DEFEND JULIAN ASSANGE

This article first appeared in the Anvil 8/3, published 11th May 2019.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was arrested on 11 April when the Ecuadorian Government invited British police into their London embassy for that purpose. Initially charged with breaching bail, he was quickly also hit with a US charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He has since been sentenced to almost the maximum term for breaching bail and the process for extraditing him to the United States, which could be a long one, has begun.

The United States wants Assange because Wikileaks stands against the entire apparatus of national security in that country and has published much damaging information about its murderous and undemocratic activities – not least the Collateral Murder video that made Wikileaks famous. Wikileaks is so dangerous to the reputation of the CIA, the US military, State Department, the FBI, the major political parties and so many other components of the State in the US that the capitalist class want that organisation shut down for good and for Assange to be made an example of to deter potential successors. Accordingly, though the charge on which Assange has been arrested is one that has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, it should be expected that other, heavier charges are in the works.

In publishing the crimes of Uncle Sam, Julian Assange performed a great service for the working class and the oppressed peoples of the world and on that basis he must be defended against US attempts to seek retribution against him. He is, however, no saint. Firstly, he is accused of sexual assault in Sweden. While it is clear from published facts that Assange’s sexual ethics are poor, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is unsure whether his actions amount to a breach of Swedish law. Accordingly, we believe that he should go to Sweden to deal with the accusations and clear his name or face the consequences.

Secondly, Assange’s tactics during the US election campaign of 2016 and his political statements since are quite unsavoury, while some of the political associates he has been cultivating during his time as a fugitive in the Ecuadorian Embassy have been extremely dangerous. We therefore believe that, once he is out of the clutches of the United States, his future activities should be watched with great care until he can explain himself as a free agent.

The MACG thus defends Julian Assange, not because of his politics, which have curdled and are now quite suspect, nor because we consider him innocent of the Swedish accusations. The US ruling class has no objection to his politics, because they are riddled with the sort of people with whom he has been collaborating. And neither do they have any objection to sexual assault – if they did, Donald Trump would not be President. The United States wants to punish him, not for any crimes he might have committed, but for his good deeds. The MACG defend Assange for those same good deeds.

ASSANGE SHOULD GO TO SWEDEN
NOT TO THE US

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Final declaration of the founding congress of the Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL)

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is pleased to publish the following announcement, which we reproduce as received.

Final declaration of the founding congress of the Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL)

Union Communiste Libertaire

As we – activists from Alternative Libertaire and the Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes – gathered in a common congress, we decided to create a new revolutionary organisation : the Union Communiste Libertaire (French for Libertarian Communist Union).

In times of an intensifying capitalist crisis, one would like to make us choose between the liberal bourgeoisie in power and far-right partys in embush.

We cannot accept it. As a contrary, we affirm that another project of society is needed, based on direct democracy, self-management/self-government and federalism.

We want neither a world that has been tailored for those who possess, nor a militarized and locked society under digital surveillance.

Here as well as all over the world, we stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and alongside those who wish to knock borders down and break imperialism, neo-colonialism, and more specifically “Françafrique”.

In France, the anger of “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Jackets movement) vividly remind the state power that class struggle is just as topical as ever. In fact, state power quickly realized it as it uses particularly brutal a repression against this movement.

We took part in the “Gilets Jaunes” movement the same way we actively commit to the class struggle through building struggles, strikes and unions. Each day we tirelessly resist the capitalist exploitation in our workplaces. And we keep general strike as our horizon.
Where we study, we fight against social selection that become everyday harder.

The Union Communiste Libertaire will struggle alongside those who fight to destroy patriarchy. From our own ranks as well as in society in general, we will fight against sex and gender oppressions, sexism and oppression against GLBTI people.
Against the mechanics of racism, we will be rising up and in support of struggles against police violence.

We will keep on marching with all the demonstrators who take to the streets to oppose climate change and the collapsing of biodiversity, what capitalists are responsible for.

The Union Communiste Libertaire is willing to welcome all those who want to build another society. In cities, surburbs and in the country, everywhere we live, we will build this organisation to materialize a future free from all exploitation and dominations.

This future in which we place our hopes has a name: libertarian communism.

