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Does the Left have community?

g20 peoples march a4

BrisCan leaflet for rally & march

One rally was organised by BrisCan during G20 … the rally was shambolic … it was organised around a theme of ‘issue politics’ (environment, civil liberties, refugee rights, austerity etc). Notably absent from this issues-based-approach was workers rights, anti-war, Palestinian, or women’s issues. The absence of trade union support was itself a defeat for the organisers and for the Left.

The People’s Rally should have focussed on the ‘failure of the markets’ to address human needs i.e. the capitalist notion that markets always know best, regardless of the problem.

While organising forums (The People’s Summit) around themes is laudable they are not what G20 is all about … G20 is about capitalism.

So, on Saturday 15 November at the largest rally of the week, we stood in 43 degree heat from 11 am till 1 pm listening to speeches about a range of issues like democratic rights, climate change and aboriginal struggle. The streets were deserted … save for 2,000 cops.

Before the BrisCan rally commenced, the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy had a demonstration against decolonisation (can we change the past?) in the same forum area at Roma Street from 9 am till after 11 am (it went overtime, there was minimal negotiation and even less communication between the two groups prior to the change-over from the tent embassy and to the BrisCan rally, there was confusion about where the speaking equipment should be located and the speakers lost the crowd.

The Murri rally attracted about 1,200 people. The Left brought another 400, so by the time the BrisCan rally was in full swing there were about 1,600 people present in Roma Street Forum [NB – I counted the numbers at the end of the blackfellas’ rally and at the beginning of the BrisCan rally – needless to say there is overlap in attendance ‘cos people came to both.]

The march peaked at 2,000 people. There were no arrests.

The speeches at the BrisCan rally could have been made at any of the forums that were organised during the week. But not here, not at this rally.

I have little hope that the left will change its ways and build community. Even less chance of a political focus for struggle. On the Sunday morning after a lot of debate the young blackfellas put to a meeting at Musgrave park that we should support them in their action at a rally and march. Despite some dissent, it was decided one-in-all-in and so the union jack, the Australian flag and effigies of Noel Pearson, Warren Mundine and Marcia Langton were burnt in a spectacle at Roma Street forum.

BrisCan organised “The Lost Film festival” during G20 which involved considerable hard work and over 200 hours preparation by one of the filmmakers exhibited – none of the films the organiser sent to the tent embassy were shown in Musgrave Park.

Things were not much better at the West End Uniting Church theatrette.

One filmmaker took her two daughters to show them her own film (Manufacturing Dissent) on Wednesday (12 November).

The theatrette was otherwise empty the rest of the day.

Apparently it was empty the whole day on Thursday as well. And it sounds like 4 or 5 people turned up on Friday (14 November) – only popping in and out?

The organiser reports that there was no attempt to screen any “lost” films in the ‘Open Space’ at the ‘Wandering Cooks’ warehouse over the weekend? I assume there was not enough time and/or personnel available to do anything there.

To top it all off, the sound was very poor.

Discussion and Analysis
[Publishers Note:BrisCAN organisers responded to my critique of the rally, I made no critique of the People’s Summit save for the Lost Film Festival]. The BrisCAN organisers suggested the rally and march were a big success and that I had made major errors of objective fact. I stand by the facts and my interpretation of them.]

If what people say is true (that BrisCAN rally & march and the Peoples Summit were successes, BrisCan should organise a forum so that collective decisions can be made about how we can resist capitalism post G20.

The Left
I’m trying to look at the state of play objectively …. since the 1967 referendum aboriginal community has been on the rise … 1982 Commonwealth Games … black organisations formed … 1988 … a challenge to a racist history … successive invasion days growing bigger … more tent embassies …. sovereignty movement to challenge native title … a food program, grannies groups etc

Since 1967 the Left has been in decline no matter what configuration it has taken … the communist party declined and liquidated, Trotskyite groups that had grown during the Vietnam war became curiously irrelevant comic-book Marxists … in an ironic twist  IS became SALT … the anarchist movement imploded losing book shops, learning exchanges and syndicalist newspapers … the anti-globalisation came but what has it achieved? … has it prevented a single war? … certainly not Iraq which has gone and come again … notwithstanding  50,000 people marching in Brisbane … not even a VicNet as in Melbourne … a big nothing in Brisbane …  this needs to be reversed by hard talk and real work …

Australians are living off their credit cards … still consuming not rejecting capitalism and there is no Left challenging the growing unemployment even in our youth …

suwa 3cr
http://www.3cr.org.au/
In Musgrave Park, a small red tent was pitched during G20 and people gathered around to hear 3CR broadcast 29 intelligent political programs throughout the week. Great effort by the 3CR crew! Where was the Brisbane equivalent? 4ZZZ keeps pumping out the music interspersed by journalism 101 news and not even able to get together one OB for the  duration – they said their Outside Broadcasting equipment was not working – fair enough but what about a critique of G20 brand capitalism back at the studios? There was none, just more boring reviews of more bands with out politics … 98.9 Murri radio was also noticeably absent … no historical context can paint a bright picture out of the the failure of 4ZZZ to be remotely political or relevant against the tide of capitalism that G20 represents … there are no red stars at 4ZZZ … the only stars are the type that a boxer sees after the last knockdown and they are not remotely red.

Is more possible?
Of course I am saying more is possible but not around protest, not around G20 which has proven itself irrelevant to human needs. A lot of work needs doing in the workers movement among the unions. The Left is confined to university and students – often with weak liberal politics.

Regarding alternative media in Brisbane, namely 4zzz, Paradigm Shift is one of few political shows on 4ZZZ. Radio Reversal is a good show and people should listen to it, as I do when I get the chance.

4zzz was never really political, not even at the outset in 1975 even though it came out of the anti-war movement. The first show was compered by John Woods who came from the ABC and commercial radio – his opening broadcast cld have been an ABC show.

4zzz refuses to become a left wing media organisation in the way 3CR is, despite efforts by some to increase the political content … for example Zed are still quite mainstream in their approach to news. this political failure at 4ZZZ  is even more galling because it is the gift of the building by the Communist Party of Australia that made 4ZZZ’s survival possible.

Zed have benefited directly from the blood and sweat of dedicated unionists and workers and their programmers do not even feel the slightest misgiving or need to acknowledge this …  most shows on Zed don’t even support unions or their members. Sorry I have not had time to read Alternatives to G20, not even sure i was aware of it … my work on Ross’s case has been unrelenting every day and nite for the past month.

Tent Embassy and BrisCAN
There were attempts by some to bring BASE and BrisCan together but it was not possible because of personality politics on the Left that you must be aware of – i am not talking about the past here, the sectarianism is very much now, if anything it is worse than in the past because there is no coherent group where decisions can be made.

At the Saturday rally,  the young warriors (WAR) from the tent embassy were openly contemptuous of BrisCAN and its organisers. By then it was too late and so the Murri rally went overtime (they let whoever wanted to speak have the mic (fair enough), there was confusion with the PA system so I withdrew the LeftPress PA so that BrisCan could take over with a bigger PA. But they lost the crowd, who ended up wilting under trees and chatting in small groups. The chairperson seemed oblivious to what was happening in the heat and did not use the authority of the chair to bring the rally to a focus … and the politics were abysmal … no focus on G20 or capitalism. It was all very formulaic … this is repeated ad nauseum time and time again … recently during the bombing of Gaza … during gay marriage debates  (i still don’t see how marriage, be it gay or not, can be a cause of the Left?) … during the refugee rallies, at march-in-march.

People’s Summit
The people’s summit did nothing to ameliorate it – why are people so much in denial of something that stands out like the proverbial? The fact is 2,000 people is a very small number of marchers made impotent by the containment of the Left; not as in the past, with bans on assembly and marching, but through permission and containment.

The Left ambles on thoughtlessly … meaningless and irrelevant … can BrisCAN turn it around? [Should this be placed on their shoulders?] By definition BrisCAn G20 were focussed on G20 which has past. Only if the Left recognises the problems and addresses them can organisation be more responsive, stronger with relevance to ordinary people in the wider community.

Do I sound negative, yes. Have i proposed alternatives? yes … a central forum where decisions are made and people asked to help out … not leaving it to the same old crew.

I received the following comment:

“Despite the organisational failures that occurred (due to the workload and time constraints – all the failures could have been rectified if we had more core people working with us), the Peoples Summit was an unqualified success in my view.”

An essential part of community is that people work together and share the load. Much of the Left abstained during G20 leaving it to people like yourself, why? Why do people abstain from crucial decision making and absent themselves when they do not agree? No organisation is going to succeed if people can opt out because they don’t like the decisions or the personalities of the decision makers. I know that BrisCAN does not see itself as an organisation and eschews central decision making. Isn’t this a weakness?

Solidarity
Compare Brisbane Blacks (not solely BASE) and BrisCAN … on the final march of G20 on the Sunday (16 Nov) there was  disagreement about burning the Union Jack, the Australian flag and effigies of Pearson, Mundine and Langton.

Personally I think that the aboriginal flag will be the Australian flag at some point, probably in the remote future, and that Pearson, Mundine and Langton are not the biggest problem for the aboriginal struggle.

Nevertheless there was it was a one-in all-in situation because of the threat of arrest by the public order squad.

Solidarity mandated that young and old be present and support the decision.

When police commanders (no doubt already aware of our decision) paraded the public order squad with long batons on the hillsides overlooking the forum to intimidate and divide us as they have always tried to do. Young men and young women made a perimeter to defend the flag burners. There was no sign of dissent although I could see that several elders present opposed what was about to happen. Every one was solid, so solid I felt compelled to stand with my brothers and sisters who only had their bodies as a defence of the Kevlar jacketted and baton wearing riot squad. Fearing a charge by police, I wore a helmet and padded pants, i brought my bicycle to defend the perimeter.

Fortunately the cops held off and the burning took place in the full glare of the media, for better or worse. The march that followed was solid even though numbers were down on the previous two days. Along the way, the 40 plus degree heat wore down two of the marchers, one an elder. They both tried to march on. Eventually in a state of collapse the elder was being virtually carried by the Street Med team.  It was only when I brought up the bus and Maurie ordered the elder onto the bus at my insistence that he would relent. A woman near collapse who had sung beautifully at several rallies during the week and whose niece was killed in custody only weeks before in WA was eventually cajoled into the murri watch bus.

Give me justice or given me exclusion … they gave him a cell.
Meanwhile Ciaron O’Reilly was holed up in the Roma street watch house for the week end after violating a ban on attendance inside the exclusion zone. I do not wish to point the finger at BrisCan organisers here because they did their best to help Ciaron but there was no vigil and no support for Ciaron even though his opposition to the Iraq and Syrian wars has been resolute and his defence of Assange and Manning in London persistent. Where was the anti-war movement? Where were the wikileaks campaigners? And if they have a problem with O’Reilly’s single handed approach to protest why was there no basic solidarity shown in the manner that the elders had showed solidarity with the young people who burnt the flag?

Is central decision-making possible?
Thanks for answering my question about whether ‘a central decision making body is practical or possible’ … I take the BrisCAN response as No, the group/network was not set up that way. It was a question i wished to put to all organisers of the people’s summit but i think yr answer appears conclusive so i will not pursue it any further as some have clearly already lost faith with me anyway.

I agree that we have a lot to thank Northey Street farm for … not solely as a place for food production but also as a friendly gathering place to enjoy music and conversation over the years.

In the end however the fate of Northey Street and other community based ground-up organising comes down to a question of power – who has it and how it is exercised. As people are aware, Northey Street has become the prey of developers and the BCC is a developers council so how is Northey Street to be defended?

As you know, recently the Brisbane City Council shut down Jagera Arts Hall and padlocked the gates to the DOGIT [Deed-of-Grant-in-Trust] area around it. Through legal means, backed by strong political support, the aboriginal community got Jagera back and has control with a long term lease to be signed soon. There was none of the division in the aboriginal community people often speak of … Quirk acted and the aboriginal community responded immediately and won on Melbourne Cup day this year … the fight had taken many twists and turns but i will leave it to others to write its history.

In 2009 the public trustee and a merchant bank moved on a community house in 26 Horan Street West End to sell it … a small group immediately occupied AHIMSA house and police were called … there was confrontation and one arrest … the aboriginal community made the highest  bid on the building (offering to pay market value) but it was rejected because the Public Trustee did not want an aboriginal community centre opposite  West End Primary School, beside a building the Public Trustee owned and behind the police armoury. The P&F at West End Primary were silent as was the Principal.

Was the Left capable of defending  AHIMSA (One person does not even know it existed)?
Answer: No. AHIMSA was sold to a pasta retailer (CJs)and yet another coffee shop sprung up in West End opposite the school where aboriginal kids could have met up under guidance from their elders.

One response from BrisCAN is that “Strong community actions and grassroots mechanisms and local solutions are what will save us” … well of course … but what was the difference between AHIMSA and Jagera Hall?

Jagera Arts Hall is run by the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre Inc – an incorporated association with a board, a membership and central decision making. It has a budget and access to finances. It has legal recognition by the Office of Fair Trading. If one of the board members does a bunk with with the money, she or he can be sued.

AHIMSA had none of this. It was run by a Libertarian (Brian Laver) who defrauded the owner of the building and together with an architect stole about $1.2M … a section of the Left tried to expose him … through a public campaign … 600 signatures were gathered at the West End market … Premier Anna Bligh was literally forced to read out the petition in support of AHIMSA in the parliament on her last day in office … to no avail.

