From the Department of The Young Need Discipline! and in scenes drawn from Mick Armstrong’s upcoming blockbuster 40 Kiwi Anarchists Must Be Stopped! comes…
- Update : Athens Indymedia is down, but radio98fm is up — which is neat (if you understand Greek).
Violence erupts on Greek riot anniversary, Elena Becatoros (AP): “At Athens University, masked protesters broke into the building and pulled down a Greek flag, replacing it with a black-and-red anarchist banner… Concern was heightened by reports that far-left groups and anarchists from New Zealand have traveled to Greece to join the marches.” LOL. See also: Riots and police brutality on first day of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder anniversary, libcom.org. The Greek Disease has also spread to Germany, where The Kids have (supposedly) attacked a cop shop in Hamburg. See also : AFP and Reuters video.
Also worth watching is the vid in which Greek police run over some troublemakers:
According to taxipali: “At Syntagma square motorised police forces (Delta team) charged the march from Ermou street. After the charge the Delta-team thugs dismounted and threw rocks at the protesters. As a cause of the police orgy in violence, an elderly member of the Worker’s Revolutionary Party-Trotskyist (EEK) has been reported to be in serious condition due to head injuries: Ms Koutsoumbou, a veteran prisoner of the anti-dictatorship struggle, was hit by a Delta force motorbike during the mounted charge on the crowd. According to Savas Michail, leading member of EEK and major radical philosopher, Ms Koutsoumbou is in intensive care having received far worse hits than during her tortures by the colonels’ junta.” (The EEK is a member of the ‘Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International’, est.2004.)
Moar vid here — but it’s all Greek to me. After The Greek Riots gots English, and timeline. Curiously, it is noted that “All you internationals in the Greek streets tonight, please take special care, the cops are trying to detain as many internationals as possible to try prove the conspiracy theory that thousands of foreign anarchists invaded the country for tonight.”
This is an utterly ridiculous theory. Everyone knows that 40 Kiwi anarchists are responsible for every violent clash with authorities. What’s more, they’re armed with Potions of Invisibility, making them extremely difficult to capture.
Police raid on anarchist social centre in Athens, libcom.org ~ “The bourgeois media report that this is a first leg of an operation involving storming many anarchist havens around the city.”
Bourgeois media [Boo! Hiss!]:
Hundreds held amid Greek riot fears, UKPA
Arrests on anniversary of Greece riots, The Sydney Morning Herald (AAP)
Arrests mark Greek riot anniversary, Al Jazeera
Greek police detain scores ahead of teen killing demos, AFP
After the Greek Riots [Three cheers and a loud huzzah!]:
“Please don’t expect any “impartial” reports (as if these could ever exist). This is an anarchist take on the situation in the country. A democracy that wages war on migrants and anarchists; a democracy armed with fascist thugs, with molotov cocktails and hand grenades; a democracy producing the silent death of the concentration camp (a silence reproduced and amplified by the media machine) is a democracy worth fighting against. Let’s make some noise.”
“The great majority of the police, seemingly ever-patient and self-controlled, stood for hours as kids baited and yelled, shoved and provoked. A handful of officers used well-placed elbows while batons were raised only in response to the vandalism.” ~ G20 protesters strike at London’s heart, Paola Totaro, The Age, April 2, 2009
Speaking as an outsider to the tiff [and that’s quite a bit outside indeed] I have to say that your continual mentions of Mick Armstrong’s little blame shift for G20 are starting to wear a little thin.
Mick may well be a wanker, and a liar at that, but by bringing it up so much it’s starting to look like he upset you quite a bit.
While of course my interest is purely academic [and I love a factional tiff as much as any red-spotter] I would suggest the best way to get back at the insensitive brute would be to simply spread your brand of socialism further than his own.
Let’s be clear here, Mick is really doing quite well these days with his little trot group, even better now that the DSP is collapsing, and while your mob have moved around to Northcote [a very nice suburb] you don’t seem to be attracting the same level of recruits.
Yes SAlt is notorious for its turnover, but more of the recruits seem to be sticking past their first undergrad year these days. If you don’t lift your game he might just get big enough to put the screws on you. After all he has hated anarchists since about the 70s or so.
While of course I hope Mick emulates old Leon in the icepick department and yourself to do something similar I thought I might bug you a little and pass the time by posting on your very nice little blog [and it is a very nice little blog by the way, you must put some effort into it].
But anyway, just checking in, it has been quite a while. Have you seen Mr. Whitelaw’s rather pathetic attacks on you? I am still amazed the semi-literate ape has not crushed his computer yet.
Catch ya later.
You’re not the first to complain about this; you’re the second (or perhaps third).
In response, a few things:
1. Mick’s knee jerked over three years ago now — which, I agree, is quite some time. The trials of those arrested inre alleged crimes, however, only ended a few months ago: in July. Further, while only one person received a custodial sentence as a result of these trials — by which I mean all those stemming from the G20 protest, and which extended over only a slightly shorter period of time than my bad joke — many others were penalised: either by way of community orders and/or fines. These fines amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, and a number of those subjected to them have struggled — are still struggling — to pay them. Hence, there are ongoing efforts to support these individuals by way of fund-raising. It should also be noted that, following the trials in July, the Crown indicated that it intended to further pursue those charges for which the jury was unable to reach a verdict. I’m unsure what the end result of this process is at this stage — I will have to check my sources to find out.
