July 2012

UK anarchist newspaper Freedom is going bust. They’ve had some trouble with a litigous photojournalist, but even without those problems, it seems their model was not terribly sustainable:

Freedom has continued thanks to a significant donation in 2005berryjam.ru

This has enabled the political transformation of Freedom Press from a group with a particular viewpoint within anarchism to a resource responsible to the broad movement. We don’t want to return to a situation where Freedom is run simply by those with spare time or money who then determine its politics. – Freedom

In the discussion about the imminent closure of Freedom at libcom two user comments stood out:

Given the advantages of web based access and the increasing costs of printing and mailng I suspect the days of regularly published and distributed radical/revolutionary journals in hard copy is drawing to a close – Spikymike

it’s pretty difficult being “the movement’s paper,” when there isn’t really a movement to be the paper of – the button

A paper of the movement is redundent when there is no movement. We need to advance anarchist ideas to people who are not yet anarchists. We need publications suited to that task. And despite comments about technological change, a website remains a poor substitute for a wad of dead tree.


I am going to make a rash assumption. For the purposes of this post, I will assume that anarchists in Australia actually want to advance Anarchist ideas, and that Anarchist publications exist for that purpose.

To advance an idea, we must develop it. In the most general sense, anarchists need an internally consistent understanding of what anarchism is, what its assumptions are, and what its analysis involves. This understanding needs to be applied to the broad issues of the Australian situation, in order to then develop the intellectual tools with which to understand specific issues, movements and events.

This is an ongoing process. Anyone who thinks otherwise just needs to look at the confused morass of often contradictory ideas that get called “anarchism” in Australia and ask whether we really have a relevant set of understandings in which to ground action.

For the next part, it is worth borrowing a concept from the Leninists. The idea of general vs concrete propaganda is a useful framework.

Anarchism in Australia presently exists as a handful of tiny groups in Australia’s capital cities. Anarchism does not have the capacity to advance anything to a broad audience. Realistically, the task before us is propose our general understandings to indivdiuals who are already looking for a radical alternative.

We don’t have a powerful movement or organisation ready to shake capitalism to the core. No anarchist group in Australia is in a position to promise earth shattering action or results. At the present time the only thing anarchists in Australia have to offer is an idea.

This reality must inform our action. We need publications that suit small groups who are advancing anarchist ideas to individuals already looking for a radical alternative. This is where the capacity of Australian anarchist groups is at.

To do this, we need two things. An internal process, and an external publication.

At present, the internal process occurs in mailing lists, on a few websites, at the odd discussion group, camp or bookfair, and in the pages of photocopied zines. I hope I live to see the day that Australian anarchism boasts a journal…

Australian anarchist publication presently consists of a handful of zines and the odd website. Mutiny is the most prominent, but (to me at least) it appears to be more of an internally focused newsletter. Direct Action advances the ideas of the IWW in Australia, but not explicitly anarchism. The Anarchist Age and Anarchist World Today by Joe Toscano appear more a commentary on current events.

We need a magazine. And as much as photocopied zines are fun, they’re a terrible way to advance anarchist ideas to people who aren’t already anarchists and zine lovers. We need something that stands up well when placed next to whatever the Lenninists are putting out.

It’s a big ask, in terms of money and writing, but the task of advancing anarchist ideas would be best served by an externally oriented, professionally produced and reguarly published magazine.

At some point I would like to make this happen. People who feel the same way are welcome to get in touch.

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In my recent post, Thoughts on Anarcho-Syndicalism in Australia, I mentioned an article Daniel Lopez had published Socialist Alternative back in April (it was an edited summary of a talk he gave at Marxism 2012), ‘One Big Union? The IWW in Australia’.

Ben D of the IWW’s Melbourne GMB published this response in the most recent edition of Direct Action, and Daniel Lopez has since responded in turn.

Daniel Lopez’s article is a standard reproduction of the Socialist Alternative line on the IWW.

Socialist Alternative respond to the history of the IWW by trying to appropriate it. They praise it’s successes and militancy before and during World War I, and argue that it was actually quite Marxists, it’s practice and propaganda resembled that of a revolutionary Marxist party, and it had little if anything to do with anarcho-syndicalism.

Then they criticize it’s syndicalism strategy, arguing that this strategy led to the defeat of the IWW when faced with state repression, and that openly embracing the model prescribed by Socialist Alternative could have avoided defeat. The outcome is clear, anyone who respects the history of the IWW should join Socialist Alternative, the true modern heirs to it’s legacy!

