THE WORKING CLASS

This article was published in The Anvil Vol 7 No 2, Sep-Oct 2018

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believe that workers’ revolution is the only way to achieve a society of peace, freedom and equality for all. This is not a fashionable view.

It is understandable that our view isn’t fashionable for two reasons. First, the capitalist media and capitalist educational institutions work hard to build faith in other roads to a good society, or to discredit the very idea. Second, the failure of States that claim to uphold workers’ revolution to achieve a free and equal society has done much to discredit both the objective and the strategy. So people who still believe in workers’ revolution have some explaining to do. The MACG believes it can make a good case.

Before the rise of industrial capitalism, dreams of abolishing social class and establishing economic equality were confined to rare intellectuals or occasional outbursts of struggle during revolutionary periods. The intellectuals usually conjured up authoritarian communist utopias which could only be created by a ruler – but which no ruler would want to create. The outbursts of struggle fell away when faced with the problem of dealing with material shortage, and new ruling classes emerged or old ones reconsolidated.

The Industrial Revolution began in England in the late 18th Century and, over the following hundred years, spread across Europe, the United States, Britain’s settler colonies & elsewhere. The working class separated from the middle class, since most workers now had no realistic expectation of advancing to self-employment. It was this new working class that made possible a mass movement towards a free and equal society, because this was a force with the necessary motive and potential power. This movement prefigured a society based on these values because of the organic link between the practices of the movement and the structures of the new society.

Today, the working class is the largest class in the world, outnumbering the peasants and even the 3rd World urban poor, who are largely self-employed in the informal sector. We are vastly more powerful than when we made the Russian Revolution a century ago. The social productivity of labour is so great that many agree the world is rich enough to abolish poverty if only there were the political will to do so. Poverty, once an unavoidable tragedy, is now a crime against humanity.

Since emerging in the late 1860s, class struggle Anarchists have said that it is the working class that will abolish capitalism. We have argued for revolution because we agree with the saying attributed to Lucy Parsons, “Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.” We believe the working class is central because of our numbers, but more importantly because workers create society’s wealth and make society function on a day-to-day basis. We can seize the workplace, the source of the capitalists’ power, and build our own power. The struggle for better wages & conditions is the school in which groups of workers learn their strength and come to believe in a society based on the solidarity they have built.

Critics of the class struggle strategy point to reactionary ideas amongst the working class. It is true that many workers have racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes and engage in various forms of oppressive behaviour. The leaders and propagators of reactionary ideas in society, though, are actually powerful capitalists. Years of racist dog-whistling by John Howard, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton have been essential, for example, to the rise of Fascist thugs in Australia like the True Blue Crew and the Soldiers of Odin. The fish rots from the head.

There is also a more powerful argument against dismissing the working class. Workers who hold reactionary ideas are shooting themselves in the foot. Their racism, their sexism, their homophobia, etc, are instruments of their own defeat. As well as barring the way to a just society, reaction defeats workers in the daily struggle for decent wages and conditions. Black workers lose massively from racism, but white workers also lose. Women workers lose massively from sexism, but male workers also lose. And so on. Only the capitalists win from reactionary ideologies and the oppressions they justify.

We cannot put off the struggle against sexism, racism, homophobia, religious bigotry, anti-trans hatred or any other oppression until “after the Revolution”. Doing so would ensure the Revolution never comes. Instead, we have to return to the foundation principle that built the union movement – Touch One, Touch All. All forms of oppression, inside the workplace or outside, are an attack on our solidarity and thus on the working class as a whole.

It is in the crucible of struggle that workers learn these lessons most quickly. The most famous example of this was the great Miners’ Strike of 1984-85 in Britain. The coalfields, long-time bastions of sexism, changed when women stepped forward into the struggle. Few women were directly employed in the mines, but women saw the very existence of their communities was at stake. Fundraising activity by immigrant and LGBT groups made more bonds of solidarity that transformed miners’ consciousness. In twelve months miners learned new attitudes that took decades for the rest of the working class in Britain.

