Saturday, December 17, 2011

Council and Police try to close down Bradley Manning support action

On Saturday December 17, activists gathered in Perth’s city centre for a speakout as part of an international day of action for accused Wikileaks' whistleblower Bradley Manning.

In May 2010, 24 year old Bradley Manning was arrested over suspicion of leaking secret US military and government documents to Wikileaks.

These leaks included evidence of the torture and killing of countless individuals, the illegal bombing of Yemen and extent of the drone attacks on Pakistan.

Since his arrest Manning has faced imprisonment in conditions described as "degrading" by some of the US’s top law professors. They stated that it violates the Eighth Amendment (outlawing cruel and unusual punishment) and the Fifth Amendment (prohibiting punishment without trial).

This included being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for 10 months, exercising only by walking around in a room in circles and being made to stand naked and to attention every morning after he was charged on March 2 2011.

The International Day of Action was called in response to the beginning of Manning’s Article 32 hearing
which will rule on whether there is enough evidence for a general court martial Manning’s defence team attempted to call 32 witnesses to the stand but all bar two were refused.

They have called this measure unfair and also stated that the unusual action of letting the media report on the case may also jeopardise their chances.

Manning has been charged with multiple criminal charges including "aiding the enemy" and sharing state secrets which could leave him facing life imprisonment after the US government said they would not seek the death penalty.

The 25 protesters stood up to intimidation from Perth City Council rangers from the beginning of the action. Rangers wanted the banners and tables removed from the public space.

Activists took some steps to allay concerns of the rangers, however, the rangers called police in order to enforce their will. Police asked the protesters to remove the tables and banner and said that the action could continue unhindered if that happened. However, before police had finished explaining this, council rangers had already begun seizing tables, a megaphone and other materials.

Rangers seized letters that participants and passers by had written to the prime minister and other politicians calling for justice for Bradley Manning.

By this time, a crowd of up to 100 people had gathered to watch the events. Two protesters were given move on notices for nothing more than talking to police.

Despite interruptions from the police, the activists continued raising the issue of support for Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks as well as raising the issues of free speech locally. "Democracy is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back" was chanted by the protesters.

Activists are now discussing the next steps in the campaign.

[Article by Kate Massam. Photos by Leela Cheary. Live stream video from Karum Cowper/Occupy Perth.]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

GLW end of year BBQ

Celebrate a year of SOLIDARITY and STRUGGLE

Green Left Weekly end-of-year BBQ

4pm Sun 18 December

21a Jarvis St, O'Connor
Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Includes GLW raffle draw (7pm).

(It's not too late to buy or sell raffle tickets - please phone numbers above or email: to help support Australia's best progressive newspaper. This raffle is a critical part of Green Left's annual fundraising push.)

Occupy Perth Corporate Scumbags Tour

Occupy Perth Weekend of activities

Sat 10 December
During the Day: Market stall with arts and crafts
10am - Children's Activities (incl face painting)
12noon - Friends of the Forrest rally outside PICA
1pm - Corporate Scumbags Tour
3pm - Public meeting/forum
5pm - Community Music (bring an instrument)
6:30pm - Community Dinner (bring a plate)
7:30pm - Full length film documentary (tbc)

Overnight Occupation

Sun 11 December
10am - Laughter Yoga
11am - General Assembly
1pm - Poems and Music

All at (or beginning at) Perth Cultural Centre

Corporate Scumbag Tour details:

We will be marching to each of the following corporations head offices with speak-outs exposing their abuse of power at the expense of the 99%.

Serco has run Australia’s disastrous and increasingly unstable refugee detention centres since 2009, owns two Australian super-prisons and took over Western Australia’s court security and custodial services. Serco has contracts with no obligation to be independently audited and must not allow the media any access to information or facilities.

Toro Energy Ltd, proponent of the First Uranium mine in WA -at Lake Way- they have been bullying Tradi Toro Energy Ltd, proponent of the First Uranium mine in WA -at Lake Way- they have been bullying Traditional Owners in Wiluna, have not completed Aboriginal Heritage Survey’s or a management plan and still trying to get people to sign off on the mine - they have released an ERMP with huge gaps and are dodging public scrutiny, make claims that Fukushima has done no harm to human health, are of the school of thought that radiation is not only safe but is good for you....they want to be the biggest uranium miner in Australia.

BHP Billiton - Olympic Dam Uranium mine in South Australia a recent example- 260 million litres of water a day, exemptions from Freedom of Information, the mining Act, Aboriginal heritage Act, and the Environment Act, receiving more in Diesel subsidies than they’re paying in royalties.

NAB, one of the "big four" banks — Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB — in Australia recently exposed by Greenpeace Australia as investing billions of dollars in Australia’s dirty coal boom. NAB has invested $382 million in coal-fired power and $633 million in coal mining. Meanwhile, Westpac (which includes St George Bank) threw in $454 million for coal-fired power, $354 million for coal mining and put $220 million into coal ports. This while recently posting record $5.5 billion record profit.

Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, currently the target of a campaign by WA unions concerned about foreign workers taking jobs away from local people. Earlier this year fined in Equador for 20 billion gallons of polluted water, oil and toxic waste released between 1972 and 1990 by oil company Texaco (now a part of Chevron) into the ecosystem in eastern Ecuador. The pollution has caused thousands of deaths, cancers, birth defects and incalculable environmental damage — poisoning animals, plants and the water table — as well as huge economic loss.

Barrick Gold- Canadian Gold miner who operates the Lake Cowal Gold Mine in NSW the Lake is the Sacred Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation, and there has been 10 years of court battles between Barrick and the Traditional Owners- the Mooka Kalara United Families - they also operate a Gold mine in Tanzania which has had workers strikes, water contamination and more.... they also operate the Porgera Gold mine in Papua New Guinea – which employs mercenaries to protest the mine from local villagers who try and fossick for gold to pay their way because the mine has completely fucked the environment there so people struggle to live the subsistence life they’re used to... The Mercenaries have regularly raped young women and killed local men, and Barrick get away with it- threatening local land owners when they travel to speak out.

