Melbourne Anarchist Club MAC info, events and news

Aims & Principles

(Ratified at the MAC Annual General Meeting, October 28, 2007)

Anarchism is both a political philosophy and a social movement. As a social movement, anarchism aims to create a classless, non?hierarchical society; that is, a society ‘without rulers’ (anarchy). As a political philosophy, anarchism maintains that the creation of such a society is both possible and desirable. Anarchists are those who actively work towards realising this possibility.

Principles

Liberty

The concept of individual human freedom lies at the heart of anarchist philosophy. As such, anarchists seek to maximise the ability of individuals to live freely, in the absence of the arbitrary constraints imposed by illegitimate forms of authority. Anarchists therefore oppose all forms of domination and exploitation, and work, through both individual and collective struggle, to subvert all social structures based on these practices.

Equality

The anarchist concept of freedom is intrinsically linked to the notion of equality. That is, anarchists maintain that individuals are most free in a society in which there is economic, political and social equality. ‘From each according to their ability; to each according to their need’.

Solidarity

‘An injury to one is an injury to all’. Anarchists oppose the false principle of the survival of the fittest, and believe that human survival and social development can best be secured through co?operation among individuals and groups to their mutual benefit.

Direct Action

‘The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves.' An anarchist society can only be achieved through direct action; that is, through forms of social struggle unmediated by political authority (government).

Direct Democracy

Anarchists advocate the creation of directly democratic forms of social organization, in which individual members have an equal right to take part in decision?making processes. As such, anarchists oppose forms of representative democracy, and agitate for their replacement by directly democratic ones.

Federation

Anarchists advocate the establishment of voluntary, non?hierarchical associations between directly democratic organizations. By the same token, anarchists also maintain the right of members of federated bodies to leave such associations, if and when they deem them to be contrary to their interests.

Aims

Abolition of the State

Anarchists regard the state as an oppressive institution, the abolition of which is necessary to human liberation.

The state is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.

~ Gustav Landauer.

The destruction of the state is a collective responsibility which will be achieved through social revolution.

Social Revolution

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger, want and boredom are found among billions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish capitalism and the state, and live in harmony with the Earth.

Anarchist Economics

The ideal economic system, one that is consistent with the principles of liberty, equality and solidarity, is anarchist or libertarian communism. Libertarian communism means the common ownership of the means of production and the free association of producers. The implementation of anarchism can only be through the free federation of productive and communal organizations.

Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice; socialism without freedom is slavery.

~ Mikhail Bakunin.

Goals

M.A.C. aims to facilitate the establishment of a federation of anarchist groups.

Comments (28) Trackbacks (0)
  1. ok i’m not trying to be a smart arse but isn’t the whole idea something of an oxymoron? how can you ratify a definition of anarchy?

  2. “…isn’t the whole idea something of an oxymoron?”

    in a word? no.

    “how can you ratify a definition of anarchy?”

    not sure. how is any definition ratified? otherwise, ‘ratification’ in this instance means ‘agreed to by those present’.

  3. So, are you guys for the dismantling of patriarchy and white supremacy? Are you feminists? Vegans? If you’re against all exploitation and hierarchical systems…?

  4. One or two MAC members are vegans, the majority are not. There is not a dietary or lifestyle requirement for membership. Our practice so far has been to allow the chickpea and the chop to coexist at our barbecues.

    We are anarchists and revolutionaries, with all that implies for feminism, patriarchy and racism.

  5. what do you think about Occupy Melbourne?

  6. There’s no official position that I know of on Occupy. Some MAC members have been going in their capacity as individuals. I think the general consensus from anarchists is that it has been a mixed bag politically but we would not discourage anyone from being involved.

  7. agree with ending of tyranny.sad people r so bound and chained by their beliefs.keep up the good work.u r needed in this world.

