Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU)

As discussed previously, the Australian student movement (such as it is) and the Australian student left (in particular) is facing a crisis, one created by the Federal Government's passing of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) legislation (sometimes also unflatteringly referred to as Anti-Student Organisation Legislation (ASOL)).

As a result, there's been the usual flurry of emails and position papers, boldly declaring that, despite its passage through the Senate last December, "¡la lucha continúa!". (A perspective bolstered, perhaps, by the expectation of a militant response by industrial labour to Howard's new industrial regime: a transparent attempt to smash trade unions, drive down wages, and increase profits). "VSU won’t silence students" NUS President Rose Jackson declared in a press release supporting student participation in anti-war rallies (March 14, 2006). Which is obvious. Less obvious is the manner in which students might take action to either prevent the successful implementation of VSU, or, if not, maintain a viable movement in the absence of a student bureaucracy.

As for the first course of action, this is a "simple" matter of adopting the enemy's mentality and applying a cost benefit analysis to the proposed law. Thus if the costs, measured in both economic and political terms, exceed the benefits, then the Federal Government -- and possibly even the next ALP Government, when that finally arrives (most likely minus 'Bomber' Beazley) -- may well rescind or amend the law to return it to something like its original state. In this respect, French youth have provided Australian students with an excellent model.

University Students: Budding Revolutionaries, Middle Class Twats... or Both?

The AVCC provides the following statistics in relation to the higher education sector:

There are currently 37 public and 3 private universities in Australia. In 2003, there were over 650,000 full-time students (of whom a little less than 30,000 were fee-paying), and over 900,000 continuing and commencing students. 78% of university students elect to defer their HECS/HELP fees (more accurately described as 'the Dawkins tax' after John Dawkins; wealthy bourgeois, ex-student radical and from 1987 to 1991 the Minister for Employment, Education and Training: the person responsible for the re-introduction of university fees). Just less than 14% of students are deemed to be of 'low socio-economic status' (a category left undefined).

But what does it all mean? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a message from the iron sheik

"I am disgusted that a white supremacist website (sponsored by Ben Weerheym) based in Australia profiled my picture and linked to my website. I refuse to be used for such nefarious purposes as white, Christian chauvinism, which is the enemy of the message I spread.

I also unambiguously reject their anti-Jewish agenda, as well as their clear antagonism to people of color. To think that Palestinians fighting for their liberation have common cause with them shows their own desperation and irrelevance. Such fringe groups, we have to remember, are just as anti-Arab as they are anti- any other group. Though they are fringe, as the beatings near Sydney last year show, anti-Arab racism is far too prevalent to take such hate groups lightly.

I applaud those opposing fascist, ultra-nationalist groups -- whether in the form of Australian hate groups, South American cartels, Arab dictators, American Neo-Cons, or Israeli leadership. Keep up the good work."

Iron Sheik, 3/27/06
Note: "Using hip-hop as his medium, the Iron Sheik relays informed views on the Palestinian movement for independence, the war on terrorism, US foreign policy in general, the Arab world, and growing up Arab-American. Since releasing his first [brilliantly-titled] album, Camel Clutch (2003), he has toured nationally, and performed internationally."

And he's not the only one.

"Across the Gaza Strip, West Bank and even in Israel, young Arabic rappers are trying to juggle Middle East traditions with contemporary Western culture to create a political voice for their generation..."

Oh, and here's a picture of one of my two all-time favourite professional wrestlers: the (other) Iron Sheik! The Iron Sheik's favoured message? "USA hack-ptooey!"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More weasel words from Weerheym (II)

As discussed previously, Perth neo-Nazi, synagogue and war widows' retirement village vandal Ben Weerheym has reacted badly to his public exposure in a recent article in The West Australian. In fact, on Weerheym's blog, he notes that he was "personally offended" by it.

Weerheym's reaction is not surprising. His former leader, Jack van Tongeren, of the neo-Nazi Australian Nationalist(s) Movement, is currently on the run from the law. Further, local (WA) police have questioned Weerheym several times in relation to van Tongeren's disappearance (and that of his accomplice, Matthew Billing). And finally, political pressure appears to be building in WA for charges to be brought against Weerheym under Australian laws relating to Racial Vilification and Holocaust Denial.*

Ah, the joys of being a net-Nazi!

In response to these developments -- and after a week's silence -- Weerheym has posted three 'press releases'. The first of these is a reply to Fran Spencer, author of the exposé (discussed previously). The other two, discussed below, attempt to i) provide a rationale for Weerheym's imaginary alliance of local fascists (the 'Patriot Alliance Down-under') and ii) 'unveil' the trans-Tasman anti-racist network Fightdemback as being an illegitimate, if not criminal, organisation.

1) (The) Patriot Alliance Down-under (PAD)

According to Weerheym, the PAD consists of 'patriotic' Australians and New Zealanders. Their online postings are intended to correct the bias of the Jewish-controlled media and the leftists who write for it. Furthermore, the PAD is opposed to the use of violence and illegal activity ("[i]n no way do I or other contributors of the PAD undertake, promote or condone illegal activity or violence of any sort"), and is committed to free speech, democracy and helping little old ladies cross the road. (OK, so I made that last bit up... but you get the picture.)

Weerheym's main contention, however, is that the PAD does not consist of "white supremacists", "neo-Nazis", "bigots" or any other fictional 'buzz' label. Further, that its political rationale is legitimate, especially "[c]onsidering that we of European lineage represent [less] than 10% of the global population". And in its almighty wisdom, the PAD "understands" that Jews and their leftist allies "have been and are destructive to the culture, identity and longevity [of] we Indo-Europeans the world over".

So much for Weerheym. In my opinion, not only is Weerheym a neo-Nazi, he's also a liar and a fraud. Please let me elaborate on why I feel this.

First, let's refresh our memories, shall we?

I WILL seriously assault you, I don't care if I go to jail dickhead, I will stomp on your fucking head, I couldn't care who reads this, you are a filthy peice [sic] of shit that deserves to be badly assaulted... It may not happen straight away but I will store it in my brain [sic] for another time. You think I am an evil [N]azi? I will go out of my way for you to defin[i]tely think so.
That was last year. This week, Weerheym wouldn't hurt a fly. So for all his jumping up and down about the evils of transgenderism, I reckon Weerheym's basic problem is that he doesn't know if he's Arthur or Martha. To put it another way: he's a sandwich short of a picnic, three bricks short of a load and if brains were gunpowder he couldn't blow his own nose.

In short, Ben Weerheym is your typical White supremacist / neo-Nazi / bigot.

Secondly, let's see who else comprises Weerheym's "alliance". First off the boat is Douglas Norris [?] of the New Zealand Dominion Post (March 23, 2006); next comes Darrin Hodges (March 13, 2006 and elsewhere); John Pell, Dr. James Saleam and Val Hale (February 28, 2006) moan about there being too many blacks in Toowoomba; while the (US-based) neo-Nazi National Vanguard, National Alliance** (February 23, and February 22, 2006 respectively, as well as numerous other posts) and the Dresden Remembrance Committee (February 15, 2006: for more on the bombing of Dresden, and the far right's attempts to hijack the event, read here, here and here) are all neo-Nazi organisations.