Fortescue Metal Group - Andrew "Twiggy" Forest's company - responsible for the exploitation and manipulation of the Yindibandi people brought to light through video footage of one of the Native Title meetings. Aboriginal leader and campaigner for jobs with justice Barbara Shaw said on October 27: “The way Generation One (FMG) are carrying on is disgusting, a real slap in the face. They come through town with a fancy road-show while hardworking Aboriginal people are being thrown out of work by the intervention or are now working for the Basics Card. Is this the future for the next generation in ‘proscribed areas’?

More info:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ALP National Conference protests

Over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of december there was a national convergence of activists on sydney to protest the ALP National Conference, that included members of perth socialist alliance.

Two of the main issues highlighted were equal marriage and refugee rights.

Equal Marriage

Refugee Rights

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fighting for women's liberation today

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology there were 19,781 recorded sexual assaults in 2007. Although it is estimated that only 15% of victims report their assaults to police. Most rape's are experienced by females aged 15-19 and are perpetrated by people well known to the victim.

Women are raped because of the actions of the rapist NOT because they wear revealing clothes, NOT because they get too drunk and NOT because they “ask for it”.

Women in Australia are not safe from rape but they should be.

This Socialist Alliance and Resistance meeting will discuss: the nature of women's oppression today; the fight against sexual violence; and strategies for women's liberation.

For more information call 9218 9608 or 0468 375 321.

6:30pm Wed 7 December
Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen Street,
(next to McIver train station) Ph 9218 9608

Stop "Bulldozer Barnett" - Sat 10 December

12 noon, Sat 10 December
Perth Cultural Centre

We are tired of pleading with and lobbying the Barnett Government over environmental
issues. Their total disregard for the environment and sustainability is unacceptable.
They are only concerned with the interests of big business and pollutacrates.

No Environment = No Economy

·       We want our bushland, forests and wild life protected
·       we want our marine life protected
·       we want green sustainable planning
·       we want renewable energy

We want a future for our children

Occupy Perth Rally
See: Occupy Everywhere: Michael Moore, Naomi Klein on Next Steps for the Movement Against Corporate Greed

Monday, November 28, 2011

Union Rally - Tues 29 Nov

Unions including the MUA, AMWU, CEPU & CFMEU will mobilise 12 noon on Tues 29 November as part of a campaign to secure local jobs from the mining boom

12 noon, Tues 29 November
Perth Esplanade (marching to Chevron)

Socialist Alliance will be joining the rally and in support of:
* Stop the exploitation of migrant workers: Permanent residency not 457 visas!
* Restore compulsory apprenticeship ratios
* Guarantees on local content AND social objectives
* The right to strike is a human right

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perth Council in sign fine fight

The latest issue (19-11-11) of the Perth Voice has a front page report about the threat by Perth City Council to prosecute Socialist Alliance member Alex Bainbridge for displaying a sign in the lead up to the Chogm Protest.

The article also takes up the cases of Sean Gransch (a Forest Rescue activist and professional rigger who was placed on the CHOGM exclusion list and then subsequently arrested for going to work) and Lewis Todman & Alex Salmon (who have been arrested, held overnight in jail and then had their phones seized for allegedly putting up posters).

All three cases were taken up at a solidarity action outside court on 22 November 2011 when Gransch had the opportunity to make his "not guilty" plea. Gransch will return to court for trial on 24 January 2012 unless the prosecution sees sense and dismisses the charges before then.

Photos from the November 22 action

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy perth weekend 18-20 november

Over the weekend Occupy Perth set up in the cultural centre and and ran a variety of activities from discussions to marching into forest place and rallying to demand an end to the Australian - American military alliance and in opposition to Brookfield, the company that "owns" zuccotti park and has eing trying to evict occupy wall street.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What does the financial crisis in Europe mean?

Socialist Alliance and Resistance meeting with:

Dick Nichols
(former national convenor of Socialist Alliance and current European Bureau of SA - via Skype)

6:30pm, Wed 23 November

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station) *

Attend on Facebook:

Occupy Perth plans this week

This week @ Occupy Perth...

Thursday 17th November 6.30pm - General Assembly @ Forrest Place

The GA on 5/11/11 decided to have weekly GA's on Thursday evenings 6.30pm at Forrest Place for the foreseeable future.  Agenda for this GA to be determined on the evening.  Forward your suggestions to  For minutes of 10/11/11 GA clickhere.

Friday 18-20th November OCCUPY PERTH!!

Full programme of events for this weekend, come down and get involved!!  See facebook link and/or flyer following for details. (to RSVP also)

#occupyperth, a non-violent uprising against corporate control of government and the extent to which the wealthiest 1% own your life.

Friday 5.30pm - Gather
Friday 7.30pm - Q&A Style Public Forum - hosted by Tony Serve
Saturday 1pm - Flash Mob Action - Protest Brookfield Property Group
Saturday 7pm - Viewing of Doco ‘The Corporation’
Sunday 3pm - Speakers Corner
Sunday 6pm - Bands

Occupy Perth is planning to stage an Occupation of the Perth Cultural Centre this weekend, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which was evicted by police on Tuesday.

“We condemn the brutal eviction of Occupy camps in Portland, Oakland, Philidelphia, Denver and of course, Wall Street,” said Colleen Bolger, one of the spokespeople for Occupy Perth. “It is important that when the Occupy movement is under attack, we show we will not be intimidated by the use of force against peaceful protest,” she continued.

