To the People of Australasia

The Melbourne Anarchists’ Club extends its greetings to the liberty loving citizens of these young colonies and appeals to them to assist its members in their efforts to remove those public sentiments and public institutions, which have been transplanted here from the northern hemispheres, retard social progress and happiness; and to substitute in their place the enabling principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity!

The objects of the Melbourne Anarchists’ Club are:

To foster public interest in the great social questions of the day, by promoting inquiry in every possible way; to promote free public discussions of all social questions; and to circulate and publish literature, throwing light upon existing evils of society, and the methods necessary for their removal.

To foster and extend the principles of Self Reliance, Self Help and a Spirit of Independence amongst the people.

To uphold and maintain the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. By Liberty we mean ‘the equal liberty of each, limited alone by the equal liberty of all’. By Equality we mean ‘the equality of opportunity for each individual’. And by Fraternity we mean ‘that principle which denies national and class distinctions, asserts the Brotherhood of Man and says “The world is my country”‘.

To advocate, and seek to achieve, the abolition of all monopolies and despotisms which destroy the Freedom of the Individual and which thereby check social progress and prosperity.

To expose and oppose that colossal swindle, Government and to advocate Abstention from Voting, Resistance to Taxation, and Private Co-operation or Individual Action.

To foster Mutual Trust and Fraternity amongst the working people of all ranks, and to turn their attention to their common foes: the Priests and the Politicians, and their co-adjutors, attacking principles rather than individuals.

To invite the co-operation of all, who have realised the innate evils of our governing institutions, and desire their speedy dissolution for the general benefit of Humanity.

To promote the formation of voluntary institutions similar to the Melbourne Anarchist Club throughout Victoria and the neighbouring colonies, and, with their consent, to eventually unite with them forming the Australasian Association of Anarchists.[206]

David Andrade has claimed authorship of this Manifesto,[207] which is very similar to that published earlier in England by Seymour, and by the Australian Socialist League in Sydney the following year. The Sydney branch of the ASA in 1886 was already in danger of dying out from mutually destructive struggles with the Australian Free Thought Union and the Sunday Platform Group.[208] Nevertheless, a group of young enthusiasts was beginning to attract attention as journalists and travelling lecturers on subjects from secularism to Irish Home Rule. Will Andrade’s frustration with ‘weak-kneed Freethinkers’ and his calls for a Sydney Anarchist Club[209] bore unanticipated fruit when W.H. McNamara, (1857-1906) described as ‘an imposing figure’ and an accomplished orator ‘with dark hair and a large black beard’, met with six others on 4 May 1887 and began taking members.[210] One of these, Anderton, later reflected that this, first version of the Australian Socialist League (ASL) was established on ‘State-Socialistic’ principles. After a number of Sunday debates [211] attention was diverted to local loyalist attempts to emulate ‘the Jubilee insanity’ in London. Republican-focused protest meetings led to the hijacking of indoor, loyalist gatherings and to publicity about the issue.

Disruptive audiences at public meetings were certainly not unknown prior to 1887. Elections had been volatile gatherings for hundreds of years in Europe and stratagems had been exported around the world with the idea of public testing of candidates for office:

Intimidation was common at elections in England even under Charles 1 but this unsatisfactory state of affairs reached the most unconstitutional proportions under the administration of William Pitt when detachments of the army and navy surroundered the hustings and threatened those who were prepared to vote against the court candidate.[212]

An account of a poll at Brentford in Middlesex in December, 1768, detailed the tactics of Sir William Beauchamp Proctor who, finding himself losing to a friend of the agitator John Wilkes, unleashed gangs on the voting apparatus itself, inns and houses suspected of favoring his opponent, and by-standers. The terrified citizenry, fearful of what might happen next, eventually responded and drove ‘the rioters’ out of town. This ‘gentleman’ perhaps had memories of a time when sheriffs had complete control of elections and could do as they liked – or rather as they were paid to do by the highest-bidding candidate. Freeholders not prepared to vote as ‘requested’ were ‘disabled or disfranchised’. There were many creative ways of obtaining the desired outcome.

