The development of anarchism in Sydney - interview with Sid of Jura books" uploaded by Workers Solidarity

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Maloney
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May 17 2013 08:44
The development of anarchism in Sydney - interview with Sid of Jura books" uploaded by Workers Solidarity

A conversation with Sydney anarchist Sid, co-founder of the Jura books Collective on the history of anarchism in the city and how he became involved in the various phases of the movement. He describes the early debates, conferences and initial projects of opening bookshops and radical spaces. He talks a lot about Jura books whose formation and ongoing maintenance he is centrally involved with.

He looks at the importance of cultural activities in terms of bring people into the space and keeping the bookshop open but also of beig careful to leave space for new people to develp ideas. Sid also stresses the importance of linking the capitalist crisis with the environment in terms of building a sustainable planet for humanity and our species. He believes that only anarchism has the potential to answer these questions.

Link:http://www.wsm.ie/c/history-development-anarchism-sydney

Common Struggle
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May 22 2013 09:11

Nice. https://www.facebook.com/anarchistmemes/posts/486906364714169

Ablokeimet
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May 23 2013 07:52

An interesting and informative talk by Sid. I thought for a while, though, that he wasn't going to mention The Split at all. When he did, what he said gave little insight into what The Split was about - why not just the two who had returned from overseas, but half the collective, wanted to change how Jura operated (which included, in part, ensuring that the collective actually operated by the rules it had decided for itself).

Sid was right that the process went on for too long and the emnity was kept up for too long. At Black Rose, we decided fairly soon that we needed to drop the bitterness - though I was insistent that we didn't forget the lessons. Looking back, I think we needed to recognise a lot earlier that the battle lines had been drawn and we weren't going to change anybody's minds. In fact, I think I was the only person who ended up on a different side of The Split from what they started on. And that was precisely because I decided that there was a lot more to it than "Walden II".

A very informative document on The Split can be found here:

http://www.takver.com/history/sydney/syd82split.htm

There are very few errors in it and none of any consequence that I can recall.

Maloney
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May 24 2013 00:56

Cheers for the feedback and link.

I have visited both centres and find Jura books much more attractive in terms of the anarchism it is promoted. It's just a pity regarding its location where awe black rose is in a more central spot.

Although their our sound comrades involved in black rose but as a whole I find it much more inward looking and ghettoised lifestyle ,trying to mimic some form of Greek insurrectionism which is not applicable to the current political and social context.

We need to build a popular movement rooted in our communities and workplaces. Anarchist communism or libertarian communism is not one type of anarchism but the only form that has ever made any headway.

If you know anyone interested in doing an audio interview with me, let me know because I have asked.

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Lugius
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May 24 2013 08:52

It is an interesting interview for what it leaves out and what it glosses over. It is a little inaccurate with regard to the initial foundation of Jura books which is remedied somewhat in the history found at Takver's Initiative.

I am presuming that Sid's circumspection was out of a desire not to cause any offence given his locutor's attitude to anarcho-syndicalism as evidence's by the WSM line (Position Paper 5 Syndiclism). But the historical fact remains that the original bookshop was established by 'Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists' all of whom were members of the Sydney IWW at the time.

In 1979 the collective that ran Jura Books was expanded to overcome the lack of energy and commitment required to run a bookshop and to anyone who regarded themselves as an anarchist according to any interpretation. This lack of coherence was to lead to the acrimonious split in Jura in 1982 which led directly to the formation of Black Rose.

This split also split over into the Sydney IWW and two members left to become involved in Black Rose. A lot of reasons and explanations have been given for the split but essentailly the core issue revolved around the importance of class - class consciousness, class analysis and class identity. This division in the anarchist scene in Australia is sometimes crudely and ambiguously described as 'lifestylism v workerism'.

The IWW has established a General Organising Committee in 1976 but by 1981, only the Sydney IWW remained. The Sydney IWW maintained an office at Jura and those who had identified themselves as 'Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists' had been informally discussing the idea of establishing and IWA section in Australia. A statement was issued to that effect in 1981 under the name 'Anarcho-Syndicalist Committee.

