Number 280 15th December - 4th January 1998
THE LIBERTARIAN WORKERS FOR A SELF-MANAGED SOCIETY /ANARCHIST MEDIA INSTITUTE WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THOSE READERS WHO HAVE SUPPORTED US OVER THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS. ALTHOUGH WE HAVE STRUGGLED FINANCIALLY, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO EXPAND OUR ACTIVITIES. WE WOULD LIKE TO WISH OUR READERS, THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES ALL THE BEST FOR 1998
NOTE THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE ANARCHIST AGE WEEKLY REVIEW NO.281 WILL APPEAR IN THE FIRST WEEK IN JANUARY 1998.
RELEVANT TO OUR TIMES?
Whatever people may say about the Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society / Anarchist Media Institute, we do our best to be relevant to the generation we live in. Too many Anarchists are still living in the 1930's, wasting their time trying to resurrect strategies that are no longer relevant. Others confuse principles with strategy, criticising activists who jettison the past and embrace the future.
We are not afraid of using new strategies to promote anarchist ideas. 1997 has been a watershed for us. We have initiated and implemented a number of campaigns during 1997. Some have succeeded others have failed. Regular readers of the weekly would be familiar with many of these campaigns. We have attempted to make Australians familiar with anarchist ideas by responding and initiating campaigns around events as they occur. In this issue of the A.A.W.R. we have included an insert of material that has appeared in mass media outlets about our activities to give A.A.M.R. readers an idea of the extent of our activities and campaigns.
In 1998 we will continue to promote anarchist ideas, encourage the growth of the anarchist movement and trial strategies that are relevant to our times. We encourage our readers to take up the challenge to make the 21st century - THE ANARCHIST AGE.
HE SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE
Listening to our beloved Prime Minister Johnny Howard (the honest one) crowing about how his government has single handedly saved Australia from the Asian economic disaster, made me feel ill, very ill. I'm usually immune to politicians porkies, but this one was a whopper. Anybody who believes that the Howard regime has shielded Australia from Asia's economic woes needs to be on Prozac (possibly two tablets a day).
On Tuesday the Australian dollar hit the 64 cent mark falling by one U.S. cent in 24 hours. As the export orders dry up, Australian will find that they will be one of the main victims of the Asian economic washup. Anybody with a modicum of sense knows this. When John Howard claims his government has and will shield us from Asia's economic woes, he is either suffering from visual hallucinations and needs a shot of Modecate or he is telling a whopper of a porky. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether he's hallucinating or speaking with a forked tongue.
KENNETT'S THE PROBLEM?
Watching the celebrations that accompanied the defeat of the Victorian government in the Mitcham by-election, you could be forgiven for thinking that all Victorians needed was a new leader or a change of government and everything would be wonderful in the former garden state. Well folks it ain't that easy. Although Kennett is an primary example of what can go wrong with the parliamentary process, he is not the central problem. The central problem facing Victorians is that we live under the system of government that allows someone like Kennett to wield power.
If Victorians don't want another Kennett, if they want changes that ensure that everyone in Victoria, irrespective of who they are or what they do, has access to the basic necessities of life, they need to dump both Kennett and the parliamentary process. While power continues to lie in the hands of corporate boardrooms, clowns like Kennett will bob up with monotonous regularity. Elections are not enough. We need radical extra-parliamentary change. Without such changes we can do little to prevent the rise of new Kennett clones.
MUTTON DRESSED AS LAMB
The Federal governments response to the Stolen Generation report has the smell of mutton dressed as lamb. Listening to Senator Herron's pathetic defence of the Howard regimes response to the report it's blatantly obvious that this government has no desire or ideas on how to tackle the problem. Senator Herron's steadfast refusal to even contemplate an apology for the genocidal policies of past governments, highlights the moral bankruptcy of this government.
Although the 63 million dollar package that has been ear marked to help reconcile and counsel victims of the stolen generation may seem generous to some, when you look at the fine print it's obvious that much of the 63 million dollars is money that has already been allocated. When you do your sums, it's apparent that 63 million dollars spent over four years to help reunite and counsel over 50,000 survivors doesn't go very far at all. The Howard regimes response not only misses the point, it rubs salt into a festering open sore.
CATEGORY FIVE - COUNTING THE BODIES
The Papua New Guinea famine has taken a turn for the worse. Most of the Eastern Highlands were declared a Category Five disaster area on Tuesday. Category Five zones have minimal access to water, food or shelter. Over 150,000 Papua New Guinea people are in danger of dying from thirst and starvation in the next few weeks. While the politicians in Port Moresby argue about seats in parliament and the bureaucracy holds up essential aid, thousands are dying and over two million Papua New Guinea people face starvation.
