Rally Against the Fair Work Ombudsman 5th of April 2023

The rally was well attended with 10, 000 members present. The subject of the rally was that the ABCC commissioners had mostly been given new jobs at the Fair Work Ombudsman. Three quarters of the commissioners got jobs at the new organisation two levels up in the same building. The Building Trades Group were all present and sent representatives or their state secretaries. These unions were mostly from the CFMEU and with lesser numbers the ETU, Plumbers Union and the AMWU. The AMWU was more moderate than the other unions but was still supportive of the rally and its objective. Most of the members from the EBA jobs walked off the job from all over Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich attended the rally by walking from their jobs in smaller rallies or by bus. The rally was held in every state in the country.

The workers walked down the street with the police being forced to shut down the streets due to the numbers marching from Queen’s Park to Felix Street. There were many chants and plenty of spirit. The workers got to the building with the Senators from the Federal Albanese ALP government. When the workers got to the glass facade and doors they began to bang on the glass in high spirits, the glass on the door shattered by accident. Not long after this the organisers helped move the workers away from the doors and the police moved into the front of the doors. Apart from this minor damage the rally was spirited and fun. The ABC and other media outlets framed the protest about the glass door being broken and mostly ignored the message of the rally which was then picked up by various other news outlets. The rally was a positive experience for the workers present and allowed many comrades who haven’t seen each other for some time to catch up in the park, during and after the rally.

Despite the negative media attention, the rally was a fun and positive experience for the vast majority of those who attended. The fact that the media immediately went into attack mode shows the fear that mass industrial action and worker protest has on the middle class and the intelligentsia in particular who framed the rally in Brisbane being down to the old trope of union thugs and not an important protest from the workers movement. The rally showed the pent-up anger and resentment that the Coalition governments have spent 10 years trying to destroy. If the conditions of the Construction unions regarding the fear of media and political reprisal as a result of the minor damage been less feared then they are at present and workers felt empowered to go further, perhaps more pressure could have been applied. If struggle was at a higher level, then this event could not have been so easily forgotten by the middle classes and ignored by the political class. Nevertheless, the protest sent a message to the bourgeois and the political class that, along with the NSW strike wave, workers protests and mass strikes are back.

Joseph S.

Rosa Luxemburg on Capitalism and Revolution

The economic, political and revolutionary theorist Rosa Luxemburg is essential to understanding modern capitalism. Her life as a Polish/German left-wing Social Democrat gives key insights in the struggle for freedom against capital. She was born in Poland in 1871 and was murdered by the the far right Friekorps militias in 1919 along with fellow revolutionary Karl Liebknecht. Her life and works are essential to understanding the development of Left Communism as a movement and tradition.  The Council Communists after World War I were heavily influenced by her ideas. This tradition lead to the Autonomist Marxism of the 1960s and 1970s and has great relevance for today’s revolutionaries.

Without Rosa Luxemburg’s inspiration these movements would have looked quite different in comparison. Her piercing insights into the theory and method of revolutionary thought, her critique of Lenin’s Democratic Centralism and the bureaucracy created by the Bolsheviks in the Russian revolution of 1917 are key to an understanding of the way forward today. Also, her inspirational writings, for example ‘The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions,’ help provide insights into both the problems and potential of revolutionary struggle under capitalism today.

Reading List:

Rosa Luxemburg – Social Reform Or Revolution?

Rosa Luxemburg – Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy

Rosa Luxemburg – The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions

Rosa Luxemburg – The Russian Revolution

Rosa Luxemburg – The Accumulation of Capital

Rosa Luxemburg – Socialism or Barbarism?: The Selected Writings of Rosa Luxemburg   

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s writings

Here are the writings of Pierre Joseph-Proudhon, the first person in modern history to proclaim themselves an anarchist. He was a firm advocate of the traditions of revolutionary France. Being born into poverty in rural France, he achieved a scholarship and became a brilliant student of philosophy and a socialist theorist. He was deeply involved in the movements of the revolution in 1848, writing for radical newspapers. Proudhon was at one point elected to the National Assembly, using these experiences of parliament and its failure, to practically theorise his anarchist ideas. He suffered repression and exile after the coup of Napoleon III in 1851.

His early anarchist ideas and experiences, provide the foundation stone, on which the anarchist movement is built, influencing deeply the development of Bakunin and Kropotkin, as well as Marx and Engels early on. His mutualist theories were superseded in development by Bakunin’s collectivism and Kropotkin’s libertarian communism. Proudhon became opposed to the developing strategy of political parties by communists like Marx and Engels, which is one reason why he came out so strongly against communism.

