A proposal for a regional anarchist federation in Australia

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jeremytrewindixon
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Jan 7 2008 12:20

anarcho_and_peace, ...the beauty of the general strike as an organizing focus is that it necessarily involves the unemployed, the community, the lot.

princess mob
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Jan 7 2008 23:03
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On the subject of Love and Rage I repeat that we would need the intervention of an Australian Love and Rager to take the discussion any further. If you really feel the need to substitute for such a person then you would need to quote your sources. Your unsupported opinion is worth, well, "fuckall". Have a read of A New World in Our Hearts, you seem to have read the cover to some effect, inside you'll encounter some interesting claims about (for example) the need to supplement the Anarchist tradition with Leninist ideas.

Ok, I'll do this so we can all move on. The Australian Love & Rage was primarily a student group, even as it tried to move beyond that. It originated as a split from Left Alliance, a broader Left student group. There were people in Love & Rage who described themselves as anarchists & others who called themsleves autonomists or autonomist marxists (which were much more common labels 7 or so years ago). It had no connection with the US Love & Rage, as far as I know: I never even heard of them till years later. I have no idea where the name came from, but I doubt the US group were the first to use it either. I still think it's a good name.
I was in Love & Rage in its dying days. So you can all hate on me now for my lack of anarcho-purity if you want, I really don't care, but I think there are many other things that are far more interesting for us to talk about.

x

jeremytrewindixon
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Jan 8 2008 06:18
princess mob wrote:
So you can all hate on me now for my lack of anarcho-purity if you want, I really don't care, but I think there are many other things that are far more interesting for us to talk about.

No reason to hate you princess mob. Thanks for sharing your experience. The birth and disappearance of revolutionary groups, and what happens in between, is always of interest. I can't say your remarks have done anything to shake my presumption that the Aus group took the name and at least the idea for its politics from the American; but I'm certainly not trying to smear anyone with that presumption.

Moving on ...... I think a federation has to be clear on what it is for. I'm not sure why anarchist ideological groups would want to federate at the moment. What do they need to co-ordinate on a national level?

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@ndy
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Jan 9 2008 11:57

jeremy: continue to be presumptuous. I expect nothing less. princess mob: I hate (on) you.

The reasons why some individual members of anarchist groups feel like forming a federation are fairly obvious and reasonably straightforward: to overcome isolation by way of encouraging the sharing of knowledge, skills and information, and on a more formal level than is currently the case. (These ideas and their justification are further spelled out in the proposal itself.)

Regarding numbers (juozokas), you really don't need many. The current proposal, for example, emanates from members of the Jura and Mutiny collectives in Sydney. It's being discussed by members of Anarchist Direct Action, Barricade and the Melbourne Anarchist Club in Melbourne. Other anarchist groups are also engaged in discussion of the proposal, including some in Aotearoa / New Zealand. A handful of these groups could form a federation if they decided to.

With regards the development of concrete aims, these exist already. What is lacking is strategic discussion and the means of pursuing longer-term aims.

yuda
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Jan 9 2008 19:00

Speaking of numbers, I asked am member of the Zabalaza ACF a few years back how many members they had, he answered individually about 20-30 people and 5 or 6 groups. I reckon between Aussie and NZ we can muster those sort of numbers. to me the more important questions are how can we achieve a federation? and what is its purpose?

princess mob
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Jan 11 2008 12:37

I see the federation proposal as one way of encouraging, and helping, broader strategic discussion about what our longer-term aims are & what we can do about them.

I think we could achieve a federation by: existing groups talking about the idea & what they'd want from it -> city-based or regional meetings where collectives can report back from their discussions & further discussion can take place, and which could be a space for individuals to join in as well -> we have one big meeting over a few days for people from across the region to meet & talk about the politics & structure of the federation.

