‘Direct Action’ emerges from the Past

A Short history of ‘Direct Action’

1973 edition of SWP's Direct Action What a strange period of the Left we are living through.

The latest Left paper, Direct Action, claims that it is ‘for socialism in the 21st century’, I am not sure what that is supposed to mean but I doubt that it is true.

As each new crisis in capitalism arrives, we witness the Left running in the opposite direction, more fractured, distant and irrelevant, with each new grouplet wasting scare resources on new publications, new websites, and new centres, each with miniscule differences in ideology, sometimes visible only to the warring factions.

One of each [one newspaper, one website, even one room] would suffice with our dwindling numbers and energy.Now, out of failure has emerged, like a phoenix from the ashes, a new ‘Direct Action’ taking a template from past praxis!

Direct Action is not alone.  Direct Action follows on the heels of The Battler, Guardian, Tribune, Socialist Worker, Solidarity, the Green left Weekly, Socialist Alternative and many more who have either left the alliance or never joined. Those that left failed to realise from the outset the folly of organising under the banner of a ‘broad left party’ and the ‘electoralist’ experiments that go with it. Those organisations that never joined wanted their own version of the same thing.

Workers BushTelegraph [WBT] is included in this critique, it too is at fault if only because it is a reflection of the current disarray of the Left. WBT obtains its articles from individuals and groups that are caught up in this lack of worker organisation – no a reluctance to set up worker political organisations in a proper way.

The Socialist Alliance – being the latest incarnation of such a strategy, like the New Left Party of the late 1980s – both parties so broad that they lacked focus and organisation. Thus, predictably, the Socialist Alliance could manage no more than 1% of the vote in the various federal elections that it fought from 2001 – 2007 with a platform Direct Action – 4 Aug 1982 barely distinguishable from that of the Greens. And this at a time when the government-in-power had run an electoral campaign based on class [WorkChoices].

In the 1970s, Direct Action, known locally by street marchers in Brisbane as ‘Indirect Action’, because it advocated against defying the street march laws of the Bjelke-Petersen Government, and this at a time of the longest popular uprising [1977-1979] against a government since federation.

I remember cadre of the Socialist Workers Party (the predecessor of the Democratic Socialist party) being expelled from the party for street marching. These included teachers, Meegan Martin and Gary McLennan. Gary, with Carole Ferrier (a university lecturer), Graham Grassie and a number of others later helped start the International Socialists[The Battler] in Brisbane, based on their desire (like thousands of others) to defy the street march ban and bring down the government. As a result the IS was built nationally on the basis of this defiance and by 1978 had about 50 supporters here in Qld.

As for Direct Action, or more correctly the Socialist Workers Party, they were led by Peter Annear in Brisbane during the 1977 street marches.

Ironically, as the defiance of the ban set it, Peter was dragged by the cops onto the street from the steps of King George Square and arrested for Broad Left Party – New Left Party set up in 1986marching. Poor Peter, complete with the Trotsky gotee, was ashen-faced as he was dragged to the awaiting paddy wagon like a stunned mullet. He was one of the first of more than 2,000 street marchers arrested in Brisbane (his arrest was on 22 September 1977 with, I think, 12 others).

Diract Action cover - newspaper of the Wobblies in the early part of the 20th century
Direct Action cover - newspaper of the Wobblies in the early part of the 20th century

Though I suppose this did not count in the eyes of the party as marching, for Peter was not expelled like Gary, Meegan and the others.

I do not know what happened to Peter after that, because, as so often happened with the SWP and DSP, the party transferred him away from Brisbane after his brief stint here during the street marches. Although years later I did see that Peter wrote an article for the GLW from Budapest. A far cry from the University of Qld Student Union where along with Greg Adamson they produced copy for Direct Action. Greg was a typesetter enscounced on the top floor of the union building behind a large compositing machine typical of the era.

Our current period is no better than the disgrace of the leadership of the CPA liquidating the party built up over 70 years of struggle by workers and turning its assets over to one family to spend on personal projects and schemes.

The Left in the West has flirted with issues of globalisation, climate change, race, and gender. The front page of the recent edition of the Green Left Weekly titled ‘Is the US Shifting Left – Behind the Rise of Obama’ is evidence of this focus, not just here in Australia but also in the USA and Europe.

For example, what is the point of saving the planet, if class exploitation and capitalism ensures the starvation, hunger, illiteracy and misery for the people of the world?

