Today Crikey! has published ‘Your cut out and keep APEC protest guide’ by Luke McKenna, a leftist trainspotters’ guide to who’s who in the anti-APEC Zoo. In it, Luke identifies ten main groups, to which I’ve added a little commentary.
1 ) Stop Bush Coalition (which “will return to being the Stop The War Coalition after APEC”): As Luke writes, this is a leftist coalition, dominated by the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP)… or possibly Party (see below). The Coalition’s media go-to man is Alex Bainbridge, a 30-something veteran DSP member. The Coalition has organised a march for September 8, the route of which, incidentally, has just today been denied legal access by the courts (David Braithwaite / AAP, Police win protest action, The Age, September 5, 2007):
Protesters have been denied permission to march to the edge of police lines during an anti-APEC rally in Sydney on Saturday. The NSW Supreme Court today granted Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s application for an order preventing up to 20,000 people from marching to the corner of George and King streets… Chief Superintendent Cullen told the court he held “grave concerns” for public safety during the protests. “Based upon my research, experience, current intelligence and evidence from internationally similar events – more recently G20 in Melbourne – I have absolutely no doubt that minority groups will engage in a level of violence not previously experienced in Sydney,” he said.
2 ) The Democratic Socialist Perspective: The brains trust at the DSP changed its name from Party to Perspective just a few short years ago, as part of an overall strategy with regards that strange, misshapen creature known as the Socialist Alliance (see below). Prior to this, it was known as the Socialist Workers’ Party. It publishes Australia’s leading leftist weekly Green Left (sometimes also referred to as the Environmental Leninist in acknowledgement of the group’s Leninist political orientation). See Raiders of the Left Ark.
3 ) The Socialist Alliance: Less an “anti-capitalist group” — as Luke describes it — than an electoral platform for Marxists / Leninists and Trotskyists, SA was formed via a coalition of a number of Marxist parties, ranging from the small to the tiny, in the wake of the September 2000 protests against the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Melbourne, and in an explicit attempt to capitalise upon what was assumed to be a groundswell of opposition to neoliberalism in Australia. The two main forces in the SA were until recently the DSP and another Marxist party with its roots in the (post-)New Left of the 1970s, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO). The ISO recently left SA, having belatedly discovered its main use was as another feeder organisation for the DSP, which remains to run the show. Since its establishment, most of SA’s activity has been electoral-based, but the absolutely disastrous results of this activity has stripped it of whatever meagre credibility it may once have possessed among a broader progressive political community, and it appears at this stage that it will continue to eke out an existence for precisely as long as the DSP finds it useful as a means to contest and to lose council, state and federal elections. See NSW State Election : Results (March 24, 2007); Join in the chorus? Socialism vs. 2006 Victorian state election (November 26, 2006).
4 ) Resistance: Remarkably unacknowledged by Luke, Resistance is in fact the youth wing of the DSP, and like SA, acts as a feeder organisation. The APEC summit, and more specifically its attendant publicity, is sure to be a recruitment bonanza for Resistance, and from the hundreds who join will likely result in the eventual recruitment of several dozen militants for its adult partner the DSP.
5 ) Iraq Veterans Against the War: The IVAW is essentially a US project, one member of which, Matt Howard, has been flown to Australia by the Stop Bush Coalition in order to address rallies and meetings in Sydney and elsewhere. See Frank Walker, Marine urges APEC protests, Sydney Morning Herald, August 19, 2007. Howard sensibly advocates placing Bush on trial for war crimes: Mark Dodd, Try Bush for war crimes, urges US combat veteran, The Australian, September 5, 2007.
6 ) FLARE in the Void: As Luke notes, not an organisation but an event, a pre-APEC convergence space, organised by elements of the anarchist and libertarian left. Note that such events have become part of the standard retinue accompanying major anti-Summit protests the world over, and act as a vital means of allowing dissident ideas and practices to be communicated, reflected on and, hopefully, extended more deeply and widely among constituent communities.
