Social Anarchism, Individualism and Lifestyle Politics

In this article, I’ll look at two key tendencies in anarchist theory – individualist anarchism and social anarchism – and look at some important differences between them. Advocates of both tendencies put forward a range of different ideas about strategy and how we should think about society, and they lead to different forms of action and understanding. I’ll argue that while social anarchism arose from the workers’ movement and forms of collective struggle, individualism was born out of both bourgeois intellectualism and the despair of individuals at the failure of movements.

As you can well imagine by its name, individualist anarchism appears to start, and end, with the demand of maximum liberty for the individual. There are to be no fetters on the development of the so called natural qualities of the individual, and while everyone should be free, it really begins with personal struggle and ends with the individual’s struggle. The only freedom you have is what you can take. Society is also thought to be as much a crushing source of authority as the state. There are to be no programs set for what anarchism might look like, because everyone has different wants and needs. Rebellion is emphasised over revolution – revolution will either lead to a new state or to a new social tyranny. Despite rhetoric against capitalism, market economics are permissible provided there is no boss-worker relation-ship (although sometimes that’s okay too!). It is this retreat into the self that actually shares a lot of parallels with new age spirituality, with existentialism and most importantly with neo-liberal capitalism.

As a political ideology, individualism did not have much influence during the emergence of the working class, nor did it do much to shape collective politics of rebel-lion. Individualists often expressed their ‘anarchism’ and ‘freedom’ through forms of dress, individual acts of insurrection, and living in small communities of other radicals only. While today we use the word ‘insurrection’ to mean some-thing like when a community/class violently attacks a regime/authority, the connection between the term insurrection and anarchism actually comes from the work of Max Stirner, who believed revolution was impossible, and that individual ‘insurrection’ was the only tactic that would keep authority at bay, however temporarily. It was during times of severe social repression, when little other avenue for struggle existed, that individualist anarchism did come to attention – usually with assassinations and bombings – and this image of the anarchist bomb thrower still exists. Terrorism became, and to a large degree remains, the peak form of struggle for this tendency. I don’t want to say much on it, but I believe that the terrorist and guerrilla war is a Leninist strategy, not an anarchist one, despite the flowery rhetoric. The most famous example of this strategy today is the Conspiracy of Fire Cells in Greece. They’re a group known for robbing banks, having shoot outs with police, and bringing ‘left wing terrorism’ back to Europe. They’re all arrested now, and have been involved in struggles for prisoners’ rights and hunger strikes over the last few years.

So then, what’s social anarchism?

Taking freedom as the basis of anarchism, I want to start with a quote from the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. He writes: “The individual, their freedom and reason, are the products of society, and not vice versa; society is not the product of individuals comprising it; and the greater their freedom – and the more they are the product of society, the more do they receive from society, and the greater their debt to it” (1).

Here we find a definition of freedom based entirely on social bonds – what Bakunin is saying is that we are all products of social development – it is through relationships and education we find the ideas, motivations and influences that will make us free. With-out the development of all, without equality, we will never know real freedom. The freer the person beside you is, the freer you are. Social anarchism is therefore inherently committed to collective methods of organisation – be it through forms as various as unions, affinity groups, syndicates, communes, or whatever. Social anarchism is also socialist in its economics. We owe a great debt to Marx for the under-standing of economics he developed – it’s over questions of political organisation that we divide.

It’s this idea of freedom through solidarity that found such fertile ground in the workers’ movement. The ideas of social anarchists, particularly Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta flourished in many parts of the world, namely Spain, Italy, Argentina and had pro-found influence on the mass anarchist organisations like the CNT in Spain and the FORA in Argentina. In comparison, while social anarchism first found its roots in the federalist sections of the First International, in the Paris commune, and in the emerging union movements, individualism came to prominence as anarchism lost its connection with the working class. This loss of social influence for anarchism in most countries has never been recovered. The withdrawal of self-styled anarchists from social movements for activities that don’t require long-term commitment, thinking, responsibility or coherence is a serious problem if we ever want anarchism to be a philosophy that can change the world again.

It’s pretty clear that the irrelevance of a coherent and social anarchist philosophy is also tied to the reactionary and conservative societies we live in. Despite efforts to break out of the leftist ghetto, much like our socialist mates, today we remain largely irrelevant. The anarchist principles of federalism, direct action, anti-parliamentary politics, and mutual aid are barely connected to a class struggle that is largely institutionalised. With no radical collective movement to use our tactics, we don’t feed back into the movements, we don’t test our ideas and fresh activists are few and far between. It’s a two-way street. The end result of this isolation can often be liberalism dressed in radical clothing, and the dominance of ‘lifestyle anarchism’ is basically the black flag version of the socialist politics that believes in the revolutionary potential of Bernie Sanders, Syriza and Jeremy Corbyn.

Now I want to skip back to individualism. I want to explain why I argue that when individualist philosophies are put into practice they can often be damaging to social movements, and can become anti-social rather than anti-capitalist. I think this confusion that starts from the concept of imminent rebellion against authority, meaning that things that aren’t actually anti-authoritarian can end up with tacit anarchist support.

Groups like Crimethinc tend to border this line, advocating and fetishizing sub-cultural practices as anti-capitalist in and of them-selves with little conceptualisation of how they assist in the struggle against capital and the state, if at all. Squatting, sabotage, petty crime, theft, arson, and assassinations all register in the arsenal of insurrectional-individualist tactics. Actually, I think this is the definition of the vague term we throw around, ‘lifestylism.’ A comrade has raised with me that it is perhaps not only that, but it’s the result of despair at the failures of long-term organising that leads to believing only immediate actions and ‘living politics’ can be revolutionary.

It’s not that social anarchists don’t use tactics like insurrection, sabotage and so on too. But the key thing to consider is if the action is beneficial or negative, collectively empowering or just alienating and anti-social. For example, tactics like sabotage have often been used during union campaigns, the syndicalist organisation the Indus-trial Workers of the World (IWW) was pretty famous for this historically. When used as an individual tactic, workers often risk alienation from others, punishment from the state, or a waste of the re-sources of those who bail them out or organise legal support. Individuals may get a small benefit from stealing, squatting, living on the dole as an ideological choice, but there are always consequences. So when sabotage is done collectively, it can be a powerful tool against the boss, especially so because everyone has each other’s backs, and the decision to take action has been made together. It’s the small sums of collective actions that be-come a movement.

In an article on Crimethinc, ‘W’ argues that: “Shoplifting, dumpster diving, quitting work are all put for-ward as revolutionary ways to live outside the system, but amount to nothing more than a parasitic way of life which depends on capitalism without providing any real challenge” (2).

It’s important to acknowledge that some people may be forced to do some of these things, like stealing, to survive under capitalism, and they shouldn’t be demonised for this. We all need to survive in the current system. However, what ‘W’ is saying is that if you have the option to make these choices, if you can always move back in with your folks or whatever when life gets hard, you’re not actually contributing to anti-capitalism – you’re just living out some kind of radical liberalism.

The rich, politicians, and any-one in a position of power surely have plenty of time for people who become ‘non-participants’ in the system. They do not actually challenge power, they do not help organise collectively, they may create small concessions and ‘spaces’ of existing without the yoke of capitalist burden, but the potential for this to both spread and lead to collective empowerment has to be considered. The truth is, you cannot, ever, completely drop out of capitalism or get away from the state. The people in power are afraid of collective power that makes demands. Not hippie communes.

At this point, it’s useful to talk a little about how all of this translates into differences in tactics, politics and strategy.

Firstly, we have politics. This is the level at which we identify the philosophy we believe in – which is anarchism. So starting from the vision of building a world with-out states, systems of oppression like patriarchy or racism, and capitalism, we have to decide on the appropriate strategies for making that happen.

So, strategy. Here’s where we do the most reflection – what does our current society look like? What kind of changes do we need? How could we start making them happen? Are we insurrectionists, are we syndicalist, are we into community organising, should we be concentrating on propaganda? There is a lot to be figured out.

Finally, tactics. The tactics we employ are the specific details of the strategy we decide upon, as in, what particular actions we undertake to implement the strategy. For example, if you did believe you needed an insurrection, you might form a cell that wants to annihilate capitalists and cops or something (definitely not the Anarchist Affinity line!). If you chose syndicalism, you might look at what industries are most important to organise in right now, and if you want to start a specifically anarchist union or if you want to radicalise existing ones by building shop stewards networks and advocating wildcat strikes. Within social anarchism there are a variety of ideas about strategies, these are just two, very different and broad examples.

Those of us involved in anarchist organising in Australia can tend to fetishize one or the other, or completely muddle them up. Remember, here I’m not just talking about individualists; most anarchist groups in Australia are completely guilty of this too. But at the same time, I think what we like to call ‘lifestylism’ can be traced back to the early individual-ism, where personal rebellion and individual, violent insurrection are considered as the ultimate strategy against the state.

Squatting (occupying unused housing) is a well-known tactic. But if we believe that it’s inherently political, we’re going to get stuck repeating it over and over when it’s not the right strategy. Or when squatting is not an option, where does your political organising go? This kind of thing happens all the time. It’s a really big problem in the environmental movement. I’m not really involved in that any-more but it’s where I started back in Newcastle, and I saw a fair bit of this confusion.