Such a focus has led in part for the working class in Australia, like that of America, to turn right over the past 30 years. The left has neglected class and engaged in the opportunism that engagement with such issues involves.

At the inaugural meeting of the Socialist Alliance at the TLC building in Brisbane its platform in the 2001 federal election were compared with that of the Green’s. If you took out the word ‘socialism’ they were the same.

Such was the similarity, my sister, Pam Curr, contesting an inner Melbourne seat won the largest vote (then) in the history of the Greens in the a federal election [15% in the 2001 federal election, up from 6% in 1996, and then 23% in the 2002 State election] on those very issues. The Socialist Alliance, unable to distinguish itself from the Greens, got less than 1% of the vote. How Pam Curr was courted by the Green Left Weekly after the 2001 election! I wish I had the write up the GLW gave her, she could do no wrong!

In reality, what Pam Curr had done was to run an independent – with minimal help from the Greens’ organisation. The Greens gave her virtually no money — but she mobilised a lot of people to help her — a grassroots campaign on issues of war, refugee rights, gender equality, union rights [for her description of the MUA campaign read The Long Night], and environment protection.

These were the same issues that Judy McVey ran on for the Socialist Alliance, correct me if I am wrong.

It was a shame that the Socialist Alliance did not take the advice offered by independents at its inaugural meeting in the TLC in South Brisbane where about 170 people turned up. Independents attended all the Brisbane meetings including some branch meetings.

Their advice? To forget about parliament and focus on the workplace.

And if the SA felt obliged to run in elections, to run in elections in working class organisations (unions) , where else? It was here that socialist candidates had a chance as demonstrated by the 30% or so percent many such candidates get in union elections. Do this instead of wasting resources on middle class democracy in the parliament where workers have no say.

This is what is wrong with the Left, like Barak Obama in the US presidential elections, they have made little connection with the working class, and as a result the workers remain both politically conservative and quiet.


It is not easy for people to accept the fact that they are defeating their own purpose. We all know that social and economic change will not come without political change.

The ideology of capitalism that prevails in the working class in Australia must be turned around.

However socialists can’t do this without a more meaningful program – a program that is in the interests of and comes out of the working class itself.

This program must be built on Workers Control, Organisation and Unity not on a broad left party of anything to please. Workers desperately need the right to strike, a democratic right taken from them by parliaments and bosses.

It is time the socialist organisation addresses its political opportunism and waste of resources.

Ian Curr,
June 2008

PS. My sister, Pam Curr, never won an election and eventually gave up and continued to fight for refugees through ‘the longest decade’, the Howard years.

See below for the blurb put out by Direct Action


DA launch1

Welcome to Direct Action

The first issue of the third incarnation of “Direct Action”, a socialist newspaper published from Sydney, Australia, is hot off the presses. Like its predecessors during World War I and in the 1970s and ’80s, the new Direct Action aims to inform about the campaigns and struggles of the working class and its allies in Australia and internationally, provide a Marxist analysis, and help build the movement for socialism.

The new DA has been initiated by the Revolutionary Socialist Party, a fusion between the Leninist Party Faction, recently expelled en bloc from the Democratic Socialist Perspective (publisher of Green Left Weekly), and the group Direct Action that left the DSP two years ago. See <www.rsp.org.au>

While the new DA will seek to explain and popularise the RSP’s views, the paper will seek to encourage and promote constructive debate on the left and will seek contributions from a broad range of radical commentators, activists and organisations.


Direct Action is a 28 page tabloid newspaper, initially published monthly. The cover price is $2, with $5 as a suggested solidarity price.

Australian subscriptions to Direct Action are $10 for six months (six issues) or $20 for one year (12 issues), so make sure you don’t miss out on an issue. Contact us at subs@directaction.org.au.

Printing the paper and maintaining our staff and office costs money, so we are appealing to our readers and supporters to help finance this new socialist publication. Send your donation to subs@directaction.org.au

We also welcome messages of support and greetings from our friends and collaborators in Australia and internationally.


Direct Action is now also available at our website: http://www.directaction.org.au. Each issue will be posted on the website shortly after publication, and we’ll be updating the site with important news articles and analysis in between issues.

We invite comment and contributions from all our readers. To contact us, please write to Direct Action, Suite 72, 65 Myrtle Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008, or email us at editorial@directaction.org.au, or phone us at (02) 9310 5688.