Tonight’s General Assembly will consider a proposal to stage an action against Brookfield, the company that owns Zucotti Park and issued the eviction order on spurious sanitation grounds.

Organisers of Occupy Perth also want to highlight issues relevant to Australians.
As one Occupy organiser, Karun Cowper explained, “While Australians are not facing the same rate of housing evictions and unemployment as those occupying in the United States, issues such as inequality and corporate greed are pertinent here also. For example, CEOs earn almost one hundred times the average wage. Furthermore, while mining companies steal and exploit Indigenous land and make super profits, the life expectancy of Indigenous people remains 17 years less than non-Indigenous.’

Occupy Perth calls on people to gather outside the State Library at 5.30pm on Friday to begin claiming the space for the occupation. Throughout the weekend, the group is planning to host workshops, show documentaries and stage a Q & A style Public Forum.

Supporters are encouraged to bring sleeping bags, or if not camping to come down and participate anytime on Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Video from latest boycott Apartheid Israel, Boycot Seacret action

More than 40 people joined a BDS campaign action at the Seacret stall in the Carousel shopping centre in Perth, WA.

Seacret is an Israeli cosmetics company that illegally sources its product from the Dead Sea in Occupied Palestine.

Borrowing a song from a successful Brisbane BDS action, the Friends of Palestine activists created a musical message against Israeli Apartheid in the shopping centre's food court. When Centre security tried to move them on, they proceeded to the Seacret stall chanting "Free, free Palestine, Occupation is a crime" where the protest continued for some time.

The actions by the shopping centre security force - colluding with police to try to close down a democratic protest for human rights - were largely ineffective. The protest achieved exactly what was set out to be achieved: to raise the issue of Israeli Apartheid and the illegal actions of the Seacret company.

Friends of Palestine is encourages people to write to Carousel Shopping Centre to protest about the ongoing lease to Seacret. Click here for contact details.

The next Seacret action organised by Friends of Palestine - don't buy Israeli Apartheid for Christmas - will be on Thursday 8 December 2011. Contact Friends of Palestine WA for more information.

Solidarity Protest: Drop the Charges

Resist the attacks on democratic rights from CHOGM

The CHOGM Special Powers Legislation took to new extremes the attacks on democratic rights contained in the recent spate of one-off police powers legislation for "special events". Even though CHOGM is now gone, the attacks on civil liberties haven't gone away. The three cases below are all examples of trivial and/or laughable "offences" related to CHOGM that are still being pursued by authorities. In every single case, the charges should be dropped.

Please join the solidarity protest on Tuesday 22 November to show your support for democratic rights.

* Sean Gransch – arbitrarily put on the CHOGM "excluded list", then arrested for going to work in a CHOGM security area (Sean was employed as a professional rigger by CHOGM (!) to assemble and disassemble the stage for a CHOGM event.)
* Lewis Todman & Alex Salmon – arrested, held over night and phones seized for putting up posters
* Alex Bainbridge – prosecuted by City of Perth for displaying a Chogm Protest sign in the lead-up to the Chogm Protest

9am, Tues 22 November
Perth Magistrates Court, (501 Hay St, Perth)

Attend on FaceBook:

Monday, November 14, 2011

The West Australian lies about Iran threat again

[The following letter was sent by Socialist Alliance member Leisha Jack to The West Australian newspaper on 14 November 2011.]

I refer to the statement in your article, in today’s West Australian (14th November 2011, page 23), that “The prospects of a nuclear-armed Iran terrify its neighbours.....”.

This is completely untrue.

According to Noam Chomsky, extensive Arab polls by the Brookings Institute recently, show that an overwhelming majority of the Arab population actually see Israel as the biggest threat to their region (80%) and the second biggest threat being the US (77%).

Many Arabs (57%) feel that it would have a positive effect on the region if Iran had nuclear weapons! Only 10% see Iran as a threat. Your comments are dangerously misleading to the West Australian public and must be immediately amended.

(See for reference the video below or Democracy Now.)

What you are writing looks a lot like the sort of propaganda used by western governments and the media, as an excuse to invade other middle eastern countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, with the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and the “The War on Terror” etc.?

Please advise me on whether you intend to withdraw or amend this comment?

I will leave you with this quote by Nazi Officer Hermann Goering:

“The people don't want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

Leisha Jack

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time to put Qantas back in public hands

If you speak out against the widening gap between wages and CEOs’ salaries, the corporate media will accuse you of stoking the “politics of envy”. Workers who dare take industrial action to get a few more crumbs from the bosses’ table are cast as class war dinosaurs.

The Occupy protesters? We’re told they are naive rebels without a clue. But the Qantas lock-out proves otherwise.

Along with lots of guff about how Labor’s “Fair Work” laws “swung the balance too far” in workers’ favour, the corporate elite have been falling over themselves to sympathise with poor Qantas CEO Alan Joyce who, with a $2 million pay rise in his back pocket, had “no choice” but to lock out his entire workforce.

The pilots had worn special neckties, the engineers imposed work bans, and ground staff struck for just eight hours in eight months. Pretty mild stuff.

If that’s going too far then you get a pretty clear picture of just how much bargaining power these employers think you deserve: zero.

The richest 1% and their puppets in government and the corporate media have never stopped waging the class war, and they’ve mostly been winning. It’s not just Australia’s increasingly unequal income distribution that bears this out, but the laws that have made it possible.

Former Coalition prime minister John Howard began his reign with the 1996 Workplace Relations Act. When workers protested outside Parliament House, Labor politicians huffed and puffed. But just like the GST, Labor now supports it. If you ask why, you’ll get some bullshit answer about how it’s all too hard to “unscramble the egg”.

