WHY CLASS STRUGGLE?

This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 9 No 1, published on 28th February 2020.

It’s not uncommon for contemporary Anarchists to say “class struggle is outmoded and isn’t how to make a revolution these days” or “the working class is so sexist and racist that we have to turn to radical struggles outside the workplace to get anywhere”. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group disagrees. We think these views are based on a mistaken idea of who the working class are and a lack of understanding of who has the power in our society.

The Working Class

The capitalist media have a sociological view of class. Their perspective is that the working class is composed of people in blue collar occupations, or people on low incomes. Often, they draw an even worse picture – they portray the working class as a group of straight white men in blue overalls. This suits the interests of the middle class liberals who conceive of themselves as the bearers of social progress and also the reactionary Right who have the same picture of working class people as the liberals, but claim to be on the side of the workers.

But class is not about social stratification. It’s about how society is organised economically. If you work for a wage or a salary, you don’t have the right to hire or fire and you don’t exercise the power of the State like a police officer or a magistrate, you’re working class. More broadly, you are working class if you have nothing to sell but your labour and you don’t exercise the power of the capitalist class. Class is a matter of what side your bread is buttered on.

Looked at this way, at least 80% of people in Australia are working class. And, far from being composed purely of straight white males, the working class is multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse. Almost all migrant communities in Australia, particularly those recently arrived, are overwhelmingly working class. Many people popularly regarded as middle class are, in fact, working class. Teachers and nurses, for example, are working class – something proven by the fact that they have joined unions in droves and gone on strike for their rights.

The middle class, by contrast, is composed of two groups, both being the meat in the sandwich between the working class and the capitalists.

The first group of the middle class is made up of self-employed people who run their own business and work beside any employees they have; the second is middle managers who have the power to hire and fire their subordinates but don’t exercise significant power inside their organisation. Altogether, the middle class is a pretty small group, especially when you remove sham contractors who are only technically self employed in order that their bosses can get around labour laws. It should also be noted that, historically, the most politically conservative sector of the workforce is composed of self-employed people in blue collar occupations – people who aren’t workers but are often regarded as such by the capitalist media.

The Power of the Workplace

Anarchist Communists advocate a class struggle perspective because the power of the capitalists derives from their control of production in each workplace. The most effective way to defeat the capitalists is for workers to organise to and take the means of production off the bosses and wield its power themselves.

Of course this doesn’t mean that forms of oppression outside the workplace are unimportant. We recognise that Australia is built on stolen land and that the Aboriginal people have never ceded their sovereignty. We recognise that racism, sexism, Islamophobia and homophobia are forms of oppression which can be more intense than that suffered by workers in the workplace. These forms of oppression are the product of class society. Various forms of struggle can reduce those oppressions, but they cannot be eliminated without abolishing capitalism – and that requires the workers taking the workplace away from the capitalists.

This also doesn’t mean that Anarchist Communists idolise workers as people whose opinions and actions are always left wing. We are well aware that reactionary politics has its dirty grip on wide sections of society, including the working class. If that wasn’t so we would have had the revolution a century ago. Instead, the consciousness of workers is contradictory. It will be when they are struggling for their own interests that they will come to see that racism, sexism and all other forms of special oppression are not only morally wrong but also a practical impediment to their victory. Class struggle drives workers to the left.

The Way Forward

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group advocates that Anarchists should orient their strategies to the workplace.

Other areas of struggle are also vital. People can and should struggle against oppression wherever they find it and struggle outside the workplace can win reforms and radicalise people. But unless we take the workplaces off the capitalists we’ll never beat them. Our victories will be partial and reversible. Our struggles outside the workplace should also be directed towards building a force that can take its politics inside it. Only the multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse working class can rid the world of capitalism.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

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AFTER THE FIRES

This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 9 No 1, published on 28th February 2020.

The disastrous bushfires in eastern Australia are now out, but not before over 18.7 million hectares were burnt and 34 people killed. Sydney, Australia’s largest city, was blanketed in smoke for over a month, while numerous other cities and towns suffered similar conditions. And, despite recent rain, most areas are still susceptible – the bushfire season lasts until March at least and one dry month could start things up again almost anywhere except along the coast.

Political debate around the bushfires has been out of the Government’s control for months. They lost it when Scott Morrison was found to be on a secret holiday to Hawaii at the time two volunteer firefighters were killed, but it probably only dawned on Morrison how badly things were going for him when he tried a PR appearance in a town recently hit by fire and couldn’t find anyone willing to shake his hand.

