G20 : Akin Sari sentenced to 28 months

29 year-old student Akin Sari was today sentenced by Judge Roy Punshon to 28 months jail, with a 14 month minimum before becoming eligible for parole (and having already served 7) after Sari plead guilty to nine charges. He was also fined…

G20 rioter jailed
Emily Power
Herald Sun
March 8, 2008

A PROTESTER involved in the violent G20 riots has been jailed for 14 months after denouncing his own actions.

Akin Sari was among a group of demonstrators who stormed a city office, attacked a police brawler van, rammed police lines with plastic barricades and hurled rocks, rubbish bins and milk crates.

Judge Roy Punshon said it was to Sari’s credit that he had acknowledged his behaviour during the November 2006 riots was unacceptable.

Judge Punshon said Sari’s change of attitude sent an important message to the public and others who protested the Group of 20 nations summit, held in Melbourne.

“You are entitled to hold the views you have — the crimes concern your behaviour,” the judge said.

Defence barrister Dermott Dann earlier told the court Sari, 29, believed extreme measures were required but now understood they were unacceptable.

Sari was sentenced to 28 months’ jail, with a minimum of 14, and was ordered to pay $8310 compensation for damage to a police brawler van.

He has already served 215 days in custody after he was detained for fleeing to Sydney last year while on bail.

The court heard Sari was one of 20 protesters who barged into the Defence Recruiting Centre on Swanston St on November 17, tearing down posters and graffiti-ing walls.

The next day Sari, disguised in a white jumpsuit, menaced two traffic event controllers with a metal pole and smashed the front window of their car.

Sari was part of a group who confronted police at Collins St, where officers were pelted with bottles and stones.

One policeman broke his wrist and another tore the tendons in her elbow.

“They tried to hide behind a brawler van,” Judge Punshon told Sari.

“A DVD shows you throwing objects at police.”

Sari, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft, two counts of common assault and riot, and three counts of criminal damage.

Prosecutor Chris Beale said 10 of 23 accused protesters would plead guilty this month.

Jail for G20 protester who ‘terrorised’ victims
Sarah-Jane Collins
The Age
March 7, 2008

A protester who threw a metal bar through a police van window and hurled rocks and bottles at police as part of a series of anti-G20 riots was today jailed for 28 months.

Akin Sari, 29, had pleaded guilty to nine charges including aggravated burglary, riot and common assault for his role in the anti-G20 protests in November 2006.

County Court Judge Roy Punshon said Sari had acted in a manner that had “terrorised” his victims.

“You grabbed the female victim by the arm at one stage and menaced both victims with a metal pole,” he said.

Sari was part of a group of protesters who entered an Australian Defence Force recruitment office on November 17, 2006 and vandalised the reception area.

The next day a group of protesters – some wearing white jumpsuits and head scarves in an attempt to avoid identification – rioted twice in designated protest areas, hurling bottles and rocks at police and grabbing barricades and poles to use as weapons, Judge Punshon said.

“I readily accept that the uniformed police involved would have been very frightened … each incident was relatively brief. However, it would have seemed to last much longer.”

Sari will serve a non-parole period of 14 months and has been ordered to pay compensation for damage caused.

In sentencing, Judge Roy Punshon told the court Sari had serious, genuine, and longstanding political views and had provided the court with a two-page letter, outlining his opposition to the economic summit. Judge Punshon said Sari was entitled to hold those views but it was his behaviour he was being sentenced for. ~ G20 protester jailed, ABC, March 7, 2008

Bob Gould, Australian Labor Party, November 21, 2006:

The essential question is the fact that these irresponsible political adventurers disguise their faces. I agree strongly with Mick Armstrong’s post on this matter on Leftwrites [below], and I defer to his knowledge, based on his investigation as to who these people were. The very act of people from outside a city invading a demonstration in another city with the clear intention of launching a semi-military attack on the cops, with their faces covered, irrespective of the consequences for the rest of the demonstrators, is a calculated political act directed against the bulk of the demonstrators.

People with covered faces who attack the cops, unless they are rather unlucky and their covering falls off, are very dangerous to everybody else at the demonstrations, and quite possibly include fascists and agents provocateur… real agents provocateur certainly do exist, and organised contingents with covered faces clearly facilitate the [activities] of real agents provocateur…

Margarita Windisch, Democratic Socialist Perspective, November 19, 2006:

…stressed that the white-clad, masked individuals were separate from the protesters towards whom they had displayed “a surly and hostile attitude.” She added that their actions were “self-indulgent and parasitic in that for the sake of some macho fantasies, they enabled those who do not want our message to get across to portray us as mindless idiots.”

Mick Armstrong, Socialist Alternative, November 19, 2006:

I was one of the organisers of the G20 demo from the [Melbourne] Stop the War Coalition and I am also in Socialist Alternative.

The anarchist crazies involved in the ultra-violence were in no serious sense part of the demo. Just like their black bloc mates in Europe they simply exploited the demo for their own purposes.

Right throughout the lead-up to the demo they made clear their hostility to and contempt [for] other protestors. On the day they did all they could to disrupt the demonstration and were hostile, abusive, threatening [and] ultra-sectarian towards people on the demo.

Australia[,] fortunately[,] has not previously been blighted by the sort of black bloc anarchist activities which [have] had such a disastrous impact on demonstrations in Europe. These people are simply provocateurs that open up protests to police repression. In Europe their ranks have been riddled by police agents and fascists.

What gave them a certain critical mass at the G20 was the presence of considerable numbers of anarchists from overseas. One of our members from New Zealand said he recognised at least 40 NZ anarchists. He knew at least 20 of them by name. There were also a considerable number of black [bloc] anarchists from Europe. We know of people from Sweden, Germany and England. These people are like football hooligans who travel the world looking for violence.

On top of that there were also a considerable number of anarchists from interstate.

Because of the behaviour of these provocateurs the media [and…] the law and order brigade are having a field day.

The left should offer no comfort to these crazies. We should do whatever we can to isolate them. They are wreckers. If they grow in Australia it will simply make it harder to build future protests and movements.

See also : G20: And ‘revolutionary Marxism’ | G20

IT WAS obvious on the first day of Chris Hurley’s manslaughter trial that the police officer was unlikely to go to jail over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee.

No matter that it wouldn’t have taken much for the 200-centimetre, 115-kilogram senior sergeant with the short fuse to fell the drunk, barefoot 74-kilogram Aboriginal man. No matter that three doctors testified that a knee to the abdomen most likely split Mr Doomadgee’s liver in two and caused him to bleed to death. No matter that Mr Doomadgee had provoked Hurley by resisting arrest and punching him.

With no other witnesses to the event, it was always going to be difficult for the jury to decide beyond reasonable doubt that Senior Sergeant Hurley deliberately caused Mr Doomadgee’s fatal injuries… ~ A predictable result three years in the making, Cosima Marriner, The Age, June 21, 2007

    Diarrheal diseases

    Diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in developing countries. It is caused by ingesting certain bacteria, viruses or parasites present in water or food, and can be spread by utensils, hands or flies. Diarrheal disease causes considerable dehydration, which may quickly lead to death when not promptly treated.

    Cholera, one of the most severe diarrheal diseases, is a significant cause of illness and death in developing countries. An acute bacterial infection of the intestine, cholera is spread the consumption of contaminated food or water. Cholera symptoms include acute watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can result in severe dehydration and rapidly lead to death. Other diarrheal disease pathogens include rotavirus, escherichia coli, salmonella, shigella and giardia.

    Diarrheal diseases can be prevented through access to clean, safe drinking water and through proper sanitation measures, including hand washing and safe disposal of human waste. While diarrhea generally can be easily treated using oral rehydration solution (ORS), a combination of glucose and sodium dissolved in water that replaces essential electrolytes lost through diarrhea, long-term prevention solutions require investments in water and sanitation, as well as changes in behavior to prevent unnecessary transmission of disease agents.

Diarrhea, known medically as gastroenteritis, is a major cause of children’s death in the world–second only to acute respiratory infections (ARI). One out of every four childhood deaths is from diarrhea, which drains the life out of at least 3 million infants and young children every year. Of these deaths, 99.6% occur in the Third World, where one in ten children dies of diarrhea before the age five… ~ David Werner & David Sanders, Questioning the Solution, Chapter 6: Diarrhea: A Leading Killer of Children, 1997

PROTESTERS at this week’s G20 summit should be cheering efforts to eradicate poverty, Treasurer Peter Costello said yesterday. “If you’re concerned about aid and poverty and the developing world, this is a summit you should be demonstrating for,” he said. ~ November 13, 2006

Peter Costello has also kept his head down. Friends say he is firming to join Goldman Sachs in London. His relationship with Gordon Brown, forged when both were treasurers, is a valuable commodity in Britain where Brown is now Prime Minister. ~ March 7, 2008

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 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
This entry was posted in State / Politics, War on Terror. Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to G20 : Akin Sari sentenced to 28 months

  1. juancastro says:

    While I _strongly_ disagree with Mick’s comments, he IS right in saying that premeditated violence at protests DOES send the wrong signal to those who would otherwise sympathise with the left. I have had two or three conversations with people who explicitly mentioned the violence at rallies as a reason why they were a bit scared of coming along. This is from people who are pretty damn left-wing, and left their contact details at a socialist stall; obviously minority violence at protests does not have popular support.

