This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 11 No 2, published 30 April 2022.


On 21 May, voters in Australia will choose which government will oversee exploitation and oppression of the working class by the capitalists for the next three years.  We won’t be able to vote for a free society, one where people live lives of equality and co-operation, where racism, sexism, homophobia and all the other toxic phenomena of capitalism don’t exist and where we live in harmony with our environment.  Even if the High Court hadn’t ruled in 1948 that socialism was precluded by Section 92 of the Constitution, Parliament isn’t a viable means of creating that society.

The current crisis

This doesn’t mean nothing important is going on, though.  Most importantly, the world is rapidly running out of time to prevent runaway climate change, which could destroy industrial civilisation and kill at least 80% of the planet’s human population.  In addition, the rich are getting phenomenally richer while living standards for the working class go backwards; increasing conflict between the US and China is bringing war closer; State racism continues to torture refugees and lead to horrific Aboriginal deaths in custody; and the political Right are stoking culture wars, providing the perfect environment for the rise of Fascism.  The capitalist system is sick and shows no signs of curing itself.  So what does the election offer for addressing this?

The major parties

The incumbent government, a coalition of the Liberal and National Parties, is the representative of the capitalist classes.  It is the enemy of the working class and its organisations.  The coalition has spent 20 of the past 26 years in power so, as far as any government can be held responsible for the mess we’re in, they’re it. It should also be noted that, because of their close links to Big Business, the Coalition parties defend the interests of existing corporations. This is the source of their resistance to acting on climate change.  Both parties need to be wiped from the face of the Earth.

The Labor Party is the political representative of the union bureaucracy.  It exists to negotiate a compromise between labour and capital and the terms on which it can do that depend on the balance of power in the wider society. A by-product of this is that Labor is usually more capable than the Liberals of acting in the interests of the system as a whole when existing corporations are acting destructively.  With the unions shackled by anti-worker laws and eviscerated by 40 years of economic “reforms”, the best Labor can offer is a few crumbs from the tables of the rich.  In this election, Labor is using the “small target” strategy.  It emphasises complete agreement with the Liberals on most issues and tries to keep political debate confined to a handful of topics on which the leaders think they have the advantage.  Labor is promising very little reform and will, if elected, deliver less.

Minor capitalist parties

The most significant of the minor capitalist parties is The Greens.  Though their policies are better than Labor’s in most areas, they suffer from a fundamental problem: they have the illusion that a just and sustainable capitalism can exist.  But a sustainable society will require sweeping away so much of the existing capitalist class that very little would remain, so we could expect their virtually unanimous opposition.  And, even in a fantasy world where a just capitalism could be created, its ordinary operations would immediately start generating injustice and inequality anew.

There is a range of single issue parties, each of them founded on the assumption that, apart from their own pet issue, everything else in this society is at least tolerable.  This time round, there is a wave of “climate independents”.  They are basically Liberals who realise how insane the current Liberal Party is being by defending fossil fuel corporations and risking the future of humanity.  To the extent that they’re serious about actually tackling climate change, they’ll run into the same road block as The Greens.

Finally, there are the Right wing nut jobs who have been proliferating in recent years.  They are the toxic by-product of the manifest inability of the major parties, over decades, to deliver a decent life for people in Australia.  Since they won’t blame the capitalist system, they find refuge in reactionary prejudices, crackpot schemes and, increasingly, in conspiracy theories that will lead them to anti-Semitism and Fascism if they go down that road far enough.  The good news is that, for now, they hate each other almost as much as they hate their enemies on the “woke Left”.

Credit: https:/


The largest effort being made by groups which call themselves Socialists is the campaign run by the Victorian Socialists.  They are running in eleven lower house electorates in Victoria and for the Senate.  A smaller campaign is being run by the Socialist Alliance in five electorates across Australia and for the Senate in three States.  We haven’t been able to find any other Socialists who are running for seats in the lower house.

So what about these Socialists, then?  They’re against the capitalist system that’s causing all our troubles, so that’s a start.  They oppose exploitation and oppression, stand up for all the good causes and realise that stopping climate change requires getting rid of capitalism.  So they get more points in their favour.  Unfortunately, there’s no Parliamentary road to Socialism. Nor is there a parliamentary road right now to significant reforms, as these have only ever been conceded when forced by a militant working class movement outside of parliament.  The experience of 150 years across the world proves that Socialists don’t conquer Parliament, but instead Parliament conquers Socialists.  The closer they get to power, the more pressure they are under to ditch Socialism.  And ditch it they do.  We can only get rid of capitalism through the working class organising in the workplace and making a revolution.  Not only is that the only way to beat the capitalists, but it’s also the only way for the working class to rid itself of all the reactionary prejudices which the capitalists use to divide us.

Our stance

Many Socialists who consider themselves revolutionaries agree with us on the above but still see a point to running in elections.  The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is prepared to concede that it is possible to enter a capitalist Parliament on a principled basis.  You need to advocate Socialism and oppose capitalism; support working class struggles; oppose all oppression and exploitation; and refuse confidence to all capitalist governments.  Crucially, because Socialists running for Parliament implicitly create the illusion that it can be achieved through Parliament, principled Socialists need to explain that this is not the case and we still need a revolution.

The MACG’s problem with this is that it’s not worth the effort. It also engages workers as ‘voters’ deferring to candidates, rather than as individuals capable of exercising power where they are exploited and dominated.   The time and resources required to get elected would be far better put into building working class struggles at the grassroots.  Recruit people to your union and organise against the boss.  Fight against police violence.  Organise tenants against their landlords. Struggle against sexism, heterosexism and transphobia. Organise solidarity for Indigenous struggles.  And so forth.  The immense effort these Socialists are putting into this election campaign would get much better results if put into grassroots struggle.