Squatting is not really a huge thing in Australia, though I do know a number of squatters and there are a few in Melbourne – it’s a much bigger thing in Europe. Many anarchists seem to consider squatting as a lifestyle choice (though there are some, I’m sure, who do it because they haven’t any other option – I know at least one person who fits this category). There’s a difference between a choice and survival here. Living in a squat would appear to give people the space to exist outside typical property relations, maximising personal freedoms and somehow ‘propagate’ the idea that squatting is an option to the broader community. There is an element of truth in this, but it’s actually extremely limited.

Creating ‘liberty’ for oneself doesn’t necessarily mean creating it for others, and sometimes it can even limit the freedoms of others. Squatting isn’t necessarily one of those times, but it’s not always as helpful a tactic as other options. There is a difference between punks who want to live in a squat cause its free and they can have parties, and a squat that’s used as an accessible social centre that, for example, that helps house refugees. The first is fine, it doesn’t really matter to anyone except the landlord. But the second has collective and social power. I’d argue that as anarchists this is exactly our task. We don’t just want revolution for ourselves, we want it for everyone.

To turn a squat into a viable social centre it needs resources, organisation, community outreach, and importantly the backing of other social groups willing to defend it when eviction time comes. This is a task anarchist organisations can help with. Let’s look at the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM) in Ireland, they’re an anarchist group who doesn’t operate, control or dominate any squats. What they do however, is help initiate them, have activists involved in their on-going upkeep and daily activity (one squat in Ireland that has a few WSM members used the workshops to build heaters to send to refugees in Calais), and help defend them and their autonomy against repression from the state. They also organise forums and do the important task of political propaganda helping legitimate squat-ting as a strategy against capital-ism. I use WSM as an example of this because they’re particularly successful – they have an anarchist publication reaches thousands of people monthly, and they have public attention for being at the forefront of several social movements. Imagine what such a powerful anarchist organisation can bring to the defense of autonomy. On the other hand – it doesn’t take an anarchist organisation to make squatting a valid social project – I’m just pointing out what I think some important tasks for anarchists are.

Now I’d like to ask: what is a squat compared to a rent strike? This I believe is where we begin to see real collective action forming. Rent strikes aren’t a thing here anymore, but Australia does have some history with them. Actually, I almost never hear people talk about them! If you don’t know what a rent strike is, it’s basically like this: the community in a particular area organises against inflated rents and evictions, you hold some mass meetings, do some propaganda and whatever, maybe you target on the basis of community, maybe you target a particular landlord, but you get to a point where collective power is established and people stop paying rent. When the cops turn up, you picket in defence of whoever they try and evict, maybe you go hassle the state department or the rental agents or something. Not really something we’re in a position to do now – but it’s worth remembering this exists for when struggle around housing intensifies even more.

What makes rent strikes so much more powerful is that, unlike squatting, they’re a viable tactic for a huge portion of the population. Squatting is unavailable to so many people, for so many reasons. There are only so many places, it can be unsuitable for families, for people who need to keep stuff secure for work or whatever, for people with disabilities, for people who want to be guaranteed a hot shower. For those who require stability and security, things we all deserve, squatting is not a real option. Even for many of Australia’s homeless, squatting wouldn’t be viable – what they need is secure, free housing. Wouldn’t it be better if we could organise a mass renters and housing movement committed to direct action and direct democracy, with total autonomy from political parties and the capitalist class? Social movements provide the space to lay the real foundations of a society built from the bottom up.

At the current moment, I think we need to stop and reflect where anarchist political organising needs to go. What are our politics? What strategies do we have which could make anarchist politics relevant again? Do they reflect what Australian society looks like today? We can’t just take the CNT model from revolutionary Spain in the 1930’s and make it happen here.

Anarchism is the most completely social philosophy – we seek a world based on solidarity, mutual aid and co-operation. We are anti-capitalist, because capitalism is toxic for a healthy social system, not because we’re angsty teenagers.

The considered undertaking of practical activity, connecting it to a broader political program, and the building of dedicated anarchist organisations will only strengthen our ability to make a difference and increase the scope of human freedom both in the here and now, and to lay the groundwork for a revolutionary situation. I’d urge any who believe anarchism is achieved by autonomous, atomised and unorganised individuals to seriously re-consider how they believe revolution is possible, and if it is, what it will take to get there. If we refuse to acknowledge the lessons of the past we will let the state continue to exist, either in its capitalist or socialist form.

(1) Mikhail Bakunin, The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, edited by G. P. Maximoff (Free Press, 1953),p. 158.

(2) W, ‘Rethinking Crimethinc’, 2006.

The Wages for Housework Campaign and ‘Women’s Work’ Under Capitalism

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By Rebecca Winter and Jasmina Brankovich

“Why has woman’s work never been of any account? […] Because those who want to emancipate mankind [sic] have not included woman in their dream of emancipation, and consider it beneath their superior masculine dignity to think “of those kitchen arrangements,” which they have rayed on the shoulders of that drudge-woman.[…]Let us fully understand that a revolution, intoxicated with the beautiful words Liberty, Equality, Solidarity would not be a revolution if it maintained slavery at home. Half of humanity subjected to the slavery of the hearth would still have to rebel against the other half” – Peter Kropotkin (1).

Caring work, reproductive labour, affective work: there are different names to describe the type of unpaid work conducted in the so-called ‘private’, domestic sphere of the nuclear family; yet it is essential, life-giving work. If there was no one willing to wipe the bums of babies, to do the laundry, to cook food, or to care for those who need support, none of us would live well, and for some it would be a question of survival. Yet, the labour that goes into reproducing us as human beings – in the form of child-rearing and caring, housework, and emotional support – is frequently under-appreciated, and almost always either under-paid or unpaid. It is also a form of labour that is, in global terms, predominantly performed by women, especially women of colour.

This gendered division of reproductive labour is often justified on the grounds that women are ‘naturally’ suited for caring roles, and that this work is not exploitative because women do it out of love for their families. We argue, however, that the gendered division of reproductive labour is an important tool of patriarchal, racist capitalism.

By presenting reproductive labour as not being ‘real work,’ women’s labour is devalued, which allows capitalists to easily exploit it, while also perpetuating patriarchal social relations which privilege paid work in the ‘public’ sphere when performed by men. This also functions to reproduce racism, as women of colour often perform this work, by taking on the reproductive labour of wealthy families as well as in their own homes. We argue that it is vital for anarchists and other anti-capitalists to examine the role of reproductive labour under capitalism and reconceptualise what it means to be a worker. In other words, “the strategy of feminist class struggle is […] based on the wageless woman in the home […] whose position in the wage structure is low especially, but not only, if she is Black” (2).

Reproductive labour and its discontents

“Why deny that caring for people is the very stuff of life? Basic to relationships. Basic to human survival. Yet treated as worthless. Women give their all, but it’s not mutual and it’s not paid” – Selma James (3).

Prior to the 1970s, during the ‘golden era’ of growth in post-Second World War capitalism, the state supplemented the interest of capital in raising the future workforce, with heavily subsidised investment. However, since the advent of neoliberalism in the 1970s we have seen increased disinvestment by the state in the ‘private’ sphere. Women were increasingly ‘welcomed’ to the paid workforce, but often still find themselves left with a ‘second-shift’ of reproductive labour at the end of the day.

More recently cuts to state funding have meant that workers in the aged care, nursing, disability, and child care sectors (most of whom are women), are increasingly forced into precarious casual employment, with little job security and inadequate wages. Cuts to social services and welfare programs have been made worse by privatisation of essential services, and have left those performing unpaid reproductive work with few avenues of support and little financial independence.

In the first volume of the Capital, Karl Marx describes the paid labour conditions of men, women, and children, toiling in the factories of 19th-century industrial England. But, while Marx’s work explores the creation of this kind of ‘productive’ labour (which generates profit for capitalists), he was silent on the important role of reproductive work in capitalism. Marx’s focus was on the way capitalists extract the maximum profit from workers by paying them much less than their labour is worth. Like many other socialist and anarchist thinkers, however, he neglected to think about those (predominantly women) who work outside of the wage system, or who perform unpaid work alongside waged work.

A key challenge to this limited view of work and capitalism has been provided by the writings and activism of autonomist Marxist feminists. The work of autonomist feminists redefined the ‘private sphere’ of the home as a sphere of relations of production and a site of potential anti-capitalist organising (4).

In 1972, the International Wages for Housework Campaign was launched by activists including Selma James, Silvia Federici and Maria Dalla Costa. The campaign challenged the idea that housework, child care and emotional labour did not count as ‘real’ work by demanding that it was reconceptualised as if it were paid. As Federici explained: “To say that we want money for housework is the first step towards refusing to do it, because the demand for a wage makes our work visible, which is the most indispensable condition to begin to struggle against it, both in its immediate aspect as housework, and its more insidious character as femininity” (5).

By challenging the unpaid status of housework, the Wages for Housework campaign sought to undermine the division between paid and unpaid workers under capitalism, and create the space for women to think of themselves as workers with a right to struggle for liveable working conditions inside the home, as well as outside it.

The solution, according to Wages for Housework activists, was not for individual families or care-givers to simply be paid by the state or capitalists, or for individual men and women to just share unpaid reproductive work. They argued that reproductive work should be collectivised, controlled by those who performed the work, and used to engage community members in rethinking what unpaid labour represented, and the benefits it accrued to capitalists. They aimed to challenge the idea that reproductive labour is an ‘unproductive’, less valuable form of work, which must be performed in addition to a person’s ‘real work.’