19 thoughts on “‘Direct Action’ emerges from the Past

  1. What a strange period of the Left we are living through….

    For clarity I have incorporated the comments previously here into the text of the article above.

    Apologies for any confusion this may produce.

    Ian Curr
    June 2008

  2. You carry a pretty one-sided (and I’d say misleading) version of the split and subsequent events. Check out the dsp webiste for their version.

    On the RSP, I wouldn’t hold your breath for much meaningful activity, much less any work in unifying the left – they’re against it in all but principle. On the contrary, they’re so scared of “liquidating” that they are willing to accuse almost anyone else of it, or other crimes (like the “information” in DA, largely based on misinformation and distortion).

    I smell the development of a sect, not of a healthy growth on the left, although I’d like to be proved wrong… A phoenix they are not.

    More importantly, the Socialist Alliance isn’t just the DSP. The majority of Socialist Alliance members (about 500 out of around 7-800) are not in any tendency or group other than the Socialist Alliance itself. There are also a number of organisations in the process of affiliating or showing some interest in doing so. Membership continues to grow, and new branches are being set up in areas that socialism hasn’t seen active groups in for decades. So things aren’t as miserable as some on the left might think.

    Finally, Ian, I defy you to hold up Socialist Alliance policy and that of the Greens, and tell me they’re indistinguishable.

    The challenge for the left at the moment is twofold – how to overcome our disunity and sectarianism, and how to relate to, and respond to, the rise of the Greens as an electoral force. The Socialist Alliance – with policy that is transitional enough to bridge the gap from left-liberalism – is precisely the right idea for this period, providing coherent arguments for socialism.

    What is lacking – still – is the rest of the left to get over itself, and realise the period we are living in is one of opportunities, and potential growth. And then to get involved in building a real alternative.

    The LPF split, and the new RSP, are steps in precisely the wrong direction.

  3. “Wombo”, who I assume is in the DSP, states, “The challenge for the left at the moment is twofold – how to overcome our disunity and sectarianism”.

    This is not a challenge that is going to be met by Socialist Alliance/DSP. I don’t know how many meetings I have sat through in the last few years where DSP leaders have proudly proclaimed that the Socialist Alliance is better today than what it was when it was formed because “it is ours now” (yes, that is a direct quote – from a long-time leading member of the DSP in Brisbane).


    P.S. The LPF didn’t split. We were expelled. See for a copy of the “DSP Investigation Committee” 107 page report which “justified” the purge of one-fifth of the membership of the DSP.

  4. No Kathy, you split – you left before any expulsion was decided for (or against). I know it looks nicer on the CV to say you were “expelled”, but that just isn’t the case.

    Regardless of whether someone was silly enough to say something like “it’s ours now” (let alone think it!), Socialist Alliance remains more real than the LPF/ RSP like to pretend, and it would have been more than it is if the DSP hadn’t been beating itself around the head for the past 2 years because it was wasting its energy trying to placate what in the long run looks like was a hostile force for that whole period.

    While the SA is a lot more than the DSP, they are still the most active within it, and to have them fingering through their own gizzards in a faction-fight for two years did noone any good (least of all, I might venture, the now-members of the RSP who caused the whole mess)

    Furthermore, creating one more little groupuscle (with a paper that could only go upwards…) on the Australian far-left doesn’t seem to me to be a very clever way of finding/ making that broad left-wing party, within which revolutionaries can win people over to our politics. Or has the RSP gone back on that position too?

    True, Socialist Alliance isn’t that kind of party (yet we can hope, and try, to make it so), but at least it’s a real step in that direction, rather than that all-too-traditional (and failed) instinct of the far-left when faced with a challenge: “build-another-sect”.

    Anyway, like i said, “I’d like to be proved wrong”.

    revo regards from the wombats

  5. Wombo writes: “Regardless of whether someone was silly enough to say something like “it’s ours now” (let alone think it!)”…

    “Wombo” side-steps the fact that this is a commonly held view in the DSP leadership. In fact, this argument was used very often in the internal debate within the DSP to try and disprove the then-LPF arguments about the problems with Socialist Alliance. It is not surprising that “wombo” wants to take some distance from such comments, as they are far from “silly” – they are thoroughly sectarian, and sadly reflective of the degeneration of the DSP.

    Wombo writes: “I know it looks nicer on the CV to say you were “expelled”, but that just isn’t the case”.