The struggle of the working class is linked to the revolution in three ways. First, the struggle is located where capital gets its power – in the workplace. Second, the struggle over wages and conditions shows that economic crises are inevitable within capitalism and the looming threat of an irresolvable crisis is ever growing. And third, it is only through struggle that the working class will learn the iron solidarity necessary for the revolution. As it casts aside all reactionary prejudices (what Marx called “the muck of ages”), the working class will remake itself as a body of free and equal people fit for a libertarian communist society.

TOUCH ONE
TOUCH ALL

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MACG JOIN PUSH!

This article was published in The Anvil Vol 7 No 2, Sep-Oct 2018.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group have joined PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build a United Front Against Fascism. As its name implies, PUSH! aims to build a united front of working class organisations against Fascism. Our forces are modest, composed of a handful of groups and individual activists who have left CARF, but we are clear about our basic direction.

As capitalism evolves ever more deadly contradictions, Right wing forces gather strength. Fascism, an ideology most people thought was defeated seventy years ago, has re-emerged. Like other reactionary forces, Fascists seek to blame society’s problems on suitable scapegoats, but the distinguishing feature of Fascism is its use of violence as a strategy. By whipping up the middle classes into a frenzy of reaction, they create street gangs to attack vilified groups and “the enemy within” – progressive political forces. Ultimately, Fascists seek an open dictatorship to crush the unions and all other working class organisations. A Fascist group is a conspiracy to murder. Breaking it up is an act of self-defence and, if done using reasonable force, entirely justified.

Fascism can only be defeated by a united front, where workers from different tendencies unite all the Fascists’ targets through solidarity in action. In Australia today, this means that the unions must take the lead and rally the rest of the working class behind their banners. A mass demonstration of thousands, or even tens of thousands, of unionists and others would be unbeatable. The police could not disperse them and the Fascists would recoil in terror, to fall apart in bitter recriminations afterwards.

It is to pursue this vision that the MACG have left CARF and helped establish PUSH! While CARF has done essential work since 2015 in mobilising against Fascist rallies, it has put the only winning strategy in the too-hard basket. Increasingly, it abandoned building a united front that drew on broader forces and turned into a campaign group that merely attracted radicalised individuals. Worst of all, it turned away from the labour movement, writing off the unions as hopelessly conservative. CARF’s mobilisations have been a necessary stop-gap until we win the argument inside the unions, but they cannot win lasting victories when the constituency for Fascism keeps growing. There were some undemocratic practices within CARF, but we won’t dwell on them because frankly we’ve seen much worse and they only arose because of the political issues in contention.

The MACG will pursue our vision for an anti-Fascist united front within PUSH! We know that many groups in the labour movement don’t share our strategy, so they will have to be either won over or sidelined. And we know that the union bureaucracy is craven and conservative, but we place our faith in the rank and file workers who are Fascism’s targets. The struggle against Fascism is inseparable from the struggle against the union bureaucracy – but didn’t we know that already?

PUSH! can be contacted at antifascist.push@gmail.com or found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Antifascist.Push/.

NO PASARAN!

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PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build an Anti-Fascist United Front

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is pleased to announce that we have participated in the launch of a new anti-Fascist organisation. The initial callout is reproduced below.

PUSH! Organising and Educating
to Build an Anti-Fascist United Front

A callout to unite forces against fascists and the far right

In Australia and around the world, we face a fascist threat. Nazis are returning to the streets of towns and cities, winning seats in parliaments across Europe and — closer to home — marching openly under police protection through the streets of Melbourne. Wherever they appear, fascists spell danger, with local groups such as Blair Cottrell’s Lads Society training for combat and Neil Erickson’s Cooks Convicts raiding local councils and intimidating immigrants and refugees.

