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On 1 May, workers in Chicago in the United States went on strike for the 8 hour day. Three days later, a bomb went off at a workers’ demonstration. Seven police and four workers were killed, either by the bomb or the following gunfire. In the outcry that followed, eight Anarchist union leaders were framed and convicted for the crime. Four were executed. The campaign for the exoneration of the Haymarket Martyrs and the release of the survivors gave birth to May Day, celebrated around the world as a day of working class solidarity.
The labour movement in Melbourne, though far declined from its former strength, has neither totally given up the ghost nor been allowed quarter by its enemies. Unions struggle for health and safety, against insecure work and against the use of temporary work visas to undermine labour standards. The union campaigns, though, are undermined by the conservatism and timidity of the union officials, their support for the Labor Party and their nationalist focus on “Aussie jobs”, which interferes with building the necessary solidarity between local workers and super-exploited migrant workers. Meanwhile, the capitalists are proceeding with legislation to destroy the construction workers’ union (CFMEU) and bring the entire union movement under close State supervision.
Although workers’ struggle in Australia has been low key in recent years, events overseas have been stepping up – for good and ill. China has become strike capital of the world and workers in India continue to stage immense general strikes. The movements behind Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the US (though the candidates themselves have no answers) are evidence of a desire, particularly amongst young workers, to break away from the current political establishment. Against this, however, stand other factors. Unions in South Korea are under massive assault, while governments in Turkey and Thailand have become increasingly violent and intolerant. Religious sectarianism deepens in West Asia and North Africa (assisted in some countries by imperialist intervention). And Fascism, that ghastly menace from the past, rises again across Europe and elsewhere, feeding off both the failure of the European Union and the influx of refugees fleeing persecution and imperialist war. Even in Europe, however, the mass struggle in France against anti-union attacks on the labour code is a ray of light.
Time grows short, with the environmental disaster of climate change accelerating yearly and international relations descending into ever more intractable imperialist wars. The emerging struggles show that the working class is up to the task. We will rise up and overthrow capitalism. We will create a stateless, classless society of libertarian communism, where each contributes according to their ability and receives according to their need. We will win – and be free.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!
PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
1 May 2016
The Western Front
On 25 April 1915, Australian, New Zealand and other troops of the British Empire landed at a Turkish beach at Gallipoli. It was a fiasco, a disastrous side-venture in World War I. Bloodied and beaten, they withdrew in January the next year. The British High Command weren’t done with them, though, and sent the Anzacs to the Western Front, where some of the main business of WWI was being conducted. There, even more Anzac blood was shed for the cause of one grasping imperialist alliance in its struggle against another that was no better. The blood continued to flow until November 1918.
End of the War
The War ended in 1918, not because of the military victories of the Entente on the Western Front, but because revolution had broken out in Germany and the Kaiser had abdicated. Revolution had also swept Russia the year before and it dawned on the ruling classes of Europe that they were also in danger if the War was not brought to a halt. And so it was, with the Armistice being signed only two days after the abdication. The Austro-Hungarian empire had disintegrated, with declarations of independence in Prague, Budapest and Zagreb. And even the collapse of the Ottoman Empire owed as much to the rebellions in its Arab provinces (encouraged by one Colonel T. E. Lawrence) as to the exploits of British and Australian troops in Palestine. The War ended because many of the people involved refused to fight it.
These days, Anzac Day is an occasion for the most appalling propaganda for nationalism and militarism. The Anzacs are subject, metaphorically, to a secular canonisation and their hagiographies are the theme of endless documentaries and coffee table books. The purpose of this has nothing to do with their sacrifice and everything to do with drumming up support for today’s imperialist wars and making criticism of Australia’s imperialist military taboo. Governments only spend hundreds of millions on the dead if they think it will help them turn a profit on the living.
If we want peace, we must follow the example of the workers and worker-soldiers who ended WWI. We must build a working class movement which spans across frontiers and cuts the ground out from under the capitalist governments that have no solution for international problems but war. We must make a workers’ revolution and overthrow capitalism. And only then will we be able to build a world of liberty, equality and solidarity – a world at peace.