Corruption of the outcome of an open-air election meeting was easier to arrange than an organised protest meeting and, well into the 19th century, military intervention remained legally possible and politically-manageable. Shifts in suffrage rights and in education made the legality of military usage in civil dissension less obvious and less politically palatable. The Haymarket events spectacularly demonstrated how the United States had diverged from the ‘British’ model, still evolving. In Chicago, hired thugs, para-military such as the Pinkertons and the police  were marshalled on one side, that of the status-quo, the opposition relying what was called ‘moral suasion’, the claims of reason and morality. These proved fragile on their own and in need of legislative help, such as changes in death penalty provisions, and statutes regarding political rights. Public expressions of dissension proved popular when rendered into carnival-like parades and not amenable to military or police interference. This has remained the front line issue in the US. In ‘British’ colonies, the pace and kind of adjustment have had local dimensions. A ‘hired, drunken mob’ was noted in 9 Dec, 1852, preventing a second attempt by Tasmanian citizens to petition the Queen regarding the Convict Prevention Act. The first, equally-frustrated attempt had been ‘a mighty triumph of the people’ according to one journal while another could not ‘find the words to denounce the scoundrelism which could plot and accomplish such shameful scenes.[213] On 14 March 1871, ‘Victorian Industrial Protection League’ heard from a range of pro-tariff speakers lured by the GBP300 now available in Victoria for an MP. The solitary policeman on duty ignored pleas to arrest a disturber or his assailant who threw him bodily of the stage and prevented him from contributing.

In February, 1880, an editor supportive of the liberal, Victorian Berry government, under extreme pressure from an obstructionist Opposition, critically examined the threats of revolution which could follow if their (Tory) demands were not met:

The formidable element in times of civil commotion is the vagabond class…which can always be bought by the highest bidder, and which cares only to plunder the industrious and to defy its natural enemy, the police.[214]

This is the same scornful dismissal of ‘the little people’ Traill made about the Clontarf rabble. The writer has made the mistake of many theorists – to assume this ‘lumpen proletariat’ is always and only homogenous, in this case, immoral because ‘available to the highest bidder’. Elsewhere in this leader, the acceptable ‘mass’, the people, is exalted as the all-wise and all-moral:

(The Conservatives) can defeat manhood suffrage by stuffing the rolls, and         frustrate the result of elections by detaching Gaunsons and Orrs {tractable MPs]        one by one but they know that the plebiscite once established would make the will          of the people irresistible…’

The Opposition MPs were engaging in political violence by obstructing the work of the House:

            Had the Opposition filled the Assembly gallery every night with fifty or sixty             larrikins…to drown the voices of the Government speakers this point would have        been easily understood; but the more insidious and efficient employment of five           or six larrikins within the Assembly itself, who employed the forms of the House            as a cloak for incessant obstruction, does not in the least alter the…case.

Henry Parkes was an old hand by November, 1880 when he campaigned against payment of members and Sunday opening of museums and libraries. One particular meeting was noisy but without any organised disturbances and he closed it down when he was ready to leave. A shift in the information war was evident when the Clontarf picnic of December, 1880, was publicised in the Bulletin, since it meant ‘investigative journalism’ was sufficiently popular to prevent its practitioners being suppressed as before. Little else changed with regard to the disposition of ‘the people’. Local government matters, to wit, tramways in Oxford Street, Sydney, were decided by a ‘howling mob’ preventing a ‘floor resolution’ in May 1881. Parkes, outside a meeting in March, 1883, claimed he was there out of curiosity, an assertion which didn’t prevent his cab being spontaneously set upon by the less-respectable, including some Irish ‘hooters’ and ‘surgers.’ His solicitor insisted that what had happened ‘was no more than took place at any political meeting.’ Elsewhere, McNamara was arrested for ‘creating a disturbance’ in resisting the assaults of a crowd objecting to his selling Liberators in a public park.[215]

‘Larrikins’ were emerging, however, as a distinct force which could extract quid-pro-quos, as in June 1883 when they acted as ‘cockatoos’ for a Sydney-city publican flouting drink laws. No longer ‘little people’, or just ‘the people’, they had toughened up and, it would seem grown in height and fitness. In Brisbane, in August, ancient eggs and blue metal were the preferred missiles of ‘a mob of rowdies’ preventing a candidate being heard and pursuing his supporters afterwards. In Maryborough, December 1885, members of ‘the Skeleton Army’ harassing the Salvation Army processionists wore green colours ‘round their hats and coat sleeves’, indicative of a shared, if hired allegiance.[216] In Adelaide ‘a small mob of larrikins’ molested ‘free labourers’ loading coal during a strike in October, 1887.

