Anarchist press in Australia?

93 posts / 0 new
Last post
@ndy's picture
@ndy
Offline
Joined: 17-03-06
Jan 25 2009 13:17
Anarchist press in Australia?

There are exactly two — or perhaps three — regular ‘anarchist’ publications in Australia. They are:

Anarchist Age Weekly Review
Mutiny &
Rebel Worker.

The first two are explicitly anarchist; Rebel Worker is an anarcho-syndicalist publication. I’ve no idea what the circulation is of any of the three, but presumably it numbers in the hundreds, not thousands...

More : http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1646

Comments, criticisms, clarifications, welcome.

Rats's picture
Rats
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Feb 23 2009 14:49

We get mutiny master issues sent down here to us, copy them, distro them etc..

They got put out at a couple food not bombs servings, and a couple people sat down and read them while they ate. That was pretty cool. Have never seen/heard of the top one, who makes that?

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Feb 24 2009 07:27
wrote:
Have never seen/heard of the top one, who makes that?

The top one has been made by one super-activist guy for about 18 years; it is filled with his confused liberal take on various single-issue activisms and whatever is in The Age newspaper today.

Bilan's picture
Bilan
Offline
Joined: 26-03-07
Feb 24 2009 13:24

I've never even heard of the first one.
There aren't enough anarchist papers in Australia. It's a shame that the "Federation" couldn't pull itself together to publish a paper, but I suppose not surprising by how slow the whole process is (needlessly, if you ask me).

I think the issue of the absence of anarchist periodicals relates heavily to the disorganisation of anarchists in Australia, the absence of solidified organisation, and coordination - and a heavy inability to be able to try and orchestrate that. Why that is, I'm not really sure; though, more than anything, probably stems from the politics, which in turn shapes the practice of groups, which is creating this problem. The fetish for "autonomous" groups without the consideration of coordination, and the necessity for being able to organise and act in a way which presents class revolution as an actual threat to bourgeois society is, in my view, heavily linked to this.

It kind of pisses me off that I have to say 'maybe in the future' because we have things that (like this) need to be done now, considering we're in a rather important period in capitalism. Better not lose this opportunity. But half of me just expects we will.
I'd like to hear others thoughts, though.

Also, isn't the A-Fed meeting due soon?

princess mob
Offline
Joined: 26-01-07
Mar 3 2009 04:02
Quote:
There aren't enough anarchist papers in Australia. It's a shame that the "Federation" couldn't pull itself together to publish a paper, but I suppose not surprising by how slow the whole process is (needlessly, if you ask me).

I think the issue of the absence of anarchist periodicals relates heavily to the disorganisation of anarchists in Australia, the absence of solidified organisation, and coordination - and a heavy inability to be able to try and orchestrate that. Why that is, I'm not really sure; though, more than anything, probably stems from the politics, which in turn shapes the practice of groups, which is creating this problem. The fetish for "autonomous" groups without the consideration of coordination, and the necessity for being able to organise and act in a way which presents class revolution as an actual threat to bourgeois society is, in my view, heavily linked to this.

I agree with the problem of lack of organisation/coordination, but not with your analysis as to why. I think the problem is that there just aren't many groups ("autonomous" or otherwise - I'm not sure who you're critiquing here) actually doing anything to coordinate. That is, I think the problems are organisation on a local level, not the absence of a bigger structure.

That said, I think there are some arguments that a city/state/country wide organisation would provide more opportunities for (isolated) people to link into: but if that's the aim, a federated structure maybe doesn't make as much sense.

Quote:
Also, isn't the A-Fed meeting due soon?

If a few people make it happen.

princess mob
Offline
Joined: 26-01-07
Mar 3 2009 04:09

Oh also-

Quote:
I’ve no idea what the circulation is of any of the three, but presumably it numbers in the hundreds, not thousands...

We print between 500&700 issues of Mutiny each month - some of those get sent to people in other places to copy more and distribute, and it can also be read/downloaded from The Internet so I don't know what our actual circulation figures are.

So we don't make it to the thousands, but it probably is Australia's highest-circulating anarchist periodical, and we'll be celebrating our third birthday in April.

(And yeah, we got some subscriptions from Adelaide: thanks Gabs!)

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Mar 3 2009 06:27
captain soap wrote:
wrote:
Have never seen/heard of the top one, who makes that?

The top one has been made by one super-activist guy for about 18 years; it is filled with his confused liberal take on various single-issue activisms and whatever is in The Age newspaper today.

Well, I'd have to disagree there. Joe Toscano's Anarchist Age is a good deal better than that, which is fortunate as it almost certainly has by far the highest circulation of all three papers mentioned,especially when the radio version of it on 3CR (and syndicated elsewhere) is taken into account. It is plugged in to the issues of the day that affect people outside the anarchist gehtto, hence no doubt the perception by some that it is "confused" and "liberal". Joe's political background is the Brisbane Self-Management Group.

And.....the anarcho-syndicalist paper Rebel Worker is also "explicitly anarchist", anarcho-syndicalists are anarchists.

I

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Mar 3 2009 09:43

er... no they are not. Anarcho-syndicalism is a praxis, not an identity. It isn't supposed to be about creating a 'union of anarchists' but an anarchist 'union' open to all workers surely.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Mar 5 2009 01:15
Jason Cortez wrote:
er... no they are not. Anarcho-syndicalism is a praxis, not an identity. It isn't supposed to be about creating a 'union of anarchists' but an anarchist 'union' open to all workers surely.

Hi Jason, "anarcho-syndicalism" is to be sure a praxis not an identity, just as you say. But it is an Anarchist praxis, and an "anarcho-syndicalist" is an Anarchist who adopts that praxis.

Actually it is a family of ...um..praxes (praxisses?). The place of non-anarchists in anarcho-syndicalist union has long been an issue of discussion debate and dissent amongst Anarchists. But there are fairly obvious problems with the idea of "an anarchist 'union' open to all workers". If the majority of members are non-anarchists, as is to be expected then assuming it is organised democratically it will cease to be "anarchist", won't it? And if it is not organised democratically but run by an "Anarchist" leadership then it will also have ceased to be Anarchist without quotation marks. The problem I believe arises from the developement of anarcho-syndicalism in the context of "latin" open shop unionism where, as I understand it, it is normal for different "syndicates" to be affiliated to different political parties. English-speaking unionism has somewhat different traditions. But I digress from the main issue of this thread....

Has anyone seen the old nineteenth century "Boys Own Paper" ? I still think that is the gold-dtandard for an "ideological" paper. The ideology the BOP was selling was muscular Christianity and it did this very successfully by not hiding its ideological core (on the one hand) but by making its subject matter "everything that might interst a boy" (one the other). Worth studying and adapting.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 5 2009 13:49
jeremytrewindixon wrote:
Well, I'd have to disagree there. Joe Toscano's Anarchist Age is a good deal better than that ... it is plugged in to the issues of the day that affect people outside the anarchist gehtto, hence no doubt the perception by some that it is "confused" and "liberal".

