and radicalism) that a system of private property, operating in a competitive market, would create equality of opportunity – a level playing field, where wealth could be earned through hard work, thrift and enterprise. Revolutions were made under this banner and a particularly recalcitrant French king lost his head over the matter.

Things are different today.  The ideology of capitalism still requires the pretence that wealth is earned, but faces the problem of capital’s inherent tendency towards concentration, as well as the earnest desire of each successive generation of capitalists to pass their fortunes on to their descendants.  Inherited wealth can certainly be secure under a republican system of government, but the privilege of inheritance has, over centuries, given the bourgeoisie a natural affinity for hereditary power.

Australia provides an illuminating example. There has been a campaign for an Australian republic for about thirty years, but the argument advanced for it is that the monarch is English and, as Australia is now a grown-up country, Australia’s head of state should be Australian. It is an argument that would simply not apply if the debate was being had in England. As a result, public support for a republic is tepid and far weaker than the full-throated defence of tradition on the part of social reactionaries. The ‘progressive’ case for a republic offers no benefits other than the elimination of a relic so antiquated it should be embarrassing.

Replacing the monarchy with an Australian republic would not necessarily address Australia’s original sin: colonisation and the dispossession of the Aboriginal people that followed. The current republican movement would definitely not address it, given its determination that the one and only change to the Constitution would be to create an Australian head of state. Meanwhile, the movement supporting Aboriginal sovereignty grows yearly, demanding a reckoning with dispossession and genocide. One movement is based on a pretended national unity, while the other is based on resistance to a real and monstrous injustice.

Still, clearly some capitalists fear that making a democratic, rather than nationalist, argument for a republic calls into question all other inherited privileges, including those of far more significance than a symbolic head-of-state. It would be to declare that James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch, Anthony Pratt, Gina Rinehart and Ryan Stokes have no right to the billions they inherited or stand to inherit, and which will serve as the basis for their continued exploitation of the working class.  And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The old money of Sydney and Melbourne, built on the foundations of genocide, and originally accumulated by bloodthirsty squatters, or by shysters who gouged gullible miners during the Gold Rush, has been laundered by a succession of heirs before reaching its present hands.

We are members of the working class. We have no great fortunes to defend.  Instead, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group raises the banner of liberty, equality and solidarity. These principles, as promised by the foundation of liberal, democratic republics, can only be made real when there are no more bosses, or governments, or the threat of poverty hanging over our heads. Such a society, based on libertarian communism, will be freer than any democracy, be more equal than any capitalist republic, and unleash a solidarity unknown to the capitalist class and which can never exist between classes. The new world will relegate monarchy, along with every other form of government, to the history books – and King Charles III will be known, we hope, as Charles the Last.



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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 11 No 4, published 31 August 2022.

Floods in Pakistan. Credit: Bloomberg

Each year, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases. Polar ice melts to an unprecedented degree. The Great Barrier Reef suffers worse and more frequent bleaching events. Droughts lengthen. Record breaking floods hit Pakistan. Unprecedented heatwaves bake China, Europe, India, West Asia or Australia. A polar vortex diverts icy storms deep into North America. And, behind the year-to-year variations, the global temperature trend climbs ever higher.

This is climate change. And what we’re seeing is only the beginning. Even if an emergency transition is begun today, the planet will become a good deal hotter before it starts cooling. Scientists warn that every fraction of a degree of warming beyond 1.5ºC increases the risk of setting off runaway global warming that would wreck all known ecosystems, kill 80 to 90% of the human population and destroy industrial civilisation. This is the burning issue of our time. The fate of the biosphere and, within it, the human race, is in the hands of the people alive today.

In response to the growing threat of climate change and the inaction of capitalist governments, a great social movement has arisen. Millions are taking action to stop greenshouse emissions. Unfortunately, the movement has no effective strategy. People’s energy is being directed into activities that are only part-solutions, marginally effective or sometimes even counter-productive.

