This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 10 No 1, published 28 Feb 2021.

Australian, US & Japanese Warships in the South China Sea (Credit: US Navy)

The US became the dominant world power in 1945. Despite everything since then, the world order it established is intact and the US remains far and away the most powerful country. Although its wealth and power relative to the rest of the world has been declining for decades, still no single power is able to challenge it. But US security in its hegemony may be about to change. And that creates a dangerous international situation.

Previous rival the USSR had a comparable population to the US, but it ran into structural economic difficulties in the 1960s. It eventually stagnated and collapsed under US pressure. Germany and Japan, both with populations a small fraction of the US, found their rise halted before their GDP per capita came anywhere near it. The European Union, which is large enough, hasn’t been able to create the necessary internal unity to mount a challenge.

China, though, has four times the US population. Its GDP per capita is about a sixth of the US, which brings its total GDP, and thus its weight in the world economy, within striking distance. Its growth rate is still substantially above the US. Even if its GDP per capita stalls at half that of the US in coming decades, its total GDP would still be double the current imperialist hegemon. US dominance would not survive that situation.

This prospect is, of course, intolerable to the US ruling class. It’s why Congressional Democrats and Republicans have been on a unity ticket on China issues in recent years. And so US complaints about China’s activities go well beyond its genuine bad behaviour. They extend to China’s initiatives to develop global leadership in key industries and to set up its own international relationships.

With this background, it is significant that the Sydney Morning Herald published an article on 14 January, headed “Trump ignored a strategy to contain China and strengthen India alliance”. It was based on a recently declassified US government strategy document produced in 2018. A few details of the strategy stand out. Firstly, the US does have a policy to contain China. It’s geopolitical and not fundamentally driven by China’s behaviour. Secondly, containment involves keeping China behind the first island chain, including Japan, the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan. This is a very aggressive posture.

Thirdly, while Trump largely agreed with the intent of the strategy, he disliked anything that interfered with exercising personal rule over his administration and the US generally. Since Biden has no such hang-ups, we now can expect the February 2018 document to be largely followed. And finally, Australia has a strong role as part of the “Quad”, along with Japan and India.

Separate from the specific document, the article made assertions about China that are standard in the Australian media these days. It assumed “the existential threat of a rising China” and alleged China engaged in currency manipulation and unfair trading practices. China’s efforts to influence its exchange rate are no more significant that those of the US or Australia and for the same reasons. And the “unfair trading practices” mentioned are China’s insistence on technology transfer as part of investment deals and claims that China’s intellectual property arrangements are insufficiently stringent to satisfy Western patent holders. As consistent opponents of intellectual property, the MACG can advise these Western patent holders to jump in the lake.

The article’s most disturbing statement, though, was that a rising China is an “existential threat” to Australia, Japan and other unnamed countries. These are fighting words. States go to war over existential threats. It amounted to saying China can’t be allowed to become an industrialised country. The workers and peasants of China must remain poor so that Australian capitalism can continue to exist.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group condemns the attempt by Australian and US imperialism to contain China and prevent its development. We carry no water for the Beijing Stalinists, who are brutal tyrants and whose national chauvinism reaches genocidal proportions when dealing with the Tibetans and Uighurs. We advocate workers’ revolution to bring down the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party and establish libertarian communism. But the attempt to contain China and keep it poor is immoral in principle and also, if it fails, likely to lead to war in practice. If the US can’t stop China’s development by economic means, it will find itself in the Thucydides Trap. The established power fears being overtaken by a rising one, so the temptation to take pre-emptive military action will be compelling.

We cannot let this come to pass.


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This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 9 No 6, published 31 Dec 2020.

Australian forces in Afghanistan. Credit: LS Paul Berry via The Guardian

The Brereton report about allegations of war crimes against Afghan civilians by Australian troops, mainly the Special Air Service Regiment, was met in November with gasps of shock by the capitalist media and the appointment of a special prosecutor to bring criminal charges. The prosecutor’s appointment, however, was also the signal for the issue to drop out of the media and normal service to resume in the area of propaganda glorifying the military. When trials eventually occur, it will be years after the report, when the military have fabricated a story to exonerate the institution, whatever the fate of the individuals mentioned.

Australia’s imperialist military and the governments that sent it to Afghanistan shouldn’t get away with it so easily. The 39 murders named in the report are only the ones for which whistleblowers could be found. There are rumours of many more. This is inherently plausible because of the nature of the practices the report itself describes:

* Execution of prisoners was done as “blooding” new team members with their first kill.

* Units carried “throwdown” weapons to plant on civilians they killed.

* All fighting age males found in combat zones, whether armed or not, were considered Taliban.

These features indicate that the murders discussed in the report are just the tip of the iceberg. The last point, indeed, is actual official US policy in waging the “War on Terror”, so the rotten apple defence rings particularly hollow.

Having admitted that many war crimes had been committed, the Brereton report goes on to pin as much blame on sergeants and corporals as possible. Commissioned officers were found to be “bewildered” by evidence of crimes, while exhibiting “abandoned curiosity”. These officers were not just incompetent or lazy. At best, they were wilfully ignorant. More likely, they were complicit through verbal arrangements about what they needed to know and what they didn’t. There were credible accusations of war crimes already, dating at least to 2009, so the entire SAS command structure would have known whether their supervision was sufficient to detect such events if they occurred.