After being elected on the back of the Your Rights at Work campaign, Labor left most of Howard’s Work Choices industrial laws in place. Labor has never repealed all of a previous conservative government’s attacks on workers rights. We’re always going three steps back, one step forward and three steps back again.

Most frustrating is how most of the union officialdom go along with this dance, promoting blind loyalty to Labor because the Liberals are worse — as if the members are too stupid to be told the truth.

After Kevin Rudd was elected in late 2007, they put the Your Rights at Work campaign into mothballs, just when it should have gone up a notch.

When pressed, union leaders agreed that Labor hadn’t delivered. Just wait until their second term to get the rest of what we were owed, they said. We’re still waiting.

The employers are using the current disputes at Qantas, on the waterfront and elsewhere to bang on about their desire to scrap the few improvements delivered by the Fair Work laws, and to convince Tony Abbott to confront his Work Choices bogeyman. The bosses are not afraid to unscramble eggs.

But consider how difficult it is for workers to legally strike, how many hoops they and their unions have to jump through. In contrast, an employer can take the most drastic form of industrial action without any penalty at all.

We have to remind Australians that without the ability to withdraw their labour they have no bargaining power at all. The right to strike is an inalienable human right, like free speech or freedom of religion. No law can change or modify that fact.

Time too to ask some questions about the place of Qantas in our economic and social life. It was only in 1993 that the Keating Labor government sold it off. If the grounding of its fleet represents such a threat to our so-called national interest, shouldn’t it be returned to public ownership? Shouldn’t it function as a public service for the public good?

If you suggest this, then the pro-corporate politicians and media will look at you like you just stepped off a spaceship. It’s one of those sacred eggs you can’t unscramble.

Interestingly though, an October 24 Essential Media Communications survey said 43% of Australians supported the government taking Qantas back into public hands. Just 34% opposed the idea.

How can we have a meaningful democracy when the decisions made in key sectors of the economy that profoundly shape our lives, society and environment are made not in the parliament but the unelected boardrooms?

Sectors of the economy like banking, transport, mining and telecommunications are not a festival of free enterprise, they are highly monopolised. If they are not brought under public ownership we will never be able to harness the human and material resources capable of halting the ecological and social crises besetting planet earth.

[Socialist Alliance member of the Fremantle Council, Sam Wainwright wrote this comment piece for Green Left Weekly #902. See also: Workplace laws gave Qantas what it wanted.]

Don't agonise, organise

[This talk by Peter Boyle was presented to a workshop by Socialist Alliance at Occupy Perth camp in Forrest Place on October 30, 2011.]

Organised protest at CHOGMThis quote that has become a bumper sticker, a popular slogan in the feminist movement, the title of many a speech, conference and newsletter is credited to the Afro-American woman civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy. She was quoted by Gloria Steinem in Ms magazine in 1973 and since then this powerful slogan has circumnavigated the world many times and being used by many, many activists and movements.

And why do you think this has happened?

It is because this is a slogan that reasonates very strongly with the condition of the oppressed, exploited and persecuted.

On one hand, we are weighed down with the pain of the suffering and indignities inflicted as a matter of everyday business by powerful oppressors. On the other, we are challenged as to what we do in response.

The answer for Kennedy was a single word: “Organise.”

But in reality, for many people it is not that simple a choice. Agonising, the much easier option, is always a big temptation.

Agonising can take many forms. One can just whinge and do nothing. And one can rationalise it with the argument that nothing we can do can make a difference. Nothing is going to change, whatever we do, etc.

Now one can do this rationalising in a simple way like this or dress it up as a fancy theory of some sort. It could be a theory that rejects organisation on principle or it could be a theory that says that “now is not the right time” to organise, that we have to wait till the situation develops further.

But in the end it comes to the same effective conclusion: Don't get organised now. Just keep doing what you can as an individual.

Or there is a variation on this. Organise but only organise as movements around particular issues like workers' wages and conditions, climate change, racism, sexism, homophobia or war. Don't organise to change the system, to break the tyranny of the rich and powerful. Don't organise to build a new system based on sharing and sustainable practices, call it “socialism” or whatever you want.

Experienced activists have always recognised that there is a deep connection between organising the movements around particular issues and organising for fundamental social change. If an organisation purportedly for the second broader objective is not fully enmeshed in the struggles, movements and organisations for specific changes (or “reforms” as they are sometimes called) then it ceases to be what it claims to be and degenerates into a political sect. A political sect invents and obsesses on theoretical differences that justify taking a course that works against building the movements for specific changes.

On the other hand, experienced activists also know that movements around particular issues rise and subside. Sometimes they subside after a victory, if only partial. Sometimes it subsides after a defeat. In both phases, the critical value of organisations and institutions that continue to accumulate and develop activists, that keeps alive the accumulated lessons of the various struggles and seeks to generalise those lessons. Less would survive from each struggle, and new struggles would find it harder and take longer to start up without experienced activists. On a personal level, it takes organisation to keep morale in the phase when a movement subsides.

Human beings have produced many elaborate justifications for many things, but inventing a justification for inaction – for not organising – is a common phenomenon. It's possible to lend such a justification ostensibly “Marxist” flavouring because Marx and Engels – and others who followed in the tradition of modern socialist thought that they initiated – said that no system can be superseded until the existing system has exhausted all its avenues for social progress.

Until such time, system change from capitalism or socialism will remain just a wish, a hope, a dream.

So one argument is that we haven't got to that stage yet under capitalism. Revolution is just an idea, a dream.

But no sooner have I said this than it becomes clear than this is definitely untrue. We live in an age of revolution. What has been sweeping the Arab world this year? Revolutions driven by millions of people who have taken to the streets – often putting their lives on the line.

And this is not the first time. There was another wave of revolutions that preceded this at the beginning of this century in Latin America, revolutions that ridiculed the capitalist triumphalism of the 1990s. And before that there was the wave of revolutions that ended the 1970s. Before that there was the 1968 revolutions. And we can go back all the way to 1917.