After the 1982 split, Jura Books became more oriented in the direction of class struggle anarchist politics particularly after Spanish exile Antonio Jimenez y Cubillo (Tony) became more heavily involved. The Sydney IWW commenced publication of 'Rebel Worker', the Paper of the Australian IWW. A year later, the Sydney IWW changed its name to Rebel Worker Group in preparation for an ultimately unsuccessful application to the 17th IWA Congress held in Madrid in 1984 to become the Australian section of the IWA.

During the 1980s, class-struggle anarchism was a minority current and there was a concerted push to redefine anarchism as that which eschewed class analysis for power analysis. Bob James characterised this as New Anarchism at its launch in May 1986 at the Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations. At the Commemoration of the Spanish Revolution held in Fitroy in July 1986, Joe Toscano denounced anarcho-syndicalists as 'trogolodytes and dinosaurs'. Richard Fields (of Black Rose fame) denounced the federative structure of classical anarchism as inevitably leading to a 'monolithic bureaucracy' and posited 'Anti-Mass Collectives' (plagiarised from a similarly named pamphlet published in the US in 1971.)

At the time the argument went that class analysis was useful in the 19th century but is no longer relevant to modern society with an expanding middle-class and that anarchism should focus on other sites of oppression with gender being at the top of the list followed closely by the environment. Anarchism had to be remade.

This necessarily involved a sanitisation of anarchist history to serve the purpose. Consequently, large parts of anarchist history in Australia (the migrant working-class experience) was airbrushed out.

There really is a need for a comprehensive history of anarchism in Australia. There certainly are lessons to be learnt. In the mean time we'll have to be satisfied with selected hits and spin-offs of which this interview with Sid would be one example.

http://www.takver.com/history/sydney/syd82split.htm

http://www.takver.com/history/sydney/syd8202.htm

Ablokeimet
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May 24 2013 08:53
Maloney wrote:
I have visited both centres and find Jura books much more attractive in terms of the anarchism it is promoted. ... Anarchist communism or libertarian communism is not one type of anarchism but the only form that has ever made any headway.

Sorry if I have misled you by using the first person plural, but I've had nothing to do with Black Rose since moving to Melbourne over 20 years ago. In fact, by the early 1990s, all the founder members had left.

When we founded Black Rose, we wanted to integrate Anarchist ideas sufficiently to be able to run an Anarchist bookshop collective, but there was no commitment to coming to a common version of Anarchism beyond that. I was an Anarcho-Syndicalist at the time and I'm an Anarchist Communist now - and emphatically opposed to insurrectionism.

Maloney
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May 24 2013 09:14

Ok, And appreciate the feedback, anarchist communism is about challenging all these oppressions but class is the interlocker. Black rose may have started out with good intentions but to me it reminds me of certain sections of 'anarchism' that I don't want anything to do with.

There are sound individuals involved in the project who are also members of IWW. More interviews on the way. One reason I am doing this is because the lack of this memory and coherent movement. I hope these audio recordings help Ñe sometimes migrants like myself can contribute to this.

Ablokeimet
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May 26 2013 03:33
Lugius wrote:
But the historical fact remains that the original bookshop was established by 'Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists' all of whom were members of the Sydney IWW at the time.

In 1979 the collective that ran Jura Books was expanded to overcome the lack of energy and commitment required to run a bookshop and to anyone who regarded themselves as an anarchist according to any interpretation. This lack of coherence was to lead to the acrimonious split in Jura in 1982 which led directly to the formation of Black Rose.

This split also split over into the Sydney IWW and two members left to become involved in Black Rose. A lot of reasons and explanations have been given for the split but essentailly the core issue revolved around the importance of class - class consciousness, class analysis and class identity. ...

After the 1982 split, Jura Books became more oriented in the direction of class struggle anarchist politics particularly after Spanish exile Antonio Jimenez y Cubillo (Tony) became more heavily involved. The Sydney IWW commenced publication of 'Rebel Worker', the Paper of the Australian IWW. ...

Richard Fields (of Black Rose fame) denounced the federative structure of classical anarchism as inevitably leading to a 'monolithic bureaucracy' and posited 'Anti-Mass Collectives' (plagiarised from a similarly named pamphlet published in the US in 1971.)