I'm excited about the possibility of a big anarchist meeting that isn't connected to (& overwhelmed by) a particular protest event. (& also isn't the series of loosely connected random workshops which is my memory of other anarchist conferences.) So if people/groups get together & decide that the whole idea of a federation isn't the best thing for us to do, at least many of us still would have got together & talked about what we are doing separately, and what we can do together.

andy: that's ok. I still like you.

anna x
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Jan 11 2008 23:56

I'm actually starting to warm to the idea as long as it is pretty focused politically so that it won't be a never ending shit fight. I think that it in some way has to be able to accomodate individuals as well, for the reason that was kinda mentioned in the proposal - for isolated folk. It's one thing to suggest that people living isolated from the main centres go and join an existing group but that is not that easy in practical terms and also in political terms there's the fact that in some cities, the group/s that do exist may not be something that the person living isolated wants to be a member of. It's also in many ways not practical for someone to suggest that the person isolated sets up their own group as in my case, isolated means just that - about 16km from the nearest shop, living on property where I can't even see my neighbours' houses and the nearest public transport being about 30km away. Anyway...
all the best.
gregg.
red n black star

asn
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Jan 12 2008 07:57

"The Iron Triangle of the Left Subculture In Australia"
these regular Gatherings and micro bureaucracy of the federation and those who attend them from the "leftist" milieu and so called anarchist groups is not going to help any strategic discussion unfortunately
- those attending are likely to be trapped in the "iron triangle" of the bourgeois ideology of identity politics with its "theologies" , the stalinist legacy of micro party/vanguard building/extreme machieveillienism and people lacking experience of the class struggle and a focus on aimless and hopless activism to tackle capitalism's misdeeds due to oppression mongering and guilt tripping
- consequently these gatherings would be largely pseudo tribal in character shall we say - a bonding of the leftist so called anarchist elitists where various bizarre rituals and "political correctness" displays will occur - thoroughly as unscientific as the rituals of the catholic "mass" - therefore no strategy relevant to the workers control project and overthrow of the capitalist mode of production can develop!
- bonding for what? no doubt just an excuse for some uni student and middle class types to have social occasions but it could also lead to the hatching of some extreme stalinist cult
- an outcome of the workers control conference in oct 2003 in sydney was exactly just that - and it was mainly these types of people who attended it ( it was also characterised by this pseudo religious atmosphere - it started with the nonsense of an "indigenous welcome, etc" -
it took the shape of an attempt to turn the jura books group into some cult (its now just a sect) - immediately before and following the meeting in 2004 discussed in Peter Seigl's article - these cult like features
became manifest - I refered to it in my last post - the submitting of most in jura and some in Love & Rage to psychological manipulation techniques involving a sort of emotional bonding- a similar process which occurred in 1981-82 in Jura leading to the formation of black rose - following the meeting in 2004 at jura - there was a move to introduce "maoist style" criticism/self criticism sessions as part of business meetings at jura - luckily it was foiled -
however in 1982 in jura - such maoist style techniques were introduced into jura meetings by those who went on to form black rose - as part of a factional ploy
- have you out there in reader land heard of Libraries? - if you want to meet - meet there with one of the best teachers you can get - some of those history books I mentioned in a previous post (and the librarians will frown on any performance of bizarre leftist subscultural rituals) -apart from your own workplace/class struggle experience its a very important tool to break out of the "iron triangle"
mark

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Jan 14 2008 17:14

princess mob: Bah humbug!

grrregg: The way I see it, this -- the exclusion of individuals (as individuals) -- is an unfortunate consequence, perhaps, but a necessary one given the need to secure an appropriate decision-making structure. (It may be, however, that unaffiliated individuals could become supporting members of the federation (but not be able to take part in decision-making).) One reason for mandating a group structure of this sort is that it tends to discourage the involvement of those who are incapable, for whatever reason, of working collectively with others. That is, as I see it, it's not enough to simply have an ideological commitment to 'anarchism', but a demonstrated capacity to work with others, that makes it possible for a federation to function in an appropriate manner. One potential benefit of such an exclusionary practice is that it encourages other groups to form... ('Rural Queenslanders For Anarchy', for example). Further, what distinguishes a federation from a political party is precisely this: an (anarchist) party is composed of individuals; an anarchist federation, groups of individuals. Proposals to establish an anarchist party have been made before -- the last that I'm aware of in 1995 -- but I don't believe they've ever been realised.