END WAR AND MILITARISM
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
25 April 2016
8 March, International Womens’ Day
It’s time for women and the working class to organise and emancipate.
International Women’s Day is a day when the women’s movement around the world celebrates social, political and other achievements of women. It is also a good day for women to take a closer look at the oppression that flourishes through the double bondage of capitalism and patriarchy, and which is still an unfortunate and undeniable reality for the majority of women today.
Women’s oppression has lots of forms, perhaps a sexist boss, partner or a comrade. As anarchists we have a lot of work to do before there is equality in gender and sexual relations, both in our own lives and in the wider community of which we are a part.
The struggle for female emancipation belongs to militant self-organising women. Women’s struggle against the patriarchy must has to be both anti-state and anti-capitalist. State, capital and patriarchy nourish one another by supporting bosses who exploit women and fragment women’s resistance.
Mobilisations on 8 March, like those on other days, must challenge empty liberal notions of gender equality within a generalised system of inequality. This is a day of resistance against all forms of oppression.
In the regions of Turkey and Kurdistan women are participating in a long struggle against the fascistic Turkish regime, against theocratic totalitarianism of the so-called “Islamic State” and against patriarchy. The revolution in the autonomous regions of Kurdistan, despite misgivings about the implications of the alliance of the YPG-YPJ with US imperialism, is a living example of militant self-organisation of women for social autonomy.
We call on working women all over the world to join this fight, to make this day a day of resistance. We honour the murdered women whose bodies were dragged in the streets as trophies of the enemy.
The women in Kurdistan inspire us in our struggle here and everywhere for emancipation and freedom.
Serious allegations against Michael Schmidt, a prominent activist in the Anarchist movement in South Africa, were published on 25 September:
During October, documents were published in support of these allegations:
On 26 November, Michael Schmidt published a defence:
The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group is studying these documents and has not yet reached any conclusions. If the allegations against Michael Schmidt are true, he should be expelled from the movement and treated as both a serious danger and a thorough scoundrel. If they are false, he has been appallingly libelled and he deserves public exoneration – and his accusers are guilty of, at best, reckless behaviour.
We believe that a tribunal, composed so as to hold moral authority in the Anarchist movement, should be established to investigate the allegations thoroughly and impartially according to the principles of natural justice and to publish a report of its findings. The Anarkismo Network, to which the MACG belongs, is pursuing an initiative along these lines. The MACG therefore appeals to the Anarchist movement to withhold judgement until such a time as either the tribunal reports, or it becomes clear that the attempt to form a credible tribunal has failed.
Adopted 6 Dec 2015
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
Statement of Shared Positions
This document is to be read as a supplement to the Aims & Principles of the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group. Agreement with the positions in this document is a condition of membership.
1. The social revolution will be the act of the working class, organised in the workplace. Other classes (e.g. the peasantry) and social strata (e.g. students) in society may support the workers in this struggle, but cannot substitute for them. The workers have a unique role because of their numbers, their role in production which means that they are able to remove the economic power of the capitalists by organising under their own initiative, and the fact that the experience of social co-operation in production tends to produce the values that promote solidarity in the struggle against the employer. One corollary of the fact that the struggle will be decided in the workplace is that it will not be decided by street brawls with the cops. While it is certainly necessary to defend ourselves against police attack, capitalism’s achilles’ heel is in the workplace and our strategic orientation must be there.
2. We stand for the complete equality of the sexes and oppose all forms of oppression of women. The liberation of women from patriarchy will not be achieved without the overthrow of capitalism and the destruction of class society. The overthrow of capitalism will not be achieved without the full participation of working class women in the struggle. It is therefore in the interests of male workers to support all struggles for equality and freedom for women, even if these are at the expense of male privileges. The solidarity of the male and female halves of the working class can only be built on the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all. We support the right of women to organise autonomously within the wider working class movement and also within Anarchist organisations.