For quite some time, there has been a large majority in Australia in favour of treating climate change seriously and taking effective action, but their strength of conviction was lacking. Other issues took precedence and public concern wasn’t enough to drive the denialists from their dominant position in the Government. All this has now changed.

Opinion polls confirm what public debate has suggested. The environment is now the biggest issue in the public mind in Australia and the demand for action is growing. The Government has had to change its position. It has silenced open deniers and has taken to stating frequently that climate change is real and needs to be stopped. Its defence now revolves around saying that its existing policies are adequate to meet the challenge. This is a lie just as much as denial is, but it has the virtue of being just plausible enough that supporters of the Government can pretend to believe it.

Beyond the Government’s official position, things have moved. Sections of the Liberal Party want to take more serious action. The National Party is having a civil war: one faction thinks the defence of coal needs to be done aggressively, while the other thinks that’s too risky. Meanwhile, Labor has announced a commitment to zero net emissions by 2050 and the Greens have a new leader who is communicating their existing policies more assertively.
None of this, of course, amounts to a solution. To the extent that the Liberals’ new stance is not just PR cover for the same old same old, it’s too little, too late. Labor is fundamentally handicapped by the craven capitulation to pressure that’s in its DNA. And the Greens suffer under the delusion that a just and sustainable capitalism is possible.

What needs to be done

Right now we have improved prospects of translating propaganda into action. The next global School Strike for Climate needs to be many times bigger than last September’s and it needs to have the social weight of the unions. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group advocates that workers form rank and file groups in their unions to push for turning the School Strike into a workers’ strike for a Just Transition to a zero carbon society. In these rank and file groups, Anarchists will argue that the capitalist class is so invested in its sunk costs in fossil fuels that any realistic transition requires the abolition of capitalism. It’s possible to imagine a capitalism based on renewable energy, but the existing capitalist class will fight tooth and nail to protect their investments.

Only the power of the working class can beat the capitalists who would see the world burn before surrendering their fortunes. To prevent catastrophic climate change, we need a revolution. Bringing the unions into the School Strike for Climate movement is a necessary step on that road.

STRIKE FOR A SAFE CLIMATE

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SOUTH AMERICA ON FIRE

This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 8 No 6, published on 22nd December 2019.

Across South America, the class struggle is raging at an intensity that Australia has rarely seen. Both Right and Left are on the offensive in different countries and it is the political centre which is falling away.

Bolivia has just experienced a military coup with clear participation of Fascists and with at least some orchestration from within the United States. The coup regime has issued an arrest warrant for former President Evo Morales, under the pretext of terrorism and sedition, but transparently for the real reason of being Evo Morales.

In Brazil, the Fascist Jair Bolsonaro was elected by technically democratic means, but he is engaged in murderous repression and is attacking the institutions of capitalist democracy from within. Bolsonaro is not getting it all his own way, though, and there has been sporadic large scale struggle against him.

In Argentina, the Right has just been ejected from office by the Centre-Left, but inflation is high and mass struggles continue. In Colombia, a recent general strike suffered widespread repression which has nevertheless failed to squash the movement. This should surprise no-one, because ever since the peace deal disarming the guerillas of FARC, the oligarchy has been able to engage in murderous repression of the social movement, unconstrained by prospects of reprisal.

The Right is also on the offensive in Venezuela and has been for some years. President Nicolas Maduro, successor to Hugo Chavez, is a bumbling authoritarian who has no idea how to defeat the militant Right, which is financed and in large measure directed by the United States. He narrows the Chavista base by counter-productive measures and an inability to dodge the crippling US sanctions. Opposition to him from the Left is needed, but an opposition which is also aimed clearly against the Right. Meanwhile, in Ecuador, the ironically named Lenin Moreno has switched sides, allied with the United States and largely adopted the policies of the Right. A massive campaign of strikes and demonstrations in October caused him to abandon a set of drastic austerity measures.

