May Day is the international day of workers' solidarity. It commemorates the execution of 4 anarchists who were part of the movement for the 8-hour-day. This May Day, we are asking you to show your solidarity by making a donation to Jura. We don't ask for money very often, but we need your help now. This month, we need to pay our insurance bill, which is $3,300. Our insurance policy is both a legal necessity and an asset to the Jura community, because it enables us to hold events and gives us (some) protection against accidents etc. Our insurance also enables the Sydney Anarchist Bookfair to hire a venue. Without insurance, all would be lost if we suffered a disaster like the recent warehouse fire at anarchist publisher AK Press. There's also a section of Jura's roof which is rusted and leaking. We need to fix it ASAP. So we're asking you to please make a donation to Jura now. If we raise more than $3,000 we'll contribute all excess funds to AK Press and the Bookfair.
Submitted by John Smith on Mon, 13/04/2015 - 1:55pm
On April 4th, a couple of weeks ago, I attended the counter-rally to Reclaim Australia (RA). For those that don't know what RA is all about it comes down to fear-mongering and bigotry. They oppose the "take-over" or "Islamification" of Australia by Muslims, they want Halal certification banned, and want Islam banned from being taught in schools, amongst other narrow-minded, and fear based demands. They don't let facts get in the way of good-olde scapegoating, and would rather stir up xenophobic sentiments instead of realising Muslims compose only 2.2% of Australia's population. If this is a taking over Australian culture, I'm not exactly sure what Australia they are living in.
In anycase, I attended the counter-rally, organised by some Lefty organisation, alongside a bunch of other anarchists, about 25-30 many of whom formed part of ANTIFA. We congregated at the George St end of Martin place from 10am onwards, and watch many people walk to the meeting point of the RA rally in a center square of Martin Place. It was hard to tell who was part of RA and who was an ordinary citizen as individuals, couples, or small groups walked pass us, but there were some that made it obvious where they intended to be. These people had Australian flags draped over their backs, or Australian flag hats, or shirts, or handheld Australian flags. I don't like to make assumptions, but I'm pretty sure these people were heading to the RA rally.
There were some people, however, that didn't need an Australia flag for us to know where they were going, they were notorious enough to be recognised on appearance. The first was Ross "The Skull" May, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, known for, back in the 70s, his anti-sementic aggressions; his assault of any opposition, for which he served repeated jail time; and general racist behaviour, all while dressed in Nazi regalia. It seems he'd smartened up in his older age, as for this rally he wasn't wearing any Nazi insignia, but even as late as 2013 he still clings to his outdated neo-Nazi beliefs saying that he's proud to be a neo-Nazi in this day and age. For the rally he wasn't traveling solo, but was surrounded by 5-6 well-built middle aged men, and as he walked pass the group of us he threw a few Seig Heils our way. We responded with a barrage of mockery.
Later, his neo-Nazi buddy Jim Salem passed our way. Back in the 70s he ran around with The Skull wearing Nazi regalia, promoting his racist and fascist ideology. Not surprisingly he was also jailed for assault and fraud, both of which he claims to be innocent of. Currently, he is leader of Australia First (NSW) and holds a doctorate based upon his thesis of right-winged radicalism. Unlike Ross, Jim was alone, but that didn't prevent him from hurling threats at us anarchists, claiming he knows where we all live. It's hard to say whether or not these characters will have any sway amongst the RA crowd, there is hope that they don't, but there are probably a least a few who will be swayed by whatever backwards, fear drenched argument they can muster.
In anycase, the RA crowd was composed of some neo-Nazi's. If the RA beliefs are not enough to be concerned about, then the mingling of people who hold these beliefs with some neo-Nazi's should make one alarmed. However, as I looked upon the crowd from the distance through the lines of police I could see an Aboriginal flag, and even an Israeli flag, both of which would offend Jim and Ross. Perhaps, there's enough memory of Nazism, to prevent any spread of it, however, the spread of bigotry and racism, doesn't need neo-Nazism and seems to be moving along fine with RA.
