(en) A.A. Weekly 26th May -6th June

Philip McCrory (philmcc@melbpc.org.au)
Fri, 16 May 1997 19:23:55 +1000

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA


Number 251
26th May - 1st June, 1997

The one thing you could say about Australian society until this weeks Reconciliation Conference in Melbourne is its ability to forget the past. We have never acknowledged that this country was colonised and that the colonisation process was a brutal and bloody affair. We have never acknowledged that this country's policies towards indigenous Australians bordered on genocide, physical and cultural. We seem to have forgotten that the benefits we take for granted today were not given to us by the State or the corporate sector, they were won through the countless struggles of ordinary men and women. We have never acknowledged that the phenomenal post WWII economic growth was only made possible by the sweat of millions of immigrants who sacrificed their lives so their children could have a better life. The Reconciliation Convention in Melbourne has opened a crack in the collective amnesia that is such an integral part of life in this country. 

To acknowledge that indigenous Australians had their children removed from them as part and parcel of government policy. To acknowledge that Australia's immigration policies were built on the White Australia Policy. To acknowledge that immigrants were not allowed to speak their languages and practice their cultures and that they were known as Balts, Slavs, Wogs, Wops and Slants. To acknowledge that trade unions and radical activists have been abused, vilified and driven out of Australia is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of Australian societies maturity. To acknowledge the past is the best way to prevent it from being repeated. To acknowledge the past is not an admission of collective guilt, it's an acknowledgment that things have not been done in the best possible manner. As a society we need to acknowledge our past. If we don't want to repeat adnauseum the same cruel and capricious mistakes we need to grab our past, acknowledge it and move on. 

The Coalition governments total lack of understanding about what reconciliation is about is a tragedy. It's a tragedy not just for John Howard and his government but for all of us. We have all been betrayed by this governments inability to grasp the reconciliation process. Personal apologies are not enough. As a society we need parliament to apologise for the excesses of the past. 

Every single one of us from the most recently arrived migrant to people who have lived here for generations have benefited from the colonisation process. Although we may not be personally guilty of any atrocity, we have benefited and continue to benefit from the atrocities of the past. To be able to acknowledge this simple fact is the first step in the reconciliation process. Although we are not guilty we have benefited from the dispossession process. 

Although we are not personally guilty we continue to reap the rewards of the blood soaked past. As anarchists we understand the atrocities of the past and realise that if we want to create an egalitarian community we need to acknowledge that past. The Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society/Anarchist Media Institute have acknowledged that past by incorporating red and yellow stripes and green and blue stripes (the primary colour of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags) into the black flag of Anarchy to create a regional anarchist flag that acknowledges that we have benefited from the atrocities of the past. 


The governments mantra is very simple, deceptively simple. Small business is the engine room of the economy. By setting the "right" parameters, small business will soak up the unemployed and lead us to paradise on earth. It looks like the government's storm troopers in small business have not heard the coalitions mantra. The Yellow Pages Small Business Survey found that over 80% of small business didn't believe that the government's policies had helped them in any way. Most believed the Coalition's policies and economic initiatives had strangled any hope of recovery. A damning assessment from the Coalition's own engine room. 

Small business is right, this government has crushed any hope of a small business recovery. Small business will not put on staff because people will not spend when they are concerned about job security and unemployment levels. The interest rate cuts that have dropped interest rates to historically low levels have been soaked up by the banking sector. The banking sector has refused to lend money to the small business sector and has instead lowered home mortgages, not a very productive area, and has continues to lend money at low rates to transnational and national corporations. 

The monopolies that wield so much power in this country have bled the small business sector dry. Price fixing is rampant, small businesses are burdened with high interest rates, price fixing monopoly control of the economy and lack of consumer confidence. No wonder they can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Howard's economic engine room has blown up in his face and the survivors of the governments small business miracle are angry, very angry. They now blame the Coalition government for their litany of woes. 

Small business people are really in the same boat as wage earners and social security beneficiaries, all suffer from corporate control of the economic strings. There will be no economic recovery for small business until the grip that the corporate world has on the Australian economy is broken. Only a fool would believe that small business in a corporate world could be the engine room of the economy. Looks like there are more fools in Canberra than we thought. 


Ever wondered why so many antibiotics can't do the job they were designed for? Ever wondered why the corporate world, especially the pharmaceutical section of the corporate world makes such exaggerated profits? Well the answer is simple, very very simple, more and more antibiotics are being fed to more and more farm animals. Battery methods of production have been helped along by the chemical revolution. 