Exercise of power
An old fella who put up the money for AHIMSA was locked up last month (October 2012) in a high security, hign-care dementia unit 110 kms away from friends and support. The Public Trustee and the Public Guardian have sanctioned the theft of his house by an unethical accountant, they have allowed AHIMSA and all other properties sold to build this community centre.  Three lawyers backed up by administrative staff and a whole building of lawyers and medical reports have assessed Ross by ticking boxes and categorising him, thus refusing him contact and where some contact is possible, surveillance and reports of his private conversations with friends become the subject of reports and affidavits in court. THIS IS THE EXERCISE OF POWER. The court has sanctioned it and is likely to sanction it again. A small group of friends have proposed a different route for the old fella: ours is through friendship and community ties, with friends who support him with a carer to provide proper structure and discipline for Ross to live in his own home (yes, the one stolen from him). We have minimal chance of success.

There were a series of ‘comments’ on BrisCAN list that I replied to in person:

from WBT site it seems the situation with Ross is more complex than you’re letting on. I can’t find the original article (esp. comments) at the moment but I think it would be fair(er) that you direct people to it when talking on this topic.

Response: There should be no articles on wbt about Ross … the court has ordered that they all be taken down … there are serious consequences for everyone (including Ross) if they are not … the court is not an open court … threats have been made against all concerned … eviction, contempt, even the video shot in Peter Carne’s office (the Public Trustee) received unfavourable mention in court on friday …

Comment:
I do agree that Ian should post the comments that have come up thus far in response to his original post. Ian??

Response: The posts are on wbt for all to see.

Comment:
Ian wasn’t even involved in BrisCAN!

Response: Not true … I attended a joint BASE and BrisCan meeting where the program for the week of the G20 was worked out.

Robin asked me to help make peace between the two groups. I couldn’t and explained to Robin that, at the time, i was very busy helping organise a national forum about the ongoing stolen generation.

Adrian asked me to provide the PA for the BrisCan rally which i did; then, for reasons people had better ask Adrian, decided to use a different PA system at the last moment.

I participated in four popular educational forums organised by BrisCAN in the lead up to G20. Probably more than the organisers themselves!

Community Gardens
I feel that a defence of Northey Street is going against the corporate tide … the developers endgame will prevail … although the flood plain may save Northey Street … the BCC used the same pretext (asbestos) to close the site as they did with Jagera. I do not know how Northey Street is structured (it is probably an incorporated association dependent on a core group of overworked volunteers) but I do know they will need the right mix of decision making, political support, direct action (the Murris used angle grinders to get access to the hall) to overcome the raw EXERCISE of POWER that is to come.

This is my last post on the matters raised … thank you for your forebearance to a crusty old marxist … i wish BrisCAN (and the Left) all the best.

Ian Curr
24 Nov 2014

 

65 responses to “Does the Left have community?

  1. As a prayerful witness to Quaker Testimonies of
    Peace, Equality, Simplicity, Integrity and Community:
    Statement by Queensland Quakers to the G20 Peoples Summit, Brisbane 2014

    To impoverish the Earth now to support outward greatness appears to be an injury to the succeeding age. John Woolman (1720-1772)

    Peace
    We call upon members of the G20 meeting to reaffirm the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War that was signed in 1928 by most of the nations of the world: to honour their pledge to renounce war as an official instrument of national policy and to use peaceful means to resolve disputes.
    We ask that the Peace Dividend – thus provided by the diversion of world military spending of $1630 billion annually – be used to fund housing, education, and health services.
    The arms trade misuses the earth’s resources
    The arms trade makes us poorer, not safer
    The arms trade forces countries to look for an enemy
    The arms trade diverts wealth away from the needs of the people.

    Simplicity
    A comfortable home, healthy food, decent transport, high quality public services and plenty of fun: all this is possible using 15 000 KWh per person per year (including manufacturing). This means that much of the energy currently generated in rich countries is wasted. The Centre for Alternative Technology reports that we can power the world with 100 per cent renewable energy; but this requires a fairer sharing of the world’s resources and putting an end to waste in rich nations. Let us all live simply so that others may simply live.

    Equality
    It is the uneven distribution of power across the world that prevents poorer countries and First Nations peoples from achieving a simple, comfortable lifestyle through sovereignty over their land, food and forests. Moreover, population growth levels off when wealth is distributed more equally and when women win access to education, employment and the power to control their fertility.
    We call upon members of G20 nations to respect sovereignty and to share technology to enable people to sustain themselves using traditional and organic farming practices.

    Integrity
    The notion of limitless economic growth is so ingrained that it is difficult for some people to imagine a zero growth economy. But ultimately, zero population growth requires a zero growth economy. We have already exceeded the biophysical limits of this planet and growth is making things worse. A zero growth economy can improve in terms of efficiencies and by using appropriate technologies.

    Community
    In the past, the human capacity for domination over the land and its plants and animals was limited: today it vies with that of a large meteorite in its power to cause mass extinction of species; including our own. Achieving a global community dedicated to sustainable practices is possible. Let us be the change we wish to see in the world: This we can do.

    Powering up to zero New Internationalist Dec 2010
    Kabarak Call to Ecojustice 2012 http://www.saltandlight2012.org/call.pdf
    Australian Quaker Earthcare Statement 2008 http://www.quakers.org.au/?page=298
    http://www.quakers.org.au

    Quakers try to live according to basic principles or ‘testimonies’. The first written version of our Peace Testimony was in a letter to Charles II in1660: We utterly deny all wars and strife for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. A recent statement on Simplicity reads: A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. On Equality we say: There is that of God in every one and in the natural world. Everyone is equally worthy of respect and love.

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  2. Parliamentary democracy?

    As if to mock any suggestion of progressive politics in the Queensland parliament , the racist Pauline Hanson announced tonight that she will be running in the seat of Lockyer (west of Brisbane) at the next election.

    The question I am asking is if a “Left Coalition” did get together and run candidates for parliament at the next Qld Election what change, if any, might be possible?

    Or is there more power in staying outside the parliament and fighting for social and political change from the streets, the workplace, the community?

    Didn’t the Occupy movement challenge where real power lay, in the corporations and the banks not the parliament?

    These are political questions for organisations like the Greens, Pirate Party, Liberal Democrats to answer (and any others arguing for progressive policies).

    But also they are questions for the extra-parliamentary Left to answer (Left unions, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Alliance, Anarchist groups etc)

    It seems to me there is no prospect of an end to worker exploitation coming from parliamentary democracy.

    Remember Chile, when the Popular Unity government won the elections with Salvador Allende as President and power was returned to workers and their unions, the CIA sponsored a military coup followed by years of ruthless repression that harmed the lives of a generation.
    Ian

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  3. Sovereign Grannies at G20

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  4. There is new rise-up list being created called the Briscan Space Collective (briscan-space@lists.riseup.net)- for the purpose of generating interest in keeping the space going at the Basement, 5 Paris Street, West End. If there is anyone on this Briscan discussion list that would like to be part of the Space Collective discussion, please go to https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/briscan-space and subscribe to this new list.

    Thank you,

    Hugh

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  5. Dear friends,
    It is hard to read this conversation without wanting to have the “right to reply” – however I am wondering the usefulness and appropriateness of it proceeding – particularly in this forum.

    As a co-facilitator for the meetings that have taken place over the last year, I am happy to take responsibility for problems (and good stuff!) that came out of those meetings. A brief reply: Despite the tension – or because of it – the controversial standing on the line activity was actually one of my favourite and I think most interesting and useful things done in those large meetings. Problems can be the points from which we can learn the most – so we have/have had an opportunity to learn from that meeting and the issues raised/problems that occured.

    As a co-organiser (on the working group) for the March, I take responsibility for problems (and good stuff) that came out of that as well. A brief reply: It must be noted, however,for people who were not involved that there was in fact an agreement for BASE and BrisCAN to share the chairing and the platform of the march on Nov 15- so if analysis is required = failures and successes belong to chairs/ “organisers” of both groups/networks. The BrisCAN discussion list is not the forum in which that conversation can take place. The point still is to grow…

    Even in the spirit of “learning” and growth, I do not support the use of this list to target/criticise individuals.

    The BrisCAN discussion list is intended to help BrisCAN communicate and organise. While I understand that critical reflection is an important part of better organising, I am not convinced that the BrisCAN discussion list is the place for this conversation to continue.

    I think this conversation is/may be creating tension rather than building bridges or helping us work together. At risk of being accused of “censoring”,therefore, I propose that people who are interested in furthering this conversation do so in person or in a separate forum.

    I am happy to “facilitate” this process. What this looks like: possibly 1) a separate discussion list could be set up specifically to address issues raised here- people could be invited to join in… 2) or a face to face meeting between interested parties could be set up to promote better communication and understanding… 3) both of those….4) something else that parties involved/interested propose…

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks!

    peace
    robin

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    • Original question wrongly framed

      Hello all,

      My apologies, I think I have framed the original question wrongly (sorry Imogen).

      The question I should have posed is “Shouldn’t the Left come out of community?” I do not think it desirable that the Left be separate from community otherwise it may become a ghetto.

      Shouldn’t there be attempts to participate in or create communities where we are? In suburbs and regional towns, in our street, in mining towns, in the Aboriginal Community, in schools, in workplaces? And where communities already exist shouldn’t we participate rather than trying to build our own?

      Probably few if any of these communities are political, why would they be?

      The Left should be able to observe, to learn from, to co-exist within community but not be separate from it.

      We live in a confused and confusing world where if unemployment rates rise, governments get chucked out, regardless of the politics of those in power. Class war is masked inside community. Young people eschew class politics and are drifting to the Greens. People don’t join unions. The Labor Party is trying to adjust to this new reality … ALP controlled unions targeted specific seats in Victoria to help Labor win over the weekend. Similar campaigns are being waged here in Qld – Protest $100,000 Degrees, TAFE Cuts & Youth Unemployment

      Regarding the four options suggested by Robin, I prefer the first part of (2) namely face-to-face meetings but please not in 2014 …

      in solidarity,
      Ian

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    • Sorry, got confused about the date and can’t make it now [to the debrief]. My comment would be the biggest problem is the lack of public debate and participative forms of democracy, so with the wonderful benefit of hindsight I think we could have given more emphasis to offering public forums for discussion of issues of global sustainability etc over a longer timeframe before the event, and offering support to a broader community to find partners and locations, as part of building up to G20. With the first two days of forums in working hours the participation was narrowed when it needed to broaden.

      This is in no way a criticism of everyone’s fabulous work. But I’d hope next time, we and others can achieve something which steps up the reach of public participative social forums for more than a few days….

      Cheers, Greg

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      • Hello all,

        I think you all did a kick-ass job and did what you could. You should all rightly be proud, including those who facilitated a diverse group discussion at the beginning, the ongoing hard slog of working with ppl who can be hostile and difficult, and those who exhausted themselves and used their own funds helping to make it all happen to the end. There was probably never any chance of pleasing everyone politically, but doing what you thought right and necessary is the best anyone can do.

        I regret not helping as much as my guilt made me feel I should. I feel bad about making excuses for my lack of capacity, because being poor, being a parent, and related legal issues are structural barriers, not individual flaws on my part (I hear you Imogen).

        Everyone contributed what they could and the end product included an important message to the world about how the people feel about the government, the international media saw that.

        Congratulations to you all. You deserve credit and respect.

        Regards,

        Kim

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        • Reposting this: Not one reply?
          I have printed off all of the Briscan Discussion List emails since this started as a thread on 20th – 10 days of fulsome conversation. This morning I read them all – and tried to follow the threads. Some bits were “cut and paste”, some were re-sends, and all in all it requires dedication to hear the messages being sent.

          During the lead-up and during the Event itself I heard the expression “on message” many times. I think that discussions rising from the people on the list have every right to continue even though many of us have preferences that they would be styled differently.

          To continue after 30 or so responses causes structural disadvantage, aka “losing the thread” of what people are offering.

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  6. I think discussions here show there is a sense of unity, as well as a willingness to engage in debate, and a recognition of diversity within unity.

    There will be more opportunities in the following weeks to develop our ideas of what BrisCAN is/can be/should be and I for one am excited about the possibilities. Far from being divisive, the actions of BrisCAN during the G20 has I think galvanised people, as have the actions of BASE. There was actually a lot of cross polination between base and briscan during the week and preceding period.

    Could we do better if we had G20 all over again? Yes of course but things can always be done better in hindsight. In fact, that is WHY WE BOTHER DOING THINGS IN THE FIRST PLACE (caps for emphasis – I’m not yelling haha). Our actions and evaluation of our actions can and I think should inform our future actions. That said, just because we could do something better doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a success.

    BrisCAN, BASE and all other protest groups carried a standard during G20. The absence of that standard would have been a blow to progressive forces not just in Australia but the world over. Especially in light of our governments archaic policies and appalling leadership on the world stage.

    Every person who attended a rally, a meeting, distributed a pamphlet or raised a finger or voice in protest deserves thanks. And I hope that many of you will continue with us to further the work of building and resourcing our community.

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    • hello max, robin, adrian and eliza,

      I am writing to you because of our recent discussion about G20 and because i am guessing that some of you are moderators of BrisCAN email lists.

      I note that there are three BrisCAN lists:

      briscan-g20@lists.riseup.net – organising civil society actions leading to the g20
      briscan-g20-discussion@lists.riseup.net – briscan-g20 discussion list
      briscan-g20-education@lists.riseup.net – briscan g20 education working group.