However, it’s not enough to think about how women’s reproductive labour benefits the capitalist class – we must also think about how it benefits men and maintains a patriarchal social structure. Heidi Hartmann notes that it’s not simply a coincidence that the gendered division of reproductive labour “places men in a superior, and women in a subordinate, position” (6). The fact that many men receive a wage for their work, while many women do not, creates an inequality in economic power which facilitates men’s control over women’s lives. Ultimately, the gendered division of labour props up a patriarchal, white supremacist capitalist system, which the vast majority would be better off without. However, under the current system, the fact that men are not obliged to take on as much housework, child care, or care of family members is often perceived as a benefit, a privilege, which some men will fight to keep. This happens even when women in the family participate in paid work on an equivalent basis to men. Recognising this helps us understand why campaigns which focus on reproductive labour, such as Wages for Housework, can face a backlash by men, including those who claim to be comrades in the anti-capitalist struggle.

The ideas of the Wages for Housework campaign have since been continued in the Global Women’s Strike movement, as but one example of Selma James’ legacy. Women from 60 countries, including Argentina, Peru, India, Uganda and the UK, took part in a strike on International Women’s Day in 2004. The Global Women’s Strike was organised under the banner of ‘Resources for Caring Not Killing’ (7). In addition to wages for housework, the movement demanded access to social housing, free education, clean water, and debt abolition for ‘Third World’ nations. They strongly opposed military spending and demanded that women’s unpaid emotional labour be financially compensated by divestments from military activities, thus again drawing attention to the unjust division of resources under capitalism (8).

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The gendered division of labour in contemporary Australia

“We both had careers, both had to work a couple of days a week to earn enough to live on, so why shouldn’t we share the housework? So I suggested it to my mate and he agreed – most men are too hip to turn you down flat. You’re right, he said. It’s only fair. Then an interesting thing happened […] The longer my husband contemplated these chores, the more repulsed he became, and so proceeded the change from the normally sweet, considerate Dr. Jekyll into the crafty Mr. Hyde who would stop at nothing to avoid the horrors of housework” – Pat Mainardi (9).

What are some of the ways that the gendered division of reproductive labour functions under contemporary Australian capitalism? While mainstream pundits argue that feminist struggles are unnecessary today, women in Australia are still overwhelmingly overrepresented in unpaid and underpaid forms of labour, such as childcare, housework and emotional labour. Unpaid labour is essential to the functioning of Australian capitalism. In 2006, the value of unpaid household work, and volunteer and community work ranged from $416 billion to $586 billion, which represents 41.6% to 58.7% of GDP for that year (10).

On average, women perform two thirds of all unpaid work in the home (such as cleaning, food preparation, laundry), while men perform two thirds of waged work. Living with a partner (without children) increases the household labour women perform by six hours, when compared with women who live alone or in shared housing. However, men who live with their partners experience no increase in unpaid labour. Despite many more women taking part in paid work in addition to household labour, on average women in Australia spend the same amount of time on housework in 2006 as they did in 1992 (11).

In addition to household chores and maintenance, Australian women are significantly more likely to take on child care responsibilities. Female parents perform more than two and a half times the amount of childcare taken on by male parents. Mothers are more likely to perform “physical and emotional care duties” (43%, compared with 27% for fathers), while fathers spend more time on “play activities” (41%, compared with 25% for mothers) (12).

Another less recognised aspect of women’s unpaid labour is the pressure placed on women to perform emotional labour to ‘keep everyone happy.’ Modern ideas about what it is to be a ‘good woman’ or wife/partner frequently emphasise the importance of emotional work. Often falsely naturalised under the guise of comments about ‘women’s intuition’, women are frequently tasked with responsibility for maintaining the emotional wellbeing of their family, partner and social groups. These ideas bleed into the sexual realm, as right-wing commentators like Bettina Arndt urge us to ‘take one for the team’ and consider having sex with a partner as just another chore, like taking out the bins (13). Sex can end up being added to the list of duties a woman is expected to perform as part of her day. Federici writes that “for women sex is work; giving pleasure is part of what is expected of every woman […] In the past, we were just expected to raise children. Now we are expected to have a waged job, still clean the house and have children and, at the end of a double workday, be ready to hop in bed and be sexually enticing” (14).

In many ways, women’s emotional labour does not end in the home. In social justice and anti-capitalist organising circles, we all too frequently see the overrepresentation of women in facilitation, conflict resolution, and in grievance collectives. These roles are vital to the continued existence of functional social movements. But women’s work is often unrecognised, under-appreciated, and seen as less valuable than roles typically performed by men, such as leading protest actions, acting as media spokespersons, and frontline banner carriers. In this way, even otherwise egalitarian socialist and anarchist groups can reproduce the gendered division of labour that is the hallmark of patriarchal capitalism.

The consequences of this gendered division of waged work and unpaid reproductive labour for women are extremely significant. Women are more likely to bear responsibility for unpaid work, perform part-time work, and work in areas that are underpaid due to being classed as ‘women’s work.’ This puts many women in a much more financially precarious position than many men, often forcing them to rely on a waged partner for financial security. Being financially dependent on a partner makes it more difficult for women to escape abusive relationships. Women in Australia are significantly more likely to more likely to live and die in poverty in old age, as they often cannot accumulate sufficient savings or superannuation due to time spent performing underpaid waged work or unpaid reproductive work. Moreover, because reproductive labour for one’s family is not seen as ‘real work’, women typically lack the benefits and protections won by paid workers (such as, limited work hours, time off, wages, collective support).

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Implications of reproductive labour for anti-capitalist resistance

“One part of the class with a salary, the other without. This discrimination has been the basis of a stratification of power between the paid and the non-paid, the root of the class weakness which movements of the left have only increased” – Lotta Feminista (15).

What lessons should we draw from the Wages for Housework campaign and its focus on women’s reproductive labour? The Wages for Housework campaign was important in that it challenges us to think about the ways that the capitalist concept of ‘work’ devalues the work of women, in particular women of colour, and therefore makes it more difficult to challenge the exploitation which comes with it.

The campaign also shows us how the idea that reproductive labour is something women are naturally suited to, and that it is something which ought to be done ‘for love’, is a key ideological tool for patriarchal, white supremacist capitalism. The wage gap between men and women in waged labour market persists partly because women are designated as ‘natural’ bearers of reproductive labour. An analysis of reproductive labour is especially important in the current period of significant increases in precarious, feminised service work. The devaluation of women’s work contributes to poor conditions in paid work generally. Again we see how patriarchy and capitalism work together – capital benefits from free or cheap labour, and men gain perceived advantages from having women take on the majority of low-status caring work. This dichotomy between ‘public’ and ‘private’ work undermines our struggles against oppression and must be challenged.

The Wages for Housework campaign also has important lessons for contemporary anti-capitalist organising efforts. Women, and others who perform reproductive work, are usually marginalised within anti-capitalist struggles. The home isn’t seen as a potential site for workplace organising. Housework, parenting, sex work, elder care, and emotional labour aren’t seen as worker’s issues. As Federici comments, “We are seen as nagging bitches, not workers in struggle” (16). We need to remember how broad and diverse the working class is as a social force. Women of colour are the biggest section within the global working class. Workers labour in the home, in the child care centre, and in nursing homes, as well as in factories. ‘Labour’ is not only about waged labour. By thinking about the role of reproductive labour plays in our societies, we can draw attention to the gendered and racialised dimensions of capitalist exploitation. The idea of reproductive labour also opens up new possibilities for anti-capitalist resistance. We need to think about how we can struggle as unwaged workers – what strategies and tactics we can employ when our ‘boss’ is not a clearly identifiable authority figure, but rather an economic and social system. While this form of action raises challenges, it also raises opportunities for us to spread anti-capitalist workers’ struggle into every home, and all parts of our communities. Only by accepting this challenge will be have any chance of creating the broad, diverse workers’ movements we need to successfully challenge capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy.

References

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(1) Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings, 1995, edited by Marshall Shatz, Cambridge University Press, Boston, p. 113-114.
(2) Selma James, “Sex, Race and Class,” 1975, p. 12, https://libcom.org/library/sex-race-class-james-selma
(3) Selma James, “Home Truths for Feminists,” 2004, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/feb/21/gender.comment
(4) For a good summary of this work see Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, 2012, PM Press.
(5) Silvia Federici, “Wages Against Housework,” 1975, https://caringlabor.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/silvia-federici-wages-against-housework/
(6) Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union,” in Women and Revolution, 1981, edited by Lydia Sargent, p. 7.
(7) PJ Lilley & Jeff Shantz, “The World’s Largest Workplace: Social Reproduction and Wages for Housework,” 2004, Common Struggle, http://nefac.net/node/1247
(8) The campaign website is here: http://www.globalwomenstrike.net/
(9) Pat Mainardi, “The Politics of Housework,” 1970, Redstockings, http://www.cwluherstory.org/the-politics-of-housework.html
(10) Australian Bureau of Statistics, 5202.0 Spotlight on National Accounts, May 2014, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/5202.0
(11) All other statistics in this section are from Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4102.0, “Trends in Household Work,” March 2009, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features40March%202009
(12) “Trends in Household Work.”
(13) Bettina Arndt, “Marital bliss? You must be on drugs,” June 1 2013, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/marital-bliss-you-must-be-on-drugs-20130531-2nh9f.html
(14) Silvia Federici, “Why Sexuality is Work” in Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, 2012, p. 25
(15) Lotta Feminista, “Introduction to the Debate”, Italian Feminist Thought: A Reader, 1991, edited by Paola Bono and Sandra Kemp, Blackwell, Oxford, p. 260.
(16) Silvia Federici, “Wages Against Housework,” 1975.