Indeed the history of the last 100 years of capitalism has been a history of wars and revolution. How can we look back on this and say that we do not live in an age of revolution?

But you don't have to know your history to work out where capitalism has got us to today. You just need to think about the consequences of living in a world where the richest 1% already owns 43% of the world’s wealth but effectively control almost all the wealth and with this wealth they have bought and corrupted governments and enslaved billions of people. Permanent war has been inflicted on numerous nations and economic misery on many more.

At the heart of this exciting “Occupy” movement is a broad realisation that the world is being unbearably distorted, and risks being destroyed, because our societies are being twisted to make the world’s richest 1% even richer.

No moral or environmental boundaries are respected by this 1%.

Half of the world’s population is forced to try and survive by sharing 1% of the world’s wealth!

So what are we, the 99%, doing about it? Are we just going to sit back and let our common future be ruined?

Imagine you were observing a children's playground with ten children in it. One child was given four out of ten toys available and half the children were forced to share one toy.

All bloody hell would break loose wouldn't it?

So look at the world today within its ridiculous imbalance of wealth and power, of the constant wars and recurring revolutionary upheavals and ask yourself if we live in revolutionary times?

There is a variation of the argument, that says that while the world in a state of revolution, we in Australia happen to live in a rich global suburb, a rich, “gated” global suburb. Just any of those folk from the poor part of the world try and get in and we'll lock them up indefinitely or deport them. Adults and children alike sentenced to indefinite jail without trial. That's a “gated” suburb!

Together with these physical barriers there is the racism that justifies the privileged conditions of the few who are allowed inside. This serves to discourage these people from solidarising with the rest of the exploited and oppressed outside the barriers and to encourage them to think they have more common interest with the richest 1%.

So do the special conditions within these few gated wealthy neighbourhoods in the global village mean that the time is not yet ripe to organise around the objective of revolutionary change?

However, we live in an increasingly globalised world. In fact, the richest 1% accelerated the process of globalisation (in a distorted capitalist way) to help get itself out of the last major global economic crisis capitalism brought upon itself in the mid-1970s.

The plan was simple, use the threat of global labour competition to force working people all around the world to work harder, live with more insecurity and to sacrifice hard-won rights and public services. And to a degree they succeeded but only to bring another even bigger profit greed-driven global crisis.

Since the global “Occupy” movement has spread to 2,220 cities (at last count) some of the politicians of the richest 1% now want to assure us that this is not a global problem. It's just a US problem, said Labor Minister for Social Inclusion (what a joke) Tanya Plibersek on the Q & A program last Monday. Everyone one is happy here on Australia.

But people are not fools. The 1% can't have it both ways all the time. They can't convince Qantas workers that it is fine for their CEO to give himself a 71% pay rise (to a total remuneration of $5.1 million) while deny baggage handlers and other workers basic cost of living adjustments in their much more modest pay packets, threatening them with outsourcing more jobs to countries with lower wages and poorer working conditions.

The deeply political global discussion about the 1% and the 99% is smashing all the justifications the 1% and their political agents for decades of crimes against the 99%. How laughable is their argument that this is a movement with no clear message!

When thousands of people even in the richest countries in the world are now organising occupations around this message, it really makes no sense to argue that there is no need to organise around the objective of system change.

* * *

I first became a political activist in this city, Perth, in 1971 (though I would hardly call it a “city” then – it was more like a big country town with all the narrow provincial culture that comes with it).

But even then provincial Perth was touched by radicalisation of youth that was sweeping much of the world at the time. People took to the streets in their thousands against the war on Vietnam, even as the local police and politicians insisted that it was a crime to march on the streets. They also warned about dangerous “Eastern states activists” bring trouble over to the peaceful West. (I noticed an echo of this in some of the local newspaper coverage of the Occupy Perth/CHOGM protests last week.)

Anyway I was a student in what was then called Leederville Technical College. As a fresh-off-the-boat migrant from Asia, I was trying to get my matriculation so I could go to Uni. One day, a group of banner-carrying, long-haired activists swept up to the Tech and urged them to join in an anti-war march. I took up their offer and have been a political activist since.

The following year I started studying at the University of WA. The first day I turned up, Orientation Day, I saw an dramatic example of the wave of radicalism that was still sweeping campuses. The Army Reserve had tried to bring a van onto campus but it was quickly surrounded by hundreds of angry students, some of whom deflated the tires on the van. The Reservists were forced to beat a hasty retreat – leaving their deflated van behind.

Later that year there was a mass gathering on the lawn in front of the library to witness the burning of draft notices (notices sent to youth randomly selected to be conscripted to boost the Australian armed forces which were then in Vietnam, alongside US and other allies fighting the Vietnamese liberation forces). Thousands of us students were gathered, waiting expectantly for the students who were to burn their draft cards to show up. On the periphery of the crowd were some students with “walkie-talkies” – ready to warn of the approach of the police. Suddenly with a roar a couple of motorbikes drove on to the lawn and red-shorted lads hopped off the pillions, burned their draft cards, punched the air with their fists and were then off again on the roaring bikes.

Later that year, the Whitlam Labor government was elected, Australian troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and tertiary education was made free. A year later, the campuses in WA quietened down rapidly. Political meetings and rallies became smaller and less regular. Some once-were radicals traded their their red-shirts for suits, opting to pursue careers in the Labor Party and other grubby professions.

The number of activists consistently trying to organise on that campus shrunk to a handful, a couple of whom I am glad to say have survived as activists until today.

Until then I was an activist who had not joined any left political party (except the Labor Party briefly). Most of my fellow activists on UWA were the same. There was was no serious organising by left groups that we saw. The CPA had a branch here but we never saw much evidence of activity from it.

