Living The Dream has an #altright time in Melbourne

#altright type displays famous political irony

In this episode of Living the Dream Dave (@withsobersenses) chats with Kieran (@Kieran Bennett) about a recent Melbourne counter-rally to a Trump celebration rally  ostensibly organised by #altright types and attended by local fascists and neo-Nazis. From here Kieran lets us know who is who in the fascist zoo in Australia, the social phenomena behind the far-right and we discuss what a relevant anti-capitalist practice might be that can defeat the fascists and offer a genuine emancipatory alternative to the issues that we all face.

Kieran blogs at Kieran’s Review and is a member (of the perhaps soon to be rebranded) Anarchist Affinity

Articles and things  we refer to include:

Angry Workers of the World

Ghassan Hage – Recalling Anti-racism

Ben Hillier –  ‘All that is holy was profaned’: the year that was, and the politics we need (Ben recommends you also read ‘Post-truth politics’ isn’t peak populism, it’s peak liberal capitalism and suggests that my read of his argument is wrong.)

Campaign Against Racism and Fascism

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The people under the armaments: our hope and power in a dark time.


On The Suicide Of The Refugee W.B.

(for Walter Benjamin)

I am told that you raised your hand against yourself
Anticipating the butcher.
After eight years of exile, observing the rise of the enemy
Then at last, brought up against an impassable frontier
You passed, they say, a passable one.

Empires collapse. Gang leaders
are strutting about like statesmen. The peoples
Can no longer be seen under all those armaments.

So the future lies in darkness and the forces of right
Are weak. All this was plain to you
When you destroyed a torturable body.

– Bertolt Brecht

In the wake of the Paris attacks Slavoj Žižek published, a now widely derided, article in In These Times. My purpose here is not to engage in the evaluation of this piece and its critiques so much; rather to expose how one of the deep errors Žižek makes is an expression of a wider subjectivity that even those of us who disagree with his perspective remain caught in. Facing the horror of our situation we experience a noticeable powerlessness to do anything about it.

What is so striking about Žižek’s argument is how it expresses a double-barrelled fantasy: a fantasy of the state’s capacity to shape social reality and a fantasy of the Left’s ability to wield the state as a tool.   This expresses another argumentative coupling: that the way out of the deadlock of liberal states vs Salafist para-states and organisations is class struggle and this takes the form of taking control of the crises that confront us.

It is here where I want to break beyond Žižek. He is entirely right when he argues that in a world that is segmented and divided in a hierarchy of identities the way out is to recognise the possibility of solidarity that exists due to the antagonisms that cut through these identities themselves. ‘The real task is to build bridges between “our” and “their” working classes. Without this unity (which includes the critique and self-critique of both sides) class struggle proper regresses into a clash of civilizations’.  This is the keystone of the possibility of hope: that within this dark situation a shared struggle offers a way beyond of all the old shit that is dragging us down.

Continue reading “The people under the armaments: our hope and power in a dark time.”

‘Addressing these challenges requires ambition’: The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting


…money only has one face, that of the boss.

                                                                        (Negri, 1991, p. 23)

Over the last few days a number of important meetings of the G20 have been held in Sydney. The main meetings have been the Finance and Central Bank Deputies meeting #2 (20th to 22nd February) and the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting (22nd to 23 Feb) but there has also been a joint round table between the B20( the Business 20) and G20 on Infrastructure and the launch of an OECD report Going for Growth as well as we can assume countless photo-ops, corridor conversations and long lunches – noticeably Christine Lagarde from the IMF is in town. All this should emphasize to us how the Leaders Forum is only one element in what seems to be a now year round series of events, meetings and discussion that work to constitute the G20 as the permanent and preeminent executive body of global capitalism.

Continue reading “‘Addressing these challenges requires ambition’: The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting”

Endlessly as Farce: The Media, G20 and Bullshit.

‘G20 Call to Arms: Anarchist mob’s plan for violent summit mayhem’ proclaims the headline of the Courier-Mail. Hello what’s this then? What it is is incredibly shit journalism. The report by Robyn Ironside and Thomas Chamberlin details a plan by the ‘Black Rose Syndicate’ to cause ‘chaos and mayhem’ at the 2014 G20 meeting and then a warning/ denunciation of this same syndicate as ‘a splinter group of activists “sinister with outside influence’(2013, p. 4)! How thrilling!  However the journalists only cited evidence is a Facebook post, whilst the warning about the Black Rose Syndicate seems to be an obvious piss-take. Its signed by the ‘Democratic Socialist Club of Sydney University…who I am pretty sure don’t exist. If anything the name is a reference to the Democratic Socialist Party who dissolved themselves in the Socialist Alliance but who always organized their on campus clubs under the name ‘Resistance’. This warning seems to be an attempt to send up through imitation some of the responses by socialist groups to the protests in 2006 around the G20 in Melbourne. Not only that it was posted on Indymedia on the 16th May 2013! If you go further and read the comments what do you find? Well in one comment a poster called BlackRoseSyndicate does make that comment that ‘we will be there at Brisbane for the G20 creating CAOS and Mayhem’. Hang on, that’s the very claim that has taken up the front page of the CM! Strewth (!) could the entire article be based on a six-month old post on the internet!

Next headline: Courier-Mail in beat-up bullshit story shocker!


Whilst this seems all very funny there is a very serious side to it.  Liberal democracies like to think of the media as some form of neutral Fourth Estate that works to ensure democratic debate and accountability. Here we see the media with its pants down – as an ‘Ideological State Apparatus’(Althusser, 2008) a form of machinery that whilst is separate from the state works to reinforce the broader ideas of the capitalist normality. This has important and perhaps dangerous effects.

We can except in the lead up to the actual G20 meeting more stories of this type. Whatever the actual motivations of the journalists we can assume the impact that they will have. Such stories work to intimidate the population and divide organizers and militants. The G20(Safety and Security) Bill 2013 gives the police extensive powers to arrest protesters and break up demonstrations. Under this legislation a protest is only a lawful assembly if  (amongst other reasons) ‘an offence is not committed under this Act by at least 2 persons who are acting in concert and participating in the assembly…a violent disruption offence is not committed by a person participating in the assembly’. The bogey-man of violent anarchists will be manufactured when ever the state needs to smash heads.

From past experiences we can assume that often protest organisers who are courting mainstream respectability, hoping to use the media to their own ends, or simply promoting their own organisations often fall for the bait of the media hype and quickly make public statements distancing themselves from those other protestors real or imagined that the state and the media are gunning for. This is an error. We don’t get to decide the dividing line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protestors, between ‘peaceful’ and ‘violent’ action. The state will do that and the media will declare it.  Any attempt to legitimise such a division is just setting all of us up to receive the wrong end of a baton.

There are real tactical and strategic divisions and debates to be had. There are statements and actions that may be errors – that may even be detrimental to developing struggles. (Probably in our context we should be more worried about careerists courting politicians than punks dressed as ninjas). But all who struggle deserve our solidarity. Hobgoblins dreamt up by the media shouldn’t be fed and the errors of the past not repeated.


Althusser, Louis. (2008). On Ideology. London  New York: Verso.

Ironside, Robyn, & Chamberlin, Thomas. (2013, 9th December 2013). G20 Call to Arms, The Courier Mail, pp. 1,4.

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