    In fact (from what I’ve heard), it’s not just the broader public who doesn’t support the violence, even the protesters themselves were against it. Here’s what I was told happened; violence was proposed at a pre-demo meeting, was voted down, and yet was done anyway by a relatively small group of protesters. Now I think here is where such tactics belie a deeper ideological problem; the tactics were voted AGAINST in a DEMOCRATIC meeting of protesters. What justification does the group have for acting in this way?

    If anarchists are going to attack socialists for being involved in vanguard organisations (even though we’re all members of our respective unions as well), how do you defend violent action by a minority of protesters even when the tactic was voted against by the majority? Sure sounds like like vanguard’esque action to me…

    So anyway, I would never have made such comments as Mick did, and have made my disagreement known in the organisation (as have others, hence why the comments were removed from the site). But in an intra-left dialogue space, I am massively against any sort of minority action, and think the actions of the arterial bloc _were_ fundamentally elitist and undemocratic.

  2. Adam says:

    If anarchists are going to attack socialists for being involved in vanguard organisations (even though we’re all members of our respective unions as well), how do you defend violent action by a minority of protesters even when the tactic was voted against by the majority? Sure sounds like like vanguard’esque action to me…

    i don’t know about other anarchs but my problem with vanguardism is the idea that those in the vanguard own my dissent and my protest and that they believe that they have the right to say how protests will go and under what conditions i can express my anger with this terribly terribly fucked world.

    oh and as far as it being undemocratic for a smaller group to ignore what the larger group says, who the fuck gives the larger group the right to tell everyone else what to do at a protest? surely not those in the smaller groups.

    as far as violence at the rally i don’t think it was useful (why i was a street medic instead) but anyone who slams protesters for any violence at g20 has their heads up their arses. since when the fuck is it somehow un-socialist to attack armed representatives of the state that carve up the city streets into no go zones so that rich people can ride around in comfort without traffic or being answerable to the poor? in all seriousness it took me 3-4 times longer to get across the city than it normally would have on foot, not even taking into account if PT had been available (also cut) because of pig blockades all over the city after the protest had finished and my medic’ing for the day was done and all i wanted to do was go to the pub have a beer and nurse my bruised rib (i got a half dozen blows on and around a medic sign on my back from a riot cop … i posed no threat and defied no order)

  3. @ndy says:

    juan,

    You raise a number of issues, some of which I think are distinct and others which overlap. To begin with, though, I don’t think it’s advisable to engage in public discussions regarding who said what to whom prior to the summit protest, especially as there’s approximately two dozen or so individuals still to go to court over matters related to it.

    Regarding Mick’s original comments, I think you’re missing the point. Mick’s comment is not a dispassionate analysis of events or a reasoned argument regarding the utility of particular tactics at public protests. Rather, it’s an hysterical denunciation of the “anarchist crazies” he alleges were responsible for “the ultra-violence” at G20. This is noteworthy and objectionable for a number of reasons.

    First, in terms of tone, Mick’s statement is more hysterical than either tabloid hacks or County Court judges. As a matter of fact, it’s the most denunciatory statement I’ve read.

    Secondly, it expresses rank xenophobia. This has both a comical and a more sinister aspect to it. Its comedy derives from its sheer absurdity; its menace from its apparent willingness to actively collaborate with the forces of repression.

    Thirdly, it was made immediately following the events themselves, and was thus designed to have the maximum impact upon left and public opinion. The eagerness with which Mick denounces those he deems responsible for a broken police van window and assorted other property damage, as well as assaults upon police, smacks of nothing more nor less than vicious sectarianism.

    Fourthly, it demonstrates rank hypocrisy on Mick’s part. Thus:

    In March 1992, a protest was held in Melbourne regarding a Government proposal to cut Austudy. Supposedly, 22 police officers were injured during the subsequent ‘riot’, two of whom required hospitalisation. “Professional protesters” were blamed for the “ultraviolence” which resulted both in these injuries and, more significantly, in the fact that police were forced to release from custody (the back of a divvy van) four individuals they’d arrested during the course of their (and hundred of others’) successful efforts to break through a police line in front of Parliament House.

    According to one report (Students’ city brawl, Robyn Dixon, Bruce Tobin, David Bruce and Hugo Kelly, The Age, March 28, 1992):

    …The officer in charge of the operation, Inspector Doug Hocking, described the brawl as the worst violence he had experienced in 22 years.

    Last night two police constables were in St Vincent’s Hospital — one with broken ribs and the other with severe bruising to his groin — and 20 other officers had been treated for minor injuries.

    During the confrontation:

    One mounted policeman was pulled from his horse and attacked with pipes and poles. His horse bolted down Lonsdale Street before being stopped.
    Bottles and sticks were thrown.
    The four students who were arrested were put in a police van but as the van drove off, students overtook it and blocked its path at the corner of Lonsdale and Spring streets.
    Protesters scribbled graffiti on the side of the van and vandalised some of its electrical fittings…

    [NUS official] Brendan Darcy [later adviser to Kevin Andrews] blamed habitual student agitators from groups such as the International Socialist Organisation, the Spartacists, Resistance and Left Alliance members…

    Students grabbed metal barricades from nearby construction sites and put up a barricade. The mounted police were jabbed with the three-metre long bars and thrashed with placrads and other objects. bottles and cans were also thrown…

    In another account (Sally Morrell, Get-tough vow on riots, Herald-Sun, March 28, 1992):

    …Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Mr John Frame said there was clear evidence of the International Socialists organising and carrying out the violence… Mr Frame said the International Socialists’ tactics were to latch themselves on to planned demonstrations and turn a peaceful protest violent…

    Best of all:

    “The deputy chief police commissioner, Mr John Frame, has started criminal investigations into what he called a “small core of anarchists” responsible for violence during a student protest outside Parliament last Thursday…” (Gerard Ryle, Anarchists blamed for uni protest, The Age, March 30, 1992)

    — and —

    THE ANARCHISTS

    It is time to expose the International Socialists for what they are: anarchists out to disrupt public order by manipulating people with genuine grievances. This week these parasitical wreckers were at it again, this time outside Victoria’s Parliament House.

    They hijacked a rally of students protesting against a proposal to replace the Austudy allowance with a loan scheme. The students had every right to join their colleagues across Australia to put forward their point of view. But the International Socialists turned the rally into a riot in which 22 police were hurt and the Premier had her office window broken.

    The same old faces were there at the barricades. The same ones prominent during the Bush visit, the Hoechst dispute, the AIDEX turmoil in Canberra and, closer to home, the violence that erupted during an industrial dispute at the office from which this newspaper is published.

    The police will lay charges over Thursday’s events if they can. But this is not enough. The International Socialists organisation is, by definition, imported. The immigration authorities should find out whether any of its members who are not Australian born are, through their actions, in breach of the permits under which they remain here. If so, let’s send them home. They are not welcome!

    Exactly the same statements were trotted out then as are being trotted out now, only whereas in 1992 it was senior police claiming that this was “the worst violence… seen in Melbourne for 20 years”, now it’s Mick Armstrong. And whereas now Akin Sari has been sent down for 28 months (and dozens of others still face charges), then it was Mick himself who was up on charges, along with four of his comrades: Jeff Sparrow, Jill Sparrow, Marcus Banks and Johnathan Sherlock. And finally, whereas then ‘the left’ was expected to rally ’round Mick and the other members of the ISO, now:

    “The left should offer no comfort to these crazies. We should do whatever we can to isolate them. They are wreckers. If they grow in Australia it will simply make it harder to build future protests and movements.”

    More later.

  4. Ultimate Hater says:

    Mick Armstrong is an enemy of the free people of earth, a piece of fucking garbage and a traitor to the working class.

  5. grumpy cat says:

    juancastro wrote:

    In fact (from what I’ve heard), it’s not just the broader public who doesn’t support the violence, even the protesters themselves were against it. Here’s what I was told happened; violence was proposed at a pre-demo meeting, was voted down, and yet was done anyway by a relatively small group of protesters. Now I think here is where such tactics belie a deeper ideological problem; the tactics were voted AGAINST in a DEMOCRATIC meeting of protesters. What justification does the group have for acting in this way?

    This is a falsification. Such a meeting and such a proposal never happened. Also it is wrong to equate violence with arterial bloc. The break away was about 500 (approx.) strong.
    cheers
    Dave

  6. grumpy cat says:

    And juancastro I think it is impossible to have a principled debate about tactics and strategy, questions of democracy and militancy etc. when sects are condemning those arrested by the state. Especially when the motivations of SAlt are clearly about maintaining internal group cohesion and not losing members to the left of the left. As I have said before SAlt has put themselves beyond the pale on this one. Even the Sparts preface their disagreements with statements of solidarity with the arrested.
    for shame
    Dave

  7. princess mob says:

    A couple more points:

    Mick Armstrong made his hysterical denunciation (& other people made slightly less hysterical ones) while people were being snatched off the street (& from their homes, & from courtrooms) by the cops – including one man who wasn’t even in town at the time of the protests. He doesn’t mention that, & I think that’s pretty telling.