One need only look at the current issue (no. 284 when it stops being current) to see what I mean by "confused".

In his response to some editorials in the Sunday Age, Toscano posits the solution to the crisis:

Toscano wrote:
The answers we are seeking can be found at the very beginning of the human story. What gave us our evolutionary edge was not the size of our brain or our ability to grasp weapons. Our evolutionary success was directly related to our ability to co-operate with each other and our willingness to share our resources with each other. Ancient people understood that individual survival was dependant on co-operation and collective effort. The successful completion of the political, social and cultural struggles that will dominate life in the 21st century as we attempt to deal with the problems associated with scarcity, is dependent on us using our collective wisdom to transfer power and wealth from the hands of the private sector and the state into the hands of the community. Communalisation, not socialism, not communism, not capitalism, holds the key to us successfully dealing with the problems that will overwhelm us if we continue to ignore the issues associated with moving from an economic system based on relative abundance, to one based on scarcity.

Then, commenting on the bushfires:

Quote:
Technology has lulled Australians into a false sense of security. Indigenous people understood it was futile to build permanent structures because of the dominant role fires and floods played in their lives. To date we have been able to successfully use technology to keep nature at bay.

Then, in his Anarchist Question and Answer,

Quote:
Today Australians are time poor and materially rich, in the past indigenous cultures were materially poor because they understood the futility of developing material structures in a geographical setting where natural forces periodically destroyed material goods and possessions. Time rich societies develop complex social interactions and tend to rely on consensus decision making processes. Time poor societies tend to rely on hierarchical decision making processes and develop structures that internalises power in self-appointed or elected rulers because people are so busy accumulating wealth they don’t have the time to become involved in the decision making process. Paradoxically increasing greenhouse emissions are placing the material success of 20th century culture, at risk. Nature gives birth to human culture and as it changes, destroys it. As we move from a materially rich to a materially poor culture, the political and social processes and institutions that evolved in a materially rich culture will give way to political structures, institutions and social and cultural practices that sustain life in a geographical setting where materialism threatens, not enhances, human survival. That is why the 21st century is rapidly becoming the anarchist century.

So, according to Joe, the solution to our problems lies in following the wisdoms of ancient peoples, who had an innate understanding of their world. The current society is plagued by hierarchical decision making structures because people are too busy working to think for themselves. We need to give up our material wealth and become poor like the aborigines, who weren't materially poor because the Australian context didn't allow agriculture to independently develop, but because they chose to be that way through their understanding of nature. But even if we don't follow the aborigines, society is moving inevitably towards 'material poverty' and non-hierarchical institutions will spring from that of their own accord.

The rest of the newsletter also contains such gems as lambasting the federal government for not implementing the health policies of the Whitlam government, and mutterings about how the armed forces need to win over the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan if they want to make progress and defeat the Taliban.

It's a load of incoherent shite.

Nowhere in the many thousands of words he spews forth each week does he mention the existence of class society, that if we want things to be better maybe destroying class needs to come into it? On the rare occasion he does mention capitalism, it is simply seen as one among many oppressions.

jeremy wrote:
Joe's political background is the Brisbane Self-Management Group.

You wouldn't guess it from his newsletter. That group's pamphlet You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship is still widely recommended today. Unfortunately Joe's writings seem to have forgotten that same social relationship exists.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 5 2009 13:51

Also,

Quote:
That is why the 21st century is rapidly becoming the anarchist century.

is quite hilarious fantasism.

Rats's picture
Rats
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Mar 9 2009 17:48

So.. if the 21st century is anarchist, what's the 22nd gonna be?
If someone says primitivist by gosh i'm gonna get my hittin' stick.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Mar 11 2009 04:08
captain soap wrote:
So, according to Joe, the solution to our problems lies in following the wisdoms of ancient peoples, who had an innate understanding of their world. The current society is plagued by hierarchical decision making structures because people are too busy working to think for themselves. We need to give up our material wealth and become poor like the aborigines, who weren't materially poor because the Australian context didn't allow agriculture to independently develop, but because they chose to be that way through their understanding of nature. But even if we don't follow the aborigines, society is moving inevitably towards 'material poverty' and non-hierarchical institutions will spring from that of their own accord.
Quote:

Actually, no, that is a complete garble of what he wrote. It is even a complete garble of what you quoted, read it again. Of course, you may well not know that Joe has never been a primitivist throughout his 35 odd years as an active Anarchist but I think it is good practice to read stuff before you trash it. Are you upset about the remarks on moving into scarcity, because so much Anarchist thought has been based on the delusion of the coming society of abundance?

Just incidentally it is not in fact true that "the Australian context didn't allow agriculture to independently develop" (I'd love to see you make an argument) and in any case it wasn't necessary for it to develop independently as Australian hunter-gatherers were in contact with New Guinean agriculturalists.......everything suggests in fact that they did choose to remain hunter-gatherers. Just so you know.

Quote:
The rest of the newsletter also contains such gems as lambasting the federal government for not implementing the health policies of the Whitlam government

Defending the social liberal health system against right wing attacks is fair enough, captain soap. Are you too rich to care if free health care is available or not? I'm not, and I have kids, and if their access to healthcare depended on my wallet they would be in a bad way and in one case dead. Defending social liberal reforms is just like defending wage rises, once upon a time there were Anarchists who opposed social liberal reforms like wage rises and the 8 hour day but that argument is long over

Quote:
and mutterings about how the armed forces need to win over the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan if they want to make progress and defeat the Taliban.

If you think that Joe is supporting the invasion of Afghanistan you think wrong.

[quoteNowhere in the many thousands of words he spews forth each week does he mention the existence of class society, that if we want things to be better maybe destroying class needs to come into it? On the rare occasion he does mention capitalism, it is simply seen as one among many oppressions.

In fact the need to destroy the capitalist system is a constant refrain of the newsletter...it mightn't be mentioned as often as you would like captain soap because unlike some he does have other things to say . That is why he has a readership and a listenership outside the anarchist ghetto. As an anarcho-communist rather than an anarcho-syndicalist he does have a somewhat different take on class than, for example, I do.

jeremy wrote:
Joe's political background is the Brisbane Self-Management Group.

You wouldn't guess it from his newsletter. That group's pamphlet You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship is still widely recommended today. Unfortunately Joe's writings seem to have forgotten that same social relationship exists.

No, if we are speaking of incoherent shite one need look no further for an example than the pamhlet "You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship" written by the prize drongo Brian Laver in a blind panic after the Hilton bombing. I was in the Monash Anarchists at the time we supposedly authorised it. We did no such thing, Laver's mates in in the group (they were also Joe's mates at the time)put the draft on the table in a meeting. I read it (the only one apart from the Laver henchpeople who did so) and wrote some hostile comments on it. When the pamphlet came out I was disugusted to see the Monash Anarchists endorsement falsely attached. It is seriously crap pamphlet.....

