Return of the Son of Occupy Melbourne

*Some nice Storytelling photos here too.

At least 200 people, including children, gathered today at City Square in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, carrying banners and calling for an end to “greed.” Nick Carson, a spokesman for Occupy Melbourne, had predicted “at least a couple thousand” participants. A dozen mounted police and other officers were on hand as members of the Producers’ Free Association distributed pamphlets denouncing capitalism and urging the abolishment of “all forms of authority.”

Melbourne Indymedia reckons “The Occupy Melbourne day in Melbourne’s City Square kicked off with approximately 750 people and a large number of police.” Jeff Sparrow pretty much hits the nail on the head: Occupy Melbourne: some initial thoughts, Overland blog, October 15, 2011 | See also : Rally occupies itself in most polite company, Jill Stark, The Age, October 16, 2011.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2018 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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7 Responses to Return of the Son of Occupy Melbourne

  1. Definitely Not Derek says:

    I hope the beefed up police presence in City Square remains so. Crime in the middle-suburbs has never been more attractive, or less difficult…

  2. Tenacious dg says:

    I attended the Occupy Melbourne protests last Saturday, and met several Australian Anarcho-syndicalists there, amongst other people (cool guys btw, and several of them apparently knew you in real life). I also spoke to a few members of the Spartacist League, which seems to be listed in your ‘Trot guide’. If you cared to know, they are still kicking, although the ‘paper’ they publish & were selling at the event contained many peculiar snipes at other Australian socialist parties (such as SAlt and the Socialist Alliance, jealousy IMO) and were written in a frantic, yet lamentable prose style. It also featured a bizarre editorial on the military intervention in Libya, which can probably be found online at the SL’s website. The two editions I bought for 25 cents each were well worth the price, if only because they gave me a laugh.

    That aside, my unfortunate opinion is that these protests won’t go anywhere, despite my support for them, and especially if Australia’s unemployment rate stays stubbornly under the 5-6% range.

  3. @ndy says:

    Yeah, the Sparts are still kicking goals. Their spiteful editorials are always good for a laff. (Trotskyist Platform–which emerged as a split from the ICFI–is also still flying the red flag.)

    Dunno if the protests will go anywhere. I think much depends on what else is going on, and if the occupations can function as a lightning rod for dissent. Certainly, the Australian body politic is a corpse, very much in need of some kinda spark to bring it (back) to life.

    As for un/employment, figures such as these obscure the real situation. The fact is there’s a large segment of the population who do not have jobs, but only a proportion are considered to be actively seeking employment, and a large and growing number of persons employed on casual or part-time contracts. Secondly, while having-a-job is almost invariably regarded as being synonymous with not-being-poor, in reality this is not the case. Thus the adoption of terms such as ‘the working poor’. Overall, the proportion of national wealth which is being accorded labour (as opposed to capital) is diminishing, and there are marked regional, industrial and other variants determining the allocation of income and resources…

    I could go on, but I won’t. In essence, I don’t think social passivity may be explained by way of unemployment figures.

  4. Tenacious dg says:

    Thanks for the reply. I won’t argue with you WRT social passivity, it’s more of a hunch of mine, made in relation to the fact that most of the other Occupy protests (and I’ll include those occurring in southern Europe too under this aegis) are focused in countries that have been ravaged by the global financial crisis and have related public finance problems, with consequent high unemployment rates. You probably have a better idea over the causes of mass movements/political dissent than I do.

    I’m also aware of the shortcomings re the use of nominal unemployment rates as a real indicator of society-wide unemployment. As a qualifier, Australia’s employment-population ratios (from OECD figures from 2005 I looked at recently) lies somewhere between those of the Central European countries and Scandinavia, and thus are comparatively high. They’ve probably shifted substantially downward by now tho’.

    This being said, I totally agree with you on the post-1980s shifts in inequality, nation-wide capital intensity, and IR law changes that have occurred in this country. You’re preaching to the choir on this one.

  5. @ndy says:

    Cool.

    As I see it, and as most commentators would appear to suggest (and leaving aside the US), the parts of Europe in which there are the highest levels of public agitation/economic dysfunction (both real and potential) are the PIGS: Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. When Greece formally defaults–as it seems almost certain it will–the flow-on effect will also seriously affect the nominally healthier economies of Western Europe: France and Germany in particular. This has serious implications for the European financial system in particular and the European economy in general. So: yes, it would be wrogn to ignore the fact that economic dysfunction (broadly defined) is an important factor in determining the possibility, size and scope of ‘social unrest’, and when compared to the economic situation over there, the situation over here is relatively benign. But I’m also conscious of the fact that the real or perceived status of the market economy has or should be considered in light of the moral economy, the kinda stuff EP Thompson wrote about in his examination of English working class history. In essence, people and classes revolt not only as a result of economic deprivation but in response to what is perceived to be the infringement of their rights (injustice). See : Moral Economy of the Crowd, Jester, July 12, 2011; Market Economy vs. Moral Economy: E. P. Thompson and the Craft of the Social Historian, Albion Magazine, Winter 2009.

    Australia is exceptionally-placed for all sorts of reasons, but to the extent that it too is subject to global fluctuations in commodity prices, the effects of the crisis may simply have been delayed rather than avoided. As for the concept of crisis itself, Uncle Gnome had some interesting stuff to say about that.

    Finally, I think it’s probably mistaken to reduce the nature of the occupiers’ grievances to the economic realm. It’s my impression that just as many are concerned about the impact of unbridled capitalism upon local and global ecology as they/we are upon their/our jobs, incomes, living and working conditions.

  6. @ndy says:

    Oh yeah.

    Greece.

    Aunty sez: New pay and promotion system covering all 700,000 civil servants / Further cuts in public sector wages and many bonuses scrapped / Some 30,000 public sector workers suspended, wages cut to 60% and face lay off after a year / Wage bargaining suspended / Monthly pensions above 1,000 euros to be cut 20% above that threshold / Other cuts in pensions and lump-sum retirement pay / Tax-free threshold lowered to 5,000 euros a year from 8,000. 48-hour strike October 19/20 on eve of austerity measures being approved in Parliament / Stalinists belonging to PAME have been protecting it from attack / Occupied London is best sauce.

    Seems likely Greece will develop into fascist dictatorship. That, or give birth to social revolution. Worried liberal media:

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