SOO 'President' Jay Moore (right) communes with a member of the True Blue Crew at a recent rally in Melton.

A small fascist group are trying to make their presence felt on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD, today they got a free-kick in The Age.

Today’s Age reports that “a vigilante-style group is running ‘safety patrols’ in Melbourne’s CBD”. The article reads like it could have been scraped from a Soldiers of Odin (SOO) press release, the video that accompanies the article is worse.

The Age happily compares Soldiers of Odin to New York’s ‘Guardian Angels’; a multi-racial group of who ‘patrolled’ the New York subway system in the 1980s. A more apt comparison for the Soldiers of Odin would be Greece’s Golden Dawn.

The Soldiers of Odin are not simply some confused vigilante group concerned with amorphous ‘crime’ in the CBD. Rather, they are implementing a strategy of intimidation with the aim of building a far-right street gang in the heart of the Melbourne.

Their politics are racist, nationalist, and fascist.

For the Soldiers of Odin, ‘crime’ is a euphemism. Their agenda is to target Muslims, and non-white immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. They talk about crime in terms of the minority groups they seek to target. ‘Crime’ provides the Soldiers of Odin with the cover they are seeking to demonize religious and cultural minorities.

If you have any doubt about the racist agenda of the Soldiers of Odin, check out their repulsive public Facebook presence. The racist material directed at Muslims and other groups of perceived non-white immigrants is there for anyone with eyes to see.

The Soldiers of Odin are implementing a tried and tested racist strategy; and if Chris Vedelago and Cameron Houston of The Age wanted to compare it to anything they should have compared it to the strategy adopted by Golden Dawn in Greece.

The Soldiers of Odin are conducting “street patrols” in the city, and purport to run a soup kitchen. They do both of these things with deliberate political objectives in mind.

Fascist rhetoric centres around the idea that the state has failed the ‘nation’ in some way. The Soldiers of Odin are asserting that the state has failed to provide for “our homeless”, or that the state has failed to provide “safety” from “crime”, and they are purporting to react to this failure. But at a deeper level they are reacting to what they see as the state’s failure to maintain white supremacy. The state has failed to stop “Islamisation”, “left-wing treason”, immigration and so on.

The soup kitchen is about legitimacy and political cover. Our society gives all sorts of leeway to cranks if they purport to undertake charity work. It is politically difficult for anti-racist activists or any other force to go out and bust up a supposed soup kitchen.

The street patrols fit into this rhetoric as well, but their purpose is far more sinister. The Soldiers of Odin are actively hostile towards non-white immigrants, refugees, Muslims and “the left”. Their presence in the CBD is about projecting intimidation.

I have written before about the fact that fascists have a public space agenda. They are making a claim about who can feel safe in public space and who is not allowed to feel safe in public space. They are making the claim that racism is acceptable in public space, and that all people who disagree with them should feel unsafe in public space.

The uniformed march of bone-heads is deliberately calculated to make non-white immigrants, and people who are identifiably Muslim, feel unsafe in our city.

Should they be stopped?

The Soldiers of Odin are presently a tiny far-right grouplet, however, unopposed, the knowledge that even a small group of thugs is roaming the streets can have a disproportionate impact. There is also no guarantee that this group will stay small.

Australia has not yet experienced the scale of economic shocks that facilitated the rise of these kinds of groups in different European contexts, however there are other factors that could support the growth of this model of far-right group.

In Victoria we are in the middle of a racist “law-and-order” scare. The Herald Sun and various tabloid current affairs outfits have been pushing garbage about “Sudanese crime” and the supposed threat of “Islamic” terrorism, and the state opposition is talking up a law-and-order election.

Whilst unemployment is officially down, there is still meaningful economic discontent in the disadvantaged outer suburban communities that far-right groups have been targeting over the past two years (Melton, Bendigo, Narre Warren). There is also simmering resentment, encouraged by racism from the media and various political leaders, at the apparent decline of white supremacy in Australia.

The Soldiers of Odin are unlikely to experience rapid organizational growth; they are not likely to become a major extra-parliamentary political force in the near future. That said, in the current context there is the political opportunity for a group of street thugs to build and organise. A couple of dozen roaming fascists can make a city centre feel decidedly unsafe; a couple of hundred could pose a significant threat.

Fascist street thugs, like the Soldiers of Odin, need to be opposed. Their presence in the CBD has to be rejected, and their activities ejected. Fortunately they are still a small group of political opportunists.

Anti-racists need to get together and debate tactics in their organisations and campaign groups, but I’d suggest one possible tactic that might be worth exploring is a counter presence.

Any anti-racist counter-presence would need to be bigger, have better food, and be prepared to go and dish out the grub and friendship whenever and wherever the Scum of Odin seek to set up shop. It would have to be an ongoing project, and to work it would need to draw in the participation of the people that these fascists seek to target.