Must go, later J

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 14 2009 13:15
jeremy wrote:
Actually, no, that is a complete garble of what he wrote. It is even a complete garble of what you quoted, read it again. Of course, you may well not know that Joe has never been a primitivist throughout his 35 odd years as an active Anarchist but I think it is good practice to read stuff before you trash it. Are you upset about the remarks on moving into scarcity, because so much Anarchist thought has been based on the delusion of the coming society of abundance?

I was referring to Joe's analysis that our problems are due to us being 'too busy':

Joe T wrote:
Time poor societies tend to rely on hierarchical decision making processes and develop structures that internalises power in self-appointed or elected rulers because people are so busy accumulating wealth they don’t have the time to become involved in the decision making process.

and his determinist analysis which seems to imply that moving to a society of scarcity will inevitably lead to anarchism:

Joe T wrote:
Nature gives birth to human culture and as it changes, destroys it.  As we move from a materially rich to a materially poor culture, the political and social processes and institutions that evolved in a materially rich culture will give way to political structures, institutions and social and cultural practices that sustain life in a geographical setting where materialism threatens, not enhances, human survival.  That is why the 21st century is rapidly becoming the anarchist century.

Whether I subscribe to the 'delusion of the coming society of abundance' has no bearing on me thinking that the idea of a society with everyone involved in decision-making automatically springing from scarcity, is complete nonsense. Ever heard of 'barbarism'?

jeremy wrote:
Just incidentally it is not in fact true that "the Australian context didn't allow agriculture to independently develop" (I'd love to see you make an argument) and in any case it wasn't necessary for it to develop independently as Australian hunter-gatherers were in contact with New Guinean agriculturalists.......everything suggests in fact that they did choose to remain hunter-gatherers. Just so you know.

The Australian context largely did not allow agriculture to independently develop, but where it was possible, the indications are that Aborigines did seem to be moving in the direction of agriculture. Due to its age, the Australian continent is extremely flat and the soil is leached of nutrients. Most of the continent is extremely dry, due to sub-antarctic currents, lack of elevation, and interestingly, possibly also due to burning regimes by its early inhabitants. Weather patterns are unreliable from an agricultural perspective, due to the irregular El Nino cycle of droughts.

One of the main requirements for the development of agriculture is domesticable plants or animals. At the time of human arrival, Australia did have endemic fauna with characteristics suitable for large-scale animal husbandry, but unfortunately all were hunted to extinction. The domestication of plants was also difficult, due to the lack of suitable candidate crop species. For example, candidate crop species should be short-lived, rapid growing, produce a lot of large seed, easily harvestable etc, and so they tend to be grasses. All the major cereal crops in the world come from grass species with large grains, while the grains of all Australian grasses are very small.

In some areas of Australia, Aborigines did begin to intensify food production in the last few thousand years. Along parts of the Murray-Darling system, long canal systems with elaborate traps and weirs were constructed, for the farming of eels. This permanent, relatively high-protein food source led to an increase in population density, with large villages of stone houses being established. This would appear to indicate that in these places, aborigines were moving away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Joe T wrote:
Indigenous people understood it was futile to build permanent structures because of the dominant role fires and floods played in their lives.

This hardly seems to be the case. Across the majority of the continent, aborigines remained hunter-gatherers due to a lack of permanent food sources, but where such food sources were possible, they began to settle, the same as people have done throughout the world.

jeremy wrote:
everything suggests in fact that they did choose to remain hunter-gatherers. Just so you know

So far, you haven't shown any evidence other than assertion that this was the case.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 14 2009 12:59
jeremy wrote:
Defending the social liberal health system against right wing attacks is fair enough, captain soap. Are you too rich to care if free health care is available or not? I'm not, and I have kids, and if their access to healthcare depended on my wallet they would be in a bad way and in one case dead. Defending social liberal reforms is just like defending wage rises, once upon a time there were Anarchists who opposed social liberal reforms like wage rises and the 8 hour day but that argument is long over

Of course health care should be free, and of course we need to defend the health system agains 'right wing attacks'. Demanding free health care is a concrete class demand. We aren't in the business of managing capital though, so shouldn't be offering recommendations to the government of how it should implement such demands. This is the main problem with Joe's newsletters. While his desire to write to 'those outside the ghetto' is fair enough, outward-looking propaganda is only useful when it attempts to clearly explain the reality of capitalism. Obviously avoiding marxist jargon is fine, but if you do this by using other mystifying language and making leftist demands, then there doesn't really seem much point to it. Joe's health article doesn't actually mention whether 'right wing attacks' attacks are occuring. He instead spends the article debating the pros and cons of the 'pay-for-service' system versus the 'salaried model'. The state may very well be able to implement a 'salaried model' of health care, but that doesn't mean its going to be any more accessible to those who need it.

Joe T wrote:
A network of community owned and run salaried community health care centres would provide real competition to a fee for service health network that isn’t delivering the goods

What is this 'community' of which he speaks, and what does 'community owned' actually mean in practice?

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 14 2009 14:02
jeremy wrote:
Quote:
and mutterings about how the armed forces need to win over the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan if they want to make progress and defeat the Taliban.

If you think that Joe is supporting the invasion of Afghanistan you think wrong.

I wasn't trying to suggest that he does. I do think Joe's article here is quite confused. Australians apparently are beginning to take issue with the war in Afghanistan because of 'the very real lack of progress by Australian and Coalition forces in Afghanistan'. Joe makes no attempt to explain what exactly he means by this progress, no mention of the fact that such 'progress' is not in the interest of the working class here or abroad.

Joe T wrote:
The issue in Afghanistan, since the Russian coup in the 1970’s, has always been one of security. The Taliban’s success was largely due to its ability to bring security to a people who were sick and tired of being controlled by petty warlords who had brought the country to its knees. Most people in Afghanistan were pleased to see the back of the Taliban when they were routed after 9/11, because of the very high personal price people were paying for security. Seven years later the very same people who were glad to see the back of the Taliban, are welcoming them back.

This is exactly the kind of thing you would expect to find in one of the more liberal newspapers here. I mean, I know Joe wants to 'reach outside the ghetto', but he seems to have abandoned all vestiges of a radical, material analysis in the process. While I am sure 'security' plays a part, surely, imperialism has had a much greater influence on war in Afghanistan, like it does in pretty much every war? That is, the fact that certain factions of the ruling class have interests in the continuation of this war, and previous Afghan wars? The obvious example being of course the massive bankrolling of the mujahedeen by the US in the 80s, and Russian backing of its Afghan puppet, but also in the current wars; presumably Australia, US, every man and his dog aren't occupying the country just to win hearts and minds but their ruling classes actually expect to gain something from it? Presumably the Taliban get their weapons from somewhere, and certain factions in the Pakistani ruling class see it in their interests that Afghanistan remain destabilised (probably the same ones who have something to gain by destabilising Pakistan itself)? Not to mention the role war has played as the form of primitive accumulation in Afghanistan, the decline of feudalism as capital moves in, Afghanistan's integration into the world opium market and so on.

