Another year, another chance to Return to the Path of Lenin and Trotsky (and/or Mao)!
I last reviewed the guide in February 2022 (FWIW, the first survey what I done was published in January 2006).
To begin with, I’m encouraged to report that a NEW! blog has emerged: The Waterhole.
The Waterhole is a Communist blog. Its audience is the Australian revolutionary movement, and it aims to serve the interests of the multinational proletariat and the Indigenous nations in their struggles against Australian imperialism. It is completely opposed to the revisionist parties that dominate the Australian revolutionary movement. We believe the primary task of the Communists in this country is to establish a Red Faction capable of analysing Australian society and preparing for the refounding of the Communist Party of Australia. We believe that only through a revolutionary war against Australian imperialism will the multinational proletariat, the Indigenous nations, and all who are oppressed, ever achieve peace and freedom.
The Waterhole blogger gives mAAAd props to the defunct Red Eureka Movement (REM), ‘one of the most important organisations in the history of the Australian revolutionary movement. I cannot emphasise this fact enough. It was a living embodiment of Communism in Australia, then at the stage of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, and it defended it fiercely.’ As it happens, one of the only references on the blog to REM comes by way of an obit (by Albert Langer, Michael Hyde and Kerry Miller) for Comrade Jim Bacon (1950–2004): ‘Jim Bacon was not just a student activist at Monash University. He was a leader of the Young Communist League and the Worker Student Alliance, and remained a revolutionary when he moved on to the labour movement. He was a disciplined Marxist-Leninist until he withdrew honourably from the Red Eureka Movement in the late 1970s’ to join the ALP in 1991 and eventually become Premier of Tasmania (1998–2004).
Sadly, the ‘Committee to Defend Chairman Gonzalo – Australia’ and ‘Red Eureka’ blogs have been silent in the intervening period, and as a result have been scratched (hopefully temporarily?) from the Guide. Otherwise:
Still having a crack :
1. (Alliance for) Workers’ Liberty
Last time, these workers were still struggling for freedom in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Sydney. I’m happy to report that additional newsletters have been published in the interim to further aid the struggle (which has also left Perth for Melbourne).
2. Australian Communist Party
About this time last year I wrote that Since splitting from the CPA in 2019, the ACP has continued to trod along a ‘new path in the movement for socialism in Australia’. The ACP also plays a critical role in the Community Union Defence League, a kinda Food Not Bombs for local Leninists. Since last time, the ACP has also established the ‘Green Guerillas’, a ‘collective of activists dedicated to the conservation of the environment’ (nudge nudge, wink wink), one which is certainly not to be confused with the Green Guerilla Group.
Has the nucleus grown? Did it split (and explode into proletarian revolution)? After three-plus years, I still dunno how the efforts of these Bolshevik-Leninists to create their own Marxist nucleus (‘a dedicated core of professional revolutionaries educated in Marxism physically concentrated in a city’) is going, but I can report that the Nucleus has continued to develop close ties to the urban(e) Marxists of Reagrupamento Revolucionário/Revolutionary Regroupment and to maintain its revolutionary intransigence in the face of the bourgeois spectacle that was the 2022 Australian federal election, noting that: ‘At the tail of the ALP and Greens a myriad of groups hang on opportunistically, aiding in giving a left cover to [party] bureaucrats. One of the most significant is “Victorian Socialists” (VS), an electoral party supported by Socialist Alternative (SAlt). Despite posing as a left alternative to Labor and the Greens, they are hardly anything of the sort.’
3 1/2. Class Conscious
CC remains more of a blog/website than a groupuscule, one armed with a political perspective which closely mirrors that of the International Committee of the Fourth International (SEP). Recently, it launched ‘Anti-War Victoria’.
4. Communist League
In 2022 the CL made the momentous decision to consolidate its forces in Sydney/close its New Zealand branch. ‘The decision will enable the party to respond boldly to key developments in politics and working-class struggles not only in Australia and New Zealand but throughout the Pacific region’, apparently. The CL otherwise operates as a franchise of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States.
5. Communist Party of Australia
‘Following the success of the Communist Party of Australia’s (CPA) 14th National Congress the Central Committee has re-elected General Secretary Andrew Irving and National President Vinnie Molina. Congress was held on 25-27 February 2022.’ While having a presence of some sort in every state, the CPA’s centre of gravity would seem to be Sydney.
6. Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
Founded in March 1964 as a split from the CPA, the party’s last Congress took place in June 2019; I hope and expect that the next will take place in 2023. Whether or not the yoof will join the party in continuing to maintain the legacy of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong and E.F. Hill is uncertain, but the Central Committee remains hopeful that in joining, ‘[y]oung people wanting a purpose in life, wanting an outlet for their ideals, hopes and aspirations, will find these alongside those already committed to building the revolutionary movement in Australia’.
7. Communist Workers Party of Australia
A tiny split from the CPA (?) based in Newcastle, the CWPA publishes ‘The Agitator’.
8. Freedom Socialist Party
In 2023, the FSP (Melbourne) continues to trundle along and to advocate for socialist feminism. This year it will do so from a new location: its ‘Solidarity Salon’ in Sydney Road, Brunswick has re-located to Reservoir.
9. Internationalist Communists Oceania
ICO ‘are a group of workers based in Australia who organise around and defend Internationalist Communist positions’ which, for some reason, I failed to include on the list last time around. See also : Internationalist Communist Tendency / Left-Wing, Anti-Bolshevik and Council Communism.
10. ISA Australia
Ultimately derived from the defunct Socialist Party, the International Socialist Alternative Australia announced its existence in early 2021 and is a split from/successor to Socialist Action. Its creation was one outcome of internal battles within the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which produced both a NEW! IMPROVED! CWI and International Socialist Alternative.
10 1/2. Platypus Melbourne
The Platypus Society has established a chapter in Melbourne. Like other chapters, it hosts conversations on the death of the Left (which is some kinda uncertain cat, I think?) and examines left history and ideology with a view to resurrecting it as a real social force for revolution (like some kinda old mole, maybe).
Progressive Labour Party
Sadly, after 25 years of labouring for progress as an independent party, the PLP has officially dissolved into the Australian Progressives. The AP contested the federal election in May 2022 (for negligible results) and in October 2022, the party was deregistered by the AEC. Verdict : Unlikely to appear in the next update.
11. Revolutionary Communist Organisation
The Founding Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Organisation was
apparently definitely held over the 14th and 15th of January, 2023 in Brisbane. The aim of the RCO presumably remains the formation of a communist cadre for the purposes of proletarian revolution, the establishment of a workers republic, and the triumph of communism. Would you like to know more?
11 1/2. Socialism Today
ST looks very much like a blog seemingly produced by what remains of the Socialist Party after the split in the CWI. Verdict : Today yes, but tomorrow? [h/t : Comrade Delta]
12. Socialist Action
The action group formerly known as the Socialist Party (see also : ISA Australia). As of this date, there hasn’t been action from the group since mid-2022. Verdict : Future uncertain.
13. Socialist Alliance
SAll continues to maintain its federal registration (having been able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the AEC that it has a membership of 1,500+), produce Green Left Weekly (in 2023, on a fortnightly basis), and contested both the 2022 federal and Victorian state elections — with minimal results. In Victoria, their recent electoral campaigns have also had to compete with the Victorian Socialists for the left vote. On the other hand, Monica Harte became the second socialist councillor on Merri-bek (Moreland) Council in March last year, joining Sue Bolton.
14. Socialist Alternative
Notwithstanding the 1,500 members of SAll, SAlt likely remains the largest (neo-)Trotskyist political formation/’ostensibly revolutionary organization’ in Australia. Of late, much of its efforts have been directed at supporting the Victorian Socialists. Publishes Red Flag.
15. Socialist Equality Party
The dastardly AEC deregistered the SEP in February 2022, but it motors on regardless, holding its Sixth National Congress in September last year. See : wsws.org for moar news and views from the leadership of the world socialist movement.
Solidarity is still here. Still. In December 2021 the Sydney home of a notable member of the group, Padraic Gibson, was attacked by boneheads belonging to the neo-Nazi groupuscule ‘Firm 22’, and Desmond Liddington, a bonehead from Perth, is one of several currently awaiting sentence for the crime. See also : International Socialist Tendency.
17. Spartacist League of Australia
The International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) has been thrown into some turmoil since the death of its lvl boss, James Roberston (1928–2019) and ‘[i]t is no secret for anyone following our organization that we have been conducting intense internal discussions and qualitative political realignments over the last few years’. As a result of the upset, the last issue of Australasian Spartacist was published in Autumn 2020. Verdict : ‘They’ll be back.’ See also : International Bolshevik Tendency / Bolshevik Tendency.