His writings on the critique of social institutions – capitalism, church and state – are crucial to the pursuit and understanding of freedom. His discussion of the revolution, organisation and federation are also essential. His main political work was ‘General Idea of Revolution in the Nineteenth Century’ and also important for organisational theory, ‘The Principle of Federation.’ All are worth reading. ‘The Philosophy of Misery’ and ‘The Principle of Federation’ are in the second parts only partially translated. Also important are ‘Confessions of a Revolutionary’, about his experience of 1848 and ‘The Political Capacity of the Working Classes’, both of which can be found in the Ak Press edition of ‘Property is Theft’, (https://libcom.org/library/property-theft-pierre-joseph-proudhon-anthology).

Reading List:

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century

Pierre Joseph-Proudhon – The  Principle of Federation

Pierre Joseph-Proudhon – What is Property?

Pierre Joseph-Proudhon – The Philosophy of Misery

 

The Zapatista’s, Argentina and Greece

The struggle against modern oppressors is a living, breathing process, full of challenges and difficulty. However, more recent historical events give valuable insight into the struggle, such as the 1994 Zapatista uprising, the movement against world bank austerity in Argentina and the revolt of 2008 in Greece. These show us possibilities for action to achieve liberty, equality and fraternity. Greece is the most recent example:

Reading List:

Subcomandante Marcos – Beyond Resistance

Subcomandante Marcos – Our Word is Our Weapon

Subcomandante Marcos – The Speed of Dreams

Marina Sitrin – Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina

A. G. Schwarz, Tasos Sagris, Void Network – We Are an Image From the Future: The Greek Revolt of December 2008

The Italian Autonomist movement

The Italian revolutionary movement is another important moment to study. From the early 1960s, to the hot autumn of 1969, to the ‘Autonomia‘ of the 1970s the struggle raged in Italy. This was part of the larger wave of working class revolt sweeping across Europe in Paris 1968, leading to the breakup of the Keynesian economic consensus.
For the Italian ‘Workerists‘ and later ‘Autonomia‘, this was a time of great experimentation and lively working class social movements. These movements rocked the foundations of Italian society. The theoretical and practical experiments provide a framework for some of the challenges we face, in a time of class recomposition and ruling class attack. The insights they provide are deeply valuable to all Libertarian Communists:

Reading List –
Robert Lumley – States of Emergency: Cultures of Revolt in Italy from 1968 to 1978

Red Notes – Italy 1977-8: Living with an earthquake

Prole.info – Class Struggle in Italy: 1960s and 1970s

Sylvere Lotringer, Christian Marazzi – Autonomia: Post-political Politics

Emilio Mentasti – The Magneti Marelli Workers Committee – The Red Guard Tells Its Story

Porto Marghera – The Last Firebrands Pamphlet

Steve Wright – Storming Heaven – Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism

Steve Wright – The Weight of the Printed Word

Panzieri, Sohn-Rethel, Palloix, Bologna, Tronti- The Labour Process & Class Strategies

Mario Tronti – Workers and Capital

Mario Tronti – The Weapon of Organization

Antionio Negri – Books for Burning: Between Civil War and Democracy in 1970s Italy

Antonio Negri – Factory of Strategy: Thirty-Three Lessons on Lenin

Antonio Negri – Marx Beyond Marx: Lessons On The Grundrisse

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – Empire

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – Multitude

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – Commonwealth

Romano Alquati – Organic Composition of Capital and Labor-Power at Olivetti

Romano Alquati – Struggle at Fiat

Romano Alquati – Outline of a Pamphlet on FIAT

Romano Alquati – Capital And The Working Class At FIAT: A Midpoint In The International Cycle

Romano Alquati – The Network of Struggles in Italy

Romano Alquati – Co-research and Worker’s Inquiry

Sergio Bologna – Class Composition and the Theory of the Party at the Origins of the Workers’ Council Movement

Sergio Bologna – Money and Crisis: Marx as Correspondent of the New York Daily Tribune 1856-57

Sergio Bologna – The Tribe of Moles

Sergio Bologna – The theory and history of the mass worker in Italy

Mariarosa Dalla Costa – Women and the Subversion of the Community: A Mariarosa Dalla Costa Reader

George Caffentzis – In Letters of Blood and Fire

Silvia Federici – Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle

Midnight Notes Collective – Midnight Oil : Work, Energy, War, 1973-1992

Midnight Notes Collective – Promissory Notes

Noel Ignatiev – Treason to Whiteness Is Loyalty to Humanity

The Sojourner Truth Organization’s Pamphlets

Sojourner Truth Organization – Workplace Papers

Sojourner Truth Organization – Shop Leaflets

Big Flame – Workplace Commission – Organising To Win

Big Flame – Paul Thompson & Guy Lewis – The Revolution Unfinished? A Critique of Trotskyism

