Anti-Conscription Celebration – 25 April, 2011

Lineup in front of IWW banner next to 8-hours monument

As in previous years – see for example on this site last year – there was a counter to the ‘official’ ANZAC Day events in Melbourne, this time taking the form of a celebration of IWW success in defeating attempts to introduce conscription during WWI. The gathering was held at the 8-Hours monument across the road from Trades Hall – which is currently adorned by banners promoting the annual Comedy Festival and this anti-nuclear one:

No-nukes banner on wall of Trades Hall

In addition to some spirited singing of, amongst other things, (a modified) “I Walk the Line”, Jeremy of IWW Melbourne read a selection of poems by Lesbia Harford, and members of MACG circulated a statement entitled “End the Anzac Myth”, the text of which
should be available soon on*

Singing "I walk the line" - text suitably modified

See also this post on Indymedia Australia referring to this and other current protests in Australia.

The IWW banner next to the 8-hours monument

The well-worn IWW banner

Another view of the lineup

By way of postscript, it may not be amiss to recall here a well-known poem by Wilfred Owen, killed in France 4 November 1918, exactly one week before the Armistice:

[text from Project Gutenberg]

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

* The statement can be found here; It runs as follows:

A Myth is Born

On 25 April 1915, ANZAC troops storm a Turkish beach at Gallipoli and are mown down by the defenders. They hung on till January 1916 before evacuating. It is an ill-thought-out attempt by the British to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War. Between 1914 and 1918, 9.6 million soldiers and 6.8 million civilians died in this clash of two rival imperialist alliances, each out to conquer territories and markets from the other. The soldiers and civilians died, not for freedom or democracy, but for the power and profits of their ruling classes. In Australia, Anzac Day has become a foundational myth for nationalism and militarism. The undoubted sacrifices of the troops are used to sanctify both the Australian military and Australia’s imperialist wars.

Militarism is Brutality

This year, Anzac Day occurs in the midst of a series of scandals involving Australian military personnel. The Skype scandal involves a female soldier unwittingly being broadcast to a group of male soldiers while having sex. This has released a flood of other complaints, some current and some from decades ago, about beatings, sexual assaults and other examples of bastardisation. Even an independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, has been drawn in. Military forces around the world are hotbeds of bastardisation; they both attract many brutes and turn many soldiers into brutes. It cannot be otherwise, since the military require not human beings but obedient killers.

Imperialism on Franchise

The United States is overwhelmingly the most powerful country in the world, with the largest economy and a military which dwarfs all others. With that power, it dominates world affairs, maintaining a world order favourable to it (though not to the same extent as in previous decades). This domination is known as imperialism. Australia supports the US in maintaining this order and, in return, gets to dominate East Timor and the South Pacific. It is effectively a franchise arrangement and the franchise fee is Australian participation in Uncle Sam’s wars across the region, regardless of either the justification or the direct relevance to the national interests of Australian capitalism.

Workers of the World, Unite!

There is an alternative, a path to peace, to a world without the violence of war and the brutality that it breeds in order to produce soldiers. As workers, we need international solidarity for the daily fight against global capitalism. Without it, we are played off against each other country by country, in an endless race to the bottom. With it, we can sweep away nationalist myths and stand as comrades across national borders. And it is this internationalism that will enable us to build a global movement and have a workers’ revolution that spreads around the globe. We can establish a world society of libertarian communism and put an end to imperialism, militarism and war. Then, and only then, can we have peace.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

25 April 2011

Photos from MayDay 2010 (2nd May, not the 1st…)

May Day banner

The weather was a bit less kind than last year (see and the turnout once again looked distinctly unpromising to begin with, but still enough for a respectable march through the city. (A report on the website of the  Socialist Alternative , who were well and loudly represented, claims 500 on the march …) Among the speakers were Aboriginal activist Richard Downs,  Pamela Curr, and Edgar Paez from Colombia.

As usual, the march was led by the Ringwood RSL Pipe Band, and the train was there again for children and the elderly. The Trades Union Choir sang …

Reports of events held in Melbourne on MayDay proper can be found on Melbourne Indymedia:

Photos from before the march:

Placard - The Eureka Flag

Pipers line up at head of march

The Ringwood RSL Pipe Band

On the march:

Aboriginal flag

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group banner

More anarchists

Socialist Party banner

Train with red flag

Dog on march

Back at Trades Hall:

Pamela Curr speaking

Part of the audience - seated

Another dog

Trades Union choir

Workers' Memorial

Detail from memorial

Anti-Militarism Protest – 25 April 2010 (ANZAC Day)

Once again as thousands – reportedly record numbers – attended various official events to mark the day, and clusters of men and women in military uniform roamed the CBD in search of somewhere to get a drink, a small – actually very small – group from the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG)   met outside the former headquarters of the Melbourne branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and handed out leaflets condemning Australian imperialism and militarism in general. Responses ranged from polite but uncomprehending, through positive engagement, and all the way to threatening, as can be seen in the accompanying short video…

The text of the leaflet is given below;  see also last year’s report on this site:



World War I had bogged down, and Britain was looking for a way to change the balance of forces. A landing at the Dardanelles in April 1915, followed by the taking of Istanbul, was planned to open the supply route to Russia and possibly knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The campaign was a fiasco. Tens of thousands of young men from both sides were sacrificed in a minor episode of the clash of two rival imperialist alliances. Rather than being “the war to end all wars”, WWI was a war for imperial domination, to be reprised on a larger scale twenty-one years later.

A Franchise Arrangement

Ever since the 1870s, Australian troops have been sent to help fight the imperialist wars of a great and powerful friend. Whether in a World War, a British colonial war, or one of Uncle Sam’s never-ending series of wars to defend his empire, the Australian military fights in far-flung places at the side of the larger power. Almost always, the objective is to cement the alliance, since the issues at stake are rarely of direct relevance. The pay-off is that Australian capitalism is granted the imperialist franchise for the South Pacific (and now East Timor as well), where it operates without the presence of its patron.


The current war in Afghanistan is a textbook case. The United States is in a bloody conflict with a band of religious fundamentalist cutthroats, in a country which has never been a nation and has never had more than a nominal central authority. It backs a corrupt government, mostly of competing fundamentalists. In this imperialist war of occupation, Australian troops commit blundering atrocities like the killing of five children in Uruzgan province last February. In a land where most people want the foreigners gone and a peasant by day can be a Taliban by night, crimes like this are inevitable. But to support the United States and to fortify the Australian alliance with Uncle Sam, the Labor Government thinks it’s all worth it.

The Way Out

Imperialism is part of modern capitalism. Its wars will last as long as capitalism does and the Australian military is purpose-built to fight them. Whether it is a pointless sacrifice on a Turkish beach, or bloody murder in an Afghan village, it will continue until capitalism itself is ended – and the only way to end capitalism is through workers’ revolution. Unlike the capitalists, the working class can unite across national boundaries. We can sweep away the capitalists and their State, with its armies, police and prisons. We can build libertarian communism, a world of peace and plenty, a world of both freedom and security. We can and we must.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 2120 Lygon St North


East Brunswick 3057 25 April 2010