    If, juancastro, someone told you that “violence was proposed at a pre-demo meeting, was voted down, and yet was done anyway by a relatively small group of protesters”, then that person is lying. While I agree with @ndy about being careful while people are still going through court, I think this much is on the public record already: The central pre-demo meetings weren’t spaces where decisions like that were made – well, they weren’t meant to be. They were meant to be spokescouncils where different affinity groups or blocs would communicate their plans – & from what I’ve heard, to a great extent, groups did communicate in good faith about their intentions, & work with the intentions of other groups. For more on this, see here, other discussion from the time on arushandapush & here.

  8. juancastro says:

    I don’t disagree with any of the attacks on Mick and his comments in this case. I think it is disgusting, and totally wrong to attack a comrade and support forces of state oppression.

    On the other hand, I don’t think there is a problem with trying to prevent splits to alternative forces when you have a firm conviction that your politics are in fact correct (just as @ndy defends red baiting and constantly criticising trot groups by referring to historical ‘rivers of blood’ and a general intolerance for “authoritarian socialism”). I would much prefer it was done honestly via logical arguments (as I eventually was able to get into), but I have no problem with the idea of being sharp on the difference with other groups and ideologies.

    Now, back to my original concern, because Adam exemplified the somewhat undemocratic tendency that I’m starting to see that some anarchist ideas seem to lead to.

    i don’t know about other anarchs but my problem with vanguardism is the idea that those in the vanguard own my dissent and my protest and that they believe that they have the right to say how protests will go and under what conditions i can express my anger with this terribly terribly fucked world.

    Notice the “I” consistently used there? The way I see it, protests such as the APEC and G20 ones are not just groupings of individuals with individual agendas and ideas… They are OUR protests, ie. the collective voice of a large group of people who are somewhat united about a particular issue. The problem with the individualistic “who are THEY to decide how I will express MY anger” sentiment is that your actions affect others, they affect the public debate, and they affect the ability of the entire left to function (eg. the massive crackdowns on anarchists and their organisations post G20 I think it was).

    I happen to believe that our goal (as revolutionaries) is to guide people to the left with our ideas and arguments, and to use every opportunity to do so, but not to drag them unwillingly and unilaterally into a situation in which militancy and state oppression is basically forced onto them. In contrast, the anarchists that chose to attack the state (not something that I’m principally against!) were prepared for state repression, they were expecting it, they made a conscious and informed choice.

    It is impossible to tell, but I can imagine that the overwhelmingly hostile media coverage of the event and the scary vibe surrounding violent anarchists in balaclavas and masks meant that the cause was not really advanced at that protest. Maybe they would have had more support if they just organised a spontaneous sit-down, or something. I know it’s boring, I’ve got ultra-left tendencies when I’m in those lame rallies as well, but that’s the climate we live in at this time.

    oh and as far as it being undemocratic for a smaller group to ignore what the larger group says, who the fuck gives the larger group the right to tell everyone else what to do at a protest? surely not those in the smaller groups.

    While I know a bit about consensus theory as an alternative to ‘majoritarian democracy’… What you said is basically a total rejection of the entire principle of democracy, and really validates the problem I outlined above.

  9. juancastro says:

    One other thing. Having just read the critique of the media collective for the G20 campaign, one massive thing is obvious (and it is something that SAlt said to me very early on). Autonomous organising and the corresponding lack of clear organisational structure in united fronts inevitably leads to the dominance of the voices of those who are the most active, dominating, or even just willing to take jobs.

    I mean really, “whoever came along could make decisions and take up (clearly important) roles”… even at an abstract level that sounds like a recipe for the dominance of individual or group agendas. You can’t expect somebody with a clear agenda (as SAlliance member) to represent groups from a different agenda equally; unless there is a democratic decision made beforehand that the media person only reads a pre-agreed statement (for example). I’m sure there are ways of doing shit like that, but it has to be conscious, planned and have some explicit constitution or democratic process agreed at the outset…

    Although I all say that as an organisational virgin.

  10. @ndy says:

    juan,

    I don’t defend “red baiting” — at least, not by any standard definition of the term. I also don’t constantly criticise Trot groups by reference to historical rivers of blood — I’ve never even used the term. I certainly reject ‘authoritarian socialism’, but on the other hand, who doesn’t? I’ve responded to all of your criticisms at some length, and what my supposed red baiting and blood-curling invocations of history have to do with there being “no problem with trying to prevent splits to alternative forces when you have a firm conviction that your politics are in fact correct” — whatever that means, and whatever relationship the concept has with Mick’s crazed rhetoric — I honestly don’t know. I do understand that Mick’s madness is the subject of the current discussion.

    To return to your original post, a few observations.

    Whether or not Mick is correct in asserting, as he apparently has, “that premeditated violence at protests… sends the wrong signal to those who would otherwise sympathise with the left” (which is not Mick’s point, but in any case) — assumes that the purpose of a protest is singular — to send a ‘signal’ to a ‘sympathetic’ audience. Further, it assumes that the ‘signal’ being sent is also unitary — or rather, should be.

    This assumes a lot.

    For one thing, SAlt called on protesters to take a stand against war and poverty and ‘show G20 they’re not welcome’. In practice, this meant gathering outside the summit waving red flags, armed with copies of SAlt and sundry other pieces of propaganda. For a school excursion, it was very impressive, and as such may have attracted the sympathies of school teachers and other elements otherwise sympathetic to the left. That said, at the same time, the Make Poverty History campaign was also engaged in an attempt to highlight issues of world poverty, to ‘signal’ to a potentially sympathetic audience that poverty is widespread, bad, and can and should be ended (November 15):

    Australians care more about ending global poverty than the US and UK – at least according to a Guinness World Record announced today for the most number of people to ever stand up against poverty. ‘Australia’s punched above its weight once more, lead the world and leapt to its feet for the 1.1 billion people who live on a dollar a day or less,’ said Jo Pride of Make Poverty History. Worldwide over 23 million people, including 92,000 Australians, took to their feet to help set a new Guinness World Record. And per head of population that’s more than the United States, where only one person in 2,700 participated. Australia also outdid the UK where just 60,000 people helped set the record.

    In fact, not only was the campaign successful at setting a new World Record for Stand Up, it also totally rocked out (November 17):

    Australia’s leading bands will tonight join the global movement to end poverty in an unprecedented free concert being staged in Melbourne in the lead up to the G-20 meeting this weekend. The Make Poverty History Concert will include high profile Australian acts Jet, Sarah Blasko, Eskimo Joe, Evermore, the Hilltop Hoods, the John Butler Trio and Paul Kelly who will rock the Sidney Myer Music Bowl from 6pm to 11pm. Comedian Dave Hughes and musician Dylan Lewis will MC the night and will be joined by speakers including Tim Costello, Make Poverty History co-chair; 2004 Young Australian of the Year, Hugh Evans; and Trisha Broadbridge, 2006 Young Australian of the Year. The sold out free Concert, which is touted as Australia’s biggest youth-run music event, will entertain 14,000 fans at the Bowl.

    Unfortunately, despite thousands of people standing on the one hand and listening to music on the other (November 19):

    The Australian Government has failed to grasp the opportunity to show international leadership on the issue of global poverty as host of this weekend’s G-20. Make Poverty History has condemned the G-20 for failing the world’s poor on policies on aid, trade, debt and climate change, with the only welcome outcome being a commitment to integrate aid efforts through the Paris Declaration. Make Poverty History co-chair Tim Costello said: “The G-20 final communiqué demonstrates a failure to understand that if we don’t strike a decisive blow against global poverty we can’t expect to win a war on terror or find a lasting solution to climate change. “The G-20 has been much ado about nothing. They might as well as have stayed at home as brought Melbourne to a halt given the complete lack of leadership that their final communiqué demonstrates.”

    Naturally, campaign organisers were aghast at the terrible carnage caused by protesters at the summit, although they failed to reach the fever pitch revolutionary Marxists like Mick Armstrong and others achieved (November 20):

    Make Poverty History has condemned the violence that threatened to overshadow the G-20 meeting in Melbourne, saying it was an unfortunate distraction that did nothing to advance the cause of the world’s poorest people. The Make Poverty History coalition held a series of positive, peaceful events around the G-20 that were supported by hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians. The coalition welcomed the meeting as an unprecedented opportunity to take the next step in the fight to stop poverty but expressed profound disappointment the talks contained little concrete action to tackle extreme global poverty. Make Poverty History co-chair Tim Costello unreservedly condemned Saturday’s violence saying the protesters were not linked in any way to Make Poverty History and that their behaviour would not impede the MPH coalition’s positive agenda for the 2007 Federal election. ”While a handful of violent protestors saw the G-20 gathering as unwanted – we did not. We are appalled by the senseless violence of a minority this weekend which overshadowed many peaceful Make Poverty History events,” he said. “Make Poverty History welcomed the G-20 to Melbourne. Our hundreds of thousands of supporters believe the most effective way to eradicate extreme global poverty is to work with world economic leaders from both rich and poor countries to find the solutions needed to help end extreme poverty.”

