Something old, something new… (and G20)


Local non-profit anarchist fundraising label Love & Rage has folded. During its three years of existence, the label released a number of compilation albums — Love and Rage Vol I (2003); Love and Rage Vol II: Warnography (2004); A Poke In the Eye With A Burnt Stick (2006) — as well as sold a range of other CDs, badges, patches and even Attack International‘s anarchist (?) parody of Tintin: Breaking Free (1989/1999). The label raised an unknown amount of money, some of which was donated to Barricade ($80.00) and some to the Anarchist Media Institute (?). While promoted as a means to raise money for anarchist projects, remaining funds have, oddly enough, been donated to the non-anarchist Free West Papua Campaign group and the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.


In the wake of the G20 protests, a blog has been established by English, German and Swedish football hooligans in order to promote discussion of the event and its aftermath: see arushandapush


Speaking of which, tomorrow night there is a discussion at Trades Hall on the subject:

…with more speakers to be announced, presumably moments before they take to the stage. For further details : Jonathon Collerson, 0438 136 093 or jonathoncollerson[at]gmail[dot]com.

You can also peruse the reader produced by A Space Outside here [PDF]. And er, speaking of… books… and ah… G20… and stuff… a nice person / fucking foreigner recently sent Barricade a number of copies of Shut Them Down! the G8, Gleneagles 2005 and the Movement of Movements (David Harvie, Keir Milburn, Ben Trott and [I wish I could be like] David Watts, editors, Dissent! and Autonomedia, 2005). Among many others, the book includes an essay by Rodrigo Nunes called ‘Nothing Is What Democracy Looks Like: Openness, Horizontality and the Movement of Movements’, and s0metim3s has some thoughts on the matter, which you can read here.

…I think it’s symptomatic that such debates become increasingly abstract the more they become repetitive and ritualised – in the sense that the debates about violence or forms of organisation seem bereft of much, if any, connection to the substantives. In other words, the anti-summit ritual is increasingly marked by opportunism, and of the least interesting kind…

(Not a new development, in my opinion, but one triggered by the Seattle protests in 1999.)

And last but not least, here’s Dave’s thoughts on the G20 protests to which s0metim3s refers to in their response to Nunes. (Collect them all! I am.)

In the Wake : After G20

So what happened at the G20 in Melbourne? On one hand it was business as usual. The G20 met and seemed to function as planned with both agreement and disagreement amongst the assembled representatives of the global capitalist order. Predictably, despite the boosterism of groups like Make Poverty History, the G20 did nothing to ameliorate even the most horrific consequences of capitalism.

Yet something happened outside: a relatively small group of protesters produced a political event, a moment of rupture that is full of possibilities and dangers. What we do now, after that event, how we trace the lines of struggle that it opened up, is crucial. There are both opportunities and pitfalls ahead and the telling of the tale, the reflection on our experiences, and the sharing of stories, is important. Because there is not just one version of what happened: indeed, part of the power and joy of experiencing something like this mobilization is being part of a collective moment that has many points of origins and many experiences. In the normal daily life of capitalism we have only two views: that of the machinery of public opinion, and that of the isolated individual. In moments of upsurge something different happens. Let’s find a richness in this and continue to enrich this difference.

But there are forces that work to close down the possibilities that have been opened up by such an event. In this case they are police repression, the implementation of a simulation of the events by the media, and division and recrimination amongst those that took part. It is understandable that those that have gone beyond the law want to protect themselves; it is also understandable that the power of the media is so great that even those who took part in the actions can feel disorientated by the way their own participation is reflected back to them; and in a movement that is both small and diverse, that lacks a common language of communication, differences can often become divisions — especially when so much is on the line. This does not take away from how important it is to resist these things, to keep the space open, and try to connect it with others and other struggles.

I want to deal with two points here:

Firstly, violence. It is clear that violence happened: both “sides” used force. But it is wrong to reduce all that happened to violence or to see the violence as only an aberration. It needs to be placed in perspective. From media reports the force used by protestors — despite appearing “spectacular” — was actual very minimal. The most intense use of force was directed at objects: the destruction of [/$1,000 damage to] a police van, the dismantling of barricades and so on. The physical attacks on police officers, according to media reports, seem to have produced only one real injury — a [suspected] broken wrist. Obviously this is unpleasant to the officer, but it is not more substantial than a serious bar fight. The violence of the police, which has been largely ignored by the corporate media, was the reverse. Armed with batons and sanctioned by the state, the police violence was direct at living bodies. It is obscene to see these things as equivalents.