I only got to meet the “organised left” in Australia when I visited Melbourne in August 1973 to attend a student conference. It was an eye-opening visit for me. First, the scale of the protests was much bigger and the stronger and more militant labour movement much more in evidence. And then there was the smorgasbord of far left groups: from Maoists (then with clearly the most young, mainly student, members) to the Trotskyists. Even the CPA was more noticeable and there was also the Labor Left. The groups were in their full, competitive glory at the conferences of the Australian Union of Students. This competition sometimes involved fisticuffs (especially from the Maoists).

My own experience as an individual activist had taught me the dire need for organisation. So I was looking for a left party to join. I had read some Marxism on my own and got the general idea of modern socialism but I wanted to organise seriously with others who shared the socialist objective. But how to choose from the range of socialist parties?

I'll confess that the fine theoretical differences – or differences on historical interpretation – between the various left groups, who shared basically the same socialist theory was not what convinced me. What I was looking for was the group that was most seriously organising. And the organisation I decided to join was the one that I thought was both the most engaged in building the movements, the most organised in doing this and in getting out socialist ideas and the message of struggle.

That was what I was looking for. That was what I had worked out, through the experience of individual activism was needed.

I had figured out the following three things, which I want to look at in the context of the discussions about organisation that are taking place in the “Occupy” movement:

1. Collective action is stronger than individual action. That wasn't hard to figure out and a couple of months sharing infantile fantasies with a couple of anarchist friends about what we could do to hurt ruling class, soon confirmed this. I won't tell you all the sorry details of this but let's say there were some similarities with certain charges against a Perth man in relation to wrecking the “duco” of a few luxury cars...

But what about losing my individual freedom to the collectivity of the party? Was that a problem? Not if the collective action was to further agreed aims and was decided democratically, following a free debate.

Indeed, any study of how the richest 1% manage to enslave the 99% reveals two important things: First, that a prerequesite to getting the 99% to be the wage slaves of the 1% is the systematic dispossession of the 99% of the means to make a living independent of the capitalists. Second, that all means had to be used to keep the 99% as divided as possible because independent collective political action by the 99% would be fatal to the rule of the 1%, especially when everything produced and every service provided had to be done with the labour of that same 99%.

Collective political action is the key to the 99% turning their immense potential power into actual power that can end the tyranny of the 1%.

2. We need serious organisation to get things done. A slapdash struggle against the 1% with its paid professional enforcers, con-merchants and divide-and-rule experts cannot succeed. When the rising capitalist class in Europe challenged the old feudal ruling class, it already had come to own much of the resources and assets. But today the 1% have the greatest share of society's wealth a ruling elite has every had in human history. The 1% have their money but our strength is in our numbers, our unity and our organisation.

This is obvious and the movement learns this through painful experience. To organise seriously we need serious commitment, including commitment to acting effectively, efficiently, democratically, inclusively. We need commitment to raising serious fighting funds for the struggle. We need commitment to sharing the skills needed for effective collective activism. And we need to learn from our collective experience by constantly accumulating and keeping alive the traditions and history of collective struggle.

3. In political organisation the only alternative to elected leadership is unelected leadership. This is something the “Occupy” movement has yet to get clear about. There is a lot of talk about a “leaderless” movement. And I won't mince my words. This is a delusion and a dangerous delusion.

The first time in modern history that the working people took political power in their own right – for just three months in 1871 in the Paris Commune – they figured out this much that all leadership had to be democratically elected, collective, recallable and accountable. And, further that real democracy could not be just representative but had also to be participatory (direct democracy).

If you don't have democratically elected, collective, recallable and accountable leadership then you have de facto unelected, non-collective, unrecallable and unaccountable leaderships (or more likely misleaderships) emerging and operating. We have seen some of this already in this new movement and I am confident the movement will soon wise up on this score.

It is not hard to understand the deep suspicion of leaders when we have come through a period of massive betrayals of working people around the world by the leaderships of trade unions and supposedly working class parties. Indeed, the widespread loss anger against the 1% is enmeshed with an anger at “leaderships” that purported to represent the interests of the 99% but who have done the dirty work for the 1%.

While we can see where the suspicion of “leaders” is coming from our only protection from the betrayal of such misleaders is to organise to entrench democratic selection, accountability, right of recall and build institutions of participatory democracy. If we don't do this, then the movement of the 99% will be more vulnerable to the sort of leadership betrayals that working people's movements have experienced around the world over the last century.

* * *

When a new movement of the oppressed and exploited arises it is always conditioned by the specific mass experiences that forced it into existence. Experienced activists should seek to understand the roots of the movement and be sensitive to its specific characteristics.

This “Occupy” movement today, like the “21st Century socialism” mass movement in Latin America is very much shaped by the betrayals of the working class movement in the 20th century. The emphasis is on building a thoroughly democratic movement. New technologies and broader access to education in many countries are powerful assets for these new movements. We need to recognise this and make full use of these assets.

In addition, the new movements determination to be thoroughly democratic will mean that it will go through a process of working out exactly what democratic forms are best. There will be long discussions and the role of experienced activists should be dive into these discussions and patiently explain the lessons of past experience while listening to and welcoming all new ideas that help the movement organise democratically and effectively. They will be prepared to test things out, to allow the process of trial and error at times, to allow the movement to develop on the basis of its own collective experiences.

Our objective as socialists is the total democratisation of society – not just the bourgeois democracy that leaves most of the major social and economic decisions to the boards of directors of the richest 1%. Our objective is the end to the tyranny of super-rich minority and its replacement by true people's power that can begin the big task of refashioning the world on the basis of democracy, justice and ecological sustainability.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fremantle Road to Rail campaign forum

From the Wheatbelt to the Port: Rail is the Way! Trucks: No Way!