The problem: capitalism

Capitalism is the fundamental cause of climate change and the sooner we get rid of it, the easier it will be to eliminate greenhouse emissions and begin restoring a sustainable climate. Some major global capitalist industries are based on the production or consumption of fossil fuels, having two consequences.

Firstly, powerful countries, huge corporations and many billionaires have large fossil fuel investments to protect. Even if they also invest in renewable energy, they would lose money by, for example, shutting a coal mine which still has coal that can be profitably extracted. The same goes for corporations reliant on consuming fossil fuels. A rapid switch to electric vehicles would make Ford’s existing factories write-offs and force it to build EV factories decades before they are planned, purely to prevent its competitors taking its market share.

The second consequence is perhaps even more powerful. A political decision that huge corporations have to close down and billionaires be forced to write off their fortunes would be a terrifying example that threatens all capitalist corporations. The market must always rule and, while it may be tweaked, it can under no circumstances be made subordinate to the general good. If trillion-dollar corporations can be sent to the wall because society needs it, what capitalist is safe from having their fortune confiscated?

An additional consideration is more basic and applies to the entire relationship between capitalism and the environment, well beyond climate change. This is that capitalism is addicted to endless growth and can’t survive in a situation where humanity has to live within planetary limits. This slows the efforts of those capitalists who do want to stop climate change and creates ever-more-frequent crises through habitat destruction, resource depletion and environmental pollution.

Current strategies

Until recently, the most common demand of the climate movement was for a carbon price. Set a ceiling on emissions, reduce it by a predictable amount each year and let market actors buy and sell credits to allow the market to find the least-cost path to decarbonisation. The political strategy which goes with this is electoral – vote in a government which will price carbon. This is total neo-liberalism and would force the price of decarbonisation onto the shoulders of those least able to bear the burden. The rich can continue their high carbon footprint lifestyles because they can afford it, while kids have to wear clothes they’ve grown out of because their parents spend all their money on petrol for driving to work.

We saw how this plays out in Australia a decade ago. The Labor Government and the Greens in 2010 introduced a carbon price, but they were crucified by the reactionary press for it. Their neo-liberal strategy drove the working class into the arms of the climate deniers and brought Labor to a heavy defeat. In short, carbon pricing can’t work. If it doesn’t have holes in it that negate its ostensible purpose, it will be politically unviable.

More recently, the movement has shifted to demanding that fossil fuel production be shut down. Usually, this is framed as a demand for no new coal or new gas. As an immediate demand it is inadequate (most existing reserves have to stay in the ground, too, to preserve a livable climate). It is also a threat to the jobs of workers in fossil fuel industries and the existence of communities reliant on them. As a coal mine is worked out, it is often replaced by a nearby one, sometimes operated by the same company.

This tactic is advanced electorally by the same people previously arguing for a carbon price, but it is also attracting supporters of more militant tactics. Here in Australia, we have Blockade Australia, while Britain has seen the emergence of Extinction Rebellion and, this year, Just Stop Oil. Direct action movements have emerged in Germany, the United States and Canada as well. All of them have come under heavy police and government repression, even the dogmatically pro-police XR. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group opposes all police repression against environmental groups. We are especially incensed at the campaign of police persecution and lies against Blockade Australia over a botched police operation in June this year and call for all charges to be dropped.

The MACG’s issue with Blockade Australia and similar organisations overseas isn’t that their disruptive tactics go too far. Instead, we think they don’t cause anywhere near enough disruption. A network of small secretive affinity groups can only cause minor and sporadic interruptions to the corporations destroying the planet. Furthermore, the activists are targeted with massive penalties which far outweigh the impact of their actions. We support these protestors, because at least they’re doing something, but this isn’t how the movement will win. A better strategy is needed.