While these developments do not mean we are in a fascist state, they are warnings. Fascists rely on enablers and collaborators in the political mainstream to give them a platform. The current wave of fascism is no different. From Israel’s Netanyahu and the Philippines’ Duterte to the USA’s Trump, far right governments light the way for these emerging fascists. So do fear-mongering mainstream “democrats,” from Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton to Matthew Guy and Daniel Andrews.

Racism lays the foundation for fascism

Australia is a state founded on the theft of Aboriginal land, the denial of the sovereignty of the people who have been living here for tens of thousands of years, and genocide to wipe out their communal culture. The capitalists need to propagate racism and reactionary nationalism to validate their position and pit workers against each other. Official state racism provides the environment where fascists are encouraged to organise.

Through rallies, elections, social media and think-tanks, fascists seek platforms to recruit from and normalise their world view, more broadly co-opting conservative or moderate forces toward their agenda. Following the examples of Hitler and Mussolini, they aim to build a movement capable of lifting them, and their ideological program, into state power. This is fascism — a mass movement, whose social base is mainly small business operators and entrepreneurs (the middle class) but also workers devoid of class solidarity, desperately looking for a solution to their impoverishment and uncertain futures.

Without capitalism, there would be no fascism

Fascist ideologues feed on their fears and prejudices, harkening to a mythical bygone era of greatness steeped in reactionary nationalism, white pride and patriarchal family values. Exploiting deep-seated and systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, they offer up scapegoats to blame — Muslims and Jews, immigrants and refugees, people of colour, First Nations, women, disabled people and the LGBTIQ community. However their prime marks are trade unions and the Left, because these are the movements capable of uniting and mobilising their targets against them.

Scapegoating deflects attention from the source of ever-widening desperation: the profit system. When economic crisis becomes so critical that workers and the oppressed resist and parliamentary democracy can no longer keep the class “peace,” the billionaire class will turn to the fascists. This happened 80 years ago. This economic élite will resort to fascism again to stave off revolt and save itself. The aim is to crush the working class so that capitalism can survive.

We can stop this

Hitler himself said that organised resistance could have eliminated the Nazis when they were still small and weak. But the fragmented labour and Left movements failed to coalesce into a united front. Fascism beat the working class into submission — assassinating its leaders, sending millions into concentration campsand forced labour, enforcing “kinder, küche, kirsche” (children, kitchen, church) on women of the “master race,” and smashing trade unions.

Unity in action is our collective, mutual defence. All of fascists’ targets coming together as organisations and individuals is our weapon against aspiring führers while they’re still small, split and weak. And while we still have rights to organise.

The united front is our collective defence

Our vision is of a united front in which politically divergent groups and individuals cohere around points of agreement and work together respectfully, collaboratively and uncompromisingly in the interest of workers and all the oppressed. A united front is about marching with our own banners and slogans, and striking together.

Democracy and accountability are key to this united strength. Without them, a united front can’t build or last.

Crucial to the united front is the involvement of the union movement, because this is where workers organise and build collective self-discipline to act in defence of our class. Union officials are belatedly beginning to recognise the threat. But it is the members and delegates — the ones facing fascist targeting in their everyday lives — who are most compelled to push our unions to join.

Open letter from Victorian Trades Hall Council, August 2018. Below is an extract:

“The mighty Victorian union movement is comprised of workers from all walks of life, united across race and religion. We’re a movement built on respect, care and unbreakable solidarity. We welcome everyone.

Except Nazis.”

PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build an Anti-Fascist United Front

PUSH! is a newly formed group committed to working with all other anti-fascists fighting to defeat this threat. Our member organisations — Freedom Socialist Party, Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne, Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group and Radical Women — have long histories of anti-fascist organising, from running National Action out of Brunswick and later Fawkner and ridding Victoria of the misogynist, homophobic Blackshirts, to fighting off the current fascist scourge as founding members of Campaign Against Racism and Fascism.

This is a callout to all organisations and individuals who want to join in democratically shaping the agreed principles of unity and direction for a collective, united push to remove the fascist threat and make our communities and movements truly safe.