John Holloway – Change the world without taking power

John Holloway – Crack Capitalism

Harry Cleaver – Reading Capital Politically

Harry Cleaver – 33 Lessons on Capital : Reading Marx Politically

Franco ”Bifo” Berardi – The Soul at Work From Alienation to Autonomy

Franco “Bifo” Berardi – The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance

Werner Bonefeld and Sergio Tischler ed. – What is to be Done? Leninism, anti-Leninist Marxism and the Question of Revolution Today

May 1968 in France, Council Communism and the Johnson-Forest Tendency

The Uprising of Paris, May 1968 developed from chain of struggles, in Europe and the world against bourgeois institutions. Started by students, it spread to the mass of workers, and culminated in at least 10 million workers going on wildcat general strike across France, against the will of trade unions, the communist party and the Gaullist state. The crisis of the refusal of work and discipline, was part of a major breakdown of capitalism known as Keynesianism, the welfare state and post-war social democracy. The mass rebellions, once defeated, paved the way for the eventual defeat of the working class in the first world and the new system of neoliberalism.

Paris 1968 was influenced by a rejuvenated libertarian Marxism and anarchism. It was influenced partly by Council Communists, critical theorists and the left Communists. The revolution in Hungary in 1956, which created workers councils, was a big influence on the emergence of the movement. The movement was pushed forward by the renewed Libertarian Socialism from in the USA the ‘Johnson-Forest Tendency‘ of C. L. R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya, the French journal ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie’, the Situationist movement in France, the growing ‘Workerist‘ current of the ‘Quaderni Rossi’ journal in Italy and Solidarity in the UK. This was part of a new rethinking of Socialism. The movements of 1968 afterwards influenced the autonomist movements in Italy, Germany, the USA and globally. The modern Greek anti-capitalist movement is heavily influenced by these movements. Here are some important writings from this era:

Reading List:

Anton Pannekoek – Workers Councils

Anton Pannekoek – The Essential Pannekoek

C. L. R. James – A History Of Pan-african Revolt

C. L. R. James – State Capitalism and World Revolution

C. L. R. James – A New Notion: Two Works By C. L. R. James, Every Cook Can Govern and The Invading Socialist Society

C. L. R. James – Modern Politics

C. L. R. James – Facing Reality

Paul Romano and Grace Lee Boggs – The American Worker

James Boggs – Pages From A Black Radical’s Notebook

Martin Glaberman and Staughton Lynd – Punching Out and other Writings

Stan Weir – Singlejack Solidarity

Andy Anderson – Hungary ‘56

Socialisme ou Barbarie: An Anthology

Cornelius Castoriadis – Workers’ councils and the economics of self-managed society

Guy Debord – The Society of the Spectacle

Ken Knabb – Situationist International Anthology

Maurice Brinton – For Workers’ Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton

Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit – Obsolete Communism: The Left-wing alternative

Marx’s Critique of Political Economy

The contribution of Marx and Engels is essential to an understanding of a libertarian communist politics. It is a tool for the working class to critique capitalism, and to analyse class composition for future struggles. Here is a reading List of his major works, (Michael Heinrich’s introduction is a good place to start):

Reading List:

Michael Heinrich – An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

Michael Heinrich – How to Read Marx’s Capital : Commentary and Explanations on the Beginning Chapters

Harry Cleaver – Reading  Capital Politically

Harry Cleaver – 33 Lessons on Capital : Reading Marx Politically

Karl Marx – Early Writings

Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels – The German Ideology

Karl Marx – Wage Labour and Capital and Value Price and Profit

Karl Marx – The Civil War in France

Karl Marx – Later Political Writings

Karl Marx – The Political Writings

Karl Marx- Dispatches For the New York Tribune

Karl Marx – Capital Volume I, II and III

Karl Marx – A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

Karl Marx – The Grundrisse

Karl Marx – The Theories of Surplus Value

Tom Bottomore – A Dictionary of Marxist Thought

Anti-Colonialism and Black Liberation

In the struggle against Capitalism, church and state, colonialism and racism are essential in maintaining class hierarchies. Racism is used by these bourgeois institutions as a social control mechanism. This divides the working class and proletariat along lines of skin colour, with the supposed civilisational hierarchies of the European elites. Today, people of colour and Indigenous people remain largely margininalised and poor in the Global North and the Global South. The concept of whiteness, itself, is based on false cultural and class unity of European people. Here are some useful books on this struggle:

Reading List:

Franz Fanon – The Wretched of the Earth

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin – Anarchism and the Black Revolution