There is a lot to reply to here, largely because Lugius wasn't as close to the action in Jura as I was. I'll take it bit by bit:

1. As far as I was aware, Richard was not a member of the IWW - but he was central to the formation of the Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists* and of Jura Books. I joined the SA-S (or. at least I thought I was joining it - I was coming to meetings and nobody talked about any joining procedure being necessary) and I think the bookshop was founded before I joined the IWW.

2. The bookshop had been the idea of the fellow who blew in from the SLL after being expelled and told he was an Anarchist. He was a charismatic figure who inspired us with vision and ambition, even though we didn't subscribe to his politics (at the time, we thought he was closer to our politics than he turned out to be). When he left, we had been lumbered with a project which was larger than our resources - but we had known before he joined that our resources were limited and until he turned up we were deliberately being modest in our ambitions. We just got carried away by his visions in the interim.

3. Opening up membership of the bookshop collective to people outside the SA-S certainly contributed to the ideological variety in the collective, but it didn't cause it. The differences were there from the beginning. Half (and possibly more) of the people who were on the Black Rose side of the The Split had been members of the SA-S.

4. It's not quite correct to say that two members "left" the Sydney IWW to become involved in Black Rose. The IWW Sydney Group voted to disband. The Rebel Worker Collective had been a sub-group of the Sydney IWW and, when the Sydney IWW disbanded, the Rebel Worker Collective was all that was left standing. The two members who "left" were effectively expelled from the IWW - our only alternative method of remaining members was for one of us to get independent recognition from Chicago HQ as a Delegate.

5. The core issues in the split had nothing to do with class struggle vs non-class struggle Anarchism. They were to do with how to organise a collective that was running an Anarchist bookshop. That's what we were arguing about and hurling invective about - whether we needed to use voting or consensus, whether we set up a job rotation system where jobs actually got rotated or not, whether we actually held meetings to decide on confirming a probationary member. We were not arguing about whether to support building Anarcho-Syndicalist unions or building utopian communes. I was in the room and I remember. The clearest demonstration of the fact that a class struggle orientation was not at stake is that Richard (who had by then rejected Anarcho-Syndicalism), before we realised a split was necessary, proposed finding a solution by widening the circle of people involved in thrashing through the issues so as to involve broader circles of the movement and lower the emotional temperature. One of the key people he named as wanting to involve was none other than Tony Jiminez - something that he didn't see as problematic, despite Tony's renown as a loyalist of the CNT.

6. Rebel Worker had commenced publication before The Split. And, while the composition of the Jura collective became more weighted to Anarcho-Syndicalists after we left, that didn't have much impact, at least at first, on the selection of stock - in either bookshop.

7. Richard's advocacy of The Anti-Mass strategy was not "plagiarised" - he openly used it as his reference text and made no attempt to pass it off as his own work. And, while he might have by then seen The Anti-Mass as an alternative to federalism (I can't recall him saying so), my attitude was that The Anti-Mass was a strategy for how a small group can work - and that federalism is the strategy for how to build a large movement out of small groups.

* After I joined the SA-S, various members explained to me the walk-out from the disastrous 1976 FAA Conference. Over half the people attending walked out, most of them saying "If that's Anarchism, I'm not an Anarchist". A small number walked out saying "That's not Anarchism - we're going off to start something that is". In one of the conversations giving me the history, Richard explained the choice of the name of the Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists. It was an attempt to define the new group in opposition to the "Carnival Anarchists" who had wrecked the Conference and were especially strong in Sydney. These "Carnival Anarchists" were openly opposed to organisation as being inescapably bureaucratic and in conflict with Anarchism. The name "Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists" was chosen as a way of claiming organisation for Anarchism. Now, while that might have been his attitude alone, it serves as an explanation of why he was willing to go along with the name. He saw himself as considerably closer to Anarcho-Syndicalism than he was to the Carnival Anarchists - who were definitely lifestylists, to use the current terminology. The issue in 1976 was whether to organise. The issue in 1981 was how to organise.

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Lugius
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May 30 2013 04:11

Many thanks to Maloney and Ablokeimet for contributions to anarchist history in Australia. I noted earlier that there is no complete single-narrative history of anarchism in Australia just a lot of bits and pieces here and there.