Who’s Who

The Soldiers of Odin seek to convey a sense of semi-anonymous menace. The images and video included in The Age article merely contribute to this, in particular by using their “from behind” style photos (a style also popular with the fascist groups they descend from).

Well, here are their less than impressive faces (thanks to DYVRS for digging up most of these).

Soldiers of Odin, Melbourne.

Soldiers of Odin, Melbourne.

1. Jay B Moore, ‘President’, ex-PDLA.
2. Cam “Moody” McCann, (Facebook handle), Werribee based.
3. Ashley McIvor, Heidelberg based, here next to Kane Miller (TBC)
4. Shaun Butinar, hanger-on
5. Mick Bevans
6 (1st). (Typo, I used 6 twice) Swiv McKay (Facebook handle, likely false)
6 (2nd). Garry Mattsson
7. Dez Aster (Facebook handle, likely false)
8. Corey Baines
9. Group shot.

If you recognise any of the above, contact your local anti-fascists! Slackbastard has more.

Neo-Nazi Iconography

It’s utterly laughable that Age reporters Chris Vedelago and Cameron Houston did not challenge SOO on their neo-Nazi origins. They’ve adopted the name and branding (apparently with endorsement) of a Finnish fascist group. That name and logo draws from the post-WWII neo-Nazi embrace of “Odinist” and other forms of “Norse” symbolism.

And it’s not like fascists in Australia are unaware of the neo-Nazi connotations of the use of norse iconography by far-right groups!

For more on this topic, check out Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. Or just browse any gallery of common neo-nazi symbols or tattoos!

Update: From Slackbastard:

SOO was founded by a neo-Nazi, Mika Ranta, with a criminal conviction for racially-motivated assault;
SOO branches around the world have attracted the participation of neo-Nazis and White supremacists;
the President of SOO in Melbourne was previously a member/supporter of the Patriots Defence League of Australia;
SOO member Cam Moody McCann particpated in the April 2015 Reclaim Australia rally in the company of neo-Nazis;
the great majority if not all of the SOO Melbourne boys are drawn from the (White) nationalist milieu.

Anti-Racist Canada has a ton of info documenting links between the Soldiers of Odin and neo-Nazism.

Further Reading / Links

Slackbastard, antifa notes (october 10, 2016) : Soldiers of Odin Redux
Slackbastard, Soldiers of Odin Versus True Blue Crew
Junkee, Anti-Muslim Vigilante Group Roaming the CBD
DYVRS, Who’s who in the Zoo?

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What a fun time to be alive!

Here are some links and tidbits, September 2016.

August tied July for hottest month on record.

Randall Munroe of XKCD has published a lovely little graphic explaining just how abnormal recent temperature changes have been.

It seems increasingly likely that children today will live to see a world of 4.5 degrees of warming.

4.5 degrees.

4.5 degrees. xkcd.

Anarchist Affinity have released issue four of their zine, The Platform. I’ve contributed an article, titled ‘Your consumer choices won’t save the planet‘:

Ethical consumerism is worse than useless. The false choice of “ethical consumption” gives those firms most exposed to the risks of consumer backlash a ready source of green wash, and it provides new opportunities to sell “ethical” products at higher prices. Whilst doing this, “ethical consumerism” diverts attention away from the dynamic that is destroying our environment, exploiting workers, and wasting resources.

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The Campaign Against Racism and Fascism have a forum next Tuesday entitled Making Melbourne a Hanson Free Zone, speakers include Inaz Janif, Jeff Sparrow, and Jack Latimore.

Annoying fascist slime ball Neil Erikson is apparently facing some kind of legal action. The Facebook page ‘Australian Settlers Rebellion’ (operated by Erikson and Shermon Burgess) has put up a post calling on fascists to support Erikson at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 6 March 2017, and states that Erikson has been “charged under the Communist Racial Discrimination Laws for depicting a Religious Act”.

If Erikson has been charged, then it could well relate to last year’s beheading stunt in Bendigo. Erikson was accompanied on that jaunt by Blair Cottrell, Chris Shortis, Lyndon Watson, and John Wilkinson.

Or it could be a publicity stunt with no basis in reality. Prosecutions for racial vilification are exceptionally rare, and Erikson’s name does not appear to be on the Magistrate Court list for the day in question.

Apparently some 49% of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration. The Essential research poll is based on an ‘online panel’ of a thousand people who receive incentives to complete surveys…

None the less, the poll’s other questions about the return of Pauline Hanson to federal parliament pose a significant problem for anti-racists. 42% of respondents agreed with the statement “I agree with a lot of what Pauline Hanson says and it’s good to see her back in Parliament”. 62% of respondents agreed that “I might not personally agree with everything she says but she is speaking for a lot of ordinary Australians” and 65% agreed that “Pauline Hanson talks about issues other politicians too scared to tackle”.

