It’s been a while eh — over two years, in fact (see : #TrotGuide 2016, April 21, 2016). That said, while there’s been some interesting developments on The Far Left : Down Under Edition, for the most part things are continuing to remain fairly calm and capitalism remains really really really late.
Still having a crack :
1. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL);
2. Communist League (CL);
2 1/2. Communist Left (of Australia);
3. Communist Party of Australia (CPA);
4. Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) (CPA M-L);
4 1/2. Communist Workers Party of Australia;
5. Freedom Socialist Party (FSP);
6. Progressive Labour Party (PLP);
7. Socialist Alliance (SA);
8. Socialist Alternative (SAlt);
9. Socialist Equality Party (SEP);
10. Socialist Party (SP);
12. Spartacist League of Australia;
13. Trotskyist Platform (TP).
1. ML Group (MLG) — see : Workers League;
2. Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).
Tired and emotional :
2. The Socialist.
1. Left Unity;
2. Stalin Society of Australia;
3. Victorian Socialists;
4. Workers League.
The Far Left in Australia since 1945
To begin with, The Far Left in Australia since 1945 (Routledge, 2018), edited by Jon Piccini, Evan Smith & Matthew Worley, contains a number of essays of relevance to spotters, especially ‘The current of Maoism in the Australian Far Left’ by Drew Cottle and Angela Keys, which details the activities of Maoists in Australia in the 1960s and ’70s and inter alia the sometimes rather hostile relationship between Maoists and Trots.
The mutual hatred of the Trotskyists and Maoists for each other was not simply over ideological differences. The Maoists were seen by Trotskyists as ignorant, dogmatic Stalinist thugs, prone to violence and lost to the quest of reactionary nationalism. Maoists denounced Trotskyists as police agents, full of talk about the need to build the international socialist revolution, wreckers or cowards. In a 1970 Vanguard article, Trotskyism was condemned as an apolitical diversion in its promotion of drug-taking, sex-obsession, homosexuality and pop culture.
Maoist students were known to resort to physical violence against ‘Trotskyites’ in demonstrations and on campus. At Flinders University in 1972 Maoists bashed Trotskyist paper-sellers. Maoist activists at the gates of car plants in Adelaide and Melbourne jostled and punched Trotskyist speakers and paper-sellers. A Trotskyist activist was beaten unconscious by a student Maoist after a rowdy meeting at La Trobe University in 1977. In 1978, Maoist students threw another Trotskyist student through a plate glass window at La Trobe University. Maoists often attacked Trotskyist activists at union rallies. Maoist demonstrations often involved violent confrontations with the police. Maoists destroyed the Nazi Party headquarters in Carlton after a mass rally at the Yarra River in Melbourne was called to protest their activities. Trotskyists condemned this act of ‘people’s violence against fascism’. The Maoists were arguably the most divisive grouping of the Australian Far Left in the 1960s and 1970s.
Sadly, the essay fails to take note that ‘the first organised public debate in Australia between leading proponents of Maoism and Trotskyism took place at Latrobe University on 12 October’ 1978 (Maoist “in the service of peanut king Carter”: Spartacist League debates Albert Langer, Australasian Spartacist, November 1978). Langer, now known as Arthur Dent, is still fulla opinions, which you can read on Barry York’s blog C21st Left. York’s 1989 book STUDENT REVOLT! La Trobe University 1967-73 (Nicholas Press), along with Dan Robins’ 2005 thesis ‘Melbourne’s Maoists: The Rise of the Monash University Labor Club, 1965-1967’ are also relevant. See also : Bold thinking, revolutionary democracy and ‘the children of Karl Marx and Coca Cola’, C21st Left, October 20, 2017 | La Trobe Three revisit university 45 years after being locked up for protesting on campus, Josie Taylor, ABC 7.30 Report, February 24, 2017 | Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) @ Reason in Revolt Archive.