    I don’t consider revolutionary politics to be a career, so I see no need for a CV or anything of the sort. It is a matter of record. As Lenin said “facts are stubborn things” and it’s all there in writing (107 pages worth!) And that document also demonstrates that the purge was just the final act in what was a very long process of petty-minded criminalisation of dissent within the party – we were treated as a “hostile force” right from the beginning of the debate, quite simply because we did not agree with the course the party was on (we were labeled a “hostile force” in a report to the National Committee in May 2006 by the national Secretary of the DSP, Peter Boyle ).


  6. Kathy, don’t try to take us all for fools, please. At the Congress in 2006(!), John P described all those who agreed with Peter Boyle as “dupes”. Sounds fairly hostile to me, and arrogantly dismissive of the idea of an informed, conscious, and above-all democratic political organisation.

    This was 5 months(!) before the NC and it set the tone for the attitude and activity of the LPF/ minority/ whatevers throughout the period of the debate. When it all began, a lot of people were willing to listen to the minority’s arguments, and weight them up according to experience, but your collective disdain for the majority of the membership made you no friends (not to mention that you were wrong, of course).

    This all culminated with such gems of “revolutionary discipline” as one LPF member deliberately, consciously and openly doing something his branch had told him specifically not to do (as you said, it’s all there, in the 107 pages). His defence? “Oh, the party thought it might have been a good idea a whole 4 YEARS ago, so I decided I was allowed to, and stuff the party membership who told me not to – they’re all liquidationist stooges anyway.” Classic! (Albeit a paraphrase of his actions). And when precisely were the RSP and LPF websites paid for and set up? HOW many months beforehand??? Really? THAT many?

    My point is, the LPF WERE a hostile force – hostile to anyone who didn’t agree with their view that the DSP was degenerating and needed THEIR leadership to fix it. So bad the degeneration was, apparently, that the vast majority of the membership were not only dupes and liquidationists, but were barely even marxists, and probably Stalinists, or left-social democrats or something.

    And when you lost the vote, twice, increasingly overwhelmingly, you decided that you had to leave (after all, if screaming “liquidationist dupes” at people for over two years doesn’t convince them, maybe nothing will). Only problem was, you didn’t have the guts to split openly, so you manufactured a series of events that you knew would breach discipline, so you could couch your exit as a split. But I’m not buying any raw prawns, sorry.

    Kathy writes “I don’t consider revolutionary politics to be a career, so I see no need for a CV or anything of the sort.”

    Apart from showing all the sense of humour and literary nowse of a centipede, your response is also a little contradictory, given that, as a Leninist, I presume you aspire to be a “professional revolutionary”…

    All this aside, I still hope to (and still do) work alongside RSP members in the struggle, in its many parts. I also live in the (perhaps vain) hope that now you’ve left the DSP you will focus on trying to put your collective perspective into practice, rather than simply slagging-off the DSP.

    Here’s to keeping it real, hey?

  7. “Wombo” writes: “At the Congress in 2006(!), John P described all those who agreed with Peter Boyle as “dupes””

    The report “Wombo” refers to is available at : perhaps “Wombo” can point out the quote that he is talking about, because I can’t find it! Or is it like so many other myths, lies and distortions of the DSP leadership – repeat it enough times until it becomes a “fact”?!

    Repeat after me: “The Socialist Alliance is a broad left party”, “The Socialist Alliance is a broad left party”, “The Socialist Alliance is a broad left party”….

    Anyone in the DSP sure has a bit of a nerve to ask me to keep it real!!

    And as for putting our collective perspective into practice. Never you mind about us “wombo” – we already have a paper out and here in Brisbane we already have an office with small bookshop set up – not bad for small force, wouldn’t you say? It makes me wonder at what point the DSP will change its assessment that the LPF were nothing but a demoralised rump looking for a way out of politics.


  8. Wombo and Kathy,

    The Left as a whole has been too focussed on issues of climate change, race, and gender….

    For the sake of clarity I have incorporated the comments previously here into the text of the article above.

    Apologies for any confusion this may produce.