This famine is right on Australia's doorstep. It has occurred as a consequence of seasonal and developmental factors. Over 70% of Papua New Guinea people rely on their gardens for survival. The introduction of export driven cash crops, forestry, mining and the breakdown of traditional farming methods have all contributed to this disaster. The disaster that's unfolding right on our doorstep has profound implications for the P.N.G. government and parliamentary democracy. Tens of thousands of people living in urban slums in Papua New Guinea will, if the famine spreads to P.N.G. urban centres, take matters into their own hands and assert pressure on the P.N.G. miliary to take control of the whole sorry mess.
NEW CONSTITUTION FOR A NEW MILLENNIUM CAMPAIGN
Our attempt to have a delegate elected to the Constitutional Convention from Victoria on a New Constitution for a New Millennium ticket has failed. Although only two thirds of votes have been counted in Victoria, its patently obvious that the 50% of electors who voted have supported candidates who only want cosmetic changes to the current constitution.
By the time the next issue of the A.A.W.R. 5-11th January 1998 appears counting will have finished. We will be able to present an analysis of the vote in Victoria in that issue. On behalf of the Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society/Anarchist Media Institute my running partner Steve Reghenzani and myself, we would like to thank all those people who supported us in our endeavours to open up the debate on the principles of association that are required if we want to live in an egalitarian community.
PLEASE SIR CAN I GO ON STRIKE PLEASE!! PLEASE!! - NO!! NO!! NO!! UP YOURS MATE!!
The Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union is not a Union that's known for its workplace militancy, but things they are a changing. Australian Postal workers have a particularly difficult time over the Christmas/New Year period, traditionally Australian "posties" have cleared a backlog of mail by working overtime. No-body has begrudged Australian Postworkers that little bit of overtime at this time of year, until this year.
The new improved about to be privatised, corporatised Australia Post has decided that its workers have to clear the backlog of mail without being paid overtime. If this means they have to work extra hours without pay so be it. Rank and file anger at Australia Post's unreasonable demands forced the Postal and Telecommunications Union to call a 24 hour strike on Tuesday. In an extraordinary display of insensitivity and ignorance, Australia Post Management took the matter to the Industrial Relations Tribunal and asked them to place an injuntion on the proposed strike. The I.R.C. agreed and placed an injunction on the strike. The Union indicated that they would not be bullied by the I.R.C. and said they would go ahead with the strike. On Monday Australia Post Management took the matter to the Federal Court and asked them to place an injunction on the proposed strike. The Federal Court issued an injunction at 4.30pm on Monday.
The Union indicated that they would defy the Federal Court injunction and go ahead with their 24 hour strike on Tuesday. In a courageous move they said to hell with the legal bullshit, our members have the right to withdraw their labour. Union leaders stated they were not afraid to face the legal consequences of their action. Howard's new Industrial Relations Laws have made criminals of honest workers.
The Howard regime is very keen to use the courts to intimidate workers and workplace organisations. Any government that frames laws to prevent workers from withdrawing their labour is a criminal renegade regime. Penal sanctions have been tried in Australia in the past, they were broken by the unified actions of workers. The Postal and Telecommunications Unions need to be congratulated on their militant action. It's time workers in all walks of life called this governments bluff.
NOWHERE TO TURN
South Korean voters will go to the polls on Thursday to elect a new president. The current economic crisis has delivered South Korea into the hands of the International Monetary Fund. Koreans are a proud people and are very unhappy with the conditions attached to the I.M.F.'s bailout fund. Millions of workers will lose their jobs if the I.M.F. austerity program is implemented.
On Monday the three main contenders for the Presidential elections, the ruling party candidates Lee Hoi-chang, the opposition candidate Kimm Dee-Jung and provincial governor Rhee Ionaje held a joint press conference to announce that they would all comply with the I.M.F.'s austerity program. Irrespective of who wins office, the South Korean people will be forced to bear the brunt of the I.M.F.'s demands. Korean students and workers have been sold out, lock, stock and barrel by the political system. Irrespective of who they elect into office they will be expected to bear the brunt of the corporate sectors excesses.
Koreans have a strong tradition of militancy. Many of the political freedoms the younger generation take for granted were won by direct action. Their militant traditions, not presidential elections are the only thing that will save them from the corporate sector and the I.M.F. After the sideshow on Thursday, expect trouble in the streets, in offices, Universities, farms and factories. Irrespective of how their political and economic system is manipulated by international capital, Koreans will not accept any solution that curtails the new found freedoms they have experienced.