18. Trotskyist Platform
TP emerged as a split from the Spartacists, but remains staunch and may even outlast them, who knows? In other news, Trotskyist Platform’s Article About Genuine Trotskyism in the 21st Century Has Now Been Issued in Print Form (September 17, 2022). Fingers crossed the Platformists open a PO Box in Melbourne to really rub salt into the wounds.
19. Victorian Socialists
Since forming a few years ago, VS has won a councillor (Jorge Jorquera in Maribyrnong) and contested several federal and state elections, each witnessing a modest increase in their vote. Dominated by SAlt, VS also comprises a caucus group called ‘Socialist Unity’. In general, assuming VS can keep the band together and the underlying upward trend in votes remains, it seems possible that it may obtain an Upper House seat at some point in the future. See also : ‘The Socialist Macro-Sect in the ‘Digital Age’: The Victorian Socialists’ Strategy for Assembling a Counter-Public’, Ian Anderson, tripleC, Vol.18, No.2 (2020).
20. Workers League
Inter alia, the blogger known as the Workers League poses serious questions to the proletariat in Australia. For example, ‘Wieambilla Shootings: Tragic Incident or False Flag?’: The MSM reporting of this incident raises instant suspicion. Call me a crazy anarchist, but with such keen analysis, I suspect the WL is more likely to ah, go viral rather than constitute a revolutionary vanguard.
• Gong Commune: is a blog by radikals in Wollongong.
• Red Ant: ‘Red Ant Collective formed because we see the need for anti-imperialist, Marxist ideas to have an organised expression. We are called “Red Ant” because we are a small grouping. Though we don’t intend to stay that way. In fact, we have big ideas.’
• Surplus Value: is ‘a network for Australian Marxian thinkers and activists’.
• The Banner Bright: is ‘a weblog about politics and social issues, with a focus on the need to build a more equal, democratic society’.
• The Word From Struggle Street: is … communist?
• Workers Bush Telegraph: ‘provides a class analysis of workers[‘] struggle’.
• C21stLeft: Against The Pseudo-Left!
• Red Eureka Journal: is ‘published by the National Preparatory Committee of the Marxist–Leninist Communist Party of Australia, whose mission is to reorganise the Communist Party in Australia’.
• Strange Times: Against The Pseudo-Left!
See also : Anti-Revisionism in Australia.
Green-Left has actually shifted to fortnightly rather than weekly publication last I’ve heard
Green Left Weekly is now just Green Left. As of the start of 2023 it’s moving to a fortnightly hard copy paper, and will include a greater emphasis on digital content (podcasts and YouTube channel)
Thanks for the update Sinistra1917 and Sarah.
This is, as always, amazing. Pls also provide a yearly update on anarchist and anarchist adjacent groupings ’round ‘Stralia. E.g. Treason, along with others on your blog list, seem to have disappeared from the Internet. Those wacky Canberrans hey (or did they move?).
Peter Taaffe and Ted Grant with a triple bypass – the CWI have a new section in Oz called Socialism Today: https://socialismtoday.au/about/
@@ndy’s 2nd biggest fan: I’m pretty sure Treason dissolved some years ago, w those responsible both coming and going.
@Comrade Delta: Very well-spotted.
A very useful guide. Would benefit from the inclusion of the many diverse factions of the ALP.
As a genuine question – what is the purpose of this? From my perspective, naming these groups and classifying them under a single, ‘trots’ umbrella doesn’t really give people any info about what they do or don’t do or how to relate to them – CUDL, eg, has aspects which are in tension with an anarchist or anti state perspective, but also provides significant material aid for ppl in the community. I feel this can encourage ppl to be dismissive in a flippant way, as opposed to attentive to how groups and coalitions form and interact.
@Chip Eling: Cheers. I think if I was to include Labor left factions it wouldn’t really be a ‘Trot’ Guide: my focus is primarily on the extra-parliamentary and far left (typically those of Marxist derivation). Otherwise, I also think Crikey has occasionally published factional guides to the ALP?
@L: First, the purpose is largely to: a) satisfy my own curiosity (‘What’s the go with ‘far left’ parties in Australia these days’?) and; b) further indulge my engagement in left trainspotting.