Social Anarchism, Individualism and Lifestyle Politics

Anarchist Affinity delivered a much shorter talk based on the below text. As you can see, it was written in the style of an address rather than an essay. The author is a member of Affinity, but some of the views reflect their own personal interpretations rather than the groups positions. If you want to find our collective positions, you can find them on the website.

Let’s start here;

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It’s the symbol associated with anarchism… We see it everywhere from actual anarchist propaganda, to graffiti, to printed on t-shirts at kmart. Most here probably know this, but it’s not an A in a circle, it’s actually an A in an O. It means, ‘Anarchy is Order’, which is one of those wonderful juxtaposing quotes Proudhon used. What he meant is that anarchism will be a highly sophisticated and highly organised social system. A social order based on the maximum of human freedom, federalism, socialism, equality and development, with power flowing from the bottom up, rather than the top down as in capitalism.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was the first person to ever use the label anarchist, back in the 1800’s France. It’s with him that the confusion between social and individualist anarchism immediately starts. See, he was certainly a type of socialist, he was totally against the exploitation of labour, and he developed an economic system called mutualism based on free contracts between producers, meaning both collectives of workers and small craftsmen would have equal freedom in the economy. This is a bit divorced from the anarchist communism that has become the main tendency since then, but it certainly laid many of foundations. He was anti-state and anti-authority, though sadly he never extended this to women. His ideas on economics and social reconstruction were so popular its said some people in the Paris Commune had little copies of ‘What is Property’ they used to carry around in their pocket (don’t quote me on this actually happening!), and his economic theories even had some influence on even Marx. Some people like to argue that he was more of a precursor to anarchism, there’s some truth in this – in that his politics where not totally coherent or developed to what is specifically anarchism today. But he did, and was the first, to use the label anarchist.

Just before and around the same time respectively to Proudhon, we had William Godwin and Max Stirner. Both libertarians certainly, both anti-state, but neither used the term anarchist, and this is important, because alot of individualists certainly like to base their ideas on Stirner. I’m not going to talk about Godwin, but i’d like to point out that Stirner really was more like an early existentialist, his radical ‘freedom’ was entirely about the ego and the mind, and was anti-everything. There wasn’t a trace of positive content in his ideas (besides affirmation of the ego, and this extremely undeveloped ‘Union of Egoists’), which were also pretty racist if you take the time to read The Ego and His Own. About the best thing he had to offer was a critique of state-socialism, and that’s not saying alot. Stirner was one of these intellectual anarchists, of bourgeois origins who dreamed up a radical notion of freedom without ever participating in the real struggles of his time.

After these three “Anarchism” definitely had a name and existed in the world as a political ideology.

Since the birth of Anarchism people have often found it quite hard to define a coherent theory of anarchism; Chomsky always uses that quote ‘Anarchism has a broad back, like paper is can endure anything.’ And Rudolph Rocker believed that anarchism was something of a tendency in human nature towards egalitarian non-hierarchical forms of social organisation. He also believed it was the inheritor of the best parts of both Liberalism and Socialism, the ‘descendants’ of the Enlightenment. Emile Armands Individualist manifesto entirely bases its definition of anarchism around freedom from any social constraint. While from people like Bakunin and Malatesta we see that anarchism is a very specific political philosophy based around class struggle, with the realisation of libertarian socialism as the goal. They use examples like the Paris Commune to point to future potentials, but recognise that anarchism is a modern political philosophy that started with Proudhon and the French workers movement. In modern attempts to look back at anarchism we see both these kinds of definitions in action. Authors like Peter Marshall in his ‘Demanding the Impossible’ takes the opposition to state as the only requirement to anarchism – and often Marxists who like to have a crack at anarchism use this weak definition too. Modern authors like Van Der Walt and Wayne Price will however often present more coherent and consistent understandings of anarchism.

So basically we kind of have two fields; Social anarchism and Individualist anarchism. Social anarchism sometimes gets referred to as organisational anarchism, and individualist anarchism kind of leads on to what often gets called lifestyle anarchism today. Within both fields we can find a whole range of ideas on both strategy and economics. Still we can somewhat represent where the ideas and who represents them sit.

chart of anarchists

Obviously we could add hundreds more authors into these fields, but it’s a basic illustration.

So, lets kind of compare the two and I think it will lead us to a better understanding of how anarchism manifests in the world today. I’d like to point out I realise here I am presenting these fields as something of strawmen. But this is not an academic essay, and there is only so much time.

As you can well imagine by its name, individualist anarchism starts, and ends, with the demand of maximum liberty for the individual. There are to be no fetters on the development of the so called natural qualities of the individual, and while they think everyone should be free, it really begins with personal struggle and ends with the individual. The only freedom you have is what you can take. Society is also as much a crushing source of authority as the state. There are to be no programmes set for what anarchism might look like, because everyone has different wants and needs. Rebellion is emphasised over revolution – revolution will either lead to a new state or to a new social tyranny. Despite rhetoric against capitalism, market economics are permissible provided there is no boss-worker relationship (although sometimes that’s ok too!.) It is this retreat into the self that actually shares a lot of parallels with new age spirituality, with existentialism and most importantly with neo-liberal capitalism. It’s this abstract opposition to ‘the state’ and ‘society’ that allows authors like Peter Marshall to give the nod towards people like Thatcher and Friedman as being somehow libertarian.

Individualism did not have much influence during the emerging the working class, nor did it do much to shape collective politics of rebellion. Individualists often expressed their ‘anarchism’ and ‘freedom’ through forms of dress, individual acts of insurrection, and living in small communities of other radicals only. While today we use the word ‘insurrection’ to mean something like when a community/class violently attacks a regime/authority, the connection between the term insurrection and anarchism actually comes from Stirner, who believed revolution was impossible, and that individual ‘insurrection’ was the only tactic that would keep authority at bay, however temporarily. It was during times of severe social repression, when little other avenue for struggle existed, that individualist anarchism did come to attention – usually with assassinations and bombings – this image of the anarchist bomb thrower still exists. Terrorism became, and to a large degree remains, the peak form of struggle for this tendency. I don’t want to say much on it, but I believe that the terrorist and guerilla war is a Leninist strategy, not an anarchist one, despite the flowery rhetoric.

This still happens today. Not long ago some group let off a bomb in Chile at a church, and a year or two ago some insurrectionists kneecapped the CEO of a Nuclear Power company. The targeting of the Nuclear CEO has obvious reasons – the church not so. They issued a massively irrelevant manifestos crapping on about religious feeding the people bullshit. Not exactly a material analysis of religion. The most famous example of this strategy today would be Conspiracy of Fire Cells in Greece. They’re a group known for robbing banks, having shoot outs with police, and bringing ‘left wing terrorism’ back to Europe. They’re all arrested now, and have been involved in struggles for prisoners’ rights and hunger strikes over the last few years.

If you’re interested in the terror question, and the rather bold statement that terrorism is a Leninist strategy, i’d highly suggest grabbing a copy of “You Can’t Blow Up A Social Relationship, – The Anarchist Case Against Terrorism” quite a famous essay written by an Australian libertarian socialist group.

So then, what’s social anarchism?

Taking freedom as the basis of anarchism, I want to start with a quote from Mikhail Bakunin, he says;

“The individual, their freedom and reason, are the products of society, and not vice versa; society is not the product of individuals comprising it; and the greater their freedom – and the more they are the product of society, the more do they receive from society, and the greater their debt to it.

Here we find a definition of freedom based entirely on social bonds – what Bakunin is saying is that we are all products of social development – it is through relationships and education we find the ideas, motivations and influences that will make us free. Without the development of all, without equality, we will never know real freedom. The more free the person beside you is, the more free you are. Social anarchism is therefore inherently committed to collective methods of organisation – be it through things as various as unions, affinity groups, syndicates, communes, or whatever. Social anarchism also collectivist in economics. We have had Proudhon, and the Spanish economist De Santillian. But ultimately social anarchists owe a great debt to Marx for their understanding of economics – it’s over questions of political organisation that we divide.

It’s this freedom through solidarity that found such fertile ground in the workers movement. Not only did the ‘intellectuals’ of social anarchism relate to mass struggles, their ideas were formed from participating in struggles and were often the articulation OF the ideas of the mass of anarchists and workers. The ideas of these social anarchists, particularly Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta flourished in many parts of the world, namely Spain, Italy, Argentina, Manchuria (Korea) and China, and had profound influence on the mass anarchist organisations that were to develop. We often sell ourselves short as anarchists today, because much of our history is lost, and because our movement is so small and insular we often feel like a subculture. But when it comes to history, remember we are talking about a movement that affected the lives of millions of people. These were no small propaganda groups or insurrectional cells. These were mass organisations that had obvious anarchist politics. Maybe not all 2 million members of the CNT or the FORA were anarchist – but anarchism had an influence on their lives.