Not long after the RA started we decide to go to the actual counter rally that was held a few blocks away from Martin Place, where noone from any of the rallies could hear or even see each other and therefore have no effect whatsoever on each other. We got there at the tail end of the speakers, and, to my surprise, the organiser of the counter-rally put to vote whether we wanted to march to Martin Place or not. It was a resounding yes. However, as soon as we started to move the cops closed in a tight line, preventing us from moving down Phillip St. That didn't perturb us, the entire crowd quickly turned around and started to march down Macquarie St, much to the chagrin of the police, many of whom bolted ahead of us.
By the time I got to the top-end of Martin Place a line of police had formed, not just foot-soldiers, but police on horseback and beyond the line I saw a protesters being pushed and dragged back beyond the police line. They must've made it up there before the majority of the police formed the line. There was a few attempts to break through the line, but it was met with brute force by the police. It was before this line of police that we started to chant various phrases to vocalise our displeasure with the likes of RA, and it was also before this line that it started to rain.
So, there we stood, in the rain, chanting in front of the police, intentions set on the RA rally. I'm not sure if they heard us, or even saw us, there was a few more lines of police closer to the RA rally. I walked along the line, taking some photos, wondering why the foot-soldiers had no wet whether gear, how much they were getting paid to on this holiday Saturday, and where they'd rather be than in the rain, protecting a bunch of bigots from some lefties.
This seemed to be the climax of the counter rally. After this most of the attendants made their way back to the spot of the speakers, and mulled around a bit under cover, cops watchful and standing in the rain. Eventually most people left, while a bunch of ANTIFA discussed a strategy to confront RA via Martin Place. After a bit of discuss we broke off in groups, and caught a train to Martin Place, however, by the time we got there the RA had dispersed though I'm sure I saw many making their way down the escalators to catch a train, who gave us a curious stare.
In the end there was no direct confrontation with any of the RA rally attendants on the cold, rainy day, but there were many confrontations with police. For this final strategy, they shooed us away from the RA rally site, down Phillip St, and continued to follow us for a few blocks until we got to Georgy St. It was about this time that I decided to part ways from the small group that was continually being pushed away from the Martin Place area by police. I'm not exactly sure by what legal authority they could do that, they claimed a "move on order" or something of the like as we were a danger to public peace. In anycase, I moved on by my own volition back to the train station and home.
It wasn't an uneventful event, but it wasn't exactly climatic. I'm not sure what I was expecting, nor am I sure of what tactics could've been used. The ANTIFA crew seemed to have a few alternative ideas as to what to do, and how to approach it, but it the long run I'm curious what strategies can be used to not only confront this bigoted culture head-on, but also how to inspire change so the ANTIFA wouldn't be required to start with. That, however, sounds like a long term goal.
Submitted by penoos on Tue, 17/03/2015 - 9:09pm
On March 4 over 15,000 union members rallied across NSW in a National Day of Action against privatisation. A broad cross-section of union members turned out, and it was significant that the rally was held during the daytime on a weekday - meaning that some workers walked off the job for it.
Part of the rally, the Save Our Local Community Services campaign organised by the Australian Services Union, is intended to fight back against the State and Federal government's restructuring of community services.
Alongside $271 million worth of budget cuts, the government has introduced competitive tendering which has turned the community sector into a marketplace. Funding which was won through historical political gains of the community - grassroots women's, housing, disability movements, has effectively evaporated as not for profit organisations are forced to win the funding back through entrepreneurial means.
What we've been seeing is large generalised services, usually Christian charities, win the funding at the expense of diverse local services. In this respect, the reforms have also served to bureaucratise the sector as organisations can no longer respond to diverse community needs, but instead have to bid for pre-packaged government endorsed services developed with no consultation. These services do not fund advocacy - one of the main functions of community organisations, which have historically developed and influenced policy from a grassroots community level. Organisations are now afraid to 'bite the hand that feeds', a real fear which has silenced several groups from publicly speaking out against the restructure.