Secondly, ‘Trot Guide’ is something of a misnomer — obviously, a number of the groups listed are not Trotskyist and some are hostile to that tradition — however it’s also intended to suggest both that the guide is only half-serious and that it functions as precisely that: an initial point of political orientation. (Also, when I first published one back in the mid-2000s, Trotskyist groups dominated the list and the handful of Maoist and Stalinist organisations listed separately. Now, I tend to lump them all together.) One of the reasons I include links to all the parties concerned is so that readers can easily see for themselves what they believe.
Thirdly, inre CUDL, whatever political tensions may exist within it (I’ve no idea), it’s an ACP project. So yes, all things being equal, I agree that it’s a Good thing to distribute free food and to make other materials available to those who need it; no, I’m not critiquing either the CUDL or ACP as such, but I do think that while describing it as ‘a kinda Food Not Bombs for local Leninists’ may be slightly cheeky on my part, it’s also kinda accurate.
Finally, how others relate to these groups is up to them but, as an anarchist, I obviously won’t be rushing to join any. In general, I think people who are interested in far left ideology should familiarise themselves with its central tenets and their various expressions and apply the same critical rigour to them as they would any other system of ideas.
(I’m not sure what you mean by ‘attentive to how groups and coalitions form and interact’.)
A final note re the use of the term ‘Trot’:
The following groups are Trotskyist or of Trotskyist derivation:
Alliance For Workers’ Liberty
Freedom Socialist Party
International Socialist Alternative Australia
Socialist Equality Party
Spartacist League of Australia
Australian Communist Party
Communist Party of Australia
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Workers Party of Australia
Internationalist Communists Oceania
Revolutionary Communist Organisation
Thanks Andy. I suppose what I mean re ‘attentive’ – people join, or collaborate with, or leave, groups for a bunch of reasons which aren’t really reducible imo to a single, formal ideological affiliation of those groups.
eg with CUDL – ‘local leninists’ might be your white newspaper selling types or they might be Aboriginal people or settlers drawn to histories of, say, the Black Panther Party and its interpretation of Marxist-Leninism, survival pending revolution, etc. the latter are, in my experience, somewhat more likely to engage in substantive opposition to ‘the state’ than many who call themselves anarchists.
in general i don’t feel this sort of thing really encourages ‘anarchists’ to be critical or observant. i think it enables dismissiveness and even a sense of superiority, over political competitors who they can label without seeking to understand. i don’t think that is your own point of view at all, but it does feed that dynamic.
I say this as an anarchist who has myself volunteered with CUDL a few times – partly because they deliver substantive material aid on a scale which, for whatever reason, anarchists have been unable to muster – and partly because the anarchist ‘scene’ seems increasingly carceral and not exactly leading – or even participating much – in movements against state repression/ violence.
I am reluctant to write off people who have a different formal ideological affiliation, but who in some cases are actually doing what a lot of anarchists, well, talk about.
1) I agree that people join and leave groups for a variety of reasons, and that these aren’t generally reducible to one thing. That said, I don’t know of any body who has joined or left a group on the basis of reading Trot Guide, and I understand that coalitions or forms of cooperation between groups are a slightly different kettle of fish to this process of recruitment. So, ‘local Leninists’ might indeed refer, as you suggest, to white newspaper sellers or, say, to Aboriginal people attracted by the ways in which the CUDL embodies the values and practices espoused by the BPP. I also understand that CUDL functions as a kinda outreach group and these sorts of practices have been engaged in by lots of political formations and social movements, for a very long time, and across the political spectrum. This includes the BPP, of course, which in the Australian context I associate with the emergence of the Black Power movement in the late ’60s/early ’70s. It helped to establish a number of housing, legal and medical services for Aboriginal peoples, many of which continue to this day. There is much that can and has been said about how social movements generate lasting institutions, obviously, the extent to which they operate in conflict or collaboration with the state, and the role of radicals within this process. Finally, you may well be right that Indigenous Marxist-Leninists in Australia are ‘somewhat more likely to engage in substantive opposition to ‘the state’ than many who call themselves anarchists’, but if true, I also wonder what significance to attach to this fact and what this has to do with the CUDL, the formation of political coalitions and identities, ideological development, and so on.