I wonder if anyone else knows of any archives relating to the history of anarchist groups in Australia?

At the risk of looking like I'm engaging in a game of ping-pong, I'd like to respond to the points that Ablokeimet has made;

1. I was a bit closer to the action than you give me credit for. I have a clear recollection of meeting Walter, Mark and Jim in August 1977 at 417 King St. Newtown after they picked up the keys from the real estate agent. We checked the joint out and decided there and then to rent it. I was a member of the IWW from 6 June 1975 until I allowed my membership to lapse on 31 December 1977 (I still have the red cards). Indeed, when the ANZGOC of the IWW was established in February 1976, I was given the task of International Secretary and was responsible for communicating with the GEB in Chicago. I feel this makes me reasonably well-qualified to speak about the early history of the IWW in Australia (which had absolutely zero to do with the IWW of the First World War era - the last wobbly with any connection, Bert Armstrong, died in 1975). My problem with the IWW began when I found out about the origin of the 'anti-political sect' component of the IWW Constitution. It was Tony Jimenez (who I met by pure chance in 1974 in Canberra while handing out leaflets) that convinced me that the future of anarcho-syndicalism in Australia lay with the establishment of an Australian section of the IWA, to supersede the exile sections (CNT-B established in Sydney in 1956 and CNT-E established in Melbourne in 1965).

You're right about the name 'Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists'. I was at the 1976 conference in Melbourne and I was one of those who walked out and attended the meeting that ostensibly founded what was called the Libertarian Socialist Federation (which fizzled out after about 18 months). S A-S wasn't a formal group as such but was designed to act as hippie repellent. I don't recall Richard being there, which is not to say he wasn't there, but I certainly don't remember him. But there is no way you or anyone else will convince me that Richard was an anarcho-syndicalist in any sense of the word.

2. This is a reference to Walter, isn't it? I shared a house with Walter in Liberty St., Enmore. Walter is what I would call a 'flashbulb comrade'. His dazzling incandescence was matched only by the brevity of his commitment. I was certainly not carried away by him and in my view he was a fucking maniac. But you're right about the project being bigger than the resources available.

3. It's my understanding that due to the lack of human resources, the bookshop was opened up to hippies (what you refer to euphemistically as 'ideological variety'). There's nothing quite like getting hippies involved to properly fuck something up, apart from trots that is. Inevitably, a split was going to occur and it was led by Hippie Number One Richard. To insinuate that half, if not most of the people involved in the establishment of Black Rose were anarcho-syndicalists stretches credulity. But if it was so, then how was their anarcho-syndicalism manifested?

4. You could have remained members of the IWW by simply signing up through another delegate (I was signed up by mail through an IWW Delegate in Stockton, California). Would it be fair to suggest that between your transition from anarcho-syndicalist through to anarchist-communist there was a period you could call 'hippie lifestylist'? (You may recall our lengthy discussion at Black Rose in 1985).

5. The core issue of the split in Jura had everything to do with 'class struggle vs non-class struggle Anarchism'. While the topic for discussion may have been titled 'How to Organise an Anarchist Bookshop' the subtext was always about class. In my view, to suggest that methods of organising has nothing to do with class is disingenuous. There was a measure of intellectual dishonesty on the part of what I refer to as 'hippie lifestylists' insofar as their disdain, if not disgust at the labouring masses by their critique of workers in often elliptical terms of their purported sexism, racism and homophobia (completely ignoring women, non-white and/or gay workers). That Richard would cynically invite Tony to be involved only exemplifies this type of dishonesty.

6. The first issue of 'Rebel Worker' was published in February 1982. According to http://www.takver.com/history/sydney/syd82split.htm the meeting of Jura Bookshop Collective that decided to split occurred on 6 June 1982.