asn: Your speculations regarding the utility of a federation, and the political failings of the Jura, Mutiny, Anarchist Direct Action, Barricade, Melbourne Anarchist Club and other anarchist collectives -- and the 'leftist' milieu which surrounds them and of which they are allegedly a part -- suggest that you will not be participating in any proposed federation. Beyond this, I think that you're conflating a debate about federation as a mode of anarchist organising with an attack upon anarchism itself, one largely based on your experiences in Sydney; in the early 80s, around Jura and Black Rose, and in the late 90s around Jura.

Q. Do you consider yourself an anarchist? If so, which anarchist groups are you a member of?

Finally, I'm aware of the existence of libraries, and regularly avail myself of their services. Nonetheless, and perhaps to your surprise, I still maintain that the proposal is one worth supporting.

anna x
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Jan 14 2008 18:30
@ndy wrote:
The way I see it, this -- the exclusion of individuals (as individuals) -- is an unfortunate consequence, perhaps, but a necessary one given the need to secure an appropriate decision-making structure. (It may be, however, that unaffiliated individuals could become supporting members of the federation (but not be able to take part in decision-making).) One reason for mandating a group structure of this sort is that it tends to discourage the involvement of those who are incapable, for whatever reason, of working collectively with others. That is, as I see it, it's not enough to simply have an ideological commitment to 'anarchism', but a demonstrated capacity to work with others, that makes it possible for a federation to function in an appropriate manner. One potential benefit of such an exclusionary practice is that it encourages other groups to form... ('Rural Queenslanders For Anarchy', for example). Further, what distinguishes a federation from a political party is precisely this: an (anarchist) party is composed of individuals; an anarchist federation, groups of individuals.

Yeah but. Yeah but...I understand what you are saying @ndy but unless I'm missing something - which could well be the case wink , I still don't see why, in this day and age of the internet and the like, why individuals couldn't be members and participate on an equal footing. For an example, due to relatively small numbers of wobs in qld, until recently there was no GMB, just a few of us individuals slogging away trying to encourage others to join and put ideas into practice as best we could. We still have members that are even more isolated than me!Now, any decision making that needed to be done by the IWW in australia was effectively and pretty efficiently taken care of by the ROC by way of snail mail. Other discussions and the like are often taken place in cyberland. I can't see how this would be any different for something like what is being proposed. We live on a massive continent, spread out to all fuck with a very small population so I think there has to be a consideration taken to accomodate that fact so as to avoid being seen as something rather exclusive and limited to the larger cities . The same goes for work output, why couldn't a regional person contribute as effectively as someone that is part of a larger group in say Melbourne or Sydney. Also, as I made mention in a previous post, what if there is no group in your area or region that are as politically focused to join? Shall I start the 'Rural Queenslanders for Anarchy' with just me alá the mighty SLA laugh out loud http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L98ptYX3fdw and therefore be eligible to participate in decision making? Not picking fights just asking for more details behind the thinking.
all the best.
gregg.
edit: also if there were, say branches of the federation set up rather than having existing groups join, would this not negate much potential for bitching, baggage and ego's that may be attached to already existing groups that may impede any moving forward in relation to anarchism in australia?

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circle A-K
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Jan 22 2008 13:34

There will be a meeting on Monday February 28 (public holiday) for groups & individuals from Sydney & surrounding areas to discuss the federation proposal & report back from discussions within their collectives. Anyone else who happens to be in town is welcome too.

1pm

Black Rose Anarchist Books, 22 Enmore Rd, Newtown (just near Newtown train station.)

anna x
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Jan 23 2008 02:30

Can I get a copy of the minutes?

princess mob
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Jan 23 2008 03:05

that's a good point, we'll make sure to post a report on the blog.

anna x
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Jan 24 2008 07:01

Thanks smile
all the best.
gregg.

princess mob
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Jan 31 2008 00:45

Lengthy minutes from the Sydney meeting are now up here .

