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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Some Reflections on the Ōtautahi/ Christchurch Tragedy

This statement was produced by the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement, an Anarchist Communist organisation in Aotearoa / New Zealand. The MACG generally endorses its contents, but notes that it refers twice to “the white working class”. We believe that this is a very loose expression. There is one working class. It is multi-racial and some of its members (a majority in countries like Australia & Aotearoa / New Zealand) are white.

With that proviso, we commend the article reproduced below.

Just over one week ago two New Zealand mosques were attacked by a white supremacist carrying four firearms. 50 people were killed, another 50 injured. The gunman lives streamed the attack on the internet and the resulting video was quickly shared. He also issued a 78-page manifesto giving a glimpse into his mindset and why he carried out the act that he did.

Since then much discussion has been held around about New Zealand’s colonialist past, its own far-right groups and the existence of racism in New Zealand society at large. All important conversations that need to be had, but cannot really explain what happened in this instance and why.  This was an international event that just so happened to have been in New Zealand.

To really understand the nature of the occurrence of racism and white supremacy then the present system we live under, capitalism has to be examined, and how it has used racism and continues to use it, to its own benefit for controlling and dividing workers. It also requires a careful analysis of who benefits from racial oppression. Simply labelling the recent fascist attacks as something unusual, or as the act of an ‘evil’ individual is not enough.

Capitalism is intertwined with racism. As an idea, it was developed and used to help justify colonisation and slavery. Its use as a form of discrimination and oppression was used to create and justify high levels of exploitation and was an important factor in the development of capitalism. The end of the more overt racist structures of slavery and empire have not buried racism.

Racism survives as an idea and as a practice, as it continues to serve two key functions under capitalism. Firstly, it allows the capitalists to secure sources of cheap, unorganised, and highly exploitable labour, for example, immigrants and minorities. Secondly, racism allows the capitalist ruling class to divide and rule the working class as it is used to foster divisions within the working class at home, classically in the scapegoating of immigrants and refugees for “taking away jobs and housing”; and abroad by bolstering the image of the nation-state by being used to create a sense of superiority over other workers of other nations, creating an appearance of common interest between workers and capitalists of a race or nation, with whom in reality workers have nothing in common.
It goes without saying that we need to counteract these ideas. Racism does not benefit any workers. Even workers who are not themselves directly oppressed by racism lose out from racism because it divides the working class.

Despite this many working class people often support racism because of the capitalist control over ideas. Capitalists do not simply rule by force, they also rule by promoting a capitalist world-view. They feed the working-class ideas of national and racial superiority and pride through the education system, the media, and literature. The impact of the drip feed of this propaganda throughout life cannot be underestimated.

Another factor is the material conditions of the working class itself. Poverty leaves people open to ideas of being able to take pride in their superiority over another when their own economic-social status is low. Working class people are also locked in competition for a limited amount of jobs, housing and other resources, and it easy to take advantage of any privilege that you may perceive.
With the increasing loss of many jobs to technology, the increasing precariousness nature of work, and stagnating and falling wages, many members of the white working class have lost the security they once took for granted. The resurgence of white-supremacy represents anxiety about a descent into conditions that capitalism and racism had earlier let most whites escape.

If, as we claim, it is capitalism that continually generates the conditions for racist oppression and ideology, then it follows that the struggle against racism can only be consistently carried out by overthrowing the capitalist system. The overthrow of capitalism, however, requires the unification of the working class internationally, across all lines of colour and nationality.

This is not to argue that the fight against racism must be deferred until after the revolution. Instead, we are arguing that only a united working class can defeat racism and capitalism and that a united working class can only be built on the basis of opposing all forms of oppression and prejudice and winning the support of all members of the working class. It is in the interest of all workers to support the struggle against racism.

Banning assault rifles, asking internet providers to block access to certain sites, demanding the spies spy on the right will not end racism. Neither is looking to politicians for solutions when they have themselves have often been responsible for helping lay the foundations for the attack. This has to be the work of the ordinary people of New Zealand.

Anti-racism should occupy a high priority in the activities of all anarchists. This is important not simply because we always oppose all oppression, but also because such work is essential to the vital task of unifying the working class, a unity without which neither racism nor capitalism can be ended. The world we need to create is one without racial categorisation, without “whiteness”, and without capitalism. One crucial way of working toward such a world is defending the marginalised in the here and now. Communities must come to the defence of people of colour.