10th of June, 2019

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DON’T MENTION THE EMERGENCY

This article first appeared in the Anvil 8/3, published 11th May 2019.

On 18 May, enrolled voters in Australia will decide which members of the capitalist class will represent us in Parliament and crush us in government for the next three years. This election occurs at a time when the world has been informed that it has, at most, until 2030 to take effective action to stop and begin reversing climate change, or risk crossing tipping points into runaway temperature rises that would kill billions and endanger industrial civilisation. So you’d think the major players would be presenting plans to fix it. But no, this is Australian capitalist democracy and we get something different.

The incumbent government is a coalition of the Liberal Party, the open representatives of Big Business, and the National Party, which pretends to represent farmers but actually represents mining companies. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, two years ago infamously thought it would be a jolly jape to bring a lump of coal into Parliament and taunt his political opponents with it. He is only PM because climate change deniers in his own party nobbled some ineffective attempts to do something about the issue and eventually brought down Malcolm Turnbull, the Liberal Prime Minister they detested for being too liberal.

What are they offering? Firstly, they have promised a vast number of mostly small infrastructure and spending projects in seats they need to hold and a handful they hope to take. It is a grab bag with no coherent vision. Second, they promise a substantial tax cut in five years for people on upper middle incomes. Apart from that, they offer nothing. Nothing but a relentless scare campaign against the Labor Party and its leader, Bill Shorten.

And what of the Labor Party? This party fundamentally represents the desire of the union bureaucracy to reach a compromise with capital about permissible reforms that might better the lot of working people while preserving existing capitalist relations. Its leader, Bill Shorten, comes from the Australian Workers Union, which has a deserved reputation of decades of undemocratic sellouts of its members. Naturally, the capitalists don’t criticise him for that, since it’s the one thing they are in favour of union officials doing.

Surprisingly, Labor is presenting its strongest contrast with the Liberals for a generation. This is because Shorten and other senior Labor figures have seen the death spiral into which most European social democratic parties have entered and declined to join them. They’re not departing from neo-liberalism, but they’re having a serious go at a range of costly tax loopholes used by the richest 10%. They’re also promising to do something effective about climate change, though their concrete proposals are only about half of what is needed.

Who else is running? Firstly, we’ll take the Right. There’s One Nation, as nasty a bunch of racists and bigots as you’re ever likely to find, and then there’s a collection of Right wing nut jobs (mostly running only for the Senate) who for reasons known only to themselves aren’t in One Nation. Clive Palmer, a mining magnate, is trying to buy his way into Parliament with a Trump-esque slogan and a policy free zone onto which people can project their wishes. And a dishonourable mention has to go to Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party, who are actual capital-F Fascists, but have an accidental Senator to give them publicity.

On the Left, we have the Greens. As a capitalist party, they shame Labor by campaigning to their Left, proposing a range of supportable reforms and some climate change policies that start to approach what is necessary. They are fundamentally handicapped, though, by their delusion that a just and sustainable capitalism is possible. Whatever the virtues of their individual policies, the working class would end up bearing the cost.

The final party worth mentioning are the Victorian Socialists, who are running in three lower house seats in Victoria. The MACG oppose running for elections because, although it’s possible to enter a capitalist Parliament on a principled basis, we think it’s a waste of time and effort to do so. The energy required for the election campaign can be far more usefully directed towards building grassroots struggles. Nevertheless, the question arises of how to respond if a State Socialist group decides to waste its resources that way.

Because the Victorian Socialists have no chance of being elected, they only have to pass two very simple tests. They have to be standing clearly for Socialism and against capitalism. Secondly, the party mustn’t have disgraced itself in front of the whole working class like the British SWP has with its rape apologism (put “Comrade Delta” into your favourite search engine). They pass both these. We make no detailed demands of their policy, because we understand that no Parliamentary program, however “correct”, can get us to Socialism. And the Victorian Socialists’ program is indeed quite weak. For more details, you can consult your friendly local Spartacist, who will be only too happy to brief you on their shortcomings.

On this basis, we believe it is possible for Anarchists to lodge a principled vote for the Victorian Socialists. We must emphasise, though, the very limited meaning of such a vote. It is simply to say “I’m against capitalism and for Socialism” and it is only because the Vic Socialists have no chance of winning. If they stood a chance, no matter how remote, we would have to judge them on a much stricter test. A crucial element would be whether a Victorian Socialists MP would explain to the working class that Socialism is only possible through the revolutionary actions of the workers themselves and not through Parliament. This is a test they would not pass.