By merely repeating what can be found in any Age editorial, Joe is arguing entirely on the ruling class' terms and just perpetuating their mystifications. If Joe's 'reaching outside the ghetto' serves any purpose, surely it should be to promote a clearer understanding of capitalism, and how it relates to these 'issues'. Of course unneccesary jargon should be avoided, but not at the cost of throwing out any useful analysis with it. Otherwise it is just counterproductive and just continues the bourgeios mystifications that such propaganda should surely be trying to erase.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Mar 26 2009 10:05
captain soap wrote:
jeremy wrote:
Just incidentally it is not in fact true that "the Australian context didn't allow agriculture to independently develop" (I'd love to see you make an argument) and in any case it wasn't necessary for it to develop independently as Australian hunter-gatherers were in contact with New Guinean agriculturalists.......everything suggests in fact that they did choose to remain hunter-gatherers. Just so you know.

The Australian context largely did not allow agriculture to independently develop, but where it was possible, the indications are that Aborigines did seem to be moving in the direction of agriculture. Due to its age, the Australian continent is extremely flat and the soil is leached of nutrients. Most of the continent is extremely dry, due to sub-antarctic currents, lack of elevation, and interestingly, possibly also due to burning regimes by its early inhabitants. Weather patterns are unreliable from an agricultural perspective, due to the irregular El Nino cycle of droughts.

One of the main requirements for the development of agriculture is domesticable plants or animals. At the time of human arrival, Australia did have endemic fauna with characteristics suitable for large-scale animal husbandry, but unfortunately all were hunted to extinction. The domestication of plants was also difficult, due to the lack of suitable candidate crop species. For example, candidate crop species should be short-lived, rapid growing, produce a lot of large seed, easily harvestable etc, and so they tend to be grasses. All the major cereal crops in the world come from grass species with large grains, while the grains of all Australian grasses are very small.

In some areas of Australia, Aborigines did begin to intensify food production in the last few thousand years. Along parts of the Murray-Darling system, long canal systems with elaborate traps and weirs were constructed, for the farming of eels. This permanent, relatively high-protein food source led to an increase in population density, with large villages of stone houses being established. This would appear to indicate that in these places, aborigines were moving away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Well, Captain Soap, I have heard it said that one should be careful what one wishes for, and here is a case in point! You have indeed made an argument, concisely and with force, and to answer you properly I will have to do some research. In the meantime.... When I studied prehistory some years ago we were taught that the "agricultural revolution" was apparently an accident, that he transition to agriculture led to more drudgery and less free time, and that when hunter-and -gatherer societies had the option of making a transition to agriculture they generally resisted it as an attack on their freedom....We were also taught that while it was not clear why Australian Aborigines had not adopted agriculture there did not appear to be any environmental block, the facts would support an argument that they had consciously resisted it. A piece of evidence for that position, which you don't engage with above, is that in Northern Australia they had long term contact with agriculturalists in New Guinea. Pigs-farming could surely have been introduced to Australia. And surely nardoo and other plants could have been cultivated and improved through selection if people had so chosen...

I've had another read of the relevant copy of AA.....I don't think that Joe T was arguing that scarcity would mechanically bring about a free society; that would actually be rather stupid position which I can't imagine anyone adopting. But I think it certainly is arguable that a ceaseless and compulsive chasing after ever greater material wealth incompatible with liberty. When it sinks in that this chase is going to have to slow down, even stop, then it is in my view reasonably arguable that a political space will open up. While Joe can speak for himself, I don't think he was trying to say any more than that.

While I don't right now have time to cover all the relevant ground, I think in general that you were being unreasonable to expect a weekly news commentary to provide a complete analysis from first principles on every issue in every issue. For example, people who read the AA are aware that the war in Afghanistan is an imperialist war (who isn't?), they don't necessarily want to wade through 500 words explaining that again every week.

As to the question of whether we should make suggestions as to the best way to run a health system (and the like) under capitalism....I think sometimes you have to. I again invoke the example of wage rises and so forth.

Its good to see the contents of the AA being discussed. My impression from your earlier post is that you were more trying to exclude the AA from the Anarchist discussion. It will be apparent that I think this would be a serious mistake.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 31 2009 11:36
Quote:
A piece of evidence for that position, which you don't engage with above, is that in Northern Australia they had long term contact with agriculturalists in New Guinea. Pigs-farming could surely have been introduced to Australia.

It is not accurate to say that there was "long term contact" between Aborigines and New Guinean agriculturalists. Trade across the Torres Strait probably occurred in many small steps, with New Guineans trading with the islands closest to NG, those islanders trading with the inhabitants of Mabuiag Island in the middle of the strait, who in turn probably traded with Badu islanders, who traded with Muralug islanders closer to Australia, who then may have traded with the Aborigines of Cape York.

Moving from New Guinea to Cape York across these islands is to also move along a steep cultural and environmental gradient. Intensive agriculture occured only in the NG highlands. The lowland coastal dwellers who may have traded with northern Islanders instead had only a low-intensity slash-and-burn type agriculture and depended heavily on fishing and hunting-gathering. Moving across the strait, even slash-and-burn agriculture became less suitable; Muralug Island's dry climate meant agriculture was completely unsuitable, and it could only support a tiny population living off yams and seafood. Pigs were rare on the northern islands and absent on the southern ones.

Thus is likely that aborigines never came in contact with New Guinean agriculturalists, but rather with an extremely diluted version of NG highland culture, like something that has passed through a very long game of Chinese whispers. Things that that the islanders could actually make use of, and that could sensibly pass along the environmental gradient, did, eg. shell fish-hooks, dug-out canoes. Other things like highland crops and pigs did not cross, as even the lowland New Guineans had little use for them, and they were unable to be kept alive on the islands. Even if pigs had been brought to Cape York, the aborginies did not have other existing agriculture and so would have been unable to support domesticated pigs.

Quote:
And surely nardoo and other plants could have been cultivated and improved through selection if people had so chosen

On the specific example of nardoo, although unlike most Australian plants, it is actually found across most of the continent, it is reliant on moisture to germinate its spores, and normally only survives for a reasonable amount of time after heavy flooding, as otherwise the soil dries out too quickly and the plant likewise shrivels. Its 'drought-resistant' characteristics refer more to the ability of spores to remain dormant in the soil for years until the next flood comes. So although it certainly provides an abundant food source following flooding, it is not a suitable crop candidate since in the long periods between floods, it would not exist.

There is also the problem of uncooked nardoo containing extremely high amounts of enzymes which break down thyamine, a vitamin crucial for cellular respiration i.e. keeping cells alive. Living off uncooked nardoo ultimately leads to death (as Burke and Wills infamously realised) so it would be unsuitable for feeding livestock (in the event pigs or something actually made it here) and so fictitious nardoo agriculturalists would still have a shitty diet not lending itself to significant population growth.