Everybody’s favourite Trot group, the Spartacist League, also get a guernsey in Isobelle Barrett Meyering’s essay ‘Changing consciousness, changing lifestyles: Australian women’s liberation, the left and the politics of ‘personal solutions”:
… women’s liberation saw itself as rejecting ‘male left’ politics and demanded that it be recognised as an ‘autonomous’ movement. For those who maintained their connections to the organised left, this proved to be a point of ongoing friction. As women’s liberation expanded, some self-described ‘political women’ within the movement complained that they were treated as suspect due to their allegiances to socialist groups. These debates reached their apogee with proposals to expel Spartacist League members from women’s liberation in Melbourne in 1973 and Sydney in 1977, prompted by complaints that they were ‘disruptive’ and not genuinely committed to women’s liberation. The proposals were the subject of significant controversy, with only the Melbourne motion succeeding.
The proposal to expel the Sparts is denounced by them in “Radical” feminism going nowhere: Fight women’s oppression through class struggle! (Australasian Spartacist, March 1977), Red-baiting in women’s movement: Stop anti-Trotskyist purge! (April, 1977), Sydney Women’s Liberation: Feminist purge defeated … (May, 1977) and no doubt in subsequent issues. See : Australasian Spartacist.
Sadly, the CPA (M-L) ceased the print publication of its zine Vanguard back in 2014, but you can continue to read the online version here. The CPA (M-L) also has an online forum of sorts called ‘Australian Communist Discussion Site’ which inter alia contains a discussion from November 2017 indicating the CPA M-L’s participation in a NEW! (to me) project in Adelaide called ‘Left Unity’; indeed, ‘our people were among the founding members of a group called Left Unity, a loose alliance of Socialist Alliance, CPA, anarchists and individuals’. You can read more about Left Unity here. And speaking of Left Unity …
See also : Anti-Revisionism in Australia, Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line.
Like Left Unity, Victorian Socialists are a NEW! project on the left, an electoral campaign which has received the support of a number of socialist groupings including Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative.
Who are the Victorian Socialists?
Our political system is broken. The Liberals rule for their corporate mates. Labor is little better, tailing the political right and selling out its working class supporters to big money and developers.
It’s time for a genuine left alternative.
In the November 2018 state election, left wingers are uniting as the Victorian Socialists to get Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly elected to the upper house for the Northern Metropolitan Region.
We are for the poor against the rich, for workers against their bosses, for the powerless against the powerful.
The Victorian Socialists brings together socialist groups including Socialist Alternative and the Socialist Alliance, and individual activists, unionists and community organisers.
While Stephen Jolly will head the campaign, the ticket will also include Colleen Bolger from Socialist Alternative, and Socialist Alliance Moreland councillor Sue Bolton …
Whether or not Jolly will be able to win a seat would seem to depend upon: a) getting a reasonable amount of first preferences and; b) the flow of preferences from other parties. At this stage, it seems likely Labor will preference him behind Fiona Patten (Reason Party), an eventuality which would make it more difficult for Jolly to win. Still, stranger things have happened, amirite? In any event, you can read an interview with the Victorian Socialists by Riki Lane of Workers’ Liberty Australia — Vote Victorian Socialists! Put a socialist in parliament for Northern Melbourne — here.
Oh, and the Victorian Socialists will also be contesting the Western Victoria Region Legislative Council electorate in the November state election.
Still, not everybody’s on-board, and that includes the leadership of the world socialist movement AKA The International Committee of the Fourth International AKA The Socialist Equality Party, what reckons that this ‘latest opportunist manoeuvre by the pseudo-left is a calculated response to immense disaffection within the working class towards the Labor Party, which holds government in Victoria, and to the breakup of the longstanding two-party-dominated political system. Its aim is try to capture some of the social and political discontent and channel it into new parliamentary illusions.’ The electoral vehicle is subject to further excoriation by Patrick O’Connor in Australia: The pseudo-left Victorian Socialists and its pro-capitalist election manifesto (wsws.org, September 12, 2018).
See also : The Immodest Victorian Socialists, Ivan Mitchell and Daniel Lopez, Jacobin, September 8, 2018.