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Anarchia
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Jan 31 2008 05:50

Cheers for posting, will read now.

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 2 2008 06:20

I'm fascinated to hear that there is a Melbourne Anarchist Club, I live in the heart of Melbourne and would never have suspected. I wonder what it does.....apart from thinking about federating that is. It is also news to me that Barricade still exists since losing its small space in the Irene warehouse.

No, I'm not sneering. I have serious point here. There are good reasons for federating and bad. Setting up grandiose paper organisations in lieu of externally-directed action is not one of the good ones. The thing about formal organization is that it is not an end in itself. Unnecesary formal organization always turns poisonous. The correct procedure would be for groups to start supporting each other in their actions..........in the case of the erm Melbourne Anarchist Club at least I suspect that would involve starting an action to support......then it would be possible to see what formal organization was necessary or useful to maintain such support.

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 3 2008 08:32

The following quote is a cross-post from the federation blog. Sorry for the breach of etiquette involved but discussion seems to be proceeding here more than there, and the issue is potentially of some importance.

I wrote:

Quote:
Hi people……..

Look, the thing is that a federation must be based on shared action. You can’t just say one day “lets start a federation” and then look for something for it to do. If an Australasian-wide federation is wanted then the thing to do is to start some Australasian-wide action, even if very modest, and the federation may flow from that. The questions about the structure of the federation will be answered by the needs of the action. Likewise the question of who should join the federation will be answered by the type of action.

“Form follows function”……at least it does when things function well.

Organising such common action, as a beginning, can be carried out on a site such as this.

And I do have a concrete proposal. ANZAC Day. Every year for the past four years Anarchists in Melbourne have organised a small event of ANZAC Day honouring the Australian First World War anti-conscription campaign spearheded by the IWW. IWW people turn up, so do MACG people and other Anarchists of various tendencies. This could and (in my view) should be carried out throughout Australasia……in NZ of course there was in fact conscription so the nature of the meorial would have to be varied. But the variation would be minor, some of the NZ war refusers were heroic to the last degree.

Other concrete actions would be possible, obviously, although I think the one I propose would be a good one. But the federation must follow the action in common, not vice-versa.

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Feb 8 2008 11:41
jeremytrewindixon wrote:
I'm fascinated to hear that there is a Melbourne Anarchist Club...

Yes Jeremy, there is such a thing as the Melbourne Anarchist Club.

http://mac.anarchobase.com/

Barricade is conducting a stall tomorrow. Its previous stall was held at the BDO.

http://barricade.org.au

asn
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Feb 9 2008 12:05

'"The Coopers Tribe" - A Tale of Science Fiction

The time: 9008 ad - the Place Planet: Earth

A team of archeologists are drilling down into the bowels of the earth in an area which used to be known as Australia in search of lost civilisations and buried treasures on behalf of "earth corporation" which by then owns the planet.
- they suddenly strike mysterious brown glistening pyramids which rival in size - structures made of sun baked bricks in what used to be egypt but not quite as artistic - looking closer they notice the mysterious name "coopers" on the brown material - which lo and behold turns out to be vast heaps of broken beer bottles!
- they conclude that the contents of these bottles play a "sacramental" role in the rituals or "convergences" of a certain tiny grouping of student and middle class elements - it appears to be guzzled in association with the worship of certain "theologies" of the tribe connected with notions of oppression and identity which are beyond debate and discussion - and preclude any form or scientific processes and focus on the class struggle
- the archeologists go further and discover disturbing sights - a whole room full of fossilised bodies of members of these groups which were apparently participating in a "convergence" - they have developed enormous grotesquely swollen heads which has caused them to become entombed in the room!
- on the walls they are shocked to see depicted graphic scenes of aspects of these convergences- which rival the karma sutra which they saw when drilling into the remains of ancient temples in what used to be known as India -
in another room under a mass of cobwebs - they find an ivory tower and a pedastle with little wheels underneath - apparently used for wheeling into the convergences of the prized "black lesbian queer cripple" which this tribe "genuflects" toward according to other scenes on the walls

Jason Cortez
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Feb 10 2008 01:36

Mark, no offence. but you don't half come across as a nutter here. If you think you achieving anything here beyond making yourself feel good. I seriously doubt it. Anyway good luck with the FBU stuff.

