Inflation Explodes

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

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

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

This pitiful result (which barely kept up with inflation at the time) was quickly out of date.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INFLATION IS CUTTING OUR PAY!

RANK AND FILE STRIKE ACTION NOW!

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

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

Open Letter to Victorian Socialists

concerning the counteraction against the March for the Babies

27th October 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity

Jaimie Jeffrey and Debbie Brennan

on behalf of United for Reproductive Justice

Email: unitedforreproductivejustice@gmail.com

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

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Counter-rally Against the March for the Babies 8 October

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

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

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

United for Reproductive Justice calls for:

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

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

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

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

#reproductivejustice

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THE QUEEN IS DEAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOWN WITH THE KING!

FOR WORKERS’ POWER & INDIGENOUS SELF-DETERMINATION!

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THE BURNING ISSUE

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

Floods in Pakistan. Credit: Bloomberg

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

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

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

The problem: capitalism

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

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

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

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

Current strategies

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

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

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

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

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

Class struggle

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

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

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

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

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

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

GREEN BANS FOR A JUST TRANSITION

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BORDERS ARE VIOLENCE

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

SUPPORT MIGRANT WORKERS’ STRUGGLES

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ROE V. WADE: AN ATTACK ON REPRODUCTIVE AUTONOMY IN THE U.S.

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

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

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

The Right’s Agenda

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

What Not to Do

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

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

A Better Way

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

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

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

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

The Role of Anarchist Communists

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

SECURE ABORTION RIGHTS WITH DIRECT ACTION AND MUTUAL AID

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VOTING WON’T FIX THIS MESS

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

Credit: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au

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:/www.blackrosefed.org

Socialists

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.

BUILD MOVEMENTS

NOT ELECTIONS

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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.

Revolution

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.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056    

1 May 2022

https://www.melbacg.wordpress.com

macg1984@yahoo.com.au

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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.

NO AUKUS

END ANZAC DAY

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

http://www.melbacg.wordpress.com

macg1984@yahoo.com.au

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056

25 April 2022

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