Beneath all this, however, is the guilt of Australia’s military high command and the governments, both Coalition and Labor, that decided to send Australian troops to Afghanistan and keep them there. Australia’s Afghan War was never about Afghanistan, but about the US alliance. It was about supporting a US-dominated world order in which Australia has the South Pacific franchise. This requires supporting US military action in Asia and contributing enough military forces to be seen as a valuable ally deserving its own sphere of influence.

In these circumstances, the military effort in Afghanistan quickly became an occupation. All Afghan civilians were the enemy, unless they were known tools of the occupiers. And so the fighting age males were deemed fair game. Imperialist war cannot be waged justly, so the political decisions of John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and other Prime Ministers made the crimes of the soldiers on the ground inevitable. The soldiers named in the secret version of the report deserve to be in the dock, but so do their political masters.

The Brereton report revealed what could no longer be concealed. But the cover-up, both of further crimes and the guilty parties all the way from Lieutenants to Prime Ministers, has begun. Our best response is to demand that Australia get out of Afghanistan.


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The following statement was released by the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group on 10 January 2021.

It is important to call the events of Tuesday 6 January in Washington DC in the US by their proper name. It was an attempted Fascist putsch, consciously incited though not directed by Donald Trump. It was an attempt to prevent the US Congress taking the final step to authorise the inauguration of Joe Biden as President a fortnight later. It failed and we’re glad it did.

Capitalist media organisations are notoriously unreliable at estimating numbers at political events, but it’s clear that at least tens of thousands of Trump supporters attended a demonstration in Washington under Fascist leadership. Up to a couple of thousand people, including organised Fascist groups and known Fascist identities, stormed the Capitol building (the US Parliament House). The mob included not a few off-duty cops who were seen flashing their IDs to the Capitol Police on the way in. The rioters disrupted the proceedings, which were a certification of the results of the Electoral College, and took over the meeting chambers and many other areas of the building. Photographs have emerged from inside showing men in combat gear, carrying weapons and zip ties for handling prisoners. Eventually, the rioters were forced to leave. Congress resumed its session and recognised the result of the Electoral College.

Police treatment of the Washington event was remarkably light, especially considering that Fascists had been threatening for weeks to storm the Capitol and that Black Lives Matter protestors have been met with overwhelming and aggressive police violence. Leftist demonstrators would never have been given the opportunity to reach the steps, let alone breach the doors and break windows. Instead, several cops posed for selfies with members of the mob. At a later point, a woman Trump supporter was shot dead by Capitol Police. Three other Trump supporters died from “medical emergencies” (only one of which occurred inside the Capitol) and a cop died the next day.

Trump incited his Fascist followers to storm the Capitol as a last ditch attempt to prevent Biden’s inauguration, following the refusal of Mike Pence (Trump’s Vice President) to prevent it by acting in his role of presiding over the Senate. This was after a series of attempts by Trump to frustrate the inauguration of Biden. He called rallies of his supporters outside counting centres; launched dozens of court cases, losing on all but a handful of minor procedural points; and tried to heavy various State governors and officials involved in the election process. His phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State was recorded and released on the Internet and showed just how desperate Trump was becoming.

The Trump putsch, if it had been successful, would have transformed the United States into a Fascist dictatorship. Trump’s private army would have swept away the legislative branch of government. To make it stick, he would have been compelled to sack and/or arrest thousands of public officials – including, possibly, judges. But to carry through a putsch in defiance of a democratic election, it’s necessary to have plenty of friends in high places. Trump found he didn’t have nearly enough friends. He was beaten by the Deep State.

The failure of the putsch is a major blow to Trump. He has forced many Republican politicians, including the Vice President, to break with him. Most of the rest of the country is enraged. He has now been forced to promise a peaceful transfer of power on 20 January. This is both an admission of defeat and a concession that his conduct until now has contained an implicit threat of a coup.

There is no precise analogy from well-known history, but the closest one is Adolf Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. A relatively small group of people attempted, with daring action, to deliver the government of Germany into the hands of a dictator. The failure of the putsch was a setback for the Nazis, but the Weimar Republic treated the putschists with kid gloves. Hitler was sentenced to only five years prison and was released after nine months. Worse, successive Weimar governments eroded democratic rights with frequent states of emergency and left Germany’s social problems unresolved. Hitler was able to rebuild his political credibility and then capitalise on the crisis created by the Depression. And we all know what followed that.

The Beer Hall Putsch analogy contains a lesson. Trump has given his enemies an opportunity to put him out of business, but the Democrats won’t follow through. The Fascists who stormed the Capitol building are being denounced by everyone, including Trump, and will probably be hung out to dry, but the consequences for Trump himself won’t be anywhere near hard enough. And the way Biden governs will, in due course, rehabilitate Trump. Left to their own devices, the Democrats will pave the way for the revival of Trump’s political fortunes.