If you agree or want to talk,
please contact PUSH: email antifascist.push@gmail.com
or contact us on Facebook at Antifascist.Push

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MAY DAY 2018

This statement was distributed at noon on May Day at the 8 Hour Monument in Melbourne

International Workers Day

May Day is International Workers Day. It is a day for workers to come together in struggle worldwide and to celebrate our solidarity. It started as a campaign to free the Haymarket Martyrs, Anarchist union organisers who had been falsely convicted of murder in 1886 after an unidentified person threw a bomb at a workers’ demonstration in Chicago in the United States. As the campaign spread around the world, the workers’ movement developed a sense that its movement was international as its pioneering thinkers had predicted. Four were executed and one committed suicide, but the survivors were ultimately pardoned. August Spies’ last words before his execution came true: “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”

The Workers’ Movement

Over succeeding years, the workers’ movement has waxed and waned. It has spread to new countries as capitalism created new battalions of the working class. It has been weakened by war, repression or betrayal. It has been strengthened by fresh waves of struggle. And all along, greater or lesser numbers have maintained the vision of an international movement with a global vision of a better society. We have had great victories – the revolutions which ended World War I, the great strike wave of the late 1960s and early 70s and the strikes that have driven up wages in China, Indonesia and Bangladesh in recent years. We have had bitter defeats, too – counter-revolution in Russia, Fascist dictatorship in the 1930s and the ongoing imposition of neo-liberalism in the last twenty years.

Today

The working class is now the biggest class in the world, larger than either the peasantry or the urban poor. We are still exploited. We still build unions. And we still strike. It is only from a narrow national view that it can be said that the working class has been rendered powerless or irrelevant. Globalisation has changed the game plan for workers. To put an end to the defeats we have suffered at the hands of neo-liberalism, workers must take an international perspective.

The Task Before Us

The contradiction between the global nature of production under capitalism and the nation state framework in which it is rooted is intensifying. A national perspective, whether it is “Aussie jobs for Aussie workers” or expecting a Labor Government to rescue us from the pressures of the global market, is a recipe for defeat. The only winning strategy is for workers to link across borders and use the power of the capitalists’ global production chains against them. Our movement can unite the human race. Through taking power in the workplace, we can defeat capitalists and governments in all countries. We can create a world of peace, freedom and equality for all. We can make a revolution and create libertarian communism.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
1 May 2018
macg1984 at yahoo dot com dot au

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The Fight For Anarchism is The Fight For Peace

Our comrades in the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement across the other side of the Tasman have put out an Anzac Day leaflet of their own. We think it’s pretty AWSM. Check it out here:

http://www.awsm.nz/2018/04/18/anzac-day-pamphlet/

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THE USEFUL DEAD

This is the MACG’s Anzac Day Statement for 2018.

1915

On this day, 103 years ago, Australian, New Zealand and other troops of the British Empire stormed a Turkish beach. It was a poorly conceived, poorly executed plan to secure a passage through the Dardanelles for the navy of the Czar of Russia. It was a sideshow in the greater crime of the war itself, where two rival imperialist alliances fought to redivide the colonies, markets and resources of the world. The war was ended by revolution, first in Russia in 1917 and then in Germany the following year. Victories for the Entente on the Western Front, while significant, were a result of the social disintegration of the Central Powers rather than being decisive factors themselves.

Today

War is politics pursued via other means. Politics under capitalism is the battle between the capitalist classes of different countries and between each capitalist class and the working class it exploits. Conflict between the most powerful capitalist classes has produced a system of imperialism. In modern globalised capitalism, wars are fought to advance the perceived interests of the capitalist classes of the belligerent powers and nationalism is propagated to enrol the workers behind the flag of their masters. In Australia, dead Anzacs serve once more. Their sacrifices are useful to today’s politicians to generate support for today’s wars.