Jason Cortez
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Feb 10 2008 01:40

MAC appears to have not done anything since 2006.

asn
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Feb 10 2008 08:51

cortez
satire certainly has a place in discussions
mark

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@ndy
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Feb 10 2008 11:28

Mark: Er, quite.

Jason Cortez: That would be because the site has not been updated since then. On the other hand, I can inform you that a property was sold last year and another purchased. This new property is larger, in a better location, and will be used as an anarchist organising space. On Wednesday and Saturday I'll be joining some comrades in painting it. As this and other work is completed, the space will eventually be opened up for use. Nevertheless, you raise a good point, and I'll address the issue of updating the site with some further details at the next meeting.

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Bilan
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Feb 10 2008 13:16

Updates:

Mutiny, an anarchist collective from Sydney, have submitted a response, can be found here.

MAC have submitted a response

Sydney Meeting Notes

Live and Let DIY, Brisbane notes.

[b]The big convergence is going to be on the Easter Long Weekend (21st to the 24th of March) in Melbourne,[b/]

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 10 2008 23:08

Glad to hear that Barricade is clinging on to life, the more so as Barricade is the legitimate continuance of the (real) Melbourne ASF, inthe sense that it came out of the warehouse project of the Melbourne ASF.

I had heard that there was an anarchist space in St George's Rd. That is MAC's space? Cool, I''ll visit. I still say, however, that the fact that I being an anarchist and living in the next suburb along had sill not heard of the MAC suggests that their activity is not in a big way outwardly directed......they might consider making connecting with the population of Melbourne to be a higher priority athan incestuously "federating" with other anarchists.

Jason, no offence, but you don't half come across as a callow buffoon. Mark is making a serious point . Unlike most of the anarchist federators, whose anarchism can be expected to fade in a very few years (I've seen so many of youse come and go), Mark has spent half a lifetime on the very difficult task of trying to build an Anarchist workers movement. His success has been small but real so far as it goes. You will no doubt have crtitcisms of him, sometimes legitimate - I have criticisms of him for that matter. But you would be very wise, if you wish to achieve anything, to listen to his criticisms of you. Whether or not you happen to be amused by his attempt to sugar-coat the pill with a little humour.

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 10 2008 23:12
Quote:
I have criticisms of him for that matter

Like I wish he'd learn to use the frigging quote function for example.

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Feb 11 2008 05:03

Re Barricade:

Barricade has been "clinging on to life" for the past 13 years. The notion that it is somehow the legitimate heir of the "real" Melbourne ASF is absurd (even if it does suggest Jeremy has something of an ongoing obsession with its size and influence). For the record, Barricade has no formal relationship with the ASF, and never has. None of its (current) membership are members of the ASF. The two pursue separate goals, are structured differently, meet separately, have separate memberships, and have done and been so for the last 13 years. It makes about as much sense to claim that Barricade is an ASF project as it does to claim that it's a project of the IWW: at one time or another, members of the Barricade collective have also been members of the ASF and IWW -- so too, the Anarchist Black Cross, Food Not Bombs, and a number of other local groups and projects.