The dangers of white identity politics must be explained to white members in their community and workplaces. Any hopes of building an anti-racist movement require white radicals educating other whites to identify that progress for other groups means that all workers benefit and that their rise does not mean another’s fall. We need to challenge those that say “maybe immigration is too high” or “Muslims are different”. We need to stop politicians and media commentators using their platforms to abuse Muslims and migrants for political point scoring.

Without these kinds of actions the far-right will continue to gain footholds amongst the white working-class as they present themselves as the alternative people are looking for, and the answers to the changing world around them.

We need to combat any fascist organising in public, without any exceptions. When fascists feel free to organise in public their discourse becomes normalised and supporters can gain strength and confidence from this. Furthermore, fascist organising is a threat to the lives of the people they scapegoat. Don’t be swayed of arguments for free speech, these people aren’t interested in debate, they are already convinced of the correctness of their ideas, and they just want power.

However, it must be remembered at all times that racism cannot be fought by anti-racism alone. The fight against capitalism and the struggle against racism are two sides of the same coin. Neither can succeed without the other. The right has been good at presenting a vision of an alternative to the discontented, we need to do the same, and we need to do it better, after all our vision of an all-inclusive, egalitarian future is more rewarding.

One more thing to reflect on is the common cry since the shooting has been “this is not who we are” but we have to remember there is no “we” that encompasses the whole people of Aotearoa New Zealand. This country, like every other in the world, is a class-divided society, made up of opposing classes, with conflicting class interests, and only one of those classes rules, the capitalist class. That is the class who Jacinda Ardern represents, and amongst all the glorification of the Prime Minister, this has to be remembered. While we can look for the common values that represent us as exploited workers and the response of the New Zealand public in coming together has been heartwarming, there are no common values between the ruling class and ours. Jacinda Ardern, despite the way she has handled the tragedy, as a representative of the ruling class and their institutions that lead to the white-supremacist that carried out this attack is part of the problem, not the solution.

http://awsm.nz/2019/03/25/some-reflections-on-the-christchurch-tragedy/

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THE CHRISTCHURCH MASSACRE

The murder of fifty people and the wounding of many more by a heavily armed Fascist gunman in New Zealand on 15 March is a warning to the world. Though quarrelling and disorganised, Fascists are growing in number and in the danger they present. They are a clear and present danger to the working class and all oppressed groups in society.

This particular murderer considers himself an “eco-fascist”, someone who advocates a Fascist form of government for supposed ecological reasons. These people often favour genocide as a means of reducing the Earth’s human population to what they consider a sustainable level. Of course, they often hold very familiar racist ideas about which ethnic groups most need culling.

The precise doctrines of Fascists are not particularly relevant. They will advocate environmentalism or anti-environmentalism, Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, ethnic nationalism or civic nationalism, primarily on the basis of what they think will allow them to build support. The real content of Fascist politics is violence. A Fascist group is a conspiracy to murder and a Fascist State is a machine for genocide.

The growth of Fascism cannot be divorced either from developments in the world economy or from trends in mainstream politics. Global capitalism is at an impasse. Economic growth is slowing to a stall in many countries and the gap between rich and poor is growing to levels not seen since the 19th Century. Globalisation is undermining the ability of the nation State to regulate economic life. Around the world, it is upending the social compromises between classes that have been the result of past struggles.

In this environment, some sections of the population who cannot engage in working class struggle become desperate and turn to Fascism. When these groups become large enough, they come to the attention of capitalists who see their potential for use against working class organisations. Meanwhile, the undermining of the nation State by globalisation leads the capitalists to double down in its defence. The State apparatus is strengthened against enemies without and within, while the State wages ever more strident ideological campaigns for national unity, for loyalty to national myths and for the scapegoating of despised minorities.

Here in Australia, evidence of this is abundant. The bipartisan obsession with border protection is a reaction to globalisation, which makes people more mobile and translates into shocking levels of racist cruelty to refugees. It also manifests as a complex set of restrictive visas for migrant workers in Australia, giving employers the power to prevent them claiming their legal rights. In turn, super-exploitation of migrant workers is used to generate racist resentment against the workers themselves. Too often, union officials adopt short sighted slogans about “Aussie jobs” that encourage racism and divide the working class.

