Anzac day

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jeremytrewindixon
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Apr 26 2009 07:29
Anzac day

The Anzac Day event went ahead yesterday, I didn't think to count at the time but we had a dozen odd people, me, four from Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group, one who had heard about it from Joe's newsletter Anarchist Age, two people I recognised as independent stalwarts of the Anarchist scene, and a further handful I had not met before.

We were at the HQ of the old World War One Melbourne IWW in Little Bourke St, celebrating the victory of conscription in Australia in World War One. This victory was in large part due to the IWW, of all belligerents only Australia had no conscription.

Given that the event was organised in a very perfunctory way this year I think it was a good result. I made a small war tree the night before and we finished in what I hope to establish as the traditional way by ritually destroying it and eating its chocolate roots. I also had 'strikelet' (ie red pikelet) mix, and had responded to criticism of an earlier effort by colouring the mix with beetroot juice rather than commercial food colour. Unfortuately the comrade who was supposed to bring the BBQ forgot (but hey, all of us sin so I'm not going to dwell on it or point the finger at you-know-who-you-are! no, not at all....) My children enjoyed the strikelets for lunch.

For the first time at these events I gave a short talk explaining the relevance of the location and the significance of the IWW to Anzac Day. One of the particiapnts had requested it.

No police turned up this year so far as I know. Nor did we get any aggro from passers-by.

Afterwards a half dozen of us chewed things over in a coffee shop, and agreed that the event should continue, and to make more effort to promote it next year.

I was the only IWW member present.....and I have to admit I am very unfinancial . I know that other IWWs in Melbourne made a considered choice to attend other functions on that day instead.

I'd like to know how the picnic in Adelaide went.

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Rats
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Apr 26 2009 11:54

Adelaide weather of late has been like melbourne winter, only with heavier rain.

This heavily dampened most peoples' will to come into the city for a picnic sad, so with half a dozen, it was way too rainy to go leafletting, so we decided to get our flyers and distribute them other places in whatever way. Creative, bold, sneaky, cheeky, etc. Hopefully ways that'll get them some more attention.

Did everyone else puke at the telly for the rest of the day? It was disgusting, a nazi's wet dream, dying for your country, a breaking news of a refugee ship, krudd on before the game saying how amazing the mcg is because "90,000 people at this stadium today, that's just amazing, it reminds me that 100,000 people have died fighting for the nations wars, it's awesome to see this many people in one plase." What a jerk.

What's next? "I saw some people at a bus stop leaning up against a barbed wire fence and though to my self, how great are detention centres and the white australia policy?"

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Devrim
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Apr 26 2009 12:01

It wasn't that bad here yesterday. I saw a couple more national flags that usual, but ignored it all and spent the afternoon in the pub.

Devrim

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Anarchia
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Apr 27 2009 00:02

I didn't go to the central city at all yesterday, but apparently the dawn ceremonies around the country continued their growth. They've been getting bigger and bigger every year for the last decade or so - actually, that's one of the most interesting (and disturbing) achievements of the last Labour government (in power 1999 to 2008) over here. They've really pushed this whole liberal nationalism thing, which comes through most obviously around ANZAC day, and around the complete lack of any discussion/critique of the NZ army occupations/invasions in the South Pacific (Tonga, Timor Leste, Solomon Islands) - both these things are completely different from what would've happened prior to '99.

jeremytrewindixon
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Apr 27 2009 04:34

In New Zealand of course there was conscription in WW1, so Kiwis do not I suppose have that victory to celebrate!

What they do have is some of the most heroic war resistors of all, draft resistors who were sent to the front in the expectation that the experience would break them either physically or morally. Archibald Baxter tells the story in his We Shall Not Cease, one of the most moving parts of the story is how the front-line soldiers who wewre expected to tear them to pieces in fact by-and-large tried to protect them. (Likewise in Australia the combat soldiers voted solidly against conscription, and the vote was so close that it was their vote which made the difference) .

Yes the Anzac Day mythologising is worrying and it is not stopping. The lie that the Anzacs won "our freedoms" is a direct and in my view conscious attempt to bury the history of how those freedoms were in fact won....and the struggle against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

In my view we must as a matter of survival engage with Anzac Day.

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Rats
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Apr 27 2009 11:30

We also need to engage with daily nationalism, anzac day is just one intense day, but their ideology is in action everyday, in what ways should we be confronting this daily? Posters? Flyers?

Fly-post an internationalist response to every nationalist news story, and an internationalist event to counter every nationalist event(such as anzac day and australia day)?