The point is, that while humans have managed to use many plants as sources of food, they have been able to domesticate very few of them. The fact that even with modern genetic techniques, plant scientists have been able to domesticate only one Australian plant (macadamia nuts) suggests that Australia is somewhat lacking in endemic candidates for agriculture. It doesn't suggest that aborigines deliberately chose to ignore many suitable candidates because they rejected agriculture and the hierarchical society it would bring.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Mar 31 2009 12:15
Quote:
I think in general that you were being unreasonable to expect a weekly news commentary to provide a complete analysis from first principles on every issue in every issue. For example, people who read the AA are aware that the war in Afghanistan is an imperialist war (who isn't?), they don't necessarily want to wade through 500 words explaining that again every week.

Well if his readership already has a class analysis of war, then I don't really see what insight his 'security as the leading factor in Afghan wars' nonsense actually brings. But then again, if his audience already have a nuanced class analysis of war then they probably aren't as far 'outside the ghetto' as you were previously suggesting (this is not to imply that the average australian anarchist actually has a class analysis, but i'm sure you get my point). Again, I don't see that Joe's paper adds anything useful, and if everyone already knows the basics, then is it really worthwhile one guy trying to put out something weekly(!)?

Quote:
As to the question of whether we should make suggestions as to the best way to run a health system (and the like) under capitalism....I think sometimes you have to. I again invoke the example of wage rises and so forth.

But when we demand wage rises, we don't say "you should do it by cutting things here, and importing cheaper materials from there, and selling things for that much more" or anything along those lines. We do it by demanding higher wages and withdrawing our labour, and if capital feels threatened then it accedes to those demands (and if it doesn't feel threatened, it won't, regardless of how helpful our suggestions are). Why would it be any different with demands for free health care; if a movement was strong enough to wrest it from capital then it would, and if it wasn't strong enough then helpful suggestions about how the health system should be run would be ignored.

Quote:
Its good to see the contents of the AA being discussed. My impression from your earlier post is that you were more trying to exclude the AA from the Anarchist discussion. It will be apparent that I think this would be a serious mistake.

I only initially posted in this thread to provide reference to original post, as noone seemed to know of the existence of it and were getting confused. I wasn't really trying to exclude it; its influence is negligible enough. I have only really been discussing it because I have been responding to your responses to me, which admittedly has been enjoyable enough.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Apr 3 2009 01:42

Well, Captain Soap, on the subject of aborigines and agriculture I would be a great fool not to see that you are across a lot of facts which I am not, so I will retreat at present. But, probably, "I will return" as Macarthur said....because I remain unconvinced. One reason I remain unconcvinced is that modern hunter gatherer populations generally only adopt agriculture under compulsion. This lends weight to those prehistorians who argue that agriculture evolved out of mesolithic hunter gathering food-maximization practices leading to higher populations leading to more f-m etc until the hunter gatherers found themselves to be subsbistence famers with less leisure and often less protein than their ancestors...(lower infant mortality rates though). I don't think anyone ever suggested that aborigines resisted agriculture because of hierarchy though, more resistance to work.

As to the specific arguments you raise, I respect your knowledge and thank you for sharing it, but I remain unconvinced. We are talking thousands of years here. Java had been trading with Northern Australia for what, 400 years before European settlement (you will know), the dog as I recall was brought to Australia seven thousand years ago. We know that aboriginal society was not static, even the "traditional" kinship system (as I was taught in linguistics anyway) is only about 600 years old. There were trading lines across the continent.....I'm in a rush so I'm dumping all these points down together but my point is that I am very sceptical that in all this time the principles of agriculture didn't make their way from New Guinea to Northern Australia....And Nardoo being poisonous uncooked doesn't stop it being cultivated (look at cassava), and by no means all of Australia is dry.......

But, like I say, I will bear your points in mind and do some research before engaging again...

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Apr 3 2009 02:13
captain soap wrote:
Quote:
I think in general that you were being unreasonable to expect a weekly news commentary to provide a complete analysis from first principles on every issue in every issue. For example, people who read the AA are aware that the war in Afghanistan is an imperialist war (who isn't?), they don't necessarily want to wade through 500 words explaining that again every week.

Well if his readership already has a class analysis of war, then I don't really see what insight his 'security as the leading factor in Afghan wars' nonsense actually brings. But then again, if his audience already have a nuanced class analysis of war then they probably aren't as far 'outside the ghetto' as you were previously suggesting (this is not to imply that the average australian anarchist actually has a class analysis, but i'm sure you get my point). Again, I don't see that Joe's paper adds anything useful, and if everyone already knows the basics, then is it really worthwhile one guy trying to put out something weekly(!)?

I have so far not met anyone with a nuanced class analysis of anything, captain soap. Retrieving class analysis from the realm of sterile rhetoric and crazy self-referential system building is a job yet to be done....the average worker in my experience and opinion has a far more accurate (but not very nuanced) class analysis than the average left militant, anarchist or not. Most people are aware that the Afghan war is imperialist in the sense that they know that the western powers are invading a third world country for their own advantage and all the spin is to be discounted. I wasn't meaning that they were on top of Trotsky's theory of imperialism or whatever. I don't know why you think it is 'garbage" to say that many Afghans support the Taliban because it offers comparative security. In a war zone for most folk, especially those with families, not being killed raped tortured starved etc is what it is all about and screw the politics.

Quote:
Quote:
As to the question of whether we should make suggestions as to the best way to run a health system (and the like) under capitalism....I think sometimes you have to. I again invoke the example of wage rises and so forth.

But when we demand wage rises, we don't say "you should do it by cutting things here, and importing cheaper materials from there, and selling things for that much more" or anything along those lines.

In the real world of course wage rises are often negotiated in much the way you describe, which is not in general a good thing, I agree. But most workers are sophisticated enough to understand that wage rises can only go so far before they threaten the viability of the capitalist system and also of the opinion that while the capitalist system is imperfect it is better than the alternatives on offer. Of course the neo-liberals have "gone too far", in Australia at least I don't think majority support for the mixed economy has ever wavered. So I think there would be majority support for returning to the mixed economy, and pinning back some of the super profits that the capitalists have made in recent years. I don't think there is support for ovethrowing the capitalist system as such. Nor are workers going to be tricked, Transitional Program style, into supporting high unfunded wage rises where this would mean de facto support for overthrowing capitalism.

The arguemnt has to be made.

Quote:
We do it by demanding higher wages and withdrawing our labour, and if capital feels threatened then it accedes to those demands (and if it doesn't feel threatened, it won't, regardless of how helpful our suggestions are). Why would it be any different with demands for free health care; if a movement was strong enough to wrest it from capital then it would, and if it wasn't strong enough then helpful suggestions about how the health system should be run would be ignored.

Well, captain soap, this is the fallacy of the excluded middle here. Between the extremes you refer to there is a middle case where we put pressure on "capital" and it makes concessions to stay in business. And this "middle case" is not unusual, it is pretty much the history of working class struggle. And, while I repeat I don't belong to Joe's "faction" or anything , that is a vitally important fact that he is on top of and you apparently not......

I'm enjoying talking to you, too, captain soap, but I might have to deny myself that pleasure for a little while.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Apr 9 2009 13:49
jez wrote:
I don't know why you think it is 'garbage" to say that many Afghans support the Taliban because it offers comparative security. In a war zone for most folk, especially those with families, not being killed raped tortured starved etc is what it is all about and screw the politics.

