2nd - 8th September, 1996
I wasn't particularly interested in the furore that surrounded
the accusation that the Australian historian Manning Clark
may have been awarded an Order of Lenin Medal. My ears
pricked up when Australia's excuse for a statesman John
Howard declared that he had always disagreed with Manning
Clark's black armband analysis of Australia's past. When I
heard Australia's Prime Minister utter these phrases I realised
that the attack on Manning Clark was not just an attack on
Clark's perceived political sympathies but an attack on the
very people that have created this country.
John Howard and a plethora of self appointed establishment
intelligentsia want to re-write Australia's history. Manning
Clark's historical analysis of our past has gained widespread
acceptance because it acknowledges the contribution that all
sectors of the community have made in building this country.
John Howard and his ilk want to retain the collective amnesia
that has characterised great chunks of Australian history.
What we are seeing is not an attack on an individual. It's an
attempt to re-write Australian history. If John Howard and
his cohorts had their day, the only history we would have
access to would be ruling class history.
Manning Clark acknowledged that history is not only crated
by the ruling class, it's created by everyone. To equate the
genocide and dispossession of the colonisation process with a
black armband view of history is highly offensive. To deny
that all the rights and privileges that working people and
social security beneficiaries enjoy in this country were due to
the endeavours of thousands of labour activists is to deny a
central element of Australian history. I find it outrageous that
establishment figures and their parliamentary pals are trying
to re-write history to fit their jaundiced views of the world.
The attack on Manning Clark's credibility is not just a
personal attack. It's an attack on anybody who rejects ruling
The collective amnesia that marks so much of Australian
society is a direct consequence of the insipid whitewash that
has been presented as history in so many primary and high
school courses since World War Two. How many people
know about let alone understand how this continent was
colonised? How many people know about the massacres, the
dispossession and the cultural and physical genocide that
accompanied the colonisation process in this country? How
many people know about the inhumanity and brutality that
was part and parcel of British policy as far as transportation of
convicts was concerned. We all know how "wonderful"
things were on the first fleet, but how many people know that
over 50% of the convicts on the second fleet died through lack
of food because the private contractors who the government
paid to transport the convicts tried to maximise their profits
by minimising the convicts food.
We all know how "great" Hannibal Macarthur was in early
Australian history. It's claimed he established the Australian
merino industry. How many of us know that James Straiter
organised a strike of shepherds against Macarthur during the
1822 lambing season. We all know what a "wonderful
gentleman" Macarthur was but how many of us know that
James Straiter was sentenced to receive five hundred lashes,
one month's solitary confinement on bread and water and was
then sent to a penal settlement for twenty years for "inciting
his masters servants to combine for the purpose of obliging
him to raise their wages and increase their rations."
Our his/herstory is littered with thousands of such stories.
Most have never seen the light of day. Manning Clark's
"crime" is that he attempted to present a balanced viewpoint
about what is and what isn't Australian history. When the
Prime Minister states that he never had much time for
Manning Clark's black armband view of history he not only
insults Manning Clark's memory, he also insults all those
Australians, both living and dead who have worked to create
the rich tapestry we now enjoy. Let's not allow those
Australians who still like to sniff the ether bottle, contaminate
the rest of us with their collective amnesia.
MOVE 'EM ON! MOVE 'EM ON!!
Public space belongs to the people, well no not exactly. If you
live in New South Wales and you like to meet outside the
urban temples of consumption watch out. If the New South
Wales cabinet has its way, the streets will belong to the long
arm of the law not the people. In an attack on the few
freedoms Australians have, the New South Wales Labor
government wants to give police powers to break up
gatherings of more than two people.
It claims the current laws do not stop people, mainly young
people from meeting in public places. If they had their way
the only place people could meet in would be the temples of
consumption that pollute the urban landscape. Once these
proposed laws gain "royal assent" (cute concept), the police
will have arbitrary powers to move any group of people they
don't like. You can imagine who will be targeted by these
new laws, the young, indigenous Australians and migrants.