On a more specific level, a range of Australian politicians have created an atmosphere of Islamophobia out of which Australia’s Fascists have precipitated. Just amongst currently serving Federal MPs, we can cite Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, George Christensen, Cory Bernardi, Pauline Hanson, Brian Burston and the now-infamous Fraser Anning as examples. Outside Parliament, Islamophobia is propagated on a more-or-less full time basis by the Murdoch press, commercial breakfast television, Sydney talk radio and the Sky-after-dark TV line-up. Together, these politicians and media outlets have a massive impact on public opinion. Coalition and often Labor governments, along with almost the entire media, have engaged in ideological campaigns not only promoting Islamophobia, but also about Invasion Day, Anzac Day, so-called “African gangs”, the Safe Schools program and much more.

These reactionary campaigns show that there is little difference between the hard Right of Parliamentary politics and the Fascists when it comes to opinions about day-to-day political issues. The difference between them is sometimes their diagnosis of fundamental causes and, crucially, the solutions they propose. The Fascists blame global cabals (often of Jews) and are much more forthright about the need for a violent, authoritarian State and for a violent path to get there. On Facebook and the discussion boards of 4chan and 8chan Fascists make converts from ordinary reactionaries, articulate their ideology, argue over strategy and egg each other on to violence.

Terrorism is the strategy of the use or the credible threat of violence to create a climate of fear for personal safety in the civilian population, or a definable subset thereof, for a political end. It is more often adopted by the State than by groups or individuals, but the Christchurch massacre fits this definition exactly. The killer was attempting to strike fear into the hearts of Muslims in New Zealand, in pursuit of a racial war to create his eco-Fascist ethnostate. As intended, the world has reacted in shock. The vast majority in Australia and New Zealand have recoiled both from the Fascism that he espouses and from the broader Right wing politicians and media who have created the environment for it to flourish. As the saying goes, if you create the swamp, you don’t get to disown what crawls out of it.

In the wake of the massacre, many well-intentioned people are asking “Why wasn’t this guy picked up before he could do it? Why wasn’t anyone watching him?” While these questions might lead to a sacking of a police commissioner or a spy chief, the people asking them are (sometimes unintentionally) building justifications for an expansion of the size and powers of the State’s security apparatus. This is entirely the wrong approach to fighting Fascism. The police, the military and the security services are breeding grounds for Fascists and are structurally incapable of acting effectively against them. Anything positive they do will be spasmodic and half-hearted.

Worse, the powers and resources of a strengthened security State will inevitably be turned against all of its traditional targets – oppressed groups and progressive social movements. Under no circumstances, therefore, should we be criticising police and security services for “falling down on the job”. Their job is to uphold an unjust social order and Fascism is no threat to that.

Likewise, we shouldn’t look to gun control as a solution to Fascist violence. No legislation would disarm the police or the military – and, since these bodies both attract and produce Fascists, they’ll be able to arm themselves whatever the laws are.

There is only one way to fight Fascism effectively, because the only force that can beat Fascism is the organised working class. We need a united front where all the Fascists’ targets come together in struggle. This united front necessarily has room for different political perspectives and a diversity of tactics, but as long as we can agree on the need to act together against the common enemy, it can be effective. In the course of the struggle, the validity of Anarchist Communist principles and organisational approaches will be proven to increasing numbers of workers.

It is in the pursuit of this perspective that the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group participates in PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build a United Front Against Fascism. We appeal to Anarchists around the world also to take up the struggle to build united fronts. It is a strategy to avoid the twin errors of sectarian isolation, which divides anti-Fascists, and political capitulation, which would lead us to disaster. March separately, strike together.

NO PASARAN!

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PUSH! Statement on Christchurch White Supremacist Mosque Attacks

The mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques on 15 March that left 50 dead and 50 injured as of 21 March stands as one of the worst instances of far-right violence of the 21st century. The shooter is Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist and self-described “ethno nationalist eco fascist.”

PUSH stands in solidarity with the Muslim community of Christchurch, throughout New Zealand, Australia and the world. These communities have been subjected to vilification and persecution, which has only escalated since 9/11.

Fascists like Tarrant are influenced by an alarmingly organised and growing far-right movement. As the world economy continues to disintegrate and living standards suffer, governments use racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia to create scapegoats for people to blame. Fascists become the shock troops of racist governments trying desperately to hold up this crisis-ridden economy. New Zealand is no exception, and Christchurch has been home to a number of neo-Nazi and far-right groups.

The ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and beyond – and the resulting demonisation of anyone from West Asia – create the perfect conditions for fascist Islamophobic violence. The War on Terror – now nearly two decades old – has provided racist governments with endless opportunity to target the very same peoples they are killing abroad. The flow of refugees from West Asia – which our governments have created through their never-ending wars – has been smeared as the cause of falling living standards, when the real culprit, as always, is the profit-hungry 1%.

This scapegoating plays directly into the hands of the global far-right, who use the misdirected anger of people like Tarrant to recruit, growing their ranks and increasing their threat. It is no accident that the massacre in Christchurch, committed by an Australian citizen, comes after Australian governments, both Liberal and Labor, have spent two decades demonising refugees, mostly Muslims, and locking them up in Pacific Island hellholes. It is no accident that it comes after years of racist dog whistling about terrorism, immigration and crime by Government ministers. And it is no accident that it comes after a decade or more of intense racist propaganda by the capitalist press, radio and television media. These have created the climate in which a fascist can find fellow thinkers and decide to turn words into deeds.

The solution to this threat is the global solidarity of all exploited and oppressed by this sadistic system. The massive, coordinated demonstrations in cities around the world against racism and fascism on 16 March are the antidote to the far-right menace. This resistance is the only way to eliminate the threat of far-right violence effectively and safely – not handing greater powers to our governments, which enable it. New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern’s gun control legislation and Police Commissioner’s paternalistic advice to Muslims to close their places of worship are deliberate deflections, not solutions. So are the sinister calls of Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, and the Australian Labor Party Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, to stamp out “extremism” and “hate,” from both the left and right.

The solution lies with us. To be truly effective, this resistance needs to coalesce into a united front composed of all those who face fascist violence — women, First Nations people, immigrants of colour and temporary residents, Jews and Muslims, LGBTIQ and disabled people, sex workers, people on welfare and the poor, unions and the broader left.

PUSH aims to build this united front. To get involved, follow PUSH on Facebook for information about upcoming actions and meetings.

21 March, 2019

PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build a United Front against Fascism

antifascist.push@gmail.com. • https://www.facebook.com/antifascist.push

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is a participant in PUSH!

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LESSONS FROM THE YELLOW VESTS

This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 8 No 1, published 25 January 2019.

The Yellow Vests movement in France began on 17 November and, after peaking in early December, has continued to this day. It was triggered by the decision of the French Government to increase taxes on petrol and diesel fuel at the start of 2019 and to justify it on environmental grounds, in particular to mitigate climate change. Opinion polls report that the movement has the support of the vast majority of people in France.

Hundreds of thousands of people have participated in militant actions across France, with many of the demonstrations encountering massive police violence. The movement has been politically heterogeneous from the outset. At the beginning Right wing tendencies were predominant, but after about a month, the Left gained the upper hand. At all times, the movement has resisted the appeal to affiliate itself with any of the mainstream French political parties. The Government abandoned the fuel tax increases, but the movement had already transformed into one protesting against the Government’s economic policies generally.

It is unclear what the eventual result of the Yellow Vests movement will be, but one thing is already clear. The Government’s attempt to use price signals in the capitalist market to bring about a transition from fossil fuels has been killed off. The people of France, emphatically and almost unanimously, have rejected the neo-liberal prescription for addressing climate change. The climate movement around the world ignores this lesson at its peril.

The world needs to stop climate change. Left unchecked, global temperatures will rise by between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius. This would result in the destruction of most ecosystems, render large parts of the world uninhabitable due to summer heat and kill billions of people. This is not just about the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon jungle, important as they are. This is about the survival of industrial civilisation and, in a worst case scenario, the human race itself.

Action to mitigate climate change, however, does not occur in a vacuum. The same capitalist system which brought us unsustainable fossil fuels also created a vastly unequal society, and inequality continues to increase. When a government uses neo-liberal policies like a carbon price to address climate change, it aggravates the tendency in capitalism to produce inequality. Just as for electricity prices, when fuel prices rise, workers suffer and the capitalists hardly notice.

