neil birrell (neil@lds.co.uk)
Thu, 18 Jan 1996 20:21:53 +0100


As 1995 turns belly up, the end of the ' year carcass yields a
number of putrid: reminders of the failure of the Nation State.
1995 was remarkable because it marked the end of the Nation
State as a significant bulwark against the excesses of corporate
power. All over the globe the interests of the Nation State have
been superseded by the interests of the international money
markets and the ever growing power of a few hundred corporate
giants. As the world marches to the tune of globalization, world's
best practice, downsizing, privatisation, instantaneous
communication and the world wide web, growing segments of the
world's population are losing their cultural identity, their land,
their children and most importantly of all their ability to determine
their own future. The problems that face a displaced African
farmer in Southern Sudan are not dissimilar to the problems faced
by an Australian family farmer who is about to be forcibly evicted
from his land. Both are disposable cogs in the globalization of
agricultural production. The problems faced by a Russian factory
worker whose workplace has been privatised is similar to the
problems faced by an Australian worker whose workplace has
been privatised. Both will be rationalised, downsized and
eventually both will be forced out of their workplace. Corporate
capital has been global for decades, today the corporate world has
the technology to transfer funds instantaneously and it has the
power to override the decisions, goals, aspirations and imperatives
of any Nation State. International boundaries and national
governments can no longer act as a brake on the corporate world.
The battle to immobilise and destroy the growing power of the
corporate world is an international battle. The Zapatista's in
Mexico, the Free Papua Movement (OPM) in Irian Jaya and
fledgling antiauthoritarian movements across the globe are battling
the same enemy, the corporate world. Although the foe they face
may be wearing the uniform of a Mexican soldier, an Indonesian
soldier or an Australian police officer, the person behind the
uniform is carrying out the instructions of the State officials whose
ultimate allegiance rests with the corporate world not the Nation
1996 will be a tumultuous year, because more and more people are
beginning to realise that the road they have to travel to experience
freedom and economic independence is blocked by the increasing
power of the corporate world. The new world order has nothing to
do with a realignment of alliances of Nation States, the new world
order is here. It's an alliance of transnational corporations whose
life blood is profit:- profit irrespective of the social, human and
cultural costs. If we as individuals, groups and communities wish
to run our own lives, we not only need to destroy the Nation State,
we also need to regain our economic future by holding in common
the means of production, distribution and exchange. Unless we are
willing to challenge the prevailing ideology that competition is the
life force that makes a community strong and independent we will
continue to be mere spectators during our life on this planet.


Trawling through the malls of Melbourne, looking for that
purchase of a lifetime I couldn't help seeing the frowns and
sadness in the faces of those behind the counter. Some were bored,
others wanted to obviously be elsewhere, while others just stood
there and stared. When I approached their faces became animated
and the soul less expression drifted and merged into their bodies.
As I and other shoppers left and turned that all knowing blankness
returned to their faces.
The smaller retailers in these temples of consumption were like
caged rats, they darted here and there, hitting the sides of their
gilded prisons. I wondered why they acted as imitations of living,
breathing human beings and asked a few "how's business". Those
two simple worlds "how's business" opened a doorway to the
torrent of despair and anguish. It looks like all is not well in the
temples of consumption that masquerade as the social hubs of
community life in our post-modern world.
The larger retailers in these malls normally pay 50% of their
turnover to the entrepreneurs who own and manage these self-
contained temples of despair. The smaller retailers are at the mercy
of the mall management and owners of these modern day places of
worship. Not only are they forced to work under conditions that
most human beings would not tolerate, but just as they are about to
make a profit after a few years of hard work, new lease
"negotiations" see them lose any potential profit. It's not unusual
for rents to be doubled and tripled overnight. The smaller retailers
have become the human sacrifice that is necessary for these
temples to exist. It's not unusual for many retailers to be forced
into bankruptcy. It's not unusual to hear that some have taken their
own lives because they see no way out of their imprisonment. So
next time you trawl through the malls of this fair city of ours, spare
a thought for the human sacrifice that is about to serve you.