So in comparison, while social anarchism first found its roots in the federalist sections of the international, in the Paris commune, and in the emerging union movements, it is fair to say that Individualism came to prominence when anarchism lost its connection with the working class, and interestingly has largely been a phenomenon tied to the USA and Europe, and Russia. While also in places like Korea, South America, and parts of Africa where anarchism has had periods of significance, individualism has been for the most part irrelevant (feel free to correct me if you’ve come across individualist literature from these parts of the world!) Perhaps the tactic of insurrection by small groups and individuals had some grounding, [for example the “Bezmotivniks” in Ukraine, anarcho-communists – tied to groups like the Union of Poor Peasants or Nabat, or the “Pistoleros” in Spain, who used expropriations and assassinations] but its irrelevance seems to be the broader rule. This loss of social influence for anarchism in most countries has never been recovered. The withdrawl of self-styled anarchists from social movements for activities that don’t require long-term commitment, thinking, responsibility or coherence is a serious problem if we ever want anarchism to be a philosophy that can change the world again.

It’s pretty clear that the irrelevance of a coherent and social anarchist philosophy is also tied to the reactionary and conservative societies we live in. Despite efforts to break out of the leftist ghetto, much like our socialist mates, today we remain largely irrelevant. The anarchist principles of federalism, direct action, anti-parliament politics, and mutual aid are barely connected to a class struggle that is largely institutionalised. With no radical collective movement to use our tactics, we don’t feed back into the movements, we don’t test our ideas and fresh activists are few and far between. It’s a two way street. The end result of this isolation can often be liberalism dressed in radical clothing, and the dominance of ‘lifestyle anarchism’ is basically the black flag version of the socialist politics that believes in the revolutionary potential of Bernie Sanders , SYRIZA and Jeremy Corbyn.

Anarchists today are finding our way back to relevance in struggle; in a number of places around the world anarchist organisations and movements are beginning to flourish again. Greece, Ireland, Brazil are a few examples.

I found it illuminating that in this Workers Solidarity Movement talk about the growth of anarchism in Ireland, Andrew Flood says that as anarchists have regained their social relevance over the last two decades, they went from the stereotype of ‘punks and people dressed in black’ to ‘looking like your everyday person’, and that about that time the media began to have to acknowledge that anarchism was actually a factor in Irish political life.

I want to give a historical example of anarchism finding its feet in a concrete situation. It is an example of anarchism feeding into a movement, and developing as a result. Actually, it’s the world’s first example of specifically anarchist organisations doing just such – for all its many limits, there are many lessons to be learnt; I just finished reading Nestor Makhno’s account of the revolution in the Ukraine, and during some of the most intense periods of social upheaval he expresses extreme frustration with the revolutionaries in Russia. He points out that the combination of armchair intellectualism and obsession with aspects of theory – like the proletariat over the peasantry means that they’re entirely ignorant of the revolutionary and of the practical means these anarchists can take to expand the revolution. This isn’t just frustration with individualists either, this is with anarcho-syndicalists, communist and whatnot. He points out the inflexibility of anarchist theory at this time can’t deal with practical situations. For example when he was elected leader of his particular battalion he had to give orders right- and he recognises that most anarchists don’t believe in giving orders or leaders or whatever. And he expresses that he felt quite uncomfortable with the role he was given. But they were fighting a war. An actual revolution. Not having accountable roles or rules is crap, and I think this is a frustration because of the individualist influence. Just because anarchists didn’t believe they should ever be told what to do, doesn’t mean they can’t develop structures of collective responsibility. Libertarian self-discipline is very different to authoritarian discipline.

Anarchists have leaders of a type. This is something that modern anarchism really struggles to acknowledge. Just because we refuse to put a label on power doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exists. Let’s consider this quote from Bakunin;

“Nothing is more dangerous for a man’s private morality than the habit of command. Two sentiments inherent in power never fail to produce this demoralisation; they are: contempt for the masses and the overestimation of one’s own merits.”

So what makes anarchist ‘leadership’ special is that what we are actually wanting to achieve is to create structures that limit the concentration of power. Informality does not do this. This is a serious danger that exists in individualist and lifestyle anarchism. Rather we should look to have strict mandates given by the collective to their delegates, when assemblies are not practical. That’s why we try to rotate roles – to assure one person doesn’t end up with too much power, and to assure that everyone develops skills keeping the field more even if you will. Individualism doesn’t address this. Actually egoist individualism like Stirners ends up justifying power over other people – hardly an anti-authoritarian philosophy. If you ever get a chance I recommend reading ‘The Tyranny of Structurelessness.’

As I said, this delegate-mandate-rotate structure is actually infinitely more anti-authoritarian than not having any kind of accountability. Bakunin talked about this, the CNT knew this, the anarchist army in the Ukraine knew this (though it wasn’t great at it.) But it’s quite lost these days. Obviously, how we structure this leadership isn’t the same as socialist groups – there are practical things that differentiate us here. At any rate – that is a topic for another time.

So I want to skip back to individualism, I want to explain why I believe often the result of individualist philosophies put into practice can be damaging to social movements, how they often become anti-social rather than anti-capitalist. I think this confusion that starts from the concept of imminent rebellion against authority, meaning that things that aren’t actually anti-authoritarian can end up with tacit anarchist support.

Groups like Crimethinc tend to border this line, advocating and fetishing sub-cultural practices as anti-capitalist in and of themselves with little conceptualisation of how they assist in the struggle against capital and the state, if at all. Squatting, sabotage, petty-crime, theft, arson, and assassinations all register in the arsenal of insurrectional-individualist tactics. Actually, I think this is the definitions of the vague term we throw around; ‘lifestylism.’ Precisely this fetishisation. A comrade has raised with me that it is perhaps not only that, but it’s the result of despair at the failures of long-term organising that leads to believing only immediate actions and ‘living politics’ can be revolutionary.

It’s not to say social anarchists don’t use tactics like insurrection, sabotage etc too. But what is to be considered is if the action is beneficial or negative, collectively empowering or just alienating and anti-social, rather than just assuming it is an acceptable tactic.

For example, tactics like sabotage have often been used during union campaigns, the IWW was historically famous for this. When used as an individual tactic, workers often risk alienation from others, punishment from the state, a waste of comrades resources who bail them out or organise legals. Individuals may get a small benefit from stealing, squatting, living on the dole as a ideological choice etc, but there are always consequences. So when sabotage is done collectively, it can be a powerful tool against the boss, especially so because everyone has each others backs, and the decision to take action has been made together. It’s the small sums of collective actions that become a movement.

Consider;

“Shoplifting, dumpster diving, quitting work are all put forward as revolutionary ways to live outside the system, but amount to nothing more than a parasitic way of life which depends on capitalism without providing any real challenge.”

Obviously with this quote we don’t want to conflate what it takes to ensure survival under capitalism, or to demonise people who are unemployed or anything ridiculous like that. Rather what’s being said is that if you have the option to make these choices, if you can always move back in with your folks or whatever, you’re not actually contributing to anti-capitalism – you’re just living out some kind of radical liberalism.

The rich, politicians, anyone in a position of power surely has plenty of time for people who become ‘non-participants’ in the system. They do not actually challenge power, they do not help organise collectively, they may create small concessions and ‘spaces’ of existing without the yoke of capitalist burden, but the ability of this to both spread and become empowering has to be considered. The truth is, you cannot, ever, completely drop out of capitalism or get away from the state. People in power are afraid of the Malcom X’s, the union organisers, the organisations that demand and fight for collective rights. Not hippie communes.

I’m not saying everyone who’s doing some kind of activism has to rush out and form a collective, join an organisation or start towing a political line – I’m not here to say ‘hey, you should join anarchist affinity because we have the best politics ever! (Though please contact us if you’re interested!) actually what’s more important as anarchists is that hopefully you go away with some ideas about organising yourself- what i’m saying that there are differences in ideas and hence organisational methods that have very real impacts on the effectiveness of our activism.

It’s been pointed out plenty of times that activists who have no ‘home team’ will often find they’ve put incredible amounts of energy into a single campaign, sometimes for years, but when it ends – those lessons are lost, there is nowhere to keep moving, there is no collective development of knowledge that comes from critical reflection on what you’ve been doing. Unlike individualists would believe everyone is an island, we are all socially formed, and it’s through society we find our freedom. Anyone who thinks they can come to the perfect answers alone, that they can live outside and beyond society is a joker. Here’s an anecdote; did you know it’s not common for anarchists in the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation to talk in first person? They’re so adamant that every individual’s personality is a product of collective development that to talk in third person shows humility and acknowledgement of each’s contribution to one another. I’m not suggesting that we stop talking in first person but I think that such humility is quite an inspirational revolutionary value.

I think many of us who are anarchists in Australia today are more like Emma Goldman than any past activists of any particular ‘field.’ Many of us identify with the goals of social anarchism (ie; collectivist economics) but have a left over ‘individualist’ resistance to organisations that require long term strategy and development. I think what individual libertarian/anarchist activists who aren’t in organisations do though is help the development of libertarian values. [Note; I use ‘Libertarian’ in the original sense, meaning it is the same as anarchist, not right wing economics] By participating in social struggles anarchists we hope to help build a culture that empowers from the bottom up. And developing an anarchist culture is really important. We want to have our own morals, different to those advocated by a capitalist and statist society – we want a world without patriarchy or racism, and conscious cultural reconstruction is important if we understand that there are forms of exploitation and repression that are reinforced by more than just capitalism.