ANARCHIST QUESTION AND ANSWER
Q. How much power do delegates have in an Anarchist Society?
A. There seems to be some confusion about how much power delegates have in an anarchist society. Delegates are vehicles for decisions, they don't make decisions. Popular assemblies elect or appoint delegates to carry out and co-ordinate decisions. Although delegates have the power to negotiate they don't have the power to make decisions, all decisions are made at local assemblies.
Many if not most small scale decisions can be carried out without delegates. Delegates became a necessity when one local assembly needs to interact with another local assembly to co-ordinate a decision.
Each local assembly gives their delegate a specific mandate regarding a particular decision or a number of decisions. Delegates have the power to negotiate, but they don't have the power to ratify a decision. At a delegates meeting each delegate would outline their mandate. If their mandate coincides with other delegates mandates, then the decision can be implemented. If the specific mandates don't coincide and normally they wont, then the delegates have the right to negotiate a compromise position. Once the delegates have reached a satisfactory compromise among themselves, they return to their local assemblies to outline the compromise decision. The local assemblies discuss the proposal and decide whether they are willing to ratify the compromise. If they decide not to compromise then that local assembly is not involved in the final outcome. If they ratify the compromise the delegates will then be able to (on behalf of the local assembly) carry out that decision.
Delegates have potential power, whether they use this potential depends on how closely they are monitored. Anarchists have always been aware of a delegates potential to ignore their mandate and have instituted a number of procedures to prevent this from happening. Every delegate is recallable. If they don't carry out the wishes of the local assembly they represent, that assembly can, with a simple majority vote, remove that mandate. Delegates are rotated, every citizen is expected to take part in these rotations. The absence of permanent delegates means that no one person can build a permanent power base by exploiting their position for personal gain.
ACTION BOX - THE TYRANNY OF STRUCTURELESSNESS
I've been to enough meetings in my life to realise how no structure is just as dangerous as too much structure. If you are involved in a meeting, it's important to have an agenda that's distributed before the meeting. If you don't have an agenda, using a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to agree on an agenda means everybody starts the meeting on an equal footing. At the beginning of a meeting spend some time discussing how decisions will be made and how the meeting will be structured.
If you don't, you may find that those with the loudest voices and the more dominant physical presence will be able to use the very lack of structure you may be so proud of to impose their will on the meeting. In every meeting there are people with hidden agendas, structurelessness gives these people the opportunity to use the meeting to make their agenda, the meetings agenda.
It's important that the processes that are used to make decisions are transparent. If they are not, people vote with their feet and move on. The size of the meeting will determine whether you need a chair or a facilitator/s. Many anarchists believe that only small groups are capable of effectively discussing questions and making decisions. Historically the assembly has been a favourite tool by which radical social transition occurs. The popular assembly was central to the success of the Paris commune and was instrumental in the establishment of the Soviets in 1905 and 1917.
Participation in meetings that spend some of their time determining how they function and what structures they will implement is not a waste of time, it gives all of us practise in how to deal with larger meetings and popular assemblies. Such assemblies can be manipulated if we don't spend time being involved in the process that sets up libertarian structures for meetings.
Structurelessness is not a liberatory strategy, it sets up a cycle that allows a few people to manipulate and dominate groups for their own personal ends. Non hierarchical methods of organisation are a possible solution to the tyranny of structurelessness and hierarchy.
AUSTRALIAN ANARCHIST HISTORY - COMMUNITY RADIO FEDERATION - 3CR
3CR - Melbourne's Community Radio was formed in 1976. The Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society first made contact with 3CR via Anthea Swifte. Thea joined the L.W.S.S. in 1978, at that time she was doing an overnight music / chat program on 3CR.
Although we applied to become a member of 3CR in late 1978 our application was not approved till late 1979, as a number of Marxist Leninist groups involved with 3CR blocked our application, as we had clearly demonstrated that we had no time for Marxism and Marxist groups.
By late 1979 we had garnished enough support among affiliates to ensure that our nomination was accepted. The Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society have now been affiliates for eighteen years. Initially we found it difficult to acquire any air time, but by 1980 we were producing a fifteen minute radio program every fortnight - Encounters with the Third Alternative. As we became familiar figures around the station, we were able to increase our airtime to thirty minutes every fortnight. For the first decade our program was highly structured and pre-recorded. The Collapse of Communism opened the floodgates for us at 3CR, our broadcast time was increased to thirty minutes every week and within a few short years we were broadcasting live for sixty minutes every week. The programs name was changed to THE ANARCHIST WORLD THIS WEEK to give potential listeners an insight into the programs message.
The Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society / Anarchist Media Institute are a permanent fixture at 3CR. We have about 5000 to 10,000 regular listeners every week, some of whom keep up regular telephone and written contact. I can't over emphasise the importance of a regular radio program. The Anarchist World This Week is the Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Societies most important weekly activity. Radio is immediate, direct and can be used to initiate and carry out campaigns we could never carry out by ourselves.
Hopefully in the very near future we will be able to negotiate an extension to our broadcasting on 3CR. If you live in Victoria - THE ANARCHIST WORLD THIS WEEK 3CR 855khz on your radio dial - Every Wednesday 10-11am (52 weeks a year).
BOOK REVIEW - POST SCARCITY ANARCHISM by Murray Bookchin 1971 ISBN 0-919618-47-2
The articles in this book were written between 1965 and 1968. They were initially published as pamphlets and in Anarchos magazine. Re-reading this book in 1997 it's surprising to see how closely the essays in Post Scarcity Anarchism reflected the momentous changes that swept the world in the late 1960's. Bookchins anarchist background allowed him to analyse events in real time. While other intellectuals and activists rushed back to the 1930's to make sense of the 1960's. Bookchin re-opened the door to a libertarian tradition that still behaved as if nothing had happened since the defeat of the Spanish revolution in 1939.
His chapter in Post Scarcity Anarchism on Ecology and Revolutionary thought written in 1965, is a classic which pre-dated the ecology movement by more than a decade. Towards a Liberatory Technology written in the same years took up the same themes that had been so well articulated by Kropotkin 80 years earlier. Reading the chapter headed Forms of Freedom, Bookchin explores using historical examples how a free society could be organised. In his own words "a liberatory revolution always poses the question of what social forms will replace existing ones". The chapter titled Listen Marxist, is a modern anarchist classic. While the intellectual cream of the 1960's embodied in New Left thought resuscitated Marx's rapidly dying contribution to liberatory thought, Bookchin was one of the few people who attempted to bury Marxist thought. Listen Marxist and the following chapter A Discussion on ‘Listen Marxist' should be read by all those anarchists who still toy with Marxist ideology as we approach the 21st century.
Bookchins ideas embodied in Post Scarcity Anarchism were and still are a refreshing change to the drivel that passes as intellectual comment on this planet. Unfortunately some of his latest books do not have the same liberatory potential as Post Scarcity Anarchism. If you are sick and tired of seeing 1920's ideas and strategies applied to life in the late 20th century, then pick up this book. Even though you may not pick up any new ideas, it will encourage you to look at and change your world.
Cauliflower ears, pug nose, stubby shorts, blue singlet, a shock of white hair, 7.55 pm Thursday night, Swan Street Richmond. I blinked. It couldn't be true. What was this old man doing in the streets of gentrafied Richmond. Maybe he was a time traveller who had been disgouraged out of his time machine in 1997. I hadn't seen one of these survivors from Jimmy Sharmans boxing troupes for decades.
I quickened my step hoping to catch up with him at the traffic lights. Would he stop at the red lights or would he walk across the road oblivious of the passing traffic. Do spectres need to stop for traffic or do they walk straight through it. I'd find out soon enough. It's then I noticed his unusual gait, his left ankle had been broken in the past, he walked with a stiff limp throwing one leg across the other leg. As I drew level with him I noticed his brown parched leathery skin, the white hairs on the back of his neck and the glistening skin that's a hall mark of hard physical labour.
I'd known plenty of men like him, working in the canefields or farms doing the hard physical work that machines now do. Men with knotted handkerchiefs sitting on their heads, blue singlets, blue stubby shorts, fat black plain boots, no socks - I looked down at his fee, yes he had fat black plain boots on with no socks. I noticed the grime round his ankles and under his fingernails, the creases on his right hand. I couldn't see his left hand, he was carrying that ubiquitous sign of modernity a full plastic bag - Christmas shopping?
What was this living treasure doing in a street peppered with coffee shops, smart restaurants and a land mark which stirred past memories - the Dimmeys watch tower? I walked on, turned the corner, came face to face with a Greek cake shop and turned back. He was still there rummaging through the trash cans, looking for aluminium cans, thrusting his right hand deep within its contents, fishing for treasure - pulling out the occasional aluminium can, which he stuffed into his plastic bag. A living treasure, a man who's done his fair share of work for Australia, now spends his time rummaging through trash cans trying to make a few extra cents. As far as society is concerned he could be a spectre. Part of that army of forgotten people that wanders the streets, living off society's waste.
Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society.
