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anarchist round table
The Anarchist Round Table (ART) was formed in 1997 by a group of Christchurch anarchists who met at an anarchist conference in Wellington. Despite some serious ideological and personal differences, this original group worked successfully together on a number of valuable community and activist projects.
These included SMOG, a monthly neighbourhood newspaper (twenty-two issues of which appeared between December 1997 and March 2000), and the Beneficiary Action Collective, or BAC, which spearheaded local opposition to the work-for-the-dole scheme when it was introduced in October 1998. BAC imploded in early 2000 after a high profile but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to gain access for beneficiaries to toilets at the WINZ High Street office, and at this point ART effectively stopped functioning as a group.
ART reformed in November 2000 with just two of its original members but a number of enthusiastic newcomers. In October 2001, ART hosted 2001: An Anarchist Odyssey, the first anarchist conference in New Zealand for over three years. ART was also the driving force behind the establishment of InterActive, an activist centre in central Christchurch that served as a home and general meeting and organising space for ART and several other local activist groups. InterActive ran for a period of a year before a rent hike and general lack of enthusiasm/burnout saw a waning interest in continuing this project.
From 2001 to 2004 saw ART involved in organising marches and other activities in opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in association with the Peace Action Network. In more recent times, with a wider acceptance and knowledge of anarchism and anarchist principles along with such events as the Anarchist Tea Party and the launching of the Aotearoa Anarchist web portal.
In 2004 after a number of longer serving members of ART pulled back from activism/anarchism for various reasons and several newer members sought to radically change ART's aims and princpals. ART disbanded leaving a large gap in the anarchist community in Christchurch.
During it's time ART had between 30 to 40 anarchists go through it's ranks with a membership of between 5 to 15 at any one time
ART Aims and Principals
1. Criticisms of present society
A . We oppose all forms of authority. No one group or individual has the right to rule any other group or individual.
B. We oppose all forms of exploitation. We live in a capitalist society, in which a minority (the ruling class) owns or controls most of society's resources. These resources have been created over generations by the collective effort of the majority of the population (the working class). Yet most people are forced to work for bosses and receive less than the value of their labour in return in the form of a wage or salary. The bosses retain the difference in the form of profit. This process is called "class exploitation".
C. We oppose all states. The state (government, police, army, judicial system, education system) is not neutral but serves the interests of the ruling class.
D. We acknowledge the legacy of colonialism in Aotearoa and support self-determination for Maori.
E. We oppose ecologically unsustainable economic growth.
2. Strategies for change
A. Means must reflect ends. If our organisations are authoritarian, racist and sexist we will end up with an authoritarian, racist and sexist society.
B. The only group in society capable of fundamentally overthrowing capitalism is the working class. This is because the working class is located at the strategic heart of capitalism: the workplace.
C. The role of an anarchist organisation should be to promote among the working class anarchist ideas and ways of organising. We support self-organisation among the working class and do not seek to "lead" anyone.
D. We support grassroots, mass-based direct action. Direct action is action taken by people themselves and directed at the source of a problem. It does not rely on the work of intermediaries, such as politicians or union bureaucrats.
E. Real change will come only through mass-based revolution that involves the majority of the population. We have no faith in parliamentary politics. Capitalism and the state cannot be reformed, but need to be abolished.
F. We support internationalism. Because capitalism is global, we should organise across national borders in our struggle against it. G. We look forward to a peaceful society. However, we recognise that militant struggle has won many of the freedoms we enjoy today.
3. The future anarchist society (the aim)
A. We want a classless, stateless society with no hierarchical or authoritarian structures or systems.
B. Society should be based on communal ownership of the resources of society. Decisions about production and distribution should be made by the people themselves, in their own workplaces and communities.
C. We want self-government of our own communities. The people who ought to have the most say in how a community or workplace is run are the people who are actually in the local community or workplace.
D. Activities affecting people over larger areas would be coordinated by federations of autonomous, self-governing groups. These federations would not be authoritarian, as they would have no power to enforce their decisions. Membership would be on a strictly voluntary basis.
E. We want a society where the principle "To each according to need, from each according to ability" would be the norm. This can only be achieved with the abolition of money and wage labour.
F. We want a society of communal individuality. We want the greatest possible individuality with the greatest possible communality. The free individual is only possible in a free society. Developing individual creativity and fulfilling the potential of every individual is only possible in a classless, stateless society where everybody's basic material needs are met. However, we do not want people to develop their own individuality at the expense of others.
G. We want an ecologically sensible and sustainable society.
A. Decisions should be made by consensus. However, if after three meetings a consensus cannot be reached on a particular issue, a two- thirds majority will suffice.
B. Members should abide by consensus decisions. In the case of a majority vote, members who voted with the minority will not be forced to participate in actions they do not support. However, no members should take action in the name of the group unless a decision has been made in favour of such action.
C. Members should treat other members with respect and avoid abusive language.
There are no membership fees for joining ART. If you agree with our aims and principles and would like to get involved, just drop us a line. (Last amended December 2003)
The Anarchist Round Table was among the many local groups that was infiltrated by police informant Rod Gilchrist. He worked for the NZ Police and was sending information to Detective Peter Gilroy and Detective Sergeant John Sjoberg. They are both members of the Special Investigation Group (SIG). The SIG has groups in Auckland (headed by Aaron Lee Pascoe), Wellington (headed by Brian Woodcock) and Christchurch (where Gilroy and Sjoberg are based). Gilchrist, also know as balaclava, was spying on various groups including the Save Happy Valley Coalition, Peace Action Wellington, Auckland Animal Action and many other groups and individuals.