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

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

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

“Change the Date”

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

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

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

Abolish Australia Day

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

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


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8 Responses to INVASION DAY 2019

  1. Futilitarian says:

    The parlous state of the so-called left is amply demonstrated when “the largest day of Left wing mobilisation in Australia” is over a public holiday and an inane festival of national self-congratulation.

    What about that which is supposed to be the raison d’etre of the left, i.e. the challenging of the power structure in the workplace? Oh, of course, that requires effort and a certain amount of practical intelligence to get happening, something today’s so-called left lacks in bucketloads.

    So it’s best to engage in mindless symbolism and abstract demand-making.

    Meanwhile the matter of Aboriginal disadvantage/disempowerment/degradation continues (excluding, of course, those who are doing quite well out of the bourgeois system, and this includes quite a few ‘activists’, academics, etc.) Well, they’ll just have to wait for the Workers’ Commonwealth to arrive and fix it all up for them.

    I predict that Godot will turn up before the Workers’ Commonwealth does.

    • ablokeimet says:

      Futilitarian certainly lives up to their screen name. Amidst the negativity, there’s often a valid point, but taken as a reason to carp from the sidelines rather than to join the struggle and help shape it.

      Yes, challenging the power of capital in the workplace is the decisive factor. The Left has largely forgotten this and has shifted the struggle to other arenas. This hasn’t occurred in a vacuum, though. The Laborite bureacracy atop the unions is a terrifyingly effective apparatus to use against autonomous rank & file struggle, even if it’s abysmally ineffective at waging struggle against the bosses. Meanwhile, the decline and fall of the so-called “Communist” Party hasn’t been matched by the growth of any other organised force on the Left which could embody a challenge to the Laborite bureaucracy. This makes class struggle difficult at the moment for the working class. This moment will pass, but it hasn’t passed yet.

      If we want to build a movement that can change the world, though, we have to start from where we are. Recognising this, our piece had two purposes:

      1. To encourage the growth of a movement which addresses the foundational racism of Australia, thus contributing to uniting the working class on the basis of Touch One, Touch All, and splitting the working class from the nationalism which is used to bind it to the Australian capitalists.

      2. To make the argument that capitalism is incapable of bringing justice to indigenous people in Australia and that it needs to be abolished and replaced by libertarian communism.

      Unlike the Sparticists, we don’t see a need to put our entire program* into every article we write. Readers can see for themselves what we wrote in the article “The Working Class”, published in The Anvil late last year and posted on this very blog on 8 November. People can put two and two together.

      Finally, it should not be necessary to explain that pointing out that a demand is impossible to realise under capitalism isn’t a demand to abandon struggle for it and it’s not a statement that nothing can be done this side of the Revolution. To give an example, it’s impossible to reform the police to abolish deaths in custody, so the only way to eliminate those deaths is to abolish the police. Something which can be done immediately, however, is to build and strengthen the movement against police brutality so that the capitalists are forced to do something to rein in their attack dogs. There are many possible demands and strategies that can be raised, but the best from a class struggle Anarchist point of view would be for a police murder on the streets, in a van or in a cop shop to be met with a one-day protest strike by the whole working class in the relevant geographical area. This would prove a substantial deterrent to police murder, while the struggle for this would tie the struggle against racism back into the struggle against the Laborite union bureaucracy that works so assiduously to smother class struggle.

      My advice to Futilitarian is that they should consider how they can be part of the solution to the problems they see, even in a small way, and to act on it. I’m certainly much happier to hear criticisms from comrades in the struggle than I am to put up with armchair critics.

      * OK, that’s an exaggeration, but if you read their stuff, you’ll see it’s not a terribly large one.

      • Futilitarian says:

        Excuse me, Ablokeimet, but one of my self-assigned roles in life is to carp from the sidelines. I hope Anarchist Communism doesn’t aspire to suppress sideline carpers at the same time as it suppresses the bourgeoisie. That would not please me one bit.

        On the matter of organising a protest strike by “the whole working class” in a particular area where a crime by police has occurred, well, good luck with that. That’ll mean getting the working class to (1) give a shit, and (2) forego the pubs, RSLs, TABs, racecourses, footy ovals, etc., for that one day. No mean feat.

        I note that you refer to me using the third person plural pronoun ‘they.’ Certainly it’s true that the human psyche exhibits a vast plurality of ideas, convictions, thoughts, feelings, intuitions, etc., many of which are in conflict with one another. In this sense I (and every other individual) is legion, so to speak, and arguably can legitimately be referred to in the third person plural. This is undoubtedly why I can take issue with much of what you say and yet be one of the MACG’s biggest fans.

      • ablokeimet says:

        1. We have neither the right nor the desire to suppress carpers (online or off), but we do have the right to express our opinion about them. See above for a hint.

        2(a). Yes, the consciousness of the working class can definitely do with being raised. Lenin said it needed to be done by a radicalised petit-bourgeois intelligentsia coming from the outside & telling the workers what was good for them. Anarchist Communists believe it will occur through struggle, with a key role being played by advanced workers who link up with each other to discuss things amongst themselves, reflect and return to the struggle with explanations of recent events and recommendations for further action.