I am not saying that the desire of Afghans not to raped or killed is nonsense, I am saying that Toscano's notion, that the search for security has been the driving force of the Afghan wars, is nonsense. As if the resurgence of the Taliban would dissipate if only the Coalition killed less civilians and was better at "winning hearts and minds". As if any "Afghans" actually believe rape and murder are likely to decrease if the Taliban "wins". As if the victory of either side will make any meaningful difference to the situation of the vast majority living in Afganistan or Pakistan. And as if the balance of power in Afghanistan actually has anything at all to do with how "secure" individuals feel, rather than to do with the constantly shifting alliances of militias towards whichever pole of foreign capital seems best placed to fund them.

My point is, that surely the purpose of a 'radical' publication is to help us understand whatever situation more clearly; if Toscano is merely going to parrot bourgeois myths that the war is all about "security" then he isn't doing this and I question why he puts so much effort into single-handedly making a weekly publication, when the actual bourgeois press can do the same thing, daily, in a format that is more entertaining and often more informative.

Quote:
Quote:
We do it by demanding higher wages and withdrawing our labour, and if capital feels threatened then it accedes to those demands (and if it doesn't feel threatened, it won't, regardless of how helpful our suggestions are). Why would it be any different with demands for free health care; if a movement was strong enough to wrest it from capital then it would, and if it wasn't strong enough then helpful suggestions about how the health system should be run would be ignored.

Well, captain soap, this is the fallacy of the excluded middle here. Between the extremes you refer to there is a middle case where we put pressure on "capital" and it makes concessions to stay in business. And this "middle case" is not unusual, it is pretty much the history of working class struggle. And, while I repeat I don't belong to Joe's "faction" or anything , that is a vitally important fact that he is on top of and you apparently not......

I don't really get what you're on about here, Jeremy. I don't see how this 'middle case' is any different to what I said above. The point is that in the absence of a class movement able to put pressure on capital, or the state, or whatever you want to call it, whatever calls or recommendations we make are quite impotent. What reforms the government makes to the health system aren't likely to be to our benefit. Given we are in no position to influence the management of capital, the obvious implication then is that we need to work on what we can actually influence, that is, increase the power and confidence of the class. This is something which Joe doesn't mention at all in his article, just as he only glancingly mentions the actual concrete content of what we want, that is free, genuinely accessible health care, and instead is entirely caught up in irrelevant leftist posturing, telling the state what form the demand should take (the "salaried model") which is something irrelevant to us now, and probably also irrelevant even if we were in a position to pressure them into granting it.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Apr 12 2009 10:45
Quote:
As if any "Afghans" actually believe rape and murder are likely to decrease if the Taliban "wins". As if the victory of either side will make any meaningful difference to the situation of the vast majority living in Afganistan or Pakistan.

Well...the usual reports are that the Taliban are not in fact much given to rape and murder, and that is where they have it all over the successors of the Islamist "liberation" forces that the United States (and at the time most Anarchists) supported against the Stalinist regime back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There successors, the people that the United States is now trying to put back into control of Afghanistan, became hated as out-of-control corrupt bandits. The Taliban would cut of your hand for theft, or whip you for flying a kite etc; but not rape or murder you for nothing at all. Thus the account I have gleaned from press reports....it hardly accords with the propaganda the governemnt wants us to believe. If you think you know better I think you should explain why.

You should also explain why you don't think the victory of either side would make "any difference" to the vast majority of people living in Afghnistan.....if the the Russian backed Stalinist regime had won back in the late 1970s it sure would have made a lot of difference to especially the women of Afghnistan. Unless of course you hold as a matter of ideological faith the counterfactual anarchist myth that all non-Anarchist groups are "just the same". The reformist Stalinist regime had tried to break the power of the reactionary mullahs and the moneylenders and so forth; most Anarchists (I remember vividly) were happy to see these "liberationists" as a heroic resistance against the evil stalinists. Never mind that they skinned school teachers alive for teaching girls to read and threw acid in the faces of unveiled women etc.

Quote:
The point is that in the absence of a class movement able to put pressure on capital, or the state, or whatever you want to call it, whatever calls or recommendations we make are quite impotent.

Maybe, but we are not in fact entirely impotent. If we were there would be no hope. In the real world, as distinct from the world of sterile ideological posturing and meaningless puff, making "calls" for useful reforms is both worthwhile in itelf and a part of building the working-class movement you correctly regard as essential. (The "salaried model" incidentally has a direct effect on patient treatment for reasons that will be obvious if you stop to think...)

I don't know why you have taken to referring to Joe as "Toscano". A bit uncomradely, captain soap.....why, I wonder?

@ndy's picture
@ndy
Offline
Joined: 17-03-06
Apr 12 2009 12:39

On the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan (October 7, 2008), the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) issued a statement titled 'Neither the US nor Jehadies and Taliban, Long Live the Struggle of Independent and Democratic Forces of Afghanistan!'. I believe this statement is relevant to a discussion of the current political situation in that country.

http://www.rawa.org/events/sevenyear_e.htm

I'm not aware of any anarchist welcoming the resistance to the Soviet invasion irrespective of the apparent fact that these forces simultaneously 'skinned school teachers alive for teaching girls to read and threw acid in the faces of unveiled women etc.', but if there is some written source for this I'd be interested in reading it. In fact, any contemporaneous anarchist response to the 1979 invasion would be useful.

I think Joe's brief words on the subject of "the issue of Afghanistan" are lacking, but then that's the case of the publication as a whole. That is, no issue of the AAWR contains any in-depth analysis. This is not necessarily a bad thing -- and obviously has its advantages -- but it is also one of the reasons why the AAWR may be considered as being of limited utility.

More substantively, I think Joe is wrong to adopt the framework of 'security' as a means of explaining the overall situation in that country. On my reading, the real 'issue' in Afghanistan has a good deal more to do with its strategic location, and is best viewed through a much larger historical prism. Moreover, the reasons for the Taliban's success, it seems to me, are rather more complicated than their supposed ability "to bring security to a people who were sick and tired of being controlled by petty warlords who had brought the country to its knees", although as an alternative form of rule to that offered (sic) by the Northern Alliance, the Taliban had/has its own attractions. In any case, real support for the Taliban comes not from the Afghani peoples but from Washington by way of Islamabad, and dates back to 1980.

Of course, whatever the failings of Joe's publication (or Mutiny or Rebel Worker), the best solution is to not only criticise these where necessary, but to endeavour to create alternatives which seek to overcome them.

