This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 8 No 4, published 31st August 2019.

The dust is settling in Australia after Labor lost the Federal election everybody expected it to win. The Liberals are triumphant and, for now, united behind Scott Morrison. Meanwhile, Labor is in shock and has retreated into its shell, after signalling that it will be dumping the policies that drew the most heat from the Liberals and the media. Meanwhile, the Greens, having improved their vote and retained all their seats, confounded their mainstream critics and have emerged with a restored reputation.

The immediate temptation for the political Left is to trim its sails and adapt to the new conventional wisdom. Fortunately, many have resisted this. Instead, they are angry at the ALP for running a complacent campaign and under-estimating the push-back there would be from vested interests. In a way, it is a small-scale equivalent of Labor’s mistake over bank nationalisation in 1949. Labor approached its policies as technocratic, mildly progressive reforms, but the political Right saw them as a fundamental assault on their power base. The visceral anger of millionaire retiree investors and the genuine fear of coal mining communities for their future swept Labor’s technocratic reforms out of the public arena. The media campaign waged by the Murdoch press, the Liberals and Clive Palmer took votes off a Labor Party that doesn’t know how to fight.

How should Anarchists react?

Firstly, we know there’s no Parliamentary road to libertarian communism, so we’re not going there. Secondly, we’re not in the business of giving advice to the Labor Party on how to run its campaigns better. And thirdly, we’re not going to say “Oh, goody, the Greens are on the way back.” Instead, we analyse the political landscape because we want to advance the argument for building an Anarchist Communist movement that can contribute to the working class struggle. We want to know what to do next.

And in deciding what to do next, we have to assess what’s coming next. To what events will we need to respond?

The most immediate thing is that the Liberals reckon they’re invincible. If they can spend three years consuming themselves in internal warfare while pursuing policies most people detest, and still win an election, their arrogance will know no bounds. They will go for the jugular on policy and ignore its unpopularity. Similarly, the Liberal Right and its noisy backers in the Murdoch press and on Sky after dark will decide that party discipline is for sissies. They will pursue their pet culture war issues and, if Morrison decides they need to tone it down, they’ll set out to nobble him like they nobbled Turnbull. If a good election campaign can get people to forget the previous three years of disaster, the next campaign can get the coming three years forgotten.

Beyond that, dark economic storm clouds are brewing. The Australian economy is slowing to a stall, while real wages haven’t grown in the last few years and don’t look like growing any time soon. Meanwhile, the trade war between the United States and China is deepening. This threatens to plunge the world into recession, one which would particularly hit Australia, given its great reliance on trade with China. It’s been nearly thirty years since Australia had a recession, so most people with jobs now didn’t have one then. A recession now would be a massive political shock as well as an economic one.

Next, and contrary to the fatuous Right wing commentator Andrew Bolt, climate change is an issue that won’t go away. In fact, as climate change accelerates, so will both the environmental disasters it brings and the movement of young people against the climate emergency. The next hot summer will definitely make climate change impossible to ignore and might possibly kill the Great Barrier Reef. Already, Morrison is copping unprecedented flak from leaders of South Pacific island countries. He has met a problem he wasn’t expecting. His bullying tactics in protecting the interests of coal mining companies are opening South Pacific doors to China and undermining Australia’s imperialist interests there.

Finally, Fascism is continuing to rise worldwide. Open Fascist parties have large delegations in a number of European Parliaments, while crypto-Fascist parties are even junior partners in some governments. Meanwhile, Fascists have come to power atop democratic governments in places like Brazil, India and the Philippines. And in the United States, Donald Trump seems to be doing his best to encourage its growth, even as Fascist groups on the ground suffer setbacks in the wake of the continuing fallout from the murderous Unite the Right mobilisation in Charlottesville in 2017. Here in Australia, while the wider Fascist milieu is broadening, Fascist groups have continued to have difficulties.

It is these things: Liberal arrogance, the danger of recession, accelerating climate change and the Fascist threat that, together, form significant elements of the political terrain in Australia today. And it is these things that will guide the MACG in the next few years.


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  1. Futilitarian says:

    ‘If you don’t fight you lose’ is certainly one possibility, Ablokeimet, but fighting in and of itself is no guarantee of victory, or even of staving off defeat. You may fight and still lose terribly. What is true is that it helps to have the nous to understand when it’s propitious to fight and when it’s more advantageous not to bother. What is it that Lau Tzu said? The wise one does nothing yet everything gets done. Something like that. Whatever you do, though, don’t fight the Tao. Then you’re guaranteed to lose.

    I certainly agree with you one-hundred percent that there is no parliamentary road to libertarian communism. In fact, I go further and suggest that there is no road to libertarian communism at all. There are, however, many roads to illusion, and these are well-travelled indeed.

    Our close evolutionary relatives, the chimps, don’t appear to entertain notions of libertarian communism. They just get on with living instinctually and viscerally. Their societies are hierarchical. They have no mode of production. They are subject to no economic mechanisms that produce class stratification. There is no chimp bourgeoisie. They just live by their individual wits and their ability to form alliances with others in order to maximise their survivability within the troop. It’s difficult to argue that their impetus towards hierarchy is not primarily endogenous to their species, as is likely also the case with us.

    The true anarchist, whether human or simian, lives a free life in spite of the conditions that he or she is presented with. It’s a most arcane art, understood by few; indeed it’s truly a case of softly, softly catchee monkey.

    • ablokeimet says:

      If I had a dollar for every time I saw someone using a non-human species as evidence that human beings can’t build a better society, I’d be able to join the petite bourgeoisie.

      • Futilitarian says:

        Ablokeimet, check again, you might already be petit-bourgeois. Which over-educated, ultra-left shit-stirrer isn’t?

        On the matter of the chimps I perhaps need to clarify my position. I was suggesting that hierarchical behaviours amongst chimps could reasonably be supposed to be genetic in origin given the absence of strong economic determinants in their societies, and that if chimp behaviour is largely genetically determined, as indeed seems to be the case with all the beasts and creatures of this planet, then it’s reasonable to assume that human behaviour is similarly so. How could humans be free of genetic determination and other creatures not? Of course, the superimposition of a mode of production distorts human behaviour but it doesn’t preclude the existence of a primary biological determination.

        Revolutionary utopians, however, be they Leninoids or Anarchoids, speak as though humans are not subject to genetic pressures at all, and that it’s possible to overcome human hierarchy and every other shitty feature of human societies through an application of the revolutionary methods that they spend lifetimes concocting. Correct dosages of their ingenious strategies, but not those of competing revolutionary groups, will inevitably result in societies where peace and light and goodwill prevail indefinitely, or at least until the sun begins to fade and the earth freezes over, but even then revolutionary genius might find a way to outsmart nature.

        Naturally, my response to the revolutionists is, “Bah, humbug!”

        I also say, “Get your head out of the clouds and your feet on the ground, monkeys.”

        Oh, and do not fight the Tao.

      • ablokeimet says:

        Congratulations on yet again winning an argument with an intellectual opponent of your own devising. You may not have the same success, however, if you debate what we actually say rather than what you presume we think.

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