Reactionary politics in anarchist garb

September 25, 1996

Comment by Wendy Robertson

SYDNEY — A recent article in the anarchist magazine Angry People titled "Young and angry" attempted to examine youth radicalisation and why young people should become anarchists. In the process, it launched a venomous attack on the socialist youth organisation Resistance and the Democratic Socialist Party.

The article contained all the hallmarks of red-baiting. It refers to "Trotskyist groups" and their "underhanded tactics" to recruit. Rather than debate politics, the writer — who claims to speak for Angry People and anarchists — revives the old, discredited "reds under the bed, brainwashing our youth" argument. The only 1950s-style smears omitted are references "baby eaters" and "godless communists".

The article states that "One such group is Resistance, the youth-brainwashing arm of the Un-Democratic Socialist Party. One of the DSP's tactics to recruit the youth in Newcastle, and according to our sources, Perth and Sydney as well, has been to convince teenagers from dysfunctional families that the philosophy of the family is wrong, and that the reason they are confused about many things and unsure of the future is because of this. To compliment [sic] their evil intentions they have gone as far as convincing people that they are gay or lesbian and because of this they do not fit into the family unit or society at large."

No, Fred Nile didn't write this homophobic rubbish, but an unnamed writer for Angry People did.

At a time when the extreme right is waging an ideological offensive against progressive activists, workers, socialists, young people, and in particular women, lesbians and gay men, this article sadly comes down on the wrong side of the fence which divides revolutionaries and the working class from their attackers.

The article asserts that Resistance and the DSP are "undermining traditional family values". It states, "I've met too many good people who've been fucked up by these arseholes when they were young and impressionable. Some make it through and become anarchists." Resistance and the DSP defend the right of all individuals to live in a society where they can live with whoever they choose. For many generations, the ruling class has used the traditional family unit to exploit the working class and oppress women. It is capitalism that breaks up families, not us.

And we don't advocate any particular sexual orientation, because we are political organisations. But we vigorously defend the right of people to make their own decisions about their sexuality, free from any parental interference.

The irony is that, alongside all their reactionary nonsense, Angry People call for a "strong united working class". This article hardly promotes such unity. It doesn't even come close to finding ways for progressive activists to work together on common ground.

James Hutchings, a prominent member of the Newtown Political Collective, distributed the magazine at an anti-cuts rally in Sydney recently. (The NPC uses the slogan "I didn't join the revolution to sell papers", but it seems that giving them away is okay.) The irony is, the NPC also recently held a meeting titled "Why can't the left work together?". Ridiculing socialist organisations for selling the alternative press (press which NPC have diligently used to express their own views) isn't going to help it do so. And condemning Green Left Weekly, the best progressive newspaper in Australia, while refusing to publicly condemn the Angry People article, certainly isn't going to do it either.

Anarchists and socialists do have political differences; that's a historical reality. But let's have a real political discussion based on an assessment of tactics, strategy and the way forward, not on a smear campaign against socialist organisations. Pursued politically, it is possible to explore our differences, find our common ground and, importantly, set ourselves the task of working together to save humanity.
[Wendy Robertson is the Sydney Resistance organiser and a member of the Democratic Socialist Party.]

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