Democrats will make their own assaults on democratic rights. Already, Biden has called the people who stormed the Capitol “domestic terrorists” and Democrats across the board have picked up on his cue. In using this term, Biden isn’t referring to the pipe bombs and the truck full of Molotov cocktails found in Washington, which have hardly got a mention in the mainstream media. He also wasn’t speaking about the death of a cop, which occurred after his statement. The “terrorism” he was denouncing was what was on everyone’s TV screens – a mob breaking windows, occupying the Capitol and disrupting a sitting of Congress.

Biden knows what he is doing. By denouncing Trump’s foot soldiers as terrorists, he is preparing for a broader crackdown on political activity outside accepted political channels. Any new laws or police powers will apply as much to the Left as to the Right. They will be used by the cops with glee against the Left and not at all or hardly ever against the Right. And Democrats denouncing (with equal parts ignorance and malice) the rioters in the Capitol as “anarchists” will have real consequences for actual Anarchists.


The first lesson to be drawn is that the US bourgeoisie have not given up on capitalist democracy. It is their preferred form of rule, since there are too many capitalists to fit inside a single palace. While the capitalists are prepared to abandon democracy if it is necessary to preserve their power, they fear that a dictator would rule in the interests of one faction of capital rather than the capitalist class as a whole.

Secondly, there is nothing surprising about the events in Washington. Not the Fascist mobs. Not Trump’s incitement. Not the complicit approach of the cops. Not the failure of the putsch. Not the Democrats’ turn to “law and order”. And not the liberals’ surprise at all of these things except the last.

The Democrats will handle the aftermath of the putsch in a way that will strengthen the Right. They will pass yet more repressive laws. They will wax lyrical about the precious institutions of capitalist democracy and vehemently denounce the invaders of Congress. But when it comes to prosecuting and sentencing, many of these invaders will get kid glove treatment.

Finally, we need to realise that liberals are not our friends. They are not quietly on our side while we do the dangerous stuff. When push comes to shove, liberals want the heavy hand of the State to suppress Right wing dissent. They do not support working class counter-mobilisation. When the workers of the United States make a revolution, they will disperse the liberals’ precious Congress – themselves – not to establish a dictatorship, but to allow the mass organs of workers’ democracy to take power. And they will need to be prepared to defend themselves against a last-ditch violent reaction by the old regime, supported whole-heartedly by the liberals.


For the time being, Trump is badly wounded and the Republican Party is deeply divided. The Fascists are demoralised because Trump is dumping on them to save his own skin. The Democrats are angry and also feel vindicated.

Anarchists in the United States need to ensure that the organisers of the Trump Putsch are clearly identified as Fascists for the world to see. Anarchists need to seize the opportunity to break the links that have been developing between them and the mainstream Right and calling the Fascists by their true name is an essential part of that. And Anarchists need to run hard against the Democrats’ agenda of righteous “law and order” and neo-liberalism. Biden was always going to be a bad President. The Trump Putsch means he’ll be worse.

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This article first appeared in The Anvil, Vol 9 No 6, published 31 Dec 2020.

The US Presidential election is over and Donald Trump has lost. While he has convinced his hard core supporters than the election has been stolen from him, he has failed to get sufficient backing from powerful actors to mount a coup. Joe Biden will take office on 20 January.

Biden will have no honeymoon. The previous two Democratic Presidents faced a massive Right wing reaction as soon as they took office, although they had no opposition worth noting from the Left. The Republicans will try a third time to mount a reactionary movement and Trump will probably lead it. Biden campaigned on a platform of being a “normal President” – but “normal” politics is precisely what led to the election of Trump in 2016. Left to his own devices, Biden will bring the Washington establishment even further into disrepute and set the stage for Trump to be re-elected in 2024 (health permitting). Biden will rule for Wall Street, allow inequality to grow unchecked and confine progressive policies to gestures that will infuriate the Right while not satisfying the burning needs of the mass of workers in the US.

There is a new factor. Obama took office when the grassroots Left was small, weak and inexperienced. As a result, there were massive illusions in him, something that demobilised the Left for some years. Under Clinton back in 1992, the situation was even worse. The Left was ideologically shattered by the collapse of the USSR and its organisations were falling to pieces. The capitalists were celebrating the “death of communism” and proclaiming “the end of history”. Now the grassroots left is confident and growing, having left full or partial ideological dependence on the USSR behind. For the first time since LBJ, a Democratic President will take office with a grassroots challenge from the Left.

The strategy

The social movement in the United States faces a fundamental strategic choice. Either it works through the Democratic Party or against it. Every movement throws up a layer of activists who use it to climb into Parliament, but the crucial issue is whether the movement will follow them and divert itself into Parliamentary channels. The moment the movement tones down its actions or demands to suit the fortunes of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it’s finished as an independent force. It’s not for nothing that the Democratic Party is known in the US as the graveyard of political movements. It’s happened so many times before that activists have no excuse for not seeing it coming.

Anarchist communists in the United States need to avoid being distracted by the siren call of demands to change the Democratic Party. The priority must be to build the grassroots struggle, in whatever sphere it erupts, while engaging patiently with those who think there is currently no alternative to the Democrats. And the argument has to be that “We – the grassroots movement – are the alternative to the Democrats. We’re creating facts on the ground to which all politicians must respond in some way, while the organisations we are building are the new society within the shell of the old.”