Chickens, pigs and cattle are being fed a diet rich in antibiotics. Tons of antibiotics are earmarked to be used on domestic animals. As feeding antibiotics to domestic animals becomes common place, the world's population is being exposed to increasing levels of antibiotic resistance. The current wave of antibiotic resistance is almost wholly due to the wholesale feeding of antibiotics to domestic animals. The more antibiotics are used on domestic animals the greater the possibility that antibiotic resistance will become a major global problem. 


Ever wondered why the miraculous gains that the world's stock markets are experiencing currently, are not being passed on to ordinary people? Ever wondered why everytime the stock market experiences a boom, the great majority of people don't share in the market's fortunes? Well it's obvious isn't it, their gain is your loss. As long as wages are kept down and as long as the State slashes expenditure, stock market investors will see their investments grow. 

Every time workers demands are frustrated, stock market profits soar. Everytime workers win a pay rise the stock markets fall. Let's face it, there's only so much pie to go around. As long as investors are able to hog the pie for themselves, they are assured of making huge profits. As soon as working people and small business grab a bigger share of the profits the stock market tumbles. Their profit is our loss. We don't need them, they need us. Without us they are nothing, without them we are everything. So let's do all we can to minimise their profits and maximise ours. 


Isn't it typical, the Reserve Bank cuts interest rates by fifty points and the big four only pass on thirty five points of this interest rate cut to their customers. Those good corporate citizens believe that it's their right to post billion dollar profits every year. As the banking sector finds it harder to top last years record profits and as consumers begin to shop around, banks are starting to become concerned about the possibility of falling profits. 

In an effort to maximise their already obscene profits , they have decided to pocket a significant proportion of any interest rate cuts made by the Reserve Bank. This latest round of partially passing on the Reserve Banks interest rate cuts, is the last of a long line of examples where the banks have used interest rate cuts as an invitation to maximise their profits at consumers expense. In an effort to be seen to be doing something the Coalition government has asked that toothless tiger, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate their actions. What a joke, they are trying to use a rubber mallet to crack a macadamia nut, no wonder nobody expects the banks to come to the party! 


As the Taliban Afghanistan soldiers of "God" tighten their grip on a people weary of war and suffering, the Iranian people have delivered a swift kick to the midriff of Khomeni's fundamentalist legacy. The election of Mohammed Khatami (a moderate mullah who was forced to resign as culture minister five years ago because he was considered too liberal) to the country's presidency, is Iran's biggest political upset since Ayatollah Khomeni overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979. 

Twenty years of fundamentalist rule has not been enough to suffocate the desire of the Iranian people to experience freedom. Twenty years of Muslim fundamentalism has created a climate of social control that has stifled the creativity and strangled the Iranian people's desire for freedom. Over 90% of Iran's thirty three million voters cast their ballot for the presidency. Over 70% of those who voted cast their ballot for Mohammed Khatami, hoping against hope that they could loosen the grip the mullahs have on their lives. 

Mohammed Khatami, a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed was able to win the vote of Iranian women and the youth vote. Over fifty percent of Iran's population are under twenty and have only experienced the mullah's suffocating stranglehold over their lives. They want something else. They want that personal freedom that no fundamentalist regime can or will give them. It's no wonder Mohammed Khatami scored such an impressive win. 

The Iranian people see the mullahs as a direct impediment of their hopes and aspirations. The fundamentalist revolution that promised so much has delivered so little. People are sick and tired of the religious police poking their noses into their personal affairs. Women are sick of being treated as second class citizens and young people want a life outside religion. Muslim fundamentalism is a dying ideology. All across the globe fundamentalist regimes are feeling the cold wind of change. The election of Mohammed Khatami as the president of Iran is another nail that is being hammered into the coffin of Muslim fundamentalism. 


Q. Would an anarchist society produce goods surplus to local needs? 

A. Every capitalist society strives to produce goods that are surplus to local need. A capitalist society's wealth is determined by the amount of surplus that is produced. The more surplus produced, the more money flows back into that particular society. An anarchist society's economics are based on the satisfaction of human needs, not just local needs but needs outside that particular community. As each community within an anarchist society has access to different natural resources and different human needs and resources, it's unrealistic to assume that each community will be in a position to satisfy its own needs. 