Speaking of the leadership of the world socialist movement, I also recently stumbledupon a NEW! (to me) site called classconscious.org, which exists in order to ‘promote the unity of the international working class in the struggle for socialist revolution.’ The site, which began publication in March 2017, has a small number of articles on it, many concerning Julian Assange (for example: The I.C.F.I must expose the petit-bourgeois and far-right forces who have co-opted the campaign for Julian Assange: An appeal to ICFI members and supporters, September 9, 2018), and while ‘This blog has no relationship with the World Socialist Website or the ICFI, its publishers … it is from this organisation that we have gained our education in Marxism and upon which we base our perspective.’ So there you go.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
*I’m happy to announce that at some point between now and April 2016, the COMMUNIST WORKERS PARTY OF AUSTRALIA announced its existence on Facebook AND it has a website!
**Futilitarian has kindly reminded me of the existence of a ‘Communist Left’ (of Australia) in Sydney (not to be confused with the seemingly quite short-lived ‘Communist Left Discussion Circle’). They (?) publish a zine called Red which you can read here. (The latest available issue is numbered 118 and dated March 2017.) A statement published in late 2000 describes the groupuscule’s history:
Communist Left was formed in June 1976 by Owen Gager. It was formed in continuity with the record of New Zealand Spartacist League (which became Red Federation), Owen Gager’s struggle within that grouping against Spartacist League US supporters B. Logan and A. Hannah (backed by the majority of Wellington Branch). Gager had the support of Auckland comrades, notably Bruce Jesson. Jesson was expelled for building the Republican Movement at the expense of Red Federation. It supported the 1970 Programme of the NZSL and Owen Gager’s political record in Australia, mainly on East Timor and the 1976 Australian Constitutional crisis (the Kerr Coup). The first members were Bill Keats and Terry Millar who remained CPA members. Terry Millar was a member of NZSL and a comrade of O.Gager in New Zealand. A glazier, Paul Azzopardi joined shortly after.
The programme of the Communist Left, written in 1977 and published in 1978, firmly established the group’s political basis. Key points include full support for Trotsky’s founding of the fourth International but recognition that Fourth International was dead and none of the proclaimed continuers or reformers of it maintained in any way the continuity of the tradition as established by Trotsky. This includes the Mandelite United Secretariat, the Healyite International Committee, those in solidarity with the Socialist Workers Party (of the US), the Morenoite and Posadasite variants and the International Spartacist Tendency. As communism is by definition internationalist, there is an urgent need for a fifth international.
Communist Left made many important interventions on the Australian left. Gager and Azzopardi intervened within the Labor Party. Keats and Millar within the Communist Party of Australia. There were also key political interventions on such issues as the colonial nature of Australian capitalism combined with its mini-imperialist domination of parts of SE Asia and the South Pacific, the crisis of manufacturing and subsequent unemployment, the nationalist crisis of Stalinism internationally leading to the third Indochina war (and the ostensible Trotskyist sell out to Stalinism). CL made practical interventions on issues such as unemployment and housing.
Communist Left supports the founding document of the Fourth International – The Transitional Programme. The aim of the Programme of the Communist Left is not to replace Trotsky’s programme but to relate its method to a new period – the post-war boom, the expansion of Stalinism, the degeneration of Trotskyism. The document sets out international principles and applies them to Australia.
Internationally CL/A was in solidarity with the NZSL which was re-established in 1978. This group became CLNZ in 1983. Discussions were also held with the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain.
CL/A grew in size as a result of practical work in unemployment and housing (squatting). CL/A was party to a major squatting of the Glebe estate area of Sydney (October 1984) involving hundreds of people. This however led to the expulsion of founder leader Owen Gager due to his indiscipline. Gager refused to argue for tactics previously agreed to by Glebe squatters and declared war on the majority when they insisted he did so. He then pretended that he was CL and that the majority had “stolen” the organisation off him. He then constituted himself as Communist Left (Leninist) and now is actively part of the Melbourne Anarchist movement.
Until the end of 1987 CL did some important work in unemployment and housing. A bulletin Communist was published. Interventions were made on a political level on issues such as the Hawke Government’s Prices and Incomes Accord (the Accord) and the left responses such as Broad Left and Fightback. We remained involved in housing and unemployment as members of the Union of the Unemployed, the Squatters and Tenants (UUST).