C. L.  R.  James – A History Of Pan-african Revolt

Subcomandante Marcos – Beyond Resistance

W E Dubois – Black Reconstruction

W E Dubois – The Souls of Black Folk

Dan Georgakas  and Marvin Surkin – Detroit, I do mind dying

Walter Rodney – How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Women, Feminism and Sexuality

In the struggle against the bourgeoisie, it is essential to address the power relations and imbalances between genders and sexualities. Under Capitalism, the Patriarchal family serves an important role in reproducing wage labour and providing emotional labour. This is essential to the reproduction of the nuclear family and the maintenance of the workers’ ability to perform paid labour. Here are some good texts on socialist feminism and sexuality, from both Marxist and Anarchist perspectives:

Reading List:

Martha A. Ackelsberg – Free Women of Spain – Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women

Silvia Federici – Caliban and the Witch

Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James – The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community

Mariarosa Dalla Costa – Women And The Subversion Of The Community: A Mariarosa Dalla Costa Reader

Silvia Federici – Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle

Selma James – Sex, Race and Class: The Perspective of Winning

Nina Power – One Dimensional Woman

Michel Foucault – A History Of Sexuality

Australian class and labour history

Here are some documents on the Australian labour movement and class history. These help us in knowing where we are now, where we have come from and where we are going as a class.

Reading List:

Brian Fitzpatrick – British Imperialism and Australia, 1783-1833 : an economic history of Australasia

Brian Fitzpatrick – The British Empire in Australia: An Economic History, 1834-1939

Raewyn Connell And Terry Irving – Class Structure in Australian History

E L Wheelwright and Ken Buckley ed. – Essays in the Political Economy of Australian Capitalism Volumes I-V

Verity Burgmann and Jenny Lee ed. – A Peoples History of Australia Since 1788 Volumes I-IV

Raymond Evans – A History of Queensland

Henry Reynolds – The Other Side of the Frontier: An interpretation of the Aboriginal response to the invasion and settlement of Australia

Robert Ørsted-Jensen – Frontier history revisited : Colonial Queensland and the ‘history war’

Frank Stevens – Aborigines in the Northern Territory Cattle Industry

Dawn May – Aboriginal Labour and the Cattle Industry: Queensland from White Settlement to the Present

Raffaello Carboni – The Eureaka Stockade

Ian Turner – In Union Is Strength: A History Of Trade Unions 1788-1983

Bob James – A Reader of Australian Anarchism 1886-1896

E H Lane – Dawn to Dusk

Gordon V Childe – How Labour Governs

Ian Turner – Industrial Labour and Politics – The Labour Movement in Eastern Australia 1900-1921

Humphrey McQueen – A New Britannia

Jeff Rickertt – The Conscientious Communist: Ernie Lane and the Rise of Australian Socialism

Verity Burgmann – ‘In Our Time’: Socialism and the Rise of Labor 1885-1905

Verity Burgmann – Revolutionary Industrial Unionism: the Industrial Workers of the World in Australia

Ian Turner – Sydney’s Burning

Wendy Lowenstein – Weevils In the Flour: An Oral Record of the 1930s Depression in Australia

Robin Gollan – Revolutionaries and Reformists – Communism and the Australian Labour Movement 1920-1955

Stuart Macintyre – The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia: From Origins to Illegality

Stuart Macintyre – The Party: The Communist Party of Australia from Heyday to Reckoning

Tom O’lincoln – The Militant Minority: Organising rank and file workers in the thirties

Tom O’lincoln – Into the Mainstream: The decline of Australian Communism

Hal Alexander and Phil Griffiths – A Few Rough Reds : stories of rank and file organising

Solidarity – Queensland Mt Isa Miners strike

Jon Piccini, Evan Smith and Matthew Worley ed. The Far Left in Australia since 1945

Meredith Burgmann and Verity Burgmann – Green Bans, Red Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation

Sam Oldham – Without Bosses: Radical Australian Trade Unionism in The 1970s

Jack Hutson – Australian Left Review, Workers Control 1969

Bernie Taft- Australian Left Review, Communists and Workers Control 1969

Australian Left Review- Symposium – Workers Control 1973

Verity Burgmann, Ray Jureidini Meredith Burgmann – Doing without the Boss, Workers’ Control Experiments in Australia in the 1970s, Chapter inside: Immanuel Ness – New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class Struggle Unionism

Frank Stilwell – The Accord and Beyond

Elizabeth Humphrys – How Labour Built Neoliberalism: Australia’s Accord, the Labour Movement and the Neoliberal Project

Tom Bramble – Trade Unionism In Australia: A history from flood to ebb tide