We don’t support running in elections or campaigning for them, but some Socialists are wasting their resources doing just that. Because none of them are in any danger of being elected this time around, the MACG considers that it’s possible to give them a principled vote (though it would be different if any might win – they would have to pass the test above).  Such a vote is symbolic: you’re putting up your hand for Socialism and against capitalism.  It’s a small gesture which you can make without compromising yourself.  But we still think it was a mistake for honest Socialists to run.



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May Day 2022

May Day 1886

On 1 May, 1886, Anarchist-led unions in Chicago in the US struck for the eight hour day.  A worker was shot dead by a cop, so a protest was called for 4 May.  After an unidentified person threw a bomb, killing a few coppers, the police started shooting.  When the dust settled, seven coppers and at least four civilians were dead.  Some of the coppers had probably died from friendly fire.  A huge anti-Anarchist campaign ensued and eight Anarchists were convicted in a kangaroo court.  The State killed four, while one committed suicide.  The labour movement started a campaign for the exoneration of the Haymarket Martyrs and eventually succeeded.  In the process, May Day became the day of the international workers’ movement.

World in Crisis

Today, the world faces multiple crises.  The most important is climate change, threatening to destroy industrial civilisation and wipe out at least 80% of the human race.  On top of that, the billionaire capitalists continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the working class, authoritarian governments spread and some lurch towards Fascism, a global pandemic continues to kill millions despite the world having the ability to end it, and military powers across the world – in the US, China, Russia, and Europe – are inflaming tensions which could lead to World War III.  We have the ability to end world poverty, but the contradictions of capitalism have never been more acute.

The Working Class Movement

In industrialised countries, the established labour movement continues its long decline.  This is especially true in Australia.  For decades, union leaders have told members to put their hopes in governments and not in the power to strike. Our unions are now hobbled by decades of anti-worker legislation, to which the officials, almost without exception, continue to bow.  Without power in our workplaces, the Labor Party (which exists to enable the union officials to negotiate a compromise between labour and capital), has shifted to the right.  It’s not all bad news, though.  There are few signs as yet in Australia, but struggle is picking up in many countries, sometimes within established unions, sometimes in new independent ones and sometimes as wildcat strikes.  The current wave of unionisation in the US is particularly significant, because it comes in the face of concerted opposition from ascendant capitalist corporations.  Unionising Amazon would be a massive victory.


The crisis of capitalism won’t resolve itself.  No government can save us. Only the working class can end it for the better. We need to make a revolution.  We need to overthrow capitalism and build libertarian communism, worldwide.  For this, the labour movement needs to be built anew.  We need to organise in the workplace and rebuild our unions from the ground up.  We need direct democratic control, with delegates held to mandates, and a consistent federalist structure. The practices by which we build our movement will be the ones that form the basis of the new society.  And we need to do it now, because time is short.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056    

1 May 2022

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Anzac Day 2022

Gallipoli 1915

Winston Churchill wanted to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. Plan A, a naval attack on the Dardanelles, failed.  Plan B was a land assault.    So, on 25 April, about 25,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed at Anzac Cove.  Many were mown down by Turkish guns on the very first day.    By the time of the evacuation nearly nine months later, the debacle had cost 56,000 lives on the allied side and another 56,000 on the Turkish.    The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the many crimes in the much larger crime that was World War I, a clash of two rival imperial alliances squabbling over territory, colonies and resources. Over 17 and a half million people, civilian and military, died for the wealth and power of their ruling classes.

Australia 2022

The players have changed, but the game continues.  Australian capitalism benefits from US hegemony.  It sends troops to Uncle Sam’s wars, takes its side internationally and, in return, gets to police the South Pacific and Timor Leste.  No single power comes close to the US, but its share of the world economy has been in continual decline.  It is now less than 25%.    China’s economy, is already almost 80% that of the US and growing more strongly.    It is an unprecedented threat.  With a population four times that of the US, China could have an economy twice as large with half its per capita GDP.  The US is drawn to rely on its military strength to shore up what it cannot defend in the marketplace.  AUKUS is an alliance formed to keep China subservient to the US and ensure the Pacific Ocean remains an American lake, but only the ever-dependable Australia and the increasingly irrelevant Britain have signed on.    The countries of South-East Asia, despite their dislike of recent Chinese policy, are conspicuous by their absence.

A Rude Awakening

Just last week the Australian Government was surprised by the announcement of a military agreement between China and the Solomon Islands.  Australia’s imperialist sphere of interest in the South Pacific has been disrupted.    A couple of similar agreements in the region could dismantle it.  After decades of aid cuts and a climate policy likely to submerge more than one Pacific island nation, Australian power has become fragile. It could be easily shattered by a rising power which promises more generous support and survivable climate outcomes.  Soon the Australian navy may be too busy nearby to help the US contain the Chinese navy in the South and East China Seas.

Anzac Day

Australia’s militaristic national myth was founded on the Gallipoli landing.  The dead Anzacs are conscripted for service in all of Australia’s wars.  They have sanctified Australian imperialism in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  This year, the national commemoration of the Anzacs will be in the service of the developing conflict with China and the drive to war.  It must not be uncontested.



Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056

25 April 2022

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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 11 No 1, published 28 February 2022.

Note: As we go to press, it is apparent that Russian forces are making less progress than observers predicted. They are being slowed down and, in some cases, halted by Ukrainian forces. It is not impossible that Russia will fail to conquer Ukraine. In this case, the necessity to oppose the Ukrainian military will rise in proportion to the increase in fortunes of the Ukrainian side of the war.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has begun. Like the invasion of Belgium in 1914, it is a clash of empires wrapped in a cloak of aggression of a great power towards a smaller neighbour. The parallel stops there, though. The US has no appetite to throw its own troops into action there and risk a nuclear war, as Vladimir Putin has threatened would be the response. As a result, the disproportion of forces means that Russia is likely to succeed in conquering Ukraine in a couple of weeks and installing a puppet government in Kyiv, though perhaps not without taking heavy casualties if the morale of the Ukrainian military holds.