Communist Left Australia spit into fragments at the end of 1987. The majority supporting calling the police against their former comrades, giving the police names and addresses, totally unacceptable placing them outside the workers’ movement. Communist Tendency was established to maintain continuity of the CL tradition. CL was re-established when two former members including Paul Azzopardi rejoined. Red has been published consistently as a quarterly since March 1988. The issue currently in preparation will be the fiftieth issue. Leaflets have also been issued. Communist Left has also published an unemployed bulletin called Unemployed Action.
Communist Left broke off relations with Communist Left New Zealand when that grouping affiliated with the League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI) whose leading section is the British group called Workers Power. We intervened to show that this was fundamentally an economist tendency, whose strategy was extending the trade union struggle into a general strike “posing the question of power”. We pointed out that the question of power must not only be posed but resolved – through a revolutionary programme confronting the totality of state power. This LRCI consistently avoided. We also pointed out the consequence of this was adaptation to the existing political consciousness of the working class – their reformist chauvinist consciousness. We pointed out Workers Power attacked Benn primarily not as a chauvinist but because of his inconsistency in mobilising the rank and file. This blocs with workers who whilst being critical on a trade union outlook share his fundamental political perspective – a reformist chauvinist one. Workers Power pointed to many heart felt examples of organising against chauvinism. However these are not of strategic consequence to them in drawing class lines. Workers Power lines of struggle are organising workers on the shop floor against the bureaucracy and extending militancy. It is not drawing class lines which involve fighting for an interest independent of capitalist social relations – the capitalist state.
In New Zealand sections of the Workers Power leadership who were also leaders of the Communist Left of New Zealand split with other militants internationally to form the Liason Committee of Militants for a Revolutionary Communist International [1995–2004]. This did not constitute a fundamental break from Workers Power but argued, correctly that the current leadership were adapting to imperialist pressures. Whilst we agree with their criticisms, the totality of LRCI, from the beginning must be addressed. Since they haven’t done so we can not reconsider re-establishing solidarity.
See also : Contemporary Trotskyism: Parties, Sects and Social Movements in Britain, John Kelly (Routledge, 2018).
Oh yeah — I haven’t looked at Teh Left in NZ for … six years? In Good News for spotters, the —
1) Communist League;
2) Communist Workers’ Group of Aotearoa/New Zealand;
3) International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT);
4) International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa/New Zealand);
5) Socialist Aotearoa (SA) and;
6) Socialist Appeal
— are all still kickin’, though Socialist Worker (Aotearoa) — which possibly survives as the Eco-Socialist Network? or maybe not — and the Workers’ Party of New Zealand (WPNZ) have undergone some ch-ch-changes. theicebloc blog has published a neat0 spotters’ guide to the extra-parliamentary left here, which includes Canterbury Socialist Society, Fightback, Organise Aotearoa, Redline, ☭Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (A/NZ)☭, Socialist Equality Group – New Zealand and finally Socialist Voice – Aotearoa/New Zealand. Anarchist groups and projects include Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement, Black Star Books, The Freedom Shop, Rebel Press and Tāmaki Makaurau Anarchists.
I’m disappointed that the population explosion in Internet Stalinists (aka Tankies) over the last few years has not resulted in an increase in organised groups working towards Real Change with the most efficient means currently known to Marxism – catering to the impulse purchasing habits of badge and newspaper enthusiasts. Care to offer an explanation for this?
Also, I will be requiring a population count of these groups before I can assess their likelihood of receiving money from G##rg# S#r#s, derelict propaganda and intelligence gathering vessels of expired Communist nations (when such a thing existed), or Elon Musk. These assessments are required to plan infiltration to get access to said funds, and/or convince university students that socialism means buying me drugs, beer or a van. Please email me numbers, or post here.
Snowball The Traitorous Bastard,
1) I have been assured that COMMUNISM WILL WIN IN AUSTRALIA;
2) Your comment has prompted me to take a looksee, and I’m delighted to announce that the Communist Workers Party of Australia not only has a Facebook page but an actual website.