This line was enunciated in detail by Verity Burgman in her 1995 book, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism: The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia.

Burgman is a Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University. She is also a product of the 1970s Socialist Workers Party in Britain, which she joined whilst completing her undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics.

The following was prepared by a Perth based Wobbly for his various encounters with Socialist Alternative and Solidarity members arguing the line advanced by Burgman in Revolutionary Industrial Unionism. I think it’s worth reproducing in full (not that I endorse it entirely and uncritically).

Mike P:

First of all let me say that I do not have much more than general knowledge of the IWW in the United States. I know that there were anarchists in it but I don’t know much about them so I am arguing from the history of our union in Australia. It seems to me that the biggest part of your argument is based on the research done by Burgmann in Revolutionary Industrial Unionism. This is unfortunate because it is my opinion that she is a bit one-eyed in this area. Anyway she essentially uses two witnesses from the first period of I.W.W. activity to show that the I.W.W. was Marxist and was certainly not anarchistic:

Bill Genery, who joined the I.W.W. in 1916, conceded in a 1969 interview that Wobblies regarded the I.W.W. as “an offshoot of the syndicalists.” When asked by a new left student whether the Wobblies considered themselves anarchists he replied, very definitely, that they did not.

And Norman Rancie in a 1957 interview explained: “Anarchists believe in complete freedom and each man a law unto himself. They refuse to recognise any form of organisation or authority. This is the very antitheses of all the principles of the I.W.W. which believes in organisation, discipline, and not every an a law unto himself’, but every member responsible to his organisation which has a book of rules and a constitution, which, of course, is the very negation of anarchism.” Anarchists, he was adamant, “would never by any standard fit into the I.W.W.”

Coming from the other side of the issue Burgmann gives some references from what she describes as “the real anarchists of the time,” – the Group d’Etudes Scientifiques. This group published in 1916 an attack on the I.W.W. protesting against, “that rotten mass of rules” in order, “to clear Anarchism and to disqualify I.W.W.ists as Anarchists”

Clearly this evidence does not stand up to even peripheral scrutiny.. To state the obvious critiques, both Rancie and Genery came from the Melbourne Local, which was generally regarded as the most conservative of all the Australian Locals being in some ways more like a political party than other Locals, probably because of the influence of Tom Mann’s Victorian Socialist Party. Rancie’s statement, further, was clearly not directed against anarchism as it was conceived by practitioners of the faith but rather against the popular misconception of it. He clearly never felt the need to research anarchism in any greater depth than this and no one can, of course, blame him for this. Several quotes from Burgmann, however, almost seem to indicate that she shares the same erroneous impression of the movement and this in a historian of working class political movements, is less excusable. “However, unlike the anarchists,” she writes “the Wobblies aspired to be organised”. Or again, “A perceived similarity with anarchism existed primarily in the minds of the I.W.W.’s detractors and cannot be detected an any serious analysis of its political practice, which emphasised collectivity, unity, organisation and centralisation.” Of course, none of the larger factions of the anarchist movement the anarcho-communists or the anarcho-syndicalists would have disapproved of collectivity, unity or organisation. The more the better. So it is only the last of these paradigms centralisation, that would give them any real problems.

How much of a drawback would this be in fact? If we take the article in *Direct Action *from ‘Flaneur’ (probably Jack O’Neill) in Western Australia, for example, we would not suspect very much at all. “The workers of the West need a new weapon,” he wrote, “Here it is: ‘Direct Action’. The I.W.W. by insisting that each individual unit in that organisation shall retain the power of control, directly, his or her own industrial and social welfare, and by rigorously restraining the profiteering instincts of parasite officials to fasten on the organisation, offers the only way out of wage-serfdom. Speed the revolution!” Not much rampant centralism to worry about there.

The Group d’Etudes Scientifiques was scarcely resting anywhere near the centre of gravity within the anarchist movement. It was an offshoot of the Groupe d’Etudes Scientific of Paris, run by the prodigious author Paraf-Javal its main propagandist in Australia was Dr. Xarus Sphinx, (pseudonym of the Austrian Bjelke Boekgen who with his son lectured on the Sydney Domain and was (as were many Wobblies) deported by the authorities after World War One.) The main purpose of the group was to advocate forswearing of poisons such as tobacco, alcohol and condiments and fighting for logical, scientific thinking. All those indulging in ‘a piori’ reasoning were judged to be ‘abruitis’ – which was apparently close to the source of all evil. You would be hard to find a reference of them today they were an absolute fringe group and represented the opinions of no anarchists but themselves.