The struggle

Finally, we must consider the fields of struggle available. The struggle against the police and their racist violence, the struggle for immigrants’ rights and against borders and the struggle to prevent rampant climate change have all generated strong grassroots movements in recent years. The first of these struggles is the one that has shaken the United States the most, because US capitalism is founded on the legacy of slavery. The demand that the State merely recognise that Black lives matter is enough to undermine the stability of its order and send the cops into a frenzy of violence.

The militant demonstrations against the police murder of George Floyd, for example, were entirely justified and spread like wildfire. Demonstrators can be beaten off the streets, however, as eventually happened in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Portland and elsewhere. What would give this struggle, and all other struggles, the social weight to win would be bringing it into the workplace. If grassroots radicals were strong enough in the labour movement in Minneapolis to force the staging of a one day general strike there, the capitalists would have been hit where it really hurts. Cutting off the flow of profits would achieve far more to defund police and change their behaviour than any amount of reform pursued electorally.

The workplace is the source of the capitalists’ power, so the struggle in that location is decisive. It is the vehicle for fighting the economic inequality that is driving down living standards for US workers for the first time since the Great Depression and fuelling the growth of Fascism. It is, though, much more than that. The struggle in the workplace can unite the multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse working class in the fight against all forms of social oppression and build the solidarity needed to make the revolution to overthrow capitalism as a whole.

After Trump, the fundamental task is the same as before.


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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 9 No 5, published on 31/10/2020.

Credit: Washington Monthly

As we go to press, the US Presidential election is fast approaching. Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, is further ahead in the polls than Hillary Clinton was four years ago and his lead is pretty stable. Trump can only win by either a massive last-minute shift in opinion or by undemocratic means. These could include the Electoral College, semi-legal methods of voter suppression or an outright illegal refusal to count postal votes. So many conventions of US politics have been broken in recent years that we hesitate to rule out any scenario as impossible. There is even discussion about whether Trump would be prepared to recognise an election in which he was defeated.

With our limited resources, picking a winner would be a mug’s game, so we will reflect on the meaning of the election and the point at which US society finds itself. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believes it is impossible to hold executive office in the capitalist state on a principled basis. Being President of the USA involves being Commander-in-Chief of the world’s most powerful imperialist military, maintaining a deadly repressive domestic and foreign security apparatus and administering myriad unjust laws. You could institute the world’s most thorough reform program, but you’d still be committing crimes 24 hours a day. It is impossible to ever support any candidate for US President, even one whom it might be permissible to support for election to a legislative body.

Donald Trump was elected in 2016 because five decades of neoliberalism had produced the worst inequality in the US in over a century. Far from reversing inequality, Trump has aggravated it and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated even further the transfer of wealth to the very richest. Simultaneously, Trump is incrementally abolishing the checks and balances within capitalist democracy that protect it from open dictatorship. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is promising to be “a normal President” – i.e. to continue the same policies that created the conditions for Trump to be elected. Neither candidate offers anything to the working class.

The current situation is unsustainable. The balance of power between capitalists and workers is so uneven that US inequality will increase until the working class revolts and builds powerful new organisations. Until then, the sectors of the population who have a stake in the system will progressively reduce. The political centre will continue to dissolve. Society will polarise into Left and Right and, at some point, a showdown will occur.

What should Anarchists do?

The task of Anarchists in the United States is to build the struggle of the multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse working class against poverty and against racism, sexism and all other oppressons. If Biden wins, the growing Fascist movement in the US will react with great violence, though perhaps not immediately. If Trump wins, his re-election will be greeted with rage by a growing grassroots movement that already rejects US institutions as illegitimate. The need for revolutionary struggle will be more obvious.

In either case, it is by building working class struggle that the threat of Fascism will be best addressed. Struggle against a re-elected Trump would be necessary as he accelerates the class polarisation of society and moves further towards dictatorship. Struggle against a President Biden would explode the poisonous identification of the Left with the Democratic Party that Republicans make and from which Fascists benefit.

The United States is headed for a crisis which, one way or another, will destroy it as the sole super-power. A vote for neither candidate would change that for the better. Only the working class can save the US from Fascism and war. And this can only be done by destroying the United States in a workers’ revolution.




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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 9 No 4, published on 31 August 2020.

The capitalist media in Australia are full of news and opinion designed to create fear and suspicion of China and its so-called “communist” government. To advance this agenda, many real and alleged instances of bad behaviour by Beijing are cited. This is having the desired effect. Public opinion is shifting against China and giving the Liberal Government (aided and abetted by the Labor “Opposition”) more room to join the United States in its anti-China military manoeuvres.

And here is the link to the bigger picture. The United States has taken an increasingly anti-China stance in recent years because it is afraid of losing its global dominance. The US remains the single most powerful country by a long way, despite receding from its overwhelming superiority in the 1950s and facing a declining position in recent decades. The USSR collapsed in 1991. Other potential imperialist rivals rose to a threatening position, but their challenges faded away.

The great size of the US, its control of world institutions, its multi-national corporations and its massive rent from intellectual property forced first Germany, then Japan and finally the European Union to concede a subordinate position. Germany and Japan, being substantially smaller in population and stuck on a lower GDP per capita figure, have no prospect of overtaking the US. The EU, though a promising project which had the necessary scale to compete with the US, has fallen victim to intractable conflicts between its constituent capitalist classes.

