As promised, a guide to/review of contemporary anarchist organisations in Orstralia.
Like the numerous Marxist organisations — Miaowists, Stalinists & Trotskyites — anarchism in contemporary Australia is a fringe movement, and in terms of its organisational framework and popularity, even more so. Anarchism also has far fewer allies in the academy and the media, no regular journals of any standing, and fewer historical roots. To the extent that ‘anarchism’ has influence within contemporary Australia, therefore, it’s largely through culture, and the adoption of broadly ‘anti-authoritarian’ ideas and practices within other social movements — the environmental, peace and women’s movements in particular, but also on the fringes of the labour movement.
Having said this, there are a small number of formal, self-consciously ‘anarchist’ groups and projects currently in existence, almost all concentrated in the two major cities of Melbourne (Pop. 3,850,000) and Sydney (Pop. 4,300,000). Further, individual anarchists are involved in a broad range of campaigns, groups and projects: animal liberation/rights, anti-racist and anti-fascist, ecological/environmental, feminist, media, queer, indigenous and prisoner solidarity, squatting, student, and union, among others.
Anarchist Direct Action | ADA is based in Melbourne, and formed very recently.
Mutiny | Based in Sydney, Mutiny evolved from a libertarian, direct-action oriented anti-war campaigning group to a more explicitly anarchist organisation. Since April 2006, it has published a regular monthly zine (unfortunately no longer available online).
- NB. The term ‘affinity group’ also applies more generally to a number of ad-hoc formations created for particular events and projects, and operating within a defined and fairly limited time-frame. Often, these are associated with major protest events. Numerous affinity groups of one sort or another have existed during the last few decades.
Anarres | Established in 1990, Anarres is an anarchist mail-order service based in Melbourne. It has a reasonably large catalogue, with many titles from overseas publishers, principally AK and Freedom Press, and New Society Publishers.
Barricade | Established in 1995, Barricade is an infoshop, which for its first eight years operated out of premises on Sydney Road before moving, in January 2003, to Irene Warehouse, where it closed in August 2006. The infoshop is soon to reopen in a new space in Northcote.
Beating Hearts | Another anarchist mail-order service, Beating Hearts is based in Brisbane.
Black Rose | Based in Sydney, Black Rose was established in 1982 as the result of a split in the Jura collective.
Jura | The longest-established infoshop in Australia, Jura opened in 1977.
Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation | Based in Melbourne, the ASF has been in existence, in one form or another, since 1986.
Anarcho-Syndicalist Network | A Sydney-based group, with a representative in Melbourne, the ASN produces a bi-monthly zine titled Rebel Worker. The ASN was founded in 1992 after splitting from the ASF. RW began publication in 1982 as the paper of the IWW, and has been consistently produced since then.
IWW | The modern IWW was (re-)established in Sydney in 1976, disbanding in 1983 to form the ‘Rebel Worker Group’, which later (1986) became the Sydney ASF. The contemporary IWW was revived in the early ’90s.
Alarm Collective | An online forum for anarchist yoof.
Anarchist Black Cross (Melbourne) | Prisoner solidarity.
Melbourne Anarchist Club | Historically, the MAC was the first formal anarchist organisation in Australia, announcing its formation on May 1, 1886. It ceased functioning in 1889. The contemporary MAC is a local organising project, responsible for establishing a social centre, the International Workers’ Club, in Northcote.
Melbourne Anarchist-Communist Group | Formed in 2005, the MAC-G has to date published four issues of its newsletter, The Anvil, and a number of leaflets.
*Sydney Anarchist Communist Trajectory (SACT) | Formed in mid-2008. “Open to all people interested in class struggle, workers’ control, direct democracy, and the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system.” Oi oi! Contact: sydneyanarchistcommunistgroup[at]gmail[dot]com.
Individual anarchists are involved in a number of other projects. These include:
Black Dove | Based in Perth, Black Dove is a libertarian organising project.
EngageMedia | “A video sharing site focusing on social justice and environmental issues in South East Asia, Australia and the Pacific. It is a space for critical documentary, fiction, artistic and experimental works that challenge the dominance of the mainstream media.”
Food Not Bombs | Melbourne | Sydney | FNB began life in Melbourne in 1996. It provides free vegan meals at regular street stalls and caters at various community gatherings.
Indymedia (Oceania) | First developed in 1999 to record anti-WTO Seattle summit activity (in part employing technology developed by Sydney activists), Indymedia has since become a global phenomenon. Anarchists have had extensive involvement in this process.
Loophole | A recently (2007) established community activist space in Melbourne’s north.
Anarchist Media Institute / ‘Anarchist World This Week’ / Defend & Extend Medicare Group / Direct Democracy Not Parliamentary Rule (nee Vote Informal Today, Direct Democracy Tomorrow) / Friends of our ABC / Libertarian Workers For A Self-Managed Society / People for Constitutional Human Rights / Reclaim the Radical Spirit of the Eureka Rebellion / Sedition Charter / Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee / Joseph Toscano | A one-man anarchist band, the indefatigable Doctor Toscano has been declaiming anarchy for over thirty years.
In addition to the above, as an aside, here’s a list of what I believe to have been the major anarchist(ic) — but not necessarily explicitly anarchist — convergences of the last few years:
2001 : No Gods, No Masters, April 27–30, Melbourne | Media Circus* & Red & Black Forum, July 12–15 & 28–29, Melbourne & Sydney | Liberty, Autonomy, Solidarity, August 25–26, Wollongong
2002 : From Resurgence to Insurgence, April 27–28, Sydney
2003 : Anarchy For Life, May 2–4, Brisbane | Belladonna DIY Fest, November 27–29, Wollongong
2004 : Anarcon ‘04, January 23–27, Perth | State of Emergency, May 21–24, Melbourne | Belladonna DIY Fest, December 3–5, Wollongong
2005 : Queeruption7, February 16–23, Sydney | Anarcon ‘05, February 26–27, Melbourne | Subplot (Sydney Social Forum), August 27–30, Sydney | Belladonna DIY Fest, November 9–11, Wollongong
2006 : A Space Outside, November 13–15, Melbourne | Live and Let DIY, December 1–3, Brisbane
2007 : Camp Betty, June 7–11, Melbourne | F.L.A.R.E. in the Void, September 4–9, Sydney
2008 : Live and Let DIY, February 1–3, Brisbane
Note that a further gathering of anarchists took place in Melbourne this year over the Easter weekend, to discuss the possibility of establishing an anarchist federation and other, attendant issues. Some discussion of what transpired is available on the Australian Anarchy Bulletin Board.