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Casual academics and tutors are organising at La Trobe University. The La Trobe Casuals Collective is holding an organising workshop on October 20.

Easy Money: The Reserve Bank of Australia and the tremors in capital accumulation‘ makes for interesting reading:

Unorthodox monetary policy is like a vast anti-gravity machine that has been able to delay the day of reckoning. The cost however is that it postpones crisis today by accumulating even greater and greater sources of risk. Unorthodox monetary policy today seems to necessitate unorthodox monetary policy tomorrow. It does seem unlikely that this can go on forever…

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A truck brings CNT militants into Barcelona, 1936.

The Grupo Cultural de Estudios Sociales de Melbourne have released a new publication as part of the celebrations to make the 80th anniversary of the Spanish revolution.

A grass root C.N.T. militant Remembers: The oral memoirs of Luis Parés is newly translated into English, and represents an oral account of one militant’s experiences as a militant in the CNT during the Spanish revolution.

The flame of the Spanish Social Revolution has never stopped burning.

Eighty years since it was lit one can still find anarchist innovations in the folds of its contents. All its political adversaries through the decades have been unable to discard or permanently hide the constructive and positive social achievements implemented by the libertarian movement.

Thousands of printed works describing the events that transpired during those captivating days have traveled around the world, many of them written by renowned authors. Others books have been written by research academic historians giving their individual interpretations of the proceedings. Unfortunately not too many books have been written by the individuals that experienced the events at first hand, that were in actual fact making history with their militancy, with their direct participation, with their contribution in spontaneous actions and decisions be it at meetings, behind the barricades or on the battlefield.

At the beginning of the second half of the 1970’s a small group of compañeros in France, in Spain and where ever there were exiled Spanish anarchists set themselves the task of recording the verbal memoirs of militants whose singular actions contributed to the social changes, the collectivisations as well as the constant struggle against fascism. This is the history of personal experiences.

We now have the pleasure of presenting in the following pages the testimony of Luis Parés Adán who recalls his war. These memoirs were first published in the pages of “Espoir” the weekly publication of the French C.N.T. – A.I.T., number 825, July 1978.

You can download a .pdf of A grass root C.N.T. militant Remembers here. I hope to have some hard copies printed and available soon.

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There is a federal election tomorrow. A few people have asked how I intend to vote, or if I intend to vote.

The standard line you will get from most anarchists is “Don’t Vote! It only legitimizes the bastards!”. The Anarchist FAQ spills some 18,000 words to this effect. As a position it misses the point.

Anarchists are utterly marginal within the Australian polity. The decision of a couple of hundred people to abstain for this reason or that, or to vote for this reason or that, is utterly without consequence. Even if we were a sizable political force, the legitimacy of the state rests on a hell of a lot more than the overall rate of participation in this or that election. States do not miraculously collapse when electoral participation rates fall below some magical number.

Whether you vote or not is of little consequence. If you do vote, you have no effective control over the representatives you participate in electing. The choices you are presented on the ballot are no choice at all. The major political parties operate as a cartel to lock out rivals, and only parties that accept the logic of the capitalist status quo gain access to the financial resources and media time necessary to compete. This includes The Greens.

The most important question is not who you voted for on election day, it’s what you do every other day of the year. Playing by the rules of the established political process is a mugs game; the deck is stacked in favour of the existing bourgeoisie political parties. If you want to change the world, don’t just vote, get organized and get active.

Join a union or start one. Go to a protest, sit-in, occupation, strike or demonstration. Join a political group, if there isn’t one that reflects your politics, start one. The social force necessary to effect real change has to be built, it can’t simply be voted for.

Further reading: Errico Malatesta, Reformism.

A few thoughts about tomorrow…

Acknowledging that voting or not voting is, by itself, unlikely to have any impact on anything, here are a couple of thoughts about your options tomorrow.

1. Whether you vote or not, you can decorate your ballot. So long as your drawings, obscene slogans and hashtags do not obscure the boxes, your vote will still be counted (so long as the boxes are numbered). The AEC keeps stats on the defacement of ballots.

2. If you refuse to vote, consider casting a blank ballot rather than staying home. Not only does this avoid the fine, statistics on spoiled ballots make it possible to estimate how many people are consciously refusing to vote.

3. The harder it is for a major party to form government, or to pass legislation, the better. If you do vote, I’d recommend putting the Liberals and any other fascists running at the bottom, then Labor, then the Greens, then any left wing party or independent.

4. The Greens are NOT an anti-capitalist alternative and they are NOT good enough on asylum seekers. That said, if you decide to vote, the Greens are still a better choice than Labor.

5. If you are voting Green in the Senate in Victoria, consider voting below the line. Richard di Natale is at the top of the Greens senate ticket. He shouldn’t be at the top of yours.