The strength of actions by anarchists as individuals is more like a reproduction of ethics, rather than any programmatic revolutionary strategy. Because we recognize that there are two levers of power in society right – the state and the point of production, you could maybe say that the third is the social reproduction of capitalist relations – and that’s where community organising is important. We can’t and don’t just fetishise the workplace. We are not marxists and we don’t agree that society is limited strictly to the capitalist pyramid of dynamics (not that they all do! It’s hard to avoid strawmen in such a broad piece of writing.) Anarchists know power exists in all social relations, we have talked often about the centre and the periphery of power. And knowing that centralisation creates power we acknowledge that we can’t take the state – that’s completely against anarchist strategy and understanding of how society works – what we do want to do is build counter-power to where capital and oppression are created. We want everyone to have equal access to political, social and economic power.That’s absolutely key to overthrowing this society. And that’s not done by throwing a bomb into a bank, it’s done by organising workers and communities.

Many people today are drawn towards anarchism because it offers space to individuals who feel marginalised by predominant social constructions. When you identify as an anarchist its okay to be totally yourself. But we have to acknowledge the whole idea of the individual against society is absurd – anarchism IS the single most social political philosophy – we believe in a world of completely free and equal individuals – how can we be anti-social, unless you’re you think society and the state are the same?

What I think is useful from here is to talk a little about how there are differences in tactics, politics and strategy. Now this is pretty key and will lead us onto a bit of discussion about particular things anarchists today are into. To be honest, the useful terminology for this distinction was only just brought to my attention by another comrade.

Firstly; we have politics. This is the level at which we identify the philosophy we believe in – which is anarchism. So starting from the vision of building a world without states, capitalism or authority we have to decide on the appropriate strategies for making that happen.

So, strategy. Here’s where we do maybe the most reflection – what does our society look like? What kind of changes do we need? How could we start making them happen? Are we insurrectionists, are we syndicalist, are we into community organising, should we be concentrating on propaganda? There is alot to be figured out.

Finally; tactics. The tactics we employ are the specific details of the strategy we decide upon, as in, what particular actions we undertake to implement the strategy. For example if you did believe you needed an insurrection, you might form a cell that wants to annihilate capitalists and cops or something, (definitely not the Anarchist Affinity line!) I dont know. If you chose syndicalism you might look at what industries are most important to organise in right now, and if you want to start a specifically anarchist union or if you want to radicalise existing ones by building shop stewards networks and advocating wildcats. Within social anarchism there are a variety of ideas about strategies, these are just two, very different and broad examples.

The problem in Australia seems to be that our movement is so confused, so unsophisiticated that we don’t take the time to work our way through these considerations. We as the collective that is anarchism in Australia tend to fetishise one or the other, or completely muddle them up. Remember here i’m not just talking about individualists; most anarchist groups in Australia are completely guilty of this too. But at the same time, I think what we like to call ‘lifestyle’ can be traced back to the early individualism, where personal rebellion and individual, violent insurrection are considered as the total strategy against the state.

All the same, I want to look at a few places where we see the confusion at work. Firstly i’m going to talk about squatting if that’s alright.

So squatting is a tactic, yea? But if you believe that it’s inherently political, you’re going to get stuck repeating it over and over when it’s not the right strategy, or when you can’t do it, where are your politics? This kind of thing happens all the time. It’s a really big problem in the environmental movement. I’m not really involved in that anymore but it’s kinda where I started back in Newcastle, and I saw a fair bit of this confusion.

Squatting is not really a huge thing in Australia, though I do know a number of squatters and there are a few in Melbourne – it’s a much bigger thing in Europe. Many anarchists seem to consider squatting as a lifestyle choice (though there are some, i’m sure, who do it because they haven’t any other option – I know at least one person who fits this category.) There’s a difference between a choice and survival here. Living in a squat would appear to give people the space to exist outside typical property relations, maximising personal freedoms and somehow ‘propagate’ the idea that squatting is an option to the broader community. There is an element of truth in this, but it’s actually extremely limited.

Creating ‘liberty’ for oneself doesn’t necessarily mean it creates it for others, sometimes it can even limit the freedoms of others. Squatting isn’t necessarily one of those times, but it’s not as helpful a tactic as other options. There is a difference between punks who want to live in a squat cause its free and they can have parties, and a squat that’s used as an accessible social center that, for example, that helps house refugees. The first is fine; it doesn’t really matter to anyone except the landlord. But the second has collective and social power. I’d argue that as anarchists this is exactly our task. We don’t just want revolution for ourselves, we want it for everyone.

To turn a squat into a viable social center it seems obvious that it needs resources, organisation, community outreach, and importantly the backing of other social groups willing to defend it when eviction time comes. I believe this is a task for anarchist organisations. Lets look at WSM in Ireland for a second, they’re an anarchist group who doesn’t operate, control or dominate any squats. What they do however, is help initiate them, have activists involved in their on going upkeep and daily activity (one squat in Ireland that has a few WSM members used the workshops to build heaters to send to refugees in Calais), and defend them and their autonomy against repression from the state. They also organise forums and do the important task of political propaganda helping legitimate squatting as a strategy against capitalism. I use WSM as an example of this because they’re particularly successful – they have an anarchist publication reaches thousands of people monthly, and they have public attention for being at the forefront of several social movements. Imagine what such a powerful anarchist organisation can bring to the defence of autonomy?

On the other hand – it doesn’t take an anarchist organisation to make squatting a valid social project – im just pointing out what I think tasks of anarchist are.

EDIT: Since this was written the totally super awesome squat project in Bendigo St, Collingwood has popped up! This occupation was organised by the Homeless Persons Union of Victoria, and is drawing attention to the rate of homelessness in Melbourne compared to the enormous number of empty homes. This is a fantastic example of the social value of a squatting project.

Lets look at Social Log Bologna in Italy for a moment. This was a squat that is quite a large social center. The site itself used to be a postal facility. The people who set it up were autonomist marxists, and you know what – they didn’t just use it for themselves -now it’s entirely self-run by refugees! Thousands of people respond to calls to defend the center. Not just your usual leftist milieu either, it has enormous social outreach to the multicultural working classes. This wasn’t just a venue for gigs – Social Log actually demonstrated that when we get rid of fucking capitalism – there going to be so many creative things we can do with the economy to make sure everyone has everything they need. It was also the result of serious planning and looking at the specific things the working class of a particular area needed at a particular point in time.

ANOTHER EDIT; Unfortunately Social Log Bologna has been evicted after this article was written. There is a struggle to occupy another place.

So then I’d like to ask; “what is a squat compared to a rent strike?”

This I believe is where we begin to see real collective action forming. Rent strikes aren’t a thing here anymore, but Australia does have some history with them. Actually, I almost never hear people talk about them! If you don’t know what a rent strike is, it’s basically like this; the community in a particular area organises against inflated rents and evictions, you hold some mass meetings, do some propaganda and whatever, maybe you target on the basis of community, maybe you target a particular landlord, but you get to a point where collective power is established and people stop paying rent. When the cops turn up, you picket in defense of whoever they try and evict, maybe you go hassle the state department or the rental agents or something. Not really something we’re in a position to do now – but worthy of remembering this exists for when struggle around housing intensifies even more. If you want to look at historical examples, i’d suggest Scotland during the 30s‘ and Italy in the 70s’. There are some pretty good articles on libcom.org about the Italian rent strikes – which were significantly influenced by the autonomia movement. For those that don’t know, Autonomia was/is a branch of marxism that started to question the significance of the party, started including feminism and talking about ‘social reproduction’ and all that. It reproduced a lot of the problems of Leninism but has some very valuable lessons to draw from.

What makes rent strikes so much more powerful is that, unlike squatting, they’re a viable tactic to a huge portion of the population. Squatting is unavailable to so many people, for so many reasons. There are only so many places, its unsuitable for families, for people who need to keep stuff secure for work or whatever, for people with disabilities, for people who want to be guaranteed a hot shower. For those who require stability and security, things we all deserve, squatting is not a real option. Even for many of Australia’s homeless squatting wouldn’t be viable – what’s deserved is secure housing. Wouldn’t it be better if we could organise a mass renters and housing movement committed to direct action and direct democracy, with total autonomy from political parties and the upper classes? Social movements provide the space to lay the real foundations of a society built from the bottom up.

Let’s look really quickly at another places the anarchist movement finds itself sometimes fetishising tactics rather than politics. Sections of the anarchist left often have an idea that they can provide social services purely because it seems ideologically sound. Services that have often been won by the left are now provided by the state and far better than what we can do. Why would anyone want to go to a dodgy anarchist day care in a squat if there’s a nice clean one run by professionals and provided by the state?

I think a relevant example can be Food Not Bombs. I’m not here to have a go at people doing FNB. I’m just raising it as an example we can relate to! FNB is a sweet idea, you get the food that Woolies or Coles or whatever were going to throw away – cause you know, capitalism is extremely fucking wasteful. Or you take what you’ve grown at your co-op or whatever, and you turn it into a feed and put it on for free in a park or down a street in the city and give it out to whoever needs it. You produce some propaganda around it that points out that capitalism is fucked. Rad, this is actually a great idea. Practical things like this is the way we make our politics seen, the way we prove we can do things differently, the way we prove we have something to offer, and we have a way to talk to people that can be way less alienating than many of the irritating tactics the left use to start a conversation today.