In other words, the PAD is, basically, Ben Weerheym. So too, Weerheym's other blog, 'Leftywatch'. In fact, prior to 2006, Weerheym doesn't even bother to pretend otherwise. I suppose that the only remaining point I think is worth emphasising is the fact that 'PAD' (Weerheym's blog) has in fact undergone quite a number of name changes and re-configurations: partly in response to pressure from the outside, and partly due to Weerheym's own mental instability.


* For further discussion of the evolution of such laws in Australia, see Danny Yee's review of Luke McNamara's Regulating Racism: Racial Vilification Laws in Australia. Interestingly, Yee notes that "The West Australian legislation came in response to a racist campaign by the Australian Nationalist Movement. It is unique in criminalising racial vilification generally, not just a narrower "aggravated" category. There have as yet been no cases — and comparison with a similar Canadian law suggests the barrier to criminal prosecution is too high". For Yee's take on more general issues to do with 'Internet censorship', click here.

** "National Alliance (NA) tore itself to shreds in the months after the first [2002] York rally. That year its founder William Pierce died, starting the downfall. Billy Roper, quite possibly its most visible member, got the boot. He then started another group White Revolution, which in the past three years has lost two members to [my homies in the] OPP! Meanwhile, NA suffered a mutiny in 2005, and is pretty much irrelevant. Those that broke away from the NA are calling themselves National Vanguard, and are not doing any better. Their most recent routine: promoting on their website a pro-Palestinian hip-hop concert put on by people who hate racism whether it is in the form of Zionism or Nazism."

2) Fightdemback! (FDB)

Fascists on di attack?
Don't worry 'bout dat.
Fascists on di attack?
We will fight dem back!

Weerheym makes a number of claims regarding FDB in his 'press release', and even more on his blogs, each one more bizarre than the previous. Thus according to Weerheym, FDB has, among other things, employed private detectives to spy on racists and fascists, engaged in blackmail, and 'covertly' compiles dossiers on and periodically issues threats of violence to the racists and fascists whose activities it monitors. Worst, its members "often joke about paedophilia, homosexual rape, and anal sex online"!

Weerheym also maintains (December 18, 2005) that FDB is financed by... the Jews! (To be precise: the Anti-Defamation Commission of B'nai B'rith.) In this context, it's worth noting that Weerheym has gone to some effort to conceal his fear, hatred and contempt for Jews. For example, while the 'Disclaimer' that accompanies the latest version of 'Leftywatch' states If you are offended by the truth and information that can be politically incorrect then turn away now and bury your head in the sand. Click this link for a more appropriate site in its previous incarnation it reads If you are offended by the truth and information that can be politically correct then turn away now and bury your head in the sand. Click this link for a more appropriate site. Click the links and you'll see why.

Briefly, then: the evidence Weerheym produces to support his fanciful conjectures is practically non-existent. The 'private detective' in question, for example, is one "Tim Heggarty". On his Leftywatch blog, Weerheym promises to provide three 'case studies' regarding the nefarious activities of "Tim". The first 'case' is a rather confused account of a correspondence between Weerheym and some other bloke. The second and third remain undisclosed as of January 16, 2006. As far as FDB is concerned, as Mat put it: FDB has "no fucking idea about what you are talking about".

The accusation of 'blackmail' Weerheym levels at FDB appears to be somehow related to the exposure of the activities of some neo-Nazi teenagers. The fact that the neo-Nazi teenagers in question have yet to sue for "blackmail" could be read as implying that Weerheym is, as usual, talking absolute bollocks.

Finally, as regards 'secret dossiers'... well, you're reading my "secrets". In fact, while Weerheym is obviously too stupid to realise it, the information FDB compiles is largely the result of the assiduous application of basic research skills by a collective of anti-racists. In compiling this information, FDB's efforts are augmented by the involvement of a number of people with professional, semi-professional and even amateur IT expertise.

Simple, really.

But quite successful, don't you think?

Weasel words from Weerheym (I)

After a regrettably short absence, Ben Weerheym is back. Again. With another list of lies, half-truths and excuses aimed at whitewashing his recent and extensive history of public bigotry, ignorance and stupidity; a history which now threatens to land him, again, rightly or wrongly, in court.

Please let me elaborate on why I feel this.

Claimed by Weerheym to be 'press releases' -- although I somehow doubt that they'll be picked up by AAP -- Weerheym's last three posts address three separate issues. First, the 'Patriot Alliance Down Under'. Secondly, Fightdemback. And finally, Weerheym is a little worried about a recent article by Fran Spencer in The West Australian: 'Racist Perth web site under investigation'.

Weerheym on Spencer on Weerheym

Weerheym claims to have been "personally offended" (sob) by Fran Spencer's article, and denies that:

i) he is a "white supremacist" (as Spencer's article correctly labels him);
ii) his blog, avoiceofdissent, "openly threatens individuals";
iii) his criminal record is as extensive or significant as Spencer claims and;
iv) '"posts on the Patriot Alliance Down-under blog have included references to "oily dune coons", "sandniggers" and "the Asian invasion"'.

Now to Weerheym's lies, half-truths and excuses:

i) A poor command of the English language (a typical and especially amusing attribute of 'White supremacists'), in conjunction with various forms of cognitive dissonance previously unknown to science, makes reading Weerheym hard work.

Wearing his Mad (pseudo-) Scientist hat, Dr. Weerheym opines that "because of recent advancements in scientific fields such as genetics, biology and paleo-anthropology, I understand that race is not a social or political construct and that race does represent différance".

Unfortunately, Dr. Weerheym presents no evidence to justify his thesis. Further, it hardly explains his periodic outbursts of murderous rage at Jews, blacks, gays, anarchists, Marxists, leftists and 'multiculturalists'. Nor does it provide a rational justification for Weerheym's espousal of white supremacy or fascism. Perhaps the only thing it does provide is an opportunity for Weerheym to identify himself as a 'victim':

I beleive [sic] that all races and their assorted ethnicities [sic] have a right to life and deserve self determination. Upon realization that the specific race that I belong to represents fewer than 10% of the global population, I decided to pay more attention to the promotion of those of European lineage. I mean no harm to any person out there but because of these beleifs [sic], I have been vilified, victimized, smeared and pretty much demonized. I still don't know why this is so.
Thus confirming one of two things: 1) Weerheym is grossly stupid; 2) Weerheym is dishonest.

ii) "Never has any author featured on the PAD website or sister site 'Leftywatch' ever threatened any individual that may have been featured on either website."

A straight-out, and easily demonstrable, lie. In reality, Weerheym and his fascist comrades have issued numerous threats of violence towards anti-racists, including but not limited to those individuals that appear on his blog(s). Here's a sample of Weerheym's own rather pathetic attempts at intimidating his opposition:

Exhibit A, in which Weerheym bravely compares himself to a (neo-)Nazi terrorist... (I wonder who he could have had in mind):

"If I'm supposedly a "[N]azi terrorist" wouldn't it be wise to shut your mouth? I mean don't "[N]azi terrorists" fire bomb the shit out of houses and bash the shit out of the families of people like you?"

