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Step Toward The Strong State

category indonesia / philippines / australia | community struggles | other libertarian press author Monday October 29, 2007 17:48author by "Rebel Worker" Report this post to the editors

On the recent APEC Summit in Sydney

From "Rebel Worker", Paper of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Network PO Box 92 Broadway 2007 NSW Australia www.rebelworker.org Vol.26 No.3 (197) Oct.-Nov. 2007

The APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit protest demonstration held in Sydney on Saturday 8^th September was attended by between 8,000 to 10,000. It was the latest manifestation of the largely student and middle class based “anti-globalist movement”. Apart from the APEC gathering of Asia Pacific leaders being about the greater coordination of the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation, lowering of tariffs, the gathering provided the backdrop for the development of a “strong state” in Australia to suppress resistance to this agenda.

The State preparations for the holding of APEC and its “strong state” display featured various new laws to restrict civil liberties, massive state repressive forces deployment and the construction of the “Great Wall” of Sydney to deny access to so called “restricted areas” in the city. The mainstream media worked with the state agencies to demonise segments of the protestors as “violent”.

The centrepiece of the “strong state” push was a likely massive violent attack by police on the protestors and the subsequent conducting of mass arrests. Using new laws the police could then update their files on various possible dissidents via DNA samples and photos to be used for attacks later down the track. Whilst an entire wing of Long Bay Gaol which had been closed was reopened during APEC to cater for the mass arrests. Unfortunately for various state agencies, and the Iemma and Howard Governments, the police lacked appropriate experience for the nefarious task and the chance to wage massive state terrorism was lost.

Various aspects of police operations during the protest point to the likelihood of a major police onslaught. When the protestors reached Hyde Park North, they were encircled by a massive tight line of police, with only a tiny space, over a metre high wall for people to escape. A similar encirclement had been planned by police at the beginning of the protest at St. Andrews Square, where the initial rally had been held, but the sudden appearance of the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia) and FBEU (Fire Brigade Employees Union) contingents coming to the protest foiled the manoeuvre. To assist the encirclement at Hyde Park, the police engaged in various ploys to delay for a considerable period, the transfer of the PA system from St. Andrews Square to Hyde Park North. By this measure they sought to dissipate the crowd of protestors at the Hyde Park Rally to manageable proportions to assist their attack. Also close by the sites of the protest rally and march were the ex-State Transit buses which the police were using to blockade streets but also to be used as mobile prisons for the planned mass arrests. The state “master plan” came unstuck when members of the public who had been watching the police lines from Hyde Park South infiltrated and crossed the police lines and in particular one elderly woman whom the police found it undiplomatic to attack. Subsequently due to the quick action of some protestors, a corridor was forced through the police lines for the protestors to escape.

Toward the end of the Hyde Park Rally, the police made some small swoops involving the violent attack and arrest of a small leftwing group and the illegal confiscation of the FBEU banners and flags, during which police tried to provoke several firemen who were army reservists into a fight. Latest news is that the police have still refused to return the materials to the FBEU.

The development of these “strong state” measures are likely aimed at repressing resistance to a major wave of privatisations which the Iemma NSW Govt. is preparing, commencing in such sectors as the electricity industry, rail maintenance, and the ferries. According to a well informed source, APEC was to be initially used by the Iemma Govt. to divert attention away from its announcement to privatise the electricity industry. The announcement is now likely to occur after the Federal Election.

Whilst the state’s “grand slam” to intimidate any further mass protests was foiled, the police since APEC have taken a much more aggressive stance against workers’ militant action. On Wednesday 26/9/07, riot police, together with the dog squad and undercover police attacked and arrested workers who had been employed at McArthur Express Depot in the Sydney suburb of Seven Hills and were picketing the depot following the collapse of the company.

Such protests as the march and rally to oppose the APEC Summit and the US Occupation of Iraq are purely symbolic and “spectacular”. Unable to counter the increasing coordination of elements of global capital such as various multinational companies, assisted by such gatherings as APEC and various governments and the increasing imperialist adventures of the US Govt and its allies. Only the self organisation and internationally coordinated direct action of workers can achieve this goal and overthrow the capitalist set up and establish “workers control”. It can only achieved by “unspectacular” long range sustained activity to assist workers self organisation in strategic industries, in particular the critical transport industries. The “spectacular” actions of the anti-globalist protests are likely to be taken advantage by agencies of international capital to fashion strong states to assist their nefarious neo liberal agendas, as occurred during the recent APEC protest.

By Our Special Correspondent.

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