But you know, taking into account the politics, strategy, tactic formula… is this the best thing to do in Australia? There are so many charities and even state institutions that feed the homeless. Sometimes you’re competing with mega churches and the state! In a society where *most* people have what they need to eat, then maybe resources are better put into something else? That’s where you go back to your politics, look at the concrete situation, start talking about a strategy to build anarchism and then figure out what tactics are going to be effective. If we were in say, Greece, where the soup-kitchen idea is really important, then fuck yes anarchist should be setting up Food Not Bombs or whatever name you wanna give it. That’s exactly our territory and the perfect place for demonstrating alternatives. There’s a Marx quote I like, “every real movement is worth a dozen programmes.” Anarchism is meant to be connected to the real needs of the people – actually anarchist organisation exists to support the real struggle, not to establish socialism by decrees. The principle of mutual aid comes from was the early workers movement, not Kropotkin. It wasn’t some ethic dreamed up by intellectuals. Early anarchist movements were dealing with the lack of social services, they were dealing with real social needs.

So what I’m saying is that now when we establish these mutual aid groups, filling these ‘holes’ in social needs isn’t a great idea if they have been filled by capitalism and the state, because until anarchism becomes a large and organised social force, we can’t really compete with capitalist or state facilities without wasting a large amount of our own time and resources.

So at the current state, I think we need to stop and reflect where anarchism needs to go. What are our politics? What strategies have we got to make anarchism relevant? Do they reflect how Australian society looks today? We can’t just take the CNT model from 36 Spain and make it happen here, we’re sure as fuck are not going to the hills to start a peasant Insurrectional Army.

To summarising a few points, let’s start with this contradiction between individual and social anarchism.

Anarchism is really the most completely social philosophy – we seek a world based on solidarity, mutual aid and co-operation. How these values could go hand in hand with anti-social elements is beyond me. We are anti-capitalist, because capitalism is toxic for a healthy social system, not because we’re angsty teenagers.

To consider how we want to see a future influenced by anarchism, we need only take a moment to look at the past. There have been times anarchism has been a fruitful social ideal, and during those times it’s only ever been the social and well-developed anarchist organisations and movements that have made an impact; the CNT/FAI in Spain, the Insurrectional Army of the Ukraine, the FORA in Argentina, FAU in Uraguay, and the KAF-M in Manchuria. There has never been a ‘Union of Egoists’, armed terror groups like Conspiracy of Fire haven’t started a revolution, assassinations by individualists have only brought down the states wrath on broader society. Individualist anarchism cannot dream to achieve what collective organisation can. Individualism is the result of bourgeoise and liberal tendencies, it is the dreams of intellectuals trying to mix itself with workers struggles. In contrast, social anarchism comes from the real social struggles of the lower classes.

We certainly believe in building the new society in the shell of the old, and this involves individual action and development, but its always connected to the realisation of a real communal society. Small organisations that fulfil imediate needs, like Co-operatives, affinity groups, etc, have been important parts of working class culture, and their general demise has come hand in hand with repression and co-option of working class movements. Models and examples help point the way, they demonstrate that another world is possible, but again these are models of communal action – we are not led to the revolution by the image if the anarchist bombthrower, by Stirners unlimited Ego, or by this terrible ‘temporary autonomous zone’ idea. We’re led by images of the Paris commune, the Russian Soviets, the Spanish syndicates, the Hungarian workers councils, even today glimmers of hope exist in the new communal structures in Chiapas, the grassroots councils of Syria and Rojava, not for the political forces that defend them, but the practical institutions of counter-power that are building a new social life.

The considered undertaking of practical activity, connecting it to a broader political programme, and the building of dedicated anarchist organisations will only strengthen our ability to make a difference and increase the scope of human freedom both in the here and now, and to lay the preperation for a revolutionary situation. I’d urge any who believe anarchism is achieved by autonomous, atomised and unorganised individuals to seriously reconsider how they believe revolution is possible, and if it is, what it will take to get there. But for anarchists in dedicated organisations, it is worth a reminder that actions undertaken by the working class will not come with a perfectly worked anarchist line or program, that developing ideas takes time, that the revolution is messy and slow, that patronising or dismissing peoples genuine individual needs and concerns is not a helpful attitude. But if we stick to our guns, to our morals of solidarity, co-operation, equality, and autonomy that we will sow the seeds of freedom today, so that tomorrow we may have truly free society. I don’t know about you, but I want to take this really seriously, I want to live to see anarchy. If we refuse to acknowledge the lessons of the past, if we don’t take on the lessons of the past we will just let the state continue to exist, either in its capitalist or socialist form.

Written by Tom.

The rent is too damn high!

Guest post by Chris, a participant in the Sydney Solidarity Network.

A few months ago, a Facebook event called “rental horror stories” popped up in Sydney. Within days, it had gone viral. Hundreds and hundreds of people almost overwhelmed the page with story after story of mould, flooding, broken appliances, broken walls, broken roofs, fungi growth, pest infestation, exorbitant rents and arbitrary evictions. The page even made it into a few articles in the mainstream media.

To put it mildly, housing in Australia is a nightmare. Last year, rents in Sydney increased at record levels to reach a median of $500 per week for a one-bedroom apartment. The country as a whole was declared to be in the midst of a “rental affordability crisis” which was leading to “social catastrophe.” In Melbourne, over 80,000 investor-owned properties were reported to be lying more or less permanently vacant and unused. In Sydney over 90,000 homes were similarly unoccupied. Meanwhile glowing articles get written about people such as Nathan Birch, who at age 30 already owns 170 houses (apparently it’s “about 170” but he’s “lost count” of the exact number).

So it seems strange that given how intolerable the situation is for so many people, there have been few, if any, largescale efforts by tenants to collectively do something about this.

In other English-speaking countries, tenant organising is undergoing a resurgence. Last year, for instance, 80 students at University College London won £100,000 in compensation for substandard and rat-infested accommodation after they refused to pay rent for seven months. In March this year, again in the UK, 130 students living at Goldsmiths University announced that they would not be paying rent until the price of college dorm rooms was cut by 30%. Tenants in Bristol have been organising to win repairs and prevent rent increases in the wider community, while there are a plethora of active tenants’ campaigns in the US where areas like Portland, San Francisco and Brooklyn are facing skyrocketing rents and gentrification.

There’s no reason we can’t do the same thing in Australia. While landlords are hard to target and it’s difficult to know what, if any, other properties they own, the real estate agencies they lease out properties through (and who also take a cut of the rent) are much more vulnerable to public pressure. When landlords won’t repair properties or threaten to evict tenants, the real estate agencies they work with could have protests staged outside them, pickets could be set up at property inspections to warn other potential renters of the risks of going through that agency, and real estate offices could be targeted with mass phone-ins to disrupt business. While there are databases in some states to keep records of people who break tenancy agreements, there are heavy restrictions on the sort of information that can be kept in these databases, and it’s not possible to use them to blacklist tenants for any kind of protest activity.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been involved in a group called the Sydney Solidarity Network, which has successfully taken on businesses who’ve paid below the minimum wage or cheated their employees out of entitlements. The methods we used were extremely simple: we stuck up bold, eye-catching posters asking passers-by if they’d been ripped off by their employer, got contacted by people who had been, then together with the affected worker we confronted the boss and demanded restitution, backed up by the threat of further protests if it wasn’t forthcoming – and in almost every case, we won our demands without needing to go any further. I never quite got over just how easy it was to make employers cave in, and it’s quite likely that many real estate agencies would give in to tenants’ demands if placed under similar pressure.

There are a lot of advantages to organising this way with other renters. For one thing, the housing crisis in Australia is widely felt and affects millions of people. On top of that, things like lower rents, repairs, and protection from eviction are inherently appealing, and will make life better in a real and tangible way. Finally, it’s not that had to get started: you could begin by getting organised with the people that you live with, then expand out to neighbouring houses and the rest of the suburb with postering, letterbox drops, door-knocking, and local public meetings. Eventually, a tenants’ group covering your suburb and a few adjacent ones could be set up to take action against landlords and real estate agencies.

The housing crisis in Australia doesn’t seem as if it’s about to go away any time soon. While Facebook events can be useful, and cramming ever more people into sharehouses can alleviate some of the pressure, more and more it seems like the only way to improve the situation is for tenants to organise together and fight to win.

Report: Strike at Woolworth’s liquor warehouse

A moment on the picket line, workers from another NUW organised warehouse come down to show support.
A moment on the picket line, workers from another NUW organised warehouse come down to show support.

Report from Anarchist Affinity members who were supporting the MLDC (Melbourne Liquor Distribution Centre) strike last week.

Workers at Woolworths MLDC launched unprotected (unlawful) strike action in the early hours of Monday morning last week. Workers were responding to broken promises by management; Woolworths management had announced the week before that all new hires at the Laverton site would be through a labour-hire agency despite promises to the contrary made in EBA negotiations less than a year earlier.

The MLDC strike was called for, planned and hastily executed by rank and file union militants at MLDC. The decision to strike occurred to the genuine surprise of NUW union organisers and officials (the NUW is the workers’ union), and this decision was taken by a workforce who had never previously been on strike together.

The MLDC sits at a critical juncture in Woolworth’s supply chain. The strike shut-down liquor and cigarette supplies to Woolworths, BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores across Victoria.

On day four of the strike, industrial action occurred at two other Woolworth’s distribution centres in Hume and Barnawatha. The Hume DC afternoon shift joined the strike and the Barnawatha DC imposed an overtime ban whilst planning to join the strike.

This strike action continued despite the threat of fines and dismissal. It continued in defiance of an order by the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday. When ordered back to work, strikers at MLDC burnt copies of the FWC order and announced they would not return to work until Woolworths agreed “no labour hire and no repercussions [for striking]”.