For us in Australia, the consequences should be clear. The media are dominated by hard Right wing climate denialist voices. They will channel justified working class anger against declining living standards into a deadly weapon against any form of carbon pricing. The Right will promote mass scepticism about the scientific basis for taking action against climate change. This is precisely what occurred to the Labor Government of Julia Gillard in 2010 and the consequences are likely to be the same – or worse – if that strategy is repeated.

The only realistic approach to climate change is one that recognises the inequality in our society. The policies of neo-liberalism, in particular carbon pricing, are a prescription for failure. Workers and communities currently reliant on unsustainable industries deserve a just transition. Working class living standards as a whole must be protected to maintain social support for a transition to a carbon free economy. The price of the transition must be borne by those who built and profited from unsustainable industries – the capitalists. In short, we need to abolish capitalism. It is the only strategy that can work.

A JUST TRANSITION MEANS ABOLISHING CAPITALISM

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INVASION DAY 2019

This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 8 No 1, published 25 January 2019.

Invasion Day, 26 January, is now the largest day of Left wing mobilisation in Australia. Attendances are much greater than those at May Day and are only exceeded by set piece events organised by the unions. Increasing numbers of both indigenous and non-indigenous people are turning out on this day and their demands are increasingly radical. These are welcome indicators of the growth of a movement which rejects the racism on which Australia is founded.

The capitalist media in Australia have been campaigning for over thirty years to generate Australian nationalism and focus it on an officially designated “Australia Day”. Indigenous people have never accepted this and have pushed back. In the face of this resistance, it has become increasingly difficult for the capitalist class to maintain their myth of a happy and united society that celebrates its nationhood. Constant reminders from indigenous people about the invasion of this land and the genocide and dispossession which followed have been causing more people to listen. The voices of indigenous people are amplified. A discordant note has been introduced.

“Change the Date”

In response to this problem, some progressive elements inside the capitalist class of Australia have started pushing the argument to “Change the Date” of Australia Day. Recognising the appalling insult to indigenous people of celebrating the start of genocide, dispossession and racism, they have begun arguing that Australia’s national day should be moved to a different date in the year.

This suggestion has run into two problems, besides the predictable opposition from the racist establishment. Firstly, there is the matter of an alternative day. The obvious date, in terms of its appeal to nationalistic sentiment, is Anzac Day. That is controversial, both because of the strict militarists who want to retain Anzac Day as it is, and progressives who are reluctant to boost a celebration of militarism even more. Other, less obvious, dates have failed to gain either recognition or traction. Some are proposing shifting the date at some time in the future when a treaty is negotiated.

The second problem, more substantive, is that a growing number of indigenous people in Australia are opposed to “Australia Day” being celebrated at all. Not only is Australia’s history a shameful litany of crimes against indigenous people – genocide, dispossession, wage theft, discrimination, child removal, police brutality and more – but the crimes continue today. There can be no pride in genocide, no matter what date it is celebrated. Now that the Invasion Day rallies have taken up this call, the “Change the Date” campaign is exposed as not being about justice for indigenous people, but about allowing the settler population to celebrate nationalism without having Australia’s institutional racism rubbed in their faces while they do it.

Abolish Australia Day

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group endorses the demands of the Melbourne Invasion Day rally for 2019: Aboriginal Sovereignty, not Constitutional Recognition; Stop Taking Our Kids; Abolish Australia Day; Stop Deaths in Custody; Shut Down Prisons. All strike at the racist foundations of the Australian State. Some, though, are only achievable through a workers’ revolution that abolishes capitalism. It is only libertarian communism, the Workers’ Commonwealth, and not the racist Australian capitalist State, that can negotiate just treaties with the indigenous peoples and nations that have never ceded their sovereignty. It is only the Workers’ Commonwealth that can shut down the prisons. It is only the Workers’ Commonwealth that can end deaths in custody by abolishing the police.

So, this year and every year, the MACG joins the call to abolish Australia Day. Our vision is of a stateless communist society, a Workers’ Commonwealth worldwide and operating on the basis of consistent federalism. Here, in the land that is currently called Australia, the Workers’ Commonwealth will be the vehicle through which non-indigenous people work with, and learn from, indigenous people how to live sustainably in the land, as they did so successfully for over 60,000 years before the First Fleet brought British colonialism to these shores.

ALWAYS WAS, ALWAYS WILL BE
ABORIGINAL LAND

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