China is a different kettle of fish. With a population more than four times that of the US, it can surpass the United States without becoming as rich. Even if its GDP per capita hits a ceiling of half that of the US, China’s total GDP would be more than double the US. Apart from exerting a stronger economic influence on the world economy than the US, it could build a stronger military with a lower share of GDP devoted to paying for it. The advantages which enabled the US to defeat previous challengers may not be enough to prevent this scenario.

This prospect is, of course, intolerable to the US capitalists. As a result, they have united against China. While US Congress is bitterly divided under the Trump regime and is stalemated on virtually every other question, the Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly combined to pass anti-China resolutions almost unanimously. This is not just one of Trump’s solo frolics.

It is necessary to step back and take in the entire international picture. In order to preserve its global dominance, US imperialists are attempting to prevent China becoming a developed country and its people acquiring the standard of living that goes with that. To force China deliberately to stay underdeveloped, and so to keep the bulk of its people in poverty, would be a crime of staggering proportions. It is an objective which would probably require war. All the actions of the US and Australia, as well as the actions of China, have to be examined from this perspective.

USS Carl Vinson, flagship of Carrier Strike Group 1 of the US Navy Third Fleet, a key instrument of US imperialism in the Pacific Ocean (Credit: US Navy via Wikipedia)*

Complaints from Australian politicians and in the media about China’s behaviour have mostly fallen into two categories: complaints about genuinely poor behaviour by the Beijing Stalinists, and complaints about their violation of the rules-based international order. The repression of the Uighurs and the Tibetans have to be Beijing’s worst crimes. In both cases Beijing is swamping the local population with ethnic Han migrants who have immense privileges and establish dominant economic positions. In the case of the Uighurs, the repression amounts to an attempted cultural genocide. A somewhat lesser crime, though a total disgrace in itself, is the suppression of civil liberties in Hong Kong. Beijing’s violation of the “one country, two systems” agreement isn’t designed to integrate Hong Kong into the People’s Republic, but to give Hong Kong the worst of both worlds – to combine Beijing’s political tyranny with a billionaires’ free market paradise. In the process, of course, they are blowing away any chance of a voluntary reunification with Taiwan, the province which the Kuomintang dictatorship retained in 1949 and which has subsequently had its own political evolution.

Beijing’s violations of the rules-based international order are more complex. This order didn’t arise in a vacuum. It expresses the institutionalised power of the United States, both in its rules and its mechanisms for enforcement. It is particularly galling to see the US complaining that China is violating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea with its fortifications in the South China Sea, given that the US is one of only a handful of States that have refused to sign, let alone ratify, it. China’s alleged theft of intellectual property is no crime at all. Property is theft and intellectual property is perhaps the worst kind of theft, since it is the legal protection of an unnatural monopoly that impoverishes the world so that capitalists can collect rent. Finally, although many of China’s alleged cyber-attacks are genuinely objectionable, we need to consider what we’re not being told. Anyone who thinks the United States isn’t doing the same, or worse, to China is so naive they should never buy a used car. Beijing just keeps quiet about it all so that the US doesn’t find out how much Beijing knows.

Certain complaints from the Australian media, though, have revealed the real agenda. China’s Belt and Road initiative has been attracting many beefs from capitalist politicians and pundits, with very thin justifications. And recently Australian media published objections to China’s aid to South Pacific countries to fight the coronavirus. What they’re complaining about is not China’s misbehaviour, but China’s development and growing international prominence.

China (Credit:*

What should Anarchists do?

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believes that the US objective of preventing the development of China is indefensible. Anarchists oppose the US war drive and the anti-China campaign of which it is part. In Australia, the media are demonising Chinese capitalists for being Chinese rather than for being capitalists and Anarchists must oppose this. And crucially, we fight the Australian Government’s participation in US provocations against China such as their military exercises in the South China Sea.

There is more. Unlike Stalinists (and certain Trotskyists), we don’t manufacture excuses for the crimes of the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. The MACG takes the side of the Uighur and Tibetan peoples in China who are struggling against Beijing’s national chauvinist repression and the people of Hong Kong struggling against political tyranny. We point out, though, that their only road to liberation is to ally with the Chinese working class. Appealing to US imperialism is worse than useless. This would only support the US war drive against China and invite their own destruction in the process.

The Chinese working class are the primary victims of the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party and have the most to gain from its overthrow. Their liberation requires an iron commitment to democratic rights and the rights of national minorities. Only the Chinese workers have the ability to defeat the “Communist” Party – and only they have the right to say what succeeds them.

As Anarchists, we argue for workers’ revolution across the world and take as our primary duty the fight against the capitalists where we live. Here in Australia, we must fight against the Australian Goverment’s military alliance with the US, including the ANZUS Treaty, the 5 Eyes intelligence group and the spy base at Pine Gap. And we must fight to build a labour movement that can link up with the working class across the region to make revolution against both the capitalists and the Chinese so-called “Communist” Party. There is no other way.


* Note: Pictures slightly modified to reproduce better in black & white.