      Strangely i am unable to subscribe to the latter list even though I participated in as many or more BrisCAN educational sessions than most (including a bizarre discussion about anarchist flags).

      In the past couple of days i have received some queries from people not on BrisCAN list about the G20 discussion … i have given one person access to the wbt summary … all of these people had difficulty accessing the BrisCAN summary.

      I hope that it is OK letting others know about the content of the discussion – robin, u voiced strong opposition to my publishing it outside the BrisCAN lists. of course there were others (outside the BrisCAN lists who commented on the original article i wrote on wbt). nevertheless i have password protected my comments and those of others.

      I had a look at the BrisCan discussion list and found it does not include a good section of ‘the Left’ in Brisbane …. the list was lacking in people active in unions and people in current left-wing political organisations/parties and certain issue groups (e.g BDS). Also there are very few murris (if any) who are active politically and who appear on the BrisCAN list … i am speaking broader than BASE … about people politically active around indigenous issues who dont participate in BASE meetings/events. the numbers are in excess of 100 people. so BrisCAN does not reach those people (from unions, through its discussion list …. ok, i note the general email list has more subscribers (132 on the general list compared to 56 on the discussion list), so some may access info about BrisCAN that way, but like the people who have contacted me through wbt they are excluded from giving their views by the limited nature of the list. as u may jump to point out, it may not have been the intention of BrisCAN to build a comprehensive list of progressive people … of course if u take that view the people’s summit and march is at risk of being a ‘left-wing ghetto’ (borrowing from e’s terminology).

      As pointed out by imogen the BrisCAN calendar is also pretty sparse … but what can u do? i try to publish every left-wing event on wbt … there is an interesting one coming up at dan o’neill’s 17 group namely https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2014/11/26/the-17-group-israel-colonial-settler-state-and-the-new-apartheid/

      Sadly this is the state of ‘the Left’ in Brisbane – it may not seem so bad to you and there may indeed be reason for hope as max and robin have already noted on the BrisCAN discussion list … i know it may seem trite but shouldn’t there be an attempt to improve the coverage of these lists and to try to make stronger links about topics that matter to people? I wld be happy to assist if i can. btw there were 100 reads of comments on wbt of recent discussion of BrisCAN events.

      my apologies, i am unable to attend this sunday’s meeting but i am happy to speak with you about these matters and how to improve the situation.

      in solidarity,
      Ian

      Like

      • Hello Ian, Max, Eliza and Adrian… in response to Ian’s queries re our lists….

        The BrisCAN discussion list is not intended to be a broad representation of the left – nor is its intention to engage the “left” in conversation. It is a list subscribed to and intended only for people who want to actively do work/be involved in decision making re BrisCAN. It is, therefore, a private discussion group. Its conversations are not for public circulation or comment. Modelled on the notion of a “workers cooperative”, it should be understood and respected that the people who do the work are the people who make the decisions and therefore do not need/warrant the scrutiny of the “broader” movement. Those who wish to participate in the work can participate in the decision making and therefore can be subscribed to the discussion list. People should be able to discuss the work – such as draft press releases/flyers/ or even concepts they are working on with the security of knowing that outside/non-participants will not be trying to sabotage, direct or influence them (without their consent). That is why I opposed and still oppose your posting the comments on the discussion list on WBT without consent.

        It is not fair to think that you can scrutinise peoples’ musings, seeking of consultation, discussing differences etc that they do with the intention of learning/improving/engaging in a private forum – it is a breach of their trust and may be a misrepresentation of their final thoughts or outcomes of conversations/etc. It was not a public conversation and, I believe it does not require archiving beyond BrisCAN. I do not agree with your archiving that conversation on WBT, therefore. It was engaged in by BrisCAN discussion group participants as a private conversation – they may have responded/reacted differently if they thought it were to be public or scrutinised by others. I consider it a breach of their good will and contrary to our intention to save it in another forum. (others may disagree or the group may be happy for you to do so, but this has not been clarified)

        People are not “excluded” from giving their input by the limited nature of the groups. The groups are “exclusive” as they are lists for participants in organising and not a free for all there for any one to input too. We do not have to make every conversation or piece of information, meeting or action inclusive… We should not have decisions blocked, for example, by people who are not going to do the actual work and who may be politically motivated. The discussion forum was provided to hold a conversation on your statement – that should be respected and appreciated.. People who want to get involved/active can/should and therefore can join the discussion list.

        People who wanted to input could have done so on your website without needing to be part of the BrisCAN discussion group discussion… People on BrisCAn and reading your site should/have therefore been educated on how to comment in the public forum if they chose to do so.

        We often cc people outside the list into conversations or information if it seems relevant to them. They chose or not to subscribe or be involved.

        The education list is also a working group list and therefore is not a public list.

        We have other working group lists as well – they are not for public use.

        BrisCAn – G20 @ lists is the only announcement list and is for public subscription. We often cc relevant people who have not subscribed to information on this list as well.

        Furthermore, BrisCAN does not only rely soley on those groups to communicate with people. We use website, FB, twitter, and other emails and other lists. For example, many and in some cases all unions were repeatedly contacted by us re G20 – BASE and BrisCAN programs/fundraising directly through union email lists other working groups, and personal contacts – some union people are regularly kept informed. I am also part of ecumenical networks which are also kept informed. As well as outreaching to other first nations, social justice and environmental networks.

        We do not subscribe people to our lists – they are only subscribed by request. The lists, therefore, do not reflect the entire scope of our outreach attempts.

        Furthermore, if BrisCAN is able to function as a broad “left” discussion platform, great – if not, that does not mean it does not have value. We will certainly do further outreach – however, a network needs to be doing something.. Even if its focus is “networking” it still needs some structure/goals – tools =shape etc… the people already engaged have spent up to a year thinking about G20 – we now need time to breath, refocus, debrief – look at streghhts and weaknesses – set goals – if applicable etc. and decide what – if any thing – we are going to do. Of course, outreaching at this time can also help frame that – but i think the first priority is following up with those engaged – participating and non- participating to see where they sit with things… that is what we are doing now.

        As for the calendar, we are doing the best we can we had a lot to do and a lot of info on the calendar immediately before the G20. – We welcome peoples help in compiling and sending in info etc. This is a work in progress and has only been available as a tool for a few weeks/months. …

        It is easy to find fault with what we are doing – and to point out our shortcomings. Constructive criticism is welcome. Actual help doing work to improve things more appreciated. Occasional appreciation, support and acknowledgement of good and positive things would not go astray.

        “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

        Thanks!

        peace,
        robin

        Like

        • Beautifully said Robin.

          There is a lot of assumption drawing going on here about what the lists are for. I am moderator of most of the lists. I concur one hundred percent with what Robin says about the list purposes. This was something agreed to very early on by the collective.

          BrisCAN never set itself up as anything but a network of people who get together to organise actions or resourcing of communities or other things, as need arises and to our given capacity at the time. No other caveats were put other than we would attempt to be broad based, which as Robin points out we have indeed done. We may not have succeeded but we did try. And we can go back and try, or it may be that the dream of having one big centrally managed group of all the activists in Brisbane, of all the left, isn’t the only way of attaining unity. Groups of networks can exist too. We have only just begun to wonder what briscan is or can achieve. G20 was a good starting point. I’m kind of disappointed at having to bicker our way into this process. I was (still am) bouyed by what we did achieve.

          Like

          • Workers right to organise

            Hello all,

            “For example, many and in some cases all unions were repeatedly contacted by us re G20 – BASE and BrisCAN programs/fundraising directly through union email lists other working groups, and personal contacts – some union people are regularly kept informed.” – Robin

            I wish to address the union issue.

            For whatever reason, refusal by the QCU to endorse BrisCAN G20 activities, despite a willingness by some (not all) in BrisCAN to talk with the unions helped isolate both the BrisCAN rally and People’s summit. It took the Left away from economic changes that affects ordinary people in the community.

            Despite the ALP oppositions and QCU (ACTU) doing little to help workers during the current economic crisis, both the Campbell Newman (and Abbott) governments look at risk of being ‘oncers’* … i.e. Campbell Newman may lose government in the next few months. None of this has anything to do with all the big noting LNP governments did during G20 about improving Qld’s trade position with India and China or even reducing hospital waiting lists etc.

            Their electoral risk has got to do with the fact that young people are finding it hard to get jobs, regardless of a Uni education, teachers may not get jobs next year, trained nurses may not be placed in hospitals. The austerity imposed by LNP governments is not popular. People do not wish to see their children unable to get jobs … to be unable to get on in the world. The LNP’s electoral risk has got to do with the fact that businesses are failing in regional towns, these towns are dying, the drought has floored farming and agriculture. Tourism is bust.

            So regardless of the failure of the ALP & QCU to do anything they may win government in Queensland. This week, Annastacia Palaszczuk is talking in the parliament about jobs because the party realises the government’s imminent weakness.

            People may recall that the May Day Forum in 2013/14 attempted to discuss at a rank and file level how to organise in the workplace. The forums were: May Day Forum: What’s Working? Organising collectively for lives of dignity and justice (2013) and May Day Forum — Workers Inquiry (2014). We also helped defend the right to organise by the QCH hospital workers by organising a fundraiser for Bob Carnegie’s defence. We raised over $7,000, no mean feat. And Bob was acquitted of serious contempt charges.

            Organisers of the May Day forum tried to work in with the Popular Education collective in BrisCAN. As we found out, just because it is not easy, was no reason not to try. It was important that we tried. I, for one, do not consider myself an outsider of BrisCAN because it is part of the Left.

            Regarding participation (abstention?) by unions in G20 activities, some union orgaisers would have known about the BrisCAN rally and people’s summit through their union lists (eg Teachers, NTEU) and others (eg ETU members) may have heard a little through their mailing lists but many rank and file heard naught (Meatworkers, CFMEU, MUA).

            Some unions organised their own thing for G20 with NGOs like Oxfam – see Nurses Union … others may know more about this than me (i know little).

            I note that there were militants from unions who participated in anti-globalisation movements previously eg S11 in Melbourne in 2000. [For a weird tale of how Channel 7 pursued an S11 activist read https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2014/11/03/1-need-g20-frenzy/ ]

            How few activists there are in unions who consider themselves on the Left is another issue … the Left has confined itself to the University educated and issue driven politics.

            Perhaps people might discuss these issues over the silly season and think about organising discussion of ‘workers right to organise’ through a May Day Forum next year … I don’t know.

            Your thoughts?

            in solidarity,
            ian

            oncers = first single-term government. Could Campbell Newman lead a one-term government to defeat after winning the 2012 election with the largest landslide in Australian political history? And to lose his own seat in the bargain?

            Like

          • Diversity at G20

            People’s March led by First Nations People at G20 on Saturday 15 November 2014 … a diversity of placards: ‘One people from one land’; ‘No Pride in Genocide’; ‘Native Americans support all indigenous people’; ‘De-colonisation before Profit’; #Genocidal20; ‘We need to decolonise’; Israel & ‘Capitalism are humanities enemies’; ‘Abbott – servant of coal’; ‘Stop Racism- we are one’; ‘Our World is not for Sale’; Stop Abbott’s Attacks’;

            Phioto: https://aswasblog.files.wordpress.com

            Like

  7. Thanks Ian, Adrian, Imogen and all…
    Feeling hopeful.
    Peace
    Robin

    Like

  8. BrisCAN Calendar

    Where is the calendar? – imogen
    http://briscan.net.au/events/month/ – ian
    Not very helpful. I wonder where all this apathy comes from.
    Thank-you Ian. 👍😊 – imogen

    Like

  9. hello all

    In response to robin’s concerns of me posting “Does the Left have Community?” outside the BrisCAN discussion-list I have taken it down from Workers BushTelegraph. “Does the Left have Community?” (complete with links) is still privately viewable by members of this list at https://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2014/11/20/does-the-left-have-community/ … the password is marx12

    Imogen, to answer yr question my name is Ian Curr, i am a member of LeftPress Printing Society and the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre Inc which operates out of Jagera Arts Hall which u can join for only $1. A lot of community and cultural activities are conducted from Jagera hall … the next major event being Invasion Day on 26 Jan 2015. If u are interested in joining MPCCI pls let me know and i will send u an application form. Membership is open to non-indigenous people but voting rights are restricted.

    in solidarity,
    ian

    Like

  10. We have a community event calendar which we invite people to submit their entries to and we will put it up on the calendar. But not everyone knows about us or sees the value in using us that way. It is something briscan has and does still want to develop – a central place for groups to advertise their doings.

    Like

  11. Awww Adrian, 😊❤️👍

    Hi,

    Is there anyone who might be able to help me prepare for court with time and common sense and some computer and research skills a bonus?

    Please phone me on …… if you have a few hours spare.

    At my house in …..

    Thanks All,

    Imogen

    Anyway – If there isn’t place information gets to, how do people find out what groups exist, more about them and how to contact or join or attend their meetings?

    If you aren’t connected to a broader community as a small focus group or individual you can be quite literally unable to find an easy way in. Or just to be aware of what concerns people, really?

    I am not a member of any of the group’s represented here, I find membership fees a little difficult to justify at the moment, and for quite a while now.

    So, is it possible for people here to reply with a snapshot of their affiliation/group and contact details, info and general meeting dates, etc? I for one, would find that immediately beneficial.

    Thanks everyone,
    With ❤️ and truth!
    Solidarity!

    Imogen

    Like

  12. Hello All

    I should not have posted criticism of someone’s politics on this list. Also the tone was far too harsh.