It is Chile, however, which is ground zero and where the struggle has advanced the furthest. The working class and student movements in Chile have waged frequent immense struggles in recent years, concentrating mainly on immediate issues but with an undercurrent of rejection of the political system. This undercurrent burst out into the open when the entire country rose up from 7 October against an attempt by the Right wing government to increase public transport fares. No sooner had strikes and demonstrations begun than a slogan emerged that took the struggle to a new level: “It’s not the thirty pesos, it’s the thirty years.” The entire framework set up by General Pinochet is being rejected. Though the students have been the most militant, the power of the working class has been the most effective. Support for Right wing President Sebastian Pinera has totally collapsed and not even cutting a deal with the parties of the Left (including the so-called “Communist” Party) for a Constitutional Convention has enabled him to re-stabilise things. Militant demonstrations continue.

What needs to be done to drive the struggle onwards? How can the Right be beaten? The answer is twofold. Firstly, Anarchists in South America should organise themselves in federations of revolutionary Anarchist Communists – a tendency which there goes by the name of Especifismo. This is, to an extent, happening. The Federation Anarchista Santiago is active in Chile and is strongly participating in the struggle there. In addition, Especifismo groups in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil have recently announced the re-launching of CALA, the Latin American Anarchist Co-ordination. This is an immensely positive development, showing the way for Anarchists to participate in the struggles on that continent in a positive way. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on Anarchists across South America to flock to their banners or to form similar Especifismo groups so that the effectiveness of Anarchist organisation can grow by the orders of magnitude demanded by the struggle.

The other thing that needs to happen is the formation, in Chile and other countries where the struggle has reached the necessary level, of mass organs of workers’ democracy. The old reformist organisations of the working class are simply inadequate to the current crisis. New bodies are needed, transcending bureaucratic divisions, uniting broader layers of workers and establishing direct democracy in place of representation. These bodies will be based in the workplace, in order to establish the possibility of cutting off the power of capital at its source and wielding the vast power of the economy according to the will of the workers themselves.

Finally, it is necessary to recognise there is no conflict between these two tasks. Indeed, the first is a precondition of the second. Anarchists organised on the basis of Especifismo need to be propagandising ceaselessly, in Chile and wherever else it is practical, for workers to form mass organs of workers’ democracy. They must turn away from Parliamentary roads that can only lead to defeat and from political parties which seek power only for themselves, not the workers. Only the revolutionary abolition of capitalism can solve South America’s pressing crisis and only Anarchist Communism, Especifismo, can light the way to that revolution.

HASTA LA VICTORIA!

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EASTERN AUSTRALIA ON FIRE

This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 8 No 6, published on 22nd December 2019. Since then the fires have spread even further and the death toll has risen markedly.


For the last six weeks, the eastern States of Australia have been suffering an unprecedented wave of bushfires. There have also been a number of bushfires in Western Australia. One of the driest winters on record has been followed by a warm and dry spring. This has led to huge areas of the continent being tinder dry and ready to catch fire far earlier than for a normal fire season. What we are seeing is unprecedented in its breadth, intensity and timing.

Sydney has been shrouded in smoke for over a month. The Gospers Mountain mega-fire has burnt out 450,000 so far. The Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service says they have dealt with 8,500 fires this season already – and it’s only the start of summer. This is climate change in action.

In recent years, firefighting in rural areas in Australia has been put on a much more scientific basis than previously. More thorough and intensive organisation has meant that fewer people die and fewer houses are lost. The firefighting effort in this fire season has been massive, with overwhelming community support for the volunteers and professional firefighters working day and night to protect lives, homes and livelihoods. Nevertheless, even this has been insufficient to prevent deaths in this unnatural disaster.

The political situation is spinning out of the control of the denialists in the Government and the media. The initial statements pointing out the connection between the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the unprecedented severity and earliness of the fire season were met by a storm of Right wing propaganda criticising them for “politicising the tragedy of the bushfires”. As the fires have continued, though, this position has become unsustainable. Volunteer firefighters, the United Firefighters Union and the chiefs of emergency services bodies have pointed out the connection. Some people who have lost their homes to bushfire have taken the burnt wreckage of their houses to Canberra and placed it outside Parliament House. The denialists have been reduced to muttering rather than shouting everybody down.

The forces of climate change denial were cocky after the Liberals won “the climate election”, with some even claiming the issue was dead. This was delusional thinking. A single hot summer was always going to pull the rug out from under them and hammer home the fact that climate change is real and happening. Before summer had even started climate change was back and big. The question of the moment is: what should we be doing?