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This article is republished by agreement from the blog of the Aotearoa* Workers Solidarity Movement. We think they’re AWSM:


The rich become that way because they work hard to provide the everyday things that our nation needs. So runs the story that underpins the economic system we live under. It’s something that is so taken for granted, it often goes uncommented upon. It seems as natural and obvious as sun in summer or chocolate fish tasting like chocolate rather than fish. Other times you will see the corporate media actively propagating this idea somewhere in the business section of your paper. By the way, that’s the bit you often skip over to get to the crossword at the back, in case you weren’t sure what that was. Overall, it feels like there’s not much to be said about it, right? Wrong.

The National Business Review ( is one of the key information organs of those who run capitalism here. It’s worth reading now and then. It tells you what our masters think is important. The NBR publishes an annual list of the local richest individuals. At present the top person on that list is Graeme Hart, with a fortune of approximately $10 billion. However, the news of the moment is that he may be eclipsed by somebody called Peter Thiel. If you know who he is, that’s great, but chances are most of us don’t. Stop and think about that for a second. Here is nearly the richest individual on these islands and you probably don’t know his name, what exactly he does or what he looks like.

So who is Thiel? He was born in Germany but mostly grew up in the United States and was living in California when he first came to attention here. That’s because it was discovered in 2017 that he had been granted fast-tracked New Zealand citizenship in 2011 despite only having spent 12 days here! ( The reason was not that he had escaped a war torn country and desperately needed asylum, but simply he had put lots of money into some businesses here.

There are some aspects of his investment history that (if you wanted to be very generous), you could argue have been relatively benign and possibly even useful, such as PayPal. In other cases he got in on the ground floor of things and did well for himself, such as an early stake in Facebook. On the other hand, there are some downright dodgy aspects to how he accumulated his wealth.

In 2004 Thiel co-founded an outfit called Palantir. This is a software company that could best be described as handmaidens to the totalitarian surveillance society. That’s because they work closely with an alphabet soup of nice organisations like the CIA, NSA, ICE and the FBI to mine huge amounts of online data from electronic surveillance. As for a connection to local spies, according to media sources here, the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) will neither confirm or deny if they are clients of Palantir. However, they have an office in Wellington and the GCSB have advertised for staff that know Palantir’s software. That’s about as close to a smoking gun as you can get! Other research has exposed that the NZ Defence Force has spent millions of dollars with Palantir (Daily Post 9/7/20). At this point it’s not exactly clear how much of Palantir Thiel owns, but part of the reason he may overtake Hart as the richest person here is that there is talk of listing the company on the stock exchange.

Thiel was also an early financial backer of Clearview AI. This is a company involved in facial recognition technology. It can match faces to billions of images scraped from the internet.
Clearview AI has been controversial since its inception due to its links to neo-Nazis, data leaks, lawsuits, questions about its accuracy, bans and strong opposition from various organisations. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, labelled its technology a “dangerous and untested surveillance product”. Interest locally comes from the fact that the police here contacted the company and conducted an unauthorised trial of the technology earlier this year (

Apart from his delightful business involvements, Thiel has also taken an active interest in the formal political arena. He has long been a supporter of the Republican Party in the USA and contributed financially to a range of conservative and right-wing activists and politicians from Ann Coulter, Ron Paul, Ted Cruz and Trump. What he has done in this regard in Aotearoa is not known.

So that’s the soon-to-be richest person here.

What does Thiel’s biography tell us about how things really are? Firstly, in 2020 you don’t actually have to make tangible, useful stuff that exists in the real world like tables or bread, in order to be mega-rich. Secondly, despite rhetorical claims to be interested in social ‘freedom’ and the economic ‘free-market’, business and government often work together to control those who actually do produce real stuff, that is, the vast majority of us. Surveillance technology is only the latest in a long line of tools used to keep us under the thumb of the rich and powerful. Thirdly, the behaviour of our rulers gives the lie to their own myths. They want us to believe that being born or living long-term in a particular geographical space separates those people from others elsewhere. There’s a nation called New Zealand, ‘we’ are Kiwis and ‘they’ aren’t. It’s a useful way to divide and rule. Clearly however, if you can spend less than a fortnight in that place and magically be included among ‘the nation’ on the basis of having lots of money, it shows the whole thing to be the nonsense that it is.

It could be argued that Thiel is just one guy, that not everyone among the ruling class likes him and that he has provided money that has helped provide people with jobs. Well, obviously he is an individual and yes, sometimes there is contestation and squabbling among differing factions among our rulers. The indisputable truth is, however, that if the economic and political system had a fundamental problem with an individual like him, he wouldn’t be in the position he is in. As for the money he has, this has come from the collective efforts of other people, since no single person could literally do everything him/herself. The jobs this money has in turn created are either not really conducive to social freedom or in the few cases that they are, could be arrived at without the intervention of a billionaire autocrat.

We read about the amazing feats of the rich and powerful and are encouraged to accept them. Their existence is seen as natural and beneficial. Thiel’s story shows we don’t need to buy into this and shouldn’t, whether you like chocolate fish or not.

* If you don’t know where Aotearoa is, remember that settlers call it “New Zealand”. But Aotearoa is the name given by the people who were there first.

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This article first appeared in The Anvil Vol 9 No 3, published on 7 June 2020.

Adam Berry/Getty Images

The United States is aflame with rage over the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May. A cop who had arrested him over a minor crime knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, killing him. Starting in Minneapolis, demonstrations have spread nationwide, often linking up with local grievances against police violence and racism.