2. The so-called ‘riot’ at the G20 meeting in Melbourne in November 2006 was a significant event, and the media-propelled hysteria over its bloody (sic) nature a case study in media framing. While there has been some attempts at a serious examination of the whole affair, I think that David Marr’s article — ‘A crowded hour, an endless pursuit’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, March 22, 2008) — captures the ‘flavour’ quite well. Beyond this, I would suggest that the event was important within a broader context, that context being the series of protests which have occurred against numerous summits during the last 10 years or so. Tracing the rise and fall of such activity, the debates within social movements of various sorts regarding its utility, the response by the left, the police and other state authorities to it, is a matter of enduring interest. Of particular relevance in this context is:
3. I think Mick’s statement was quite brilliant. It expressed, in concentrated form, not only his bitter sectarianism and hypocrisy, but also the standard tropes through which the bourgeois understands — or rather, seeks to impel others to understand — social conflict. Hence, it was all the work of bloody foreigners — and good children should beware strangers armed with red and black candy.
Aside from this, I have a brain, and a memory, and as a result I do in fact recall Mick’s prosecution, as one of the ‘Austudy Five’, for his involvement in another alleged ‘riot’ in Melbourne in 1992. The charges were preposterous, but significant, in that they aimed, in part, at dampening down on expressions of student ‘militancy’ in the face of cutbacks (as well as restoring police confidence). In other words, and to cut a long story short, when it was Mick’s own arse on the line, we were all expected to hold hands and sing ‘Solidarity Forever’; when individuals from political perspectives he despises were facing repression, his attitude was: fuck ’em.
I find this noteworthy.
(Mick’s statement was also, if unintentionally, very funny.)
4. With regards SAlt’s success at recruiting: you may well be right; I honestly dunno. My impression is that it is probably — almost certainly — the largest (neo-)Trotskyist party in Australia. Its principal rival — the ‘Democratic Socialist Perspective’ (DSP) — has, as you note, split in two (producing the ‘Revolutionary Socialist Party’ (RSP)), but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is in fact ‘collapsing’. Thus, it’s worth taking into account the fact that the Socialist Alliance (SA) — into which, it appears, the DSP is finally, after eight or so years, dissolving — is a registered political party, and this requires a membership of at least 500. Does SAlt have 500 members? Dunno. Maybe. It could, perhaps, be argued that this is mostly a paper membership, and that the number of ‘active’ SA (which is to say, overwhelmingly, but not entirely) DSP members is overshadowed by SAlt. Here I think the role of Resistance (the DSP’s yoof wing) as a feeder organisation is crucial, and I could be wrong, but it appears that Resistance is not in especially good health. Given that the recruitment of yoof into a political movement, of any sort, is vital to its longer-term prospects, this, from a DSP/SA perspective, must be slightly worrying.
Either way, on a national scale, we’re still talking tiny parties, both in terms of size, but also influence.
As I see it, neither the collapse of Communism, nor that of the CPA, or — more recently — the emergence of an ‘anti-corporate’/’anti-globalisation’/’anti-capitalist’ movement, followed by a revived ‘anti-war’ movement, has translated into significant gains for the non-ALP ‘left’. Rather, the political space appears to have been fulfilled most successfully by the Greens. Given also widepread public concern over climate change/global warming/ongoing ecological collapse, the Greens, insofar as they are understood to directly address such concerns, are the real beneficiaries of non-mainstream political dissent.
5. Radical groups, projects and movements undergo churn, yes. This is partly because of the nature of such groups, and the fact that they tend to attract yoof. That is, involvement in some form of ‘radical’ political activity is a rite-of-passage for many (especially University students), and those who maintain their commitments beyond this age tend to be somewhat exceptional (that is, uncommon).
The other factor mitigating against ongoing involvement is structural. That is, as individuals become older, they are forced to devote more time to other activities; principally work. This is especially the case if they wish to, say, pursue some kinda career, and/or buy a house, and/or start a family. Further, the rewards that are derived from participation in such forms of political activity are very rarely of the sort that translate into material benefits, and are just as likely to be derived from some form of psychological need and/or the negotiation of an ‘adult’ identity. Finally, Australia, unlike a number of other countries, does not have radical movements with deep roots. With regards the political ‘left’, the political landscape has for over a century been dominated by ‘social democracy’ or ‘labourism’. This is beginning to fracture — again, for a host of reasons — but it retains its dominance nonetheless. It should also be noted that its recession does not necessarily translate into a revivified, extra-parliamentary left, but could just as easily be supplanted by a reactionary nationalism (of the sort you propound).
Moar later… maybe.
Mick Armstrong, leftwrites, November 19, 2006. Note that leftwrites is down at the moment, and has been for some weeks, if not months, and I’m unsure if it’s dead or just resting.
The left must take a stand against the elitist violence of the “Arterial Bloc”, Socialist Alternative, November 21, 2006.
A formal statement from Socialist Alternative on events at G20. The statement was in circulation for many months, but has since been removed, and is no longer available on the party’s site.
Reference to the G20 protest is made by Diane Fieldes in her article ‘The lessons of the anti-APEC protests’, Socialist Alternative, October 2008:
Condemn outrageous sentence of G20 protestor, Socialist Alternative, March 7, 2008 [since removed].