X-mas time and there I was caught up with the rest of the rat race at the VIDZ OF OZ (A wholesale movie and video warehouse). I was there looking for a present for a relative who's rather fond of hard to get movies. A very colourful place I must say with rows of shelves depicting video cassettes of every category I could think of. New releases, dramas, action, documentaries and nostalgia they were all there. However one row of particular merchandise seemed to stand out. Taking up half of the new release section were row upon row of an early B-grade movie titled "Dogs in Space" which starred the late Michael Hutchence (of INXS fame).
I then thought isn't it just so consistent of the media and the corporate world how some celebrity's death could be used as an opportunity to make more profits. Elvis Presley, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Hendrix and Morrison, the list could go on. Legends in death more than in life. Curious I asked the salesperson how sales of the above mentioned move were going. "They weren't" she said, "It seems like after the Diana Spencer show not many people are interested in that sort of thing".
Perhaps people are slowly but surely no longer interested in that sort of thing. Let's hope its a sign of more positive changes in attitudes and things to come.
D.Edmond (Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society).
STOP PRESS - THREE YEARS FOR GREEN ANARCHIST EDITORS
Steve Booth, Noel Molland and Saxon Wood were found guilty of the crime of "conspiracy to incite criminal damage" by Judge Major General Selwood in London on the 13th of November. Steve, Noel and Saxon the editors of GREEN ANARCHIST were convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment for publishing words. They are the latest victims of the English governments attempts to stifle radical dissent.
Two other defendants Paul Rogers of Green Anarchist and Robin Webb of the Animal Liberation Front are still awaiting trial on the same charges. Neither Steve, Noel or Saxon were accused of causing criminal damage, they were accused of the nebulous crime of "conspiracy". A favourite charge the state uses when it's concerned about the growing strength of the extra parliamentary opposition. Appeals have been launched against the verdict and sentence. This conspiracy case is similar, very similar to the conspiracy case that the editors of Rabelias the Melbourne La Trobe University magazine are facing in Victorian Courts. Charges of conspiracy and incitement to commit criminal acts for publishing words are a common charge that radical activists face across the globe. Steve, Noel and Saxon have asked the International Anarchist community for support. WRITE A LETTER, DO IT TODAY Support the editors of London's Green Anarchist. Steve, Noel and Saxon have written to Freedom in London saying they would welcome letters. Write to them today. Steve Booth (CK4323), Saxon Burchnall Wood (CK4322), Noel Molland (Number unknown) are at Her Majesty's Prison, Winchester, Romsey Road, Winchester, S022 SDF, Great Britain. Information for this article obtained from Freedom Vol 58 No.23 29th November 1997.
Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society.
ANARCHIST PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED THIS WEEK
∑ LIBERECANA LIGILO No.91 1997, Rua Maria Aparecido Anacleto, 111-A, 13R 04809 Sao Paulo, SP Brazil, Tel/Fax +5512-262-1983. ∑ SICILIA LIBERTARIA No.157 Sept'97, Via Galileo Galilei, 45, 97100, Ragusa Sicily Italy. ∑ UMANITA NOVA 77th Year, 14th Sept'97, Tiziano Antonelli, Via della Leccia 8, 57100, Livorno, Italy, http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/2211un.html
ANARCHIST AGE HOME PAGE - http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3879, http://www.vicnet.net.au/~anarchist ANARCHIST AGE EMAIL - email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
$ Ý DEBT ELIMINATION APPEAL Our debt stands at $1306.20. If you are in a position to help us eliminate this debt send a cheque or money order made out to Libertarian Workers and send it to L.W.S.S. PO Box 20 Parkville 3052 Melbourne, Australia. DEBT 17.12.97 - $1306.20
VICTORIAN READERS LISTEN TO THE ANARCHIST WORLD THIS WEEK
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Want to help us find new listeners for the Anarchist World This Week, then send us a few stamps to AWTW, Po Box 20, Parkville 3052, Australia and we'll send you out a colour poster (A3) for your use and a black & white poster you can photocopy and put up to help us increase the number of people who listen to the Anarchist World This Week.
ANARCHIST MEDIA INSTITUTE OBSCENITY OF THE WEEK Has been won by the countries post modern temples of consumption, the ubiquitous shopping malls for their tacky homage to this countries holiest consumer bash - Christmas.
If You Like What You Have Read, Photocopy This Publication & Leave It In Doctors, Dentists, Vets Waiting Rooms & In Railway Stations, Bus Stops, Libraries & Restaurants Etc.
The articles in the Anarchist Age Weekly Review express the opinion of individuals within the Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society/Anarchist Media Institute. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society/Anarchist Media Institute.
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