    Ian Curr
    June 2008

  9. Direct action is:

    (a) putting a whole lot of cutlery away because your housemates are not doing the dishes often enough; or

    (b) blocking coal trains to an export terminal; or

    (c) brewing your own beer instead of complaining about the price of a pint at the pub; or

    (d) planting a guerrilla garden; or

    (e) “As a small Marxist propaganda party facing the difficult task of rebuilding in a period of protracted downturn in working class struggle, we need to return to Lenin’s conception of building the party around the paper. Direct Action is our primary outreach, campaigning, recruitment and educational tool.”

    Fellow Workers,

    You (the Revolutionary Socialist Party) have taken it upon yourselves to expropriate without consultation or compensation, the title of our (IWW) paper “Direct Action.”

    This was the paper started by the IWW in world war one and brutally suppressed by the government then, restarted by the IWW in the late 1920’s and published by the IWW in several editions from 1990.

    In this publication you call calling Direct Action the RSP make reference to the IWW in the past tense only and the lack of any reference whatsoever to direct action publications after 1990.

    This is particularly dishonest because our Regional Secretary Mike Payne wrote to you before publication reminding you of our existence and the fact that we maintain ownership of the title “Direct Action”.

    This ownership given us not by some legalistic copyright but by the persecution, imprisonment and deportation of the members of our organisation in Australia who worked for their class and and fought to build a paper to educate, organise and emancipate it.

    So much for the SWP in the 1970&80s then DSP 1990s – & your RSP 2008+ much vaunted commitment to “solidarity”.

    Basically you show yourselves as thieves prepared to steal any title not nailed down by some form of bourgeois copyright.

    The IWW in Australia has a long history.
    Some of our members have been irascible and belligerent.
    We have had our ideas and we have fought for them and defended them against all comers.
    But whenever solidarity was called, whenever a just cause or an under-dog was struggling for we have been there.

    In recent years we have remained a small group and one lacking in resources but this should not mean that basic principles of fair play and solidarity should be trampled underfoot in this way.

    We wish you would take up another name for your paper – PLEASE!

    Viola Wilkins
    Melbouirne IWW
    PO Box 145,
    VIC 3058

    I suggest everyone write expressing their outrage at this thievery to:

    Editor: Doug Lorimer

    Assistant editor: Allen Myers

    Design/layout: Dani Barley, Kathy Newnam

    Website manager: Jorge Jorquera

    Subscriptions manager: Marce Cameron

    and let them know what you think of them.

  10. “For example, what is the point of saving the planet, if class exploitation and capitalism ensures the starvation, hunger, illiteracy and misery for the people of the world?”

    You’re joking right? You honestly think the oppressed of the world would be better off dead than living under capitalism? Because if we don’t save the planet, we will *all* be dead, whatever our class origins or orientation.

    Of course there’s not really much chance of us actually destroying the planet. What’s at risk from humans in the present era is the *biosphere* – that thin layer of living things between the planet’s crust and the upper atmosphere. The biosphere includes many species of living things, which together support human life, but do not require it.

    If we destroy the biosphere, we are guilty of manifold genocides, and we are many thousands of times worse than the Nazis. We have a moral obligation to preserve the viability of the biosphere *regardless* of whether the human species even survives, for the sake of these many other species! To say that saving the planet is less important than fighting capitalism and living the living standards of the oppressed is both inherently contradictory, and morally bankrupt.

  11. It is no secret that the drive for constant growth in the capitalist system, to sustain its profit motive, is the cause of much of the pollution in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

    Throughout history there have been both natural and man made pollution in the atmosphere.

    Such growth economies as China and India are polluting the planet now at a rate equal to or greater than North America and Europe has done and continues to do — all these economies do so under the banner of capitalist growth.

    The response by the Australian government like that of governments in Europe is an emissions trading scheme [ETS]. Such a scheme does not address this the fundamental nature of capitalist growth, as it relies on the capitalist market itself to reduce CO2 emissions.

    Show me a trading scheme that has worked and there could be a debate about the ability of capitalism to prevent climate change?

    Show me the evidence that capitalism is capable of producing the co-operation needed to make such schemes work. This is the point i was trying to make.

    Ian Curr
    Aug 2008

  12. In an attempt to avoid falling into a socialist vs. libertarian rut, I better start by saying I agree with you assessment of the damage that capitalism and its worship of the profit motive have done and continues to do to the biosphere and its inhabitants (including people). However, I have to point out that Russia and China were doing a pretty good job of screwing up the environment before they had their ‘road to Damascus’ conversion to the free market. Remember Chernobyl?