The wheat harvest has begun. About 12 million tonnes will be transported. Transport Minister Troy Buswell has been playing games with promises to keep rail lines open. Pushing grain from rail to truck will choke country and metro roads.

Fremantle Council Chamber, (entrance via rear steps Town Hall)

Thursday November 10, 6:30 pm

Brad Pettitt – Mayor of Fremantle

Jane Fuchsbichler – Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance
Sam Wainwright – Fremantle Councillor
Barry Healy – Fremantle Road to Rail Campaign

Organised by Fremantle Road to Rail campaign.

Why should Fremantle care about grain on rail?

The Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA) has an important story to tell, and Fremantle residents deserve to hear it.

On July 1 three regional grain lines (known as tier 3 lines) were closed.

On September 1 Minister Troy Buswell announced a possible one year extension to these three Tier 3 lines, but money needed to make this promise reality has failed to appear in time for work to be completed for the commencement of harvest.

Shifting millions of tonnes of grain by truck will make regional WA roads dangerous and it will funnel more truck movements through the metro area.

Up to ninety-eight per cent of the harvest in the Kwinana zone is currently rail freighted to port.

The sheer scale of what Troy Buswell intends is of serious concern: tens of thousands of road train movements destroying roads and communities, creating diesel particulate pollution.

The Wheatbelt’s situation is similar to Fremantle’s, the overwhelming majority of people want the obvious solution to the freight task: rail.

Fremantle residents can be proud of the role our Council is playing by joining the WRRA.

Fremantle people can join our regional counterparts to stop the government’s view that trucks are the only freight solution.

The real answer is to move as much freight as possible onto rail.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Occupy Perth rally Saturday 5 November

The remaining occupiers at #OccupyPerth in Forrest Place were evicted by Perth City Council last night (Monday 31 October). Strictly speaking, police came to enforce a council order that all equipment including gazebo, sleeping bags and mats, etc be removed from the occupation site or it would be seized by police. Some people decided to stay the night regardless.

Tonight there will be a general assembly to discuss the next steps in this campaign including the Occupy Perth rally on Saturday.

The #Occupy movement is important for engendering hope and some initial steps to bring an end to corporate rule. That's why it would be good to see as many as possible at tonight's (Tuesday 1 Nov) general assembly and the rally on Saturday.

Rally details:
1pm, Sat 5 November
Occupy Perth site @ Forrest Place, Perth city.

Publicity material can be downloaded from here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons of the Occupy Movement: Wed 2 Nov

Lessons of the #Occupy Movement

With Peter Boyle,
National Convenor of Socialist Alliance

Wed 2 Nov

6:30pm, Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth
next to McIver Station
Ph 9218 9608, 0413976 638

Socialist Alliance and Resistance meeting

Thursday, October 27, 2011

>Tahrir > Wall Street > Here - Another World is Possible

Starting from the important developments in the "Arab Spring" and the #OccupyWall Street movement which is spreading around the world, this seminar will discuss how activists today can best work to bring about a better world.

Guest speaker:
Peter Boyle (national convenor, Socialist Alliance)

1pm Sunday 30 October

Venue: Perth Activist Centre (15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth - next to McIver station) or the Perth Occupation (Forrest Place)

Ph 0413 976 638 or 0415 922 740 for details.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protest outside the chogm business forum

On the 25 October, Julia Gillard along with the head of Woodside addressed the Gala ball at the chogm business forum. A forum that is a meeting of the 1% which is basically figuring out ways to exploit poor people more so the rich get richer.

Socialist Alliance and Resistance members were amongst Chogm action network and occupy perth activists protesting outside it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

CHOGM week protest calendar

Chogm Protest Fri 28 Oct6pm, Mon 24 October
Preparation meeting for rally marshals
Venue: Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth.

6pm, Tues 25 October
Protest the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum
Gather: near roundabout, Bolton Ave, Burswood Convention Centre. Organised by Chogm Action Network

6pm, Wed 26 October
Socialist Alliance and Resistance meeting
Venue: Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station).

6pm, Thurs 27 October
Meet and greet anti-uranium walkers
BBQ dinner, music, public meeting. Share experiences from 10-week, 1250km walk from Wiluna to Perth. Stay over night if you wish (bring your own sleeping equipment).
Venue: City Farm, 1 City Farm Place, East Perth. More info

6:30pm, Thurs 27 October
Final Chogm Action Network planning meeting
Venue: Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth.

7pm, Thurs 27 October
Bersih 2.0 Solidarity Night
With Dr Wong Chin Huat
Venue: Willeton Sports Club, The Blue Room, 58 Burrendah Boulevard, Willeton.

8:30am, Fri 28 October
Final leg of the anti-uranium walk
Join the walkers for the last leg of their 10-week walk from City Farm, City Farm
Place, Perth into Forrest Place, Murray Street Perth for the Chogm Protest

10am, Friday 28 October
Main Chogm Protest
For justice and climate action NOT racism and war
March to the Perth Convention Centre.
Venue: Forrest Place, Perth city. Organised by Chogm Action Network.
Followed by People's Occupation

5pm, Fri 28 October
Reclaim the Night - in an empire of violence, women strike back
March, speakers, band.
Venue: Perth Cultural Centre. More info and poster here.

8pm, Fri 28 October
God Save The Queen – unofficial CHOGM 2011 welcome party!
Venue: The Den (Civic Hotel), Inglewood. More info here.

11am, Sat 29 October
Reading of Open Letter to Commonwealth on Climate Change
Venue: Wedlands Stage, Perth Cultural Centre. Organised by Oxfam and AYCC. More info here

2pm, Sat 29 October
End Mandatory Detention protest
Venue: Perth Immigration Detention Centre, Baker Rd, Domestic Airport. Organised by Refugee Rights Action Network.