  8. Thanks Jane.

  9. The paragraph under the heading ‘Solidarity’ is problematic. The following may seem petty but I don’t think the extent to which people are driven away by such details should be underestimated.
    1. Would an injury to a CIA torturer be ‘an injury to all?’ So is it ‘all’ as in literally everyone or ‘all’ as in the those of some in-group (working class or revolutionary e.g.)?
    2. Mentioning ‘survival of the fittest’ is bizarre. When used as a synonym for natural selection, it isn’t false, and I’m sure that this is the sense in which most people will relate to it. The only political doctrine it really refers to is Social Darwinism, which is irrelevant. And what follows doesn’t even serve to negate it. If anything, it reinforces it by implying that fitness is based on the ability to cooperate.
    Surely the MAC has something more pertinent to say about solidarity. I was also wondering: how many active MAC members are there? How many of those are students? Does the MAC have ties with industry? If so, what are the nature of those ties? Why is the clubhouse so dilapidated? My thanks in advance for your indulgence.

  10. 1.Solidarity is extended to those whose interests we have in common. “All” is used in the conventional sense – the group we circumscribe in our Aims and Principles (the working classes and peasantry, the majority of humanity). Terms such as “working class” can be unpacked by looking at the things we publish and our activities, as well as the mainstream anarchist tradition. It is pretty safe to assume that our definition does not include CIA torturers.

    2.The division of humanity into abstracted categories of contingent ideas of fitness, such as survival in the marketplace, physical abilities, social convention, employment and so on – is used frequently enough that it warrants addressing. It is a point of differentiation between anarchists and other political traditions and therefore utilised in the document as a way of defining who we consider to be anarchists. The inclusion of “survival of the fittest”, is meant to encapsulate what we oppose, for reasons of brevity. Again, these terms can be unpacked by looking at the anarchist tradition with which we identify. The term is not Darwin’s, btw. Usually contemporary descriptions of natural selection refer to survival of the best adaptation for reproduction, which is a point of fact we would not dispute but it is also not an area we are overly concerned with. As biologists, we make great anarchists (Kropotkin not withstanding).

    Broadly speaking, the purpose of this document is to outline our aims and our principles and act as a basis for association with other groups and amongst members. It’s not meant to function as a complete theoretical vision. We tend to leave this to the more articulate anarchists, though we occasionally have a go ourselves.

    I’m reluctant to publicise our numbers, and see no compelling reason to – a dozen or 100 members would not change the nature of the group. However, MAC can be accurately described as a small group. Our ties with industry are that we (mostly) work, and all members are active in their workplaces. There are only a few students; they are a small minority of the group. MAC also has an association with the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation, who are explicitly engaged in this work and in comparison to other anarchist groups in Melbourne and Australia, you could accurately describe our orientation as toward anarchosyndicalism.

    I would not describe the space as dilapidated, but any disrepair can be attributed to a) lack of funds, b) a work in progress and c) a matter of taste. Please consider making a sizable donation.

  11. Thank you for the fullness of your reply. A couple of things to what you’ve said there and then I’m done. I promise.

    1. So it doesn’t refer to an injury to one of the enemy. Unclear, but cool.

    2. a) I’ll warn again: the phrase doesn’t allude to what you say it does. Those things are not thought of in terms of survival and fitness. The discourse is around economic success and viability. The phrase looks out of touch and hysterical.
    b) It wasn’t Darwin’s, was it? It was Herbie Spencer’s. But Charlie did use it in the 5th edition.

    Ah, you socialist types—always looking for a handout. It’d be easier to consider a sizeable donation if that paragraph was fixed.

  12. I read Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber, and I was wondering if any of the members were familiar with this book. Please leave a comment if you have, and what you thought of it.

  13. I meet an baybee anArchist
    Along thee dewmorn waye,
    She say to me, “be free be free
    Of tyrranee, and play with me.”

    I walk’d onbye yon baybee wee,
    And meet an golde man uniformed,
    Who say to me, “bow down bow down
    Littleman to my crown, lest
    Ubermensch doth hast thy neck.”

