Anarchist publications for Australia?

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.

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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.

5 Comments

  1. What about ‘Black Light’ and ‘Sedition’?

    Reply
  2. Well I have an article in for the upcoming issue of Black Light., when the next Sedition is in the offing I’ll work on something for it, and if I can muster the time, I’ll start submitting to Mutiny.

    Reply
  3. Francisco SolerJuly 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Have you had the opportunity to read the new “Libertarian Anthology 1”, published by the same group that recently published “A Brief history of the spanish anarchists and immigrants in australia”.

    Are there any comments?

    Reply
  4. Thank you for sending me a copy of the new publication, Libertarian Anthology 1. I have finally had a chance to read it in full.

    The decision to begin this series with Kropotkinn’s article for Britannica and some extracts from Albert Metlzer was certainly an interesting one.

    Kropotkin’s argument concerning “the historical development of anarchism” has long irked me. It strikes me as the argument of someone trying to establish the legitimacy of Anarchism as a philosophy. But the effect of claiming Stirner, Godwin, the ana-baptists or even Taoism as representative of some timeless strand of Anarchist philosophy is to broaden the conception of anarchism to a point that any old bullshit could be called Anarchist so long as it was anti-statist, irrespective of it’s other content.

    We live with the legacy of this argument by Kropotkin (and others). Aside from being an inaccurate representation of the actual history (and thus content) of anarchism, it has opened the door to all sorts of absurd contradictions. Anarcho-primitivism, Individualist Anarchism, Post-left Anarchy, and that ultimate oxymoron, anarcho-capitalism!

    For this reason, I’m delighted that the editors of this Anthology have decided to follow Kropotkin’s argument on the history of Anarchism with extracts from Albert Metlzer. I suspect this contrast was deliberate!

    I am in no position to accurately assess the nature of anarchist thought in Australia.

    I have, however, read various publications and learned something of the state of Anarchism in Australia in conversations with those Austraian anarchists I have had the good fortune of meeting.

    I may be mistaken, but it appears there is a real need for publications like Libertarian Anthology 1 in order to restate the basic anti-capitalist, class struggle and libertarian socialist nature of Anarchism.

    I hope hard copies of this publication will be available at the upcoming book fair, and I look forward to further publications from this group.

    Reply

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