2) Does the publication of Trot Guide discourage anarchists from being critical or observant? Does it, by the same token, encourage a false sense of ideological superiority, one based on inadequate knowledge? Maybe, but I don’t think so. The case for this would be stronger if this was my only engagement with the subject and I otherwise avoided any serious political reflection on these matters. In any case, I would suggest to any anarchist reading this that, if they haven’t already, they familiarise themselves with Marxism and other, relevant philosophies: there’s certainly no shortage of material on this subject, and I think that it’s a rich, multi-variant tradition.
3) Finally, I don’t know if the anarchist ‘scene’, however defined, is unable to muster the resources that CUDL has been able to. (AFAIK, FNB, for example, has been operating in Melbourne since about the mid-’90s and there have been various other such projects in Melbourne over the course of the last three decades.) I also dunno if the anarchist ‘scene’ is becoming increasingly carceral (how so?) and/or not leading, or even participating much, in movements against state repression/violence. I mean, I could elaborate on this, but outside of CUDL (in Melbourne) I honestly dunno what your frame of reference is. (What are these movements, and how do they manifest?) I would also need to know more about your understanding of the relationship between ideology, theory and practice.
PS. It occurred to me that another way of framing this discussion is to ask you: ‘What do you think anarchists in particular stand to gain from a close engagement with the ACP (or some other grouping)?’
‘That said, I don’t know of any body who has joined or left a group on the basis of reading Trot Guide’ – I can't provide proof that this phenomenon is widespread, but I do know of at least one anarchist who was removed from collectives/ actions/ formations by other 'anarchists', on the basis of having attended actions with CUDL/ ACP members.
Whether this removal was justified in the instance or not, I don't know. I do know that the process was conducted in a very untransparent and non-collective fashion, which was allowed to pass in part bc of a normalised dismissiveness towards other leftists. I participated in this process (through inaction); I regret this; it was reflective of my own state of political education at the time, and this blog (and articles like this) were an important part of that.
There are very few anarchists with a public profile round these parts. I think your influence may be larger than you realise – and that the flippancy may be travelling further than the deeper reflections.
'I also dunno if the anarchist ‘scene’ is becoming increasingly carceral' – there are jokes and calls for, for eg, antilockdown protestors to be jailed every other day – coming from nominal anarchists. There is public bragging about the role of this blog and others, in the proscription of certain groups as terrorist. This feels like a change to me. While there are lipservice affirmations of an abolitionist politics, there is comparatively little tangible participation (in my observation) by anarchists in movements against prisons.
‘What do you think anarchists in particular stand to gain from a close engagement with the ACP (or some other grouping)?’ – I think anarchists stand to gain from a close engagement with *the reasons why people are drawn to the ACP*. off the top of my head:
– 'Serving the people' – an external, rather than internal, orientation of mutual aid, and just being better at enacting it. I have participated in both Food Not Bombs and the CUDL street kitchens. My observation is that the latter seem able to feed more people who are in greater need, to provide a more reliable service, and to be better at interacting with people outside of pre-existing social circles. why? I don't know; I have my theories, but I will leave it at saying that these are things that should be considered.
– More participation by First Nations people and engagement with the needs of First Nations people – I think all leftism/ antifascism here must be grounded in anticolonialism. if FN radicals are relatively un-attracted to the way anarchism is being enacted round these parts, and more interested in other organisations, I am hesitant to the conclusion that it is simply because they do not know what is good for them.
– More engagement with questions of colonialism and imperialism – I do not necessarily *agree* with all the conclusions (insofar as they exist), but the issues do at least seem to be gestured towards by some non-anarchist, far-left organisations in a way which I have not experienced within anarchist organising.
apologies, I can’t seem to find the link where I saw slackbastard/ yeah nah pasaran being approvingly cited by i seem to remember NZ natsec authorities in proscribing Proud Boys? was that a product of my imagination?
i do think that conversations (and also, practical actions…) around an ideal response to fash move towards ‘law and order’ much, much faster than they did, say, 3 years ago, and that this is visible among a lot of followers of this blog/podcast.
