crisis at Jura Books

peter mcgregor (p.mcgregor@uws.EDU.AU)
Sun, 24 Mar 1996 09:17:51 +1000 (EST)

Apologies if this has already reached you - I had difficulties sending it.
15 March 1996

Dear anarchist friends,

Please find attached a public statement/open letter that a range of
in Australia have endorsed.
We want to disseminate this statement to anarchists at large, & we ask
assistance in bringing it to as wide a range of anarchists as possible:
instance, by publishing it in anarchist media (eg. in hard print
(magazines), on
net bulletin boards/ lists, etc, on radio, etc.), or at least having its
existence acknowledged in such media.
We welcome comments/discussion, etc.


Peter McGregor (on behalf of the endorsees of the attached...

The statement you are now reading is endorsed by the undersigned and
includes a
list of those willing to take on the development of a functioning
anarchist (@)
collective from the ruins of Jura.
An alternative collective made up of people nominated by Sid, Erst, Jamie,
Julie, Leanne &/or other Jura/ARI people would be equally acceptable.

Dear Friends,

At the moment the Sydney anarchist community is in crisis due to
a growing problem at Jura Bookshop. We feel that you should be informed
recent events as we are aware that you deal with Jura commercially, and
that you
are anarchists yourselves.
This statement was initially presented to ARI/Jura supporters, & now
since their
response has been to reject our analysis herein, we are issuing it to
suppliers/ customers / etc., and anarchists at large (eg. via submitting
it as
an open letter to anarchist media).

Many people feel that the shop should be boycotted because it is under the
control of a small self-interested clique who alienate potential collective
members and deny the community access to the shop's resources.
Not only do new people find it impossible to participate meaningfully or
completely in the collective, but a number of ex-members will testify to
excluded from the collective through various means.
For instance, although the shop calls its management a collective, during
it operated without a collective meeting for five months. We gather there
very few meetings during 1995 (see Jura's Minutes from its Communications
Anarchist processes & methods of organisation are absent or over-ruled.
instance, in spite of a minuted agreement at a meeting, that book orders
must be
approved by the collective before dispatch, Graham Purchase continued to
orders unilaterally. This is indicative of his personal style which is
and autocratic.
Then there is Mark McGuire, whose politics and inability/ refusal to
communicate with people on an individual level make him anathema to the
of Sydney @s. Communications have been received indicating that MM's
with his anarcho-syndicalist comrades in Melbourne and other cities is no
better. Questions remain concerning his longstanding monopolisation of
facilities connected with Jura.

Attempts have been made to put it to Sid Parissi and other ARI (Anarchist
Resources Incorporated) members that: the Jura Books Collective (JBC) is
used as a vehicle for the projects of two individuals, that their
with the rest of the community is at best poor at worse hostile, and that
statements of non-hierarchical processes are being violated. Note that
ARI is an
incorporated non-profit entity with the
primary purpose of buying 110 Crystal St., Petersham as premises for
Jura, an
anarchist bookshop collective. They are effectively JBC's landlords.The
of ARI had been - until very recently - GP, MM & Joanne D (all of the
JBC), &
only three others.

While even capitalist corporations conduct elections (of a sort), & provide
annual reports to their constituencies, neither Jura nor ARI practice such
minimal accountability.
Nevertheless, ARI's incorporation with the Corporate Affairs Commission
(NSW) does involve a 'constitution' of Objects ('aims') & Rules.
There is no membership of ARI other than the 6 people who at any point of
time are ARI. ARI would appear to be seriously flawed, both as a self-
proclaimed anarchist 'association', operating without anarchist
processes; &
also as a supposedly community organisation, operating without its
community ("(ARI) shall be comprised of known anarchists of long
standing."(Object 1)). Most such community organisations are expected -
both as
a legal requirement, & as accountability to their membership /community -
hold AGMs where they firstly present financial, secretarial & other
reports; &
then, in order to carry out the work of the organisation for the
year, conduct an election for office bearers.
While the ARI AGM (21/10/1995) went through the motions of the former
procedure, there wasn't even a pretense at the latter; the AGM Minutes
Yet the Rules of ARI specify that 2 members shall be elected (by the existing
members (!), at each AGM. Should there be no other nominations (!), the
incumbents can be declared re-elected, for a maximum of 3 consecutive
terms for
any member (!). Not having elections is a clear breach of the Rules of
incorporation, & it allows the existing members to maintain control; thus
trampling upon both (i) the principles of the organisation, let alone of
anarchism, & (ii) the trust of the supporters of Jura & ARI who have
financially & in other ways, to Jura's existence over the last 18
The Rules indicate which 2 of the 6 members were due to stand down (ie.,
who was
up for re-election). We hereby call upon ARI to explain such breaches of
constitution, including the naming of the 2 relevant members. (We've just
that MM has been replaced on ARI - the constitutionality of this is
unclear -
see above.)

Until very recently (published on 24 Jan 1996 on ausanet), Jura had no
'constitution'. However, these published 'Aims & Principles' are roughly
equivalent to the previous unwritten constitution/rules. Just as over the
last 2
or so years the practices of the Jura Books Collective have been almost
opposite of such aims/principles, what guarantee/proof/evidence is there
Jura has now changed & will practice these principles ?