Considering the number of laws on the statute books that the
police have access to to break up unruly crowds, you have to
ask yourself why the New South Wales cabinet is so keen to
give police so many arbitrary powers.
COOPER'S GOT THAT SINKING FEELING
Ever downed an ale and felt it sink to the pit of your tummy,
well it looks like Cooper the Queensland Police Minister is
about to find out what it feels like when you sink a long cold
ale. The current investigation into the Queensland Police
Unions pre-election deal with the current Queensland Police
Minister has thrown a great deal of light on how business is
conducted in the Sunshine State.
Cooper states that irrespective of whether criminal charges are
laid against him or not he will continue to serve in the
Queensland cabinet. Can you imagine if the Attorney General
sitting down for a quiet ale in cabinet with a Police Minister
who is facing criminal charges. What a joke. If I was a
betting man I wouldn't put on any money on Cooper standing
for re-election in his safe Queensland National Party seat. I
imagine the National Party knives are already out for Cooper
and it won't be long before he stands down from his
parliamentary seat for the good of the party.
WHO NEEDS TO APOLOGISE!!
There's nothing more pathetic in life than seeing people trying
to distance themselves from former friends and colleagues.
The media induced hue and cry that followed the scuffles
outside Parliament House on Monday the 19th of August
highlights the A.C.T.U.'s in ability to respond to media
provocation. Over the past week we have seen members of
the A.C.T.U. trying to distance themselves from those
demonstrators who were involved in the militant scuffles
outside Parliament House.
Instead of standing up for working people and supporting
those protesters who were forced to defend themselves, the
A.C.T.U. has decided to disown the section of the rally that
tried to enter Parliament House. It's pathetic watching
members of the A.C.T.U. falling over themselves in their
efforts to distance themselves from the militant portion of the
A number of people need to apologise for the events that
occurred in Canberra on the 19th of August. Peter Reith and
John Howard should apologise for attempting to introduce
parliamentary legislation that wants to destroy what little
power working people still have in this country. It's important
that people attempt to publicly counter the media garbage that
is being bandied about the Canberra scuffles. Workers across
the country should jam radio talkback lines whenever they're
opened to the public. It's important that as many people as
possible speak up to counter the current government and
media induced hysteria surrounding the scuffles outside
Parliament House a fortnight ago.
JOHNNY HOWARD'S GOT THAT SINKING FEELING
Johnny Howard was surprised to find his reception at the
South Pacific Conference in the Marshall Island's a little cool.
As he steeped off the plane at Majuro the capital of the
Marshall Islands he began to experience a sinking feeling.
Irrespective of how hard he tried to shake off that feeling of
doom and gloom, nothing seemed to stop him from
experiencing that sinking feeling.
The people of the Marshall Islands and the South Pacific are
angry. They're angry that John Howard and his entourage
have refused to endorse policies that will help to decrease
green house gas levels. Australia is one of the few countries
in the world that has refused to implement policies that will
help to reduce green house gas emissions. When you begin to
understand the delicate environmental balancing act we face
in the world today especially in the South Pacific, you begin to
realise how important it is for world governments to endorse
programmes that decrease the production of green house
gases. If nothing is done about green house gas production
one of the first places to disappear off the face of the planet
will be the Marshall Islands. No wonder Johnny Howard
experienced that sinking feeling when he stepped off the plane
THANK YOU GOD FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN!!
I never fully understood why the United States let Saddam
Hussein's regime survive in 1991. The two main theories
doing the rounds in 1991 were, one that the United Nations
mandate did not give them the charter to topple the Hussein
regime (never stopped them before) and two that the United
States regime was happier to deal with their former ally
Saddam Hussein than an Iranian backed Muslim
fundamentalist regime in Iraq. Well I've got another theory
the United States government needs a public enemy No.1 who
they can drag out and punish whenever they need to use an
external threat to activate a little bit of nationalistic fever.