June 1887 may mark the date from which the hiring of disruptors became acceptable within ‘the movement’ in Sydney, at least.[217] Known now as ‘the Republican riot/s’, meetings that month were called by local loyalists to determine the format of celebrations for Queen Victoria. The events were taken over by ‘a mob’ variously labelled ‘evil’, ‘a threat to British civilisation’, mindless larrikins, and a prepared and well-drilled collection of secularists and socialists. Admission tickets were forged to ensure numerous disturbers were present and some disturbers acted in unison to signs from a ‘prominent (but un-named) Trades and Labour delegate.’ Premier Parkes and a bevy of Sydney worthies twice lost out to ‘Tommy’ Walker (from Melbourne), Louisa Lawson and JD Fitzgerald, and succeeded only when they countered with a force of police, and Artillery and Naval Brigade members sufficient to win the fist fights.

Walker was already on the parliamentary road, having been elected on a ‘democratic’ platform in February, 1887 by Northumberland coal miners prepared to pay him a stipend. A second series of meetings produced a more resilient ASL which McNamara, Black and Walker announced on 26 August 1887.[218] Commentators[219] have rarely noticed that the first manifesto of the ASL, produced by the re-formed ASL, the initial draft of which Anderton attributes to Potter and McNamara,[220] has three paragraphs out of seven word-identical with those of the MAC’S prospectus and only the differences in one paragraph out of seven are substantial. Both Andrades, of course, welcomed this League and the boycott by Sydney secularists of the Liberator.[221] The October, 1887 issue of Honesty showed where reactions to the Haymarket had brought them. Reporting the ‘disastrous’ end to a New South Wales shearers’ strike to which truculent squatters had responded with fines, jailings and threats of conspiracy charges, the editor’s only constructive suggestion was that ‘the law’, clearly on the side of the anti-shearer forces, ‘must be opposed’.[222]

The growing audience for ‘socialism’ was dividing into camps more recognisable as ‘State-Socialist’ and a decentralised form, vaguely ‘communist anarchist’. The non-hierarchical, non-centralised variant was initially the majority preference because ‘the State’ was generally not a popular concept. Individualist and economics-oriented anarchists very reluctantly gave up the label ‘socialist’ yet there is great similarity between their idea of the labourer owning his or her labour product, the communist-anarchist idea that ‘all means of production of wealth’ must be treated as ‘the common property of all’ and that of the worker receiving ‘the full value of [his/her] labor’.[223] The first is concerned with power of decision making over one’s creation and the latter is concerned with equity and fairness. Yet they contain the same seed. Extending this argument further, it becomes apparent that both the mutualist and the communist-anarchist prescription contain an econometric and a decision making aspect, either of which can be emphasized over the other. This janus-face was to prove the undoing of William Lane and the New Australia project later.

JA ‘Jack’ Andrews[224] is the most important member of the group which moved through the Melbourne Anarchist Club. His was a wide-ranging imagination and a strong intellect; he was a gifted theoretician, poet, inventor and historian and he has left a lot of material on which he can be judged. Unfortunately, in addition to having used pseudonyms, much of his material has been scattered and lost, or was published in very low budget papers and is difficult to obtain. Like Symes and Fleming, he grew up a rather sickly and protected child who developed introspective and intellectual ways to cope with a world which tormented him, in his case, firstly as a youth at Kew (Melbourne) State School and then in the Victorian Public Service, which he joined at 17 in 1882.[225] He later described himself as having been an ambitious young man, working on various literary projects simultaneously while in a Young Men’s Literary Society,[226] which included William Astley (‘Price Warung’). He has said that he joined the MAC in 1886 but his first recorded appearance is 2 January 1887. He apparently took over from a Mr Blake, as secretary of the Co-operative Printing Company for a few weeks around May 1887, an event sufficient to get his name on the second and third issues of Honesty. He then went to Dunolly, rural Victoria, for a period of employment with a solicitor, May 1887 to May 1888, during which his health improved and his allegedly bad stutter diminished.

The Radical newspaper, later the Australian Radical,[227]  began to appear while he was out of town. From March 1887, it was set up at Hamilton, near Newcastle, NSW, and moved rapidly to a Tucker-aligned anarchist position under urging from Andrade. WR Winspear, its proprietor was secretary of the Newcastle ASA when he married Alice Drake,[228] and receiving a legacy shortly thereafter he decided to get ‘a socialist’ paper going.[229] Sydney’s ASL members discovered it in September, 1887, and perceiving it as a channel for socialism/anarchism,[230] they adopted it as ‘our little organ’.[231] George Black, later one of the Labour’s first MPs, wrote in The Radical in November, 1888, that ‘Freedom, love and truth must be the moving principles of every dweller in an anarchical community’.[232] Correspondence shows rapidly expanding sales to supporters in Adelaide, Melbourne, NSW country towns, and Brisbane. While healthy given the era and the difficulties, supporters at its peak would not have topped one thousand, however.