B, in which Weerheym reveals his hatred of small people:

"[Y]ou cut that shit the fuck out bitch, [P]erth is a small place, who knows who the fuck you may bump into, groups of wankers like you are even smaller."

C, in which Weerheym reveals that, in his opinion, Duck Monster is a rather successful antifa:


D, in which Weerheym declares his infatuation with Mathew Henderson-Hau ('Darp'):

"I would watch my step [D]arpy, there are alot [sic] more [sic] bigger and badder people out there than me and you are doing a good job of pissing them off.

[T]he way you parade yourself around on the internet and in real life as if you are the almighty saviour against the evil evil [sic] non-left thinkers makes you a target and the more you do it, the more negative repercussions there could be."

E, in which Weerheym continues to engage in masturbatory fantasies of revenge against Henderson-Hau, this time for daring to regard Claire Forlani as attractive:

"Darp, how dare you even dare [sic] to think about Claire Forlani in a sexual nature [sic]. She is a great example of true [A]ryan beauty and something that mongrel Maori Jews should never infect with their disgusting mis[c]egenation. If you are so proud of who you are, go for your own type and keep the hell away from our beautiful women. [Y]ou polluted mongrel pig."

F, in which Weerheym conveys his incomprehension at the meaning of the expression 'Every dog has its day'. And how much he hates Jews:

"[D]arp, you really are a mentally defective mongrel. Remember, every dog has it's [sic] day and you ol' buddy, are just that DOG. Good idea to keep your head down on Hitler[']s birthday, actually, probably a good idea to keep it down permanently. The right is getting ever stronger and there is NOTHING you can do to stop it, except for ranting like the neurotic little school kid you are. RAUS JUDEN!"

G, in which Weerheym champions the use of gas chambers against his opposition:

"I am not a National Front member but they have my support! [I]nto the shower block with you!"

H, in which Weerheym settles on lynching as an appropriate response to criticism of his fascist politics:

"[A]hhhh the need for a shot gun, guess some rope and a tree will do the trick."

I, in which Weerheym reveals that he has a rather disturbing sense of humour; one which regards the deaths of millions of African men, women and children from the AIDS pandemic as being worthy of celebration:

"[L]isten here you fuckin['] ugly rock ape. I meant if you were born in NZ or born in a slum somewhere in Africa where your relatives still are - where you should still be. Go back to Africa and die of AIDS, just like the rest of you are! [H]ahahaha."


"Keep on moaning about white skinheads as you hide behind you[r] computer screen, you puny little ugly gooks get the shit stomped out of you - and that[']s just for fun!"


"[S]hut the fuck up nigger, you have no right to speak. Get back outside and clean out the chook house before [you] get lynched boy!

[...followed by a picture of two black men being lynched...]

[S]ay hello to your relatives tar boy!"

L, (in reference to Nic Miller of the (New Zealand) National Front allegedly assaulting some Somali youths):

"I want to shake the hands of the guys that did this! Whether or not they ARE NF members or have just bought a shirt is another story, NF members do not go out of their way for trouble against niggers like this while wearing NF shirts. Perhaps next time the victims will be you faggot loving wannabes."




I rest my case.

iii) Rather stupidly, Weerheym attempts to downplay his involvement in a series of racist grafitti attacks against a Chinese restaurant, a (Jewish) synagogue, and a (Jewish) kosher food store in Perth in July 2004: "Not at any stage was I responsible for any... vandalism... Under duress, I was responsible for driving one of the vehicles at the time of these events..."

The facts: on trial in August 2004, Weerheym plead guilty to 9 counts of wilfully and unlawfully damaging property, one of five men -- members of the neo-Nazi 'White Devils' gang -- to be convicted and sentenced by the courts in relation to the same string of offences. However, while the other four Übermensch received custodial sentences, Weerheym received a sentence of six months and one day (suspended for 12 months) on the grounds that he was 'only' the getaway driver.

Significantly, Weerheym lied to the court about his previous membership and promotion of the Australian Nationalist(s) Movement, a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation which Weerheym once described as "the most effective, organised, active and above all premier nationalist/pro-white organisation in Australia": "Weerheym's lawyer, Michael Tudori, told the Perth Magistrates Court Weerheym was not interested in the ANM and had not wanted to take part in the graffiti".

The funny thing is, Weerheym has already publically admitted to the deception. In an email on the fascist Austnewnation forum on November 11, 2004, he wrote: "Basically I said those things in court to keep me out of jail and it worked...". He even provides clarification in relation to his issuing of an insincere 'apology': "The only people I did say sorry to is the old ladies in the war widows['] retirement village... I never apologized to the Jews or the pro-multicult cronies".

Ben Weerheym versus elderly, retired war widows:

Weerheym: 1
Little Old Ladies: 0

Lang lebend der arisch Superman!

iv) According to Weerheym, the only possible explanation for the appearance of the terms "oily dune coons", "sand niggers" and "Asian invasion" or any other racial slurs on his blog is because he maintained an open slather policy on his comments. Weerheym, on the other hand, would never dare to use such expressions.

He just does.


[Second and final part to follow...]

Saturday, March 25, 2006

V For Vendetta // A For Anarchy

[Oh yeah. The Prime Minister, John Howard, has finally come clean and delivered a disarmingly honest apology for his atrocious war-mongering -- to a rather stunned audience. Read the transcript here.]

a for anarchy

Friday, March 24, 2006

Jack, He's Here to Help

'Drop bomb counts or I stay on the run: racist'
The West Australian
Sean Cowan and Luke Morfesse

WA's most wanted man, racist Jack van Tongeren, has finally broken his silence by vowing to remain a fugitive from justice unless police drop three charges against him of plotting to bomb Chinese restaurants.

Despite having been on the run since mid-February, the racist leader sent The West Australian a handwritten statement, dated March 8, in which he claimed he feared police would kill him.

Mr van Tongeren, a Vietnam War veteran whose father was Eurasian said the entire case against him was fabricated in an attempt to keep him from winning a seat in Federal Parliament.

Now, on the run from justice, he could not lead his "Aussie people" into a better age.

"Make no mistake, my comrades and I now face possible death at the hands of Stalinist-like armed TRG and their ilk or, at the best, spend the rest of our lives in State-run Gulags," he said.

Mr van Tongeren made a mockery of the justice system [?!?] and sparked a nationwide police alert when he absconded with co-accused Matthew Peter Billing just weeks after a judge ordered he be released from Hakea Prison on bail.

In his statement, he said the pair had followed their bail conditions but were set up by a prosecution witness who approached them at a court hearing.

Under their bail conditions the pair could not talk to the witness and, as a result, police planned to rearrest them, he said.

"Drop all charges against my comrades and I that were levelled against us just before the 2004CE Federal election," the statement said.

"Only then will we present ourselves publicly to the WA people, safe from threats of death or jailing by the WA police, and then lead our Aussie people into a far better, freer age."

Det-Sgt Dario Bolzonella, of the State security investigation group, said police were almost certain the letter was written by Mr van Tongeren.

