Saturday, April 05, 2008

The following is from a report published at the A-Infos site. It describes an anarchist conference held last Easter weekend in Melbourne Australia with a view to establishing an anarchist federation in that country. The report is from the perspective of the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group, an apparently platformist organization, and reflects their views.
Australia, Report on the Anarchist Conference in Melbourne
During the Easter weekend there was an Anarchist Conference in Melbourne. About 60 people attended, with a maximum count of 55 people being in the room at any time. About 43% were women. ---- One of the main aims of this Conference was the forming of an Anarchist Federation (of a synthesis type) after the relevant proposal by the Mutiny Collective from Sydney, supported by Melbourne Anarchist Club (MAC) and others since last November-December. ---- But in the Conference has been discovered that there are a lot more questions of shared politics to be worked out, as well as ideas of what the structure & purpose of an Anarchist Federation would be.
Participants have reacted to that in a mature way by deciding to find what common agreements are possible now, including one to explore the potential for a Federation. So, a Federation has not been formed. Instead, the Conference decided to form a network with the purpose of working towards a Federation and seeing whether one is possible.
The delegate of the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) carried the thoughts and proposals by the group:
The MACG’s position on the proposed Anarchist Federation was that, firstly it welcome the discussion about a possible Anarchist Federation as a sign that the Anarchist movement in Australia is developing and becoming more serious. MACG has no objection in principle to a Federation. It is the correct way to operate in a single organisation, but the key is to know what we are doing and do it correctly.
The biggest problem is that the current Anarchist groups in Australia have little experience of working with each other and there is little understanding of common politics and therefore what we had to work out at the Conference was only the beginning of what it is necessary to know. Thus, MACG consider that an Anarchist Federation in Australia at the moment is premature and the best outcome that could come of the Conference was the formation of a formal network of groups who make a commitment to working with each other with a view to deciding over the course of a year or two, whether a federation is possible.
MACG also noted that any Anarchist Federation must be a Federation of groups, not of groups and individuals together. The latter would create major problems in decision-making and be a haven for cranks and destructive personalities. The groups would have to be real ones, with common principles and acting in their own names. Phantom groups for the purpose of admitting scattered individuals would not count. At the most, individuals would be able to participate in the Federation as observers. Any Anarchist Federation must be based on a clear set of shared principles so that its members can be able to come to agreement on how to act. Without a strong set of shared politics, every practical proposal will be the subject of endless argument. This is a recipe for bitterness, division and ineffectiveness.
Also something that MACG considers extremely important is that any Anarchist Federation must be based on a clear class analysis. Class is not an “issue” to be put alongside other issues, but a fundamental dynamic of how the world works. The new world will be created by a revolution of the working class, or not at all. Problems such as the oppression of women, racism, homophobia and the destruction of the environment can only be eliminated by the overthrow of capitalism. This does not mean that all non-class oppressions have to wait till “after the revolution”, but rather that it is the duty of the entire working class to fight them here and now. Just as there will be no women's liberation without workers' revolution, there will be no workers' revolution without women's liberation. An injury to one is an injury to all.
A class analysis means a recognition that the power of the working class is based on our ability to stop capitalist production and the flow of profits. The strategic orientation of the Anarchist movement needs to be towards building workplace organisation, for that is where our power is. All other activities should be seen in the light of their contribution to that strategy.
The lack of a class analysis leads Anarchists, like it does others, into dead-end strategies. Some of them include parliamentary reformism, lifestylism or insurrectionism. A criticism of lifestylism does not mean that we should not try to live our lives as Anarchists as much as possible in the here and now, but rather that making personal efforts in that direction is not a substitute for a workers' revolution. Insurrectionism derives, in part, from using class as a badge of identification rather than a strategic orientation for action. The revolution will not be made by making riots against the police, however despicable they are, but through workers taking over their workplaces and defending them against all comers.
If, despite MACG’s objection, an Anarchist Federation was to be formed at the Conference, the MACG would not join. Instead, MACG would establish close relations with its constituent groups with a subjective class struggle orientation for the purpose of having co-operation on shared priorities and helping them deal with the issues that arise. Our attitude to the Federation will be supportive and not hostile. We will not rule out joining the Federation at a later date should it evolve into a form we support.
An excellent discussion on class occurred on the third day. A lot of people had criticised class analysis on the second day, but when we got down to the actual discussion the next day, a lot of ideas were clarified. Several others from a range of different groups were putting forward arguments that seemed to be based on a genuine working class position.
During the Conference, became known that in Sydney that there is a small group of Anarchist Communists there who are interested in setting up a group like MACG) in Sydney. There is also another group in Sydney called Alarm which is still in forming by young anarchists and which is moving along anarchist communist lines.
Though the Conference demonstrated that general level of consciousness and maturity in the Anarchist movement in Australia is still very uneven, but there are a number of serious groups and individuals and the balance is shifted gradually and strongly towards a higher level than we have seen before.

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