    More later.

  11. Adam says:

    Notice the “I” consistently used there? The way I see it, protests such as the APEC and G20 ones are not just groupings of individuals with individual agendas and ideas… They are OUR protests, ie. the collective voice of a large group of people who are somewhat united about a particular issue. The problem with the individualistic “who are THEY to decide how I will express MY anger” sentiment is that your actions affect others, they affect the public debate, and they affect the ability of the entire left to function (eg. the massive crackdowns on anarchists and their organisations post G20 I think it was).

    I use I as an indication of MY beliefs and opinions cause I don’t have the right to speak for anyone else … and those other people who would be affected that you speak of are individuals also who i dare say refer to themselves as I or ME

    While I know a bit about consensus theory as an alternative to ‘majoritarian democracy’… What you said is basically a total rejection of the entire principle of democracy, and really validates the problem I outlined above.

    if democracy is in a group of 100, 51 people can tell the other 49 how to live leave me out …. also wouldn’t that impact on your own minority held opinion in broader society as it’s quite likely that if asked more people than not would tell you to go get a job (even if you have one) instead of protesting about your views, and shouldn’t you follow their instructions if there are more of them? cause if you’re allowed to protest them then I or WE or fucking anyone is allowed to protest against your “democratic majority”

    i guess what i’m getting at is if we are all “in the left” in australia and if more people “in the left” say that everyone else “in the left” should act a certain way then how is it any different from saying that everyone in australia should act in a certain way if it’s more popular with the majority? cause in all seriousness we’re talking about protest here, if democracy means that the majority can mandate how I or ANYONE ELSE can protest count me THE FUCK OUT!

    also

    the g20 summit protest was advertised as open to all not to mention it was public knowledge that g20 were meeting there, most people i met there and knew there did not come with any group they were individuals (prone to using “I”) they came for reasons as varied as they were and expressed themselves and their disgust in varied ways and who the fuck are you SAlt the DSP or any other group to invalidate their protest

  12. Adam says:

    also as far as the whole using “I” too much i feel i should point you towards something hidden deep in the bowels of / right at the beginning of what i said

    “i don’t know about other anarchs but my problem with vanguardism” this was meant to indicate that i was speaking of my own views and experiences not the hearsay you brought up about meetings and my not having the arrogance to pretend i speak for everyone else who has somewhat similar views

  13. grumpy cat says:

    hi all,
    juancastro I think you should have a look at the links Princess Mob posted and reflect on what actually happened. Otherwise you just have an ahistorical off-the-rack critique of anarchist organising. (And who said that anyone allegedly taking part in “violence” or those arrested, were/are anarchists? I am sure some were/are but maybe then again maybe some are not/were not – life is after all full of complexity and multiplicity.)
    communist dreams
    dave

  14. Andrew says:

    Sari’s “crime”, as far as I can see, was to be stupid enough to put himself in the position where he could be kicked around by cops, and later the media and the courts. I’ve always thought the so-called Arterial Bloc action at the G20 demo was stupid (which is NOT the same thing as condoning what the cops did), and have said so, but too much political mileage is being made out of it. The fact is that he and the others were just enthusiastic, dumb, and for the most part harmless. The cops knew it, the media knew it, everyone knows it. So he was a bit of a naughty boy, so what – we’ve all done stupid things in our lives and have paid for them. I feel very sorry for the man; twenty-eight months for the same bit of shenanigans your average yob gets up to every weekend. He’s being made a scapegoat and this affair should be seen that way.

    As for the comments from “the left”, once again, big fucking whoopee. Another day at the office for these well-respected mouthpieces. Another bandwagon for them to jump on in the hopes of recruiting. Too easy to ignore. Yes, Armstrong is a hypocrite after all that “Austudy Five” recruiting bollocks (after the posters and t-shirts, I nearly threw up when I saw the calender!). So what? His sole raison d’etre is to recruit more for his organisation. They’ve been at it since year dot, anything they’re going to say or do revolves around this. His comments are vile, yes, but no one has to give him any oxygen.

    The police reaction to all this is fucking harsh and should overshadow any frail bleats coming from “the left” about it all. You can hardly expect some of those posers to speak out against the naked fist of the state unless it happens to graze by them. Most of them are in comfy middle-class jobs and positions anyway. Enough of them; it’s easy to see what’s really going on and it’s a bloody difficult one to deal with. The only thing possible is to give as much support to those accused, and those banged up, as people’s time and resources can allow.

    I worry about Sari’s state of mind during and after all this; I know I wouldn’t be feeling too good about it all. Nothing positive has come out of this at all. I just hope Sari gets to do his time as easy as possible, because it won’t be easy at all.

  15. Ana says:

    Compared to the solidarity shown by the left in Aotearoa for the Urewera arrestees, the left in straylia have proven themselves to be a bunch of tossers who can’t see the wider issues involved at all. Akin bore the brunt of an orchestrated campaign by the pigs, & the corporate media and left politicos such as Armstrong & Windisch & Gould, couldn’t wait to jump on that bandwagon. Shame on them.

    Much love to Akin
    Kia kaha tamatoa
    Naku noa na
    Ana

  16. @ndy says:

    For the record, “I” wish it to be brought to the attention of readers that “a”, “e”, “o” and “u” are being consistently used in this thread. The left should offer no comfort to these crazy letters. We should do whatever we can to isolate them. Thy r wrckrs. if thy grw n Astrli it will simply mk it hrdr to bild ftre prtsts nd mvmnts.

    “I” rst my cs.

  17. Red says:

    The jailing of Akin for at least another 14 months despite pleading guilty and condemning his own actions and having already done 7 months pleases the Herald-Sun bigots as it’s over the top and meant to put the fear into anyone else coming to trial or who supports them.

    VIOLENCE?

    The State Police and the new gangsters who have taken over post the 20 murders’ purge of the old regime have the monopoly on aggro in the City of Melbourne. Anyone else can expect …
    you get the picture by now surely !
    Like the quietened down campaign when Craig Johnston was jailed for confronting a scab-herding union busting racket … Craig and others were disowned by the “left” who echo the “right” ALP controlled organisations as respectability seeking serious power aspirant sects.
    This was when we were all united in opposition to the Howard lead regime and any support for illegality like Woomera Breakout, Redfern, Palm Island & Macquarie Fields’ rioters etc was divisive.
    Now ALP is in power not just in most local Councils, but all States & Territories and Federally anyone who goes extra-parliamentary in protests can expect ? to be ASIO and State Special Branch/Forward Intelligence Agency monitored and busted. Wanna play paint ball para-military games with your mates think again if you are Muslim. Think this is over the top then why was “nice” Blue Wedges visited by anti-Terrorist police to warn them off any action against the dredging of the Bay ?
    Sea Shepherd because it takes direct action is confronted not just by the Japanese pseudo-science scammers shooting at Paul Watson yesterday for example but by Greenpeace etc let alone Peter Garrett who has been exposed yet again as bloody useless.

    Why is there no association and role for defence and solidarity with anyone who is “violent” – as defined by Amnesty International ! AI has never taken up cases of anti-fascists for example who fought back and injured or killed racist gang thugs when attacked by them.

    The middle class inhabit the inner city and are “safe’. They act shocked by acts of “violence” in the suburbs and workplaces the rest of us try to survive in. “Kiss the Aussie flag or get a punch in the head” is not just a Big Day Out media hype but everyday attitude amongst the scabby racist sexist homophobic pricks out here alas.

    The “greeny” “student militant” “socalist” & “unionist” of yesterday become the ALP conservatives of today and tomorrow.
    This is not new to Garrett etc past “radicals”
    World War One Conscriptionist Billy Hughes
    World War Twos John Curtin & Ben Chifley
    Vietnam era Whitlam and crew left the Timorese to die
    the ALP has never challenged the anti-collective bargaining & solidarity busting Sections 45D and 45E of the 1977 Trade Practices Act 1974.
    Iraq War I Bob Hawke & Keating busted the BLF, Airline pilots and tram connies.

    So what can we expect from the post “Sorry” gesture regime – well already calls for wage restraint to 3% when inflation is 4% and so it goes.
    What some “violent protest” at this time of National Economic and Military priorities – crush them mercilessly I suspect.
    But I digress why not write to Akin Sari in jail if you have the time to read and answer this ?