David Greason (I was a teenage fascist, pp.244-246) on the Spartacists:
I wanted to join the Spartacist League. True, we used to laugh at them; in fact everyone laughed at them, but in their isolation lay their appeal. The Spartacist League was this bad-tempered Trotskyist group that had probably no more than twenty — no, make that thirty — members throughout the country mainly based on campuses like LaTrobe and Sydney. We occasionally had run-ins with them, although they tended to keep their distance because they imagined that we were out to kidnap them individually and dump the bodies in shallow graves off Rye backbeach. We wouldn’t have done; there were plenty of leftist groups clamouring for that opportunity.
Since the early 1970s, the Australian left had been more gauche than sinister, despite what groups like People Against Communism said. That was the appeal of the far-right, I guess: groups like the League and the Nazis were either nutty or offensive, both of which amused me no end; or it spoke such unambiguous commonsense (like the British NF or the Alliance) that you couldn’t help but identify with it. Well, at least I couldn’t. Most of the left, on the other hand, was dull and earnest and out of touch. You just had to read the left’s papers or, even better, look at the miserable faces of the people selling them. How they ever recruited was beyond me. I certainly didn’t fancy spending my Saturday afternoons in draughty meeting rooms discussing Marx’s Theory of Surplus Value. If I’d wanted to learn that sort of thing I’d have paid attention in fourth form economics classes.
That was the beauty of the Spartacist League. They had this paper, Australasian Spartacist, and virtually every issue had at least one page devoted to sectarianism. Yes, they were Marxists, and yes, they also ran pages of boring leftist tripe that they no doubt thought had some appeal to the working masses — the very same working masses who would never buy their paper, week after week after week — but they specialised in airing the dirty laundry of all the other rival left groups around: the Maoists, the Eurocommunists of the CPA, the Send In the Tanks Stalinists of the Socialist Party, and all the other cheek-by-jowl rivals to the title of Trotsky’s heirs — the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Socialist Labour League, the Communist League (were they still going?), the International Socialists, etc. etc. No wonder they were generally considered to be police agents.
And they had a great writing style — snotty and sneering and puffed-up. It was pretty much like ours, actually. If you could hear what you read, they’d be saying it from the corners of their mouths, then laughing at you. They insulted other leftists worse than we insulted other leftists. They insulted other leftists worse than they insulted us. That was no doubt why they kept getting bashed by other Trotskyists. Technically, though, we were the Great Satan, because we were Fascists with a capital F, and the other left groups were part of the workers’ movement.
The politics would have taken a bit of getting used to, but that certainly wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. I envied them. They knew what they believed. They knew who they hated, and why, and it was all footnoted and there was never any room for error and they could pick up deviationism from the most innocuous slip of the tongue and they were as hard on their own people as they were on everyone else and by Christ they were hard on everyone else. No one was good enough for them.
The line was laid down, probably in the US, and you’d know pretty much from the start what you could like and dislike and it would all be explained and there’d be references and cross-references in all the back issues of Australasian Spartacist so no one could just make it up as they went along…
*On the subject of Maoist violence, I thought it somewhat curious that in their account of various assaults upon Trotskyists (extracted above), Cottle and Keys provide no references. At the same time, Dr Jim Saleam has written an essay, ‘Lessons For Nationalists: The Communist Party Of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) and Political/Industrial Violence: Rationale And Results’ (September 18 2000), which goes into some detail regarding this question. Thus:
Abuse preceded violence. In “Youth Are The Most Vigorous Force In The Revolutionary Movement”, Vanguard equated Trotskyism with drug-taking, sex-obsession, homosexuality, pop-culture and apoliticism; it was dubbed a “diversion”. (49) At the base level, Trotskyism’s history in Australia shows that appreciation to have remained correct. At a 1972 Adelaide anti-war march, while Maoists waged “guerilla” hit and run efforts at police lines, Trotskyists were supposed to have buckled under to police directions. (50) When Maoists demanded (at meetings or in propaganda) the expulsion from Australia of U.S. military bases, Trotskyists would criticise them for “chauvinism”. (51) In 1976, Adelaide Maoists accused Trotskyists of misusing young people (SYA) and using gangterist methods to raise funds off unemployed youth for an irrelevant newspaper-building campaign (SLL). (52) One Maoist accused Trotskyists generally – of cowardice. (53) One Adelaide Maoist militant (Louise King) told the author that SYA members were assaulted at Flinders University in 1972. She also added later, that activists from the “Worker Student Alliance For Australian Independence”, would jostle or punch sellers of the Trotskyist papers Direct Action and Workers News – particularly at the gates of the car plants where Maoist cells were active in 1976-77. (54)
The Spartacist League became a victim of a series of bashings. Neil Florrimal, Spartacist activist at La Trobe University was beaten unconscious in 1977 by three students from the “Students For Australian Independence”. In 1978, another La Trobe Spartacist Andrew Georghiou, was thrown through a plate glass window. The organizer of this assault, Danny Hacking, told the author that his action was not spontaneous. The use of violence against the Trotskyists was supported by “Independence Movement” (usually CPA (M-L)) officers. (56) Hacking also participated in assaults on SYA/SWP and Spartacist members at union rallies. Trotskyists denounced Maoists for regularised thuggery. It could be concluded this anti-Left violence was widespread and indicative of a type of ‘commitment’ the Trotskyists did not share.