The working class has no side in this clash of empires. On the one hand, there is NATO, the US dominated Western military alliance. Originally set up to contain the USSR during the Cold War, it was not wound up when the USSR dissolved. Instead, the United States has overseen its expansion to include all the old Warsaw Pact allies of the USSR, plus the Baltic states that left the USSR and a number of the republics of the former Yugoslavia. This has been a massive expansion of US military and institutional power and has occurred alongside the substantial relative decline in its economic power. Ukraine applied for membership in 2002 but has not yet met the membership requirements. The United States would like Ukraine to join NATO in due course, though press reports indicate opposition from France and Germany.

NATO is not a peaceful organisation. Rather, it is the primary means by which the US imposes its order on Europe (and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere) and subordinates its allies. Since the dissolution of the USSR, NATO has engaged in out-of-area military operations, such as the wars over the breakup of Yugoslavia, a “humanitarian” bombing campaign in Libya and long term assistance to the losing US war in Afghanistan. Ukrainian membership of NATO would be a major threat to Russia.

On the other hand, Russia is being ruled as if the White armies triumphed over the Bolsheviks in the Civil War from 1918-21. A dictatorial President advances reactionary policies at home and abroad, allies himself with a gang of corrupt oligarchs, suppresses domestic opposition, assists tyrannical friends and engages in bloody military adventures in Syria. Putin has also become increasingly open about his intention to restore as much of the territory of the old Russian Empire as possible.

The Ukrainian Situation

The eastern half of Ukraine speaks Russian and has looked to Russia for its cultural and economic links. The western half, on the other hand, speaks Ukrainian and looks to Europe for cultural and economic links. Since independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, the country has been ruled by alternating gangs of corrupt oligarchs. Public dissatisfaction with one party leads to it being kicked out after a term or two, only to be replaced by an equally corrupt party representing different oligarchs.

In November 2013, President Viktor Yanukovych ignited the “Euromaidan” protest movement when he terminated an application to join the European Union and turned instead to Russia for economic relations. He sent police against protesters, but they fought back, leading to months of battles with the cops. The political character of the protest movement changed as time went on. Fascist groups, especially Right Sektor, gained influence due to their ability to confront the police. They then dominated the movement through physical intimidation of the Left. After that, most Leftists left the rebellion, while those who stayed were confined to voiceless support roles like kitchens and first aid. The United States and various European powers manoeuvred in the background, attempting to influence the outcome of the uprising.

In late February 2014, Yanukovych’s own party deserted him and he fled. Power passed to a Ukrainian speaking group of oligarchs, led by one of their own number. Within days, Putin had sent troops into Crimea and returned it to Russian control. A rigged plebiscite followed, which resulted in the official union of Crimea with Russia. Meanwhile, some tendencies in the Donbas (an industrial region in eastern Ukraine on the Don River), agitated by Russian propadanda, began their own insurgencies, which quickly came under outright Russian control. A civil war followed, though it eventually settled down to a very low level.

The Euromaidan uprising marked the peak of Fascist influence in Ukraine and since then it has decreased markedly. Svoboda, the main Fascist party, which had received 10.45% of the vote in 2012 and collected 37 seats in the Rada, was down to 2.15% and one seat by 2019. Right Sektor, with its aggressive proclamation of national socialism, has fared even worse. The eclipse of extreme Right politics was symbolised by the election in 2019 of a Russian speaking Jew as President, with an overwhelming majority. This is significant as it contradicts the rhetoric of Putin and his supposedly “Leftist” supporters abroad about the Ukrainian Government being Fascist.

The Current Crisis

Last year, following the ejection of his ally Donald Trump from the US Presidency, Putin decided to increase pressure on Ukraine. Large numbers of Russian troops massed on the border. Western powers called his bluff, noting that the troops were not backed by the necessary infrastructure to wage a war. The troops were scaled down a few months later.

The fall of Afghanistan, though, changed Putin’s calculations. Now confident that the US would not intervene to stop him, he started another military build-up in October-November. In December, Putin published “draft treaties” which would roll NATO back to its 1991 borders and require Western recognition of a Russian sphere of influence in the territories of the former USSR and Warsaw Pact countries. The build-up continued, this time accompanied by the infrastructure required to stage an invasion of Ukraine. By February 2022, and with the US not making enough concessions for his liking, Putin was ready to strike. On 24 February, he did so.

What to do

Anarchists around the world including, most commendably, those in Russia and Ukraine, have opposed both regimes and taken up the banner of “No War But the Class War”. This is an excellent beginning, but it gives little guidance on how to oppose both sides while one is invading the other.

The question becomes even sharper when it is realised that a Russian occupation of Ukraine would be opposed by a guerilla insurgency. The Government is already distributing weapons to the population and giving instructions on making and using Molotov cocktails. Reports indicate that many of these weapons have fallen into the arms of Fascists.

In addition, the US is already promising to arm the “Ukrainian resistance”. It will include supporters of the current government, but will also most probably include the Fascist followers of Stepan Bandera, with whom the US has been in regular contact since the Euromaidan uprising. They are particularly strong in western Ukraine and will be more easily reached by US agents than guerillas in other areas of the country. Bandera was a Nazi collaborator during World War II and in 1944 was released behind Soviet lines to wage bloody guerilla warfare with Nazi support.

Anarchists in Ukraine must struggle against any occupation – unarmed if possible, but armed if necessary. The strategy must be to mobilise the working class for non-cooperation with the occupation and fraternisation with the lower ranks (conscripts especially) of the Russian military and to spread this resistance into Russia. Destruction of Russian military equipment and self-defence against violence by occupying forces or the puppet government would also be necessary. The trade unions would be the ideal vehicle for this orientation, but if class struggle against the occupation is prevented inside the unions, it must be conducted outside of them. In the course of this struggle, the working class resistance would come into conflict with the Banderites, who will hate them as much as they hate the Russians. Given their murderous Fascist politics, reasonable force in self defence will be necessary to deal with them.