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believes that the School Strike for Climate movement has great potential and that it should be joined wholeheartedly by the unions. School strikes should be turned into workers’ strikes. In Australia, the next global school strike day should be the occasion for mass co-ordinated strikes by workers from as many industries as possible. They should build towards a general strike. The power of capital arises in the workplace and it is only by organising there that workers can wrench power away from the capitalists and wield it themselves.

To achieve this objective, Anarchists need to be active in their unions, pushing for rank and file groups to work with communities in planning for a Just Transition. They should also be forming rank and file groups to press their unions to join the strike movement. These groups also need to be ready to bypass the officials if they won’t act. The capitalists won’t save us – the workers have to do it themselves.

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STRIKE FOR A SUSTAINABLE CLIMATE

This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 8 No 5, Sep-Oct 2019.

On 20 September this year, there was a co-ordinated series of demonstrations around the world held under the umbrella of “School Strike for Climate”. At least 6 million people participated, with protests across 4,500 locations in 150 countries. It was followed the next week by another 2 million people protesting in 2,400 locations. In Australia, protests were attended by about 300,000 people – amounting to over 1% of the population.

These protests mark a watershed in global politics around climate change. In key countries, including Australia, huge numbers of people are angry about the impending climate disaster and willing to do something about it. Capitalist governments, however, are taking inadequate action and some are even denying there is a problem.

It will take more than protest to avert the danger of global temperature rises of 3-4 degrees C, which would cause the death of billions and possibly the end of industrial civilisation – and most people know it.

What is urgently necessary now is to turn protest into resistance, through turning the school strikes into workers’ strikes. In Australia, the next global school strike day should be the occasion for mass co-ordinated strikes by workers from as many industries as possible, with the aim of building towards a general strike.

Such strikes, of course, will be illegal. But this is such a broad and urgent issue that we now have a golden opportunity to smash the “Fair” Work Act and its vicious anti-union provisions to smithereens. Workers who have had strikes banned by the “Fair” Work Commission, or been injuncted off picket lines, or fallen foul of other rules that are designed to prevent us exercising our economic power have a vital interest in joining the next climate strike.

To achieve mass workers’ action over climate change, however, requires two things. Firstly, it requires a political platform that appeals to workers both morally and materially. The climate movement needs to get away from the moralistic approaches some organisations and prominent figures have. We’re not “all in this together” and we don’t all share responsibility for the unsustainability built into capitalist society. Instead, we need to put a Just Transition at the heart of our program. Workers and communities currently reliant on unsustainable industries have to own the transition plans and therefore have to generate them themselves. No worker and no community should be left behind. Naturally, this will need resources, which will have to be found with social equity. So forget about neo-liberal ideas like a carbon price. The rich got us into this hole and they’ll have to pay to get us out.

Secondly, organising these strikes requires a sufficiently committed political force. The union officials will have to decide which side they are on: a Just Transition to a sustainable, zero carbon future – or the electoral fortunes of the ALP. We need a rank and file upsurge in the unions that will push past officials that stand against us. And the prize will be not just a barrier in the way of the destruction of habitability on our planet. It will also be the ability of workers and their unions to strike on daily issues of wages, conditions and employer behaviour.

The general strike for a Just Transition will be the beginning, but not the end of the matter. We will open up a debate about the dimensions and shape of the Just Transition. As the struggle progresses, more workers will come to realise that the only Just Transition is a transition away from capitalism. Two facts will drive this. First more people will see the existing capitalist class is so invested in fossil fuels that it has to be swept aside for humanity to achieve sustainability. The understanding will also emerge that eternal growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Only by abolishing capitalism can we disconnect living standards from resource consumption and adopt a circular zero waste economy.

The struggle for a planet we can continue to live on is the struggle for libertarian communism. And it will be won or lost in the workplace.

CAPITALISM IS UNSUSTAINABLE


Credit: Socialist Appeal

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LESSONS OF THE ROJAVA REVOLUTION

This leaflet was first distributed on 2 November 2019 at a Melbourne rally to protest the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.

Abandoned by the United States, the Rojava Revolution in northern Syria is being crushed. On the one side, there is the tyrant Erdogan and his genocidal Turkish nationalism. On the other side there is the butcher Assad with his Arab chauvinism. The balance of military forces is vastly unequal and, if any of the social achievements of Rojava survive, it will only be because Assad sees Erdogan as a greater long term threat.

