Contributed by David K.
The article by the collective known as Running Wild (about whom I know nothing, other than what can be gleaned from their website) was an interesting read. It points out a lot of shortcomings in the anarchist movement, the broad left and even the centre left of Australia, and problems endemic to Australian politics.
Much of this short essay should be considered a review and reflection of some issues raised by their article rather than a direct response to the article itself.
Where the G20 in Brisbane, 2014, came from.
Was the G20 protest in Brisbane a failure at anything except Looking Good? Was it disappointing? If anyone had expectations for something other than talking to strangers, catching up with old friends and a heinously unseasonable heatwave, it probably was.
But our response (if we can be called an our) to G20 was the way it was because of a set of circumstances and events in relatively recent history and those are not due to simple complacency or a misguided approach.
When I was 12 I went along to a protest with my parents, against the war in Iraq (specifically Australia’s involvement). I wore the “Make Chocolate Not War” hat I’d bought at a music festival and I felt so excited and so validated by the event, as a good person, as someone on the right side of history.
I grew up in a regional city, so we didn’t really have big protests and I can’t remember any others growing up. People talked politics… but not much more than that, not much more than hating on or applauding whichever political party was in at the time. But at this anti-war protest, it felt like the whole town was there, doing more than just talking. It was huge. I felt so empowered, I felt like we were actually being heard. Of course the big cities had massive turnouts, but us? We did this in our small city? I felt so fucking righteous.
And then the bomb shell hit. It didn’t change anything. The war continued.
A MEMO FROM THE OFFICE
(Contributed by another comrade in So-Called Australia)
Jobs Destroy Our Dreams
When I’m not at work I study the world. I read news articles and books, I listen to podcasts and I write my own articles and reflections. I practice music and I share music. I exercise and I go outside. I volunteer and try to help build a different world with other people. I dream of new possibilities for everybody and for myself.
When I go to work, I stop dreaming. I think about what I’m wearing and whether it’s appropriate, I worry about my hair and the paint stains on my shoes, I hide who I am and make small-talk. I become somebody else and find energy in this adopted personality so I can comfortably call strangers and convince them to buy expensive tickets. I spend hours doing something that doesn’t interest me and that I don’t care about.
I do this because I need to pay for rent, food and transport and other bills like electricity, internet and phone credit. I also do it so I can save money to travel and so I can have drinks with friends now and then. It’s not like I’m in financial hardship, I am far from it. But I do need to work for my “daily bread”.
Jobs Define Us
From Montreal Counter-Info:
Hatred for the police? You feel it too? They piss you off, ticket you, harass you, arrest you, bring you to the station, baton you, pepper-spray you, or tear-gas you, beat you, surveil you, follow you, blackmail you, handcuff you, throw you in a cage, make you lose an eye, terrorize you?
They feel important strutting around in their uniform, putting their nose in everyone’s business. They represent the authority of the State. They hold the monopoly of legitimate violence. You must respect law and order, under the threat of having your life stolen from you and being thrown in a cage. They are the guard dogs of power.
Cops piss you off. But beyond sticking their nose in your business, they exist to maintain the system as it is, and to prevent people from revolting. No matter what they say, that’s their principal function. You often hear the classic argument that “police are nice, but like everything there are some bad apples that tarnish their reputation”. They justify their usefulness by ceaselessly displaying their feats of arresting a pedophile or pimp. Of course, these sorts of interventions are made a part of police tasks because we have been historically robbed of our capacities to manage conflicts in an autonomous way, but in reality, power doesn’t give a fuck about your well-being. The more a neighbourhood is gentrified, the more new citizens and businesses require a clean and secure neighbourhood. The police aren’t going to go beat a landlord making illegal rent-hikes – they reserve this treatment for the crackhead on the corner. “The police in service of the rich and the fascists”, the good old slogan reminds us.
The economic and political systems we are born into and forced to live under – government (the State) and capitalism – continues to function not because it is effective or efficient, or because it is a just and equal system, but because of the various tools at its disposal which it uses to keep us in various states of fear, confusion, insecurity, anxiety, isolation and competition.
Without choice or knowledge of other ways to organise life, as these possibilities are always slandered and painted as unrealistic, the vast majority of us become indoctrinated into life under State and capital at the earliest possible moment, and from then on become increasingly infected with its isolated, individualised outlook through a combination of both fear and competition. This is reinforced over and over again, for example in the misrepresented statement “survival of the fittest” as one where a human has to compete against a human for survival, rather than work together to ensure survival against the difficulties we all are posed with.
