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)

www.Socialist-Alliance.org * www.Resistance.org.au

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 occupyperth@gmail.com.  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.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=245153538872798 (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.