7. I can't agree with you here. Richard's pamphlet 'Anti-Mass Collectives' was published in March 1990. Large parts of it were a direct lift from an earlier pamphlet of the same name published in the US in 1971 (I believe copies of both are to be found in the ASF archives). Richard's pamphlet was an attack on the federative model of organisation as practised by the ASF as inevitably leading to a 'monolithic bureaucratic political party-style structure' (I'm paraphrasing). This pamphlet appeared about a month after the defeat of the Tramways Dispute in 1990. This was the dispute where tram depots were occupied under worker's control and the tram system run for free until the government ordered the power cut to the grid and the CBD blockaded with trams for a month. This was no coincidence as it was clear that four years of publishing 'Sparks' was having some influence in the industry. The key phrase is 'anti-mass', it is code for 'anti-working-class'. The great big heaving, writhing mass of the lower orders - the dirty herd - offends bourgeois hippie lifestylist sensibilities. It is the subtext of all 'lifestylist vs. workerist' so-called debates.

Ablokeimet
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May 31 2013 01:20
Lugius wrote:
At the risk of looking like I'm engaging in a game of ping-pong, I'd like to respond to the points that Ablokeimet has made

And many thanks to Luguis for his comments. I'll try to keep my responses brief.

1. OK, Lugius was pretty close to the action in the early days. Richard was certainly around, however - although I only attended a few meetings before Jura was founded (and I joined the movement after the disastrous 1976 conference, learning about it from accounts by SA-S members), some of those meetings were at Richard's place.

And, thinking back, I can recall an early conversation I had with Richard where he criticised Anarcho-Syndicalism, but I didn't take it at the time to be a rejection of class analysis, given what else he was saying at the time about his workplace activity.

2. No, it wasn't Walter. It was Gareth. They were utterly different characters. Gareth impressed me as a militant with serious commitment and massive energy, but who had serious problems in how he worked with people. Walter didn't make much of an impression on me at all. We never really struck it off together and I didn't hear any explanation when he disappeared.

3. There were six members of Jura who left to start Black Rose. Richard, Takver & I had all been in the SA-S. Takver & I were the ones effectively expelled from the IWW. I don't know whether Richard's partner at the time of Jura's founding was in the SA-S, but she was part of our Jura faction. And I didn't claim that they were Anarcho-Syndicalists, just that they had been members of the SA-S. By the time of the The Split, I was the only actual Anarcho-Syndicalist
in our faction. I think Takver's politics were shifting.

4. Yes, we could have remained Wobblies via the way Lugius describes, but I wasn't aware it was possible. The only option I saw was for Takver or me to become a Delegate. I was a lot less confident back then in my ability to organise anything and I couldn't see any positive way forward for the IWW there. In addition, I was becoming convinced that Anarcho-Syndicalism was superior to the Wobblies' apolitical Sydicalism, so the combination of factors meant I was not prepared to take the extra-ordinary steps that were necessary to stay a Wobbly.

And no, I don't recall the content of that conversation, but now it's mentioned, I recall that Lugius and I had one some time around then. Looking back, I can recall I was pretty confused about my politics then. It's possible I might have set out a schema for an Anarchist movement based around small groups - but at the same time I was an active unionist, including being a Workplace Delegate and a member of a rank & file activist group. I have always, however, been a hippy. I only cut my hair for employment reasons - and hated capitalism even more for it. It's possible to be a hippy without being a lifestylist.

5. It is a surprise to me to hear about disdain for the working class by Black Rose "hippy lifestylists". The closest to that I can recall is one instance where Richard explained that he was disillusioned with being a union Delegate because he felt he was being used as an unpaid personnel officer for his employer.

6. OK. Lugius & I agree. Rebel Worker was discussed in detail and for quite some time by the IWW Sydney Group before it was launched.

7. The fact that Richard published a pamphlet in 1990 is news to me. In The Split, he was using a copy of the original US pamphlet as his reference text and it was about that that I was talking. Through the 1980s, he did occasionally mention the desirability of re-publishing The Anti-Mass, edited to remove about a third of it. I left Black Rose in 1988 and moved to Melbourne early in 1990. After moving to Melbourne, I had no contact with Black Rose and didn't know what they were doing.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jun 18 2013 04:39

My understanding is that the split occurred because there were two incompatible and irreconcilable tendencies within the original Jura:

1. The free-living, free-loving communards who went on to form Black Rose.

2. The uptight anarcho-syndicalists who preferred to make class war rather than love.

East is east and west is west, etc., etc.

