Anarchism in Australia

8 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Jan 25 2013 00:43
Anarchism in Australia

I have posted in the library at pamphlet that was first published in April 1986 and distributed at the Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations held in Melbourne during May 1986.

Some of it is a bit dated but a lot remains relevant. The appendix 'Notes by Albert Meltzer' appeared in the first edition published April 1986 but not in the second edition published March 1997

http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-australia

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 18 2013 13:21

'Recent times have seen great strides in the creation of new ‘needs’, VCRs, computer games, compact disc players and other products are examples of the commercialisation of leisure time.'

This sentence reminds me of the scene from Family Guy where Mike Tyson collapses exhausted after pounding Carol Channing in the ring, and after winning the world heavyweight belt she climbs up on the ropes and says, 'Up yours, young people - you and your rock and roll 8-track tapes.'

The article neglects many of the defining issues and phenomena of the 21st century. Neoliberalism? Environmental crisis? Internet? Intersectionality? Where is any reference to data or writings collected or produced anytime in the last 25 years? Who in the anarchist scene exactly endorses pacifism or disputes class analysis? It does mention the Democrats though, who haven't had a seat in Parliament in 6 years, and seems to assume little interest in class struggle politics amongst Australian anarchists which is clearly untrue. Maybe the problem is that Australian anarchists don't display the requisite level of interest in the ASF.

It does touch on one major phenomenon of recent years, which is to say the rise of voluntaryism and so-called anarchocapitalism, eg: "To take a belief in individual liberty to its logical conclusion is to say that everyone has the right to do as they wish. This is the justification right-wing libertarians (sometimes known as ‘pan-anarchists’) use for a laissez-faire economy and minimal government interference in people’s lives."

While making a very good point, it nevertheless fails to draw this out effectively by examining the way that ancaps invoke the right to do whatever they like regardless of the consequences for anyone else (license) in the name of doing what they want as long as they respect the equal rights of others (freedom), which then provides them with a pretext to blame-shift by accusing anyone who tries to hold them to account for their contempt for the rights and freedoms of others (particularly where their sense of entitlement where exploiting wage labour is concerned) with attempting to deprive them of their own rights and freedoms.

The confusion of freedom and license as well as the failure of this essay to grasp its significance is itself significant given that it is a phenomenon not limited to anarcho-capitalists and the main means apparently by which authoritarianism and informal hierarchies are perpetuated throughout the anarchist milieu using the language of anarchism ('anarchism is the last refuge of authoritarianism' to paraphrase Paul Mattick). That anarchists confuse being criticised with being attacked as purposefully as we do regularly and that this strangles free and open debate within the anarchist scene would appear to be reflected in its suspicious and hostile attitude towards the outside world, if not its own marginality in a world screaming for change.

Otherwise, uploading something almost 30 years old and trying to pass it off as something of major relevance to the present is about as lazy as its shitty formatting.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 18 2013 12:09

It was posted because it has historical value – I think it's good that these things are made available. Believe it or not, there is some interest on the attempt to launch New Anarchism in 1986, and there isn't a lot of contemporary responses available. The appendix by Meltzer alone makes it worthwhile.

I for one think the author of the document is evidently charming, witty and obviously in possession of a commendable sense of intellectual duty. I commend his efforts for making this available.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Feb 18 2013 12:23

Yeah, I would like to thank Lugius for posting it as well. It's important to be able to learn stuff from the past - even if parts of it become outdated. No one is saying that there has been nothing new to learn since the 80s, just that there are things we can learn from then and indeed before

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 19 2013 00:54

As far as I can tell this booklet has had a negligible impact on the anarchist movement in this country. I was around when it was republished in 1997, and the only thing I remember anyone saying about it was one or two people sniggering at the pretentious use of the word 'survey.' It doesn't even quote anything it's supposed to be surveying.

What the author's real or imagined personal qualities have to do with this beats me. Bit of a worry that someone can say something like that with a straight face though.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 19 2013 01:43

It's admittedly difficult to separate my appreciation of his efforts from being under the thrall of Australia's premier anarchist dreamboat.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 19 2013 02:35

Hilarious! You haven't perchance managed to make the revolution somewhere there in amongst being so terribly clever, have you? Just wondering.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 19 2013 02:55

That's right, I keep forgetting.