    PO Box 376
    Laverton 3080

  18. @ndy says:

    In further reply to juan’s comments:

    Precisely what was in the minds of those who wore white and formed the Arterial Bloc and those others who wore black and other colours is difficult to ascertain. As far as I’m aware, the desire was to possibly engage in some form of confrontation with the forces of Laura Norder with a view to disrupting the conduct of the summit if possible. As I see it, damage to the police van was an opportunistic, spontaneous affair rather than the result of the working out of a plan to do so, one which was then carried out. Further, as grumpy and others have pointed out, both here and elsewhere, to assume that those engaged in these sorts of actions were all ‘anarchists’ is mistaken. Certainly, the arrest record thus far would suggest that Mick was wrong to assert that “the ultraviolence” (I assume you know what that’s a reference to yeah?) was the result of the actions of 40 Kiwis and some other number of English, German and Swedish football hooligans who’d travelled to Melbourne specifically in order to disrupt the activities of local paper-sellers.

    Beyond this, your comments raise a number of questions with regards concepts of democracy, its constituency, and closely associated notions of political legitimacy. In this context, that translates into the actions of the Arterial Bloc (and others) being illegitimate because they failed to secure the agreement of a majority of voters at a pre-summit meeting.

    There are a number of faults with this argument, one of the main ones being that such a meeting never took place (at least not according to grumpy and princess). Secondly, even assuming that such a meeting did take place, from whence did it derive its authority? Even assuming that its decisions, arrived at by a vote requiring a simple majority, can and should be considered binding, its constituency would presumably only be coincident with those who happened to attend it. In other words, it’s one thing to argue that individuals should abide by decisions arrived at by a group in which they (voluntarily) take part, which declares itself to be capable of making decisions according to this formulae, and which in other respects allows scope for other attributes commonly associated with ‘democratic decision-making’ (for example, the possibility for different views to be articulated, information to be shared et cetera). But what of those not present at and not party to such decision-making processes? If a group of 50 meets and 26 vote in favour of some proposal, on what basis should a crowd of 5,000 pay it any attention? Finally, as princess suggests, not all meetings that took place prior to the summit were organised on this basis. Rather, they took the shape of spokescouncils. Or to put it another way: there were at least two, reasonably distinct forums within which formal pre-summit discussion occurred. One was that which Mick refers to (“I was one of the organisers of the G20 demo from the [Melbourne] Stop the War Coalition”); another comprised those proceeding from other, quite different organisational and political perspectives.

    More broadly, invoking notions of ‘democracy’ gives rise to precisely the kinds of issues Adam refers to, and which form part of a long tradition of democratic critique. That said, to reduce ‘democracy’ — rule by the people — to the fact that an absolute majority of people in a given forum arrive at a similar conclusion is to do the history of democracy a disservice. There are, in fact, in theory and in practice, numerous interpretations of the meaning and significance of ‘democracy’, many of them emanating from workers’ movements heavily influenced by socialist discourse. For example, the Bolsheviks and other Marxist (anarchist and socialist) political formations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were social — as opposed to purely ‘political’ — democrats. Such tendencies wished to see ‘democracy’ extended into the social realm more broadly. The concept of ‘economic democracy’ is also important in this context (Reich and others referred to it as ‘work democracy’). When Lenin and the Bolsheviks gave de facto recognition to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, they were accused of being ‘anti-democratic’, but some continue to find the ‘real’ meaning — the proletarian meaning, perhaps — of ‘democracy’ in the workers’ councils, or soviets. More recently, there has been much discussion regarding the meaning of ‘the commons’, and processes whereby by it might be ‘reclaimed’ by ‘the people’ (demos). Gustavo Estaba has some interesting things to say about this subject:

    Radical democracy

    In Motion Magazine: What is radical democracy?

    Gustavo Esteva: We are still using the word “democracy” because it has still a beautiful tradition. For some time, I used the expression “radical democracy” to re-claim the original meaning of the word: that is “people’s power”. Among the Greeks, that was the meaning.

    Radical democracy implies two things. One, is a very radical critique of representative democracy and here I would like to mention the enlightenment of Douglas Lummis who published a book “Radical Democracy” and who gave to me a lot of elements of historical and theoretical critique of representative democracy and offered a clue for some alternatives within the framework of democratic thinking.

    Douglas is a very interesting guy from California who has been teaching for twenty years in Japan. He is a brilliant thinker and his book, this book, I find particularly interesting as a very enlightened critique of representative democracy and an opening to other forms of thinking.

    The second source for my radicality is in the sense of “radical” in Spanish which means to come back to the roots, the root of the things. Our roots here is what we describe as democracy in the villages. Meaning that they don’t have vertical authority and a structure of government. They are governing themselves.

    On the subject of ‘the commons’ more generally, see The Commoner.

    In fact, there’s all kinds of really interesting discussions going on about things like ‘democracy’, and has been for some time.

    If anarchists are going to attack socialists for being involved in vanguard organisations (even though we’re all members of our respective unions as well), how do you defend violent action by a minority of protesters even when the tactic was voted against by the majority? Sure sounds like like vanguard’esque action to me…

    A few points:

    As an anarchist, I consider myself to be a socialist — an anti-authoritarian or libertarian one. My views on the kinds of socialism espoused by Leninist currents largely mirrors that you’ll find in the essay by Chomsky I republished in a comment in a previous response to you;
    I’m aware of the existence of ‘vanguardist’ rhetoric; in reality, vanguards generally find themselves trailing behind those they would presume to lead (cf. Trotsky on the Russian Revolution);
    I don’t understand your point about vanguards and unions;
    You’re collapsing the distinction between a ‘vanguard’ and a political minority.

    I happen to believe that our goal (as revolutionaries) is to guide people to the left with our ideas and arguments, and to use every opportunity to do so, but not to drag them unwillingly and unilaterally into a situation in which militancy and state oppression is basically forced onto them. In contrast, the anarchists that chose to attack the state (not something that I’m principally against!) were prepared for state repression, they were expecting it, they made a conscious and informed choice.

    I happen to believe that the goal of revolutionaries is, by definition, to make revolution. I also think that Orwell was right when he wrote that ‘In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act’. Generally speaking, I’m happy to engage with others in political discussion, and I think that what I owe to them is the honest effort to articulate myself as clearly as I can. What conclusions others arrive at is their responsibility. Regarding the notion that anyone was dragged into a situation in which militancy and state oppression was forced onto them, I don’t agree. Which is to say, I don’t think this is what happened at G20, and I think it mistaken to lay the blame for subsequent police action on (for example) members of the Arterial Bloc. That said, I think this point requires further elaboration on your part.

    Finally, I don’t think you understand concepts of autonomous organising outside of the threadbare critiques advanced by SAlt, this is reflected in your arguments, and is a position which makes a dog’s breakfast of particular notions of ‘identity politics’, modes of organisation, social movements, political autonomy, autonomist Marxism and ‘autonomous and autonomist politics’ more generally. A more interesting and productive discussion of the concept of ‘autonomy’ may be found in, for example, the work of Paul Cardan / Cornelius Castoriadis.
    http://www.democracynature.org/dn/vol4/fotopoulos_castor.htm
    http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/disband/solidarity/bio_castoriadas.html
    http://www.marxists.de/trotism/callinicos/4-3_heresies.htm

  19. @ndy says:

    Andrew. Two things. One, I think it important to (continue to) give Armstrong’s comments oxygen, partly prompted, in this instance, by Akin’s sentencing, but also because of his presence at a recent Urewera solidarity rally. Two, from what I understand, Akin is doing OK inside.

  20. juancastro says:

    @ Adam.

    I think your response to my argument was pretty spot on, except that I don’t think it’s as clear that minority violence at mass events is acceptable as you seem to think it is. If those in the arterial bloc (who, granted, were probably not all anarchists) wanted to act in some violent way, why did they choose to do so during a mainstream protest, instead of picking a random day in which to fight?

    BTW I did read those sites, and the impression I get is that Marcus took on a job that nobody else wanted, that the united front ‘organisation’ or collective or whatever refused to spell out totally clearly, and that as such Marcus probably used the platform to further specific ideological ends that others disagreed with. To think that somehow (as Adam problematised) that all the ‘left’ were united as one was obviously a mistake, and therefore leaving the role of spokesperson so undefined and vague was a recipe for individual/group agendas coming to the fore.

    Now I’m not saying that this is how autonomous organising always works (though I think I did say that in my previous post… *sheepish grin at being aware of my polarisation*). And I actually haven’t spoke with SAlt comrades about this issue, it just seems like a decent analysis of the ‘media collective’ problems from somebody who wasn’t involved, and only has second-hand info to work from.

    ***************

    As a side note, I’m a bit sick of comment-section debates/discussions. Wrong interpretations and incomplete explanations seem to be the order of the day every time, and it’s impossible (for me at least) to be sufficiently systematic and thorough without spending far more time than I have to prepare a response. Basically, I’m not a computer person.

    @ndy you’re from Melbourne right? Is there no way to meet up for a discussion somewhere? Or maybe you have no desire to, which would be cool, though disappointing. Same goes for anybody else involved in (a) stuff.

  21. @ndy says:

    On ‘acceptability’.

    As things stand, all sorts of things are ‘acceptable’ in the sense that their occurrence fails to move people to action. Australian troops are engaged in an illegal war in Iraq, for example; there is no treaty with or compensation for indigenous peoples; asylum seekers continue to be imprisoned and continue to seek to recover from their abuse at the hands of authorities; the land, air, seas and rivers continue to be polluted and rendered toxic to all life, both human and non-human; workers continue to be exploited, and so on and so on. All of these things are ‘acceptable’: We have all sufficient strength to endure the misfortunes of others.