George Floyd’s murder didn’t come out of the blue. Police in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, like many others in the US, are key instruments for the violent imposition of the racist social order that enables capitalism. Their anti-Black racism is infamous, inflicting countless daily humiliations and injustices. Even in the last few years, it resulted in the murder of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Philando Castile in 2016. Both previous cases provoked angry mobilisations, but the murderers of Clark were never charged and the cop who killed Castile was acquitted. Minneapolis police have enjoyed impunity when they kill a Black man, while the quick arrest and conviction in 2017 of a Black Minneapolis cop for the murder of Justine Damond, a White woman, stands in stark contrast.

Protests began in Minneapolis the day after the murder and gradually escalated as the news, including videos taken by witnesses, spread. As well as growing, they got angrier. People reflected on the injustice of it, considered how it could have been them – or it could well be next time – and remembered the failure of the capitalist law either to hold police murderers responsible or to prevent subsequent murders. The increasingly violent police response to the demonstrations provoked growing resistance amongst Black people in Minneapolis and their supporters. The highlight of the resistance so far has been the capture of the 3rd Precinct Police Station, which was torched after the cops evacuated it.

By the weekend of 30 and 31 May, demonstrations had spread to hundreds of cities across the United States. A number of them were quite militant. Police tactics varied considerably, all the way from symbolic solidarity with the demonstrators to unprovoked attacks on peaceful assemblies or even passers-by, journalists or people observing from the front porch of their own homes. At some demonstrations, police did both in quick succession. In Minneapolis, police were bent on revenge for losing their station. In Washington on Monday, Trump announced he was calling in the military. As this article was being written, demonstrations were ongoing and the situation was still in flux.

Police violence in the US and the community rage against it cannot be divorced from the economic situation. Black people, economically segregated into low income ghettos, suffer disproportionately from unemployment, precarious employment and poverty wages. The coronavirus pandemic has caused mass unemployment in the US, far more than Australia (unemployment hit 14.7% in April there and will go higher in May). Further, the economic response to the pandemic has concentrated on aid to corporations, not households. And the pandemic itself has killed mainly Black and other minority people in the US. When universal moral outrage meets a generalised economic grievance, a social explosion is the result. The murder of George Floyd provoked the outrage, but the coronavirus crash provided the grievance.

Here in Australia, Aboriginal people have similar stories of police violence and racism. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody reported in 1987, but governments since then have cherry-picked the recommendations, ignoring the most important. And deaths have continued. Joyce Clarke was shot by cops last year. So was Kumanjayi Walker. Cameron Doomadgee was bashed to death in 2004. Tanya Day died in Castlemaine Police Station last year while in “protective custody”. David Dungay was asphyxiated in gaol in 2015. His last words were “I can’t breathe.” These, as well as Ms Dhu, Mr Ward, Wayne Fella Morrison and more are the result of the need to protect a capitalist system built on genocide and dispossession. Australia, like the United States, is a crime scene.

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believes it is the duty of Anarchists everywhere to join demonstrations against police brutality and racism that are arranged locally and to help the affected communities defend themselves against police violence. And the affected communities have the primary role in determining the issues and deciding the demands. In Australia, this means supporting indigenous organisations engaged in struggle over deaths in custody. It is not the proper role of Anarchists to initiate violence at rallies on these issues, but instead to do everything in our power to ensure that, when the police start it, they lose. Collectively, these thugs in blue need to be taught a lesson. Individually, they need to be convinced to get honest jobs.

More, though, needs to be said. While demonstrations against racist police murder are totally justified, and their militant defence against police attack is necessary, they are insufficient. We need a more effective way of striking back than to pit our bodies against their tear gas, capsicum spray, riot gear and armoured vehicles. If this is the limit of our tactics, we will eventually be driven off the streets by the weight of overwhelming violence. There is another way.

Bus drivers in Minneapolis and New York have refused to transport police to demonstrations or to transport arrested demonstrators to police stations. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers issued a statement condemning the murder of George Floyd, as has the Atwood Centre, which organises Amazon warehouse workers locally. These actions are the tip of the iceberg of workers’ power: the ability of workers to take action in the workplace that cuts off the flow of profits or directly deprives police of the ability to use murderous violence. This needs to be built on.

The most effective response to racist cop terror is the action of organised workers. Murder by police should be responded to by a one-day general strike by all workers in the city concerned, organised through their local labour council (the day of the funeral would be an obvious occasion). All unions should have standing policies of non-cooperation with the police at demonstrations and the supply of tear gas, capsicum spray and other instruments of chemical warfare should be banned when police are engaged in violent suppression of a protest movement. And lastly, all police “unions” should be kicked out of the labour movement.

Why should workers do this? It’s not just because it’s morally right. The fight against racism is also in the clear material interests of the working class. To be able to win even the simplest bread and butter issue, workers need solidarity. The working class needs to be able to unite. Racism, though, is the number one weapon the capitalists use to divide the working class. White workers in the US might have relative privilege over Black workers, but racism has weakened working class organisation so much that real wages are virtually unchanged since the 1970s. The racism of white workers benefits the bosses, not themselves.