    “emissions trading scheme [ETS]…. does not address this the fundamental nature of capitalist growth, as it relies on the capitalist market itself to reduce CO2 emissions.”

    Also, growth based economies are not unique to capitalist countries (by which I assume we mean free market economies with large chunks of social infrastructure under private/ corporate business control). Again Russia and China were staunchly committed to constant growth and mass industrialization before their respective neo-capitalist revolutions (remember the Great Leap Forwards?).

    I’ll happily stand on the barricades with any socialist who understands that the need to transition to a carbonzero, stable state economy is urgent, and can only happen by the voluntary initiative of ordinary people planning and taking action in their own communities and workplaces. Mainly because those barricade will most likely stand between corporate raiders and the locally-built, sustainable infrastructure of the community I live in.

  13. Regarding Viola Wilkins remarks about Direct action in #9 above I do not think that this name is the preserve of any left group nor do i think that the triumphalism at seeing the demise of Socialist Alliance gets the left anywhere.

    Regarding Danyl Strype’s comments above I would add that there is a socialist alternative to the question of sustainability.

    Cuba has done much to become a sustainable producer of food and energy. A recent visit to this country by one of its agricultural scientists, Roberto Perez, demonstrated this. [See http://bushtelegraph.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/cuba-after-elections-2008/]

    While Australian experts engage in superficial rhetoric about climate change and sustainability, the Cubans demonstrated how responsive the revolution in that country has been to combat a food shortage using sustainable means against the US blockade.

    To witness the superficial nonsense in the questions posed to Perez in the Brisbane City Hall at this talk was enough to show how conservative is the approach put forward by local green groups. They do not seem to get away from capitalist and petit bourgeois models.

    Ian Curr
    Aug 2008

  14. Kia ora Ian

    Did you know that the Cuban’s were taught many of the techniques of sustainable food production you mention by Australian permaculture teachers (permaculture design theory and practice are based on research begun in Australia by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren)? This is documented in ‘The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil’:

    The Cuban health system was also praised in US doco-maker Michael Moore’s latest film, ‘Sicko’. However, I’m sure there were many praiseworthy things being done in Stalinist Russia. Apparently the trains always ran on time in Germany under the Nazis too. I’d also like to hear about the police, and prisons, in Cuba, and how the people are allowed to make decisions for their own communities in a country ruled by one man for so many years. This idea of self-management in practice was documented in the film ‘The Take’, which focused on one of the worker-occupied factories in the wake of the recent Argentinian economic crisis.

    BTW I agree that no group has a claim to the term ‘direct action’, but I think they do have a moral claim to it as the name of a paper, when it has played such an integral part in their history. I’m sure if a group of anarchists set up a group in Australia called the ‘Revolutionary Socialist Party’, the trots would be the first to complain.

  15. To all sectarians, petit borgeois, radical chic, students centrists,

    Throw off your chains, what do you have to lose?

    How many groups have called their paper “Direct Action”? For example, the SWP were selling DAs throughout the 1970s here in Brisbane. Renfry Clarke and Peter Annear did it with religious zeal. Would you deny more recent groups (other than yours) having some historical claims to the paper? [See http://bushtelegraph.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/image5.png ]
    If some claim it as theirs first, wouldn’t the original wobblies have rejoiced that others have copied them?

    For that matter why treat the demise of the Socialist Alliance with glee?

    What is to be served by seeing the failures of left regroupment, no matter how flawed, as as some kind of triumph?

    The sectarian left in Australia is in no position to criticise Cuba. The permaculture people from Australia probably learnt more from the Cuban revolution than their small contribution to it.

    Danyl, I don’t know where you are writing from but have you asked some of the local Brisbane permaculture people who went to Cuba?

    To all Lefties who criticise Cuba, do you know the bad impact that petit bourgeois thinking had on the Cuban Communist party in the 1990s? Where did that come from? From the US? Australia? Europe? Why did the free enterprise model of food production emerge during those hard years in Cuba when the population was collectively loosing weight? Dreadfully thinned by the US embargo and blockade. Why did the small groups in Cuba that followed this model end up richer than scientists, doctors, teachers in their own country?

    Why is the critic from outside Cuba so superficial in its commentary, and never goes to the root cause of anything? How Cubans who visit Australia, people with genuine criticism of the revolution, how amused they must be by the criticisms from the Left here.

    Workers of all Countries Unite!