The defeat of the Rojava Revolution is not the end, though. The Kurds have been defeated many times, and betrayed by putative allies just as often, but have always risen again. So it is vital to learn the correct lessons. What were the successes of the Rojava Revolution? Why are the Kurds suddenly confronted by two vastly better armed enemies? And what should be done in future?

The Achievements

The Rojava Revolution achieved much in northern Syria. The most obvious is the defeat of Daesh and the fall of its so-called “Caliphate”. The YPG-YPJ’s heroic defence of Kobanê and the subsequent drive to the east and south rid the world of a truly horrific barbarism. While Daesh’s “Caliphate” was an impossibility, it produced vast quantities of blood in the attempt to create one.

More important than the military victories, though, were the civil achievements of democratic confederalism. The improvement in the status of women in northern Syria will echo through the generations. Even if patriarchal religion forces women back into servitude, the memory of their freedom under democratic confederalism will live on and fire a burning hatred for their new oppressors. And the experience of local democracy, of different ethnic groups getting along in peace and equality, will only sharpen people’s detestation of the cruelty and oppression of the butcher Assad. The Rojava Revolution will live on in the hearts of the people who saw the benefits.

The Road to the Impasse

The Kurds are the largest nation on Earth without a State of their own. Instead, Kurdistan is divided between four other States, each of which subjects its Kurdish minority to national oppression. The struggle for Kurdish national liberation has been going on since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the imperialist carve-up of West Asia.

If the Kurds haven’t yet achieved their liberation, it’s not for the want of trying. They have risen in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran many times. Each time they faced the same fundamental problem – they were outnumbered and economically marginalised in the country where they revolted. Their allies have always deserted them when it was convenient and exposed them to bloody retribution. It is famously said that the Kurds have “no friend but the mountains”. Unfortunately, while the mountains may assist Kurdish fighters to survive, they cannot help the Kurds to victory.

Abdullah Öcalan, the primary leader of the Kurdish struggle in recent decades, has had some important insights and developed new ideas. Borrowing heavily from US Anarchist Murray Bookchin (1921-2006), he rejects the State as a vehicle for national liberation and advocates bottom-up democracy, which he calls “democratic confederalism”. He also insists on equality for women, saying all bodies should have two co-chairs, one male and one female.

Democratic confederalism has been an important advance in northern Syria, allowing equality for Kurds and for a range of ethnic and social minorities, as well as those Arabs willing to work within its structures. Democratic confederalism also contributed to the establishment of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which absorbed the YPG-YPJ. It has not, though, been sufficient to counter the political isolation of the Kurds and their suppression by militarily superior forces.

To counter that isolation, the Peoples Democratic Union (PYD) chose to ally with the United States. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group opposed this decision from the beginning (Victory to the Rojava Revolution! 25 October 2014), warning that democratic confederalism and US imperialism were incompatible. We called for the PYD to break its alliance with the US and throw in its lot with the workers and oppressed masses of West Asia instead (Drop the Charges Against Jamie Williams! 6 August 2015). And, in the wake of the USAF bombing of Raqqa, we said in The Anvil (Sep-Oct 2017):

The MACG recognises the right of groups struggling for national liberation to acquire arms from wherever they are to be had and to be judged on what they do with them. However, the collaboration of the SDF with the USAF, and allowing US special forces to be embedded within them, is politically disastrous and must be condemned as a betrayal and a strategic blunder of the first order.

The alliance with the US prevented the Kurds from allying with the oppressed masses of Syria, Iraq, Iran and, most crucially, Turkey. When the United States betrayed them, as everybody surely knew they would, the Kurds were left where they are today – with no friend but the mountains.

Where Now?

We have no military advice to give the SDF. They will make the best of the choices they face. It is clear, though, that little or nothing of the democratic confederal bodies will be left standing. The struggle must move to a new phase. The question of the hour is what that phase should be.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group firmly believes that the only road forward is class struggle. Öcalan, when he took up Bookchin’s great insights, also took up his most profound mistake – the rejection of class struggle. The workplace is the source of the capitalists’ power and also their Achilles’ heel. And it is also the means by which the Kurds can find better friends than the United States or whatever regional power might be pleased to use them as expendable pawns.

In Turkey, for example (similar observations apply in other countries in the region), Kurdish workers are an important component of the working class in cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. There, they are viciously exploited by the Turkish capitalists – as are workers of Turkish ethnicity. Joint struggle against the capitalists is in their clear material interests. National chauvinism, however, has been a key ideology binding Turkish workers to their masters and crippling their struggles. Only a small minority of the workforce is covered by genuine unions.