Class struggle

Salford Picket Line Credit: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

The people best placed to stop the capitalist death machine in its tracks are the people who keep it going on a day-to-day basis: the working class. When workers organise in the workplace to fight for their interests, they threaten the power of capital at its source. And when workers understand their power to fight, they can lift their heads and look at the uses their employers make of their labour. When it comes to climate change, the workers who are necessary for fossil fuels to be produced, transported and consumed are the ones who can stop it.

Working class action to stop climate change would have very different dynamics from the current movement. Instead of small groups of martyrs for the cause, we’d see workers acting en masse and being protected from police retaliation by sheer strength of numbers. The action would also dodge the trap of “jobs vs the environment” that the capitalist media love to set up, because the workers would be fighting for a Just Transition they designed themselves.

This program of class struggle is not a fairy tale. Instead, it’s the only possible path forward. And it is possible, as demonstrated by the Green Bans of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s. Workers can and do take up radical social issues, provided it is an extension of the fight against the bosses. The Green Bans weren’t imposed by workers who sacrificed their material interests, but by workers who fought for and won big wage rises, shorter hours and much improved health and safety.

The unions in Australia today are a shadow of their former selves, led by cowards whose main job is to police their members to ensure that unions aren’t fined out of business by the vicious anti-union laws. This needs to be turned around completely before workers will consider fighting for a Just Transition – but also for workers to defend working conditions, maintain health and safety and be adequately compensated for the inflation that is now ripping through the economy and devastating real wages. And to do that, we need to take on the union bureaucracy and beat them.

Stopping climate change therefore requires re-building the unions in Australia from the ground up, in the teeth of opposition from the union officials and the entire capitalist class. The struggle for the environment is the same as the struggle for workers’ immediate issues. So environmentalists who are members of the working class should join their union and start organising.


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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 11 No 3, published 30 June 2022.

Everywhere, people are negotiating hostile state borders. Most of these people are poor workers, searching for safety and a better life. They have suffered economic exploitation, political marginalisation and personal despair. They are escaping war, or devastation caused by climate change to their villages and territories, or all of these.

They are economic migrants, or refugees, or asylum seekers. They know there’s a crisis going on and they’re not the only ones affected. The climate is changing. Wars are raging. Indigenous people are losing their rights and their land to extractive industries. Sinister right-wing movements are on the attack. Governments are becoming more reactionary.

Capitalist elites aren’t worried. There have been disasters before, and everyone with enough wealth has been just fine. There will be a place just for them, they believe, safe from the gathering storm, where they will be protected from the millions of desperate poor. It happened after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The capitalist class did just fine, and they’re rebuilding better. The ruling class see no urgency in developing a response to the disasters that force people to become migrants and refugees.

Not only that, but there is money to be made. Multinational corporations are the winners from the vulnerability of migrants and refugees. They can shift production and jobs around so they can make use of the cheapest labour and friendliest governments. They play governments and workers off against each other so they can make the most profit.

Capitalists use strategies like racism, sexism and religious sectarianism to divide workers and victimise migrants. Our disunity and confusion gives power to capitalists. A strike or other disturbance in one workplace quickly affects many others. To prevent this, capitalists need to divide workers into groups who are separated from each other and who see each other as rivals. Divided workers cannot fight back. So they divide us by feeding racism. They divide us with hate-filled myths and nationalism. But stronger borders will not bring back better jobs. The corporate profiteers will just scam us some more, transferring more and more jobs to vulnerable overseas or migrant workers whose labour is made cheaper by those very borders.

Migrant workers and refugees are demonised. In the popular press they are described in offensive terms that stoke suspicion and fear. And yet if we allow borders to divide us from fellow workers in other countries, corporations will use the borders to control labour power.

The only way to protect jobs at home is to fight for decent pay and conditions for all workers everywhere. Now that the economy is globalised, production processes are integrated very tightly. The flow of profits to the corporations is vulnerable.

Through unity with all workers within and without borders, we can turn the tables. If we unite despite corporate strategies, capitalists must give way. Together, workers can confront the urgent difficulties that face us all, and we can win.