"It's in a similar style to his previous writing but obviously that needs to be authenticated," he said.

"It's being treated forensically and also being analysed . . . to see if it is consistent with something that Mr van Tongeren would have written."

Sgt Bolzonella said the charges against the two men would not be dropped.

He also said Mr van Tongeren's claim that he and Mr Billing had been set up to breach their bail conditions after a contrived confrontation at the Central Law Courts was wrong.

"Mr van Tongeren is not wanted for (anything) stemming out of the incident at the Central Law Courts," he said. "What he is wanted for is breaching his bail (by not meeting daily reporting conditions)."

Investigators also believe the different dates on the letter, March 8, and postmark, March 22, indicate that the fugitives are being helped by family or friends.

mum reckons they were set up

While authorities chase the families of 'missing' white supremacists Matthew Billing and Jack van Tongeren for $40,000 in forfeited bail, Billing's mother has stated that she's relieved at learning of the existence of a letter, purportedly written by the missing men on ANM letterhead and dated March 8, and sent to the media:

"I was relieved that we had heard from them because, up until then, we were really quite frightened that something serious had happened to them, so it was good to hear that at least they're still alive... I haven't read totally the contents [of the letter] but I agree with what Jack is saying, they were set up."

[Billing and van Tongeren] were due to go on trial with a third co-accused, John van Blitterswyk, for allegedly plotting to firebomb four Chinese restaurants in 2004.

All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr Van Blitterswyk appeared for the scheduled court appearance on Monday but the trial was adjourned until a status conference on June 20 to give prosecutors time to decide how they will proceed.

Mr Van Tongeren's failure to appear in court leaves his elderly mother facing a $30,000 bail forfeiture.

Mr Billing's father will have to pay $10,000.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

more loose ends

anarchist people of color have a site. it's not illegal. (yet.)

There is no original or primary Bitch that Bitch imitates, but Bitch is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.

b o r d e r l a n d s e-journal's latest issue is dedicated to examining the work of a French bloke what strangled his wife.

Rowan Cahill has written an interesting rejoinder to corporate flak Gerard Henderson on the subject of 'Australian Fascism': "The [New] Guard was a well-financed, well-armed, organization, the creation of an elite of Australia's wealthy, powerful, socially exclusive men." (Unlike say, this mob.)

'Teach Me if You Can: An Interview with David Graeber'. "David Graeber is a professor of anthropology at Yale University. After becoming an activist for the anarchist cause, Graeber received disdain from a few colleagues and was soon informed that his teaching contract would not be renewed. On November 2nd, 2005, Steven Durel had lunch with Graeber at Yale." Isn't that nice? (See, anarchists can be civil.)

Alain Gresh reckons that "Hamas’ landslide win at the Palestinian elections on 25 January has been greeted with indignant warnings and commentaries from the United States and the European Union, including France. We need to put this event in context."

John Holloway wants to change the world without taking power (and by making only two passing references to anarchism in his book on the same subject... sigh).

George Katsiaficas has some interesting things to say. (I reckon.)

Tasneem Khalil is "a journalist from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Endorses and advocates Libertarian Socialism and Free/Open Software & Publication".

Ken McLeod is weird. According to some, he's a Trotskyist libertarian cyberpunk. He hatesss filthy anarchistsss. He has a blog.


Stay Human is an album by Michael Franti & Spearhead. (Quite a good one too.) It's also the name of "a melbourne based business, that produces a range of ethically made merchandise, like badges, keyrings, stickers, candy and screen printed garments for bands and other groups. Our main aim is to make getting non-sweatshop merchandise as easy as possible, thus encouraging more people to do it".

As for Jeff Vail... best let him speak for himself:

What to say? My name is Jeff Vail. Born & raised in California, I was fortunate enough to have been dragged (happily) all over the world by my parents. I attended the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, graduating in 1999. I keep hearing about people being "radicalized" in madrasas, or religious schools, in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Well, I have USAFA to thank for a manner of speaking. After graduation I went to Intelligence Officer school. As an Intelligence Officer I did a number of things: Targeted bombs and cruise missiles for the American invasion of Afghanistan with the 36th Intelligence Squadron, was Chief of Intelligence with the 41st Electronic Combat Squadron (EC-130H COMPASS CALL, for those who care), and also Chief of Intelligence for the 41st Expeditionary Electronic Warfare Squadron deployed to the Middle East during the war in Iraq.

While bored, sitting in a tent in the desert, I decided to write a book, "A Theory of Power", which resulted in this web site, and is hopefully why you're reading this bio. I separated from the Air Force in June of 2004. At present I am attending school and working as an intelligence analyst. I live in Colorado with my wife, Julie. I don't know what the next few years will hold, but hopefully there will be more thinking and writing, both on this blog and elsewhere. Please feel free to contact me.
David Wearing wonders whether Muslims are from Mars & Europeans are from Venus.

"The World Social Forum: Challenging Empires is a committed but critical anthology of essays on the theory and practice of the Forum, with essays by wo/men from many parts of the world, with many different points of view. This online version is abbreviated from the printed original, published by Viveka, New Delhi."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Turgid Miasma of Existence

i shoulda been a contender
i shoulda followed the rules
i shoulda married the girl next door
i shoulda not been a fool
i shoulda paid more attention
i shoulda listened in school

got to re-prioritise
get that corporate style
do an anthony robbins seminar
and meet my inner child
then i'll unleash the power within
and get that winning smile

i shoulda exercised daily
i shoulda brushed after meals
i shoulda gone to church sunday
i shoulda learnt some ideals
i shoulda counted my blessings
i shoulda lodged an appeal

got to re-prioritise
get that corporate style
get the new ikea catalogue
and some really bitchin' tiles
then i'll unleash the power within
and get that winning smile

i shoulda reached my potential
i shoulda kicked some real ass
i shoulda gone into business
i shoulda been middle class

The Manly Environment Centre is celebrating its 15th birthday this week at Manly Cove.

Festivities include a performance from The Rifles, speeches from Peter Garrett and others and a special art exhibition at nearby Oceanworld.

It all kicks off at 5:30pm.
My favourite band. Are playing. This Thursday... in Sydney.

In other news... my bookmarks are overloaded. So I'm gonna dump some of 'em here:
Marx Myths & Legends

A critical reading of the work of Karl Marx now requires us to lay to one side the myths and legends which have obscured his ideas over the past one hundred and twenty years- distortions and misinterpretations to which perhaps no thinker has been more prone. In one sense, this is not difficult, because there is enough of his writing preserved, albeit in translation, for any of us to read Marx in his own words. Most however have been unwilling or unable to do this. The fifty volumes of the Marx-Engels Collected Works are forbidding, and when beginning as one almost inevitably does, with the received wisdom surrounding Marx’s name, there is much to discourage a reader from seriously taking on the task of understanding Marx. The aim of this project is thus to begin to challenge some of those myths in order to clear the way for a fresh reading of Marx that will hopefully be less prone to the distortions, misunderstandings and blatant falsehoods that have so far surrounded Marx. We believe that what Marx had to say remains of considerable relevance to an understanding of problems we face today, but that a reading of Marx now must maintain a critical caution which does not merely reproduce received ideas- positive or negative- about Marx’s work.
This is a local blog, for global people.