    I think the issue is the mass violence by tiny elites and the men with guns who act on their behalf, whether it’s to repress Mapuche struggles in Argentina, the MST in Brazil, the Mohawk Nation in Canada, trade unionists in China, or the struggles of workers, peasants, women and students in France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Further, the forms of economic and political violence which are otherwise consigned to the realms of ‘business as usual’ but which constitute the basis for capital accumulation and ensure that economic and political power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. I think the issue is the violence that is written on the smiling faces of the leaders of these countries who gathered in Melbourne in November 2006.

    On the Arterial Bloc itself, it was composed of a number of people, some of whom were anarchists, some of whom weren’t. What they had in common was what they wore — white overalls — their location and to a large extent their actions. One expression of the motivations for these actions may be found here. Otherwise, the use of white overalls has a history, among the Tute Bianche in Italy and the Wombles in the UK.

    The possibility that particular actions will meet with the passive acceptance of a majority of the 21,230,911 or so people who inhabit Australia is one measure of an action’s legitimacy, but there are others. Framing a question in terms of “why did they choose to [act in an ultraviolent manner] during a mainstream protest, instead of picking a random day in which to fight” begs the question, as it assumes the existence of a ‘mainstream protest’ from which it was possible to deviate. An alternative interpretation might be based on an account of what actually happened, rather than such ideological presuppositions.

    See also : Anarchists confirm expert opinion: expect police violence @ APEC (June 4, 2007)

    PS. On the subject of violence, you recently wrote, in response to the shooting to death of eight students in Jerusalem:

    “If they weren’t living in an apartheid state committing genocide in slow-motion, they would not have died. As it is, I blame the Israeli state, although I think terrorism is a tactical mistake after the recent pro-Palestine PR campaign resulting from Israel’s disgusting blitz on Gaza.

    The kids _are_ suffering on both sides, but Israeli kids become oppressors.”

  22. grumpy cat says:

    juancastro wrote:

    I’m a bit sick of comment-section debates/discussions. Wrong interpretations and incomplete explanations seem to be the order of the day every time, and it’s impossible (for me at least) to be sufficiently systematic and thorough without spending far more time than I have to prepare a response.

    Good fucking point. Discussion happens at this level due to the almost total absence of collective spaces for genuine discussion amongst the multitude. I think one useful activity of militants would be to actually develop open, non-sectarian face to face forums for debate, discussion and reflection. Spaces that are both accessible and intelligent.
    rebel love
    Dave

  23. juancastro says:

    Exactly, notice that I disagreed with the TACTICS of the Palestinians, just as I disagreed with the TACTICS of the Arterial Bloc. And notice that I did not denounce the Palestinians at all, nor would I have the AB. I would have shifted the discussion to attacking the oppressive state, just as I did with Israel.

    And yes, perhaps my choice of the word “acceptable” was unfortunate. I just think there is a (necessarily arbitrary, and therefore up for some discussion) level at which protest actions become so ‘radical’ (ie. so far beyond what the majority of society can support or even tolerate, let alone be part of) as to alienate our supporters and (my main concern I think) actually solidify and reaffirm the oppressive structures.

    It all comes down to your goals, and whether you have some sort of theory for how using violence when in an extreme minority of revolutionaries in society will help build a revolutionary situation. I ask that genuinely, because the other model, the boring one, the time-consuming and patience-requiring one, has plenty of history behind it showing that it works.

    ****

    I just read Gertrude and Fuchsia’s response to the attacks by Mick and others. I can understand the ideas put forward, but I still fundamentally disagree with the parts attempting to justify violence.

    Beyond tactics and planning is the exhilaration of embodying refusal – even if only for a moment, and these moments are not without politics. Why should politics and protest be disciplined spaces, spaces without emotion and desire? To be caught up in the moment, in a collective energy, is a rare rupture of the alienation, isolation and powerlessness of our everyday lives.

    I just think this is a clear insight into the key reason why violence happens at these things. People are bored with rallies, they are angry with the system, and they construct a discourse (of sorts) which allows them to vent this anger and rage with some sort of radical justification. While I fucking sincerely understand what these comrades are feeling, I don’t think actions are radical unless they have the explicit goal of building a revolution.

    Capitalism does not tolerate serious, revolutionary dissent; it never has and it never will. The state will do everything in its power to crush revolutionary movements, and it will not care to distinguish between the “innocent” and the “guilty”, between the “good” and the “bad” protestor. Are we revolutionaries, or not? If we are, then we are already enemies of the state. Let us not be afraid of being called so.

    This is interesting, because I agree… up to a point. Again, the key thing HAS to be (IMO) are we going to mobilise support for our position on the basis of this action. I don’t even think it has to be mass support, but is it going to increase our support amongst key sections of the working class, the (much maligned) ‘vanguard’ if you will. That’s what everything we do centres around. Mistakes are made, but I think they are acceptable in the sense that they come from a theory that attempts to be somewhat scientific about building a movement. “Embodying refusal” is fun (I say that not at all in a disparaging sense), but doesn’t even pretend to be about building a revolution.

    This isn’t about “political maturity” (and I disagree with parts of that discourse if comrades of mine have used it), it’s about having a sense of one’s place in history, and doing what needs to be done within that historical understanding. It would have been stupid for revolutionaries to be doing purely propaganda work in Russia in 1917, or Spain in 1936, and I think it is almost as stupid to be waging violent war against the state in the current political climate.

  24. juancastro says:

    To clarify, in the first paragraph after the first quote: “I don’t think actions are truly radical (in the system destroying sense) unless they have the explicit aim of building a revolution. The system can easily deal with small groups of what they label “terrorists”, it can’t as easily deal with mass movements of workers; that’s what makes mass movements revolutionary.”

  25. liz says:

    a few points:

    I was in the central Stop G20 collective, and was both a media spokes and the person who gave a speech on behalf of that collective at the rally. Mick Armstrong was not in those organising meetings, so I’m not sure on what basis he is claiming to know about decisions made there. There was no such vote about violence or non-violence. That is a fabrication.

    The arrestees and those involved more broadly in the actions for which others were arrested are anarchists, Hare Krishna devotees, Marxists and those who would reject any and all of those labels. What is horrible is the way that some Left groups have used the opportunity to kick the anarchist community while they are being beaten down by the state – other Left groups decided to publicly denounce the anarchist community for actions that were undertaken by lots of different people (many hundreds) for lots of different reasons.

    Kudos goes to those socialist groups who have resisted the temptation and have been active in support: Solidarity, ISO, the ex-Workers Power crew, and after some initial hiccups, the Socialist Party.

    I you want to come and engage in meaningful discussion about G20 stuff, you could maybe start by talking to people who were actually there about what actually happened. And getting involved in the G20 defence campaign…

  26. liz says:

    oops meant to leave the web address for after G20 – the meetings seem to me like an ideal place to be discussing these questions.

    also – whilst I think it is generally an interesting discussion to have, I think that it is false to mount an argument around whether radical acts of violence will achieve our goals or alienate us from potential supporters on the basis of the G20 arrests. That assumes some kind of political or ideological hegemony amongst the participants in the actions now the subject of police prosecution that simply doesn’t exist. It assumes many things from watching a few minutes of spectacular footage cut up by media for the nightly news. We are arguing on terrain set for us by the media which is far removed form the reality of what actually took place. Talking about what actually happened and the politics surrounding it is what the support group is trying to do, as well as defending and supporting those arrested. Doing this publicly whilst in the middle of a trial is more difficult, and something we are still working out but we always welcome more involvement in the defence campaign. Come on – show us how superior your politics are in practice!

    The assumption that the actions were a premeditated attack on the police is just not backed up by the evidence. It should be noted however that this line, fed to the police and the public by Mick and Marcus, is the common thread running through the police witness statements. However, it seems that the prosecution, having now actually watched the many many hours of footage of both the squat busts and the demo, having raided homes and confiscated phones and computers, and having scoured all the websites looking for proof of this claim, have come up with nothing. This is why the common purpose at the heart of the charges of riot is not, as it first seemed from police witness statements “to attack cops”. It is now: “to Stop the G20”. That is the basis of this supposedly criminal activity, according to the cops. But even proving common purpose amongst such a diverse group will be difficult for them to do I suspect.

    That is not to say that there might not be people who perhaps went to the action for reasons that have more to do with hating cops than lots of other things. Good luck to them if there were, I suppose. But having been involved in the defence campaign for a while now, and getting to know a whole bunch of people I would never have otherwise met, the idea that this is what motivated all or even any of the arrestees just isn’t the case, politically defensible or not.

    Again – if you want to have these discussions in a way that is real and meaningful, I suggest getting involved in the defence campaign. That would be a real show of solidarity, and a less than abstract way of having this debate. Check the website for meeting times and places…

  27. Lumpen says:

    While I’d normally insert a pithy joke here, I think I might state the obvious instead.