  16. An interesting collection of labels. I am currently a student and I aspire to be part of solutions that are radical (from a latin word meaning ‘root’ – ie going to the root of a problem), rather than reformist. Of course I’m not against reform, as long as it’s reform that makes the implementation of radical solutions more viable, instead of more difficult.

    I certainly agree with the throwing off of chains. Which is why I don’t voluntarily take on new chains. One reason why although I attempt to work with unreformed leninists in a non-sectarian fashion, I will never join their organizations, or any organization in which their self-contradicting fetishization of the state as a tool of grassroots liberation is dominant.

    “wouldn’t the original wobblies have rejoiced that others have copied them?”

    I can’t see anarcho-syndicalists being thrilled by having a marxist-leninist splinter group appropriating their symbolic heritage, no. But this is a side issue, which I’ll leave you to argue amongst yourself in Oz, as I am writing from the capital of Aotearoa (NZ). Although I would suggest that uncritical support for *any* form of left regroupment is unwise, again, I’ll leave that debate to those involved. The continuing devolution of marxist-leninist remnants into social-democratic front groups is some people’s idea of left regroupment. Personally, I’m more interested in the engroupment of people who have practical ideas about humans and the rest of the biosphere surviving peak oil and climate change, preferably taking advantage of the transition to abolish capitalism and hierarchy in the process.

    I’m sure the permaculture teachers had an inspiring experience in Cuba, but if you are suggesting that the Cubans taught them permaculture, rather than vice-versa, I suggest you are arguing from ideology rather than fact. Roberto Perez, who you mention above, talks about being taught by the Ozzies in the ‘Power of Community’ film I mentioned above.

    Actually, I have spoken to a local member of the Latin American Solidarity Committee who has been to Cuba (twice, I think). He is a staunch advocate of permaculture and local self-reliance. He didn’t mention anything about a “free enterprise model of food production” in Cuba during the special period, and neither was in mentioned in the film. Fell free to tell me more.

    However, I can’t help noticing you have changed the subject. Is this so you don’t have to admit that there are still police and prisons in Cuba? That despite significant socialization of the economy, there is still no effective democracy in the way key economic decisions are made? That the people of Cuba must get permission from the state to start organizations or gather publicly? That the Cuban police still harass and arrest gays, despite homosexual law reform in 1992?

    I don’t think these are superficial criticisms. If a country claims to have had a socialist/ communist revolution (in the positive sense of these terms), I want to see evidence that capitalism (centralized control of the economy by an elite) and tyranny (imposition of political structures, and social norms, by the use of police and prisons) have actually been overthrown by workers control and direct democracy, not simply replaced by new forms of state capitalism and dictatorship. There are signs of both in Cuba, and we must identify which is which, if we want show solidarity with the revolutionary aspirations of the Cuban people, rather than support their repression.

    If we cannot applaud the positive aspects of a given revolutionary movement, without feeling obliged to give uncritical support, then we have learnt nothing from the mistakes of the Communist Parties which continued to support Stalinist regimes long after there was unambiguous evidence of their corruption. Solidarity with the people of the Soviet Union should have meant demanding the gulags be closed, not denying that such a thing could possibly exist in a ‘socialist paradise’.

    ‘Deformed workers states’ are still being used by social-democratic governments in capitalist countries to encourage their people to support neoliberal reform, and reject revolution as inevitably producing an even worse society – after all we don’t have to apply for permission from capitalist governments to protest against them, right? Capitalist democracies and socialist dictatorships are two sides of the same debased coin, and if we do not have a unified critique of both, such as that presented by Debord in ‘Comments on the Society of the Spectacle’, we are likely doing part of the capitalists’ spadework for them.

  17. There is this month published the IWW Direct Action 1 Aug 2008


    warning contains anti-wage slavery rants, satire & humour at expense of Bosses & their dupes eg on cover:

    “Oh how we love the sound of alarm clocks on Monday morning !
    Heralding a week of joyous toil just as day is dawning !”

    so beware of inferior imitations kids.

    keep a smile on yer lipes and a song in yer heart
    see ya later agitators !

  18. frank patey says:

    i am trying to contact renfry clark i went to school with him the areshole murdoch media is after me and all the others too the politicians are not showing enough responsibility about greenhouse gases and the big doollar media wiil not allow them to do enough i am scared really scared about 10 yrs this world will impossible to live in kind regards frank patey and cherio to renfry

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