The Future

Vladimir Putin has over-reached himself. Even if he succeeds in conquering Ukraine, he will be brought undone by the impossible task of maintaining a puppet government over a country of 41 million truculent and resisting subjects. What comes after, though, will be determined by the character of the resistance that brings him down. If Putin is brought down by a Banderite resistance, supported by the United States, the Russian ruling class will re-consolidate itself on the basis of an even fiercer, if more cautious, reactionary Russian nationalism. Russia will continue to be a bastion of global reaction. A US-backed Ukrainian regime of Fascist Banderites is a real possibility. In addition, NATO would be strengthened by the accession of Ukraine and possibly other countries, too. The United States would ride high once more, at least for a time.

On the other hand, if Putin’s war is ended by working class resistance that spreads to the Russian working class and renders the Russian military useless as an instrument of aggressive warfare, the politics of Russia and Eastern Europe would be turned upside down. Russian stooge regimes in Belarus and Kazakhstan would fall to local rebellions, while support for reactionary nationalists in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere will drain quickly away. These movements will weaken NATO, not strengthen it, and open the door to the re-birth of revolutionary politics across Europe and beyond.

Anarchists must do everything in their power to assist working class resistance to the invasion of Ukraine – and fight against the US agenda there.


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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 10 No 6, published 31 December 2021.


COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, was a monumental failure. It was supposed to be the forum where the world finally committed to emissions reductions sufficient to meet the target of the Paris Agreement: keeping the global temperature increase to only 1.5° Celsius. No less an establishment figure than the Prince of Wales described it as humanity’s “last chance saloon”, but the results fell a long way short of what is necessary. According to the prestigious scientific journal Nature (, global emissions must fall 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Instead, the commitments at COP26 will make emissions 14% higher by 2030.

The majority of the capitalist class recognises in theory that climate change is a grave problem requiring drastic steps, but each government wants to protect their own capitalists. The Australian Government is conspicuous by being on the list of bad guys at almost every point. Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison signed up to a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, but only after almost every other advanced country (and many others) had done so. However, its 2030 target is only a 26-28% reduction from 2010 levels. Even without lifting a finger it will definitely achieve 30% and possibly 35%, so the refusal to promise more is ferociously political.

In sectoral negotiations, 40 countries promised to phase out coal, but Australia was not one of them. More than 80 countries pledged to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, but Australia was not one of them. Neither were other big natural gas producers (and therefore producers of fugitive emissions) Russia and Iran. And the Australian Government’s zeal in funding expansion of fossil fuel exports is joined with almost matching enthusiasm by the main opposition party, Labor. Similar stances have been taken by other large fossil fuel exporters, including Canada.

There is a reason for this. Capitalist governments exist, first and foremost, to protect the interests of their own capitalist class. There is enormous sunk capital invested in fossil fuels and the industries using them as inputs. So mining and oil companies fund climate denialism, they promote political parties that oppose addressing climate change and, where necessary, they fight hard to establish loopholes for themselves from any general policy. If a political party proposing serious action against climate change comes to power, or even threatens to, they run vicious and mendacious campaigns to stop it. These companies may have been cutting jobs for decades, but they will cry crocodile tears over the threat to their workers’ jobs. And they may have undermined their local communities by introducing fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers, but suddenly they’ll be backing community groups who think that the only way to defend their community is to oppose climate action.

Just to defend themselves, governments want to protect investments in fossil fuels to the maximum extent possible. So when a problem is identified and specific action is required to address it, the governments that could make the biggest difference are ones least likely to sign up to it. And on the rare occasion where a government that can make a big difference signs up (as Brazil has over attempts to stop deforestation), it is an attempt at fishing for international assistance that won’t have to be returned if targets aren’t met.

What is at stake?

The capitalists, being conflicted, can only move to address climate change at a glacial pace, but we need to move at emergency speed. As the world heats up, systemic tipping points will be passed – first the ice cover in the Arctic, then the Siberian permafrost, then the Antarctic ice cap. There are others. At each point, the world risks shifting into runaway global heating, where temperature rises release more greenhouse gases, which in turn fuel further temperature rises until all stored carbon is released and the world has warmed by 7°C or more. We can forget about polar bears and the Great Barrier Reef – these temperatures are incompatible with the survival of industrial civilisation. Droughts, cyclones and other climate related disasters would devastate agriculture and create billions of climate refugees. The tropics and, in summer, much of the sub-tropics would become simply uninhabitable because of the heat. And, without the infrastructure of an industrialised society, 80-90% of the world’s human population would die. The capitalists are playing Russian roulette and they’re not even spinning the barrel in between pulls of the trigger.

Credit: Japan Meteorological Agency

So what do we do?

Around the world, many organisations, large and small, have formed to push governments to do more on climate change. Most are doing good work, but so far it has not been enough. Not nearly enough. Faced with the implacable opposition of capital to suffering serious losses, we need to mobilise a force which is strong enough to override it.

There is one and only one force on Earth strong enough to beat the capitalist class when it comes to something of vital importance. That force is the working class, so the burning question is how to mobilise it. We are fortunate that many union movements around the world have taken half-way reasonable positions on paper relating to climate change, but this is only the first step on a long and difficult road.

The fundamental need is for workplace groups to form and start discussing climate change and how it relates to their workplace and their employer. As they develop, they can formulate action plans that will vary according to their situation. Groups in unsustainable industries will have the most difficult task, but also the most important. They can draw up plans for a Just Transition and campaign for them within their industry and the broader union movement.