Finally, it is necessary to point out that the Victorian Socialists have already demonstrated our thesis that Leftists should put their energies into grassroots struggles rather than election campaigns. On 4 May, the Fascist party Yellow Vests Australia held a small demonstration in Melbourne. Normally, the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism would have mobilised in opposition. Most of its members, however, are in Socialist Alternative, the main force behind the Victorian Socialists, and the SAlties were out busy doorknocking for the Vic Socialists instead. Other groups, being smaller, didn’t want to risk mobilising on their own. So the Fascists went unopposed. Fail.

BUILD MOVEMENTS NOT ELECTIONS

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MAY DAY 2019

Chicago 1886

May Day arose in the late 19th Century from a campaign to free the Haymarket Martyrs. Police had moved to break up a peaceful workers’ demonstration in Chicago in the US on 4 May 1886 and an unknown person threw a bomb. As a result of the explosion and ensuing gunfire, which came largely if not entirely from the police, seven police and at least four workers died. Eight Anarchist union organisers were convicted in a rigged trial. Seven were sentenced to death, of whom four were executed and one committed suicide. The labour movement mobilised in their defence and a tradition was born, International Workers’ Day.

Capitalism Today

It has been over 130 years since the Haymarket Massacre. The world has seen booms, busts and two World Wars. The Russian Revolution, which started with such optimism, was perverted into the most disillusioning defeat. All the old feudal and colonial empires have fallen, the social productivity of labour has grown immensely and the new working class of China is now larger than the entire population of the United States. And all is not well. The world has not yet fully recovered from the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09 and economic growth is slowing to a stall. Another slump threatens and, at the worst possible time, the US has initiated a trade war with China, with the risk of escalation to a shooting war. And this is occurring at the very moment when the world stands on the brink of a slide into extremely dangerous climate change, possibly threatening the existence of industrial civilisation.

Australia Today

Here in Australia, the capitalists won a major victory over the labour movement in the 1980s, when the ALP, in alliance with the union officials, instituted a program of neo-liberal restructuring. The capitalists showed no gratitude, of course, and continued the program under Liberal governments, with the added objective of the elimination of the union movement. Now we see the fruits of this. The profit share of national income has skyrocketed and the wages share has plummeted. Wages are stagnating, despite what the media describe as low unemployment. Union density is low and falling, while strikes are so rare as to be newsworthy. The result is a surge of Right wing populism and the rebirth of Fascism.

The Solution

The only way out is struggle. We, the working class, must organise in the teeth of all obstructions. We must build the unions that the officials manifestly can’t build by themselves. We must use our vital weapon, the strike, and if the officials won’t help, we must act without them. And we must build solidarity across borders, because only international solidarity can beat the power of global capital. Standing together, in defiance of nationalism, we will have built a movement that embodies the values of a new and better world, a movement which also has the power to create that world. We can make a revolution to overthrow capitalism and create libertarian communism, worldwide.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
1 May 2019
macg1984 @ yahoo . com . au

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IMPERIALISM MEANS ENDLESS WAR

World War I

On 25 April 1915, Australian soldiers, along with troops from New Zealand, Britain and France, stormed beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsula close to Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The campaign was badly planned and organised from the start and was a military disaster. It ended in defeat less than a year later, at the cost of over 300,000 dead and wounded. It was a minor episode of the larger disaster that was World War I, a clash between two great imperial alliances to see who could steal whose colonies, resources and markets.

War Today

A hundred years ago, war was mostly soldiers killing other soldiers while the civil societies behind them supplied guns and ammunition. Things don’t work like that any more. War is now waged directly on civilian societies themselves, so as to destroy their ability to put military forces in the field and supply them. Even when the opposing army is beaten, the war has hardly begun, because the victor intends to refashion the country in its own interests. Occupations drag on for years, generating opposition which is met by further violence. Drones wage a coward’s war, raining death from the skies while the pilots sit in safety far away. Some even go home to their families after “a day at the office”.

