Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Building an effective anarchist movement in Australia

This post- Melbourne Anarchist bookfair conversation took place in the Melbourne Anarchist Club (MAC) which has a history stretching back to the 1890s.  While visiting the premises which contains a library, meeting space and infoshop I caught up with Brendan and Ben two active members of the collective and Kieran from Anarchist Affinity which is seeking to build a similar organisation to the WSM, based on theoretical and tactical unity and collective responsibility.

Topics discussed included the history of MAC, opinions on the third Melbourne bookfair, struggles engaged in by anarchists, and the potential for building a viable anarchist movement in Australia.

A couple of hundred people attended the Anarchist Bookfair this year in Melbourne. Stalls ranged from a variety of anarchist groups and other campaigns sincluding animal rights, prisoner support and unions.
People came from across Australia and beyond. Meetings ranged from fighting neo- liberalism to sexuality, 'witchcraft', fighting austerity and resistance across the globe.

I contributed to a panel discussion on austerity in Ireland with a live link up with Turkish anarchists discussing the recent rising there.
 
Notes: The 'Melbourne Anarchist Club' was officially founded on 1 May 1886 by David Andrade and others breaking away from the Australasian Secular Association of Joseph Symes, the journal Honesty being the anarchist club's official organ, and anarchism became a significant minor current on the Australian left. The current included a diversity of views on economics, ranging from an individualism influenced by Benjamin Tucker to the anarchist communism of JA Andrews. All regarded themselves as broadly "socialist" however.[1][2] 
 
The Anarchists mixed with the seminal literary figures Henry Lawson and Mary Gilmore and the labour journalist and utopian socialist William Lane. The most dramatic event associated with this early Australian anarchism was perhaps the bombing of the "non-union" ship SS Aramac on 27 July 1893 by Australian anarchist and union organiser Larrie Petrie.[3] This incident occurred in the highly charged atmosphere following the defeat of the 1890 Australian maritime dispute and the 1891 Australian shearers' strike, an atmosphere which also produced the Sydney-based direct action group the "Active Service Brigade"[4] Petrie was arrested for attempted murder but charges were dropped after a few months. He later joined Lane's "New Australia" utopian experiment in Paraguay.'