    Apologies Eliza

    Regards
    Adrian.

    Like

    • Hi all,
      Thanks Adrian for your apology.
      Sorry to open up this can of worms again but i think i deserve a right of reply.
      Firstly, I want to say that my comments on the march were made entirely from a non-organising position, i.e. from a person who just came along. Since the rally/march i have come to understand better some of the behind the scenes politics that influenced the course of the rally/march. (thanks Max for sending out objective times for what happened.)
      I don’t want to talk here on our differing opinions about the Iraq war campaign, and I don’t want to talk on our differing opinions on tactics and strategies i.e. rallies/marches. i don’t think there is a “right” opinion about either of these issues, and i think it’s perfectly fine to continue having different ideas (albeit it would be nice if we could discuss them respectfully), but i do want to talk about my participation in BrisCAN.
      I came to BrisCAN from a political context of years of “sitting in a circle, talking, and making decisions”, and from a context of years of whole groups organising rallies/marches. What i try to do now is very much informed by that context, I will try to explain my perspective below.
      My “…weird stuff with the butchers paper and getting to know each other mantra…” is related to the first context of (large) groups sitting in a circle, talking, and making decisions. For me the problem with this approach is that some voices dominate, and other voices remain unheard. I don’t think the loudest voices necessarily have the best ideas, and i think often the quietest voices have very good ideas (and insights). These actions were my attempt for us to try to hear many voices, and to allow many voices to speak, through structurally different ways of communicating. I understand that it can be a different (or uncomfortably familiar) way of doing things, but that was my intention behind those actions.
      In terms of the entirety of BrisCAN being involved in organising a rally and march yes, i oppose this, for similar reasons to those mentioned above. in my experience i have found that a “group” focussing solely on putting on a rally and march leads to a lot of misused/watsed energy and creativity. Each person who comes to an organising meeting has an idea about what can be done, i think it makes sense to allow for all of these initiatives to be able to come to fruition, rather than tunnelling them all into the same action. I think the BrisCAN meetings where independent people came to share their ideas about what they were doing was great, and worked really well. While i have disagreements about the effectiveness of marches and rallies (which i’m entitled to) i don’t oppose other people putting their energy and creativity into organising a march and rally.
      Perhaps there is a middle way between a whole group organising one rally/march and a small group organising a rally/march… i don’t know. I also think it’s worth remembering that there was a group set up prior to BrisCAN, Anti-GAG, that was (as far as i recall) planning to organise a rally and march (as a group) against the G20. Part of the reason (as i recall) for initiating BrisCAN was that there were many people who did not want to be involved in that organising effort.
      If trying to enable more voices to be heard and more initiatives to come forth is “authoritarian” then so be it.
      Lastly, I take your assertion that i misused my position as chair quite seriously. As i recall, in my position as chair, in the first meeting, i made a comment relating to the discussion, while noting that i was doing so NOT as the chair. In my understanding facilitators/chairs etc, are “allowed” to offer opinions provided that they do so after making it clear that this opinion is separate from their facilitator role. I would be interested to hear if others are of the opinion that facilitators shouldn’t be able to offer their ideas into discussion at all?! Also relevant here is the fact that the facilitation group was always open to new participants but the facilitation work was mostly left to me and Robin (more so Robin). Would it really be fair that Robin and I would not be able to offer ideas because we were the ones willing to take on the role of facilitating?
      I will do my best to make it on Sunday. Thanks all for the input, it’s not always easy to work together but that’s why it’s necessary??!
      Eliza
      p.s. as a super super aside the term “libertarian” to me has strong right-wing connotations, i think it’s been pretty successfully hijacked by the right unfortunately 😦

      Like

  13. Hello All and Eliza,

    Thanks, would be nice to meet you too.

    It is my fault I didn’t participate more fully, and I am not feeling disconnected by this group. In fact, just knowing I am welcomed here has helped me feel a whole lot more connected. Seeing people’s pain and anguish over people being people in an organic manner is rather refreshing. Even if there is angst, there is enough genuine intention to keep the focus on acceptance and genuine attempts to critically and constructively reflect for future planning.

    Personal responsibility…

    What jumps out to me is the concept of personal responsibility. And don’t we all not want to hear that? We all could have done more. Next time ‘we’ organise collectively, I am sure we will all do our best on the day.

    When I speak of my disconnectedness, it has been experienced across the years since I became a sole parent in this community – and is directed only at those who knew of my status and even when, in some cases, I asked for help from them, ignored me and my requests for an ear, advice, assistance, concern, support or love. I have learnt a lot about isolation and poverty that I do not think I can sit by and watch this community allow to happen – unwittingly – to anyone else. We sort of need some community codes of conduct around certain demographics that support a true sense that everyone matters all the time to everyone. We need strong networks. Not ones that berate to a negative end. Ones that uplift and connect and invigorate and empower the community. We are great! We are here!

    That said, there will always be things about people around us we do not agree with or like or might wish to be different. I hope we all can see the beauty in the differences snd challenges we each bring… Good community has to involve the good of the community. We are what makes this good.

    I have a small comment about Eliza stating the irony of having to buy a slurpee from a 7-11 at an anti-capitalist rally. All I can say is this: no-one forced you to do that. It would not have been my choice.

    The lesson here for everyone is how much of my own pain did my own habits and mixed beliefs and hypocrisies cause for me, and how much of my pain could have been avoided if I had taken more personal responsibility?

    The path we walk here is one of constant personal challenge to be always more and more mindful of the things we know to be mindful of. Such constant vigilance that appears natural takes discipline and strength to achieve. Before we criticise, it helps to be humbly aware that we have a “log in our own eyes”. So to speak.

    I live the dialogue here just for its occurrence at all. This looks like progress to me. But perhaps that’s because I am finally here.

    Now: How are we going to keep growing the wonderful possibilities for better and more vibrant communities? We need to attract more people – to do this we need to be honest with our own failings as much as our achievements, vigilant in who we are and our actions, self aware and not to attached to being in control of anything outside ourselves. The rest is community. Integrity and truth resonate.

    Rant and opinion stated.
    Thanks. ❤️🌸

    Imogen

    Like

  14. Friends and Comrades,

    You are all magnificent!

    Without the People’s Summit and people on the streets the isolation of Abbott on climate and inequality in his own country would not have been believed by foreign media.

    We were the visible representation of the voice of climate sanity and global justice.

    Many of us gave interviews over the G20 week with CNN, Press TV and Deutche Presse Argentur.

    Thanks to us, the foreign media heard a different Australian voice.

    We have built new friendships, new campaigning relationships and young (and some old) activists have learnt new skills.

    Thanks to you all and especially to Robin, Greg, Adrian, Wayne and Callum for their leadership, to the Street Medics, the Legal Observers, the caterers, the entertainers and the rest!

    Please take time to refresh and recuperate over the holidays so we can come back even better in 2015!

    Keep on keeping on!

    Mark Taylor
    North Brisbane Greens
    Australian Services Union

    Like

  15. Friends
    Sad to see this conversation- started really with antagonism from “outside”- be an unravelling or used to attack people rather than address issues.

    Don’t feed the troll within you or without. Despite obvious disagreement over politics and organising style, we managed to meet for a year, get to know each other better…in some cases trust each other better.

    Don’t allow the criticism of someone who actually chose not not be involved…. be taken on board so much that we lose sight of our achievements.

    We have a lot to be proud of and grateful for…this conversation is not reflecting that.

    Peace
    Robin

    Like

  16. Hello Eliza

    When Briscan was first set up I argued that the entire collective take responsibility for the march. It would be one of the most significant things we did. Everyone should have and say and everyone should take responsibility. You were one of the strongest voices against it. You misused your position as chair to heap scorn on the whole point of marching at all. I recall the historically inaccurate things you said about the big rally against the Iraq war. You talk libertarian but act in an authoritarian manner. The rest of weird stuff with the butchers paper and getting to know each other mantra reminded me so much of the kind of neoliberal managerialism found in the modern workplace. Let’s just sit in a circle, talk and make decisions.

    The organising of the march ended up in a small committee. I work full time and have 3 children – I found it difficult to cohere a committee large enough to properly carry the work.

    As far as I’m concerned the organising you represent has run its course. If ever there is another g20 type moment which requires a multifaceted response I will be arguing that the entire collective, every single person takes responsibility for the march. The complaints about the march expressed here provide clear evidence that a march needs to be organised centrally and democratically – not shunted off into a sub- committee that some people hoped would simply wither.

    Regards
    Adrian

    Like

  17. Hello all,
    Please note that my comments about Ian posting his statement on WBT and not posting follow up is/was not a suggestion that he post these conversations on to wbt website. The discussion here is taking place on a discussion list and not public. Permission should be sought for these to be reposted publicly.

    I do feel that Ian or wbt could follow up their original post with reflection on the fact that the post has generated a wide range of response not necessarily in agreement with it, inform people here about the site and how to post their comments there (though i think ppl are probably over it by now), acknowledge that this conversation has been allowed to take place in the spirit of openness and learning in a forum that Ian appears/ed to be hostile to, possibly reflect about the veracity of the original post.

    I question the account in the original post and, and as presented as journalism think it is fair for it to come under scrutiny for its facts and intent, just as i do with the Courier Mail.

    I question the accuracy re numbers on sat and the intention of the analysis, which seems to frame everything in an us-them way. I would like to remind that despite politics and problems, there was an agreement that from 11am there was going to be “joint” rally, shared platform and i thought 2 mcs….thinking along these lines i would suggest a reframing of the analysis, the delineation into murri/ briscan etc and the pointing of responsibilty/failings at briscan alone. I for one invested a lot of energy, attended base meetings etc for this and other engagement purposes. Despite insinuations otherwise, briscan ppl invested a lot resources and energy into supporting, prioritizing and being part of first nations responses to g20. The outcome was that we did rally and march together, behind the first nations message. Likewise, collective responsibility for people sweltering in the sun, etc… With acknowledgement also that As part of one community, buses etc organised by Embassy were also available to “non-“embassy folk if needed. Obviously better communication is/was desirable and hopefully will ensue. We all can take responsibility for looking at how we can all work together.

    Also re numbers, the conversation here has included info on decision making re the Sunday flag burning rally but fails to mention the much smaller numbers of people gathered on that day. I was on my way there when i stopped by Musgrave and was told by three people it was cancelled, i could see a meeting was taking place so followed up later, alas no longer able to join in. Of course by Sunday every one was tired and hot, but i think the facts suggest that briscan significantly helped build Sat rally. Briscan helped build and supported both the sat march and the Friday deaths in custody march. Briscan did not program peoples summit sessions on Friday morning, prioritising deaths in custody rally and march as the thing to do. The fact that briscan coordinated a peoples summit or other things does not mean that briscan did not support or show solidarity for BASE or bring any positive thing to events. In fact,
    Briscan organised for lex Wotton to be here. FoE organisd for women from Muckaty, NT to be here for the BASE Tuesday program and for Weds ppls summit event agreed to be held at musgrave park. Briscan intentionally did not schedule the peoples summit events for the weekend in order to prioritize march/es/action and to not overlap first nations conference.

    Once again, i am not saying we couldn’t do better, but i am happy to say that briscan, like BASE, worked their asses off in the lead up to the G20 … to make the peoples summit happen, to support BASE and the BASE program, to support Friday and to build the Saturday march.. Despite everyone’s hard work we didn’t have 10000 people with us on sat….though alongside our work other people around Brisbane and Australia were responding to g20 in their own communities.

    Credit is deserved…due. People are not asking for thanks or glory….briscan is not boasting how awesome it is or things are…but i think it is fair to questioning motivation of public media that seems to divide or detract from the good work people do.

    Despite another long response from me, i am really tired of this conversation and actually trying to no longer engage… But obviously will do if seems crucial….sorry if that seems disrespectful.

    We are planning to develop and circulate an evaluation survey/form in the next couple of weeks. Perhaps we can generate some meaningful, positive conversation from that.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Peace
    Robin

    Like

  18. Hi,

    Interesting conversations all.
    Here’s my 2.5 cents

    On the rally and march: I spent 2 hours in the baking hot sun with a 3 month old, and a 3.5 year old. 2 hours was more than enough, we had to leave to go and get a slurpy (nothing like an anti-capitalist rally to get you to embrace 7-11!) then we got stuck on the “wrong side” of Adelaide street, and so missed the march altogether.

    It was, ironically, during this “missing out” period, that I saw the greatest potential for (a variant of) political action. I was reminded again that the possibilities lie not in everybody taking their places, and playing their roles, but in seeing the possibilities in the spaces between.

    Probably needless to say I have little interest in rallies or marches, and unless we have a belief that pulling great numbers will result, on its own, in our “leaders” responding to our “demands”, [it won’t] I don’t know why we do them. Having said that it does seem that rallies and marches are an inescapable feature of our “alternative” political landscape and so, with this in mind, and with Ewan’s invitation in mind also, I offer these suggestions for the future.

    Let’s be proactive about “family friendly”, let’s ensure shade, seating and hydration for young, old, disabled etc, we could even get someone to sign the proceedings! It seems to me “family friendly” this past week was code for “there will be no anarchists breaking windows”. That’s not good enough.

    I believe the Murris had a van set up specifically for this purpose (comfort for young, old and disabled), this is the kind of “community” we could practically, easily, be doing because, as Ian has inadvertently argued, “community” is inter-generational.