The burning necessity is to take democratic confederalism into the workplace and make it the basis of the struggle. Bottom-up democracy, with autonomy even at the lowest level, allows both unity and flexibility, while building trust between groups of workers who have sometimes been in conflict before. And there is a name for this strategy. It is called Anarcho-Syndicalism and was once practised in Spain by the CNT, which had a million members in 1936.

Democratic confederalism is a strategy of workplace struggle that can unite workers in Turkey and across West Asia against all oppressors. Such unity will bring all other strata of the oppressed masses in behind them. This, in turn, will fatally weaken the sheiks, the generals, the Islamists and, last but not least, the Zionist war machine in Israel. Revolution will be on the agenda.

The Rojava Revolution is being buried. But, if its democratic confederalism is sown in the workplaces, it will flower again, in a riot of freedom.

TAKE DEMOCRATIC CONFEDERALISM TO THE WORKPLACE

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
2 November 2019
macg1984 at yahoo dot com dot au

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FASCISM AND ITS CURE

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

Mass murders, and attempted mass murders, committed by Fascists worldwide appear to be occurring at an accelerating pace. Since the Christchurch massacre in March, there has been the Gilroy Garlic Festival massacre in the US in July, the El Paso massacre in early August and an attempted massacre at a mosque in Norway about a week later. This is a phenomenon of the utmost seriousness.

A Fascist group is a conspiracy to murder and deserves to be treated as such. It is now clear, though, that Fascists carry out their deadly program not only through formal groups. Recent massacres have been committed by individuals who engaged in on-line discussions with other Fascists, each of them praising massacres and calling, in general terms, for their replication.

Street mobilisations of Fascists must be confronted and, where possible, defeated. This is clear and the MACG has stated this repeatedly, but it is not enough. It doesn’t cut off Fascism at its roots and hasn’t prevented individuals rising from the sewers of 8chan to commit their unaffiliated massacres.

The paranoid nationalism of the Fascists who are spreading rapidly is a response to the inability of national governments to soften the impact of neo-liberalism on their citizens. Nationalism, the common and unquestioned assumption of all capitalist ideologies and also of social democracy, isn’t working well enough, so the reflex reaction is to double down on it. This environment is a boon to Fascists, since they take nationalism to its logical conclusion.

Since Fascism arises from the crisis of global capitalism, the only thing that can defeat it is a movement to resolve this crisis in the interests of the multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse working class of the world. At the moment, we’re a long way from this. In every country, the mainstream unions have a nationalist political framework and even as a visible minority current, internationalists can only be found in a few countries.

There are impressive movements in support of refugees in many countries and internationalists are prominent in them, but the movements are trapped in a minority position and are tackling the State where it is strong and we are weak. These movements, necessary as they are, will not make the required breakthrough.

What can work? Only by harnessing the inherent power of workers in the workplace can we turn the tide. An internationalist workers’ movement can cut the appeal of Fascism off at the knees, through demonstrating that the one thing more powerful than global capitalism is the global working class. This, however, raises the problem of the appalling state of the existing unions. Around the world, recent victories have been few and far between. Instead, unions have suffered defeat after defeat, shrinking in size and retreating politically. The union officials are plainly not up to the task of defending the institutions over which they preside.

We need to face the hard knowledge that we have to go back to basics and rebuild workplace organisation from the ground up. We are not dogmatic about organisational tactics here. They will differ from country to country according to the state of the unions and the environment in which they operate. In some countries, workers will need to build new unions. In others, we will need an insurgency within the existing unions. And in others, it will be best, at least for the now, to operate informally and possibly underground. In Australia, the best course is likely to be a rank and file insurgency inside the unions. It will avoid taking the positions of the union officials until the existing legislative framework is rendered unenforceable. Any officials who want to co-operate with this program should be worked with, but not relied upon.

The growth of Fascism is ongoing. The massacres will continue and perhaps keep accelerating until we have a movement that can both confront it physically and address the political issues that give it life. This requires workers uniting across borders to win battles that cannot be won on the national terrain. Whether we are talking about cars, mining, garments or anything else, we confront global corporations and global supply chains. Our response must be global. And by building a truly global labour movement, we can not only defeat Fascism, but open the door to a workers’ revolution that will do away with capitalism forever.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

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THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

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.