Ablokeimet
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Jun 18 2013 10:40
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
My understanding is that the split occurred because there were two incompatible and irreconcilable tendencies within the original Jura:

1. The free-living, free-loving communards who went on to form Black Rose.

2. The uptight anarcho-syndicalists who preferred to make class war rather than love.

East is east and west is west, etc., etc.

The problem with this analysis is that it ignores two things:

1. One of the people who went to Black Rose after The Split was an Anarcho-Syndicalist and not everybody who stayed at Jura was an Anarcho-Syndicalist.

2. At no stage was there any discussion about:

(a) Whether Anarcho-Syndicalism was the best form of Anarchism;
(b) How Anarcho-Sydicalism related to the choice of books we were selling; or
(c) How the way Jura was being run was connected to Anarcho-Syndicalism.

All we argued about was how to run the bookshop. The Black Rose crew wanted:

(a) That the joining procedure we had actually got used;
(b) The job rotation system we had actually resulted in jobs being rotated; and
(c) Decisions to be made by consensus.

If you look at the relationship between Anarcho-Syndicalism and the three things above, you'll see that two out of the three positions of the Black Rose crew would be considered as elementary Anarcho-Syndicalist organisational principles. No union would operate without knowing who was a member and who wasn't. And the practice of limitation of terms of office is up there with mandated, recallable delegates in how Anarcho-Syndicalists propose a union should be organised. So, even the idea that the subjects in dispute were proxies for pro and anti Anarcho-Syndicalist positions doesn't hold water.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jun 19 2013 01:31

I'm glad you sorted that one out for me, Ablokeimet. It all had nothing to do with anarcho-syndicalism!

Alexandro
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Jul 8 2014 10:58

What stood out for me in this podcast is Sid's very obvious embarrassment in being completely unable to explain any type of Anarchist activity by the Jura group. In response to fairly simple questions from our Irish comrades he responds with rhetoric about some type of youth group which based on Sid's own words is nothing more than social in nature. If you listen to it you will notice a point where he clearly becomes very awkward and starts speaking in riddles that amount to little when any attempt is made to pin him down on what Jura books actually achieves - Just like your average politician.

I was involved with Jura books for over 20 years and saw it mutate gradually into the church of Sid it has become today. A group focused around him and any who disagree are driven out. The place is run by committees he controls who draw strongly from Trotskyism and much time and effort is spent developing theory and sets of rules for everyone to follow. That is unless of course you are Sid in which case you are the boss and make your own rules.

I am saddened and disgusted at how Jura books has ended up moving so far away from Anarchism as to be no connection with it. Indeed many of us now refer to it as "Jura NOT-Anarchist Books". This interview is testament to just how such wonderful ideas as Jura Books end up 20 or 30 years later; when the opportunists like Sid move in and gradually take over when the mortgage is finally paid.

Futilitarian
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Jul 17 2014 12:12

In recent months there has been an event at Jura that will go down in its history as a fairly major watershed: namely, the departure/expulsion of Mark, one of the founders of Jura, and the prime-mover of the ASN (Anarcho-Syndicalist Network), who, until recently, was based at the Jura bookshop, and had been so since 1977.

For some probably unknowable reason, a few years ago Mark started developing serious suspicions about the motives of those involved in the Jura Collective, believing that they were not real anarchists and that they were out to sabotage his vital outreach project amongst the working class. Like many people who steep themselves too deeply in class analysis, Mark began seeing bourgeois saboteurs all over the place. His suspicions and mistrust reached a point where he adopted a rather unusual strategy as a means of dealing with these class enemies: i.e. he decided to completely ignore them whenever they attempted to talk to him, even if the matter at hand was something as mundane as a greeting or a query about a phone bill. Sometimes he would stick his fingers in his ears so as not to even hear their nefarious bourgeois imprecations. This strategy continued for some months.

Not surprisingly, many Jura Collective members began to tire of this behaviour and began wanting him removed from the premises. This was particularly the case with younger members who had no history with Mark and had only known him as that anti-social man who laboured at the back of the building. The irony of the situation is that those who had tried to find a solution to the problem that would not have involved Mark's departure - i.e. Sid and Leanne - were the ones whom Mark suspected the most of being out to get rid of him. His continued refusal to communicate resulted in the Collective's decision to terminate his tenure. He was advised of this by e-mail and on a pre-arranged date his equipment was moved into a storage unit, paid for by some of the Collective members. Mark has since rented premises of his own and continues with his frenetic anarcho-syndicalist activities, activities which involve high output with meagre returns.