    In a similar vein, let’s put a time limit on it. [I also acknowledge there was some difficult political stuff behind the scenes], but in the end the event is about the crowd, not the speakers. For the record the best speakers for me, and others I’ve spoken to, were the W.A.R. speakers, perhaps because they spoke from the heart, a non-compromises politics rather than a politics of appeal.

    Let’s do the rally at the end. Some people are there to listen, everyone is there to march. A rally at the end means people can decide whether or not they want to hear all/any of the speakers. Putting the rally at the start seems almost like a coercive measure: we’ll save the big bit for last to ensure you all stay for all the people we asked to speak.

    Let’s march at night*. It’s cooler, and more romantic.

    * credit to Riko

    I think it was great that Aboriginal people, causes, and space (ending at Musgrave park) were front and centre. Perhaps ironically, perhaps hopefully, that is something we all agree on. Maybe we should start from this point in the future?

    Oh, and let’s have more imagination, so “the” rally/march is not the only game in town. [I know it wasn’t, the other initiatives were great, and let’s have more next time]!

    AND…

    I appreciate the work people put into the [anti] G-20 effort. I know it’s shit to hear criticism from people who didn’t involve themselves in [this/that particular] effort, but I offer it in a spirit of respect. Let’s celebrate, sure, and recognise hard work, and then let’s think about doing better next time.

    Thanks all for putting on the Peoples’ Summit! My experience of it was great.

    Ian: from WBT site it seems the situation with Ross is more complex than you’re letting on. I can’t find the original article (esp. comments) at the moment but I think it would be fair(er) that you direct people to it when talking on this topic.
    Also, decolonisation is not about “changing the past”.
    Lost Film Festival standalone event sounds great! Maybe even in a public space!

    Robin: I don’t understand the problem with publicly discussing differences in opinion between “us”, given that there is no real “us” (Ian wasn’t even involved in BrisCAN!) and whatever “us” there is, we’ve come to no agreement on this. What harm does it do? What benefit does it bring? Maybe we should think along these lines?
    I do agree that Ian should post the comments that have come up thus far in response to his original post. Ian??

    Ewan: I think it’s not cool to state that “two former RSP [revolutionary socialist party] members” are responsible for BASE [Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy] having difficulties with BrisCAN and/or the march working group. I am confident that BASE are very much making their own decisions about allies and action.

    Fern: yes, yes yes. Especially this: “…any comparisons between BrisCAN’s ‘community’, and that of BASE, which operates within a different cultural framework and has existed for over 2.5 years now, are a bit misguided.”
    ^Ian^

    On organisation v network. Yes, BrisCAN has always been a “network”, although some relate to it as an organisation (perhaps necessarily?!) and some treat it as an organisation. It seems it’s hard to reconcile, and it’s easy to fall back into the same patterns.

    Imogen: I’m sorry you felt disconnected, I would’ve loved to have met you 🙂

    All in all I feel really positive heading into post-G20 politics in Brisbane. I feel I know people better, I feel I know my own politics better, I feel I know the possibilities better and I feel certain that the work we do everyday, between summits, is the point.

    Ech, I was going to re-read all the responses but enough already.

    Night all.

    Eliza

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  19. Ian I just want to clarify something. I never for a second intended to infer that my views on this matter are such that I would seek to shut off conversation. And certainly not that they represent anyone else but myself and my own personal contribition to this conversation. I’m willing to continue the conversation (though respect your choice if you feel you have made your point sufficiently)

    Regarding decision making, I’m not against issue based groups having organisational structures and the advantages that you mention that go along with that. But for the activist community as a whole to have an organisational structure and to attempt to make binding decisions for the whole community, I don’t feel this is possible. I am however interested in working collaboratively with other groups to build consensus on strategies and focus. But I see this as ongoing work and not something that can be managed effectively by a central committee.

    I think that whether BrisCAN continues, and in what form, those of us involved will go forward feeling a renewed sense of purpose.

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  20. hello max and robin,

    thanx for answering my question about whether ‘a central decision making body is practical or possible’ … it was a question i wished to put to other organisers of the people’s summitt but i think yr answer appears conclusive so i will not pursue it any further as some have clearly already lost faith with me anyway.

    i agree with max that we have a lot to thank Northey Street farm for … not solely as a place for food production but also as a friendly gathering place to enjoy music and conversation over the years.

    However in the end the fate of Northey Street and other community based ground-up organising comes down to a question of power – who has it and how it is exercised. As people are aware, Northey Street has become the prey of developers and the BRisbane City Council (BCC) is a developers council. So how is Northey Street to be defended?

    As you know, recently the BCC shut down Jagera Arts Hall and padlocked the gates to the DOGIT area in Musgrave Park that surrounds it. Through legal means, backed by strong political support, the aboriginal community got Jagera back and has control with a long term lease to be signed soon. There was none of the division people often speak of … Quirk acted and the aboriginal community responded immediately and won on Melbourne Cup day this year … the fight had taken many twists and turns but i will leave it to others to write its history.

    In 2009, the Public Trustee of Qld and a merchant bank (Challenger) moved on a community house in Horan Street West End to sell it … a small group immediately occupied AHIMSA house and police were called … there was confrontation and one arrest … the aboriginal community made the highest bid on the building but it was rejected because the Public Trustee did not want an aboriginal community centre (1) opposite West End Primary, (2) beside a building the PT owned and (3) behind the police armoury.

    The Parents & Friends at West End Primary were silent as was the Principal (what did they know? Brian Laver who ran AHIMSA coached their children tennis on the schools courts). Was the Left capable of defending AHIMSA (Imogen does not even know it existed)? Answer: No.

    AHIMSA was sold to a pasta retailer and yet another coffee shop sprung up in West End opposite the school where aboriginal kids could have been.

    Max, you say “Strong community actions and grassroots mechanisms and local solutions are what will save us” … well of course … but what was the difference between AHIMSA and Jagera Hall?

    Jagera Arts Hall is run by the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre Inc – an incorporated association with a board, a membership and central decision making. It has a budget and access to finances. It has legal recognition by the Office of Fair Trading. If one of the board members does a bunk with with the money, she or he can be sued.

    AHIMSA had none of this. It was run by a Libertarian Socialist (Brian Laver) who defrauded the owner of the building and together with an architect stole $1.295M … a section of the Left tried to expose him … through a public campaign … 600 signatures were gathered at the West End market on Saturday mornings … Anna Bligh was literally forced to read out the petition in support of AHIMSA in the parliament on her last day in office … all to no avail.

    The old fella (Ross) who put up the money last month was locked up in a high security high care dementia unit 110 kms away. The Public Trustee and the Public Guardian have sanctioned the theft of his house by an unethical accountant, they have allowed AHIMSA and all other properties sold to build this community centre. Three lawyers backed up by administrative staff and a whole building of lawyers, medical reports have assessed Ross by (1) ticking boxes and (2) by categorising him (3) by refusing him contact with his friends and (4) by surveillance and reports of his private conversations with friends. All this have become the subject of affidavits in court. THIS IS THE EXERCISE OF POWER. The court has sanctioned it and is likely to sanction it again (it did so on 23 Nov 2014) .

    A small group of friends have proposed a different route for Ross: ours is through friendship and community ties, with friends to support him with a carer to provide proper structure and discipline for Ross to live in his own home (yes, the one stolen from him). We have minimal chance of success because we are up against state machinery of Public Guardian, Public Trustee and QCAT – all working hand in glove.

    Max, I feel that a defence of Northey Street is going against the corporate tide … the developers endgame will prevail … perhaps the flood plain may save Northey Street … the BCC used the same pretext (asbestos) to close the site as they did with Jagera Hall. I do not know how Northey Street is structured (it is probably an incorporated association) but I do know they will need the right mix of decision making, political support, direct action to overcome the raw EXERCISE of POWER that is to come.

    This is my last post on the matters you have raised … thank you for your forebearance to a crusty old marxist … i wish you all the best.

    in solidarity,
    ian

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  21. Absolutely,

    I was responding to Ian with that aspect of the comment 🙂

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  22. Just quickly, Max, I am not advocating a central decision body at all… Rather a central knowledge point. Something so groups that do have trouble communicating can still have the benefit of the knowledge and progress or needs of other groups. A place to foster those new to the ideas of the left, to canvass groups available in the area or to decide to start something new… A place of and for connection building and community advancing.

    Not a central hierarchical concept at all – and I would hope it would always act with tact and diplomacy in representing all the viewpoints.

    Just wanted to make that clearer. I think point one below may have it misconstrued.

    Xx

    When is the next meeting I can attend?

    Imogen

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  23. There is so much to reply to in this discussion.

    A few things that leap out:

    1. I do not believe a central decision making body is practical nor possible. Not over the whole of the social progressive movement and certainly not over the left. Any body charged with central decision making will simply become another faction that everyone else is pissed off with. Yes we need collaborative community strategising and actions, but this is not the same as central decision making. It is more dynamic, inclusive, adaptive and invigorating.

    2. In terms of anti-capitalist actions and what that entails. There has been talk that issues based approaches are counter productive to movement against capitalism. I beg to disagree SO MUCH with this idea. Capitalism and especially corporatism ravages and destroys our communities on so many levels. We can’t fight it only by attacking the head of this beast. Issues based actions seek to build communities that are free FROM THE GROUND UP of corporatism. Let me give just one example: community gardens such as Northey Street farm. Northey Street farm has probably done more than a large slice of the Left has done in years just by seeking to change the way people buy and consume food. Yes it is one specific issue, but no amount of chopping heads off Monsantos will bring about an abundance of fresh locally grown produce.

    Bentley was an issue based approach, and it brought down, for now, a mining conglomerate. If every community had the will (and support) that Bentley had, they could not drill for CSG anywhere.

    These grass roots community responses aren’t about replacing capitalism from the top down, but from the GROUND up. I consider myself a lefty, but I no longer believe that replacing the capitalist system with a communist one will lead to any good if it is another top down approach. Electoral communism won’t save us. Revolution won’t save us. Strong community actions and grassroots mechanisms and local solutions are what will save us. Communism in it’s truest sense, and not surprisingly, much like Aboriginal society (though with different cultural and religious memes to white Australia), where communities take control of their land, their production, their markets, not through revolution or electoral victory but just through doing it. I’m not talking about adopting Aboriginal culture. But we can certainly learn a lot from the first nations general approach to society, education, land management and so on. Our communities and theirs might be more homogeneous with this approach – not assimilist – I don’t envisage either culture being subsumed by the other, but with an ease of movement in trade and people between communities.

    I still believe we need to vote electorally to ensure the govt in power is the lesser of the available evils, and that issues groups such as the greens have political power, but this isn’t where we should devote the bulk of our energy. I believe protests are good, but probably the two most important acts we can do to change corporatism are blockades and consumer democracy.

    Whether it’s the government running the means of production or corporates, corruption will always mean profits are siphoned off to those with power. Only consumer action can have any lasting affect on what is produced, where and when.
    Effective consumer action requires an informed consumer and this is where groups like anti-food irradiation, anti-gmo, health standards advocates, consumer watchdog organisations, food standards boards (govt run so we need to work harder to influence), unions (who should be advocating for workers rights in this country and others) etc etc have a role so we need to be starting/influencing/advocating to such groups.

    Even though anti-food irradiation, just for example, may be seen as a small issue group, it is at the heart of the fight against capitalism.

    Community actions of all kinds are needed, and each sector of the community will identify different needs. What groups like BrisCAN can do, is seed, resource and encourage these actions. One such example was the Alternative G20 Newspaper. BrisCAN did hardly any work on that at all – the work was done by a newspaper collective established AFTER the initaitive and moved out of the BrisCAN organising sphere. We had nothing to do with the project from that point on other than to assist with promoting it.

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  24. Hello friends,

    Just a reminder. BrisCAN was simply formed out of community conversations on the G20 coming to Brisbane and it was identified clearly that it aimed to support collaborations in the lead up to the G20 and beyond. it wasn’t formed to be the Brisbane Anti-capitalist think tank… though it could be if that is what people involved want it to be. Some people got involved in BrisCAN, some didn’t… some new people/groups will get involved, some will drop out… BrisCAN may continue to meet as it has or it may change. It is really unfair for people who are not getting involved to attempt to prescribe what it should or should not be. The next big collaboration could be on building community (and opposing capitalism) through creating a community garden – or theatre piece – or – an elections campaign – or a think tank or a newspaper or not…

    I would love to see vibrant campaigns that go beyond issues politics to systems change. I am with Friends of the Earth. I am a peace and nuclear-free campaigner. I am not an economist. I have come to attempt to foster community conversations and collaborations beyond the issues i work on as I see this broader collaboration as necessary for our survival as a community – as a planet. I do this for my daughter, myself and because I feel I have to.

    A fair and open conversation/critique of the recent G20 “mobilisations” would be a critique of all involved. A failure to be united/collaborate is a collective responsibility and a collective failure = at best – and should not be blamed on us – or them. Issues based politics are/were prevalent throughout the week of action.

    As for the the Sat march: BASE people messaged BASE things, Union people messaged union things, greenies messaged greenie things, climte angels messaged climatey things, peace people messaged peacy things… these are all relevant and fair responses to the G20. I see them as all belonging together… and whether or not in complete agreement/allingment – all standing together and sharing a space is better than not. From where I sit, no one on the BrisCAN march platform or in any of the activities we coordinated showed contempt for any one- despite as Ian says contempt being shown to them/us.
    I am not sure why it is considered ok for contempt to have been shown and really in these conversations to now be being shown for potential friends/ allies/ anyone really…

    Despite imperfections, disagreements, the state and the heat, people did stand and march together – behind the Aboriginal Warriors…and I think this is a positive achievement. Many people enjoyed the march and thought it was meaningful and brought their issues of concern to it- Mexicans, Chileans, groups that are not “part of” BrisCAN or BASE. It was wonderful to be able to be with and help bring those people to Musgrave Park and I am proud that I was part of that.