49. Youth Are The Most Vigorous Force In The Revolutionary Movement”, Vanguard, June 24 1971, p. 4.
50. “Trotskyites Exposed As Counter-Revolutionary In Adelaide”, Vanguard, May 11 1972, p. 4.
51. “Trotskyites Oppose Patriotic Anti-Imperialist Struggle”, Vanguard, March 29 1973, p. 3.
52. “Increased Trotskyite Activity Is Sure Sign In Advance In Preparations For Fascism”, Vanguard, September 16 1976, p. 4; “Trotskyite Activity In Adelaide”, Vanguard, October 14 1976, p. 6
53. “Trotskyites Fail To Show Courage”, leaflet, Adelaide, 1976. This notion was repeated in STRIVING TO BE A COMMUNIST IS A LIFE-LONG STRUGGLE, pamphlet, Melbourne, 1977.
54. Louise King, conversations with author, 1983.
55. “Maoists Assault Spartacist”, Australasian Spartacist, November 1977, p. 7.
56. Danny Hacking, ‘Interview’ with author, 1982. Hacking was in Pentridge prison at the time of this conversation.
On January 31 1971, a mass rally on the Yarra Bank in Melbourne drew thousands of Melbourne Jews, ‘anti-fascists’ and the WSA supporters to protest the activities of the neo-nazi ‘National Socialist Party of Australia’ (NSPA). Langer incited a considerable part of the crowd to ignore prominent Zionist leader of the Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s Association, Abraham Cykiert, and march on the Nazi headquarters in Carlton. In the ensuing riot, the building was ransacked. (29) The incident set off a gang war between the NSPA and the Maoists in several cities; but the NSPA’s retaliatory effort had another dimension.
29. “Nazis Smashed In Melbourne”, Vanguard, March 4 1971, pp.4, 8; David Harcourt, EVERYONE WANTS TO BE FUEHRER: A HISTORY OF NATIONAL SOCIALISM IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, Sydney, 1972, gave a full account of the Carlton headquarters riot. Significantly, at no point did Harcourt pick up on the idea of a ‘political police conspiracy’ in the operation of the NSPA – despite the Maoist allegations.
A long-standing, Sydney-based, revolutionary organisation that should not be over-looked is Bill Keats’ Communist Left. While in its heyday it had a good half-dozen members, these days it persists only through the dogged determination of Bill himself.
As far as I can ascertain, its primary activities consist of Bill’s verbal interventions at Politics in the Pub events, and his participation in May Day parades. The C.L.’s journal, Red, tends these days to consist of a single sheet, rather than the several sheets stapled together that it once did, and is handed out by Bill at locations where revolutionary workers are likely to be amassed, i.e., it appears very infrequently.
Bill’s early collaborator in the C.L., Owen Gager, turned anarcho and split down to Melbourne, where, a cursory Google search suggests, he is still active, i.e., banging on about stuff at meetings.
Ah yes: Communist Left. I forgots about them. Cheers. And yes, while Bill is active in SYD, Owen is active in MEL.
Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation: Briefly functional organisation during the late 1980s and early 90s, imploded following spat over control of national publication. Has had complex over communicating with the outside world ever since. Remains the preserve of certain strikethrough informal leaders influential militants for whom clustering of woke radicals takes precedence over organising workers according to anarcho-syndicalist principles–a doctrinaire stance amenable to the aforesaid organisational complex and the informal hierarchies with which it is riddled. Despite formidable turnover and the ever-increasing threat of having had more congresses than members, retains a formidable presence on social media, where everyone goes to not think about the misery of their daily lives, and a strategic physical presence in a building flanked by yuppie apartments in a gentrified part of the Melbourne inner north.
Anarcho-Syndicalist Network: The opposition from the abovementioned publication spat. Single-handedly defending anarcho-syndicalism from lifestylism and high morale since the early 1990s. Publication ‘Rebel Worker’ a continuing marvel in terms of dogged refusal to die; competes with Spartacist League publications in terms of sheer entertainment value, which like the Spart publications derives in the main from its complete incapacity to not take itself seriously.
Industrial Workers of the World: Revolutionary union with a great historical tradition, having formed out of a number of unions in the US in 1905, though subject to concerted repression since. Continues in the US and even retains a workplace presence in some areas, despite warning from old member that resuscitation should not be attempted post-repression lest the organisation become a historical reenactment society and beacon for demagogues and doctrinaire sectarians. This warning in the main has been borne out, a fact reflected in the informal hierarchies with which it too is riddled–exacerbated in this case by the fact that its leaders strikethrough informal militants strikethrough officials are also members of trotskyist groupings, a fact that leads to much confusion and chaos as the trotskyist logic of ‘those who doubt my judgement give aid to the counterrevolution’ becomes associated with anarchism and gleeful purges of heinous doubters are conducted in the name of defending the rights of the individual from the summary oppression of capitalist autocracy and building the new society within the shell of the old.
Melbourne Anarchist Club: Anarchist space in inner north of Melbourne bought with proceeds from sale of house in Brunswick donated to the anarchist community; subject to partial privatisation in light of aforementioned informal hierarchies, such that many participants of the old space are excluded from the new; many newer groupings avoid it purely for the sake of avoiding the toxic, cloistered atmosphere. Strategically placed between two apartment blocks in a gentrified area as noted, though to be fair was a working class suburb when the self-appointed leaders strikethrough influential militants were in their heyday, a fact that tends to indicate its hipster penchant for living in safe bubbles of woke radicalism far from contemporary social dilemmas–a mentality paradoxically not much removed from the yuppies by whom the MAC is surrounded. Such is the attachment to the ghetto that suggestions of doing things like conducting outreach by cooking vegan muffins for the teachers at the high school over the road meets with haughty outrage; targeted for bombing by the paranoid acolytes of the far right nonetheless, a fact that inadvertently resulted in people noticing there were anarchists in Melbourne.
One can go on, but life is short.
If you were to go on, Alf, you would encounter the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group which, to this distant observer, at least, seems to consist primarily of the redoubtable Ablokeimet and a computer, the latter being utilised by the former to issue MACG missives that are vital to the self-emancipation of the working class. Things must be busy in the MACG because Ablokeimet hasn’t made an appearance here for quite some time.
The MACG has limited resources, but it’s not limited solely to me. And, as far as Slackbastard’s blog is concerned, I’ve seen less to comment on recently. I keep up with it, though, because of his unparalleled knowledge of the Fash in Australia. Essential reading.
I like the MACG. Is probably because they are functional, inclusive and outward-looking that they don’t attract more interest.
Yes, Alf, that’s undoubtedly why the MACG doesn’t attract more interest. The working class just doesn’t recognise a good thing when it sees one. Greetings to thee, Ablokeimet, it’s good to see you’re still around and putting your shoulder to the wheel of the class struggle.
I’m loath to put on my serious hat much these days but I will for a moment just to express a word or two on the above-mentioned Anarcho-Syndicalist Network.
M, the chap who is the driving force behind the ASN and its papers Sparks and Rebel Worker, is the anarchist whom everyone likes to hate, and this is due primarily to his paranoid disposition and the resultant sectarian attitude that he directs towards other anarchists. He has pretty much burnt all of his bridges with other self-identifying anarchists.