When, in May, 1888, Andrews returned to Melbourne he found the mutualists heatedly arguing among themselves about the best method of measuring labor time and labor products to ensure equity and independence, and with the ASL over definitions. He later said the arguments made him realise he had to reassess his own views. His response when it came precipitated more debates, quite a lot of which was on violence, as tactic or as an inevitable stage of domestic radical change. These debates helped define the already gestating Labor Party.

McNamara, in responding to an 1888 Tucker attack on him as a State-Socialist and plagiarist claimed the ASL to be more libertarian than the Boston anarchists who after all were ‘devotees of unbridled free-enterprise’. He said the ASL advocated:

the abolition of all imposed authority, State or otherwise, and the full liberty of the individual. We advocate harmony and universal co-operation. We call this our system: modern or scientific socialism. We repudiate once and for all ‘State Socialists’ because we deny all State power and authority.[233]

McNamara wanted to deny that this position, which he often called ‘free communism’, was anarchist, while Winspear, Andrade and others wanted to refer to their position as ‘evolutionary socialism’:

Unlike the state socialists, the modern or scientific socialist endeavours to wean the people from coercion and authority.

Winspear wrote in June, 1888:

While State Socialists, whether land nationalists, protectionists or [other] are working to build up the authority of the state the modern socialist is doing his best to decentralise the authority of the state and increase the liberty of every member of authority’.[234]

On 3 June 1888 the MAC heard Upham on ‘The Anarchism of Prince Kropotkin’. He used recent articles in the Nineteenth Century journal,[235] which emphasized the need for voluntary communes to protect people against the war and ‘terrible in­equalities’ attendant upon ‘the increased powers of production in recent years’.[236] The first response by Kaufmann on the question of aggression and human nature took Robert Beattie and Peter McNaught away from Kropotkin. David Andrade intervened to bring the discussion ‘back to the point’ by reading a speech on ‘Communist-Anarchism’ delivered on 15 March that year by Kropotkin, wherein:

an uprising of the masses and forcible expropriation of the present proprietors was advocated; houses, machinery, food, clothing, etc were to be seized by the people, divided amongst themselves and a Commune proclaimed.

The complexities of the Proudhon-Tucker-Andrade lines of theory were provoking its audience to look for more immediately practical ways forward. While admiring Kropotkin as a destroyer, Andrade said he had no sympathy with his methods which would destroy individuality, cause the innocent to suffer and leave the labor problem practically unsolved. Larry Petrie was sorry to hear Kropotkin opposed. In this country it may be possible to effect a revolution on individualistic lines, but he considered that in Europe forcible expropriation will be necessary. Newberry and Upham both supported expropriation, the latter in particular showing his conversion to what he called voluntary communism, a label used earlier by Beattie.[237] In the following week’s meeting Petrie introduced ‘Anarchy and the Coming Revolution’.[238] He spent some time summarising indicators of the European movement towards socialism and concluded: ‘All these things point to revolution … and meanwhile we must not waste time saying how we will destroy governments, but always keep fraternity in view’. Donovan agreed that ‘the present discontent is more widespread’ than ever before and hoped that in revolution ‘we may stop shop of the all-pervading tyranny of State-Socialism’. Andrews urged education of the people ‘by precept and example’ which Beattie supported:

Moral suasion and example are the best weapons…force should never be  resorted to if possible.

Fryer asked if it was not inconsistent for anarchists to want a new organisation like ‘the Co-operation’, just then being mooted by the Andradeans, when they wanted to abolish the State. Newberry pointed out that the Melbourne Co-operation No. 1 was a step to ‘practical anarchy’. Anarchists, he said, were striving to substitute a voluntary system in place of the present system of force: ‘If force would more certainly achieve the end, he should advocate it’.