    I would have loved for it to be bigger, broader, flashier, more unified, cooler… but I am not going to say it was bad or that the people who didn’t live up to my expectations or who didn’t behave as I wish they had – or didn’t message my message were bad. And I am not going to agree that all the failings or righteousness fall on one team or another.

    We can let the politics of contempt, competition and division prevail in this conversation and dominate our further actions and relationships – or we can embrace the idea – that actually -most of us at least – did our best – with good will – and good intention… that we have a lot more to learn…. and that we need each other.

    Thanks for all you do!

    peace,
    robin

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  25. A couple of points. Ian I notice you haven’t suggested how the rally could have been improved, beyond asserting that it should have been more anti-capitalist. If the rally wast “formulaic”, perhaps you can introduce us to your own secret formula. Perhaps you could have helped organise it? Why did you abstain from the only broad, open collective effort to build a public response to the G20?

    Secondly, the “personality politics on the left” – I presume you’re referring to the naked hostility of the two ex-RSP members who have done their damndest to foster hostility in BASE against the rest of the left. The resultant hostility to white activists is a serious problem and isolates BASE from longstanding allies of the Aboriginal movement. Blaming these problems in Brisbane on “the left” doesn’t account for the fact that the hostility is actually isolated to Brisbane – the sectarianism is coming from within BASE. Also, anecdotally I can say that the contempt shown for people baking in the sun on Saturday alienated a lot of people from BASE, black and white alike, which is really sad given otherwise huge achievements.

    Thirdly, the Peoples’ March was a huge achievement given that it was only the tiniest of overworked groups of people who had the wherewithal to step up and organise it, combined with the unprecedented police/political/media campaing that was nothing short of mass psychological warfare, the most sophisticated campaign I believe there’s ever been to stifle protest. Blaming relatively small numbers on rally organisers is just silly in this context. The numbers were actually quite impressive given the climate of intense intimidation. But no, these people were “made impotent by the containment of the Left, not as in the past with bans on assembly and marching but through allowance.” – That’s just so out of this world! Have you been living under a rock for the last year? Seriously. The only thing that wasn’t banned was assembly, and even that seemed to be at severe risk of mass arrest! Have you ever organised a rally where you were actively threatened with the use of Long Range Acoustic Devices? No, it was “the left” who was responsible for “containment”. Should we have used molotov cocktails? What are you actually advocating?

    Ian you sound like your speaking from a place well above “the left” – it’s a pity the view is so poor from up there. It sux down here too, but at least we’re all in it together. I look forward to you rejoining us some day.

    Ewan

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  26. Ian
    You say people are in denial but these are the very things that people have been discussing and debating . In fact Rob’s presentation at Everybody Gets Icecream was very much on this topic.
    You are forcing multiple different efforts, debates and discussions into your already existing critique.
    Cheers
    Dave

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  27. Ian, & All,

    I’d be interested in assisting the keeping of a centralised centre for schools of thought. That place where representatives of smaller groups come and report and share with other groups. A zine connecting them all? Would be a great production from this and artworks on themes… And spaces to share and collaborate and retreat to as well. Yes. This seems a positive step.

    I am for democracy with transparency and protection of the planet and human rights – starting from home and radiating out.

    I support finding positive and new ways forward. And as I am finding my feet again a spot to canvass and share the ideas out there from does seem rather ideal.

    If anyone’s keen to be a part of that idea and work with me. Just saying: I’m keen. 😊

    Imogen

    You all hobnob a bit… And it would be good for me to work out what you’re all really saying. 😉

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  28. hello dave,

    Of course i am saying more is possible but not around protest, not around G20.

    Regarding 4zzz, for the most part it is Andy that does Paradigm Shift – which is one of few political shows on 4ZZZ.

    Radio Reversal is a good show and people should listen to it, as i do when i get the chance.

    4zzz was never really political, not even at the outset in 1975 even though it came out of the anti-war movement. The first show was compered by John Woods who came from the ABC and commercial radio – his opening broadcast cld have been an ABC show.

    4zzz refuses to become a left wing media organisation in the way 3CR is, despite efforts by some to increase the political content … for example Zed are still quite mainstream in their approach to news. this political failure at 4ZZZ is even more galling because it is the gift of the building by the Communist Party of Australia that made 4ZZZ’s survival possible.

    Zed have benefited directly from the blood and sweat of dedicated unionists and workers and their programmers do not even feel the slightest misgiving or need to acknowledge this … most shows on Zed don’t even support unions or their members. Sorry I have not had time to read Alternatives to G20, not even sure i was aware of it … my work on Ross’s case has been unrelenting every day and nite for the past month.

    There were attempts by some to bring BASE and BrisCan together but it was not possible because of personality politics on the Left that you must be aware of – i am not talking about the past here, the sectarianism is very much now, if anything it is worse than in the past because there is no coherent group where decisions can be made.

    At the saturday rally the young warriors (WAR) were openly contemptuous of BrisCan and its organisers. By then it was too late and so the murri rally went overtime, there was confusion with the PA system so i withdrew the LeftPress PA and BrisCan took over with a bigger PA and lost the crowd, who ended up wilting under trees and chatting in small groups. The chairperson seemed oblivious to what was happening in the heat and did not use the authority of the chair to bring the rally to a focus … and the politcs were abysmal … no focus on G20 or capitalism. it was all very formulaic … repeated ad nauseum time and time again … recently during the bombing of Gaza … during the gay marriage debates … during the refugee rallies, at march-in-march. The people’s summit did nothing to ameliorate it – why are people so much in denial of something that stands out like the proverbial? the fact is 2,000 people is a very small number of marchers made impotent by the containment of the Left, not as in the past with bans on assembly and marching but through allowance.

    the Left ambles on … meaningless and irrelevant … can BrisCan turn it around? only if it recognises the problems and addresses them.

    do i sound negative, yes. have i proposed alternatives yes … a central forum where decisions are made and people asked to help out … not leaving it to the same old crew.

    ian

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  29. Ian, you just sound negative and not terribly constructive. At least idealists have a vision of how success looks. You have failure and say lets learn from it. Okay, lets not do it that way.

    Friends of Ahimsa – I should have been in that group. Never heard of it though. Really? Still going is it? Not good community. I agree.

    Imogen

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  30. Hi all
    Ian I broadly agree with your historical analysis, actually I’m sure most people engaged in this discussion would say something similar.
    It is because of this historical context ,which again to reiterate isn’t just about political defeat but also structural changes to how capitalism operates, that the possibilities for anti-G20 activity were pretty modest. Given that things went pretty well.

    Are you saying that something more was possible? If so what , how could it have been achieved and why didn’t you suggested it before the events? Did you think it would be more productive to wait for things to have finished?

    Also I don’t know why the activity of 4zzz is the subject of discussion here. You have a show on 4zzz why did you fail to be ‘remotely political or relevant against the tide of capitalism’? What about shows like Radio Reversal?

    Speaking of media was the Alternatives to G20 paper a failure? I think it was a remarkable success. I am very proud of the two articles I have in there. Both which actually talk about capitalism and the G20 in the way you suggest we should and both were ground out over lunch breaks at work and late at night. It was hard work to write these hard words when working two jobs

    What about the Everybody Gets Icecream workshops? Here capitalism was talked about directly, over 60 peoples discussed capitalism, work and gender and also the relationship between political activity like the G20 and overcoming capitalism. Was this a failure? And by what benchmark?

    I don’t see the point of bemoaning our historical context. Some of us were born well after the historical defeats of the 70s. We don’t see any point in mourning battles that others lost for us nor are we chained to the analysis, language and modes of operating of those that lost these struggles. The only option is analysis it and get on with it. And that’s what people are doing. Of course it is small and largely informal, scattered and without much influence. Seriously what else do you expect? The stars that exist are these moments of light, these small activities that are possible in the present, but are premised on the future holding more.

    Much love , red starts and communist horizons
    Dave

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  31. I’m trying to look at the state of play objectively …. since the 1967 referendum aboriginal community has be on the rise … 1982 Commonwealth Games … black organisations formed … 1988 … a challenge to a racist history … successive invasion days growing bigger … more tent embassies …. sovereignty movement to challenge native title … a food program, grannies groups etc

    since 1967 the Left has been in decline no matter what configuration it has taken … the communist party declined and liquidated, trot groups that had grown during the Vietnam war became curiously irrelevant comic book marxists … in an ironic twist IS became SALT … the anarchist movement imploded losing book shops, learning exchanges and syndicalist newspapers … the anti-globalisation came but what has it achieved … has it prevented a single war? … certainly not Iraq which has gone and come again … notwithstanding 50,000 people marching in Brisbane … not even a VicNet as in Melbourne … a big nothing in Bris … this needs be reversed by hard talk and real work …

    Australians are living off their credit cards … still consuming not rejecting capitalism and there is no Left challenging the growing unemployment even in our youth …

    In Musgrave Park, a small red tent was pitched during G20 and people gathered around to hear SUWA (Squatters and Unemployed Workers Association) broadcast intelligent political programs throughout the week under the banner of 3CR. Where was the Brisbane equivalent? 4ZZZ was pushing out journalism 101 and not even able to get together one OB for the duration … 98.9 Murri radio was also noticeably absent … no historical context can paint a bright picture out of the the failure of 4ZZZ to be remotely political or relevant against the tide of capitalism that G20 represents … what stars are there? only the type that a boxer sees after the last knockdown and they are not remotely red.

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  32. Hi All
    Ian actually organisation ‘is sustained by collective decision making where political issues are debated and recorded, solidarity built, individual responsibility is taken, finances properly acquitted and people are held accountable.’ A community is maintain by a complex mix of formal and informal relations, structures and institutions. Is it community or organisation you are calling for? And why do you think that either could come out of something like BrisCan?

    I’m not sure I find the idea of a Left community attractive in any sense: as in a community that is based on formal political identification. If something is wrong with the Left (still not sure who this is and/or why we might want one) it is its tendency to become self-referantial and no longer relate to broader and more complex spaces where we actually live our lives. But again I think this is largely a product of our current conjuncture. The reshaping of society by capital in the last 30 plus years and the especially the changes in class composition have undermined if not abolished large geographical and workplace based communities and people have responded through the proliferation of often globally linked micro communities built on specific cultural tastes ( music, Star Trek, etc) or various forms of identity. I don’t say this to tut tut history but again argue that like so much what is seen as a problem of choices is actually one of our historical context.

    That said I am walking away from the People’s Summit/March experience with much denser connections with some comrades built by political discussion and shared effort and I am also far more connected to a contingent of other comrades than I was before. I don’t know if it counts as irony but I think this is actually and concretely moving in the direction you want things to go Ian. You might see this if you care to look. If you pay too much attention to what people like Sharon Burrows are saying from some platform somewhere you are missing what comrades are saying to each other standing as we find ourselves in corridors and crowds, in workshops and around dinner tables.

    With love, red stars and communist horizons
    Dave

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  33. Hello all,

    For the past month a small group of people, formerly known as the Friends of AHIMSA (peace) house have been trying to protect a member of that small community that grew up in Horan Street, West End. AHIMSA house started up just after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. At AHIMSA house there were poetry readings, films, foco nuevo, political meetings, book launches, weekend markets and many other events associated with community. The Clothing Footwear & Textile Union had a counselling room there for its members who were being exploited at work. The was one of the best political libraries in Australia housed in its walls

    Leading members of the Left were involved, including libertarians, anarchists, catholic workers and socialists. However AHIMSA house was never run as a collective, there was never any central decision making where people were made accountable. The funds came from one person which made it more like a charity and even less democratic.

    During its operation there was open fraud committed on the benefactor and on the people who tried to make AHIMSA house a successful community centre.

    When the fraud was discovered and attempts made to hold the perpetrators accountable, the Left disappeared accepting no responsibility for the collapse of AHIMSA. Attempts were made at the Brisbane Anarchist Summer School (BASS) to discuss why no one felt accountable for this failure even though many had enjoyed the fruits of AHIMSA during its short lifetime. I was asked to apologise to a leading anarchist whose session on community I tried to raise my concerns about how fast the Left snuck away from AHIMSA. A very public petition campaign was waged by friends of AHIMSA to prevent the sale of the community centre by the bank. The petition signed by 600 people in West End was read out in the parliament by the local member, Anna Bligh, on her last day in office in 2012. Friends of AHIMSA did organise and did take responsibility for our actions … we cast no blame except on the guilty.

    On 16 October 2014 just ten years after the AHIMSA project was started, the benefactor was abducted by the public guardian from his family home of 40 years and placed in a high security dementia ward at an RSL care facility over 100 kms from Brisbane. Five friends of AHIMSA rallied to help Ross. There is a prohibition order placed against us. We were denied contact with Ross for five days, we are still denied phone contact, we were accused in court of trying to break him out of the facility, all references to Ross have been ordered to be taken down from the internet. The Public Guardian and the Public Trustee have attempted to evict his carer from this house. The phone was cut off. After four weeks of intensive campaigning the friends group have managed to bring their concerns about his abduction before the Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal today (21 Nov 2014). Against us were five lawyers and officers of the Public Guardian and the Public Trustee all supported by an army of lawyers and big busgets. Whether Ross is released from detention will be decided sometime next week.