Another source of understanding (as well as right-wing confusion) is 'Noam Chomsky v. Alan Dershowitz: A Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict'.
Signature is co-edited by Eve Vincent and Marni Cordell, former editors of Spinach7 Magazine. Having suspended publication of the magazine, we want to keep making high quality independent media that is critical and thought provoking. We are interested in ideas, stories and voices that are overlooked by the dominant media, and in contributing to a more diverse and diffuse public culture.

Signature is about putting your name to your ideas. It’s about having the guts to stand behind your convictions. As the media becomes more anonymous, distant, and PR-driven Signature brings you writers who aren’t afraid to make their mark. Distinctive voices, fresh perspectives, quality writing.
Julian Stallabras writes about 'Spectacle & Terror' in the New Left Review:
After Gopal Balakrishnan’s engagement with Afflicted Powers in NLR 36, Julian Stallabrass turns to the Retort collective’s conception of spectacle and its Islamist antagonists. Does a Debordian optic occlude the oppositional potential of modern technologies?
(And, moreover, what effects will it have on Collingwood's chances of doing the cakewalk in 2006?)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

2006 Trot Guide Update #3.0

Following John Tattersall's ignominious defeat in the Victoria park by-election, there's more bad news for the Socialist Alliance: on March 18 there was an election in South Australia, for the seat of Port Adelaide. At a time when disgust and rage with contemporary capitalism are profoundly felt and deeply rooted -- and we are living through a period of many-sided struggle, conscious and unconscious, against the virulent disease that is the production-for-profit system -- the SA contested it.

Here are the results:

Port Adelaide
Name // Party // Votes // % Swing
(Bold identifies the sitting MP)

Anne McMenamin // GRN // 980 // 6.3 // +2.5
James Troup // FFP // 838 // 5.4 // +5.4
Kevin Foley // ALP // 10,027 // 64.5 // +6.7
Anna Micheel // LIB // 2,903 // 18.7 // -4.9
Darren Fairweather // ONP // 234 // 1.5
Amy Van Oosten // DEM // 369 // 2.4 // -3.8
John McGill // [SA] // 205 // 1.3 // +1.3
[Informal // 802 // 4.2]

This could be considered a "bad" result. After all, for a socialist party to receive 29 votes less than a party on the far right isn't exactly "good"... is it? Dunno, maybe March 18 was a time when disgust and rage with contemporary capitalism was only vaguely intuited, and the deeply rooted were in bed, fitfully sleeping through a period of many-sided struggle, almost always unconscious; dreaming, perhaps, of defeating the virulent disease that is the production-for-profit system... later.

Oh yeah.

There were also elections in Tasmania over the weekend. Never ones to set the media ablaze, the SA in Tasmania battled it out with the elusive 'Tasmania First Party' and those-who-choose-to-dress-casually for last place. Here are the results from the two seats -- Denison and Franklin -- in which the SA stood candidates.

Let's see who won, shall we?

Party // Votes // % Quotas // Swing
Labor Party // 25,665 // 47.4 // 2.90 // -3.6
Liberal Party // 14,333 // 26.4 // 1.50 // +3.4
Greens // 12,981 // 23.9 // 1.30 // -0.6
Tasmania First // 283 // 0.5 // 0.00 // +0.5
Socialist Alliance // 216 // 0.4 // 0.00 // -0.3 [Linda Seaborn]
Group F // 401 // 0.7 // 0.00 // +0.7
Ungrouped // 437 // 0.8 // 0.00 // +0.8

Party // Votes // % Quotas // Swing
Labor Party // 26,794 // 47.2 // 2.90 // -4.5
Liberal Party // 17,858 // 31.4 // 1.90 // +7.8
Greens // 10,888 // 19.2 // 1.10 // -1.2
Socialist Alliance // 232 // 0.4 // 0.00 // +0.1 [Matthew Holloway]
Ungrouped // 962 // 1.7 // 0.10 // +1.7

Hmmm... not exactly a doubleplusgood result there either comrades.

(I give it twelve more months, tops.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dude, where's my student union?

It's interesting times for the Australian student movement. Following a spectacularly unsuccessful campaign to prevent the Federal Government (with the critical support of Family First Senator Steve Fielding) from introducing Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) legislation, student unions, from the peak body the National Union of Students (NUS) to its dozens of affiliates, are facing a grim future. In summary:

On 9 December 2005, the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 was passed in the Senate, and received the Royal Assent on 19 December 2005. From July 1 2006, [Australian] universities will not be able to compel union membership or fees.
The general effects of this on campus life will vary, but as the legislation mandates the winding back or removal of a range of social services previously available to students for free or at minimal cost, it's likely to result in a severe curtailment of what was once thought to characterise 'campus life'. The legislation places additional pressures on University administrations to replace lost services, as well as placing many student unions in an impossible situation in relation to staffing and wages (see, for example, 'Swinburne student union nears collapse', Adam Morton, The Age, March 11, 2006).

One of the other effects of VSU will be the removal of the student union from its status as being the most important and lucrative resource for (student) political activists. Long regarded as a cash cow by the student left (and the various parties which feed on the student body), removal of funding will severely, and quite consciously, curtail -- at least in the short- to medium-term -- left student activism.

Well, maybe.

The NUS is obviously a dead duck as far as student activism is concerned, and with a small number of exceptions, always has been. Its principal function has been to provide a publically-subsidised training ground for future politicians. (In this, the NUS has functioned in a manner remarkably similar to that of many of its affiliates; providing income, resources and training to ambitious young student politicians.) In fact, the guaranteed income stream compulsory membership of student unions' has generated for student politicians has placed both student unions and (other) opponents of VSU in a particularly difficult situation: the political reservoir from which a militant response to VSU might be drawn -- one comprising a large number of students and young workers -- simply doesn't exist. Facing no requirement to convince students of the desirability of joining 'their' unions, student unions have, by default, been able to treat students with indifference, while 'corruption' in some student unions has even resulted in their forced liquidation (see also the highly amusing documentary film The State of the Union).

Where these developments leave the student left is an intriguiging question. Below is an account of the development of the largest left tendency within student politics. I'll return to it later, as well as to the question of how anarchists should respond, both to VSU and to the student left.

National Broadleft (1999-2005)

The National Broadleft (NBL) was formed in 1999. Kate Carr, the first 'national convenor' of the faction, provides the following account of its origins:
Student left unites
By Kate Carr

After discussions at the four major student conferences this year, a new student group, the National Broad Left (NBL), was established in Melbourne on July 21.

The group will initiate national campaigns, intervene in student unions and operate as a united faction within the National Union of Students (NUS). The new group brings together progressive individuals and a range of left organisations within the student movement, including Left Alliance (LA), Resistance, parts of the Non-Aligned Left (NAL) and Love and Rage...

More than 200 people participated in discussions held throughout the country before NBL's formation. The significance of the creation of a nationally unified left within NUS cannot be overestimated.

Until now the left has been divided into two major factions (LA and NAL) at NUS national conferences, resulting in poor collaboration and communication within the left around policy for NUS and the election of office bearers.

