Iain McIntyre — in association with one of Melbourne’s leading cultural institutions, the Homebrew Cultural Association — has just published a great new book: Always Look On The Bright Side of Life : The AIDEX ’91 Story. The book’s publication loosely coincides with, and was aimed at pre-empting, the arms expo that was scheduled to take place in Adelaide on Remembrance Day (November 11) this year.
Sadly for warmongers, the Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition (APDSE) was cancelled. The reason for the cancellation, according to the official line taken by state authorities, was in order to avert wide-scale disorder, which ‘feral anarchists’ — who were expected to descend on Adelaide for the event — would inevitably bring in their wake. In reality, however, it’s likely that the relevant agencies, including Special Branch — one of whose members, ‘Setha Sann’, infiltrated organising meetings of a protest group in Melbourne — concluded that the protests would be large, well-organised and effective enough to require massive police resources in order to smash.
Hence the event became cost-prohibitive.
If you’re in Sydney this weekend, the book, along with another title on resistance to evictions in the Great Depression, is being launched @ Jura: Saturday, November 29, 6–8pm. Iain will be speaking and strumming AC/DC tunes on his guitar, entry is by donation, and the launch will feature film screenings on AIDEX and eviction resistance.
Slackbastard rating : *****
In November 1991 over 1000 protesters blockaded the National Exhibition Centre in Canberra with the goal of shutting down the Australian International Defence Exhibition. Over 12 days AIDEX ’91 saw the most police violence and the highest number of arrests in the Australian Capital Territory since the Vietnam era. Although the exhibition was eventually able to go ahead the blockades caused enough disruption to ensure that no one would dare hold another large scale arms fair in Australia again. The success of the protest came at a cost however with hundreds of demonstrators injured and their actions demonised in the mainstream media.
Alongside a detailed account of the blockade itself Always Look On The Bright Side of Life: The AIDEX ’91 Story traces the background of the protest amidst the growth of the Australian arms industry. Using the words of the protesters themselves the book also explores the lessons of AIDEX ’91, the effect of the protests on a generation of Australian activists and the way in which similar strategies were used to stop the 2008 Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition from occurring.