Anarchist communities that are able to produce a surplus will most likely continue to produce goods that are surplus to local needs. These goods would not be produced to create profits for the local community, they would be produced to fulfil human needs outside that local community. If one community within an anarchist society is not able to fulfil its own needs, it could and would automatically assume that surrounding surpluses would be channelled in their direction. Local communities could plan to produce a surplus if they knew that surrounding communities would not be able to meet their local needs. It's highly unlikely that any local community would be able to fulfil all its needs. 

An anarchist society consists of a series of interdependent local communities. Non one community, whether in a rural or urban setting, could survive without the active assistance of other communities. In a capitalist society the interdependent relationships that exist between different communities within that society are determined by the amount of money and services each community is able to produce and hold on to. It's no accident that as you cross a major urban landscape there is a huge difference in the amount of wealth held by some people in comparison to others in the same urban setting. 

Things would be different in an anarchist society. That interdependence that exists among different communities within such a society is the conduit that allows wealth to flow from communities that produce surplus to those who cannot produce a surplus. Anarchists that can produce a surplus will continue to produce that surplus as long as a human need exists for that surplus. The core difference between production of a surplus in an anarchist and a capitalist society is that a surplus is produced in a capitalist society to create markets and produce profits. In an anarchist society, a surplus would be produced to satisfy human need not greed.

By linking the production of a surplus to the satisfaction of human needs an anarchist society is able to build infrastructure to create a sustainable economic system, that protects people from environmental devastation and possible oblivion. 


Most of the activities most of us are involved in are small scale and local. Consequently it's very easy to lose sight of the big picture. Look at what activities (if any) you're involved in. Why do you spend so much precious time pursuing these activities? Do they fit into the "big picture", or are you pushing somebody else's barrow. Most of us have so much difficulty negotiating the realities of every day life that we settle for second best, pushing other people's barrows, fighting for reform, keeping our "big picture" to ourselves because we're frightened about what other people may think of us. 

Re-assess what you're doing. Are you involved in groups and activities that reinforce the power of the State and the inequalities around us? Are you involved in activities that nibble at the edges, but never present any alternatives? If you're involved in groups that are based on hierarchical principles do you ever voice your concerns about them? Do you ever suggest egalitarian methods of organisation as alternatives? Each and every one of us are involved in a myriad of concerns that reinforce the hierarchical nature of our society. Each and every one of us are involved in a myriad of concerns that reinforce the inequalities that exists around us. 

If we can't influence the status quo with our actions, we can at least attempt to introduce egalitarian concepts into the groups we are involved in. Assess your participation on the local school council, local community group, church group, trade union and business association. Are you becoming part of the problem, not the solution to the problem? Are you through your actions propping up a system that you have no time for? If you think you are, re-assess your involvement. If you think you're marking time, make a final effort to change the nature of the group you're involved with. If you fail, move on, become involved in actions and activities that are part and parcel of a push to create an egalitarian society that's based on equal decision making principles and gives everybody equal access to society's wealth - "The Big Picture." 

Money has always been a problem for anarchists. Lack of it, not too much of it. In 1916 things were no different than they are today. Some Sydney members of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) were involved in a scheme to forge five thousand five pound notes, a tidy sum in 1916. The forgeries must not have been very good, within a few weeks of the first notes being passed, Sydney police had arrested two engravers, Leslie Grummitt and H.W. Bradbury. They also arrested Fred Morgan and John Ferguson, two members of the Sydney I.W.W. who did the typesetting for Direct Action the I.W.W.'s paper. The police also arrested two engineers, Charles Cattell and Louis Tighe and they also arrested the registered publisher of Direct Action, John King. 

A few days after the seven appeared in the dock, two brothers Davis and Louis Goldstein were arrested for financing the forgeries. Tighe turned King's evidence, Louis Goldstein was not committed for trial as the magistrate ruled there was insufficient evidence to commit him to trial. Between the committal hearing and the trial Davis Goldstein had given evidence against the I.W.W. twelve and the Attorney General discharged him from the forgery charges as a payment for his evidence against the I.W.W. twelve. Morgan had skipped bail and was most likely spirited out of Sydney by the Seaman's Union. 