3. We oppose the oppression and dispossession of indigenous people in Australia. This means that indigenous people have the right to equal treatment within Australia (i.e. no racial discrimination, whether from the State or in society) and have the right to remain indigenous (i.e. retain their lands and culture, without pressure for assimilation into the dominant culture). Indigenous people in Australia have never ceded sovereignty and have never sold their land. We acknowledge the desire of indigenous people in Australia for a treaty to recognise their prior occupation and continued rights, but believe that no such treaty can be negotiated on just terms for indigenous people while capitalism and its State endure in Australia. We believe a just settlement for indigenous people can only be achieved after a revolutionary transformation of society, including crucially the abolition of capitalist real estate.
4. We are internationalists, opposing the division of humanity into conflicting nation States and supporting working class solidarity as the one force which is capable of being an axis of effective counter-mobilisation against nationalism and racism. We therefore support open borders as a principle that will be implemented under Libertarian Communism and in the meantime will support struggles which provide opportunities to move in that direction. In particular, we support the struggle of refugees for asylum in Australia and oppose both immigration detention and deportation.
5. We oppose both pacifism and terrorism. Instead, we support the right to use reasonable force in self defence.
Pacifism is the principled refusal to meet physical force with physical force. Terrorism is the strategy of using violence, or the credible threat of it, in order to create a climate of fear for personal safety in the civilian population of a society, or a definable sub-group of it, to achieve a political end.
The problem with pacifism is that it assumes that there is a degree of humanity at work amongst the capitalist class and its State and that there are limits to their ruthlessness. The history of the last hundred years, however, provides plentiful evidence to the contrary. In the face of totally non-violent resistance, a sufficiently ruthless force, even if a tiny minority, could impose its will on the rest of society.
The problem with terrorism is that it is a strategy which marginalises the mass of the working class politically and drives it into the arms of the State for protection. Even if used in the pursuit of supportable goals, therefore, its political effects are inevitably reactionary. The callous and instrumental attitude to humanity necessary to use terrorism is completely antithetical to the principles of Anarchism and thus to resort to this would be to betray our philosophy.
Our position is that we recognise the right to use reasonable force in self defence. We are consistent on this point and thus we repudiate the State’s proclamation of a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Rather, we insist that we do not lose the right to self defence when we enter the field of political struggle. Workers thus have the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves against police or thug attack on the picket line or on demonstrations.
We oppose the use of force beyond what is reasonably necessary for self defence. This would contradict the humanitarian values of the society we wish to create. The working class, being the immense majority in industrialised societies, has the advantage of the weight of numbers and the ability to use economic force to press its cause. We therefore have no need of violence, beyond what is necessary to defend ourselves against those who themselves would use violence to prevent us achieving our goals non-violently. We also believe that the use of unnecessary violence would alienate sections of the working class and make it harder to break them from authoritarian ideologies. In particular, it would strengthen the position of authoritarian groups active within the working class.
We believe that Fascism provides an example, unique in advanced capitalist democracies at present, of a specialised application of the principle of reasonable force in self defence. A Fascist group is not a debating society, but a permanent conspiracy to murder. It is an open threat of violence against women, immigrants, indigenous people, all other minorities and ultimately, to the working class and its organisations. Defence against Fascism is therefore necessarily, in many cases, pre-emptive. Fascist groups should be defeated and broken up, if possible, whenever they show their faces. We emphasise that this position is unique to the issue of Fascism and does not apply to Right wing populists, where the ordinary use of the principle of self defence would apply when fighting them.
We recognise the possibility that, in revolutionary situations, self defence may require pre-emptive action against forces of the State. This is not a pretext, however, for abandoning a principled opposition to offensive violence. The situation must still be assessed using the criteria of whether the use of force is both necessary for defensive purposes and of a reasonable degree given the threat.
We reject any attempt to equate property damage with violence. Property has no rights and damage to it must be assessed in the light of its impact on people. Damage to nuclear weapons, therefore, is the complete opposite of damage to a worker’s home.