But while other ‘class struggle’ anarchist ‘organisations’ are just empty shells with nothing much going on inside, and with no influence on anything that happens outside, M, through the stubborn application of ridiculous amounts of will, has established quite a substantial network of workplace rebels, and contributors to Sparks, in various parts of the transport industry.
Certainly the vast majority of these people do not identify as anarchists, and a few are one or another variety of Leninist, but most are just pissed-off workers who want to stand up for themselves against their bosses. The irony in all of this is that the paranoia and sectarianism that M directs towards doctrinaire anarchists is completely absent in his relations with workers at the workplace. He’ll cooperate with anyone, regardless of where their political thinking is at, just to give them confidence in challenging the bosses. He very sensibly adopts a whole-class approach, appealing to people’s interests as workers, rather than trying to proselytise anarchism amongst them, which is a dead end because people generally regard such efforts as manipulative, preachy, moralising bullshit, and rightly sense that someone is trying to recruit them into something.
But emanating from the anarchist milieu as he does M is not completely free of the formalism that pervades that scene and this finds expression in his belief that what he’s doing is actually anarcho-syndicalism. Very few of the people he works with would identify as anarcho-syndicalists — my guess is that none would — and there is no mode of association amongst them that even vaguely resembles anarcho-syndicalism so, concretely speaking, there is no anarcho-syndicalism to be found there, just old fashioned worker-discontent attempting to find a way forward. Neither is M himself an anarcho-syndicalist in any meaningful sense because he’s not a part of any actually existing anarcho-syndicalist movement. He’s an individual, mostly working alone, on a self-chosen mission.
I think the M story is that he’s really an individualist and what he’s doing is individualism. The entire project exists solely because of his gargantuan full-time efforts and after he’s gone it’s doubtful that anything much will endure in his wake. Certainly Sparks and Rebel Worker will disappear immediately because he produces them from go to whoa on his own, but whether any of the network of workplace rebels endures is anyone’s guess.
While M despises me like poison, and avoids me on the street, I have to tip my hat to him for being pretty much the only element on what’s left of the left that’s getting some results, albeit on a modest scale, at the level of the workplace. My guess is that it’ll come to nothing in the long run but it does give him purpose in life and he certainly could be doing something a lot sillier.
Serious hat off.
There’s been a few changes recently among EnZed’s far left, so I’m planning on updating it sometime soon. I keep forgetting to add the Pacific Panthers and South Pacific Christian Anarchists, plus there’s also been a new group formed in Wellington simply called the Wellington Socialists just within the last week or two. Organise Aotearoa has somehow managed to draw national media attention with its formal launch today, something I chalk up to some members being media connected as well as a number of relatively well known activists and academics bringing in a little star power. I remain cynical, knowing a little bit of OA’s internal workings and the politics of some members, but it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. TM Anarchists efforts to build workers solidarity networks and similar projects outside themselves is imo a more interesting development.
Oh, and following from that the Eco-Socialist Network no longer exists. It petered out not long after it was launched and didn’t wind up amounting to much. Socialist Worker is survived by two trusts which maintain the assets it had when it dissolved in 2012 (Socialist Worker, being the direct successor to the original Communist Party founded in 1921, did have some assets of note). Some members also joined Fightback when the Workers Party reinvented itself in 2013. Asides that, the direct line of descent from the Communist Party effectively ended in 2012.
ML Group, is that the Brisbane split from TP? They’ve changed name to Workers League or something similar and have a cool glossy magazine called RED FIRE.
PO BOX 66, Nundah, Queensland 4012
TP had a Free Chan Han Choi, socialist political prisoner in Australia rally Sept 29.
Supporting organizations James Conolly Assoc, Trotskyite Platform, Stalin Society of Australia (that you Peter?), Aussie DPRK Solidarity, western Sydney Branch of the CPA.
The after party would have been a hoot.
thanks yeahyeahnah — well-spotted
The People’s Front of Judea Communist Workers’ Party should be under CPA but. They weren’t happy with the Left Unity work of the CPA distracting our Aussie revolutionary proletariat so they are going to lead the revolution themselves.