    Thus stumbled I to factory floore,
    Slaughterhouse of meek and poor,
    Awash with blood, did find in rags
    Old labourer lamenting, “Oh to feel the way
    Of yore, before they worked me to my grayve,
    Rest here awhile lad, share mine bread.”

    Three ages of mAn, two sages, one heart
    Yet rages fromme inside the cages -
    Have courage, the way of the bayb
    Will prevail o’er the jackbooted slavers,
    Play for the worker dear, bruteforce bent
    O’er desk and plough, head held high
    This blackest of night, redsky dawning…

  14. Hi! As a self described anarcho-capitalist, I’m curious to know MAC’s position on that philosophy. Personally I’m skeptical of any philosophy that is socialist, because history has shown that it doesn’t scale beyond small voluntary groups without applying violence to those whose ability is greater than their need.

  15. Hi Duncan,

    As our Aims & Principles suggest, we oppose capitalism and instead advocate a libertarian (anti-statist) socialism.

  16. Captain Cook did not invade Australia. He discovered it and the government of UK decided to use this country as a penal colony. Get your facts straight before you vandalise buildings.

  17. Hi Carole,

    1. Captain Cook did not discover Australia. People had been living on the continent for quite a few years before that English gentleman spied its east coast. Perhaps you mean he was the first Englishman to step ashore in these parts? If so, you’re wrong on that score too: William Dampier stuck his nose in around 1688.
    2. January 26 actually commemorates the day Arthur Phillip came ashore at Sydney Cove.
    3. Yes. The desire of British authorities to be rid of what it considered to be a criminal class is partly what prompted it to authorise the establishment of a penal colony; inter-imperialist rivalry (especially for control of the Pacific) was another important factor.
    4. Those responsible for redecorating James Cook’s family’s cottage that he may (or may not) have lived in and that was imported into Australia in the 1930s are not known at this stage.
    5. You can read our response to Channel 9′s silly reportage here.

  18. Duncan,

    Anarcho-capitalism is a bit of an oxymoron as it still works within an oppressive corporate/market structure to attain “freedom,” whereas libertarian socialism (anarchism) is about transcending such peripheries in order to get a stronger form of liberty. What sort of anarcho-capitalism are you referring to, the likes of Adam Smith, Wilhelm von Humboldt, David Ricardo etc or? Obviously they see the market system far differently to contemporary “capitalists” (who are not really capitalists obviously).

  19. I have a question about your principles listed above, in regards to liberty and solidarity.

    You mention “illegitimate forms of authority”, can you elaborate on what represents illegitimate authority? You also mention under Liberty, that you oppose domination, and work to subvert such structures, but in Solidarity you state you “…believe that human survival and social development can best be secured through co?operation among individuals and groups to their mutual benefit.”

    I’m curious at how this works in practice. As someone whom supports personal freedoms and is opposed to oppression, I make it a point to understand the rules and restrictions I am enforcing in my position as a security guard. But I find at times people who rebel towards the authority I represent as a matter of political opinion are often unaccepting of working towards mutually beneficial arrangements. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on your group, I’m just asking as to clarify what you would consider the best representation of your aims and principles in a scenario where I as an authority and was preventing your members from accessing an area as deemed by my employers, considering the MAC’s views on authority and solidarity with the working class.

  20. Personally, I’ve yet to find a satisfying explanation of how anarcho-socialism would abolish the state. In the face of unlimited wants and limited resources, there needs to be some means of allocating resources, and it seems to be that the only options are private property or some sort of state.

    Most anarcho-socialists I’ve spoken to seem to think that by decentralising the state, introducing aspects of direct democracy and renaming it something euphemistic like “union” or “council” is the equivalent of abolishing it.

    John – Have you heard of anarcho-capitalist thinkers such as Murray Rothbard (from the Austrian school) or David Friedman (from the Chicago school)? They’re probably more relevant to this discussion than early neo-classical economists like Smith or Ricardo.

