Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from premises now in existence.[i]
Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self -activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others – even by those allegedly acting on their…
In this episode of Living The Dream Jon (@jonpiccini) and Dave (@withsobersenses) have a chat about the recent election. It isn’t a chat about if the result is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but rather how does it fit into, and what does it tell us, about the current moment in capitalism in Australia and class struggle? We also try to work out the relationship between the electoral return of Pauline Hanson and the deep current of racism in Australia.
#SandersofSthBrisbane ? Council elections, social movements & #theRighttotheCity
In this episode of Living the Dream Jon (@JonPiccini ) and Dave (@withsobersenses) chat with Anna – all-round good egg and comrade pivotal to Radio Reversal and Brisbane Free University – about the successful Brisbane City Council election campaign of Jonathan Sri , the opposition to the West Village development and the emergence of struggles around the Right to the City. What’s going on, how do all these pieces fit together and what do they tell us about struggles within-against-and-beyond capitalism for lives of dignity?
State Member of Cairns Rob Pyne’s resignation from the Labor Party in March 2016, leaving the Palaszczuk government on an equal footing with the LNP in State parliament, soon saw him branded as a product of the “State of Mind” afflicting Far North Queensland – a “cargo cult mentality” as one commentator put it that saw regionalist pork barrelling take precedence over ideas and political realism.
It is widely believed that Queensland has a peculiar “state of mind” – as Humphrey McQueen first put it in the late 1970s – but it is said to get more peculiar, and reactionary, the further you travel north. Today, this is perhaps best embodied by Bob Katter, the eccentric federal member for Kennedy whose mix of agrarian socialism and reactionary social ideas – there are no gays in his electorate, apparently – is said to typify the North’s tepid concoction of state-subsidised conservatism. News today that nine out of the country’s ten most conservative electorates lie in regional Queensland fits well into this narrative.
Text of a talk I gave at the Right to the City/Brisbane Free Uni organised ‘More that Steel and Concrete’ event, held at the Bearded Lady on 31 May 2016
I was invited here tonight to give some thoughts on the history of struggles in West End and surrounds against over development. Just by way of introduction, I am a historian of social movements. I did a PhD a few years back at UQ, looking at Australian protest movements of the 1960s/70s and their global imagination and connections. Currently, I am writing a history of human rights discourse in Australia. What we call ‘Urban history’ figures large in my writing. I’m interested in how people imagine their city and construct meaning of it, particularly through what Henri Lefebvre, who coined the term ‘right to the city’, calls ‘producing spaces’ of opposition and contestation.
My comments will revolve around some documents I have looked at recently in the Fryer Library at UQ on opposition to Expo 88. In so doing, I want to explore what this opposition was, who was involved, what they wanted, and whether they can be seen to have succeeded in any meaningful way. But equally, I want to look at the experience of opposing Expo as a case study in how the past informs activism, and draw some general conclusions on what place ‘the past’ has in contemporary social movements – particularly the importance of historical memory but also the danger of what social scientists call ‘over-likeness’. Continue reading ““The wrong side of the river”: Expo ’88 and the Right to the City”→
Ever since 2009, when the so called ‘Green Revolution’ in Iran mobilised disenchantment over rigged electoral processes via social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, pundits have marveled at the ‘hashtag revolutionaries’ of the 21st century. Hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and #RhodesMustFall have come to define movements for African American dignity and the decolonisation of higher education, while the media have awarded popular ‘tweeters’ such as Deray Mckesson spokesperson positions in these otherwise leaderless movements.
However, some dispute the level to which these websites and social media celebrities were central to protest organisation, and broader questions of temporality are equally posed. The marvelling in Twitter’s spontaneous and instantaneous communication leaves little allowance for previous forms of transnational communication that, while perhaps not as quick or easily mediatised, created global movements long before the…
With an upturn of interest in ‘the housing question’ in Melbourne, or more broadly in Australia, we thought we’d ask some questions of our friends at the Social Log collective in Bologna, Italy, about their squatting projects and their connection to the broader working class movement.
Social Log is a collective of ‘autonomia’, a branch of Marxism which has parallels with anarchist theory given Autonomia’s focus on self-organisation, grassroots initiatives and social reproduction, and struggle outside the direction of vanguardist parties and ‘official’ unions. They run a number of projects, including a ‘desk’ or ‘pop-up’ where they distribute propaganda related to issues affecting the workers of Bologna, and help connect activists between different struggles. One major squat they initiated and supported was an ex-Telecom building, which housed over 300 people, mostly migrants from the North African community. This was violently evicted not long ago by 200 officers and 40…