Regarding: a) the anarchist who was (by way of a faulty process) ‘removed from collectives/ actions/ formations by other ‘anarchists’ on the basis of having attended actions with CUDL/ ACP members’; b) regrets about your involvement in this process and; c) my responsibility for helping to create an atmosphere which contributed to your in/action: there’s little I can add specifically. I don’t know anything at all about the situation you’re describing apart from what you’ve stated, so I don’t think it makes sense for me to discuss something about which I know nothing, involving unknown parties. Further, it’s inappropriate in a public forum, so even if I did, I wouldn’t. I could make some more general observations about decision-making, organising and so on, but I don’t reckon I’d be expressing anything that hasn’t already been published elsewhere. (FWIW, I sometimes recommend Ken Knabb’s The Joy of Revolution for a fairly concise approach to dealing with the principles underlying these sorts of organisational questions along with those regarding political strategy for revolutionaries.)
OK, so evidence for an increase in a carceral mentality among the Melbourne anarchist ‘scene’ is, on the one hand, you’ve heard an increasing number of jokes by nominal anarchists about and in support of the imprisonment of anti-lockdown protesters and, on the other hand, anarchists have boasted about the role of this blog in the state’s proscription of certain groups as terrorist. Further, there is too much lip-service given to abolitionism but not enough actual or real participation in the abolitionist movement.
In response, first, I don’t think this is sufficient evidence to establish your case, but let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that there has in fact developed more commentary of the sort you identify as worrying. My first response would be that the anti-lockdown protests have been the subject of a great deal of discussion and so too the policing of these events. So I’m not surprised and — to be frank — not overly-concerned if you’ve heard such remarks, as they’re relatively common. In this instance I read them more as evidence of an underlying political hostility rather than an ascendant ‘sympathy for the prison’. In terms of my own views, I’ve written a little about anti-lockdown protest (for example, an article for Overland in September 2021 about the protest outside the CFMEU’s office and its aftermath, along with a subsequent Reply to a Critic) and we’ve spoken to a number of people for the show about the movement and the ideological forces driving it both here and overseas.
(BTW, I tend to think about anarchism in Melbourne in the historical context of the post-WWII era. By that I mean: I understand that the popularity of anarchism, the underlying sentiments driving its development and shaping its expressions, the forms of political organisation and activity its participants create and engage in, the cultural aesthetics and political priorities it adopts … these things change over time. So, I honestly don’t know if there’s much less participation by anarchists in movements against prisons in January 2023 than there was in, say, January 2020 (or some other, earlier date). I’m also unsure how I’d go about measuring that. All I can say is that I know of people who were active then in ‘movements against prison’ as well as people who are active now. If I’ve noticed anything, it’s the relative increase in the use of terms like ‘abolitionist’, along with greater public discussion of prison abolition.)
Regarding proscriptions, as of this date ’29 organisations are currently listed as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code’ by the Australian government. Of these, three organisations are relevant: National Socialist Order (NSO), Sonnenkrieg Division (SK) and The Base.
The first to be proscribed was SK, in March 2021. I commented at the time: ‘Speaking of Peter Dutton, his announcement on Monday that ‘Sonnenkrieg Division’ would be the first ‘right-wing extremist’ group that the AUS govt would be proscribing as ‘terrorist’ was a bit odd as AFAIK they’ve had zer0 presence in AUS. (The Base, on the other hand …).’ The earliest reference to SK on the blog (there are three) is from June 2020, when I cite BBC media reportage about SK having been birthed on Iron March (the other two simply note its proscription).
I’ve written about the NSO (but only by way of its precursor, Atomwaffen) and also The Base on the blog (I think the first reference was by way of a YNP! interview with Jason Wilson in January 2020) and have also discussed it with Jason (and others) on air. The Base was proscribed in Australia in November 2021, nine months after Canada and four months after the UK, while Atomwaffen/NSO was proscribed in the UK in April 2021 and in Australia almost two years later. (We spoke to Nate Thayer about Atomwaffen Division in April 2019 on The SUWA Show.)
The reasons for proscription are given. They make no reference to my blog and I would be surprised if they did. Rather, Australian decision-making in this regard is heavily informed by previous measures in the relevant jurisdictions (Canada, New Zealand and the UK), the very considerable evidence in the public domain, and the views of the relevant local agencies.