It looks like Clinton's prayers have been answered. In the
very week that his Presidential campaign had been derailed by
his chief campaign manager's trouser snake, Sadam Hussein
obligingly crosses the no go zone in Northern Iraq and pits his
military regime against one of the main Kurdish factions in
Northern Iraq. I can imagine Clinton thanking the Lord for
Saddam Hussein's intervention in his Presidential campaign.
The current situation in Northern Iraq highlights the old
adage that nationalism is not a strong enough force to create
an egalitarian social movement. Kurdistan saddles Turkey,
Syria, Iran and Iraq. The formation of an autonomous
Kurdish zone in Northern Iraq has always been viewed by
suspicion by these Nation States. All of them have at one
time or another persecuted the Kurds. The Kurdish
community is divided into a number of factions which
includes the Kurdish Workers Party (KWP) based in Turkey
an orthodox Marxist group. The Kurdish Democratic Party
(KDP) a conservative group based in Northern West Iraq and
the Turkish border. This group is now supported by their
bitter former enemy Saddam Hussein. The Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK) a left leaning group supported by Iran and
the Iranian sponsored Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The internecine fighting that now dominates this region
highlights the limitations of any nationalist based struggle.
ANARCHIST QUESTION AND ANSWER
Q. Why Would An Anarchist Community Bother To
Produce A Surplus?
A. Some anarchists think of an anarchist community as a self-
contained entity that is able to satisfy the human needs of the
people in that community. Others think of an anarchist
community as a federation of self-defined groups and
localities. Irrespective of how we envisage such communities,
we are still faced with the question, why would any anarchist
individual or community work to produce a surplus? In a
capitalist society the production of a surplus is an integral
component of such a society. If you produce a surplus in a
capitalist society you can sell or barter that surplus and
increase individual and community wealth.
When you initially look at an anarchist community, there
seems to be no earthly reason why such a community would
want to produce a surplus. When you take a closer look at the
situation you begin to realise that all communities are not
"blessed" with the same access to resources both human and
natural. Unless those communities that are able to produce a
sustainable surplus are willing to produce such a surplus or
are willing to let other people use their resources to produce a
surplus the security they enjoy because they are able to look
after their own needs is a very fragile one. Surrounding
communities that are having difficulty producing enough for
their own needs would possible resort to violent measures if
they were not allowed access to that surplus.
Anarchism is not just a philosophy that revolves around self-
sufficiency, it's a philosophy based on co-operation. An
anarchist society is a community that creates structures that
ensure that the inequalities which now breed so much conflict
and hatred are a thing of the past. An anarchist federation
gives individuals and groups a security that they would never
enjoy in any other society. If communities have the ability to
produce a surplus, the distribution of that surplus to other
parts of the federation ensures that the groundwork is laid for
peace and security in the future.
People need to co-operate to survive and prosper in an
anarchist society. You may be able to produce a surplus one
year, next year you may find through circumstances beyond
your control that you cannot even satisfy your own needs.
Irrespective of whether you are able to produce a surplus or
not you know that in an anarchist society your future is
assured because the surplus that other people are capable of
producing will now be used to satisfy your needs.
ACTION BOX - COLLECTIVE MEMORY
Thousands of people in Australia have been involved in
anarchist groups and activities over the past thirty years.
The anarchist renaissance that we are experiencing at
present could benefit from the collective memory that has
been built up over this period of time. It's essential that
people who are becoming involved in this emerging
anarchist movement do not have to re-invent the wheel.
The countless conferences, activities, arguments, groups,
federations, splits, actions, demonstrations, discussions,
successes and failures, are all part of our collective
memory. Those of us who have been active over the past
thirty years and those of us who were active, became in-
active and are now once again interested in anarchist
ideas need to share our collective memory with new
members of the movement. If we gloss over the past or
dwell on past wrongs both real and imagined a whole new
generation of activists could repeat the same mistakes we
have been guilty of.