And so it continues: in countless ways we are divided and driven to compete with one another, whether through school, the job market, housing etc. We are all driven to compete in obvious and not so obvious ways.
By and large, we are all encouraged to compete with everybody else, whether to get “better” marks, “better” jobs, “better” pay. We are encouraged to disregard the fact that we are actually more or less social by nature; that we are equal and free, and should be able to freely work and live together and not be pitted against one another for survival; that a selection of people do not have the right to secure all the resources of survival for themselves while forcing others to work in order to be able to pay for those same resources; that a selection of people are not more equipped to control your life, than you are to control your own.
Everywhere and always, the possibility of combative autonomous self-organisation scares those in power, and those waiting to take power.
Whether it be the governments of Liberal or Labor; Greens or One Nation, the aim is always the same, even though the approach taken may differ slightly.
Ultimately the goal is to demonise collective acts of resistance and refusal by everyday people, allowing the government of the day to uphold the legitimacy of the State and attack those that fall -or begin to fall- outside of their control.
To achieve this, the pillars of government and the media make use of all the power and authority at their disposal to set about demonising not just ideas, groups or organisations, but moreover tactics – this is the real goal of the apparatuses of control. Because when it is possible to make evil and wrong the choice to resist, it means that the State can do anything.
So when the poor and workers begin to recognise all the tools at their disposal; just when people all across the world start to take seriously blockading, rioting, occupying and a diverse range of tactics of counter-attack and self-defence, there is predictably by the State, either of the Left or the Right; by the media and the union leaders; by the pacifiers and progressives, condemnation of these tactics.
From It’s Going Down:
“I’m not a protester. I’m violent.”
-Masked Rebel in Ferguson
Along with voting, in today’s society protesting peacefully is often held up as one of the only ways that everyday working-class and poor people can change the world. This is a myth we are raised with, and since the time that we are very young, we are taught that peaceful protest helped bring about massive changes in this country and remains the only way in which people can correctly pressure the government into addressing problems and grievances. This myth has gone on to become a framework that not only criminalizes and normalizes repression, but also helps to generalize the policing and shaming of various tactics of resistance in social struggles. If we are to create a movement that can not only push back against broad attacks but create a new way of living, this false notion of “peaceful protesters” is going to have to be completely destroyed.
A History of Violence
When someone says that non-violence has been the only way that human beings have changed the world, they’re fucking lying.
Across the world and across history, oppressed, marginalized, poor, and working-class people have used a variety of tactics to further their goals and fight back, and this includes things that could be considered violent. Overall, this means that when people refuse their roles within society and instead force the system into a state of crisis, that’s when we can create a situation in which we can forward our own agenda. This often means that people refuse to do the things that allows the system to reproduce itself. In the case of workers, people strike. In the case of renters, they go on rent strike. For the poor, they refuse to be passive: they riot. In the case of all, they defend themselves against the violence of State repression and the police: they fight back.
Lately, we’ve witnessed right-wing populists, nationalists, racists, and fascists of all types licking their lips, emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. Following this torturous, political freak-show, we have already seen the dangerous realities and challenges it will bring about. Many from the right have come to see this as their moment to shine, while for many more it presents some sort of mythical return to a time of “greatness, prosperity, and freedom”.
Groups such as the One Nation Party led by Pauline Hanson in Australia are using this platform, feeding off growing popular discontent and alienation, in order to spread and enforce their conservative agenda. And in so doing, continuing to perpetuate and enforce the ideas and presence of nationalist, right-wing political parties, academics and individuals the world over. Acting as alternatives within a rotten system, they attempt to offer the moon and present themselves as saviours in order to capitalise on the bankruptcy of representative democracy and succeed in taking political power.
They deceive, divide and spew their hatred. They demonise workers, the poor, unemployed, immigrants and refugees; while always attacking those who make the choice to resist as violent thugs impinging on their freedoms. But they don’t care about freedom in any sense of the word. They –just like the super-rich- run to hide behind a state that is always invasive and controlling, asking for more and more repression, calling for more police and tougher laws to crush social movements and deal with dissent. They aren’t against the system, and the system isn’t there to help you.