PS. Elsewhere on libcom, Chris Wright recommends the following titles on Afghanistan:

Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan - O. Roy
The Hidden War - A. Borovik
The Tragedy of Afghanistan - R. Anwar
Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and Afghan Response, 1979-82 – K. Hassan
Out of Afghanistan: The History of the Soviet Withdrawal – Cordovez/Harrison
TALIBAN: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia - A. Rashid
Unholy Wars – J. Cooley
Holy War, Unholy Victory: Eyewitness to the CIA's Secret War in Afghanistan - Kurt Lohbeck

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Apr 13 2009 15:49
jeremy wrote:
Well...the usual reports are that the Taliban are not in fact much given to rape and murder, and that is where they have it all over the successors of the Islamist "liberation" forces that the United States (and at the time most Anarchists) supported against the Stalinist regime back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There successors, the people that the United States is now trying to put back into control of Afghanistan, became hated as out-of-control corrupt bandits. The Taliban would cut of your hand for theft, or whip you for flying a kite etc; but not rape or murder you for nothing at all. Thus the account I have gleaned from press reports....it hardly accords with the propaganda the governemnt wants us to believe. If you think you know better I think you should explain why.

Firstly I don't think it is accurate to state, as you do, that the Taliban are a distinctly separate group to the Islamists supported by the US against the Stalinists. While they originated in Pakistan, funded and trained by the Pakistani state to clear the Central Asian trade routes of 'bandit gangs', the Taliban only gained power in Afghanistan after various of the mujihadeen gangster groups came over to their side. In their current incarnation they are an umbrella, including many elements of the mujihadeen, such as the Hezb-e-Islami group of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which had previously fought against the Taliban; those groups associated with Bin Laden et al; many militia groups of the Waziristan provinces and the 'tribal areas' of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province among others. But leaving that aside...

The use of rape by the Taliban against Hazaras during their time in power is well-documented, see for example http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/2001/afghanistan/ I imagine it was also used against other groups; certainly the sharia law which saw all rapes as adultery unless the victim could produce a minimum of four eye-witnesses would at least explain the low level of reportage of it under the Taliban. As for murder, the various 'Afghans' I know in Australia all fled here either because they had family members murdered by the Taliban, or to escape being press-ganged into Taliban militias to be used as mine-fodder. Most of them have family members dying as the result of Taliban's resurgence, for example the Parachinar area of Pakistan's NWFP has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan by the Taliban for the past two years, scores of civilians are beheaded or have their eyes gouged out on the Parachinar-Peshawar road by the Taliban every month, food supply convoys are subject to rocket attacks and so on. The Taliban's violence also extends to the rest of Pakistan; a member of my immediate family was in Islamabad for four weeks in March this year, during which time there were 5 suicide bombings in Islamabad claimed by the Taliban. The bombings were supposedly directed against Pakistani paramilitaries or police, but the reality of these things is that they occur next to crowded marketplaces and result mostly in civilian deaths.

Of course the current examples I have given are anecdotal, but similar if not the same events are regularly reported in the international media. Just because you haven't read it in an Australian paper does not mean it hasn't occured; there is a well-known website called 'google' which includes a news function linking directly to relevant media sources.

Quote:
You should also explain why you don't think the victory of either side would make "any difference" to the vast majority of people living in Afghnistan

Because both sides are murderous gangsters, and offer nothing but endless bloodshed to those they rule.

Quote:
....if the the Russian backed Stalinist regime had won back in the late 1970s it sure would have made a lot of difference to especially the women of Afghnistan. Unless of course you hold as a matter of ideological faith the counterfactual anarchist myth that all non-Anarchist groups are "just the same". The reformist Stalinist regime had tried to break the power of the reactionary mullahs and the moneylenders and so forth; most Anarchists (I remember vividly) were happy to see these "liberationists" as a heroic resistance against the evil stalinists. Never mind that they skinned school teachers alive for teaching girls to read and threw acid in the faces of unveiled women etc.

I think 'if they had won' -type questions are generally unhelpful, since in the universe in which we exist they did not in fact win, and your speculation on 'what might have occured' in an alternate reality can only come from out of your arse. However, if we look at what the stalinist regime actually did while it was still around, things aren't as rosy as you seem to think. Despite their right-on reforms, they still managed to execute up to 27,000 political prisoners in the Kabul prison during their first year in power, and possibly up to 100,000 in the countryside. After the civil war started, things of course became much bloodier. Of course the other side was also brutal, in intent if not initially in capability for violence, but you already seem to accept that. Interesting that you use the examples of school teachers being murdered and acid attacks against women as evidence of the mujihadeen's violence; the exact same things were and are done by the Taliban, who you strangely seem to view as a progressive force, "not much given to rape and murder".

Quote:
...successors of the Islamist "liberation" forces that the United States (and at the time most Anarchists) supported against the Stalinist regime...
...most Anarchists (I remember vividly) were happy to see these "liberationists" as a heroic resistance against the evil stalinists. Never mind that they skinned school teachers alive ...

lol, you seem to be making a habit in this thread of describing the cretinous behaviour of anarchists you supposedly met in the past, the implication being that I share a similar position. It really is a shit method of argument. By the way, what makes you think I am an anarchist?

Quote:
I don't know why you have taken to referring to Joe as "Toscano". A bit uncomradely, captain soap.....why, I wonder?

I was under the assumption that I had been referring to him as Toscano because it is his name. Since you seem to be big on psychoanalysis, I'd love to hear your take on my real motivation in naming him. Given the way you have avoided engaging with most of the major points raised in this thread, but rather pick seemingly tangential things to demand evidence of while avoiding elaborating your own positions, I don't get the impression that you're that interested in comradely discussion either.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Apr 17 2009 06:02

Hi again Captain Soap.

Nothing you have said affects the claim that the Taliban, as sincere clerical fascists, gained support from much of the population because their rule is regarded as less corrupt, less unpredictably violent etc than the mujaheddin. (The horrors you retail are the standard fare of communalist and guerilla warfare and not really to the point.) This claim may well be wrong for all I know, but you have certainly neither refuted it nor said anything to suggest that you are in a position to refute it, so it seems a bit rough to pan Joe for holding that view, ie the view that: the Taliban, as sincere clerical fascists, gained support from much of the population because their rule is regarded as less corrupt, less unpredictably violent etc than the mujaheddin.

How you got the idea that I think the Taliban are a progressive force is really beyond me.

If both sides are "murderous gangsters" that doesn't mean that it makes no difference which one wins. That doesn't follow at all. In the Second World War all major sides were murderous gangsters....do you really think it made no difference which side won? Oh right, you don't think "if they had won" type questions are helpful. But, Captain Soap, surely such questions have a close family resemblance to "if they do win" type questions which have a direct impact on our behaviour now. If we don't consider "if they had won" type questions how can we learn from the past? Or should we just drop the past down the memory hole? Who was it who said "The struggle against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting".........? (I forget)

Speaking of which, you say

Quote:
lol, you seem to be making a habit in this thread of describing the cretinous behaviour of anarchists you supposedly met in the past, the implication being that I share a similar position. It really is a shit method of argument. By the way, what makes you think I am an anarchist?

No such implication Captain Soap, that is all in your head. I mentioned the behaviour of Anarchists I have in fact known in the past (and who sometimes committed their views to print so you don't have to take my word for it) to make quite a different point. Whether you are an Anarchist or not is not very relevant but of course I did assume you were because you are posting here. Am I supposed to care?