The power that these workers held in their hands was palpable.

A number of us in Anarchist Affinity are NUW members and delegates (in the market research industry); we headed down to MLDC and joined the picket as part of a larger community support contingent. It was with disgust that from here we watched NUW hierarchy sell the workers at MLDC short.

Why NUW leadership acted in this manner is a matter for debate, it could simply have been timidity in the face of potential fines, or perhaps a fear of an industrial situation escalating outside their control. What is clear is that by late Wednesday NUW leadership had decided to intervene and end the MLDC strike.

The process of undermining the strike began with a mass meeting on Thursday morning. NUW officials advised workers that a federal court injunction was coming that could not be defied. Workers were told that this injunction would result in fines of up to $10,000 and potentially jail time for the strikers. Union leaders claimed only way out was to authorise the leadership to negotiate a deal.

Over the course of Thursday the strike was demobilised on the outside as officials cut a deal with the company inside.

At the final mass meeting held at the picket on Thursday evening, union leadership presented the deal they had cut. They argued there was no alternative and called for workers to endorse it. The militants who had called the strike fought for a continuation, but ultimately lost in a vote split roughly 70-30.

The compromise that was accepted will (in broad terms) see labour-hire on the site during ‘peak periods’, subject to certain restrictions. The most important restriction is that labor-hire workers will be paid site rates and covered by the site EBA.

More concerningly, the union leadership agreed to a deal in which workers will face retribution for striking. All of the strikers will be subjected to ‘counseling’ and a six month written warning for unprotected action.

The union and the company also intend to appoint an ‘independent investigator’ to ‘make recommendations’ about three particular workers for unspecified actions during the strike. The names of these three workers have not been disclosed, but it seems likely that strike organisers will face further retribution.

The MLDC strike was nonetheless amazing. Workers without significant support from their union took militant industrial action for four days, defying one of Australia’s largest retailers and the misnamed Fair Work Commission. For a brief moment they held the profitability of one of Australia’s largest corporations to ransom.

The MLDC strike may have accepted a compromise that in the end conceded labour-hire and disciplinary action for striking workers, but it also showed what is possible. The strike was one small but potent demonstration of the power that still exists on a picket line, and what even a small group of militants can achieve when they organise.

Our solidarity, support and love go out to everyone we met on the picketlines at MLDC.

Some Reflections on Reclaim Australia, July 18th

The following is written by a member of Anarchist Affinity and an active Antifascist.

It seems obvious that the main conflict and debate that is raging in the immediate aftermath of the latest round of Reclaim Australia isn’t even about the fascists, but about the police, though the two are linked. Many people are shocked by the level of violence and aggression displayed by the police, and plenty of people are condemning those on the left for physical confrontation as much as they are the fascists. I think both of these views are mistaken.

For a start let’s deal with the police. It’s important that our media explains that the cops aren’t on our side-  but let’s not pretend to be surprised either. Many people see the police through the traditional liberal lens- that they exist to protect society from crime.  For the many people who copped pepper spray, saw the police pepper spray medics, took random punches to the face and received cursory “fuck offs” from the police yesterday, that notion is not going to gell particularly well with their feelings at the moment. Marxist or Anarchist theory will point out to you that the police exist to protect private property and the state, and little else.

Yesterday was one of the more open ‘iron fist under the velvet glove’ moments we’ve had in Australia in a while. Certainly the most since I’ve been an activist. Believing that cops exist to protect you probably means that you’re from a somewhat privileged background whereby the police are more friendly/less violent towards you. Try asking some of the blackfellas from Redfern why they don’t like cops; or the Grocon workers who have had their pickets smashed by riot cops because they went on strike to defend safe workplace conditions. The police are the armed protection of a stratified class society, and when they defend and facilitate fascist rallies based on the liberal ‘free speech laws’, what they’re doing is defending movements (i.e the racist fascists) who’s growth will smash working class and civil rights. There are numerous reports of racism within the Australian police force, and countless black deaths in custody that no one has ever been charged for; the Australian police are not in any way exceptional, their acts of oppression and racism are similar to that of the police forces in other nations.  Control and oppression just come with the role. The psychology of police can be debated by other people, I don’t doubt that there are police who genuinely take the job thinking of the ‘positive’ social roles, but that’s not inherently what the role of the police force is. That is why people use slogans like ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards). Not because they’re so ignorant to think every individual police person is necessarily an absolute bastard. Part of building a revolutionary movement will mean, at some stage, confronting and dismantling the police institution and replacing it with something that’s actually democratic. With something that responds to working class needs whilst maintaining the few positive social roles they do have and destroying the rest.

So, the police pulling pepper spray was ‘in response to violence from the left’, apparently. Maybe this is true, I certainly saw some of it. But I sure as hell will not condemn anyone for it*, especially when known nazi squads deliberately wandered into our crowd provoking a fight. Violence should never be a first resort or even an ideology, and by the same token neither should non-violence.  They are simply strategies employed for political purposes. We are not living in a fantasy world, where everyone is going to ‘respect’ everyone else and just stand around in the streets and have a big debate over cupcakes or tea or something. I had friends there yesterday whose rage I think was/is entirely justified; whose family members have been racially abused and attacked for years. Of course they were going to be really fucking angry. Yesterday they wanted to defend their themselves and their communities, and what they faced was an active racist and fascist movement on the streets, with the police backing them up. You can only take so much abuse before you fight back.

Some reading of the history of fascism will point out to you that fascist politics is entirely about physical domination of the streets and their opponents. Hitlers ‘Blackshirts’, Mussolinis ‘Brownshirts’, the National Front etc. We are dealing with much more than our local fundamentalist anti-abortion Catholics here. Reclaim, the United Patriots Front and their fellows on the far-right aim to use their cries of ‘free speech’ and  their ‘politically acceptable’ rallies to start building political space and a movement that will grow to allow them to dominate. At times the first call of response has been violent confrontation – we know the anarchists and communists of 1930s Germany had to employ street fighting as a tactic, and maybe if our liberal friends had supported them Hitler may not have won. The Battle of Cable Street is another classic example. Red Action in the 80’s UK forced the Nationalist movements to retreat in ways that were extremely successful.

“Only one thing could have broken our movement – if the adversary had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed with extreme brutality the nucleus of our new movement.” – Adolf Hitler, 1933 Nuremberg Nazi Party rally.

*I was pepper sprayed twice yesterday, the first time was because I was attempting to pull away a fascist who had a) punched a friend in the face and b) attempted to choke another. At that stage, he hadn’t been attacked by the left. Then the cops attempted to arrest me. It was quite clear to me and everyone else yesterday that we weren’t the ones, and never were going to be the ones to be protected. Thanks again to the comrades who pulled me out of that situation.

 

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No Borders. No Bosses. No Racist Tossers.

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Check out the text of a leaflet we distributed at the ‘Stop Abbott’s attacks on Muslims’ rally in October.

No justice on stolen land

Any notion of ‘justice’ in a nation founded on the genocide and continuing dispossession of Australia’s First Nations is a joke. Let’s not pretend that this Team Australia bullshit is new, it’s just the latest in a long line of ruling class mythologies that seek to create a loyal ‘us’ and a subhuman ‘them’. From Terra Nullius and the White Australia Policy to ‘children overboard’ and the Northern Territory intervention, the logic has not changed. Australia is a settler colonial state. It has been a white supremacist regime since 1788, and continues to be to this day. Continue reading No Borders. No Bosses. No Racist Tossers.

Racism and labour organising in Australia

Australia is a country with an undeniable history of racism. It is a history of outstanding colonial cruelty. The Australian state is built on genocide and colonialism, and this legacy seeps through into all aspects of our political and social lives. The current issue of 457 visas harkens back to times such in 1878, where Australian sailors unions held strikes to fight the use of Chinese and Pacific Islander labour, claiming they had no right to work in Australia, and were taking what was ‘rightfully’ the white man’s. This is a dangerous repetition of history, as strikes were common in this same era to try and block immigration, and helped start the White Australia policy.
Continue reading Racism and labour organising in Australia

Dave Kerin on Workers’ Cooperatives and the Climate Emergency

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Dave Kerin is a co-founder of the Earthworker Cooperative in Morwell, Victoria, which is building a network of democratically owned and managed cooperatives throughout Australia to manufacture clean energy technology. Sam spoke with him at Trades Hall.
Continue reading Dave Kerin on Workers’ Cooperatives and the Climate Emergency

Slaving in the kitchens: hospitality in Australia

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“When one comes to think of it, it is strange that thousands of people in a great modem city should spend their waking hours swabbing dishes in hot dens underground” – George Orwell, Down and Out In Paris and London.

The cook is one of the oldest professions. The process of collecting, preparing, cooking and finally sharing food is inherent to the human condition. It is a ritual of union, based on a need, made into a defining pleasantry. But under capitalism this social relationship, like any other, is commodified and turned into something almost unrecognisable. The process of bringing satisfaction and joy to the diner involves sucking the joy out of the score of people involved in bringing food to their plate. In modern capitalism the kitchen and ‘front of house’ are highly exploited and put under a system of intense pressure requiring production to happen faster and faster. In an industry where it’s commonly said ‘50% of businesses fail’ those who own these failing (and succeeding) businesses try to pass the losses on to those of us who work.
Continue reading Slaving in the kitchens: hospitality in Australia