Australia’s Wars

Australia today wages war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the Gulf of Aden and in the Philippines. All deployments are part of the US-led “War on Terror” and designed to defend a world order dominated by US imperialism. No longer strong enough economically to impose order through the market, the US needs to use its military to do a job that has no end. Australia’s junior imperialism helps out to ensure continued recognition of its own sphere of interest in East Timor and the South Pacific. On the battlefield the Australian military, armed to the teeth, deals out death to irregular forces and civilians, and only occasionally takes casualties in return. The “War on Terror” started in 2001 and governments no longer even talk about it ending. It is now permanent.

Peace

There will be no peace while imperialism dominates the globe. Imperialism, though, is not a policy but the set of international relationships under global capitalism. Powerful countries compete with each other for influence and markets and seek to impose a world order in their favour. To end imperialism and its endless wars, we need to end capitalism. The only road to peace is a revolution where the working class unites across national boundaries and overthrows the competing capitalist powers. We can then build a new society where we can be one humanity, sharing the earth and its fruit together. We can relegate war to the history books.

END AUSTRALIAN IMPERIALISM
END CAPITALISM

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

macg1984 @ yahoo . com . au
PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
25 April 2019

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NON-VIOLENT ACTION: DIRECT & “DIRECT”

This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 8 No 2, published 14 March 2019.

As more people realise that climate change is happening, and there’s no mainstream political call to stop it, they are starting to look beyond conventional political tactics. Writing to politicians, canvassing for votes and having a protest march from A to B won’t cut it. The peace and environment movements have a long tradition of adopting Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) when other tactics fail, without clarifying just what this means.

It is generally agreed that NVDA attempts to achieve aims by peacefully taking action that either directly reaches the goals or blocks the government or corporation from conducting business-as-usual (BAU). These are very effective tactics. Indeed, it can be seen that a strike is a primary example. Workers withdraw their labour and refuse to conduct BAU until the boss makes an adequate offer. Direct action gets the goods.

In practice, though, there is more to NVDA than meets the eye. While the peace and environment movements in Australia are almost totally united in supporting this approach, there has been much debate around how to go about it. Big campaigns over the Franklin Dam in the 1980s and Jabiluka in the 1990s were riven by conflicts over this issue. With the climate movement gearing up to wage an NVDA campaign to #StopAdani, the MACG believes it’s important to understand NVDA a little better.

Sometimes NVDA really is what it says on the tin. People come together to take action that achieves their goals directly. On other occasions, however, what occurs is Non-Violent “Direct” Action. The participants go through the forms of Direct Action, without the substance. The action is symbolic and the intent is to achieve its aims indirectly, through traditional channels.

Though many examples of such “Direct” Action have occurred in Australia, it is best illustrated by a particularly egregious case in the United States. Democracy Spring is a progressive organisation in the US trying to improve voting rights and limit the ability of rich people to use their money to influence elections – worthy objectives, but very limited ones. In April 2016, this organisation conducted a march from Philadelphia to Washington DC, culminating in a blockade of the Capitol Building, the Parliament House in the US. Over the course of a week, more than 900 people were arrested. An impressive display of Direct Action, it appeared.

Appearances, though, were deceiving. The “blockade” of the Capitol was a highly choreographed affair, conducted in close co-operation with the police. There was no serious attempt to impede access to the building. The arrestees were not even charged, something which would have clogged up the courts. Instead, they were released after paying $50 each to a fund that goes to the Washington DC police. This was “Direct” Action as a mere ritual, a symbol of determination, with the real objective of getting TV coverage that mentioned “a record number of arrests”. It was a media strategy based upon deception.

The difference between NVDA and NV“D”A is usually apparent in the media strategy. In Direct Action, the primary function of the media strategy is to draw more people into the action and to deter State violence. In “Direct” Action, its primary function is to generate mass media attention that affects the mainstream political process. Direct Action empowers the participants, while “Direct” Action treats them as a stage army, to be wheeled on and off according to the judgment of the leadership.