Finally, inre Proud Boys, you’re almost certainly referring to a public statement issued by New Zealand police titled ‘Statement of case to designate the American Proud Boys as a terrorist entity’, published in mid-2022 (see : New Zealand designates Proud Boys a terrorist organisation, says group played key role in US Capitol attack, ABC, June 30, 2022). Under the subheading ‘Credibility of sources’, after listing scores of news agencies, think tanks and so on, it concludes with the following: ‘Other sources utilised include Taki’s Magazine, Yeah Nah Pasaran, TTBook, Hatewatch, The Proud Boys Magazine, Daily Beast, The Outline, YouTube, and Twitter’. No further details are provided, but over the course of the last few years YNP! has spoken to Andy Campbell (We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism), Sam Kutner (‘The Proud Boy Whisperer’) and Shannon Reid (Alt-Right Gangs: A Hazy Shade of White) about the group.
In summary, it’s stretching credulity to claim that my blog or the radio show have played any substantive role in the proscription of The Base, NSO or SK in Australia or the Proud Boys in New Zealand. It would be more accurate, I suggest, to allow for the fact that my publishing has some limited political and social impact and, partly because of its longevity, it’s sometimes referenced in academic writing, government reports, and so on.
There are very few anarchists with a public profile round these parts. I think your influence may be larger than you realise – and that the flippancy may be travelling further than the deeper reflections.
There have been very few anarchists in Australia with a public profile full stop. Just 22 individuals are listed on Wikipedia, for example, over 1/3 of whom are dead. In Melbourne, probably the best-known living anarchist is Joseph Toscano. He’s listed along with myself, John Englart, John Flaus, Celeste Liddle and Pi O. That’s not very many people, and I dunno what degree of political unanimity there is between us, but insofar as anarchism is concerned, it’s the political perspective with which I have the closest affinity. I don’t really write about it much but there are others who do and I sometimes share links to relevant material. Certainly, others are free to comment on the blog about this, that or the other, and there’s been over 20,000 comments made over the course of the last 18 years or so.
Re the ACP and its political utility for anarchists, I think this is very limited. So of course, it’s possible for an anarchist to consider why some find it attractive — as you argue, it Serves The People via the CUDL, has solid support among First Nations peoples and is anticolonial — but I don’t see this as being a priority, nor beyond question. By the same token, attending to such issues as political relevance is obviously important.
• ‘Serve the People’ has general and particular significance. The concept is general in the sense that it exists as a moral injunction (‘You should help others’), one which exists in a wide variety of contexts and has broad political implications. It’s also specific in the sense that it’s tied to Marxist-Leninist ideology and plays a particular role within it.
• It may well be the case that FNB could improve upon its public presentation and reach and the CUDL is superior in this regard: I dunno. But even if this is the case, I understand FNB to be a voluntary organisation and, all things being equal, anybody who wants to is free to join and to improve its operations.
• I’m not convinced that First Nations radicals find anarchism repellent for the reasons you describe. (In my experience, a number have expressed sympathy for anarchist perspectives.) To begin with, like others, First Nations radicals have multiple political commitments, and always have. Further, in the first instance, resistance tends to be understood as emerging from struggles grounded in various forms of Indigenous culture and identity rather than as proceeding from some ideological commitment to anarchism and/or ‘the left’. While the relationship between Indigeneity and The Left is complex, in terms of Australian political history, in an earlier period the CPA played a key role in supporting Indigenous struggles, often in the face of racist hostility. But that’s not a political recommendation of ‘Soviet Marxism’ or its subsequent variants (‘Eurocommunism’ in its later life). In my view, one reason First Nations people may be ‘more interested in other organisations’ is because anarchist organisations are both relatively few in number and small in size. In any case, like you, I don’t conclude that a relative absence is ‘simply because they do not know what is good for them’.
• Regarding questions of colonialism and imperialism and their relationship to anarchism and the ACP, I’ve read over the ACP’s Indigenous policy and it seems fairly orthodox: feel free to inform me what you dis-/agree with. On my reading, it recounts the acute issues facing Indigenous peoples, demands reforms intended to address them, and promises ‘national liberation’ under socialism by way of ‘The abolition of private property’ and ‘Local Indigenous nations to administer the protection of sacred sites and the preservation and fostering of traditional practices’. In this sense, I’m unsure how it departs from socialist (Marxist) orthodoxy.
Finally, you reckon that people who follow this blog and the podcast have, over the course of the last three years, increasingly come to conclude that more and better policing is the solution to fascism. Presumably, this is based on things you’ve heard other ‘nominal anarchists’ say. I don’t agree with your assessment, but even if this is correct it runs contrary to the position I’ve long taken, articulated repeatedly and organised on the basis of.