There would almost certainly have been anarchists closer to a mainstream position who would have felt that the I.W.W. was too centralist and that its program could have had authoritarian possibilities should that organisation accomplish its goals fully. But that does not disguise the fact that many anarchists saw in the I.W.W. a practical way of implementing at least a major part of their program. “With the Education of the workers,” Mike Sawtell, for example, had written, “will follow as a necessary sequence, their real organisation. Not only will the workers find they can do without Parliament, but without a host of other barbarities besides – such as unpleasant surroundings, as long hours, high prices and wars etc. The future Parliaments will be at the union meetings, men and women will meet to discuss what they are vitally interested in – the economic resources of the earth. Such questions as divorce, as religion, or bi-metalism, can be left to those who are mutually interested in such things. The I.W.W. conception of what society ought to be, judged by present day standards is, no doubt ‘remarkable’, but it is good.”

Michael Sawtell, the Kropotkinite anarchist, was far closer to the heartland of anarchism than the troupe d’Etudes Scientific ever could be. He made no great effort to hide his anarchism and had articles admitting this fact published in Direct Action. Which same publication offered for sale pamphlets by Kropotkin, published quotes from Bakunin and, when its own members were jailed could find no better epitaph than those of the anarchist Chicago martyr Spies “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”

It is not, nor ever has been, my contention that the I.W.W. was an anarchist organisation. It was and is, a union whose membership is open to all members of the working class. It was and remains a revolutionary industrial union – not some sort of positional confession. Its members could and do range widely in the sources that they draw inspiration from. It was, and I very much hope it remains, an organisation in which anarchists felt they could join and participate in without compromising themselves. The anarchists formed a minority within a union while Marxism was the key theoretical tool. This arrangement was made possible because the variant of Marxism present was a leftward revision of Marxism, much as Bernstein’s was a rightward revision, and was a variant that would without doubt have horrified the great man himself.

One feels that this tension between anarchism and Marxism and that slab of ideas and attitudes Wobblies created all by themselves (and of course other influences – we always had people in our ranks whose first source of inspiration was Christianity, Emersonians were popular in places and, of course, the Irish everywhere added their own insights and style) were found in very different strengths in different members and Locals. It is my belief that this tension was one of the ingredients giving the I.W.W. so much of its vibrancy and its effectively. If the Melbourne Local was at the more conservative, Marxian-socialist, end of the spectrum then Perth and Fremantle were nearer the anarchistic. If Rancie was more Marxist then Sawtell and Miller were more anarchist and syndicalist. If this creativity did stem from the organisation’s ability to take for itself ideas from both camps as it needed and to integrate activists holding these sometimes disparate ideas (all there, it needs not saying, to build the union rather than to win recruits to their own positions at its expense) then any winning out or domination of one over the other would have been destructive.

This balance became progressively harder due to the preponderant influence of the Soviet Union and its propriety claims over Marxism. I personally think that the experience of a century of so-called Marxist governments over much of our planet will mean that there will probably be a greater proportion of anarchist members in our union than there were in the early days of the last century.

– Mike P, Perth.

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There are presently two anarcho-syndicalist projects in Australia, the ASF and the IWW.

[Update, 17 July: In light of criticism put forward by a comrade in the discussion thread, I’ve changed my opinion on this description of the IWW. It is not accurate to describe the IWW as anarcho-syndicalist, even if it is significantly influenced by anarcho-syndicalism. I recommend Davo’s comments in the discussion thread.]

Both the ASF and the IWW claim to be unions, but at present neither of these two groups organise workplaces. They are small political groups advancing the concept of syndicalist unionism.

In a recent article, Socialist Alternative member Daniel Lopez argued that the IWW in Australia were not really Anarchist at all. He was writing about the 1910s IWW, the same argument could be made about the modern Australian claimant to the IWWs legacy.

The IWW denies that it is anarchist, it’s publications make use of Marxian economics (labour theory of value, surplus value, etc), and it consistently argues that the working class must liberate itself or not at all.

But the IWW is anarchist. Syndicalism is part of the anarchist tradition, it is an anarchist strategy. Syndicalist organisations utilize Marxian economic understandings because Anarchists critically appropriate Marx’s analysis of capitalism.

And Syndicalist organisations include Marxists, because when Anarchists attempt to build mass organisations, they do not make anarchism a pre-requisite for membership. Anarchists seek to draw in militants of all stripes who are in broad agreement with Anarchist aims[1].