    I do not know how many people on the BrisCan list know of the story of AHIMSA house but there are clear lessons from it.

    Tides of protests like G20 and Iraq War flow and ebb, but community is sustained by collective decision making where political issues are debated and recorded, solidarity built, individual responsibility is taken, finances properly acquitted and people are held accountable. This is all hard work … grubby difficult work … there are no claps or self indulgence here. Idealism is counter to community – to pretend we have community because we caught the fleeting breeze of visiting Brazilians or anyone else is no basis on which to build change. What can Bris Can do? Well BrisCan did bring Sharan Burrow to speak about developing countries to the People’s Summit – but who does the former President of the ACTU speak for? Does she speak for workers? If so which ones? And why is there such unemployment and underemployment in developing countries and where are the NGOs to protect the poor in Indian villages. Are the Naxalites are right? NGOs are on the gravy train in India and elsewhere … they are part of the problem, part of the capitalist system!

    Be careful what you wish for, comrades

    Ian

    btw if people are interested there have been 46 reads on Workers BushTelegraph of “Does the Left have Community?” since yesterday and two comments made. i have no idea of who is on the BrisCan list or even if they consider themselves Lefties.

    Like

  34. Robin is right of course, I find it hard not to agree that a public criticism of the left is not as beneficial as the left critiquing themselves openly amongst each other.

    I am guilty of publicly criticising community, and confess, I did this quite directly in response to an idea that was posited about how good this community is, here in West End and surrounds. As I haven’t felt connected.

    Now again, Robin is right to say, if you get up and engage with the community around you, perhaps you’ll have your voice heard more and know about and be included in more as you’re there when these things are announced or created. But this isn’t always the case.

    I can hear in what Robin is saying, that there are groups (medics and legals and ngo’s, etc) that have begun and got off the ground. In this there is promise and hope that things can change and metamorphose as things change and still be on track (the left track of course).

    In this there is an echo of Dorothy Day’s famous quote: “never doubt a small group of people can change the world, because in fact, that is all that ever has.” And this is clearly truth. Plain and simple.

    But on the left, we face such diversity of opinion, we threaten to undermine our cause by constant infighting and nit-picking. There seems no choice to keep groups small. Genghis Khan knew that groups of smaller groups and smaller groups still all reporting back to a collective of representatives from all groups was a good working system. It seems to me that somehow, we need to network more efficiently, to debate more vigorously and to find strength in collective similarities of cause (if issues get us bogged down).

    It scares me to think of the next war. I do not want it to happen. Values and beliefs and hearts and mind and opinions set in stone from birth to the grave. Science b religion, religion v religion. State v State and citizen v citizen. It makes sense we need to be constantly as engaged as possible in the knowledge we live with such differences all around us all the time. With acceptance and a guarantee of no harm for holding an opinion (nice to hear Peter Greste may be coming home) and a constant process of openness about opinions and affiliations we may all find common ground and peace.

    Sigh.

    I wish we were all perfectly free to be accepted as valid and worthwhile members of our community. That we all have good friends and good food regularly before us and that we find people who like our jokes to share them with – or to argue about how on earth something like that could be funny.

    I think we all need to reach out to the single, the poor, the jobless and homeless right here around us a lot lot more. When we start to care for these people and keep ensuring everyone is okay.. Making regular spaces for people to feel safe in and fed in and listened to in… We need a real big community house folks!

    Anyway: love to all and solidarity. It’s hard being left and always right. 😉

    Robin: you’re a rock! And a mum and a lovely beautiful expression of what I’d love to see more of. A brave community warrior! A human rights activist and a woman worth holding as role model! Hats off to you! 💐🌹

    Cheers everyone,
    Thanks for listening,
    Imogen

    Like

  35. Well said Robin I wholeheartedly agree.

    Like

  36. Dear friends,
    For the sake of openness in communication and on questions of unity and solidarity, i would like to point out that Ian’s original statement critical of Briscan was published by him in a public forum- the workers bush telegraph website as well as cc’d to other activists and community members not on this list. The forum we are chatting on briscandiscusdion was set up for internal discussion, so i want it to be clear that while we r discussing it here/ internally, Ian has made those comments as a public statement. The comments on this thread have not been re- posted on workers bush telegraph nor has any further comment from Ian in reflecting these conversations. I am grateful for the diversity of response to the original post, While i call Ian a friend, and i presume that he would rationalise his statement as an attempt to open conversation, as it was made as a public statement. i feel that it can only be seen to be intended to insult and to discredit briscan rather than to foster meaningful conversation in the “left”. i think the statement is hurtful and disregards the amazing work by many over the last year which includes peoples involvement in and solidarity and support for BASE.

    As we all know it is easy for people to criticise others without self evaluation, involvement or engagement with them…the “other” is an easy target..however, not a very helpful concept on the road to building community.

    BrisCAN has attempted to function as a non-hierarchical open structure where all/diversity is welcome. It is not perfect. Not everyone likes it or feels comfortable in it. However it has functioned as an alternate organising/ networking structure and models some of the change some people would like to see in our society by working as a defacto workers cooperative…the people doing the work have been making the decisions, while canvassing involvement from others. People who want things to happen, or be a certain way, therefore should participate rather than denounce. If your ideas/politics/proposal has legs and validity it should/will stand up to robust discussion from your peers interested in engaging with them…and allies/comrades willing to work together to make it happen… so if u want something to happen take responsibility for it. Organize it. Make it happen and don’t blame others for it not happening.

    A year ago Brisbane didn’t have a street medics collective, a budding legal support network, a budding independent media collective or network… Groups had their own elements of these but were not necessarily sharing or talking with each other. A year ago i had not had the vibrant conversations with ecumenical networks, human rights groups, ngos, socialists, anarchists, Brazilians, south Africans, First Peoples and just people of many races and backgrounds etc that i have had in the lead up to and during the G20. In and amongst our extended networks there were newspapers, zines, angels, gigs, engagement with media, pamphlets, scrambled eggs, mock tax havens, prayers, phone hook ups, press conferences,listenning posts, community access media space, various protests, street theater, poetry, songs and more… Briscan has played a part in many of these things..

    Focused on our own stuff ppl may not have noticed that Outside of briscan and BASE there were actually quite a lot of other actions and responses to the g20. Isn’t that great! This means, not only amongst ourselves but more broadly, we still have opportunity to build and broaden our sense of community.

    For me this has been an intense year with lots of difficulties, conversations and also lots of possibly small but positive outcomes… I am glad i was part of briscan and BASE. Movement building self critique and open constructive analysis is necessary and should be done…by everyone…not just by or about briscan… i am not going to waste my time competing over who is/was better or whose actions were more valid or better. We don’t need to do the work of the state and talk each other down. Real conversation of real purpose could/should ensue…and any of you/us can make that happen. Walking alongside each other should be just that… unity through community.

    Peace
    Robin

    Like

  37. Hello All,

    A great question: Does the left have community. I have been asking it for a while. Being bounced due to one persons outing of me or another’s around the edges of any groups I might find interesting. Always finding out after the event and always feeling like my voice was heard and then plagiarised while stolen from me.

    My sense is this. Men need to grow up and stop treating women like objects and start real dialogues with them as intelligent and worthwhile contributors.

    Women need to be in solidarity and protect other women. Without fear they will lose their partners.

    And the issues need to be clearly spelt out. History is important, some history lessons and film nights that run regularly for everyone, all the time in the same known location would be a good start.

    I am passionate about a lot of issues and am almost through my double law and criminology degree. I feel disconnected and on the out. It makes me baulk every time people I know to be community builders – shirk me, as though that is okay. It’s not.

    Sexism and bigotry and small differences in leftist themes appear some huge hurdles for some around here – and sadly, the way social things tend to go, if one person who is perceived to have power gets away with dissing another, that other has little chance. How about real community? This might mean mingling with people who are not your closest friends some of the time people.

    Oh yes, the left, want to eat their cake too! I know, how dare they. But they do!

    I went to see some films at the Uniting church. It was empty. I went to go to Dave Andrews talk on democracy, the house centre was locked and no one was there.

    I spent some time in Musgrave Park enjoying a relaxed and ambient atmosphere feeling totally disconnected.

    Yes: this community has work to do.

    That being said. I think with the shoe string budget and the available volunteers, this series of events being organised at all is testament to the strength and determination of the left. From here, surely with questions like this being asked and addressed, we can all get better?!

    Imogen

    Like

  38. Dear all,

    It seems that this email thread might have already moved somewhat past Ian’s initial email, but I’d like to offer a couple of responses of my own nonetheless.

    1. I didn’t attend the umbrella BrisCAN meetings after the first few last year, largely because I became more involved in the Peoples Summit working group and couldn’t do both. However (and other organisers can correct me if I’m wrong), I distinctly remember a decision being made early on that BrisCAN would not represent any singular political agenda, but instead would make space for multiple agendas to be heard, precisely because of the diversity of participants and breadth of opposition to the G20. This might have translated into what you perceived as ‘issue politics’, Ian, rather than there having been a unified platform. I actually believe that representing a number of different positions is a strength, rather than a weakness, and I don’t see how any of the issues you’ve listed are not related to capitalism and (following Dave) the ways in which it is currently rolled out by the state(s).

    All of BrisCAN’s meetings were open to the public, and there was a discussion email list in operation right throughout the lead-up, so I think that for folks to not have suggested a particular political position before the summit and rally, but then criticise BrisCAN for not having represented it, more than anything shows a misunderstanding of what BrisCAN was about and how it operated. That said, I do think that the rally and march might have catalysed people to think and speak up about what and how we still need to resist. Carrying these conversations on well beyond the G20 is a great idea, and has always explicitly been part of the project.

    Besides this, it’s true that the Murri program was front and centre at the rally and march, and so it should have been. I think we’re all in agreement there.

    2. I too am a bit confused by what might be taken as evidence of community, and why, in this instance, it seems to centre around attendance at film screenings. For me, ‘community’ isn’t fostered or evidenced by attendance at any specific event (though this can also be important), but is built over the longer-term through organising together. As someone who was involved in the Peoples Summit working group as an organiser, I do have a sense of being part of a particular community now that I didn’t have a year ago. Again, I think that given the (healthy) diversity of political positions and strategies in Brisbane, ‘communities’ is a more relevant term, and that expecting there to be a sense of ‘community’ amongst ‘the Left’ is missing the mark. Further, any comparisons between BrisCAN’s ‘community’, and that of BASE, which operates within a different cultural framework and has existed for over 2.5 years now, are a bit misguided.

    In my experience, community is best fostered by engaging with other people in a spirit of openness and inquiry. I can’t help but feel that it’s a little ironic, Ian, that your email laments a perceived lack of community, but in doing so (correct me if I’m wrong), seems to be aiming to polarise.

    That said, this seems an important discussion, and I’m glad it’s been initiated.

    Happy to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    Cheers,
    Fern.

    Like

    • History & inequality : Capital & labour

      Hello Fern

      I wish to respond to your comments in quotes below.

      “…any comparisons between BrisCAN’s ‘community’, and that of BASE, which operates within a different cultural framework and has existed for over 2.5 years now, are a bit misguided”

      and

      “why, in this instance, it seems to centre around attendance at film screenings?”- Fern

      If we do not know our history how can we learn about community? The common struggle of Brisbane Blacks and the Democratic Rights movement in Queensland for Aboriginal Lands Rights are depicted in lost films: “The Whole World Is Watching” “1982 Commonwealth Games Protest Film (‘We Fight’)” and a number of other docos in the Lost Film Festival.

      If you look at the Lost Film Festival program it was essentially a record of the past 40 years of struggle for change mainly here in Queensland but also eleswhere – and (since you place such a value of diversity) the films covered many fronts: Aboriginal issues, women’s issues, anti-uranium mining and export, democratic rights, and the very nature of dissent itself (‘Manufacturing Dissent’ by Debra Beattie). Beside which, it was a lot of hard work by Peter Gray to get the films ready for showing, almost a life’s work … so no little thing to be dismissed in blaise fashion (however unintentional).

      I distinctly remember a decision being made early on that BrisCAN would not represent any singular political agenda

      and

      … rather than there having been a unified platform. I actually believe that representing a number of different positions is a strength, rather than a weakness, and I don’t see how any of the issues you’ve listed are not related to capitalism – Fern

      I am not arguing that there is one correct point of view. G20 is not about issues, least of all about issues that concern people who attend rallies like the one on 16 Nov during G20 e.g. climate change or de-colonisation or about refugees not being accepted into Australia … G20 is a PR machine for world leaders in charge of capitalist countries many of which are in financial crisis brought on by the richest stock markets. G20 differs from the WTO and IMF in that it has no bureaucracy, no structure. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that a People’s Rally and March would tackle the main concern of G20: capitalism … if you look at the placards or listen to the speeches in this response you will notice there was very little reflection on replacement of a system of human greed with a system that looks after human needs.