Australian Imperialism

Australia is a small-time imperialist power in its own right, supporting the US-dominated world order so it can dominate the South Pacific unchallenged. Australia’s politicians therefore got a rude shock recently when reports started circulating that Vanuatu, a Pacific Island country that Australian capitalists rarely think about, was about to agree to establishing a Chinese military base. Naturally everybody denied anything like that was on the agenda, but Australia’s political and military establishment now have something to worry about. How can they keep China out of Australia’s “back yard” – even if the peoples of the South Pacific regard it instead as their living room?

Anzac Day

In recent years, Anzac Day celebrations in Australia have become increasingly strident and nationalistic, full of cloying militarism. And Right wing mobs in the media have taken to denouncing those who are insufficiently patriotic – particularly if they are brown and female. This is a sign that Australian nationalism is under pressure. People considering themselves humans before they are Australians is just too dangerous a thought these days. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group opposes Australian imperialism and militarism and all celebrations of it. We look forward to a workers’ revolution which will usher in a world community of freedom and equality for all – and where war will be seen in museums, not the news.

END ANZAC DAY
END AUSTRALIAN IMPERIALISM
END CAPITALISM

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

macg1984 @ yahoo . com . au
PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
25 April 2018

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FORTRESS AUSTRALIA MEANS RACIST TORTURE

This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 7 No 1, published in February 2018.

Late last year, the Manus Island Detention Centre was closed. Nominally run by the Papua New Guinea Government, it was in reality operated by the Australian Government using remote control. Inconveniently, in April 2016 the PNG Supreme Court found that the centre violated the PNG Constitution by imprisoning almost 900 people who had not committed any crime. Instead of immediately releasing the refugees imprisoned there, the governments conspired to keep them locked up while taking their time coming up with alternative arrangements.

The Manus refugees have been protesting their treatment for years. In the run-up to the closure, they escalated their protests greatly, getting wide publicity in Australia via social media and then breaking into the mass media. The new accommodation is located in the town, rather than on the isolated naval base that housed the Detention Centre, and the PNG citizens on Manus are deeply divided over the refugees. Some are very hostile and have issued threats.

As the closure deadline approached and centre management became more desperate, the vast majority of refugees refused to move. They maintained their non-violent stance in the face of escalating violence from the PNG police and military, directed by the PNG Government, and the security guards at the centre, ultimately directed by the Australian Government. Their struggle sparked widespread sympathy and a series of demonstrations by the refugee support movement in Australia. The Government was at last paying a small price for its policy of systematic cruelty.

In late November, a brutal police assault succeeded in removing the 600 remaining protestors. While protests have since died down, news continues to trickle out. The centre was closed while much of the new accommodation was still under construction and uninhabitable. While technically the refugees are not “detained” there (they can come and go), their lives are still highly regulated and closure has been a pretext for cutting back and removing services. Fears about the hostile reception awaiting the refugees in the township have been validated, while conditions in the new accommodation are poor. One block even has raw sewage running down the street – just the thing to make the neighbours happy!

The torture of the refugees on Manus and the similar torture visited on the refugees on Nauru are things that the Australian Government would like everyone to forget. Triumphant rhetoric about “Sovereign Borders” is a little harder to maintain when the struggles of refugees force the human cost of those policies into public view. A Fortress Australia policy necessarily means racist violence against those the policy seeks to exclude and the treatment of refugees on Manus and Nauru amounts to torture on a grand scale. Both major parties in Australia stand condemned over this.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group supports the struggles of refugees, who are simply demanding their legal rights to asylum. We call on the union movement in Australia, sections of which have quite reasonable refugee policies, to act on them and come to the refugees’ defence. We look forward to a workers’ revolution which will create a single federal world community with freedom of movement for everyone. And in the meantime, we support the work of the Close the Camps Action Collective:

https://www.facebook.com/Close-the-Camps-Action-Collective-1741130979474102/.

FREE THE REFUGEES
LET THEM STAY
BRING THEM HERE

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