Daniel Lopez advances several critiques of the 1910s IWW’s political practice:

It is important to account for why the IWW was wrecked … So long as capitalism is stable, unions of any size are going to accept industrial legality. Either this, or be de-registered and wrecked, as with the Builders Labourers Federation.

Organising a separate, radical union in opposition to the mainstream ones is a mistaken tactic 95 percent of the time.

Rather than take the fight to the bureaucrats, constantly organising within the unions against them, it leaves them unchallenged within their own organisations, and has the effect of separating the best militants.

they didn’t have a perspective for building a party. Such a perspective can anticipate and cope with periods of illegality.

(Ben D* of the IWW’s Melbourrne GMB responded here[2]).

[Update, 17 July: Daniel Lopez has in turn responded to Ben D*’s article here. It’s worth reading.]

[Update, 22 July: Another response from an IWW comrade here.

The decision to deny or announce a syndicalist organisations commitment to Anarchist practice is a tactical one, and in part it ties into that critique of the IWW that Lopez highlights.

In Australia, the ASF announces it’s anarchism. Like the IWW, identity as an anarchist is not a prerequisite for membership:

Being a member of the ASF does not require you to be an anarchist but to simply agree to work within the Aims Principles and Statutes upon which we organise.

But the fact that their name is the “Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation” has much the same effect, deterring non-Anarchists from participation. In the fight against reformism, this has it’s advantages, but it hampers the task of building the kind of mass organisation that syndicalist strategy requires.

From it’s beginnings, the IWW has sought to unite workers of diverse levels of politics, strategically denying it’s anarchist connection helps achieve this. But an organisation that is less explicit in its politics faces a greater challenge in ensuring that it remains revolutionary and does not descend into reformism.

As an ASF comrade pointed out to me recently, these are old debates. But they are still debates that Australian Anarchists have yet to resolve.

Almost all organised class-struggle Anarchists in Australia are involved in either the IWW or the ASF. Whether they are drawn to one or the other seems to depend on where they stand on the tactical question of explicitly anarchist syndicalist organising, or implicitly anarchist syndicalist organising.

They are both tiny groups, neither organise workplaces at this point in time, they are only at the stage of advancing the idea of syndicalist union, yet the effects of this decision are still apparent. The political education of IWW members is lower[3], the ASF’s members have clearer politics, but fail to make the recruiting gains of the IWW[4].

Is Syndicialism the wrong strategy? Socialist Alternative would say so, but they only concieve of Syndicalism as anarchist attempts to build new unions from scratch. Whilst this has been the focus on Anarcho-Syndicalists in Australia, it is not the be all and end all of Syndicalist strategy.

Syndicalism is a radically democratic model for union organising that can be advanced within existing unions, in new unions, or through grassroots solidarity movements that cut across the union movement. The challenge faced by anarchists is not to build new syndicalist organisations, but rather to advance anarchist ideas (and thus syndicalist practice) throughout the labour movement. The decision as to whether to focus on critically engaging with existing unions, or building grass roots solidarity organisations, or to build new unions, should not be made a general principle. It’s a decision to make depending on the present circumstances in particular industries.

This flexibility of approach cannot be undertaken by an organisation that sets itself up as a syndicalist union in competition with the trade union movement. Be it the ASF or the IWW, these organisations are effectively locked into one strategy in all situations.

The alternative for organised Anarchists is to create specifically Anarchist organisations, that bring together committed militants, seek to understand the situation in various industries or political situations, and then advance anarchist ideas using the strategy that best suits the conditions encountered[5]. An effective syndicalist strategy requires organised Anarchist groups.

The gut reaction of many Anarchists is to condemn this as vanguardism.

In his response to Daniel Lopez’s article on the IWW, Ben D* of the IWW’s Melbourne GMB is quick to highlight Stalin, Red Terror and Totolitarianism. As Ben says, Anarchists seek to build organisations that “[maintain] a basic harmony between mean and ends”, an authoritarian party that seeks to lead the workers delivers a dictatorship, whereas the decentralised organisation of the entire working class makes dictatorship impossible.

Critics of specific, united and organised anarchist groups argue that they would function as Lenninist parties, and thus contain the same seeds of dictatorship. But there is a fundamental difference. An organisation of anarchist militants would not seek to make “the revolution”, “lead the working class” or establish a dictatorship of the party.