As for origins, when Barricade was first established in 1995, it was given seed money by the International Workers' Club (IWC) (a project established in the early '90s in order to obtain a warehouse space for political meetings and social functions). When the project proved to be unrealisable at that stage, Barricade received funds from it, and so did the Black Star (a PA system). Both projects continue to this day. Insofar as the desire to establish such a space was the intention of the IWC, it would make a great deal more sense to consider the MAC the legitimate heir of the warehouse project. With regards the activities of both Barricade and MAC, Jeremy has never been a member of either; this may also account for his ignorance. Finally, with regards Jason Cortez's response to Mark's latest post, I agree with Jason: Mark sounds like he's a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

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Feb 11 2008 07:36
Quote:
Cool, I''ll visit. I still say, however, that the fact that I being an anarchist and living in the next suburb along had sill not heard of the MAC suggests that their activity is not in a big way outwardly directed......they might consider making connecting with the population of Melbourne to be a higher priority athan incestuously "federating" with other anarchists.

I thought I'd better chime in as another MAC member. You might get the impression that MAC hasn't done anything since 2006 because of inactivity on our website. We're not a propaganda group which might contribute to our obscurity. We're aiming to provide infrastructure for anarchist groups and revolutionary activity and create space where mutual aid is possible. It's not the most exciting work, but all members feel it is necessary (obviously). Practically, this translates into running a space and doing the necessary bits to make it available. We're still working on it.

All the other stuff, like Barricade and the ASF and whatnot, is irrelevant as it's wildly off the mark. MAC does have a working relationship with both of these groups, which we're aiming to expand to other like-minded groups.

It'd be fair to say that in order to work with other groups, let alone anarchist groups, you need to bring something to the table other than declarations. This is what we've been working on and why we think the time is right to enter into discussions with other local groups, as we decided that simply subsuming to a national or Oceanic federation without addressing local issues and beefs is redundant. MAC recently drafted a letter to local anarchist groups to this effect (although it mightn't have gone out yet).

I have no idea or who you are, jeremytrewindixon, or what group you're in, or why we should feel obligated to inform you of our activities if you're just an individual. It might be you're part of a group that we can work with, or not. I have no idea. i would point out, however, that MAC will not lie prostrate in front of anyone who proclaims themselves to be an anarchist. We have minimum conditions for co-operation that must be demonstrated in practice, otherwise it's all shit talk. We hope that, once opened, our space will be sufficiently inviting to make this demonstration possible and desirable. Our responsibility as organised anarchists is to create the conditions to make this possible.

The people who wrote the call-out were at pains to emphasise that it wasn't a final document. There are many (acknowledged) contradictions and flaws but the process of working things out constitutes anarchy.While it is true that it's possible for someone to put forward an untenable proposal, MAC has decided this is not the case.

Personally, I reckon it's great and the timing couldn't be better. Like Princess Mob, I look forward to meeting up minus the summit hopping and pointless workshoppery. It's better to meet and disagree than to not meet at all.

Hope that clears things up.

jeremytrewindixon
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Feb 12 2008 00:32

Hey Lumpen, what you say sounds largely OK. You are missing the point however when you assume I think you should "inform me of your activities". I don't think that. My point is that inner northern Melbourne, which is where "radicals" tend to live in general (and the MAC is based is and I live) is not a big place. The fact that I hadn't heard of you up to now is significant not because you should have tracked me down and informed me of what you are doing but because if all generally sympathetic people in the inner north of Melbourne haven't heard of you then you probably haven't been connecting much out side anarchist circles. You are already federated enough to go along with, in other words! Maybe making some impact on your own community is of higher priority than clubbing up with Sydney.

All this stuff about 'creating space" and so forth is all well and good, except (as you well know) the Melbourne anarchist community has owned a property since "someone" left us (not and your group but "us') the A House in Brunswick back in what was it 1988? ! And the Irene warehouse has been going you some years now. Lack of "space" is not the problem. I helped set up the old Melbourne Anarchist Centre in Victoria St back in the early 1980s and there have been anarchist centres on and off for years before then. Space is helpful but it doesn't matter as much as some seem to think; looking at the space we have and have had waht is striking is that it doesn't compensate for lack of activity in the working class and community generally.

I will drop in and then you can see "who I am". Meanwhile you could click on the blue link above this message!

And since you are on good terms with the "ASF", perhaps you might explain what they are up to these days (they seem shy about blowing their own trumpet)?