Quote:
I was under the assumption that I had been referring to him as Toscano because it is his name.

So....you go to Eton or something? If Joe had an elder brother would they be Toscano Major and Toscano Minor? In this context the name is "Joe", and to call him "Toscano" is a hostile and offensive form of reference and I think you know that well.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Apr 23 2009 07:45

I don't have time at the moment to respond properly to your last post, but a quick point

Quote:
Oh right, you don't think "if they had won" type questions are helpful. But, Captain Soap, surely such questions have a close family resemblance to "if they do win" type questions which have a direct impact on our behaviour now. If we don't consider "if they had won" type questions how can we learn from the past? Or should we just drop the past down the memory hole? Who was it who said "The struggle against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting".........? (I forget)

You may note that my comment on the limited usefulness of "if they had won" questions regarding what the Afghan stalinist regime might have done, was immediately followed by reference to what the regime actually did. I agree that it is of absolute importance to look at the past, but this is only useful if you look at the past in context. The point was that the regime itself was extremely brutal, even before mullahs et al started to fight against it. Any reforms it made have to be looked at with this in mind. Speculation about what might have happened is not at all helpful, not to mention intellectually dishonest, if it is not informed by what did happen.

Quote:
So....you go to Eton or something? If Joe had an elder brother would they be Toscano Major and Toscano Minor? In this context the name is "Joe", and to call him "Toscano" is a hostile and offensive form of reference and I think you know that well.

I genuinely don't think it is offensive to use someone's last name when referring to them, particularly when you've only encountered them through things they've published and are responding to those things. Fair enough if he's your mate you refer to him differently; it wasn't, however, my intention to be offensive by referring to him by surname, it was just something i did. However, on reflection my response to you earlier regarding name-use was flippant and cuntish, so for that I apologise.

As to how his elder brother should be referred to, I don't think its really an issue unless his sibling has started publishing anarchist newsletters. wink

I will respond to the taliban stuff later, when I have time.

:edited for clarity

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Apr 24 2009 03:40
Quote:
Speculation about what might have happened is not at all helpful, not to mention intellectually dishonest, if it is not informed by what did happen.

Well, sure.

I don't think anyone doubts that stalinists are brutal captain soap.

I was genuinely confused by the soviet/afghan war when it was happening - I didn't feel it was enough to shrug and remark that all sides were "authoritarians" anyway. True, but not helpful.....and leaving it there seemed to me to have more than a tinge of racism about it. If I lived in Afghanistan it seemed to me very clear that I would prefer to live in the pro-soviet zone than the "liberated" zone; and now that I have a daughter it is even clearer. Some Anarchists I knew were essentially pro-soviet on these grounds but didn't quite like to say so out loud - I had more respect for the Spartacists with their straightforward "Hail Red Army" position.

But on the other hand we can see that that position was not a big success, nor was it ever likely to be; in fact the soviets were the classic "insolent civilizers" rejected by Bakunin. The Sparts liked to point to the central asian republics of the Soviet Union as examples of the social progress the Red Army would bring to Afghanistan; a bitter irony now.

In practice I found I used to argue against whoever I was talking to; to Anarchists who supported boycotting the Olympics, trade sanctions etc against the Soviets I said they were in practice supporting the viciously reactionary mujaheddin; and ridiculed arguments based on national sovereignty. To those who quietly supported the soviets (and the non-Anarchists who openly supported them) I made the obvious other arguments.

These questions are tough, and in my view we need to engage with them more. I saw your remarks on Joe's remarks as in effect seeking to excommunicate him for seeking (slightly) to go beyond facile slogans

Quote:
I genuinely don't think it is offensive to use someone's last name when referring to them, particularly when you've only encountered them through things they've published and are responding to those things. Fair enough if he's your mate you refer to him differently; it wasn't, however, my intention to be offensive by referring to him by surname, it was just something i did.

Well, thanks for clarifying; obviously no usage is inherently offensive, intent is everything.

I have sprung to Joe's defence not for concern for him personally, he is definitely big enough and ugly enough to defend himself, but because I want the Anarchist movement in Australia to progress and I think what Joe is doing is an essential part of the mix.

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Apr 24 2009 03:58

Hi @ndy, I've just noticed your post, and can only be brief..... Thanks for referring to the RAWA who I believe are heroic beyond words. I don't know that their analysis takes us very far though, their main importance is that they exist at all and stand for decency in impossible conditions.

You say

Quote:
More substantively, I think Joe is wrong to adopt the framework of 'security' as a means of explaining the overall situation in that country. On my reading, the real 'issue' in Afghanistan has a good deal more to do with its strategic location, and is best viewed through a much larger historical prism.

I'm willing to bet, @ndy, that for the overwhelming majority of people in Aghanistan
the "prism" through which they view events is more like "will I and my family be alive next week or next year...and what will we have to do to assure that survival?".

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Apr 26 2009 14:19

There is also another anarchist publication that has not been mentioned that I only became aware of recently. It's called The Anarchist Savants Monthly. I'll refrain from publishing the editors name and contact details, unless anyone thinks it appropriate.
It's pretty fucking strange. I'm not certain if they do actually call themselves anarchists or not. From their website:

Quote:
We are committed to the creation of a Society founded on Autonomy. Unfortunately, Autonomy is as frequently misrepresented as the word Anarchy (for the latter, see the piece below "What is Anarchy"). Autonomy is often quoted as meaning, "the ruling of a country by its own people", or "any type of independence or freedom".

I couldn't find any piece on the site called 'What Is Anarchy'. Like I said. Strange.

The newsletter itself goes on to address some of its apparent critics who appear to be powerful, humourless and entirely fictional. The copy I have is Vol 8, Feb 2009.

It seems to have some association with a small business called 'Mechanarchy'. It also has ads for Loophole, Jura books and the Toscano Variety Hour on 3CR, which might imply some connection. Or at least contact with the outside world. Both the politico-trainspotter and anarchist in me needs to know!

Anarchia's picture
Anarchia
Offline
Joined: 18-03-06
Apr 26 2009 23:55

If it's connected to Mechanarchy I can help a little - I (briefly) met some of the people involved in that back in 2005.

They were based in Turella, which was a social-centre type place in a former tip-top icecream factory (which was pretty fucking huge!) in Turella, Sydney. Half of the building was taken up by living space for a bunch of people, Sydney Indymedia, C@T, art studios etc. The other half was Mechanarchy, which I think was maybe 4 people? They built stuff....a couple of people (completely independently) even told me (jokingly?) they thought Mechanarchy was secretly building robots for the revolution tongue Turella social-centre ended in maybe early '06, although I don't know for sure about the Mechanarchy half of the building - they may have stayed? I know the Indymedia / C@T half definitely left.

One of the guys in Mechanarchy was also a really insanely talented stencil artist - I won a couple of pieces by him in a raffle which was a fundraiser for Weld Valley forest blockades in Tasmania.

edit - the What is Anarchy piece is right there on the front page you linked to!