An organisation of Anarchist militants would seek to build mass popular organisations along syndicalist lines, and advance anarchist ideas in these organisations. If true mass organisations on Syndicalist lines can be built, an organised minoritty of any stripe would be unable to establish control, they could only seek to exert influence. Organised Anarchists seek to develop such organisations to the point that the popular power they embody can topple capitalism. It is through syndicalist organisation that Anarchists seek to topple capitalism.

There is a danger of dictatorship when a single organisation seeks to monopolise power, take leadership in the name of the working class, claim a monopoly on the right ideas and centralise popular power into a single party.

Which brings me back to Daniel Lopez’s recent article on the IWW.

Lopez’s article shows a great respect for the IWW of the 1910s, for a reason. Socialist Alternative seek to appropriate the legacy of the IWW for their version of Marxism.

Lopez’s critique of the IWWs practice is not unique to Marxist observers. Syndicalist practice in Australia to date has been limited. Syndicalism it is a powerful and radically democratic method of Anarchist organising, but without specifically anarchist organisations, it is an incomplete strategy.

[1].Black Flame Chapter V: Anarchism, Syndicalism, the IWW and Labour, for more.

[2]. I must confess, I can’t really work out what Ben D is getting at, beyond a general assertion that Vanguardist organising is a recipe for dictatorship and Syndicalism, despite it’s organisational faults, is not.

[3]. I will be eaten alive for saying this! I am not a member of either the ASF or the IWW, I make this judgement on the basis of observing IWW and ASF groups on FB. Hardly scientific!

[4]. Of course both are tiny, microscopic compared to the union movement they seek to reshape (from little things…), but the IWW is several times larger than the ASF.

[5]. FARJ, Social Anarchism and Organisation.

* Name sanitised at comrades request – 18-July-2012

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UPDATE, July 18: A letter pruporting to be from Felicity Ryder has appeared on various anarchist websites, details here.

To my brother Mario, I send him a giant hug and much strength and health. I know that he will always maintain his convictions strong, as well as his desire to achieve Total Liberation. I will always be by your side, compañero. Remember, always face to face with the enemy!

I also send a warm greeting to the fugitive comrades Diego Rios and Gabriela Curilem in Chile. A warm hug to the comrades from the CCF and Revolutionary Struggle in Greece, to the anarchist comrades in prison in Italy, to Braulio Duran, Luciano Pitronello, Gabriel Pombo da Silva, and to all of the anarchist prisoners and fugitives all over the world.

Que viva la Anarquia!


UPDATE, July 6: via Andy Fleming:

According to El Universal, and contrary to other reports , Felicity has not been arrested but rather is being sought by police, to which end a warrant has been issued for her arrest by the Mexico City attorney general. Migration authorities and Interpol have also apparently been alerted.

UPDATE, 11:00pm, July 5: This statement was published on various spanish language sites earlier today [machine translation here]. It pruports to be from 19 different Insurrectionist Anarchist (and similiar) groups.

Again, I don’t speak Spanish, and through a machine translation parts of it are very unclear, but it appears to state that neither Mario Hernandez nor Felicity Ryder have any direct connection to any Mexican Insurrectionist groups. It states that Mario and Felicity were involved in the editorial collective of Conspiración Ácrata, an English language publication focused on Insurrectionist Anarchism in Mexico.

The statement states that the arrest of Felicity is part of an ongoing attempt by the Mexican state to criminalise dissent, and that the arrest of Felicity reminds them of the 2009 arrest of Ramsés Villareal (a student framed by Police for previous bombings). A brief run down of the Ramsés Villareal case:

Federal agents snatched Ramses Villareal Gomez, a 27-year-old Mexico City university student, and put a bag over his head before they took him to the Federal Attorney General’s Office. …

Villareal Gomez reports that during the interrogation following his arrest, police demanded that he tell them who threw the bombs or they would rape his wife when they searched her home. …

Police immediately attempted to paint Villareal as a student-terrorist. They claimed that when they searched his home following his arrest, they found a 22 caliber rifle, a pistol, explosives, and documentation linking him to a “subversive” movement. …

On October 2, a judge ordered that the government release Vilareal Gomez. The judge ruled that the arrest of Villareal Gomez was illegal due to lack of sufficient evidence against him. Following his release, the Federal Police had to admit that they were “mistaken” in claiming that they had found weapons, explosives, and incriminating documents in Villareal Gomez’s house. Villareal Gomez’s lawyer is now preparing to file charges against the interrogators for psychological torture.