1pm Sun 30 October
From Tahrir to Wall Street to here - Another world is possible
Socialist Alliance and Resistance seminar featuring SA national secretary Peter Boyle.
Venue: Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station) OR at the People's Occupation.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Socialist Alliance condemns violent police attacks on Melbourne and Sydney occupations

[This statement was released by Socialist Alliance on October 23, 2011.]

Socialist Alliance condemns the violent police dispersal of peaceful protesters at Occupy Melbourne (October 21) and Occupy Sydney (dawn, October 23) and pledges its full support for the re-establishment of these occupations against the tyranny of the world's richest 1%.

The experience around the world has been whenever one of these Occupy movement camps has been attacked, even more people have rallied to support them in response. We are confident the same will happen here.

We call on all people who share the Occupy movement's rejection of the gross injustices and global ecological vandalism being carried out around the world to make the richest 1% even richer to join the occupations and lend all possible solidarity and assistance to their re-establishment.

Occupy Melbourne and Occupy Sydney will be back stronger because the 1% and their enforcers cannot arrest the truth. They cannot handcuff ideas. They cannot beat the people's spirit of resistance or throw it into a paddy wagon.

We call on all progressive trade unionists, community leaders, church leaders, state and federal MPs, local councillors and mayors, to publicly condemn the violent attacks on Occupy Sydney and Occupy Melbourne.

We urge anyone who supports the re-establishment of the Melbourne and Sydney occupations to attend the emergency general assemblies of Occupy Sydney at University of Technology Sydney on Sunday October 23, 5pm and Occupy Melbourne at the State Library Tuesday October 25, 6pm.

Socialist Alliance supports the #OccupyPerth call for a rally, march then people's occupation on Friday October 28, 10am at Forrest Place, Perth.

Socialist Alliance also supports the October 29 global day of action widely endorsed by the Occupy movement in support of a "Robin Hood" tax on global financial transactions.

For further comment: Peter Boyle (national convenor) 0401 760 577

Friday, October 21, 2011

Speeches from the Public Forum on the Wall Street Occupation

This is a recording of a Skype interview with US Socialist Doug Singsen about Occupy Wall Street. Singsen is a member of the International Socialist Organisation in New York.

Kamala Emanuel from Socialist Alliance, Is this the beginning of the end of corporate rule?

These talks were presented to the Socialist Alliance and Resistance forum in Perth on October 19.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Public forum on the Wall Street Occupation

Is this the beginning of the end of Corporate Rule?

"We are the 99%!"

This is the cry of the Wall Street Occupiers who have sparked an important worldwide movement in opposition to the corporate rulers.

This forum will discuss the dynamics of the movement, how we can give solidarity, and more importantly, what next steps we can take here to end political rule by the corporate rich.

Wed 19 October
6 for 6:30pm, Perth Activist Centre,
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station)

Wall Street Occupier - via Skype (tbc)
Karun Cowper - Occupy Perth
Kamala Emanuel - Socialist Alliance

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Attend on Facebook here.

Hosted by Socialist Alliance and Resistance.

UPDATE: Check out the speeches from this forum here.

Videos from #OccupyPerth action Sat 15 October

Proposal to set up ongoing Occupation after Chogm Protest (4 mins)

People's Microphone at Occupy Perth action, 15 Oct 2011 (24 mins)

Milling before the event

More October 15 happenings

Occupy Perth - supporting Occupy Chogm (30 secs)

Occupy Perth - Agent Orange (3 mins)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Perth action: Sat 15 October

This coming Saturday, there will be a first "Occupy Perth" action:

Occupy Perth - Sat 15 OctInspired by the dramatic Wall Street Occupation, a number of people have begun a movement to #OccupyPerth. The idea behind this movement is that government is being run for and by the top 1% of the population and the rest of us – the 99% – need to meet and organise if we are to change things.
The first action in Perth in support of this movement will be on:
Saturday 15 October
1pm, Forrest Place/Murray St mall
Attend on Facebook
This day will be part of an international day of action in solidarity with the Wall Street Occupation with over 1300 meet-ups around the world!

Become a solidarity subscriber to Green Left today

Help spread the word!
By Chris Williams, Green Left Weekly
Green Left Weekly faces a constant financial struggle to stay afloat. We can't afford to take it for granted. It's become more than just a newspaper; it’s an important part of a movement for social change as can be seen from its efforts to promote the OCCUPY Wall Street movement against corporate greed that is currently sweeping the rich countries.
Green Left Weekly not only provides information and analysis, it actively builds campaigns for social justice, human rights and the environment. It reaches beyond our borders to an international audience too – particularly our website. In today's Murdocracy of media monopoly, Green Left Weekly is a refreshing beacon of journalistic integrity.
We do all this, and have become the best and most widely circulated alternative paper in Australia without any large financial backers. For 20 years Green Left Weekly has survived by relying on contributions from our subscribers and supporters. The struggle to stay afloat is well worth it!
To help us maintain our independence from the billionaires and media moguls, and to continue to provide a progressive alternative to the mainstream media, we need to encourage more people to subscribe at the solidarity rate of $240 a year. Subscriptions – particularly solidarity subscriptions – toGreen Left Weekly are our most reliable source of income. Subscribers are the back bone of our financial viability. Today we have around 200 solidarity subscribers. Pushing this up to 250 would be a huge boost to the stability of our national budget. It would mean we could more confidently make political projections, knowing we have the resources to carry them out.
If you don't already, please consider taking out a solidarity subscription today (or when you next renew your subscription). Click here for a solidarity subscription form.
If you are already a solidarity subscriber, try to convince others to take up the option with the knowledge that they too will be playing a crucial role in helping to keep Green Left Weekly rolling off the press!