  21. Hi, interesting discussion :-) How is it anarchy needs some sort of qualifier like anarcho-socialist or anarcho-capitalist? Is not the term anarchy sufficient? What does abolishing the state have to do with anarchy? Is not anarchy a model for a superior state? What problem in establishing an anarchist style of state? The Spanish did it early last century and except for the treachery, greed and stupidity of the fascists and the communists it was a success. Their model of hundreds electing representatives worked for them, why would it not work anywhere?

  22. Hi! Great to see this thread!

    RE: How is it anarchy needs some sort of qualifier like anarcho-socialist or anarcho-capitalist? Is not the term anarchy sufficient?

    I would agree. Socialism relies on the state OR voluntary communal contracting. So this means so called Libertarian Socialism can only exist within a free market context. You cannot rule out the free market “Capitalism” in an Anarchist society – to do so so would be an act of force and hence anti-anarchist.

    Please note that Capitalism is actually a communist term. Free market is better representative of Anarchist ideas. The term ‘Capitalism’ however has become synonymous with the govt. protected colluding/corporate system (i.e Fascism) that we have in place now. The right of the individual should be upheld primarily. Individuals also live in society and as such collectivism will be necessary but this should only be on a voluntary basis.

    I am not too sure how you can advocate for Libertarian Socialism but be against anarcho-capitalism?

  23. Recently (after The Anarchist Bookfair) it was loudly declared by a prominent member of yours that “Insurrection was for middle class teenagers” with little further qualification or comment. This suggests that you are NOT a revolutionary organisation, that you are in fact reformist, working for a General Strike through syndicalism.
    Personally I consider myself an insurrectionary/revolutionary and in solidarity with other insurrectionaries around the world such as the Zapatistas and BRA. I use the word insurrection because “revolution” has been misused so often recently particularly in relation to the “Arab Spring”. Insurrection or “rising up” is also more appropriate than “revolution” or turning, especially if you are, like myself, more interested in Bakunin’s work than Marx’s.
    Please explain your position more clearly…
    (:ţ)

  24. Hello popefred,

    Unless a MAC member has been delegated to speak on the group’s behalf, anything any individual member says, whether at a Bookfair or elsewhere, should be understood as being that individual’s opinion – not necessarily that of the group as a whole.

    Beyond this, the basic political orientation of the group is outlined in the aims and principles above. We advocate social revolution. We do not know precisely how such a revolution might come about, obviously, and individual members have a variety of perspectives on the political utility of strikes, syndicalism and more: such questions are matters for discussion.

    I hope that makes the group’s position more clear.

  25. Thanx. (:ţ)

  26. John,

    I meant capitalism in the sense of free trade – think Rothbard and von Mises, not Keynes. I think we may be in agreement?

  27. Hypothetically, if this ‘political ideal’ were to occur, which most likely it wont, considering the efforts of anarchists to have been relatively insignificant throughout history (no offence), what would happen once the working class “take possession of the means of production”? Secondly, “live in harmony with the Earth”? As nice as this sounds, that’s all it is- nice. It’s completely unrealistic. Finally what do you mean when you state that “a struggle must go on”? War? Negotiations? Keep in mind that one person’s utopia is another person’s hell.

  28. Hi Mary,

    You appear to object to both the possibility and the desirability of an anarchist society. I’m not sure exactly what the basis of your criticism is. One way of looking at it is to acknowledge that for the vast bulk of its history, humanity has survived in the absence of the state and class society. The question then becomes, are such forms of society necessary to ensure human survival? I would suggest that the answer is ‘no’. In fact, I would argue that capitalist society is actually endangering life on Earth, including but not limited to the human species.

    I’m not sure what you mean when you ask what would happen after the working class takes possession of the means of production, but I think ‘democratic’ control of this sort is a precondition for the construction of a society that is both just and ‘sustainable’. And given the extent to which current forms of social life are damaging the habitability of the planet, rather than being unrealistic, a social revolution of this kind is in fact absolutely necessary.

    Finally, with regards the proposition that a struggle must go on, this is a reference to the political reality of a capitalist society, in which capital and labour are engaged in a constant ‘war’: a class war. The resolution of this war is the liquidation of class society.

    [G]


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