IF YOU DON’T FIGHT, YOU LOSE

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DEFEND JULIAN ASSANGE

This article first appeared in the Anvil 8/3, published 11th May 2019.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was arrested on 11 April when the Ecuadorian Government invited British police into their London embassy for that purpose. Initially charged with breaching bail, he was quickly also hit with a US charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He has since been sentenced to almost the maximum term for breaching bail and the process for extraditing him to the United States, which could be a long one, has begun.

The United States wants Assange because Wikileaks stands against the entire apparatus of national security in that country and has published much damaging information about its murderous and undemocratic activities – not least the Collateral Murder video that made Wikileaks famous. Wikileaks is so dangerous to the reputation of the CIA, the US military, State Department, the FBI, the major political parties and so many other components of the State in the US that the capitalist class want that organisation shut down for good and for Assange to be made an example of to deter potential successors. Accordingly, though the charge on which Assange has been arrested is one that has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, it should be expected that other, heavier charges are in the works.

In publishing the crimes of Uncle Sam, Julian Assange performed a great service for the working class and the oppressed peoples of the world and on that basis he must be defended against US attempts to seek retribution against him. He is, however, no saint. Firstly, he is accused of sexual assault in Sweden. While it is clear from published facts that Assange’s sexual ethics are poor, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is unsure whether his actions amount to a breach of Swedish law. Accordingly, we believe that he should go to Sweden to deal with the accusations and clear his name or face the consequences.

Secondly, Assange’s tactics during the US election campaign of 2016 and his political statements since are quite unsavoury, while some of the political associates he has been cultivating during his time as a fugitive in the Ecuadorian Embassy have been extremely dangerous. We therefore believe that, once he is out of the clutches of the United States, his future activities should be watched with great care until he can explain himself as a free agent.

The MACG thus defends Julian Assange, not because of his politics, which have curdled and are now quite suspect, nor because we consider him innocent of the Swedish accusations. The US ruling class has no objection to his politics, because they are riddled with the sort of people with whom he has been collaborating. And neither do they have any objection to sexual assault – if they did, Donald Trump would not be President. The United States wants to punish him, not for any crimes he might have committed, but for his good deeds. The MACG defend Assange for those same good deeds.

ASSANGE SHOULD GO TO SWEDEN
NOT TO THE US

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Final declaration of the founding congress of the Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL)

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is pleased to publish the following announcement, which we reproduce as received.

Final declaration of the founding congress of the Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL)

Union Communiste Libertaire

As we – activists from Alternative Libertaire and the Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes – gathered in a common congress, we decided to create a new revolutionary organisation : the Union Communiste Libertaire (French for Libertarian Communist Union).

In times of an intensifying capitalist crisis, one would like to make us choose between the liberal bourgeoisie in power and far-right partys in embush.

We cannot accept it. As a contrary, we affirm that another project of society is needed, based on direct democracy, self-management/self-government and federalism.

We want neither a world that has been tailored for those who possess, nor a militarized and locked society under digital surveillance.

Here as well as all over the world, we stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and alongside those who wish to knock borders down and break imperialism, neo-colonialism, and more specifically “Françafrique”.

In France, the anger of “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Jackets movement) vividly remind the state power that class struggle is just as topical as ever. In fact, state power quickly realized it as it uses particularly brutal a repression against this movement.

We took part in the “Gilets Jaunes” movement the same way we actively commit to the class struggle through building struggles, strikes and unions. Each day we tirelessly resist the capitalist exploitation in our workplaces. And we keep general strike as our horizon.
Where we study, we fight against social selection that become everyday harder.

The Union Communiste Libertaire will struggle alongside those who fight to destroy patriarchy. From our own ranks as well as in society in general, we will fight against sex and gender oppressions, sexism and oppression against GLBTI people.
Against the mechanics of racism, we will be rising up and in support of struggles against police violence.

We will keep on marching with all the demonstrators who take to the streets to oppose climate change and the collapsing of biodiversity, what capitalists are responsible for.

The Union Communiste Libertaire is willing to welcome all those who want to build another society. In cities, surburbs and in the country, everywhere we live, we will build this organisation to materialize a future free from all exploitation and dominations.

This future in which we place our hopes has a name: libertarian communism.

10th of June, 2019

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