Other groups could focus on their employer’s role in propping up unsustainable practices, or their links with fossil fuel producers. Public servants and other office workers could press for more energy efficient buildings to work in. Bank workers could object to their bosses financing fossil fuel companies. Construction workers could press for the use of zero carbon concrete in the buildings they put up. Almost any employer can be pressured to swap electric vehicles for their current fleet of internal combustion engine powered ones. The possibilities are endless.

Not every step that is necessary is suitable for solving at the level of the individual workplace. Cities need a massive expansion of public transport and improvement of facilities for active transport modes like walking and cycling. Mobilising public transport workers alone, however, would be insufficient to achieve the power necessary to get the system expanded to the degree required. These questions, and some others, would have to be resolved at the society-wide level by the labour movement as a whole.

Depending on the circumstances, workplace groups could be single-employer or multi-employer in the same industry. They should seek to be active in the unions, but they could be single-union or cross-union as necessary and needn’t be afraid to form in ununionised areas of the economy. Where a single unsustainable employer (e.g. a coal mine) is the economic backbone of an entire community, the group will need to work closely with its community. Big environmental groups can assist by putting their members in the same industry in contact with each other. What counts is flexibility of tactics and maintaining the autonomy of each workplace group.

Behind these groups and giving them their power is the possibility that workers could take the workplaces away from under the feet of their bosses and restructure the economy more sustainably by direct action. Think of it as the threat of green bans taken to the next level. Workers can challenge and ultimately defeat the logic of capital. And, in doing so, we will make a movement which can challenge the capitalists over not just the unsustainable practices of capitalism, but the existence of capitalism itself.

This is the program for which Anarchist Communists should fight. Are we up to it?


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This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 10 No 5, published 31 October 2021.

CFMEU Office Demonstration 21 Sept 2021

Source: (original source unattibuted)

The anti-vaxxer attack on the offices of the CFMEU in Melbourne last month is a stark reminder that class collaboration doesn’t come free. What looked like an opportunity to protect union members’ interests through co-operation with the bosses and the State instead created even greater dangers than the hard road of class struggle would have done.

When the COVID19 pandemic hit last year, the Federal Government was compelled to introduce wage support payments, known as Jobkeeper, for workers whose workplaces were shut down by public health measures. Thanks to over a century of militant class struggle, wages in the construction industry are amongst the highest in Australia. Jobkeeper approximated to the minimum full-time wage. Shutting down construction would have thrown building workers into massive economic distress. That was a situation to be avoided.

There were two possible responses. One was for the CFMEU to fight the bosses on health and safety at every step and to insist workers mustn’t lose income from any health-related closures. The other was to collaborate with the bosses to keep the industry running, despite any risks to health that this might entail. The CFMEU leadership took the second option.

Collaboration to keep the industry running imposed its price. Members who raised health and safety concerns were silenced. This validated the emerging movement of COVID denial and posed health orders as contrary to the interests of building workers. Last year, COVID19 didn’t spread particularly well on building sites. The emergence of the Delta strain, though, changed all this. Outbreaks at building sites were mentioned in passing at the daily government press conferences. Health and safety suddenly became a serious problem for the CFMEU. It either had to come out fighting or, by continuing to run dead, capitulate to the Right wing forces of denial.

The CFMEU leadership’s out-of-character collaboration with the bosses has allowed anti-vaxxer and COVID denier forces free play amongst CFMEU members. When the State Government announced a vaccine mandate for construction workers, there was a backlash that the CFMEU officials weren’t equipped to deal with.

On 21 September, a demonstration grew outside the CFMEU office to demand action from the officials about the impending vaccine mandate. A large majority were CFMEU members, their work gear identifying them as coming from strong union sites. There were also ring-ins, attempting unsuccessfully to provide political leadership for the crowd. Much has been written of the way the crowd shouted down the CFMEU Secretary and proceeded to attack the building. This was bad enough, but worse was the fact that several known Fascist identities attempted to lead the demonstration. This is an ominous development. Fascists should be drummed out of the union movement – physically – whenever they dare to show their face.

The demonstration next day was much bigger, but the composition of the crowd was very different. A whole pile of bosses, scabs and workers from other industries jumped on the bandwagon, while every Right wing nut job in Melbourne put on a brand new hi-vis vest and pretended to be a building worker. Any actual CFMEU members present (there were probably a few) were dissolved in a general Right wing rabble.

Because of the September events, the CFMEU Vic Branch has a significant number of members alienated in a Right wing direction, not because of the union being too militant in defending workers’ rights, but because it wasn’t militant enough.

It should go without saying that Anarchist Communists defend the CFMEU against bosses and the State, even when its officials haven’t done the right thing. It’s up to the labour movement to clean its own house, so neither the CFMEU’s failure over COVID19 nor the personal misbehaviour of the Victorian Secretary justify State intervention against the union. Instead, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on construction workers to learn the correct lessons from the COVID19 debacle, clean out the ranks of the officials and bring the union under the direct control of the members. The CFMEU is in danger. Only class struggle will save it.



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This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 10 No 5, published 31 October 2021.

The UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) is scheduled to run in Glasgow for two weeks from 31 October. It will not stop catastrophic climate change.

If global temperatures rise more than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels, the world faces the real possibility of an uncontrolled catastrophe that ends industrial civilisation and wipes out at least 80% of the world’s population. If they rise more than 2.0ºC, uncontrolled catastrophe is practically guaranteed. To avoid this, the world needs to end greenhouse emissions and start removing past emissions from the atmosphere. Because of inaction in previous decades, global emissions need to be cut virtually in a straight line from now to reach close to zero in 2030, not 2050. Capitalism can’t do this.

Political effort by governments and all the media publicity about COP26 focuses on achieving net zero emissions by 2050 (NZ2050), but this is flawed in two ways. Firstly, 2050 is too late and secondly the “net” in net zero is hugely misleading.