      Failure to engage with workers and their organisations
      One prevalent issue I have with the People’s Rally is the failure to engage with workers and their organisations. Adrian gives some limited examples in his response to this critique. Compare his account with that of the Battle of Seattle by Key Martin where “Labor delegations from 120 countries marched, including a large participation from Canada.” This weakness in the Brisbane (and Australian) Left has been time and time again in a number of articles on WBT by authors more thoughtful and cogent than me – Humphrey McQueen ‘On the Crisis‘ is one, Dave Eden is always banging on about these things in his blog: ‘Words from Struggle Street‘. According to one respondent on this list these questions were raised at the People’s Summit. There are no secrets on the Brisbane Left, people on thus list can’t hide and say they don’t know about it. I also raised similar points at BrisCAN popular education sessions. I would be interested to hear from you how much discussion was there between BrisCAN and BFU about what came out of such educationals?)

      The reason that the rally was ‘shambolic’ is not because of what happened on this day alone. The G20 People’s Rally is a political repetition of an old and tired format. It was the fault of any individual or any group. It is not personal. It is a reflection of the state of the Left politically and organizationally working in different communities, whether they be in farming communities (Lock the Gate) or in mining communities (ETU and CFMEU). Be they at Bentley or Emerald.

      Those that follow a more liberal brand of politics remain confused about the state of the world because the issue is not ‘freedom’ or ‘diversity’ – there are plenty who cry freedom to exploit. How do workers get control of production and re-distributes the wealth for the benefit of the community.

      Finally, Fern, can I appeal to the muso in you and beseech that you and others from BrisCAN keep your eyes on the prize.

      Regards,
      Ian

      Reference: The Battle of Seattle

      Like

  39. I think the very fact that the Peoples’ March took place at all was a remarkable achievement given the tiny radical forces remaining in Brisbane after years of defeat of the social movements and the huge consequent decline of the organised far left. But I agree, there was a marked contrast between what I think were historic mobilisations packed with remarkable achievements and victories led by BASE and others, and the other protest/discussion events of the week and weekend. I thank Ian for starting this important discussion.

    Some points Ian made do require correction though. Regarding “minimal negotiation between the two groups”, this is untrue. There were months of negotiations. The frustration many felt at baking in the heat wave for hours longer than planned and advertised came from a last minute change of longstanding plans – the BASE rally going almost an hour overtime, and a large number of BASE speakers being added to the Peoples’ March speaking list at Roma St. This lengthened proceedings to the extent that many people simply went home before the march had even commenced. The multiple unplanned stops along the march route lost even more people before the march had finished. While many people were ok with the unannounced changes to the planned format of the day, many were vocally pissed off and voted with their feet. We can discuss how it all managed to break down like this. In my view this was a failure of what could have been a successful joint action between Briscan and BASE. The big question is why, and how to improve joint relations in future. This is important because I think that collaboration between movements, building strong relationships, is essential to strengthening progressive forces as a whole. I think slamming “the left” for their lack of “community” is unfair. Let’s talk in specifics, not generalities.

    Regarding political focus and emphasis, I don’t think Ian’s account is completely accurate. The overwhelming messaging of the Peoples’ March, in the leadup and on the day, was anti-austerity. Given the weakness of anti-capitalist movements in Australia, I think this is the best chance we have of assisting disenchanted masses of people in reaching anti-capitalist conclusions. Running on naked anti-capitalist slogans alone more than a decade after the collapse of the anti-globalisation movement would be ultraleft posturing. Linking the big issues of the day to neoliberalism provides a bridge between disenchantment and anti-system consciousness. Ian also seemed to argue against the Peoples’ March having any speakers, or perhaps that the wrong speakers were chosen? I don’t understand this criticism. Perhaps Ian could elaborate.

    As for the Peoples’ Summit – I think it was a real achievement, again given the weakened state of progressive forces today, and the extremely difficult environment organisers had to work in given the massive anti-protest vibe built by cops, politicians and media. The program was balanced, if perhaps too ambitious. The greatest problem in my opinion was the fact that organisers were forced to hold events in multiple venues spread too far apart. This was in a large part due to the last minute cancellation of our booking by the Greek Club, and the lockdown of the city. Organisers pulled off an impressive event against very tough odds and should be congratulated.

    Overall, the problems that were encountered come down to a weakened far left (the big successes of BASE over the last few days being the notable exception to this rule) and an extremely difficult terrain for activists created by unprecedented draconian laws and a horrific Murdoch media campaign. Collectively we can address one of these things. I agree that building community can help. The questions are, how, and who will step up and help? We need an honest discussion as to how this can be achieved.

    Thanks again for your thoughts Ian, and I look forward to others’.

    Ewan

    Like

  40. A good idea Ian.

    Like

  41. Hi All
    Ian I think you are really criticising a horse for nor being a giraffe.
    We need to be serious materialists (and dialecticians?) about all this.
    Whilst we may wish for all kinds of class and anti-capitalist
    organisations and formations the possibilities are overdetermined by the
    complex interplay of all the political,structural and technological
    factors that constitute the composition of the class in this present
    moment. What small handfuls of comrades can do in this context is always
    pretty limited.
    That said the experiences of the Summit – a few hundred people engaging in
    collective discussion; and the rally – a few thousand people defying a
    repressive atmosphere and creating an enjoyable rally, will contribute in
    a small way to the reconstitution of the class. Its wrong to either over
    or undersell it.

    Cheers
    Dave

    Like

  42. Hello,
    If what people say is true, BrisCAN should organise a forum so that collective decisions can be made about how we can resist capitalism post G20.
    in solidarity,
    Ian

    Like

  43. Hi,
    If anything the Briscan events was fostering of community. It was a vibrant and brave happening, that was enlightening, entertaining and unifying.

    Most of us see what aboriginal culture has that is so powerful and see survival on our earth being dependant on us being able to embrace and live the aboriginal ways of respecting the earth and sharing and caring for all.

    I applaud the Briscan organisers placing Aboriginal concerns centre stage.

    It’s important to listen to aboriginal people tell their stories, it unites us, it helps them to release their pain and their passion infuses rallies and marches.

    I often feel when streets are deserted then marches are a waste of time, however the marches over last weekend were shown all over the world, and very importantly were a coming together of those who are trying to create a healthy environment and a kind society. And we know united we stand and divided we will fall.

    Thank you to all the Briscan organisers.

    Lesley Agar

    Like

  44. My thoughts also Adrian.

    Like

  45. Hello All

    We had a united rally of 3000 people or more. Indigenous issues were front and centre. There also space to discuss inequality, the market, trade union rights. Although no union brought a banner many unionists had been informed about the rally and attended. My own union got out a notice about the rally to several thousand members in the Brisbane area. The QCU also got out an email.

    Before the rally the police and media created an atmosphere of intimidation. It is a real credit to those who attended that they pushed aside the fear and chose to express their democratic rights. The day was hot and we dealt with as best we could.

    The rally was strong and defiant. It should be celebrated.

    Regards
    Adrian.

    Like

  46. It’s funny. I’m currently having a little online (private spat) with one of the BrisCan facilitator/organisers, but at the same time I think they did an amazing job and achieved so much in resourcing the left community amid a profoundly coercive state and illegitimate local government machine.

    I was at some early BrisCan meetings and while I dropped out of the process I felt that they had excellent core principles that made the group brave and resilient in the face of marginalisation. The People’s Summit was well realised.

    I certainly gained a lot from the talks and discussions I attended.

    I was also part of the citizen journalist group that formed shortly before the summit. We centred our efforts and organisation around a hash tag, a group page, and supporting each other.

    I was disappointed with the rally and march.

    I feel the route it took was a compromise, but one made in a fog of hype and false news that Alinsky would have struggled to even comprehend.

    http://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com

    Like

    • Hi All!

      Congratulations, YOU did it!

      Next BrisCAN Meeting 30 Nov 2014, 9.30am (for 10am start). Location: TBA

      G20 has come and gone, but the job is not quite over. There is an opportunity to follow up the Peoples Summit and Peoples March activities with valuable assessment, evaluation and perhaps a report that can be useful for future events and/or as a document to be handed to Turkey to assist them develop their anti-G20 efforts.

      This meeting will be to decide what or if any of those things happen (we don’t expect to achieve those goals at this next meeting – but possibly set in place a plan to do so).

      There is also the question of whether there is interest in continuing the work of BrisCAN, as was envisaged at the beginning, in fostering collaborative community responses to the ravages of capitalism.

      But most importantly, we would love to see you this coming Sunday to catch up, debrief, and chill out.

      https://www.facebook.com/events/1510040405932527/

      Like

  47. “Community” and political power, like energy and matter, cannot be created or destroyed, they can only be transformed.

    Of course the Left has community, everything has its context. The question is how relevant is the Left to its community?

    I consider myself to be part of the Left’s community, though I am not part of any Left organisation. I perceive that the Left has reached out to me and invited me to participate in the G20 protests but I have not been given any explanation as to why. The Left has not given any historical or strategic reason for the protests. I did not participate, the protests were irrelevant to me.

    BASE did not build Aboriginal community, the community has existed for thousands of years. I am not sure how BASE has transformed the Aboriginal community but I do notice it has caused many divisions and conflicts from the initial split to conflict with local conservative elders to its symbolic burning of Aborigines during G20. BASE’s G20 program began and ended with attacks on Aboriginal people. 1982 mobilised the Aboriginal community around the commonality of Aboriginality, what BASE is doing is something different. I am not at all comfortable with the non-Aboriginal Left’s enthusiastic engagement in Aboriginal sectarian politics, especially since the Left is no less ignorant of the issues than mainstream white Australia is.

    So all up, this community member felt quite alienated from the G20 protests.

    http://unlearningtheproblem.wordpress.com/

    Like

  48. I think the very fact that the Peoples’ March took place at all was a remarkable achievement given the tiny radical forces remaining in Brisbane after years of defeat of the social movements and the huge consequent decline of the organised far left. But I agree, there was a marked contrast between what I think were historic mobilisations packed with remarkable achievements and victories led by BASE and others, and the other protest/discussion events of the week and weekend. I thank Ian for starting this important discussion.

    Some points Ian made do require correction though. Regarding “minimal negotiation between the two groups”, this is untrue. There were months of negotiations. The frustration many felt at baking in the heat wave for hours longer than planned and advertised came from a last minute change of longstanding plans – the BASE rally going almost an hour overtime, and a large number of BASE speakers being added to the Peoples’ March speaking list at Roma St. This lengthened proceedings to the extent that many people simply went home before the march had even commenced. The multiple unplanned stops along the march route lost even more people before the march had finished. While many people were ok with the unannounced changes to the planned format of the day, many were vocally pissed off and voted with their feet. We can discuss how it all managed to break down like this. In my view this was a failure of what could have been a successful joint action between Briscan and BASE. The big question is why, and how to improve joint relations in future. This is important because I think that collaboration between movements, building strong relationships, is essential to strengthening progressive forces as a whole. I think slamming “the left” for their lack of “community” is unfair. Let’s talk in specifics, not generalities.

    Regarding political focus and emphasis, I don’t think Ian’s account is completely accurate. The overwhelming messaging of the Peoples’ March, in the leadup and on the day, was anti-austerity. Given the weakness of anti-capitalist movements in Australia, I think this is the best chance we have of assisting disenchanted masses of people in reaching anti-capitalist conclusions. Running on naked anti-capitalist slogans alone more than a decade after the collapse of the anti-globalisation movement would be ultraleft posturing. Linking the big issues of the day to neoliberalism provides a bridge between disenchantment and anti-system consciousness. Ian also seemed to argue against the Peoples’ March having any speakers, or perhaps that the wrong speakers were chosen? I don’t understand this criticism. Perhaps Ian could elaborate.

    As for the Peoples’ Summit – I think it was a real achievement, again given the weakened state of progressive forces today, and the extremely difficult environment organisers had to work in given the massive anti-protest vibe built by cops, politicians and media. The program was balanced, if perhaps too ambitious. The greatest problem in my opinion was the fact that organisers were forced to hold events in multiple venues spread too far apart. This was in a large part due to the last minute cancellation of our booking by the Greek Club, and the lockdown of the city. Organisers pulled off an impressive event against very tough odds and should be congratulated.

    Overall, the problems that were encountered come down to a weakened far left (the big successes of BASE over the last few days being the notable exception to this rule) and an extremely difficult terrain for activists created by unprecedented draconian laws and a horrific Murdoch media campaign. Collectively we can address one of these things. I agree that building community can help. The questions are, how, and who will step up and help? We need an honest discussion as to how this can be achieved.

    Thanks again for your thoughts Ian, and I look forward to others’.

    Like

  49. Hi All
    I don’t understand the benchmark that the event(s) is/are being judge against ( and I’m not to sure who this ‘Left’ is, what they are meant to have done instead and how they should have done it or what is meant by ‘community’.)

    Given the historical conjuncture we live in and the current composition of the class I think both the People’s Summit and March was the best of what was possible. I know that we at ‘Everybody Gets Icecream’ explicitly said the best we thought we could achieve we some discussions to increase our understanding of the world and a rally in which participants left with somewhat increased links of solidarity and heightened morale. My personal impression was that was achieved. Sure standing in the sun for so long sucked….

    I have some very sharp disagreements with the politics of the BrisCan organisers (and I realise they are a diverse bunch) I think they achieved would could be achieved in this conjuncture and should be very proud of themselves.

    The deeper questions couldn’t have been solved at at either the Summit or the March so I don’t understand why one would expect they could.

    (Also capitalism is not the organisation of life by the ‘markets’ it is the organisation of life for the accumulation of capital, something that involves both state and market in an interlinked symbiosis. )

    I must say, as very much an outsider, the activity of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy was very impressive and I agree with Ian that they were very much the main event.

    Much love, red stars and communist horizons
    Dave
    http://withsobersenses.wordpress.com

    Like

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