This might be retreading old ground @ndy, but is it the case that the ACP split from the CPA over transphobia (specifically one faction was transphobic, the other wasn’t)? Or that a myth? I’m interested because I have seen CUDL around Perth and would like to know what kind of organisation they are.
Hey @ndy’s 2nd biggest fan, while there were a few more people peripherally involved of the 3 main guys behind Treason 2 of us are still in Canberra and still close friends. I don’t do anything political any more not that I ever did a great deal. Although I still have more or less the same views as I did c.20 years ago.
I uploaded all of our pamphlets to libcom in 2006 and you can find them at https://libcom.org/tags/treason
I’d imagine that spending any length of time with Subcomandante Sleek would have more of a depressing effect on CUDL’s membership numbers than anything @ndy might write.
@Tim Dymond: AFAIK the split was more a case of irreconcilable personal and political differences, centred on the CPA in Adelaide.
I’m deeply unclear as to why a food kitchen is justification for relating to Stalinists, and therefore a line of reasoning for why anarchism is bad at relating to the campaign for land rights and against police powers.
Most Churches run food kitchens and clothing donation drives for the homeless and have links with migrants – should anarchists all convert to Christianity so we can do charity with them and pretend it’s political? I don’t take it seriously when my local Labor MP does it, and I don’t take it seriously when a tankie does it. We really need to stop excusing bad politics because a group does ‘mutual aid’.
It’s also deeply pretentious tbh because you’ll find most minorities have deep networks doing this stuff. It’s things like the connections that migrant single mothers make with each other to rotate child minding so work is possible, the constant fundraising drives for surgeries and housing amongst trans people, or the extended family networks that exist amongst many mob. It’s the things we do to back each other up during a strike. Ordinary working people do this stuff all the time so that we can survive.
If you actually want to relate to minorities through mutual aid, then I recommend anarchists do it alongside those communities rather than hang out with a bunch of Stalinists on the outside. If you can’t do it alongside these communities i.e in a mutual way, then maybe worth having a think if chilling with the ACP is that effective a way for an anarchist to develop those connections because there’s nothing mutual about what they actually do. It’s like doing a Church stall but with a hammer and sickle rather than a cross.
There’s a new organization circa 2022 – the Black People’s Union. It was founded by an indigenous ex-member of the ACP. Their site and Facebook don’t mention anything about Marxism, but I think it’s interesting to note that this is the second ML split since 2018.
Regarding whether or not CUDL is mutual aid, I think it’s a charity, except Christian street kitchens usually don’t have the problems with street violence and abuse like CUDL does. To be fair, I think FNB is just as much of a charity at this stage, though with different issues and different organizational principles. I wouldn’t recommend joining either, especially not CUDL if you value your safety.
There were talks of CUDL and FNB coming together to share a kitchen space as part of a greater anarchist project, but CUDL backed out of it and I’ve only heard rumors as to why.
Members of the “Revolutionary Communist Organization” that I’ve spoken to have referred to their group as “orthodox Leninist”. I’m almost certain that they only hang out on a specific Discord server and most of their membership is high-schoolers. I wouldn’t recommend them.
Just got an email from the founder of the BPU, after enquiring about their ideology. I’ve quoted a little of it below.
“the BPU doesn’t identify with any specific ideology.” “It includes MLM’s like myself, Marxists, Socialists, Anarchists.” “We do organise using a very similar method to democratic centralism.”
To clarify what I meant by the shared kitchen: this was a specific project in one city and all I can say is that ACP members eventually stopped coming to meetings, while the FNB continues to be involved to this day. An ACP member I spoke to said they decided to leave because the anarchists accused them of misogyny.
BPU Guy sounds a bit confused but otherwise, as a general rule, I try to give a project a year or two to settle before I regard it as ‘actually-existing’. Further, unless it’s of immediate and direct relevance, assumes srs proportions and/or involves a significant number of ppl, the actual ins-and-outs of this stuff (shared kitchens, online chats, accusations of one sort or another) is probably best ignored.
Fair. Feel free to edit or remove my comments – I don’t think it’s good to be spreading petty gossip. Bad habit on my part.
S’all good. There’s nothing identifying or esp unusual. Just noting for future ref.