As explained by the Breakthrough Institute in “Net Zero: A Dangerous Illusion” (, some climate tipping points have already been crossed at the current 1.2ºC of warming, while sulphate-based aerosols from the burning of fossil fuels are masking 0.5ºC of warming. There is no carbon budget left for a safe transition. All emissions from now increase the risk of runaway climate change and a hothouse Earth incompatible with the survival of industrial civilisation. We need to decarbonise society at the fastest speed technically possible. To make this politically possible requires a revolution to overthrow capitalism.

Secondly, even if one were to accept the unacceptable risks involved in a deadline of 2050, the “net” in “net zero” is dangerous. The most popular NZ2050 plans in circulation involve fossil fuels comprising up to 50% of primary energy use in 2050. These would supposedly be offset by land-based carbon farming and/or carbon capture and storage (CCS).

At the scale contemplated in NZ2050 plans, though, carbon farming would require 25% to 80% of all land currently under cultivation. There goes the food supply! And CCS is a complete rort. Costs are ruinous and there is no working CCS scheme that captures anything like the amount of carbon it promised. Both provide incentives to continue unsustainable emissions and, to the extent they are even possible, use up storage capacity which will be needed for drawing down excess greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

Steps Towards a Strategy

Given the dire situation, a strategy for solving it is required. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group supports all attempts by elements in the climate movement to disrupt the orderly functioning of capitalist society, provided reasonable care is taken to protect public safety. This includes support for non-violent direct actions planned to have a substantive effect rather than be the occasion for choreographed mass arrests.

Much more, though, is needed. Some elements in the climate movement have a strategy of sabotage. We defend these people against State persecution, but it is not a strategy we advocate. It is difficult to devise substantial actions which are both effective and not a hazard to public safety. In addition, this strategy usually draws repression on the movement greatly out of proportion to the outcomes achieved. Overall, it is the action of a minority which despairs at the prospect of convincing the movement as a whole to act effectively.

The best opening for effective action that the MACG can see lies with the School Strike for Climate. Firstly, this is already an international movement with a degree of public profile. Secondly, the public face of the movement, Greta Thunberg, has left it open-ended and capable of development. And thirdly, the support for the School Strike for Climate shown by unions lays the basis for truly effective action.

What is necessary is to create workplace climate groups that link up with the School Strike for Climate. These groups will discuss the way the climate crisis affects their industries, the responsibility of their bosses for aggravating climate change and what possible solutions could be. They would develop the School Strike for Climate into a Workers’ Strike for Climate. In the process, workers would need to become capable of acting independently of the union officials and of defeating them when these officials try to dampen down action.

Only the power of workers in the workplace is capable of stopping climate change. Without it, the capitalists will retain control of the economy and set limits on the ability of governments to take action. It is necessary to rip the economy out of their hands by workers organising to take control of their workplaces and restructuring the economy along sustainable lines. In the course of building this movement, it will become clear that this adds up to a revolution to overthrow capitalism.

Nothing else will work.


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Statement from the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group about the announcement of the AUKUS partnership. Released 26 September 2021.


The AUKUS partnership announced on 16 September is a big step towards war against China. The centrepiece of its first initiative is the announcement by the Australian Government that it will buy eight nuclear submarines from the United States or the United Kingdom. The reactions to this announcement are almost as significant as the purchase of the submarines themselves.

Australian military procurement since the end of the Vietnam War has been an ongoing debacle, marked by indecision, late changes of direction, huge cost overruns and major delivery delays. These factors have been a permanent embarrassment to successive Australian governments and generations of military brass, but they are not solely the product of simple incompetence. They also result from Australian imperialism’s dilemma: being a European outpost on the edge of Asia and being a developed economy with rapidly growing Asian economies for neighbours. Australia’s relative decline means it faces an increasing contradiction between its ambitions and its capacity. Attempting to maximise its capacity via military procurement is extremely risky and is resulting in a decrease in the Australian military’s strategic autonomy. The submarine decision is a major step in that process.

By deciding to purchase these submarines, the Government has given up pretending that Australia “doesn’t have to choose between its history and its geography”. It has decisively opted to stand with the United States against a rising China and to do so in an ostentatiously aggressive way. The submarines have a mission which is so obvious to the security establishment that military pundits were describing it openly on the day of the announcement. They are to hang around in straits and channels between islands in what is called the first island chain, a series of large and small islands that separates the South China Sea and the East China Sea from the Pacific Ocean. There, they will help bottle up the Chinese navy and prevent it having free access to the open ocean. The Pacific Ocean is to remain an American lake and Australia has volunteered to help.

However, keeping China in this subordinate position is easier said than done. For over four decades, it has been developing with extraordinary speed. Though it has slowed somewhat in the last few years, its growth is still vastly stronger than that of the US or any other developed country. Its GDP is projected to overtake the US around 2030, give or take a few years depending on whose crystal ball is consulted. The US has seen off previous challenges to its dominance, with its would-be rivals stalling at about two thirds of US per capita GDP.

China, though, is a different kettle of fish. Its population is four times that of the US, so even if its development stalls at half the US GDP per capita, it will still be double the US GDP in aggregate. The US military advantage over China and its global dominance more generally would become completely unsustainable by then, if not well before. Continued US dominance requires China’s development to be halted – either by economic strangulation or, failing that, by war. Indeed, a recent issue of The Diplomat, an elite magazine for the Asia Pacific region, said:

It is probably worth thinking about how and what the the United States might do in order to reduce Chinese economic growth, including aggressive decoupling and the stringent use of financial and technology sanctions.”

The United States and its closest allies (there are none closer than Australia) are attempting to undermine China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is a project by the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party to take China’s development to the next level and reorient the economy of the region around it. In addition, the US is increasingly using intellectual property laws to prevent China acquiring technology, trying to prevent China exporting its technology to other countries and waging a trade war against China’s exports (something Trump started and Biden hasn’t dropped). Australia is somewhat conflicted in this project, since it sells so much iron ore and other minerals to China, but this hasn’t prevented it participating in the US campaign. Australia has been especially active in trying to keep the Belt and Road Initiative out of the South Pacific.