7 ) Alliance for Civil Disobedience Co-ordination (AC/DC): contra Luke, it should be made clear that “AC/DC is [NOT] an anarchist group”, but rather an ad hoc collection of groups and individuals from Melbourne committed to confronting APEC. The idea that the group is committed to ‘violent’ confrontation is a furphy, although obviously an eminently useful one for the authorities. Thus according to Luke, AC/DC “has controversially announced its intention to ‘violently’ disrupt the summit (they told Crikey! that their definition of violent differs markedly from the media’s)”. Given the use of a non-standard definition of the term ‘violence’ by the corporate and state media, this may well be so. In any case, in reality AC/DC’s open letter — a statement of principles — make the group’s intent quite clear:
The Melbourne Alliance for Civil Disobedience Co-ordination (AC/DC) statement on APEC protests in September 2007, Sydney, Australia:
1. We recognise that APEC is an illegitimate institution in the eyes of the mass of the human population, and that its agenda is a threat to our welfare and environment. We are therefore in favour of the largest possible mass mobilisation and mass demonstrations against it
2. We aim to disrupt the functioning of any APEC-related activities in Sydney in September 2007
3. We defend our right to mass civil disobedience and mass direct action and we will attempt to use these tactics as part of our resistance to the agenda of APEC
4. We reject the police and the state’s attempts to define and control our protest and our resistance through the use of declared areas, protestor black lists and other forms of state intimidation
5. We want to convince other groups, individuals and communities to join us in resistance to APEC that is meaningful and empowering
Unfortunately, it appears that a hack called Sarah Elks, writing for Limited News, confused this statement with another called ‘Shared Intent’ (Protesters warn of violent challenge, The Australian, August 30, 2007). Ironically, this error has previously been highlighted on Crikey! by Cam Smith.
8 ) Mutiny: “Mutiny is one of the anarchist groups linked to violence at last year’s G20 summit” writes Luke, which is largely correct. Notably, this ‘link’ was originally made by Marcus Greville; like Alex Bainbridge, a DSP member, and the then media spokesperson for the Stop G20 coalition of leftists based in Melbourne (and, like Stop Bush, an organisation also dominated by this Party… er, ‘Perspective’). ‘Controversy’ surrounds the group’s attempts not to allow organising against the APEC summit to fall prey to attempts by the police / state and the gutter press to vilify protesters as ‘violent’ and to severely limit discussion of potential forms of protest and resistance to neoliberalism, war, social domination and economic exploitation generally to those which are hopelessly ineffectual.
9 ) Maritime Union of Australia: Outside of elements of the CFMEU, seemingly one of the last bastions of even vaguely ‘leftist’ or ‘progressive’ orientation in the trade union movement, one which exists in an industry in which the (re-)imposition of capitalist forms of economic ‘globalisation’ has seen wages and conditions spiral downwards across the globe. The Union generated massive popular support during industrial disputes in 1996, lost the ensuing battle, but won the right to being featured in a mediocre quasi-documentary. In more general terms, it should be noted that dockworkers and longeshoremen have an almost unequalled record of practices of global working class solidarity and political radicalism, continue to play a crucial role in the distribution of goods around the world, and hence be subject to almost constant attack by capital and state.
10 ) Latin American Solidarity Network: as Luke recounts, an “independent and inclusive group of people working in solidarity with Latin American grassroots movements and its struggles.” In Australia, LASNET aims to “raise awareness of the struggles of Latin American people and works to support these initiatives through local and national activism.”
For a spot of comic relief:
And then there’s the protest protest group, Aussies for ANZUS: Formed just last weekend by the “proudly Liberal member” John Ruddick, Aussies for ANZUS is a group designed to welcome the US President to APEC and promote the Australian-US alliance. Its creator boasts a five-by-three metre banner [that] announces, “We support Bush, we love America, aussies4anzus.com“, decorated with both countries’ flags. The group has been given police permission to position themselves within the APEC security zone.