Tomorrow’s poll will not bring about significant change. Climate change will not be addressed, capitalism will not be challenged, and gross inequality will not be overcome. It is up to us to build the social force necessary to achieve any real change in our society.

I still intend to vote. I’ll vote cynically. I intend to preference the Greens then Labor because it is easier to make the case for their inadequacy when they are in power. And I will vote for any left of centre independent or minor party, simply because the more chaos and gridlock there is in the parliament, the better.

After that, lets eat a sausage and get back to the politics that matters, on the streets, on the campuses, and in our workplaces.

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Government propaganda, corrected for accuracy.

In this second episode of MAP: A Melbourne Anarchist Podcast:

I spend a bit of time ranting about the federal budget, the PaTH “internship” scheme, and the future of higher education.

The hilariously bad page on the government’s budget website that suggests you should do an “internship” at a supermarket or cafe is located here.

Dave Eden’s prescient blog post, On Budget Eve: Deflation & The Limits to Privatised Keynesianism, is worth a read. I’ll be interested to see what Jon and Dave say about #Budget2016 in their podcast.

A big thanks to Kelly from HPUV for the interview, it was somewhat inexpertly recorded on the fly, but I hope it adds some context to the ongoing Bendigo Street occupation.

And there is a new segment I’m calling The Reading Group. Errico Malatesta, Reformism, can be found here.

The music used in this episode is Who’s Gonna Take the Rap by Cosmo. Thanks to Jacqui for the suggestion. If anyone else has any reasonably not awful royalty free music they’d like to recommend, please leave a comment!

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2 Bendigo Street

Last week The Age reported that vacant housing owned by the state government in Bendigo Street, Collingwood, “could be used to help family violence victims”. Emphasis added.

The State government and others are touting the story in The Age in an attempt to convince homelessness activists to end their occupation of the vacant houses that were compulsorily acquired by the state government for the failed East West Link project.

The article in The Age contains no definite information about the government’s plans, it merely states that when asked “if the government would use the available properties to help domestic violence victims, Housing Minister Martin Foley did not rule it out”.

All of the information that activists have seen indicates that if the government has definite plans to use the vacant properties (which is not clear), they do not have comprehensive plans to utilize all of the houses, and they do not intend to convert them into public housing. At best, government officials have indicated they have plans to lease certain East West Link houses to a “community housing” project.

The Homeless Persons Union initiated the occupation in Bendigo Street a fortnight ago to demand that:

“The 6 unused houses on Bendigo St to be made into genuine public housing … [and that] All unoccupied properties acquired for the East-West Link that are still in the government’s possession to be added to the public housing register … [and that] The Andrews government to say how they intend to provide housing for 25,000 homeless people”

The focus on Public housing is a deliberate part of their demands. “Community” housing is not public housing, although the distinction is lost on many.

“Social” or “Community” housing projects are administered by social service or religious NGOs and charities. These projects do not offer the long term security of tenure or guaranteed affordability of the public housing system. For LGBTQI+ homeless people community houses offers the additional awkwardness and likely discrimination associated with potentially homophobic religious groups such as the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army has been forced to make a public apology after one of its majors stated that the Salvation Army believes gay people should die.

There is a housing crisis in Melbourne, and the policies of the state government seem poised to make life harder for people depending on public housing. Last year the state government foreshadowed plans to turn much of the state’s existing public housing over to “community housing” projects.

The wider community should not be fooled by the FUD being spread by the state government. The state government continues to hold houses empty, and they failed to announce any credible plan for the houses in Bendigo Street, Collingwood. The occupation initiated by the HPUV continues; if you have half an hour free, come down to 2 Bendigo Street and get involved.

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Housing occupation in Bendigo Street, Collingwood.

In this first episode of MAP – A Melbourne Anarchist Podcast:

  1. The Homeless Persons Union has occupied vacant state government owned housing in Bendigo Street, Collingwood. The HPUV is demanding that housing compulsorily by the state government for the failed East West Link project be converted to public housing. Read their full list of demands here.
  2. The cost of maintaining the HECS scheme is projected to increase ten fold. This is the predictable result of university fee deregulation. It’s also worth noting the impact deregulation had on the vocational education sector; a few corporate education providers stole billions.
  3. Victoria Police sure do like their pepper spray. Increasingly, demonstrators will have to take steps to protect themselves from chemical exposure at protests; naturally Victoria Police now want the state government to pass laws against bandanas and goggles.

This is my first crack a releasing a podcast. A couple of things have become apparent in the process, I either need to fully script episodes, or I will need a co-host to bounce off.

I would love to collaborate with people on this project. Perhaps it would be possible to have different people come in and co-host each episode with me.

If you have any feedback about this first episode, if you’d like to co-host a future episode, or if you’ve got any ideas for content, please leave a comment on this post!

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