    There has been a failure of anarchists to create open forms of dialogue and participation, partially in response to state oppression, partially due to anarchist ideas largely being accessible only along lines of privilege. To spell it out, anarchist ideas have been systematically suppressed, working class organisations have been systematically dismantled, and the ideas (as in available texts and histories) largely reside in the networks of the bourgeoisie as historical curiousities. Privilege has become so entrenched it’s hard to see it; there is very little outside space from which to look in. This, I reckon, hints at the immediate task of anarchists.

    I think one useful activity of militants would be to actually develop open, non-sectarian face to face forums for debate, discussion and reflection. Spaces that are both accessible and intelligent.

    I think I could be accurately labeled as one of the sectarians. However, I’ve found that if I conclude, for example, that Leninism is the enemy of liberty, that makes me sectarian. I have no interest in accommodating ideologies/people/ideas that are thoroughly discredited or, in my estimation, are injurious to the interests of the working class. Apparently the commitment to diversity doesn’t extend to outright disagreement.

    I broadly include Marxism in my opposition. That includes Negri, Cleaver and all of that horseshit (I don’t mind Cleaver, to be honest, but I’ll be fucked if I understand what he’s saying half the time. Negri? Forgeddaboudit). I’d like to say I respect the people if not their ideas, but… no. Not really.

    Remind me again why Marxists are worth listening to?

    That’s not a rhetorical question, btw.

    More later. Maybe.

  28. @ndy says:

    juan,

    The reason I raised your comments regarding the shooting murders was to contrast your reaction to this event to the trifling violence that occurred on the streets of Melbourne. Thus, on the one hand, eight yeshiva students were shot to death by a Palestinian gunman, Ala Abu Dehein: whether he was acting alone and what, if any, organisational support he received, appears to be obscure at this stage. On the other hand, approximately two dozen individuals are facing charges of riot, affray and other minor criminal offences for crimes allegedly committed during the G20 meeting in Melbourne in November, 2006.

    I dunno about your use of the term ‘acceptable’ inre this incident; what you wrote is that “If they [that is, the yeshiva students] weren’t living in an apartheid state committing genocide in slow-motion, they would not have died. As it is, I blame the Israeli state…” In other words, simply because these students lived in an apartheid state, they deserved to die. Alternatively, they should have chosen NOT to live in Israel. In any case, the blame for their deaths cannot be attributed to Ala Abu Dehain, but rather the Israeli state.

    Your disagreement with the use of terror — such as the shooting to death of unarmed civilians — is not a principled one, but one seemingly based on its harmful effects on (in this case) the Palestinian PR effort. Such actions, presumably, send the wrong ‘signal’, and the Palestinians should be busy trying to capitalise on the PR associated with the Israeli terror in Gaza.

    You’ve ‘denounced’ the Arterial Bloc both in the sense that you’ve wrongly asserted that a) it was a party to a decision at a meeting in which its plans were subjected to a vote and rejected and b) all possible acts of ‘violence’ were committed by members of the Bloc — who should, logically, be judged collectively for these misdeeds.

    You didn’t attend G20 and you base your assertions on hearsay.

    I think it important to distinguish between both ‘the Arterial Bloc’ and violence at G20 on the one hand and between the actions of Ala Abu Dehain and the TACTICS of ‘the Palestinians’ on the other. In which respect, I also think it important to note that one of the objections to Israeli policy in Gaza (and elsewhere) — and leaving aside its illegal status and political effects — is that it’s based on the principle of collective punishment.

    Further, I think you’re confusing ‘militancy’ with ‘radicality’; again, you raise a whole range of other issues in your subsequent postings — especially in terms of your assumptions regarding social movements and how they’re ‘built’ and the role of public protest in this sequence…

    That’s enough for now.

    On Oct. 16, 2005, [Bill] White led an NSM rally that was supposed to kick off a provocative neo-Nazi march “against crime” through a poor, black neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio. But the speeches of White and others were so incendiary that a crowd of neighborhood residents and anti-racists began to swell threateningly, and police ushered the white supremacists away, saying a riot was imminent.

    And it was. As White and the other neo-Nazis were whisked off, the crowd attacked police, police vehicles, and local buildings. The results, from the point of view of NSM, could hardly have been better. The violence made every network TV news show that night, along with reports of more than 100 rioters’ arrests.

    Crowed Schoep: “The Negro beasts proved our point for us.”

    Thrilled with the attention, White and the NSM repeated the tactic. On Dec. 10, the group returned to Toledo. The police were far better prepared this time and held violence to a minimum. But the NSM kept going, taking its show to Orlando, Fla., where members held another “march against black crime” on Feb. 5, 2006.

  29. grumpy cat says:

    Lumpen wrote:

    Apparently the commitment to diversity doesn’t extend to outright disagreement.

    Really? I would think it would have to.

    and

    Remind me again why Marxists are worth listening to?

    How will be you able to to hear me saying that what I am saying is worth listening to if you won’t listen to me? Or do you just use a system of labels first to determine who you then will listen to?
    Viva Anarchy!
    If I said the same thing but said I was an anarchist would you then listen to me?

    rebel love
    Dave

  30. juancastro says:

    Far out @ndy. You consistently rewrite my words to say things I don’t mean. That’s why I propose meeting in person, although your willingness to misinterpret or misconstrue is fucking frustrating, and mght belie some deeper thing. I’m out to help build a revolution in Australia, and finding the best ideas that will lead to the most democratic, and effective revolution is my number one goal.

    We share that goal, but why don’t I feel any sort of solidarity/cameraderie from your side of the internet? You cite the deep differences between anarchism and trotskyism, yet I consider myself wedded to a theory only as far as it proves its worth.

    PS. I never once denounced the AB, so don’t fucking state blatant lies. As I’ve said before, I’m here for the ideas, not point scoring or any other facile purpose.

    @ Liz

    I don’t think that talking about the broader issues of violence as a tactic requires any assumption of hegemony amongst those that chose to engage in it at the stop G20 protests, and furthermore, I don’t think I assumed that anywhere, or was even necessarily talking about the stop G20 protests.

    I echo your support for those attacked by the state at the event (and subsequently), and I’m annoyed/curious as to the reasons why SAlt isn’t engaged in the support campaign. I think your comments to the media (as represented on a link posted by @ndy above) were spot on. I will try to make the meeting this Friday; 6pm at Trades Hall sounds very doable and worthwhile.

  31. juancastro says:

    Oh, I’m assuming liz is Liz Thompson 🙂

    I think I met your boyfriend on a train a few months ago… He was proudly wearing a badge that he said was worn by the Stalinists who brutally put down the Hungarian uprising… a bit bizarre/disgusting, no?

  32. Lumpen says:

    If I said the same thing but said I was an anarchist would you then listen to me?

    Pretty much, yeah. That’s the quick way to get to the top of my priorities list. Labels can be handy things; not always accurate, but a good indicator. If you call yourself a Marxist, I reckon that means something of consequence. Call yourself an Aries… not so much.

    (Sorry for railroading this thread. Please get back to the actually important stuff. Kthxbye)

  33. @ndy says:

    juan,

    “You consistently rewrite my words to say things I don’t mean.”

    No you can’t have my brown corduroy trousers!

    *ahem*

    Maybe. That’s the first time you’ve made the accusation anyways. And you have ample opportunity to correct any of my misinterpretations.

    Inre ‘denunciation’, I wrote:

    You’ve ‘denounced’ the Arterial Bloc both in the sense that you’ve wrongly asserted that a) it was a party to a decision at a meeting in which its plans were subjected to a vote and rejected and b) all possible acts of ‘violence’ were committed by members of the Bloc — who should, logically, be judged collectively for these misdeeds.

    When I use the word ‘denounce’, I mean to use it according to the standard definition of the term. That is, to ‘denounce’ something or someone is to publicly declare something or someone to be wrong, incorrect or mistaken; evil even. In this instance, I mean ‘denounce’ in the former sense (whereas I think Mick tends towards the latter). I also articulated in precisely what sense you ‘denounced’ the Arterial Bloc. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you believe that the actions of the Arterial Bloc — which you assert was responsible for the violence at G20 — was wrong because it sent the wrong signal to left-wing sympathisers, wasn’t supported by other protesters, violated a pre-existing decision made via a democratic process, was vanguardist and elitist.

    That, at least, is what you’ve written.

    Beyond this, you’re a member of SAlt. SAlt is a Trotskyist party. As far as I’m aware, the principal document and thinking of SAlt on anarchism is contained in Mick Armstrong’s article ‘Is there anything radical about anarchism?’ (essentially a re-hash of a much older critique produced by the IST). I’ve replied to this, and directed your attention to it, as well as to Tom Keefer’s ‘Marxism, Anarchism, & the Genealogy of “Socialism From Below”‘ (Upping the Anti, No.2, January 2006), an essay on Hal Draper’s distinction between ‘socialism from above’ and ‘socialism from below’, a concept which forms the ideological core of this particular brand of 21st century Bolshevism.