But [in this context,] the usual rhetorical defence of the use of force by protestors as ‘self-defence’ cannot be applied.

“For us the oppressed are always in a state of legitimate defence and are fully justified in rising without waiting to be actually fired on; and we are fully aware of the fact that attack is often the best means of defense…”

Errico Malatesta, Anarchism and Violence, 1920 [PDF]

“Violence is never the answer.”

Ricki Lake

It is clear that some sections of the carnival did pre-emptively use force on the barriers, the police lines and the now infamous police van. Each of the actions that made up these moments of confrontation cannot be reduced to each other. Rather, they have to be judged soberly and critically. Which actions were attempts to generate creative disturbances, which cemented our co-operation, and which were escalations that were counter-productive? Did the emotional euphoria of attacking the property of the state sometimes detract from subverting the social relations that made up the state? How are we going to deal with the consequences?

It is also important that the seemingly “exciting” nature of the use of force does not detract from the other actions and the other manifestations of creativity that people mobilised. If there was value in Saturday’s actions (and I believe there was) it was the combination of people experimenting with co-operation, horizontal and autonomous organising and a militant attitude to the state. Whilst again each moment cannot be made equivalent to the other — throwing a garbage bin is not the same as locking on to a car is not the same as playing music or dressing as a clown and so on — the points of inter-relationship were rich and important. It is also crucial to remember what came before the actions. The attempts at creating moments of alternative social relations at things such as a_space_outside and the multitude of conversations and debates that went on are just as important as any moment of confrontation. They are in many ways the way we give substance to our dreams.

Second, the Arterial Bloc. It is crucial to refuse either a romanticisation or demonisation of this group. At best, they seemed to have been a handful of affinity groups that, with a minimum of preparation and internal organisation, attempted a number of the more confrontational initiatives. But so too did many others. Perhaps the only really difference is that the Arterial Bloc had a public name that the media and police could hang on to. It would be a mistake to see any group as homogenous internally or exercising hegemony over other elements of the mobilisation. If anything, the actions taken by this or that section just opened up a space for others to fill. The media attempt to portray the Arterial Bloc as some kind of international paramilitary association is not only totally wrong, and an attempt to establish the grounds for the repression of those involved, it also works to create hierarchies within the movement: a hard-core that leads others. Refuse this attempt.

Security analyst and chief executive at Intelligent Risks, Neil Fergus, said national and international anarchists were identified as being behind most of the trouble.

“Several out of 12 to 15 key organisers were from overseas, part of an international, committed group of anarchists,” Mr Fergus said.

Police will investigate radical Left-wing internet chat rooms to track down members of the violent Arterial Bloc protest group. Police are also investigating tip-offs about key trouble makers given to Crime Stoppers from members of the public who identified individuals in newspaper photographs.

So what to do now? I think firstly, care for each other. Obviously this means establishing consistent and on-going solidarity with those that face charges or suffered police violence. Some very [important?] tasks of support will appear over the next few weeks. Don’t back down from these.

Truck driver at G20 protest needs urgent help : During the G20 protests, a 6-tonne flatbed truck with a PA system allowed bands to play for the people. The driver of that truck has been booked by the po-lice and faces the loss of his license and a $2000 fine. He needs our help urgently. Please contact Cookie : [email protected]

But care in the more general sense is also important. Understand that sometimes, after such an event, we may feel a range of emotions — some good, some bad — and creating the space to relax and share love for each other is crucial. But more than this, in the face of the state and media, we should not close inwards. Rather, we can make many public spaces to reflect on and debate what happened in a way that is critical but not blaming, nuanced and open minded. Also the energy, the rebellion, the determination and militancy we experienced shouldn’t be thrown away. Continue to organise, in whatever forms you choose, on whatever scale. The more the daily projects of creating alternatives and resistances flow into big mobilisations and vice versa, the better.

I hope to see, and I hope to see it soon, many different stories being told, many threads of experiences, of criticism, of celebration, of differences that can weave together something great. Possibilities have been opened, forces of repression are being organised. I feel if we base ourselves in a democratic, horizontal, autonomous and open praxis of resistances then perhaps we can grasp these possibilities.

With love and solidarity,

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 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
This entry was posted in Anarchism, Media, Music, State / Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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