Hundreds of services are being cut, local community organisations are shutting down, and jobs are being lost. Many organisations don't know what will happen after 30th June when the last of their secured funding will end. The government is also inviting for-profits such as Transfield into the sector to compete for government funding and then make money off the most vulnerable in our communities.
As well as mainstream unions, a number of grassroots activist groups have been organising to take up this fight, and the connected struggle against the NSW Government’s “Going Home Staying Home” policies. For example, Save Our Women’s Services and No Shelter have been very active. These groups have independently organised a number of actions and a campaign which succeeded in saving some women’s services from closure last year. Before the government's ‘reforms' there were around 100 women's services run by women's organisations, now there are just 20. These groups are continuing the fight.
The ASU campaign demands no funding cuts, an end to competitive tendering, five year funding contracts, and no to for-profits in the sector. Thus far the campaign has focused on influencing the actions of government through rallies and candidate pledges. Although direct or industrial action seems some way away, union density in the community sector is growing and democratic workplace structures beginning to form.
The fight to protect and expand our community services is vital to our capacity to survive and struggle. Everyone should be getting involved in some way, because without these services life will get harder for all of us, and organising to fight back will become even more difficult. So get involved with one of these activist groups, or your union, or find out what your local community service is doing and how you can support it!
Submitted by sid on Mon, 16/03/2015 - 8:51pm
Decolonizing Anarchism, Maia Rammath
This is a brilliant book, a part of a series of books out of a collaboration between the Institute for Anarchist Studies and AK Press, which leads to critical research and a vehicle for published outcomes. This is especially important in that it brings to western - especially Anglo - anarchists the basic idea that other forms and approaches to anarchism abound on this planet. There are other recent books that focus on this, such as Michael Schmidt's Cartegraphy of Revolutionary Anarchism, and James Scott's The Art of Not Being Governed (both stimulating reads), but Rammath focuses on the South Asian (mainly Indian) region. She also focuses on important people and movements that are rarely or never mentioned in Euro/US based studies, their thoughts, strategies, highs and lows. Hard to find a fault.
The Best of Social Anarchism, Howard Ehrlich & a.h.s. boy
Social Anarchism is one of the best contemporary journals that critically analyses anarchist thoughts and practice, both historical and largely on current matters. The book 'The Best of....' puts together articles from the journal in sensible and understandable themes, and begins with a good history of the journal itself. Some themes and topics are: theory, education, current practices, anarchafeminism, 'new anarchism', violence, consensus and democracy. Quite enjoyable and thought provoking, however there should have been a thorough proof reading done before its publication.
The Tyranny of Theory: A contribution to the anarchist critique of Marxism, Ronald Tabor
Quite simply, Tabor does a demolition job on Marxism. The core of his analysis is the theme of authoritarianism that he demonstrates pervades not only the theories of Marx and Engles, but also their practice. The main benefit of the book is that it brings into play a lot of recent thought and covers virtually all aspects of the theory and practice of Marxism, including both the originators and the followers up to today. In essence, Tabor doesn't add anything essential that has not been covered by Bakunin and Kropotkin, however departs from those anarchists by pulling apart Marx's analysis of capitalism at its core. Pretty academic in approach, but that's the terrain that's being analysed.
Black Flame: The revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, by Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt
This book hit me in the face with so many challenges that it took a bit to get to grips with its fundamental thesis: that anarchism began in September 1869, with Bakunin in particular, and generally with anarchists in the First International. Thus they say that Proudhon, Godwin and Stirner, are not anarchists becuse they were not a part of a revolutionary working class movement. Great argument, but seems historicaly determinist in that the implication is that anarchism is not possible without industrialisation and the urbanisation that accompanied it. Others have made similar arguments, such as the early Bookchin and Morris, but they also accept that anarchism is not only a product of history, but of human action, namely, the fight for freedoms and against authoritarianisms that has occured throughout humanity's existence, and continues today.