However, China’s economic strangulation is far from assured. The relative decline of US power in the last half century means that China may still maintain a superior growth path to the US through economic relations with other developing countries, primarily in Asia but also in Africa and even Latin America. US economic warfare may, in fact, backfire and put the US rather than China into the slow lane.

And this is where things get really dangerous. Nobody wants a nuclear war, but nobody wanted World War I either. That war occurred even though the great imperialist powers didn’t want it because they wanted something else even less – having their vital national interests subordinated to another power. War with China would occur the same way. The greatest danger is the Thucydides Trap, the temptation for the US to launch a war on China before China becomes too powerful to wage war against.

This, then, is what is driving the AUKUS partnership. It is an attempt to keep China militarily subordinate, even to the extent that it is surrounded by US military bases and cannot sail its navy into the Pacific Ocean without US permission. Australia already plays a vital role by being a vociferous US ally in the region and, even more importantly, being the site for the US spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs. This base is essential to the US military satellite system, since without it there would be a large blind spot in its global surveillance. The role of the Australian submarine purchase is to maintain Australia’s leverage in the anti-China campaign. Australian capitalists still want to export to China and also want to preserve Australian imperialist interests in the South Pacific.

The submarine purchase, though, is proving to have unintended consequences. The decision to acquire nuclear submarines with US technology required dumping a $90 billion contract to buy conventional submarines from France. The duplicity of the Australian Government, particularly that of Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Marise Payne, has outraged the French Government at a particularly unfortunate time. With the imminent retirement of Angela Merkel, the senior political leader in the European Union will be the French President, Emmanuel Macron. The Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, which has been under negotiation for a couple of years, was expected to be concluded very soon. It looks to be an early casualty. More significant is the attitude of France in particular, but the EU generally, towards co-operation with the US over China policy. If France is going to be shafted by its erstwhile allies in the Pacific, it’s a lot less likely to see things Uncle Sam’s way when the US President wants a common front against China.

Even more important still, especially for Australian imperialism, is reaction in the Asia Pacific. The media constantly refer to unnamed countries which support the submarine acquisition and the US anti-China campaign. Two states which might conceivably approve are Japan and Vietnam, neither of which would be keen to advertise the fact. Meanwhile, both Malaysia and Indonesia have publicly expressed concern. Neither are particularly fond of China, but they definitely don’t want a regional arms race. And an arms race is what they will get, since Beijing won’t be taking the submarine announcement lying down.

While it is possible that the Australian Government under Scott Morrison has simply blundered into this situation (much of his Cabinet, including Morrison himself, have failed upward), the same cannot be said of the United States. Joe Biden is an old foreign policy hand and came to office promising to rebuild US relationships after the chaos and unpredictability of the Trump years. The US has made a conscious choice in how it addresses relations with China. Instead of building a broad alliance to push back against poor behaviour by China, it has put together a narrow one (reminiscent of the “Coalition of the Willing” in 2003) to stake out an aggressive military posture. This is not an accident. The US and China are on a path to war and AUKUS is a big step towards launching it.

China is entitled to become a developed country and its population is entitled to the standard of living which comes with that. The US attempt to strangle its economic development and keep it a poor country is a crime against humanity and the barely hidden threat of nuclear war is an even bigger one. Over the next few years, we can expect a strong media campaign in the US, UK and Australia concerning a multitude of complaints against China. Some of these (notably its treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Tibetans and the people of Hong Kong) will be real crimes by the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. Regardless of whether Beijing’s crimes are real or imagined, though, the motivation for the complaints will be the same. They will be attempting to solidify public opinion behind the anti-China policy and the path to war.

In Australia, the public opinion campaign will have one certain result. There will be a massive increase in racism directed at people of Chinese background or appearance. Anti-Chinese racism has been officially frowned on by Australian governments for about three decades. They have preferred to use Aboriginal people, Muslims and, lately, Africans as their lightning rods for social discontent. Developing confrontation with China will change that. Chinese migrants, their children and even people of Chinese extraction whose family have been here for generations will be seen as a potential fifth column. They will be subject to random violence and abuse in the street, suffer discrimination justified by patriotic reasoning and receive unceasing demands to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia and their hostility to Beijing. It won’t be pretty.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on the labour movement in Australia to oppose the AUKUS partnership and its anti-China campaign. The nuclear submarine purchase underlines our established position: not a person, not a penny for the imperialist Australian military! We have no illusions in the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. It is a gang of corrupt bureaucrats whose Stalinism is so degenerate that it celebrates Chinese billionaires. There are more US dollar millionaires in Beijing’s National People’s Congress than there are in the US Congress. Our opposition to AUKUS instead derives from our opposition to our own ruling class.

Against the AUKUS partnership and the looming threat of war against China, the MACG raises the banner of international working class solidarity. We are opposed to all governments worldwide, but our task is to overthrow the capitalist class here in Australia. Our aim is for a workers’ revolution which sweeps the world, toppling all ruling classes without distinction. This revolution will abolish imperialism by abolishing the nation state. In its place will flower a global community, organised on the basis of consistent federalism and practicing libertarian communism. Now, that’s something to fight for.




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This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 10 No 4, published 31 August 2021.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to sweep the world. So far, it has caused over 200 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 4,500,000 deaths. We know that many more of both have gone unrecorded, particularly in the Third World. Rich imperialist countries buy up the vaccines, pricing poorer ones out of the market. A more infectious strain, the Delta variant, has disrupted previous plans for a return to normality. Very few countries have escaped it and even their success may be temporary.

There is a connection. The failure of most governments to fight the coronavirus effectively has led to large pools of infection which are ideal for generating mutations. Selection pressure leads to more contagious strains becoming dominant. This is how the Delta strain emerged and more strains will be born as long as there are so many global infections.