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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 11 No 3, published 30 June 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade (the decision that recognised the criminalisation of abortion as unconstitutional), is not only a massive attack on women in its own right, but also a signpost of the U.S. Right’s increasing radicalisation and power within the State. The political Right in the U.S. are not just conservatives seeking to preserve the status-quo – they are outright reactionaries. They are attempting to roll back two generations of social progress. This can only be done with great violence. And, as anyone observing the U.S. can see, great violence is exactly what they have in store for their opponents.

Much has been written about how appalling this decision is, and we agree wholeheartedly with that judgement. It will destroy the lives of millions of women (as well as trans-men), which is reason enough to fight it. Two other things need to be considered, though. The first is what else the U.S. Right has on its agenda and the second is what should be done.

The Right’s Agenda

For the Right, overturning Roe v. Wade is only the first step in attempting to stamp out abortion altogether in the U.S. Their objective is to get abortion equated with murder which, ideally, is subject to capital punishment. In addition, they want to reverse many other decisions, starting with same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives. The same justification used to overturn Roe v. Wade will raise challenges to Obergefell vs Hodges (same-sex marriage) and likewise calls into question Loving v. Virginia (inter-racial marriage) and Brown v. the Board of Education (racial segregation), which the most radical of white supremacists now have the judicial ammunition to gun for. Republicans consider themselves to be on the march and recent Supreme Court decisions give them every encouragement to try for more. Apart from being totally immoral, it’s therefore the height of political stupidity to react by saying “Oh well, we lost that one, let’s turn our attention to something else.”

What Not to Do

Anarchists and other activists in the United States should resist the calls to “put aside your petty differences and get behind the Democrats in November”. This is a recipe for disaster. It would tar everybody who followed that advice with responsibility for Biden’s own Right-wing and anti-working class administration. Biden will demoralise his supporters, perhaps even enough to outweigh people’s rage at the Supreme Court decision.

In arguing against the electoral road, we need to emphasise that this is precisely the strategy which got us to this point in the first place. Electing Democrats and relying on Supreme Court decisions? Where has that gotten the USA working class and the fight for reproductive autonomy?

A Better Way

What’s needed to win back abortion rights and turn the tide against the Right in the U.S. is a militant campaign that mobilises the rage of women and everyone else in the Right’s cross-hairs. This, of course, especially includes Black people. While this will include large, angry demonstrations which are prepared to take on and resist police repression, this should not be the main focus of the movement.

The movement needs two areas of struggle. The first is to focus on a wide campaign of non-cooperation with anti-abortion laws in the various U.S. States and harassment of those who would support or enforce them. This would be most powerful if organised in the workplace. Strikes and labour boycotts would mobilise the immense potential power of the working class and impose intolerable costs on the capitalists.

The second area of struggle needs to be an underground network of abortion services. Elements of this already exist, especially in providing transport to areas where abortion is more readily accessible, but it will need enlargement and development. While medically trained staff are, of course, essential, they will be greatly out-numbered by those providing back-up infrastructure and assistance. And the network would need to be defended by the above-ground movement.

It is the combination of these two modes of struggle that can win the campaign. One will apply massive political pressure to Republicans, Democrats, and the State apparatus, while the other exposes the State as unable to enforce a detested law. These are the circumstances in which legalisation can best be achieved, since far-sighted capitalists – and the politicians that serve them – will judge it necessary to re-establish the credibility of the State, both morally and in practice.

The Role of Anarchist Communists

In this struggle, Anarchist Communists will emphasise the importance of direct action and rank-and-file control of the organisations of struggle which emerge in our fight against the State and capital. We will also support mutual aid as a means of achieving things the State is trying to prevent. In both cases, self-organisation will be demonstrated as superior to hierarchical authority and legalistic parliamentarism. Through these tactics, we can spread the ideas of anarchist communism and contribute to the generation of a workers movement capable of extracting concessions from the bosses and government and, ultimately, overthrowing the capitalist state system itself. There is a world to win.


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