    Mick argues that “The most logically consistent form of anarchism is absolute individualism”. If correct, we are not on the same side. If incorrect, I think you should enunciate why you think Mick is wrong. Incidentally, Mick also accuses (denounces?) ‘black blocs’ in Europe of “antics [that] have been remarkably effective in sabotaging genuine protests and imperilling the lives of other protesters”.

    You’ve accused me of red baiting and acting in bad faith. To the extent that you continue to claim this — without presenting any evidence to support such assertions — and to the extent that you agree with Mick’s analysis of ‘anarchism’, it would appear that we are far from being ‘on the same side’.

  34. tzatkini says:

    My main problem with Mick Armystrong is simply that he takes up too much oxygen.

  35. liz says:

    Juan Castro – what excellent powers of deduction you have! Good to know that you’re going to come to the meeting.

    As for my partner’s twisted sense of humour, he says to say to you: “tell him I shot those counter-revolutionary punks in the back of the head and enjoyed every minute of it.”

    I don’t know… ask him… maybe he just enjoys fucking with your head.

    See you Friday.

  36. TOXIC SHOCK says:

    It’s just a shame the brawler van wasn’t burnt to the ground.

  37. liz says:

    Looks like SAlt have changed their tune somewhat on Akin – better late than never I suppose. Juancastro – could you ask whoever is in charge to spell his name right?

    I think considering Mick’s contribution to the hysteria this statement speaks of, a financial contribution to the defence fund from SAlt would be in order…

    Condemn outrageous sentence of G20 protestor

    The jailing of Akim Sari for two years and four months, with a non-parole period of 14 months, for his participation in the protests at the G20 meeting in Melbourne in November 2006 is an outrage.

    This is an extremely heavy sentence for involvement in an altercation at a demonstration. Bosses who kill workers because of appalling safety conditions and corporate crooks who rip off millions from workers’ entitlements serve much less time than this.

    Socialist Alternative, like a number of organisations and individuals on the left, was critical of the tactics of the autonomist Arterial Bloc at the G20 protest. However that is not the main issue now. Akim Sari’s sentence represents an attempt to criminalise protest and sets a very bad precedent for the future. It is a continuation of the hysteria that was created by the media, the police and the Howard and NSW governments in the lead up to the protest against George Bush at the APEC Conference in Sydney last year.

    Behind all of this hysteria is the domestic agenda of the “war on terror”. While the main focus of this has been fear-mongering about Muslims, Liberal and Labor governments, the cops and the media have also seized the opportunity to equate demonstrations with terrorism, in order to intimidate people out of protesting.

    We cannot afford to be intimidated. Strikes, protests, sit-ins, occupations and demonstrations remain vital if we are to defend our rights, oppose wars, stand up to racism and improve the conditions of workers and the oppressed. And part of our defence of the right to protest must be a condemnation of the outrageous sentence of Akim Sari and a demand to free him.

    Socialist Alternative 7 March 2008

  38. grumpy cat says:

    Pointless off topic post

    lumpen wrote

    If you call yourself a Marxist, I reckon that means something of consequence.

    For the record I don’t. But if someone described me as one sometimes they would be sort of right
    communism and tea
    Dave

  39. @ndy says:

    liz,

    Well that’s certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick — and/or Mick’s vigorous use of a barge pole — even if it comes 16 months after the events themselves…

    Free [Akin Sari]!

    [Akin Sari]: A political prisoner
    Liz Ross

    While James Hardie bosses won’t ever face court over asbestos deaths, and bosses get away with minor fines when workers die, militant unionist [Akin Sari] is in jail for defending the [rights] of [millions of] workers.

    Why is he in jail? The Appeal Court Judges condemned [Akin] for what ruling class law calls “criminal damage.” For [breaking a window], [Akin] copped an immediate [fourteen] month jailing…

    Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    PS. The Arterial Bloc is “autonomist” now? Uh, OK… what happened to the “anarchist crazies”? And the 40 or more NZ anarchists one of SAlt’s comrades from New Zealand recognised, “20 of them by name”? The Swedish football hooligans? The German football hooligans? The English football hooligans?

    SAlt need a new weatherman.

  40. juancastro says:

    I just read Tom K’s analysis of socialism from below… Interesting. I’m a bit sceptical as to just how far out of context Lenin’s quotes are used, as it would seem as though Tom himself is not in principle against some aspects of ‘pressure from above’ used in conjunction with organic, grass roots initiatives as well… Which is what Lenin (as the supreme pragmatist) essentially argues.

    In fact I would have thought Tom’s final example about seeking to “win over” leaders in workplaces was downright ‘vanguardist’… Would you agree @ndy? Not to say I have a problem with his hypothetical tactics (they seem like a reasonable response to a concrete situation to me), but I thought you might.

    I especially like this part:

    While it can be accepted that revolutionary consciousness, in tandem with systems of capitalist oppression and exploitation, develops unevenly, it will not do for radicals to simply accept the situation, work with the most “advanced” layers of the working class and leave this situation un-problematized . For indeed, the actually – existing structures of leadership created by the everyday experiences of class struggle in a capitalist, racist, sexist and hetero-sexist world will reflect these patterns of domination and oppression and shape the kinds of leadership and resistance that emerge.

    Ironically, despite its reputation on the libertarian left, Lenin’s pamphlet What Is to Be Done? offers an important approach to the questions and problems of leadership “from below” as it “spontaneously” develops through class struggle. Lenin’s discussion on the limitations of trade unionist political consciousness and the organizations created by day to day struggles and his insistence that revolutionaries must take up the fight against all forms of oppression in society (even in those areas seemingly not directly affecting the working class) remain relevant today. Lenin’s analysis is an important perspective from which to analyze one specific aspect of the problem of socialism from below – the limitations of “spontaneous” working class political consciousness, although as Rosa Luxemburg argued, Lenin failed to make the same critical analysis of the vanguard party and forms of “socialism from above”.

    While I haven’t read that pamphlet yet, SAlt members have said very similar things about it and about the limits of spontaneous action that I profoundly agree with. The example of La Lotta in Italy which I’ve read about recently was especially resonant for me. This inspiring organisation went from being one of the largest working class revolutionary organisations to one of the largest reformist organisations almost overnight by virtue of not having a clear politics of its own, and instead focusing on being a representation/embodiment of spontaneous dissent and popular revolt.

    That is not to say that the party should rule over the masses (!), but I just think there is a balance that needs to be struck between clarity and spontaneity, or in the terms of the essay, socialism from below and from above. It’s still something I’m grappling with, but that section I bold’ed from the essay reflects my thinking atm pretty well.

  41. grumpy cat says:

    @ndy wrote

    The Arterial Bloc is “autonomist” now? Uh, OK… what happened to the “anarchist crazies”?

    I would bet that the terms would change depending on where the leadership thought they might lose members to. In the heat of the demo it would be about holding back members from taking part in direct action, affinity groups etc, in more peaceful times perhaps they are worried about a few members reading the wrong books. Not to say the “autonomists” don’t take action and “anarchists” don’t write theory – but I think Leninist leaderships my hold to such a dichotomy.
    rebel love
    Dave

  42. Dr. Cam says:

    I hear Grant Denyer might be available.

  43. grumpy cat says:

    sorry for the typos…sleepy

  44. juancastro says:

    From Paulo Friere (radical education philosopher):

    …since dialogue is the encounter in which the united reflection and action of the dialoguers are addressed to the world which is to be transformed and humanized, this dialogue cannot be reduced to the act of one person’s “depositing” ideas in another, nor can it become a simple exchange of ideas to be “consumed” by the discussants. Nor yet is it a hostile, polemical argument between men [sic] who are committed neither to the naming of the world, nor to the search for truth, but rather to the imposition of their own truth.

    I think this gets to the heart of what grumpy and I are feeling intuitively, and yet I do see the point made by SAlt comrades, @ndy, Adam, and Lumpen at different stages: there are obviously some real differences in the various visions for revolution… It’s a tough tension.

  45. Andrew says:

    Leaving aside the sectarianism for the moment, I got a copy of a letter that Sari has sent out…

    [snip]

    Doesn’t sound like fun to me. As I stated previously, I’m concerned about his emotional and mental health. Physical as well, now.

    But enough of this – everyone back to their politicking…

  46. liz says:

    Went to see Akin today.

    He is okay at the moment. Only allowed one visit a week now that he has been sentenced.

    I don’t think he likes the idea of people talking about him in such a personal manner on public lists, though, so if you do want to visit or write to him, get in touch via

    [email protected]

    I’m sure he would like to see friends…

  47. juancastro says:

    Hey Liz,

    What’s the deal? I went to Trades Hall today and nobody was there! Apparently you all met last week? Let me know the next time the meeting is on anyway.

    Solidarity.

  48. I think it’s because the website that Liz said to check for details says that meetings are the first Friday of the month whereas the 14th of March was the second Friday of the month?

    From this information, I have deduced that the next meeting will be on Friday the 4th of April.

  49. Furthermore, you are all totally nicked.

  50. @ndy says:

    No cunts on me drugstable.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.