The NBL explicitly advocates challenging the ALP-dominated leadership of NUS and changing NUS's campaign strategy from one of lobbying the ALP to sparking broad campaigns which involve and inspire students to fight for progressive social change.

It is hoped that the formation of NBL signals a period of constructive collaboration between left activists around the country and will facilitate healthy debate around priorities for the student movement.
Two years later, Resistance left the NBL. Grant Coleman explains:
When it became clear that the majority of those involved in the NBL were not willing to place political pressure on NOLS to support the left office-bearer candidates over the right-wing of the ALP, Resistance left the NBL.

During the NUS conference, the NBL changed its original position and began arguing for NOLS to form a left bloc.

However, Resistance did not decide to leave the NBL based on one incident alone. For some time now, the NBL has been moving away from its original aim of challenging the ALP leadership of NUS. In July 2000 the NBL voted to remove the reference to challenging the ALP's conservative leadership of NUS from its declaration of aims.

Even more importantly however, most independent left activists have left the NBL and it is not attracting new student activists. Nor will it do so if it continues to capitulate to the ALP left, rather than challenge it.

The task for left activists in NUS is to work together to provide a political challenge to the ALP. With the recent events at S11 and with M1 ahead of us, the left should be able to inspire a new layer of students to struggle against the corporatisation of higher education. But we will not convince these students to take up the fight in student organisations if we simply play games with the Labor student bureaucracy.

Instead we should be drawing these people into a united left faction that seriously aims to win control of NUS away from the ALP and transform it into a left-wing led, democratic, accountable and activist-based national student union.
Here's another account of the disintegration of the NBL. Interestingly, events at Woomera2002 (late March -- early April) are considered pivotal.
In 2002, after the events at Woomera, it was fairly clear that it wasn't desirable to work with Socialist Alternative. Further, a number of students had had enough of the prevailing fixation on the pointless antics of NUS, and for activist purposes wanted to extricate themselves from the whole schamozzle, while at the same time maintaining cross-campus connections. In essence, what was wanted was an organisation something like what segments of NBL became immediately after S11.

The biggest hurdle was the unofficial leadership (the 'numbers' people). While making sympathetic noises, they were neck-deep in factionalism. In response, some anarchists, a group of younger students from Sydney and a few greens started having their own, independently-organised meetings. These took place during the pre-caucus leading up to NUS national conference. (The Trots, predictably enough, reacted especially badly at news that a meeting had been called for people interested in 'anti-authoritarian ideas' and ways of 'subverting NUS'.) Some of the rebels even made some 'Rebel Alliance' patches: a sign of dissent at the existing orientation of the NBL towards competing for office in the Galactic Empire.

As opposed to changing things.

In a fairly cunning move, the 'unofficial leadership' started regularly attending these meetings, and with some bullshit here (and some bullshit there), devolved the 'Rebel Alliance' into just another sub-faction of the NBL, complete with nominees for office bearing positions. The original network of people who'd formed the Alliance proved unable to stop this devolution, either thinking themselves outnumbered (and therefore powerless to protest) or simply being too naive to do so... until it was too late.

So, the 'Rebel Alliance' became little more than a non-Trot faction, and the basis for working together little less than a shared antipathy toward Socialist Alternative. Predictably, this lead to some fairly bizarre behaviour, including alliances with parts of the ALP, and pointless red-baiting. In the absence of some more rigorous ideological framework from which to structure its activity, such a lame, reactionary approach to factional organising simply wasn't sustainable, and its disintegration meant that the collapse of the NBL as a whole was merely a matter of time.

Weerheym's website 'under investigation'

Racist Perth web site under investigation
The West Australian
Fran Spencer
March 18, 2006

WA Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions are investigating a racist website run by a Perth-based white supremacist amid claims it openly threatens individuals and breaks racial vilification laws.

Two blogs operating under the names Patriot Alliance Down-under and Leftywatch, published by former Australian Nationalist Movement recruit Benjamin Weerheym, have been the subject of complaints to State and Federal authorities.

Mr Weerheym was convicted [in 2004] of spraypainting racist slogans on Perth buildings, and received a six month suspended jail term.

While posts on the Patriot Alliance Down-under blog have included references to "oily dune coons", "sandniggers" and "the Asian invasion", the Leftywatch blog focuses on publishing pictures and personal details of individuals it claims oppose patriotic activists.

Yesterday, the site contained personal details on four Perth individuals including home suburbs, email addresses and places of work along with calls for further information or photos for publication.

Perth-based human rights lawyer Mark Cox said he had been contacted by several individuals targeted by the blogs, and had written to the WA and Federal police and attorneys-general.

DPP Robert Cock yesterday confirmed his office was examining the site, but no action had been taken.

"It has been referred to a lawyer in my office and I'm awaiting her report... I expect that within a week," he said.

State Security Investigation Group head Det-Sen. Sgt Ray Butler said police had been monitoring the blogs, and were liaising with the DPP.

"It's well known to our area and has been for the last six to eight months."

"We have put up a proposal to the DPP in relation to all the evidence... the initial verbal notification from them is there isn't enough there at the moment but we are continuing to monitor that and any information that comes in from the public we will pass on," he said.

Both blogs were recently altered to remove Mr Weerheym's photo and personal details. The profile section now attributes the blog to Patriot Alliance Down-under, a self-described "number of patriots and nationalists alike from New Zealand and Australia."

Mr Cox said he had contacted US-based internet giant Google, owner of the company [Blogger] which hosts the blogs, and warned of potentially illegal content.

Google has since posted a content warning on the blogs, but appears to have taken no further action.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Where's Wally?

Above : an unidentified flying white supremacist nicknamed 'Wally' sits on a park bench observing peaceful protest at the Botanical Gardens, Melbourne.

Is our lone Scumfronter dreaming of a White Christmas? Or is he perhaps dreaming of being an Indonesian soldier and engaging in some state-sponsored terrorism against the indigenous peoples of West Papua?

'Top Indonesian Generals Take Control of Restive City'
The New York Times
Published: March 18, 2006

JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 17 — Indonesia's top military and police generals took control of the provincial capital of Jayapura in Papua on Friday, ordering the arrest of university students and directing the riot police to fire into the air as they patrolled the streets.

Nearly 60 people, many of them students, have been arrested after a violent demonstration on Thursday that left three policemen and an air force officer dead, said a police spokesman, Gen. Anton Bachrul.

The protest was directed at the American mining company Freeport-McMoRan, which operates a huge gold and copper mine in the province. It turned violent when the police, armed with shields, batons and tear gas, clashed with several hundred students near the campus of Cenderawasih University.

In an unusual display of strength and in a reflection of the seriousness of the violence, Indonesia's army chief, Gen. Djoko Suyanto; the head of the police, General Sutanto; and the head of the domestic intelligence service, Syamsir Siregar, all arrived in Papua on Thursday night.

The sudden show of military brass in Papua, the country's easternmost and poorest province, was meant to protect not only the valuable mining company, but also the nation's hold on the province itself. A low-level insurgency has rumbled for decades against the central government, and Thursday's student protesters openly sympathize with it.