We are a loose affinity group that has taken as its aim the maintenance
pressure on ARI/Jura's corrupt management group. Its concern is not a
take over
or an exercise in the acquisition/accumulation of resources. Indeed our
has clearly stated from the outset that such abuses could be simply
prevented in
the establishment of a viable collective. We have been variously
as: a plot by Peter McGregor, a plot by Black Rose (the other anarchist
in Sydney) and most recently a group that simply wants to physically
injure MM.
If only it was that simple ! Such claims will continue to be made no
matter how
obviously false. Bitchy personal exchanges allow Jura/ARI to conceal the
debate in the same way that capitalist social relationships are concealed
economics. In addition to this they perform a diversionary role with
respect to
the main game, which reached a point of no return in the events at the
DAY (9/12/1995).
We don't have the time or space for a blow by blow account here.
The objectives of the group that met at a local pub were varied. Some had
invited to observe, others wanted to lend moral support and most had
agreed to
distribute a collectively produced leaflet. This had not been copied in
time for
the Open Day and Dominic Doyle went off to do so, while the rest of the
walked up for Bernhard's talk ( Open Day began with Bernhard Huber on -
ironically - 'Censorship, the Internet & the Ultra-right'.) Let us make
from the outset that we do not view it as destructive for anarchists, or
for that matter, to raise genuine questions, even problems/criticisms at
an open
day. You might even say that a vigorous group would welcome this in good
This was not the
case with Jura however and even before the arrival of the belated leaflet,
genuine questions had taken on a threatening aura for MM. This
precipitated his
attempt to manage questions and culminated in his bizarre attempt to
Peter McGregor.
With the eventual arrival of the leaflet all pretensions of civility were
dropped. Harry was knocked to the ground by GP, who then told everybody
to get
out; attempting to herd Harry and anyone else in front of him out of the
shop by
pushing and yelling "Everyone out!". His disturbance was minor but led to
increased tension with most people including members of the public,
checking out exits. Shortly after this MM emerged from behind the (Jura)
counter with a three foot mattock handle. He moved toward the centre of
the room
with this raised over his right shoulder. MM was quickly disarmed and the
mattock handle was removed from the building. These incidents are the
disturbing developments thus far and probably did the most damage in the
eyes of
the public and former supporters. It must be said however that the
general mood
was better following MM's being disarmed. A violent and dangerous
had been averted by the calm co-operative actions of
those in the crowd with each other's safety foremost in their minds. Four or
more people closest to MM had co-operated in his being disarmed. These
individuals then demonstrated enormous restraint by making no further
toward MM. Heated verbal exchanges that occurred at this time have been
used by
Jura to characterise individuals as having had violent intentions from
outset. (*)

A number of changes are necessary to allow Jura to again function fully
in the
anarchist community. Firstly, both Mark and Graham should cease their
involvement in the collective as they have become intolerable to work
Besides this, their methods and ways of relating are anathema to
principles and as such damage the credibility of the bookshop (and by
the community) inestimably.
We would like to stress that our main goal is to see a
functioning collective put in place, and not to effect a 'takeover' of
the shop
ourselves. It is immaterial to us who runs the shop, given that those
people use
collective processes and adhere to anarchist politics in their practice:
needless to say (?) this would include mechanisms for resolving
conflicts. After
much discussion and concern within the community, a number of people have
forward and expressed commitment to running the shop effectively in the
of Mark and Graham. These people are Harry, Dominic, Paul, Rose and
Three of these people have already been members of the Jura collective
and, as
far as they were allowed to participate, are aware of the necessary shop
processes. Alternatively, people could be called upon to nominate
themselves; we
would be willing to support a collective suggested by Jura/ARI, on the
that it either excludes Mark and Graham, or at least suspends them until
provide evidence of changed behaviour/attitudes.
Reforms of ARI are also justified/needed.

Finally we would like to point out that this letter is written
independently of
Black Rose, and is based on the experiences & observations of a diverse
of people. At the moment the tactic Jura is using to discredit the
protests of
the community has been to blame Peter individually, initially as a
infiltrator', or more recently as a 'liar', & 'trotskyist', or to
Black Rose as attempting to take control of the shop. On the contrary, we
are a
loosely affiliated group of anarchists who have come together over this

While we welcome, in principle, the recent offer (25 January) by the
Media Institute (Melbourne) to act as a mediator of this dispute, we
it is people within the Jura/ARI milieu who have previously refused to
engage in
debate/dialogue. Although ARI has now endorsed mediation, we have doubts
its viability, at this stage.

In conclusion, while there do seem to be attempts at reform within
Jura/ARI, we
nevertheless urge anarchists to boycott Jura until it embraces in deeds &
practices the kind of anarchist processes we've discussed.

Over to you ...

8th March 1996

(*) George Black ( as a non-aligned, overseas visitor/witness to the Open
George merely endorses the account given here of Open Day)

endorsed by the following people (Sydney-based unless otherwise
indicated) -

Peter McGregor (ex-Jura)
Harry Robinson (ex-Jura)
Haron Moses (ex-Jura)
Jake Rance (ex-Jura)
Paul Walters (ex-Jura, Black Rose)
Dominic Doyle (ex-Jura, Black Rose)
Stuart Gilmour (Black Rose)
Rose Johnson (Black Rose)
Dan Andrews (Black Rose)
John Jacobs (catalyst media room)
Suzanne Fraser (catalyst)
Caroline Graham
Hans Post (NSW country)
Monique Potts
Val Plumwood (NSW - country)
Darcy Waters
Leigh Kendall (founding member of ASF (Aust.) - Melbourne)
Wal Larkin (ex-ASF, IWW - NSW country)
Brenton O'Loughlin( ex-ASF, Angry People - Melbourne)
Ray Elbourne (IWW - NSW country)
Keith Aggro (Angry People)

For further info, etc., contact the 'critics-of-Jura' grouping,
c/o Peter McGregor, 221 Norton St., Leichhardt, 2040
Ph (02 5682279) Fax (02 6787399) & email