UPDATE, 1:34am, July 4: A statement pruporting to be from Mario Hernandez was posted on a Mexican anarchist website, Material Anarquista. I don’t speak Spanish, and it’s not clear through a machine translation what exactly Hernandez is claiming [Update 6 July, English text here]. It is clear that he does not mention Felicity Ryder [Update 6 July, with access to a better English translation, it seems he may be referring to Felicity at one point.]

* * *

Last night [July 2nd] The Age newspaper reported that:

AN Albury woman has been linked to bombings carried out by a Mexican anarchist group.

Melbourne Anarchist Andy Fleming has compiled what information can be found online about the matter here. I’ve been asked by some in Albury Wodonga what my thoughts, as an Anarchist and an Albury Wodonga resident, are on the matter.

  1. According to Mexican media, on the 27th of June Mario Antonio Lopez Hernandez was injured by an incendiary device he was carrying. Mexican Police claim that during questioning, Hernandez confessed to being responsible for a number of bombings, and mentioned Felicity Ann Ryder in some way.
  2. The Anarchist Black Cross (Mexico) and the Group of Lawyers in Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners [Correction July 5: ABC Mexico statement is different to Group of Lawyers statement, below is ABC statement, Group of Lawyers statement is here] have published a statement raising concerns about the way in which Hernandez was questioned. They point out that Hernandez was questioned whilst recovering from anaesthesia, having just undergone significant skin graft surgery. They also point out that:

    it is unclear what the charges for his arrest are as they have varied each time clarifications were requested, which seems to indicate that they are trying to put together a case, with the most recent being criminal damage and attacks against public property. The comrade Mario testifies to be an anarchist but categorically denies being part of the ‘#yo soy 132’ movement or the ‘Tenochtitlán Salvation Front (FST)’ mentioned in the Press.

  3. Beyond the fact that Mexican Police are either questioning or seeking to question (there are conflicting reports) Felicity Ann Ryder, there is presently no information linking the Albury resident to recent incendiary attacks in Mexico city.

Whilst it is unclear what Felicity Ann Ryder’s personal political position is, or what her involvement in Mexican anarchism may or may not be, let me state:

  1. Felicity Ann Ryder and her family have my solidarity in this trying time, and if there is anything I can do in my limited capacity to support them at this moment, I will.
  2. I would not take at face value anything the Mexican police and authorities claim about Anarchism or the alleged actions of Anarchists, especially in light of troubled recent history.

* * *

More broadly I have been asked whether, as an anarchist, I support “these kinds” of tactics.

Whether it’s firebombing buildings or kneecapping executives or breaking windows; individual destructive or terroristic acts in no way challenge the basis of capitalism or exploitation.

They do however provide a lovely pretext for repression, and alienate many people that real anarchists are trying to work with in order to achieve change.

Capitalism cannot be dismantled by blowing up key buildings or killing key individuals because capitalism is not a small group of bad people or a handful of repressive organisations. It’s a total system of social organisation, that can only be dismantled by the mass action of the majority society.

If you think your act will somehow transform people’s perceptions and inspire mass resistance, you are wrong. A violent or destructive act is perceived according to the ideas held by the observer. You might think that broken window demonstrates resistance against the banking system, but unless the people observing share your ideas, all they will see is a broken window. “Propaganda of the Deed” doesn’t work, Anarchists have known this for a hundred and thirty years (and even in the 1880s, the vast majority of anarchists rejected insurrectionist tactics).

I recommend the following:

  1. You Can’t Blow Up a Social Relationship is a joint pamphlet of Australian Anarchist groups in the late 1970s, outlining the case against terroristic or vanguardist politics. I get the feeling that it’s directed more at the then Maoist scene, but it’s relevant to all anti-capitalists debating questions of violence.
  2. Social Anarchism and Organisation, on the organisational, political and social work we need to undertake if Anarchism is to ever pose a serious challenge to capitalism.

Having said this, I should note that neither I, nor the vast majority of Anarchists in Australia, advocate a strict pacifist rejection of all ‘violence’. If Police or strike breakers are busting up a picket line, I would never tell workers not to push back!

And during mass action, it may of course be necessary to take action in self defense.

The measure of tactics has to be their effect. In our present situation, we know that individual acts of violence and destruction achieve nothing, harm our ability to organise, and distract from the real political work that needs to be undertaken.

If it does in fact turn out that Felicity and Mario are connected, and are involved in these kinds of tactics, they, like all imprisoned for their involvement in the struggle, will still have my support as comrades, even if I criticize their choice of tactics.


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