The difference between Direct Action and “Direct” Action can also be seen in their very different treatment by the police. Police in liberal democracies are often quite willing to collaborate with “Direct” Action as a symbolic spectacle, provided everything is negotiated properly beforehand and it is understood that there is no actual attempt to prevent BAU. The police are almost always very hostile to Direct Action. They are the armed thugs of the State and their job is to uphold an unjust social order. Direct Action puts the State in the position of either being forced to concede, or to use police violence to defeat the movement. The larger the Direct Action is, the more violence the State would require and the more it would be discredited by its response, sparking wider resistance. It is thus a challenge to the State, something no police force can tolerate.

Now that Adani have announced they intend to build their coal mine and railway line without borrowing from the banks, the probability of it actually starting work has increased. If the climate movement wants to #StopAdani, it will have to defeat the opposition of the Queensland Government. NVDA will be called for. The movement needs to be clear, though, that “Direct” Action is different from Direct Action.

When a government is firmly in the pocket of the mining companies, it will not be swayed by a few weeks of TV stories showing pictures of people passively sitting and waiting to be taken away by the cops. What is required is a movement that knows the police are the attack dogs of the enemy and they are to be resisted with all the strength and intelligence we can muster. We need a movement that wants to #StopAdani directly, a movement that will create facts on the ground that the Government cannot ignore. And this movement, in challenging the State, will inevitably look beyond it, to a new society with no State and no cops, and where capitalism is no more.

#STOP ADANI

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WOMEN’S ORGANISING

This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 8 No 2, published 14 March 2019.

The makeup of workers’ organisations is an indication of their strength. Unless women are present, along with other oppressed groups, capitalism will not be defeated.
Recent campaigns of transgender women and intersex people have clarified the gender issues at stake for feminist women. All women and intersex people demand the freedom to depart from gender stereotypes. All those who identify as women, whether they have a uterus or not, join in struggle with other women workers in their rallies and their campaigns. The women’s movement has become more gender diverse.

Feminist movements such as #metoo have been effective in claiming the right of all women to respect and equal opportunity. They have suffered backlash from men as expressed in the #notallmen campaign. #notallmen arises from the indignation of sexist men who take women’s demands for justice and equality as personal attacks on themselves. They decry the most notorious abusers and the most heinous murders, but in a way which diverts attention from the more mundane misbehaviour which is far more widespread but creates the environment in which the worst crimes are possible.

In this climate of #notallmen backlash, there has been sensitivity about women’s right to organise as women, even as they demand equality. Is women’s organising for women an attack on men? Is it sexist to allow only women to participate, as might be the case if only men attended a particular rally? Does organising specifically for women workers weaken the workers movement as a whole? Certainly a large part of the workers’ movement answers yes to all these questions. For example, for some years cis men have taken part in Melbourne IWD rallies.

But no, women’s particular history has made it imperative that organisations specifically for women are available to encourage and strengthen women. While they welcome the support of men, and acknowledge the contribution of pro-feminist men to advances in the feminist cause, women have the right to organise autonomously. They have the right to women-only spaces, both as organisations and events.

The ongoing struggle of working women has put them in a place where they may need encouragement to experience themselves as effective and powerful, to experience other women as powerful and supportive, to unlearn deference to men, and to step up to roles of responsibility and leadership. While the decision as to whether to organise solely with other women or together with men is a judgment call to make based on the particular circumstances, to deny women workers the right to organise as women is to deny them their own paths to resistance.

Organising for women does not discriminate against men, nor does it attack them, except insofar as they defend patriarchal social structures. Women’s organising is to support women in their struggle, by allowing women to have their own voice and to set their own priorities. In fact, for campaigns such as for safety and against killing of women by men in the domestic sphere, the participation of men in solidarity actions is vital, and expected.

Unless women have access to their own organisations, workers will only ever achieve surface uniformity, not unity. This uniformity is achieved by silencing oppressed groups within the working class. This unity maintains existing divisions within the working class and repels many who are not white, cis men.

Women have the right to organise as women within the wider working class movement and within anarchist organisations. It is the responsibility of the whole working class to fight sexism (along with racism and all other oppressions), but this does not deny the right of oppressed groups to organise autonomously. For the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group, this right does not need any special dispensation, but rather rises from Anarchist theory and its commitment to autonomy and consistent federalism. Within the diverse working class, it is only when each perspective is represented that common goals can be identified. That is when unity will be achieved, on the basis of:

TOUCH ONE

TOUCH ALL

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