        2(b). If the pubs, RSLs, TABs, etc are on strike as well, it’ll be quite a simple thing for workers to forgo them. We’ll think of other things to keep ourselves amused on the day, after we’ve defended our picket lines.

        3. I use the pronoun “they” because I don’t want to assume Futilitarian’s gender. I have a guess, but it may be wrong. It’s a long-standing convention that one way of referring to somone of indeterminate gender, especially where the gender is not obviously relevant to the discussion, is to use the plural. I use the third person, rather than the second, to remind myself that there is an audience and I need to ensure everybody can understand and relate to what I’m saying, not just the person to whom I’m responding.

  2. Futilitarian says:

    The pubs, RSLs, etc. on strike? Surely you jest, Ablokeimet? Workers won’t strike in their own interests these days let alone someone else’s. I’m sorry but my wet-blanket critique holds water.

    One cannot, however, accuse me of being a Doubting Thomas all the time. Here is a positive suggestion that I believe could pay handsome dividends for the MACG in the future. Instead of continuing to operate as it currently does, i.e., as a tiny propaganda group on the fringes of nowhere, I propose that the MACG should seriously consider taking the bold and unprecedented step (for an anarchist group) of embarking on a strategy of entryism into the Labor Party. I predict that with skilful and persistent arguing of its programme positions the MACG comrades could win control of a goodly number of ALP branches. From there, I suggest, the world is potentially the MACG’s oyster and the Workers’ Commonwealth can be glimpsed on the horizon. I urge you, Ablokeimet, to bring this suggestion up at the next MACG collective meeting for the comrades’ timely consideration.

    • ablokeimet says:

      It’s true that workers seldom strike in their own interests these days. There’s no evidence that it’s from a lack of desire, though. Decades of anti-union legislation have been drawn up with this precise aim in mind. My advocacy for workers’ action on social & political issues goes hand in hand with my advocacy for workers’ action on economic issues. With a stagnating standard of living in a society of rapidly increasing inequality, it is a matter of time before workers turn the tide. Advocacy by lefty ratbags can bring that day forward somewhat, so that it comes before the working class is reduced to complete immiseration.

      Futilitarian’s proposal that we join the ALP, though off the mark, isn’t as far off as some may think. It contains a germ of sense. We (i.e. all conscious revolutionaries) need to relate to the world as it is, rather than as we would like it to be. The ALP, though, isn’t where it’s at. The MACG advocates working within the existing unions, rather than (as Anarcho-Syndicalists in Australia have traditionally advocated) leaving the reformist unions & setting up Anarchist ones. This is the forum where the battle between reformism and revolution will be played out, and where Anarchists will compete with Leninists for providing the best model of organising, while also sometimes co-operating with them in the battle against the bureaucratic machinations of the Laborites.

      We don’t pretend that this is a magical solution to all problems, but rather the only course that can possibly work. I like to cite the incident where Lenin attended a peace conference at Zimmerwald in Switzerland in 1915. There, he said he didn’t know if he would live to see the Revolution. Two years later, he was leading the Bolshevik Party to power in Russia. Now, whatever you think of Lenin’s politics, it can’t be denied that he possessed uncanny insight into social and political dynamics. That somebody with his powerful intellect couldn’t see the Revolution coming when it was so close is evidence that we should never assume that the current state of affairs is immutable. Things can and will change. They could change very much faster than anyone thinks. So nil desperandum.

      • Futilitarian says:

        Not only did the big-brained Lenin not predict that he would be leading a revolution in Russia in two years time but he also didn’t predict what a giant fuck-up it would be, and how it would establish a template for future Leninist fuck-ups in other parts of the world for endless decades to come. So much for revolutionary genius. Lenin had been a keen chess player as a young chap but as he got more and more into revolutionary activity he realised that one of his enthusiasms had to go if the other were to succeed. He gave up chess. It was the wrong choice. While in Zurich he did supposedly play a few games with other exiled deadbeats in the cafes, one of whom was the Dadaist Tristan Tzara. It’s a great shame Tristan didn’t get Lenin to join his satirical theatre troupe at the Cabaret Voltaire. Another opportunity missed in getting Lenin doing something worthwhile.

        While it’s easy to judge Leninists because their track record is there for all to see, it’s somewhat more difficult with anarchists because, as the latter are the least successful social movement in world history, they haven’t attained social power long enough for anyone to make a valid judgement. There are, however, some indications in, for example, the cult of personality of the Makhnovshchina, and the sectarianism of the FAI, that anarchists are subject to the same idiocies that derail the Bolsheviks and others.

        The revolutionary way is the way to a fuck-up, comrades!

        Eadem mutato resurgo.

        Long live Dada!

      • ablokeimet says:

        It’s correct that Anarchists are not immune to the temptations that afflict others. It’s also correct that no socio-political structure is a guarantee against degeneration. Anarchists happen to think that the structures we advocate will help, rather than hinder, positive social relationships.

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