6. “Free thought, necessarily involving freedom of speech & press, I may tersely define thus: no opinion a law — no opinion a crime.” — Alexander Berkman
We therefore oppose State bans on any opinion, even ones with which we passionately disagree. Any such bans would end up being used, in the end, against the working class and its organisations.
We also, therefore, recognise complete freedom of conscience. We support the right to believe in any religion or none, to practice any religion or none and to preach any religion or none. In the Australian context today, this includes a special responsibility to defend the right of people to be Muslims without discrimination or harassment.
In addition, freedom of conscience is a right of every individual person and is not restricted to religious leaders. Adherence to religious precepts must therefore be entirely voluntary. Attempts by religious leaders or denominations to compel adherents to conform to their teachings or discipline must be resisted and we resolutely reject any attempt to give them State backing.
7. A libertarian communist society will be one that is ecologically sustainable. Even if capitalism were just and supportable on other grounds, it would fail the test of sustainability. We need to reject the instrumental thinking inherent to capitalism and realise that we are part of nature – a conscious and creative part, but a part. As such, nature is not something to be dominated, but to be protected – and particularly to be protected against human damage.
In building a sustainable society, it is essential to end the use of non-renewable resources – or develops ways of making them renewable. In the short term, this means a rapid transition away from burning fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. In the medium term, we need to restructure our existing cities for a preponderance of medium density living and decentralise into a considerably larger number of smaller cities. And in the long term, we need to phase out mining before the exhaustion of accessible mineral deposits at practical grades forces us to abandon it involuntarily.
A commitment to ecological sustainability does not, however, mean enforced poverty in living standards and even less so does it require a return to a hunter-gatherer society. We therefore reject Malthusians of all varieties and especially in their primitivist manifestation. Production of a wide variety of goods and services needs to be increased, not decreased, in order to abolish poverty and want from the face of the Earth. We hold that it is capitalism, not human nature, that is responsible for the wanton environmental destruction which has occurred in the last two centuries and is threatening the very liveability of the planet which we inhabit.
Further, the fact that technology has been developed under capitalism does not irretrievably contaminate it. Different technologies have capitalist relations embedded into them to different degrees and in some cases development of a particular technology has been slowed because it doesn’t fit well with contemporary capitalism. Nuclear power is an example of a technology which will have to be abandoned as anti-social, while solar power is an example of a technology which, on the whole, undermines the power of the great capitalist corporations.
A libertarian communist society will resolve the current conflict between the need to increase production and the need to limit the environmental damage that capitalist production imposes by:
(a) Producing for rationally determined needs, rather than for wants generated by advertising;
(b) Producing quality goods which last, rather than shoddy ones which break down quickly;
(c) Using only renewable energy;
(d) Using closed loop manufacturing processes, with 100% material recycling and zero waste;
(e) Rationally planning the satisfaction of social needs in the most energy and resource efficient manner;
(f) Using the most modern technology to institute efficient small-run production of a wide variety of goods, thus eliminating a large part of the need for long distance transport; and
(g) Planning cities, and the means of transport within and between them, on ecologically sustainable and energy efficient lines.
Finally, we believe that the current so-called “population crisis” is an illusion caused by the inefficient, unjust and unsustainable practices of capitalism. While there is a natural limit to the carrying capacity of the planet, we believe that this limit is impossible to determine until after capitalism has been abolished and its destructive practices eliminated. If population reduction is called for after the planet’s carrying capacity is established, it can be achieved gradually through social consensus.
The Nazi thugs of the United Patriots Front, led by Führer Blair Cottrell, paid an uninvited visit to the Melbourne Anarchist Club today. Five of them attempted to intimidate the two Anarchists present with their swagger, making free with the small selection of literature on sale. They later posted a video on their Facebook site. The implied threat, of course, is what these thugs could have done if they’d felt like it.
The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group denounces this act of Fascist intimidation and declares that, if anything untoward happens to the MAC or its members, we will hold Blair Cottrell personally responsible.
Other solidarity messages are available here:
TOUCH ONE, TOUCH ALL