This is a disaster made by capitalism. Imperialism has kept most countries poor. In rich countries, governments reluctant to confront capital have failed to take effective action to stop the virus circulating. Many workers, left without enough economic support, have had to break health regulations. Some have become an audience for reactionaries who peddle unscientific nonsense about the virus, vaccines, masks or any number of quack remedies and crackpot theories. Many of these reactionaries are simply fools, but in amongst them are cynical Fascists, keen to create chaos and a desire for authoritarian solutions.

Intellectual property laws have created an artificial shortage of vaccines and led to poor countries being outbid by rich ones. The vaccination rate in Africa is horrendously low and only 1.6% of people in low income countries have received any doses at all. Capitalism, by preventing an effective effort being made against the virus in the Third World, is thus creating new strains which strike back against rich countries.

As long as the virus exists, it will threaten to wreak a path of death and disability across the globe, wherever vaccination or other strategies fail. The only path to safety is to eliminate it completely. This will require vaccine production to increase by an order of magnitude. New vaccines must be developed – vaccines for children, vaccines giving maximum protection against the Delta strain and future variants, vaccines with fewer side-effects and vaccines which give life-long protection.

To achieve this, the rules of capitalism must be broken. Intellectual property laws restrict vaccine production and also restrict access to the best vaccines, so they must go. A massive research effort is needed to discover vaccines that can eliminate the virus. This requires breaking researchers out of their corporate structures so they can collaborate freely and globally. And finally, we need a co-ordinated plan to eradicate the virus worldwide, combining vaccination with public health measures. This will require shutting down industries and paying workers to stay home. Capital has resisted such measures and will continue to resist them.

How will this program be won? The answer is the same as always. The working class, supported in the Third World by the other popular classes, needs to fight. We need to demand health and safety measures and to refuse unsafe work and we also need to mobilise a social movement. We must render society ungovernable and prevent the accumulation of profits until governments around the world have taken the necessary steps to beat SARS-CoV-2 for good.

And the movement we build while campaigning for this program will embody the values and practices of a new society. A movement based on solidarity and committed to liberty and equality for all. A movement which can make a revolution to overthrow capitalism and establish libertarian communism worldwide. Let’s do it.


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This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 10 No 4, published 31 August 2021.

The National Plan to Transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response is a plan for disaster. The Federal Government, at the behest of the most powerful capitalists in Australia, is planning to give up the fight to eliminate COVID-19 and even to re-introduce it into areas of Australia that are now free. It airily dismisses concerns by referring to the research of the respected Doherty Institute.

The National Plan is a single sheet of paper that sets out a four step process. We’re no experts, but most points in Phases A and B appear to be a bureaucratic expression of the current framework. The really dangerous part is the final “Post-Vaccination” Phase D, where the proposal is to abandon all internal social distancing regulations and start “living with the virus”.

The transition markers in the National Plan are reached when 70% and 80% of the population over the age of 16 are vaccinated. This equates to 56% and 64% of the total population vaccinated, a very long way below what is necessary to achieve herd immunity, especially with the Delta variant dominant. In these circumstances, a little elementary logic shows that abandoning social distancing will lead to mass infection and death. Certainly deaths will be much fewer than if no vaccines were available, but that doesn’t make the plan in any way acceptable.

It is the reference to the Doherty Institute research that allows the Government to get away with a proposal that the lay reader can see is dangerous. The Doherty research hasn’t been well circulated, though, because if it was widely read there would be uproar. Fortunately, the MACG has been able to find a valuable analysis by Matt Barrie at: .

In summary, the Doherty Institute predicts mass hospitalisations and ICU demand that is double current ICU capacity. The consequences in death and serious disability should be obvious. And what’s worse, the major difference that would be achieved by the desired 80% vaccination rate would be a delaying of the curve, as infections take longer to get hold in the community. The Doherty graphs, which cut off at 180 days after the transition to Phase B (where public health measures start to be relaxed at 70% adult vaccination), show cases continuing to rise at that point. This is not a path to freedom from COVID-19. It’s a transition to disaster.

So, what’s going on? The capitalist class in Australia wants to get back into the world economy. Certainly, mineral exports have been going gangbusters all along, but tourism and education, two huge export industries, have been closed down for over a year and the businesses in that sector are desperate to get going again. Capital also wants access to temporary migrant workers to be restored. Because their temporary status puts them at the mercy of employers, they are often employed at illegally low wage rates. Farmers and other bosses who make major use of this scam have been complaining bitterly about labour shortages.

The success of public health authorities in suppressing COVID-19 and then eliminating it from internal circulation (apart from periodic breaches in hotel quarantine) has produced a major problem for capital. Keeping COVID-19 out of the community has been greatly welcomed, but has led to the population being reluctant to rejoin the global economy while the virus is rampant overseas. Business has therefore had to pressure its political representatives to come up with a solution.

The National Plan is that solution and the current outbreak in New South Wales is the wedge which the Federal Government is using to make it look inevitable. Unlikely as it might sound, Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian don’t want to stop this wave. They just want it to move slowly, while the vaccination campaign is implemented.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on the labour movement in Australia to reject the National Plan to Transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response and instead to fight for the following program:

* Maintaining the objective of eliminating COVID-19 from the community;

* Free, safe vaccines for all, regardless of intellectual property;

* Adequate, tailored health information for all, communicated by people trusted by target communities in languages that will be understood;

* Adequately staffed and funded public health teams for testing and contact tracing;

* Purpose built quarantine facilities, appropriately staffed and capable of dealing with the required demand;

* A living income paid to all who need to isolate away from their employment on public health grounds;

* Cancellation of residential rent and mortgage interest for the duration of the pandemic.

Vaccination must not be used as a tool for creating a capitalist dystopia where we must “live with” the virus. Instead, vaccination must be part of a coherent strategy to help eliminate it. It can be done. It must be done. We have to fight.


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