Melbourne Anarchist Archives Index

Towards an Anarchist Festival of Arts: a call to an Anarchist Conference (1970)

The consideration of a revolutionary strategy for Australia must proceed by taking as its point of departure the failure of the self-styled Maoists (M-L's) to achieve any lasting success on the basis of their 'policy' of 'Anti-imperialism'. During this last year there have been many struggles but ail of those initiated on grounds related to anti-imperialism have turned into civil liberties issues and have not helped in the development of a mass revolutionary movement although they may have won a few recruits for the ageing Hill Group.

It is often forgotten that the political 'function' of the theory of Capitalist Imperialism was to explain the supposed "purely Trade Union consciousness" of workers in advanced capitalist societies and thus that its political practice is based on the assumption of a decline in revolutionary consciousness within such societies. Because this decline is necessary it is not necessary to examine the established political practice which is either capturing Trade Union leadership from the "reformists" of the ALP or infiltrating the unions or shop committees with cadres following the orders of the Party leadership. Although there is usually some clarity on the question of what (strictly "who") is to be opposed there is rarely any idea of a forward policy. Communist trade union policy is quite clearly a matter of alternating purely political and purely trade union issues, in this it is the same as any reformist policy; where it differs is that it is even more defensive.

There has been a considerable rise in revolutionary activity since the theory was proposed. Apart from the Russian revolution there were the abortive German revolution and the Spanish civil war. Since World War 2 there have been a series of revolutionary disturbances running from the East German one of 1953 to the French one of 1968. Increasing prosperity has not necessarily led to passivity.

The thoroughly reactionary practice of Communist parties in the West for the past 40 or 50 years has been based on the theory; the various China-line factions scream that they haven't been anti-imperialist enough, but this amounts to nothing more than the demand that they show their emotions more publically. A public campaign against imperialism as such must boil down to a campaign against particular wars on moralistic grounds - this is a partial explanation of the attraction of the M-L's for children with a moralistic home background. In practice the campaign cannot rise above the level of revolutionary gestures. Revolutionary practice cannot begin at the level of foreign policy.

If there is to be a revolutionary movement with strong roots in the society, then it must take the concrete problems of that society as its point of departure. To say that there is no evil which cannot be laid at the door of U.S. Imperialism, or with Menzies to say that there is no evil that cannot be laid at the door of world communism, is to substitute rhetoric for strategy. What is needed is a revolutionary analysis of Australian capitalist society which will serve as a guide in situating particular concrete struggles both subjectively and objectively within the context of the general movement.

What should the Conference disucss? Some preliminary Theses

On the industrial front the revolution demands the international and absolute power of the workers' councils. All revolutionary industrial activity should be aimed to this end. Any group that attacks the idea of workers direct democracy as unnecessary under socialism and/or reformist under the current circumstances thereby reveals its reactionary nature. The only way to develop revolutionary consciousness is to take part in revolutionary struggles aimed at changing the conditions of one's everyday life. This requires that one must use partial demands in a revolutionary manner; the propagation of revolutionary excitement (the revolutionary "high") is essential for any meaningful change.

On the university front it is essential to engage in continual struggle with the forces supporting the academic hierarchy and the narrowly economic view of the role of the university. In this it must be remembered that the war in the University is a limited war; although it is dramatic to have mass expulsions or a closedown it is not all that useful. It is quite possible to move towards control of the university without precipitating outside intervention; in general the administration will wish to avoid outside intervention also and so it is better to have the possibility of closing the university rather than to do it.

On the cultural front we must take Orwell seriously: all the usual productions of art and literature are saturated with the ethos of this society. Starting with children we must produce a revolutionary art and literature.

Relevant Links

[ Top of Page ] [ Melbourne Anarchist Archives Index ] [ Radical Tradition Contents ]