How have comrades approached this in the past? Eager to know.

xoxo

Convert
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Joined: 20-07-06
Apr 29 2009 07:48

Yeah meanwhile pigs fly and hell freezes over. There is nothing I can imagine in my wildest dreams that will turn back the tide of nationalism in NZ. Home of the most backward, dim witted working class in the world.

Perhaps in several generations time someone might have a clue but right now, no fucking way.

Seriously, posters!? Good one.

jeremytrewindixon
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Apr 30 2009 03:49

What the classical IWW did, Gabs, was to relate the war machine to the everyday realities of the class system. "A bayonet is a stick with a worker on each end" as the famous slogan has it.

The strategy they advocated against the war machine was the same as the strategy they advocated against the class system, building for an effective General Strike (not calling for general strikes without preparation) and industrial sabotage. It was a strategy that could have worked, which was working, that was why the classical IWW was a scary organisation considered worth suppressing. So posters, flyers, whatever, they did all of that. What was special was the content of those posters. A legendary example was when the IWW put up posters in an apple picking area pointing out the interesting fact that copper nails driven into apple trees tended to kill them. The apple pickers had been calling for a pay rise. They got it.

Calling for a General Strike scares no-one. Calling for concrete preparations for a successfull General Strike......there already is something to put in a poster that will mean something.

Of course, the classical IWW was effectively suppressed, but history is there to learn from.

Convert
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Apr 30 2009 07:21
Quote:
f course, the classical IWW was effectively suppressed, but history is there to learn from.

What is it we are supposed to learn? What is to be done? Honestly i'm at a loss. What can we possibly do?

jeremytrewindixon
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May 1 2009 02:46
Quote:
What is it we are supposed to learn? What is to be done? Honestly i'm at a loss. What can we possibly do?

Fair questions deserving serious answers.

What is to be done?

In a few words, the revitalisation of the General Strike as an organising idea of the working-class movement. The usual switch-off response to this is to say "Well, we are a long way from a general strike now". Yes, we are. That is the point. We well never be any closer unless we organise specifically for the purpose. A General Strike is not just a bigger version of an ordinary trade-union controlled stoppage; it is fundamentally different, involving the entire employed and unemployed working-class, and indeed the allies of the working-class in other classes. Because for a General Strike to happen the strikers must run essential services themselves....it is thus inherently revolutionary no matter how minor its actual demands.

That is why even a poster saying "How to Prepare for the General Strike" and going on to detail how to store food, water etc would be an effective act. Even the very first effective beginning of a General Strike movement would be empower us and intimidate them.

And....sabotage, or "clogwork" as I prefer to call it. (A "sabot" is just a clog). Whenever workers organise themselves without a union to police them they naturally use sabotage when they feel the need to hit their bosses. The problem with it is often the bosses are too stupid to realise it is happening, they just think their employees are incompetent; and however obvious the reason for worker dissatisfaction may be bosses may not see it. They have difficulty realising that workers are people, which makes them thick. Furthermore, workers cannot present a log of claims to be fought for by sabotage, they cannot usually vote on when to start and when to finish a sabotage campaign; because the tactic is inherently a covert one. This is where an outside organisation that promotes the legitimacy of sabotage as a tactic comes in. I have mentioned the famous example of the IWW and the apple trees.

A concrete suggestion for workplaces where no union can get in: We could make a large sticker/poster headed something like "Industrial Action Without a Union" which goes on to explain the principles of sabotage. At the bottom in larger letters, say something like "But what if your boss is too thick to understand that you have grievances and are engaging in sabotage? We suggest you put this poster up in your workplace!" . "Just a poster" but it would be effective.

In my view the core problem is a collapse of the self-confidence of the working-class. One reason is the globalization of capital which has not yet been matched by a globalization of the working-class - another reason is that the entrenched organs of working-class power, the unions, have reached their use-by date. We can work on the globalization problem by developing international links.....but we need to have general strike organizatiosn to link to.

General Strike, Sabotage, Internationalism; what the classical wobs were all about.

As to the crushing of the IWW, it is commonly stated that this was due to state repression. My own view is that in Australia at any rate the evidence does not support that. Despite all the repression during WWI the IWW was again organising openly under its own name by 1921.....and although a tiny organisation it had successfully stopped conscription, very major stuff. What caused the IWW to dissolve was that its members abandoned their simplistic understanding of "direct action" and accepted the need for "political action". The wobs were always practical, not ones to hold on to an exploded theory for sentimental reasons. I think their belief that "direct action" lies at the core of an effective movement was correct, and they need not have abandoned that insight when experience showed them that their understanding of it was a little simplistic......But, like I say, we can learn from that.