Yep! It's another one of those years, last year was the International
Year of Tolerance (didn't know that one did you?) This year is the
International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. In a marvellous
start to 1996, Australia's peak welfare bodies, The Australian
Council of Social Services and The Australian Council for
Overseas Aid have had a joint press conference in which they ask
the Australian people and the Australian government to increase
their efforts to eliminate poverty from the face of the earth.
Locally over two million Australians live below the poverty line.
Millions more spend their lives battling to keep their heads above
water. Outside Australia 1.5 billion people are desperately poor. A
fifth of the world's population (1.15 billion) has a daily income of
less than ONE DOLLAR a day. The income ratio between the
richest 20% of the world's population and the poorest 20% has
grown from 30:1 to 60:1 in the last thirty years. As we head
towards the year 2,000 the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Although the abolition of world poverty is . a laudable goal, it will
not happen if w continue to live in a society that is saddled with a
capitalist economy . Profits and competition will never eradicate
local poverty, let alone world poverty. As Australia becomes leaner
and meaner the gap between the have and the have nots increases.
Not only does the gap increase, but the number o people in the
have not category has increased by leaps and bounds. Although
charity is an admirable trait, (it's easy to be charitable when the
charity you bestow has been created by other people's labour
charity cannot overcome poverty.
Although ACOSS and ACOA have called for increased
government intervention I overcome local and world poverty,
government intervention cannot overcome poverty, when the
means o production, distribution and exchange remain in the
hands of individuals and corporations. World poverty can only b
overcome by egalitarian radical revolutionary change. It can only
be overcome when state and private assets become community
assets. As long as minority has wealth and power significant
segments of the population will continue to live in poverty. As
anarchists we welcome the International Year for the Eradication
of Poverty hopefully people all across the globe will] take this
opportunity to control their own destiny by beginning the struggle
to create egalitarian societies.


Looks like the Kennett regime has decided to escalate the dispute
they have with the State's fire-fighters. In scene reminiscent of
the Weipa dispute late last year, they have decided to use section
166A of the Federal Industrial Relations Act to break the resolve
of the Unite Fire-fighters Union and fire-fighters.
Over the past six months Victorian Fir Fighters have been
involved in a pay dispute with the Kennett regime and the
Metropolitan Fire Board. In an attempt to force fire-fighters to lift
bans, the M.F.B will be lodging an application under the Industrial
Relations Act to sue individual fire-fighters and United
Firefighting Union officials. Section 166A of the Federal Industrial
Relations Act is one of Laurie Brereton's generous gifts to the
Workers of Australia. As fire-fighters impose national bans to
fight this latest provocation from the M.F.B. and the Victorian
Government, workers are beginning to ask questions about the
Federal Labor Parties motives in introducing legislation to sue
individual workers and union officials. It's ridiculous to think that
the cudgels that the M.F.B. and the Kennett regime are using to
bludgeon Victorian fire-fighters have been handed to them by the
Federal Labor government. As the M.F.B. starts to stand down
fire-fighters, it's obvious the Kennett regime thinks it can win this
stoush with the flrefighters.
Not only should Australian Workers be asking themselves why the
Federal government is passing bullets to anyone who wishes to sue
workers for damages for legitimate industrial action. They should
also be asking themselves why they should continue to support the
Labor Party. Any worker with a modicum of intelligence realises
that there is little difference between the Liberal/National Party
and the Labor Party.
Any significant gains working people have made in this country
have been due to industrial, workplace and direct action.
Emergency workers in Victoria know that they will only win this
particular dispute if they stick together. Irrespective of what action
the Federal and the State government takes, they will not win this
dispute or other disputes unless they are willing to confront the
State government and section 1 66A of the Industrial Relations
Act head on. When you look at the forces arranged against fire-
fighters in Victoria, it's obvious both the Federal and State
government will use all the means at their disposal to break this or
any other workplace dispute.