The recent edition of the ASN's under-subscribed and under-read journal, Rebel Worker, carries an appeal for donations to buy premises for the Rebel Worker - Anarcho-Syndicalist Network Media Centre. Only $750,000 is required! I'm sure Mark's P.O. box is being inundated with cheques from a grateful working class.

Alexandro
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Jul 18 2014 14:28

I think this nasty tirade of mis-truths and hurtful personal attack on Mark McGuire pretty much demonstrates precisely what I was saying about Jura Books. The facts speak for themselves: Australia's longest running Anarchist Paper Rebel Worker and its group gets muscled out of the Jura building by Parissi and his disciples after some 20 years. Rather than admit that they moved away from Anarchism to some form of Sid-focused cult over a decade ago they seek to lay the blame squarely on the people who actually do Anarchist work.

I have never encountered so much politicking, lies and deceit as I have from the Parissi group; they clearly have never read a single one of the dusty books they try to sell. I feel great shame every time the Parissi group purport to be anarchists to visiting comrades from overseas. I would hate to think that our international friends believe that we all are as such.

Futilitarian
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Jul 19 2014 08:21

I'm not falsifying anything, Alexandro. I'm just stating it as I saw it. I tried to get Mark to open up communications with Sid on numerous occasions in an effort to head off the imminent expulsion that a blind man could see coming, only to get the fingers-in-the-ears treatment and a demand not to even utter the name of Sid. Mark's departure is due solely to his own poor judgement and bizarre strategy of total non-communication. I don't know how he could've expected to share premises with others while maintaining a stance of passive hostility and complete verbal and electronic silence. Perhaps you could enlighten me, Alexandro?

Futilitarian
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Nov 26 2017 02:57

It was very amusing to hear Sid go into hyper-utopian mode towards the end of the interview by claiming that there are only two "systems of thought" that have the potential to head off climate change, i.e., those that underpin tribal societies and those that underpin anarchist societies. I would've thought that the low technological levels of tribal societies were due more to environmental factors such as the absence of domesticable plants and animals rather than "systems of thought." In relation to anarchist societies - well, there haven't been any for longer than a second or two of cosmic time so there's no evidence to suggest that they'd have any solutions to climate change, or anything else for that matter.

Bizarrely, Sid claims that Marxism doesn't have an economics and that anarchism does. I would've thought that the end-point of Marxist economics - from each according to ability, to each according to need - was similar to some anarchist renditions but dissimilar only in the manner of getting there. Some Marxist methods, and there were many, advocated workers' control and strongly resembled anarcho-syndicalist methods. Sid said he'd never read anything anywhere that posited a Marxist economics - I think this says more about the breadth of Sid's reading than the absence of a Marxist economics. Anarchist economics, contrary to what Sid seems to imply, is not a unitary thing, but is comprised of a myriad different positions too numerous to attempt to enumerate. They all have one thing in common, though - none of them has been tested in practice for long enough to make a judgement on it.

The irony is that capitalism itself, including the nominally Marxist state capitalism of China, is slowly but surely making progress in relation to decreasing rates of carbon emissions, albeit against a backdrop of increasing industrial activity. A further irony is that in a few decades capitalist technology is likely to have advanced to the point where effectively no carbon emissions will be produced. Furthermore, due to technological change, economic development and the progressive bourgeoisification of formerly underdeveloped countries, the rate of human population growth is slowing, in parabola-like fashion, towards a peak in a few decades, after which it will begin to decline. All of this will happen without any input from Sid's mythical tribal and anarchist societies.

There's no evidence to suggest that anarchism will ever become generalised throughout societies to the point that it will be able to dismantle capitalist power structures and implement self-management. It will almost certainly always be a minority tendency and needs to come to terms with this fact and stop fantasising about a glorious, classless future. If anarchism is to have a future it needs to address the present.