The sounds of shooting reverberated Friday from the area of Adepura, around the university, and schools and markets were closed, residents of Jayapura said.

The riot police from Brimob, the most feared of Indonesia's police units, were still going door to door at the university dormitories Friday, said Hans Magal, secretary general of the Highland Students Association.

The violence directed against Freeport, which has operated in the area since the 1960's, is the most severe since Papuans armed with bows and arrows rioted at the mine site 10 years ago and closed down operations for three days.

To quiet the local antagonism then, the company began directly paying individual police and military officers to protect its mining operations, which stretch from 13,000-foot glacier-capped mountains to coastal lowlands, where the mine waste covers 90 square miles.

The New York Times reported in December that Freeport had granted far greater financial support to the Indonesian Army and police in Papua than the company had publicly reported, in some cases giving individual commanders tens of thousands of dollars.

The United States Justice Department has said it is investigating whether the payments violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids bribery. As well, the Securities and Exchange Commission says it is investigating whether Freeport failed to disclose fully the payments to shareholders.

After the 1996 riots, the company also paid for new social programs for the local residents, assigning 1 percent of annual revenues for medical services, schools and roads.

Whether, or how, the company, which is based in New Orleans, and the Indonesian government can tame the current surge of anger is an open question.

The senior Papuan at Freeport, Thom Beanal, who is a leader of one of Papua's biggest tribal groups, the Amungme, and a director of the Indonesian unit of Freeport, said the company was concerned about maintaining its daily operations in the current atmosphere.

Mr. Beanal said in a telephone interview from his home in Timika, near the mine, that he advised Freeport this week that to reduce hostilities, the company needed to deal more effectively with the more than 700,000 tons of mine waste that is generated every day.

Much of it hurtles directly down the Aghawagon River, and protests began last month when villagers were told by the security forces that they could no longer pan in the waste for scraps of gold. "I suggested they put the waste in a pipe and put it far away," Mr. Beanal said.

Environmentalists and some mining engineers have made similar suggestions, but the company has rejected them, saying they would be too expensive to carry out.
Free West Papua!

Friday, March 17, 2006

2006 Ex-Trot Guide: Not. Funny. Luke.

Recently, Luke Fomiatti has gotten himself into a spot of bother over a botched attempt at 'humour': Uni newspaper calls Jews 'bloodsuckers'.


THE University of Western Sydney has been enveloped in a race row over a student newspaper article which refers to Jewish people as "bloodsuckers".

An outraged Jewish community has demanded an apology for the "anti-semitic" comments published by student and UWS board member Luke Fomiatti.

Vice Chancellor Janice Reid has been forced to write to almost 40,000 students and staff stating the article - in the university newspaper The Western Onion - was unacceptable.

Intended as a send-up of the Muslim cartoon issue, the front page spread includes anti-Jewish drawings and refers to "a vampire with a Star of David tattoo drinking the blood of a young boy labelled Europe"...

Mr Fomiatti said yesterday he had received hate mail and been threatened with physical harm, which had been referred to police.

"I wanted to make a point in a strong way... but some students haven't understood it," he said. "I am using the experience of the Nazi Party's anti-semitism to condemn racism and bigotry.

"There will be an explanation in the next edition and I will say sorry to have offended people."

Mr Fomiatti received a letter from the university administration seeking an explanation for the article and hinting he could face misconduct proceedings.

In her letter Professor Reid said the article would "upset many people" and was not funny.
A fifth-year Arts/Law student at the University of Western Sydney, Fomiatti was expelled from Resistance in late August 2004. According to one account, this was because of Fomiatti's inability to 'toe the party line'... while simultaneously maintaining his support for a leftist student grouping called "NBL Rebel". Although details are murky, it appears that Luke intended "NBL Rebel" to be a broader socialist front than the leadership of the Resistance/DSP desired; worse yet, it would comprise elements hostile to Leninism. But what was "NBL Rebel" anyway?

As the name suggests, "NBL Rebel" was purported by Fomiatti's critics to be a break-away faction from the broader student National Broad Left:
...a political grouping within the National Union of Students of Australia from 1999 to 2005... [NBL] was a loose conglomeration of various feminist, environmentalist, 'autonomist' [Marxist], Trotskyist and 'independent' left activists.
(Incidentally, I was temporarily banned from the national_broadleft list in December 2000 by another Marxist law student named Nicholas Salzburg.) Reports of the life of "NBL Rebel" appear to have been exaggerated, however, and instead it seems to have simply mutated over the course of the following year into the Grassroots ('Swampy') Left. What's the Grassroots Left? According to Wikipedia, the Grassroots Left 'sat' as part of the NBL up until the 2004 NUS National Conference, while the "final breakdown" of the NBL took place shortly thereafter. In essence, it appears that the NBL split into three smaller groupings: the first consisting of members of Socialist Alternative; the second members of Solidarity and the Socialist Action Group; and the third consisting of members of the non-aligned, anti-authoritarian left. It's this third group from which the Grassroots Left is drawn.

...more commentary on the Australian student movement to follow...

thesis // antithesis // paralysis?


Thanks for your reply. I accept that your opinions are not necessarily shared by your colleagues or express the formal position of the Australian Centre for Democracy & Justice, a 'non-partisan' institution.

My own area of interest lies in the relationship between anarchist ideology and practice and the 'newest' social movements: principally, that assemblage of ideas, practices, groups, individuals and movements that come under the rubric 'anti-globalisation' (or, sometimes, 'anti-capitalist'). From my own, basically 'anarchist' perspective (I'm a partisan!), I think that these movement/s often represent / embody an interesting re-interpretation / re-invigoration of long-standing libertarian ideologies and practices. I want to draw these together in an explanatory framework that emphasises the crucial role of anarchism in allowing for this re-articulation to take place. Secondly, to explore the impact of such movement/s to a 'broader' economic, political and cultural struggle for 'public spaces' (broadly interpreted) from which to more effectively launch (radical / revolutionary) challenges to the global structures of capital, state and patriarchy.

Or something like that.

I ask about 'democracy' and 'justice' in particular as: 1) these lie at the centre of the ACDJ's work; 2) such concepts are crucial in supplying an ethical framework for political ideologies; 3) their meanings and implications are the subject of ongoing debate within 'activist' circles (as well as scholarship) and; 4) anarchist or anarchist-inspired critiques of these concepts are important and do much to reveal what I think is distinctive in anarchist approaches to (radical) social change.

So, to your comments...

OK, by "loose association" you mean... "loose association". Namely, a preference for listening to / performing 'punk rock' as a teenager = 'anarchist' // A brief period of membership of a 'socialist' (presumably, Leninist) group during undergraduate studies = 'Marxist'.

There's not much for me to add, I think, other than to suggest that this is not, in my experience, an atypical account of someone's political evolution.

As for Marxism...

I'm not sure I agree that it was 'Marxism' that gave us either 'historical determinism' or 'class-based analysis'. The way I see it, Marxism -- classical or orthodox Marxism at any rate -- represents a certain interpretation of these two concepts, and, moreover, an elaborate theoretical justification for a particular political program centred on the conquest of state power by the proletariat. Historically, it developed in explicit opposition to anarchism; anarchism and Marxism at one point being the two principal theoretical tendencies within the modern labour movement.