The collective experience that has been gained by so many
people over so many years should act as a very strong
impetus for any emerging anarchist group. The collective
memory that is our common heritage is one of the most
powerful aspects of the anarchist movement in Australia
today. Irrespective of past problems and failures, those of
us who have continued to be interested in anarchism
during this period need to share this collective memory
with newer members of the anarchist community.
If we want to create an anarchist culture, if we want to
create a new society that is not burdened by the failures of
the past people need to be able to tap into our collective
memory. These memories are one of our most important
common assets. Those anarchists that are still fighting the
battles of the past, and those anarchists who have failed to
capture this new mood need to reassess their positions and
offer their collective experiences to those new groups that
Sometimes it's hard to move on, especially when you have
put so much of yourself into something. At other times
people have no choice but to move on. As people who are
interested in anarchism we are faced with a number of
important choices. We can ignore the past and start again
or we can tap into our collective memory and pass on
what we have experienced and learnt to those people who
are now expressing an interest in anarchist ideas. If we
wish to build a strong anarchist movement, it's important
we use this important common resource to help people
bypass the dead-ends many of us have experienced in the
AUSTRALIAN ANARCHIST HISTORY
Monty Miller lived an extraordinary life. He was born in 1831.
He was a pikeman at the Eureka Stockade at Ballarat in 1854
and he was involved in workplace struggles all his life. He
joined the Australian 'local' of the Industrial Workers of the
World (I.W.W.) when he was 75 and became a thorn in the
side of capital and the Billy Hughes Federal government
during the First World War. Monty Miller was one of the most
active and spectacular members of the I.W.W. a direct action,
anti-parliamentary industrial union that flourished in Australia
between 1907 to the mid twenties.
Monty Miller was billed as a 'One Big Union Pioneer' and in his
mid eighties and cris-crossed the country talking at Public
Meetings on behalf of the I.W.W. He was imprisoned on
many occasions for his trouble. In 1916 at the age of 83 he
was sentenced to six months jail for sedition because he
opposed conscription and the First World War. He was
released after serving a few weeks of his sentence but was re-
arrested in 1917 at the age of 84 and sentenced to six months
jail with hard labour at Long Bay Goal because he continued
to oppose conscription.
Monty Miller's contribution to the Australian Labour Movement
is remembered by the Rebel Worker Group in Sydney. They
established the Monty Miller Press over a decade ago to
produce anarchist publications and continue to produce
STOP PRESS -
SHAME BRENDAN SHAME
Remember Brendan Nelson, the radical general
practitioner with the diamond ear stud from Tasmania
who became President of the Australian Medical
Association, A.M.A. Remember how Brendan Nelson
wanted to drag the A.M.A. into the late 19th Century, as
he jumped in front of the cameras telling us all how
things were going to change for the better for the A.M.A.
As those of you who follow the fortunes of minor media
stars know, Brendan jumped off the helm of the A.M.A.,
won pre-selection for a blue ribbon Sydney Liberal
Electorate and was bumped into Parliament at the 1996
Well, Brendan's in the news again, no he's not talking
about the abysmal state of Aboriginal Health care or the
conservative nature of the A.M.A. No he's not extolling
the virtues of anti-smoking campaigns, he's set his
sights on bigger things. Yes folks he's now trumpeting
the case for those honest corporate citizens the Private
Health Care funds. Dear, dear Brendan wants the whole
system overhauled. He's concerned that the community
rating system that ensures that private insurers can't
discriminate against the sick and elderly are bad for the
private health insurers business. Poor, poor Brendan
you'd think that after dealing with the sick and elderly for
so many years he'd realise that if the private health
insurance funds were allowed to scrap the community
rating system the first people who would be denied
private health insurance cover would be the sick and the
That's the great thing about Australia, you can be born
into humble surroundings, claw your way to the top and
then forget where you come from. I wonder if Brendan
still has his diamond stud?
Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-
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OBSCENITY OF THE WEEK
Has been awarded to Brendan Nelson the "radical?"
Past President of the A.M.A. for taking up the
cudgel for the private health insurance industry since
he won a blue ribbon Liberal electorate on Sydney's
North Shore in March this year.