Ferguson, Cattell, Bradbury, Grummitt and King remained to stand trial. All were found guilty of forgery. Ferguson who during the trial emerged as the ring leader of the forgeries received ten years jail, Cattell got four years, King three years (reduced to two on appeal) Bradbury two years and Grummitt twelve months. Although many theories exist why members of the I.W.W. were involved in the forgeries, it was common knowledge that the I.W.W. members who were arrested were not interested in personal gain. They embarked on the forgeries to help the I.W.W. financially and even more interestingly, there was a belief among Sydney radical circles that the forgeries were carried out to undermine the Australian currency. 


Stopping at traffic lights is a little bit like eating at a smorgasbord, you have the opportunity of sampling slice after slice of life. You learn more about living by taking a glance at what's happening around you, when you stop at a traffic light than you gleam from a night of surfing the net or an evening watching a movie. A journey across any major city can open a myriad of windows into your subconscious. 

I was in a hurry, nothing unusual! I cursed as the lights turned red and I glided to a halt. A bevy of young women strode across the street, making their way to the Catholic University. There's something magical about seeing fit, healthy, young people leave the nest and make their way in life. This group of six or seven young women looked and felt a little strange. They wore very sensible clothes, slacks, shirts, dresses and the occasional overcoat. I didn't understand why I felt life drain away from the group as they made their way across the road. 

Then I noticed her, she was in the centre of the group, about 160cm tall, she whore shiny black slacks, sensible shoes and a brownish top. Her shoulders, hips and elbows pushed their way through her clothes, she couldn't have been more than thirty kilograms. A grown woman, little less than thirty kilograms. I made an effort to examine her face, her skin was taut and brittle, her blond hair fell across her shoulders, brushing her cheeks. She kept talking, moving along with the group. It seemed as if her friends barely tolerated her presence. Although they walked together, she seemed to be standing apart from the group. 

I don't think any of them were in their twenties, one possibly two would realise their dreams, the rest would most likely have their dreams dashed against the realities of life, but our friend was already involved in a battle for survival. It was obvious she was losing her battle with anorexia. I don't know why she was starving herself, I don't know why she purges herself, sticking her fingers down her throat, secretly hugging her toilet bowl. What I do know is that anorexia nervosa is a post modern phenomenon. More and more young women and even young men feel so empty, alienated and alone that they literally cannibalise themselves in their quest to develop an image that fits into some capital induced myth of what society expects. Image overtakes reality and people literally fade away. I don't believe our friend will reach 25 let alone complete her university course. I can only admire her for persisting to live life while her body ebbs away. The light changes to green, they've reached the other side. I take off, hurrying, burying her into my subconscious. 


I'd hate to be a Fairfax employee. Within the next six months Howard and his cronies will be in a position to hand over the old Fairfax empire lock, stock and barrel into the hands of the Packer boys. Anybody who has had any experience with Packer and his boy James, will know that the Packer's like to run their ship their own way. Just ask anybody who works for the Packer boys. 

Packer's media hacks are in the process of drawing up a list of Fairfax employees. They want to maintain the paper's profitability. At the same time they want to re-structure it in such a way as to guarantee their employees loyalty. The Packer boys first, the paper second. A number of feature writers, cartoonists, editors and sub-editors have been listed for the unkindest cut of all - dismissal. Considering the age of many of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Age and the Financial Review staff it's more than painfully obvious that most of these people will find it impossible to get a guernsey in Murdoch's stable. 

Many staff who believe they are on the hit list are having frantic meetings with their accountants, trying to find out if they have enough superannuation to last them through the hard times up ahead. There is an air of despondency and even resignation among many of the staff. Most know that the t's have been crossed and the i's dotted and the Packer boys have been given a wink and a nod by their big boy in Canberra, John Howard. 

The debate about diversity is just that, an in-house debate. The Coalition needs the backing of the Packer boys to grease its run to the next election. Without their support, they will find it difficult to win the next election. The timetable for the transfer of the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Financial Review needs to be finalised before the end of the year. Anybody whose future is tied in with any of these newspapers, who knows or feels they are on the Packer boys hit list should use the intervening time to expose this sordid little tale. About the only staff who are not taking obedience lessons are the papers cartoonists, the rest seem to have assumed the submission position, waiting for their new masters to tickle their tummies. 

Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society. 


THE REBEL LION NO.2 AUTUMN 1997, P.O. BOX 6, WHALAN N.S.W. 2770, AUSTRALIA. Mj.Sherwood @ nepean.uws.edu.au **** 

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