(As an aside: it often strikes me that thinkers like Marx are spoken of as if their practical activity was confined to their scribblings. Just as much can be learnt, I would argue, from an examination of their other, 'practical' efforts ((cf. Zerzan's essay on 'The Practical Marx' in Elements of Refusal: "Zerzan's real contribution is a thorough and insightful critique of leftist theory and practice. The essay 'The Practical Marx' is a must read for anyone whose knowledge of Marx has come through sycophantic socialist sources")). It also tends to humanise philosophy and politics to pay attention to such matters.)

In Australia, anarchism has existed largely at the margins, although its concerns remain, I think, at the heart of contemporary politics, and its influence can be found in a range of social movements -- environmental, labour, peace and women's, for example -- and even institutions.

But be that as it may...

I agree that, in its cruder versions, Marxism tends to relegate 'culture' to the margins (that is, 'culture', like 'consciousness' is regarded as being epiphenomenal) and is based on a crude dualism (rather than, say, dialectic). It's interesting that you should raise Gramsci in this context as a recently published book by Richard J. F. Day -- Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements -- is dedicated to critiquing the concept of 'hegemony' in light of these 'newest' movements. (I'm in the process of reading it now... and will most likely publish a review of it on my blog.)

I also agree that Marxism as a whole has to labour under its own rather nightmarish history: 'actually existing socialism' and all that. However, I have quite a different understanding of this history, as well as the role of Marxism (qua ideology) in its progression and eventual collapse. So, I think there's at least two different issues here: one is the nature of 'actually existing socialism'; the other is the nature of class and class society. As for the second, 'Bourgeois and Proletarians'... well, the 'immiseration thesis' certainly has its problems. On the other hand, I think there's good reasons class simply won't 'go away'.

But more on that later.

As for Marxism, the Enlightenment and ecology: yes, Marxism is an Enlightenment philosophy. However, by itself, I don't see this as being a particular problem. Or, if it is, it's one shared by all 'modern' (as opposed to post-modern) philosophies. As for Marxism and ecology, Capitalism : Nature : Socialism is a useful resource.

Anyway, so much for Marxism.


"Anarchy’s failure is that it is anti-state. In essence it fails the economies of scale test."

Well... that's a fundamental difference of opinion. If anti-statism is doomed, there's really little point to anarchism, and it should probably be returned to the 'dustbin of history' to which it has been consigned (along with the counter-revolutionary Trotsky himself).

I, of course, disagree.

Chomsky's basic point -- as well as his account of his attraction to anarchism, which mirrors my own -- is this:

I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven't seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.
And that's the anarchist project in a nutshell. As for the "economies of scale test"... too bad for economies of scale!

But seriously. Chomsky addresses this question -- which, as I understand it, is crucially concerned with addressing the presumed inability of 'anarchism' to tackle questions to do with large-scale technics -- in this fashion:
RBR: One of the main achievements of the Spanish Revolution was the degree of grassroots democracy established. In terms of people, it is estimated that over 3 million were involved. Rural and urban production was managed by workers themselves. Is it a coincidence to your mind that anarchists, known for their advocacy of individual freedom, succeeded in this area of collective administration?

CHOMSKY: No coincidence at all. The tendencies in anarchism that I've always found most persuasive seek a highly organised society, integrating many different kinds of structures (workplace, community, and manifold other forms of voluntary association), but controlled by participants, not by those in a position to give orders (except, again, when authority can be justified, as is sometimes the case, in specific contingencies).
So, to put it simply, I reckon that this -- in essence, the inapplicability of anarchist theories of social organisation to (post-)industrial society -- is not an insurmountable problem, either theoretically or practically. (More specifically, I suggest you read Brian Martin on questions of science and technology.)

In general, I think that the problems you associate with 'anarchism' proceed from certain misunderstandings of its theoretical content and actual historical achievements. Thus I'll conclude with this quote from Albert Meltzer:
Objections to Anarchism

Whenever Anarchists attack present-day society, they touch on the fears and prejudices of average people who know that society is a jungle today and cannot visualise life without the safeguards needed in the jungle. When they hear of Anarchism they bring forward objections which are, in fact, criticisms of the present system they do not otherwise admit but think of as objections to a Free Society of the future.

They fear what is known in the Statist language as a "state of Anarchy" -- they think murder, rape, robbery, violent attack would ensue if there were no Government to prevent it. And yet we all know that Government cannot, certainly does not, prevent it. One has only to pick up the papers to learn that it flourishes though Government is strong, and also where Government is weak, and more so perhaps where there are numerous bodies competing as to which is the Government and Government is said to have broken down. "A state of Anarchy" nowhere exists -- in the sense there [is] a society where there is no Government and not just a weak or divided [one].

The most a functioning Government can do is not prevention but punishment -- when it finds out, sometimes wrongly or not at all -- who the culprits are, its own methods of repressive action can cause far more damage than the original crimes -- the "cure" is worse than the disease.

"What would you do without a police force?" Society would never tolerate murder, whether it had a police force or not. The institutionalisation of a body to look after crime means that it not only "looks after" crime and nourishes crime, but that the rest of society is absolved from doing so. The reasoning is that a murder next door is the State's business, not mine! Responsibility for one's neighbour is reduced in an authoritarian society, in which the State is solely responsible for our behaviour.

"Who will do the dirty work?". This is a question society, not just the apologist for Anarchism, has to ask itself. There are dirty jobs which are socially unacceptable and poorly paid, so that nobody wants to do them. People have therefore been enslaved to do them, or there is competition in a market economy and the jobs become better paid (and therefore socially acceptable), or there is conscription for such jobs, whether by political direction or the pressures of unemployment. Sometimes the capitalist introduces immigration in the hope of cheap labour, thus putting off the problem for a generation or two. Or it can be that jobs don't get done and, say, the streets aren't swept anymore and so we get deluged with water shooting out from cars driven by graduate psychologists and step gingerly past refuse, clutching our theses on sociology.

What the State does in such circumstances seems to depend on political factors. What an Anarchist society would do could only be foretold by a clairvoyant. It is plain what it could not do -- use force, since it would lack repressive machinery or the means of economic coercion. The question implies a criticism of prosperity and freedom, which bring problems in their train. Are we to reject prosperity and freedom for that reason?

"If the Anarchists do not seize power, and have superseded other forms of socialism that would, they objectively make way for fascism". This allegation presupposes the dilution of anarchism with pacifism, for there is always, in any circumstances, one sure way of avoiding dictatorship, whether from the right, left, centre or within one's own ranks, and that is by personal removal of the dictator. This only becomes a symbolic gesture when the dictator is in power with all the machinery of command-and-obey at the disposal of the head of State.

Anyone will seize power if given the opportunity. Anarchists do not claim to be a privileged elite and cannot truthfully assert they would be better able to resist the temptations of power, or to wield it more successfully, than anyone else.
And remember Hammy, there's no government like no government!