To achieve a principled stand against police violence, battle needs to be waged against the craven bureaucrats who preside over the current labour movement. In the US, they are a subordinate part of the Democratic Party, while here in Australia, they are the key backers of the Labor Party. In both countries they have, for most practical purposes, given up the use of the strike. Instead they have waged ever more pathetic and unsuccessful campaigns via other means. Their poisonous politics of class collaboration have resulted in decades of job destruction, erosion of conditions and, now, wage cuts. They are no more fit to win on bread and butter issues than they are to fight against racism.

The main task of Anarchists, therefore, is the same as always. We need to build rank and file organisation in the workplace and turn the union movement into fighting organisations. While our duty at the moment is to join the front lines defending indigenous people here and Black communities in the US, we must remain aware that our victory can only be achieved on another field. The fight against racism can only be won in the workplace. And the fight against racism will only be won when the working class make a revolution against capitalism.


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MAY DAY 2020


In 1886, workers in Chicago in the US kicked off a campaign to win the eight hour day, starting with a strike on 1 May. Police started breaking up a peaceful workers’ demonstration, then an unknown person threw a bomb. Seven police and at least four workers died from the explosion and the following gunfight. A kangaroo court convicted eight Anarchist union organisers, without any evidence of guilt being presented. Four were hung, one committed suicide and two later had death sentences commuted. In the campaign to defend them, International Workers’ Day was born.

Back to the Future

The labour movement, just getting started in 1886, grew to a massive size and strength over the following decades. Despite massive internal conflict over political philosophy, it made revolutions in several countries and won great reforms in many others. Inequalities were greatly ameliorated in industrialised countries and many developing countries. The revolutions, though, were defeated – some by the capitalists and some by tyrants who claimed to rule in the name of the workers. And then the capitalists went on the offensive again, taking advantage of new technology to integrate world markets and pit the new workforces of the Third World against the labour movements of developed countries. Today, inequality has widened again to levels last seen in the 19th Century.


The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has caused a global health emergency. The economic emergency that has accompanied it, though, is caused by capitalism. And this, in turn, aggravates the health emergency. Workers need wages to buy their daily necessities. Petty traders need their turnover to make ends meet. And capitalists need both workers and customers to make profits. When people stay home to stop the spread of the virus, the wheels of capitalism grind to a halt and the system falls into crisis. Some countries, like Australia, have a buffer that will last a while. Most others have none. In some countries, workers already have to choose between the possibility of infection and the certainty of starvation. Capitalism kills.

A New World

The struggle against the coronavirus pandemic is one that can only be won by an act of unprecedented human solidarity. Through that act the values of a new world can be born. But turning those values into reality requires the working class. Only the working class: global, multi-racial, multicultural and gender diverse, has the potential strength to uproot the power of capital at its source and steer a new course. We can start by defending health and safety for all workers and by fighting for adequate resources for the health care system. We can extend the struggle by defending civil liberties and opposing austerity. And we can culminate it with a revolution to overthrow capitalism and create libertarian communism, worldwide.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
1 May 2020
macg1984 at yahoo dot com dot au

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The MACG’s annual Anzac Day statement for this year was published on 25 April 2020.


Churchill had a bright idea in 1915 about helping Russia, Britain’s World War I ally: to secure a passage through the Dardanelles and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. A landing was staged at Gallipoli to advance the plan. It was a disaster, conceived without reference to the terrain and executed without regard to casualties. The British Empire and French forces suffered over 300,000 dead and wounded before going home with their tails between their legs. Ottoman casualties were 250,000. Overall, it was a sideshow in the great crime of World War I, where two imperial alliances clashed over colonies, resources and markets, killing millions in the process.

Australia’s Wars

Australian troops were central to Churchill’s botched strike on the Ottoman Empire. This is entirely in keeping with history, since they have been used since before Federation to strengthen the world order of the dominant imperialist power, in return for control in the South Pacific. All six colonies on this continent sent troops to fight in the Boer War. Australian troops fought on the side of imperialism, first British and then American, in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. In recent years, imperialist forces have massively out-gunned their enemies, thus needing fewer Australian troops and making Australian casualties rarer. The same cannot be said, though, for casualties amongst the subject populations. Because these wars are fought to defend a US empire that is no longer economically self-sustaining, they are never-ending.

Anzac Day in a Plague Year

The usual Anzac Day marches are cancelled this year, as well as mass participation in ceremonies across the country. The capitalist class in Australia has therefore been trying to find ways to mobilise popular participation in the annual wave of compulsory patriotism and militarism. This year, they have asked everyone to stand outside their home with a candle at dawn. It’s not yet possible to gauge what level of participation this has had, but we can confidently state that it will be enthusiastically boosted in mainstream media reports.

The Future

The US-dominated world order can only be maintained by endless war. Australia, a junior partner, has signed up to this to maintain its domination of the South Pacific and Timor L’Este. The situation would not be improved by allying with China or any other would-be hegemon, because that wouldn’t change the system. The working class needs to unite internationally and abolish capitalism. Only this can build the basis for a world of liberty, equality and solidarity, where war is no more and the nation state has been abolished. We can have a new world of libertarian communism.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
macg1984 at yahoo dot com dot au
PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
25 April 2020

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