Debates of socialist theory had not ceased, they had escaped the confines of the ASA and the MAC and reached the CBD. In a long item, probably its first about anarchism, Sydney’s The Bulletin of 24 March 1888 berated the Sydney Morning Herald – ‘this fossilised organ of middle-class ignorance’ – for its review of Liberty and Law. This was a book by George Lacey, ‘not long ago a resident of Sydney,…honorary secretary of the Liberal Association of New South Wales’ and ‘editor of a local journal called The Liberal’. The Bulletin reviewer resented Lacey’s attempted ‘refutation of the individualism of Herbert Spencer’ in the mistaken belief that ‘Spencer is a doughty champion of the Property and Defence League and is being attacked by a totally new brand of socialist’. The Bulletin writer thought Spencer, ‘like all men of brains’ who consider ‘the problem of existence and attempt to gauge the position of man in his relation to the cosmos from the standpoint of natural science’, was a ‘Socialist, (but) a far more scientific and thorough-going Socialist than Mr Lacey’. The writer pointed out Lacey’s plagiarism of Gronlund’s Co-operative Commonwealth and works by Hyndman, Nordau and Spencer himself. Lacey had attacked Spencer’s belief that ‘everyone has freedom to do all he wills, provided he infringes not the like freedom of every other man’. The Bulletin pointed out to the SMH that it could ‘hardly desire a more socialistic utterance’ than this and went on to repudiate the correlation by the Herald of socialism with anarchism, there taken to be violent revolution. This is the point of the whole exercise for both papers. Lacey had attacked Spencer because, he claimed, ‘individualism leads directly to nihilism’, ie anarchism, ie physical violence. Spencer was defended by the SMH so that the correlation of socialism, i.e. community control, with nihilism could be made, and The Bulletin attacked both for confusing an issue it said was perfectly clear – socialist writers had clearly represented anarchism as the very antithesis of socialism.

Elsewhere, a sixty-nine page booklet produced in Melbourne, in 1888, and sub-titled ‘The Dance of Death in the Gaol Yard – The Final Act in the Greatest Tragedy of the Age’, hysterically misrepresented the Haymarket events, with total blame being put on those hanged or jailed.[239] A letter headed ‘Land For The People’ to the private-owned, ie, not a union paper, Shearer’s Record in April 1888 began:

Sir: In reference to the above heading I hurry up to state that I am not an Anarchist, Communist or Nihilist, as some of your readers may imagine to be the case…

Readers of the Melbourne Daily Telegraph were having their education continued in such editorials as that for 15 October 1888 which referred to ‘the torrent of anarchical democracy … lately let loose upon England undermining and must ultimately destroy that fabric of military and naval strength upon which our stability as a nation rests’. Bulletin-style trivialisation didn’t help. Cartoons such as the ‘Winetard’ – an alternative to the dynamitard[240] – ‘Death the Old Anarchist’, full-page by Phil May, and a smaller ‘the Anarchist’ in the same issue,[241] confused the issues. The Reverend Charles Strong showed a keener ear. The December 1888 issue of his newsletter[242] quoted at length from Kropotkin’s ‘Industrial Village of the Future’, while the March issue for 1889 both commented favorably on a letter from ‘JA Andrews’ claiming that he and Christ were both nihilists, [243] and favorably reviewed Tolstoy’s anarchism.                      The MAC had moved to a ‘Co-Operative Home’ in Albert Park, Melbourne in July 1888. In November 1888 Andrews explained the meaning of a label he often applied to himself, ‘nihilist’ – not in the sense of wanting to level everything as the papers and the privileged would have it, but in the sense of doing away with existent institutions; conceptually denying them not physically destroying them.[244] As the conflict heated the Club’s atmosphere Petrie in December delivered a paper on the important topic of equity. Andrews reported that Petrie:

introduced the moot points between ‘individualist’ and communist sections. An earnest and useful debate following, in which the matter at issue was reduced to whether a man producing for the simple sake of satisfying his activity, is justified in acquiring thereby a monopoly of the raw material, affected by his labor, which he does not require to      consume or use. Mr Andrade maintained that the fact of labor gave him that right absolutely whilst with the exception of Mr McNaught [may be either Peter or John] the other speakers unanimously held that having produced gives no title outside of the liberty to use, and that if that liberty is not exerted, the matter should be as available as any other untouched resources to all comers.[245]

In January, 1889, Andrews noted the bitterness of the last confrontation within the Club between the two anarchist tendencies. He opened a debate on ‘Revolution’ by arguing that:

(All)evolution not accompanied by the forcible reclamation and defence of liberty, so long as that was being encroached upon, must be in the direction of loss, and of the development of a master-race and a slave-race. (The speaker) quoted statistics partly worked out by La Revolte and partly by himself showing that at least 10,000 lives are lost every day solely by the pressure of the existing system and tending to prove that should a revolution … be even as bloody as any war has been, it would be a direct saving of life. Violence against persons was of no use; the idea of the Revolution would be the seizure and maintenance of free access of all things necessary to liberty; still that could not be expected to pass without fighting…

Comrades White, Petrie and Rosa strongly supported the paper as also did Comrade Fleming subject to the proviso that there should be no rash loss of life or wasted force, while Comrade McNaught (was) more cautious because he feared that the effect of warfare would be to degrade the reform party…Violent opposition was made to the revolutionary doctrine by Mr Andrade who said that the ‘blood­thirsty Communist-Anarchists’ wanted ‘perpetual massacre’.[246]

The willingness of communist-anarchists to speak of the reality of civil conflict was being turned by Andrade into advocacy of the thing they specifically wished to avoid. Andrews and those who sided with him had walked out of the co-operative house in November, 1888, now they left the Club altogether.[247] The thirteenth and last issue of Honesty appeared in February 1889. During 1889 Andrews and Winspear spelled out in The Australian Radical their respective views on ‘Revolution and Physical Force’. Andrews had asked Winspear to debate him on the subject and Winspear, in a rather fine essay, supported the gradual education of the masses to a need for change at which time the old order would collapse and be replaced. He argued that a physical force revolution was as likely to extend tyranny as end it:

… on the morrow of the revolution we would want to go peacefully to work and would desire to live in liberty and equality, without government or authority, but it is safe to say that new governments would be formed and new standards erected and robbery and inequality would commence afresh, from the simple fact that mankind do not yet possess a knowledge of the evils to be wiped out …We wish to make men free, and the method we adopt is punishment. We say that government has encroached too much, yet we call into existence a machinery which enforces its will with ten times the rigor that it did. Before proceeding further we may well ask whether we must enslave ourselves to make us free? and whether a display of terror is the readiest mode for making men wiser, fearless, equitable and independent?[248]

Andrews, in response, doesn’t answer these claims directly, rather he argues that within the revolutionary ferment there would be a great germination of discussion and blossoming of ideas. He quoted Kropotkin to show that just prior to the 1789 French Revolution, the peasants and bourgeoisie showed few signs of unrest, then again to support by implication the paralleling of his ideas with Winspear’s that the use of force in an unprepared situation would be counter-productive, that education should proceed until there has been more infiltration of the masses by the ideas. He qualified this by suggesting that ‘the masses’ are more likely to go along with someone whose actions they know and trust rather than someone who is known only from his or her talk. His view of revolution was crucially different to Winspear’s. It was:

…the refusal to pay rent, the resistance to eviction, the persistent entry upon lands, upon factories, machines, magazines, the reiterated practice of working and keeping the whole produce,     of leaving employment and not leaving work or the workshop.

Although Andrews said that ‘sometimes no force would be necessary’ to carry out these measures, Winspear saw his views as anti-people and as disregarding the evidence of evolution which shows people to be progressing through the use of intellect to a more civilised state. He agreed that few other people seemed to accept this idea, though this may be because as individuals must fight in their own way against government we may not hear of these separate initiatives.[249] Andrews agreed that the exploiters might fade away without the need for a pitched conflict, but in that situation fear was being used as a weapon by the majority and cannot be any more or less brutalising than actual violence. He asserted that this was the present situation:

… it is these same ‘peaceful’ measures adopted by our oppressors from which we suffer far more than from their direct use of arms, because if they were not in reserve the ‘peaceful’ measures would be ineffectual…Certainly the propaganda to which we attach the greatest importance will greatly diminish the extent and the severity of the struggle…The Revolution is no war in the common interpretation of the term…We know very well that if it simply rested with us we could not create it …It is more than cosmopolitan – it is a cosmical movement of which we are not the motive power but the index. We are not the wind moving the straw, we are the straw moved by the wind, and behind us is the hurricane in its  fury.[250]

With Fleming at the Richmond Young Mens’ Society[251] Andrews responded to ‘Mr Harvie’s’ paper condemning the Chicago anarchists as ‘socialist bombers’, and made what appear to be informed remarks:

If our comrades … were such experts in explosives as we are told, they would not have used a fuse-bomb, which is both dangerous to the thrower and unreliable altogether, but a percussion bomb. If, as urged, they had wanted to provoke a conflict with the police, they would not have thrown a bomb at all, which unless the majority of the enormous crowd were perfectly aware it was going to be thrown, would have stupefied and disorganised them even more than the police, and thus spoilt their own ends…[252]

The economic depression, unconcerned whether reformers resolved their differences or had sufficient resources even to meet regularly, further sharpened attitudes and made peaceful amelioration of hunger more difficult. Soap-box oratory was an alternative to an in-house journal. There were also other peoples’ meetings and magazines. At a later meeting when he spoke on the 1871 Commune in Paris he was partially supported by one W.A. Holman,(1871-1934)yet another new arrival from England, who later was Premier of NSW.[253] Andrews later said he was now into the hardest time of his life, often going without any food at all for up to four days. To save money he slept in parks, in water tanks, in doss houses, or walked the night streets. He foraged for wild food on the river bank strengthening his theories of self-sufficiency. His total income was derived from Radical sales which activity and that of unemployed agitation earned him constant police harassment[254] especially during the winter of 1889 when ‘his’ group fully expected riots and possibly bloodshed. The communist-anarchists had begun meeting as a Melbourne ASL from 12 March 1889 with Andrews as ‘secretary’. He was already seeing the local police as capable of the same perfidy as their Chicago brethren, and capable of employing spies and working up fake bomb scares. Meeting at the Golden Fleece hotel in Russell Street ‘his’ group was disrupted by police interventions whereupon they met outside. The group suffered further losses when a Knights of Labor Assembly, a Land Nationalisation and a Single-Tax group appeared.[255]

‘Sam’ Rosa, Dr Maloney and WD Flinn changed its constitution in July 1889 to turn it into a Social Democratic League. Dr Maloney later served in the Victorian Parliament. Samuel Albert Rosa, 1866-1940, had arrived in Melbourne in 1888 and gravitated quickly to radical circles. He was probably native-born but claimed to have been an executive member of the Social Democratic Federation in London at age 18, and in 1886 to have been working as a free-lance journalist in the USA where he joined both the Socialist Labor League and the Knights of Labor.[256] Despite their lack of resources, Fleming and White remained stalwarts of the Melbourne unemployed struggle well into the 1900s. Their approach was simple and direct – castigate the capitalist ‘robbers’ and demand the government underwrite expansion of the labor market. They cajoled and lectured, led march after march on Parliament House and assisted deputation after deputation to lobby politicians. In January 1889, Winspear recorded Fleming jailed again for seven days for merely speaking on Queens Wharf.[257] The Liberator of the same date has a letter from Fleming with a firsthand account of the Harbour Trust’s attempts to close the wharf with assistance from the police. Varley, another agitator, was speaking to 4-500 people when a bale of hay, often used for seats or platforms on the wharf, was set on fire, possibly by locals described as ‘roughs’. Fleming got up to support his friend whereupon he was punched and jostled off the wharf on to the roadway. He eventually retaliated, the crowd cheered, and only then the police asked ‘the roughs’ to desist.[258]

The rhetorical boundaries between ‘a push’ or street gang, an organised trade society and individual unemployed in practice were now clearly fluid, and a member of any one of them was a potential mercenary when ‘muscle’ was required. Often dismissed as mindless thugs or ‘out-for-a-lark’ larrikins, these ‘roughs’ could be hired, and achieve power, money and influence by making their fighting skills available. They could also attach themselves to a cause because they believed in it, or thought they would be aided by it. Information on gang members acting politically or being used by politicians is sketchy but the insights to be had, lead to the conclusion that these street fighters were, for a period, a crucial part of day-to-day politics.

Involvement of push members in day-to-day politics had been made more likely by the more-or-less professionalisation of bare-knuckle boxing in the 19th century. Promoters and special favorites had deep access into political, criminal and wealth creation circles as they do today. Akin to today’s football fans, a primary push allegiance could be to a team, an area or a faith, a political party, or a single personality. After that was satisfied, gang members responded to a variety of temptations. Even those easily identified as ‘push members’ by their clothes or by police reports, might be professional criminals, excitable adolescents, idlers, irregularly employed or fully employed artisans, even unionists. In Sydney, ‘Sandy’ Ross led an Orange (Protestant) Push. Larry Foley (1849-1917)[259]  has been celebrated as the ‘Father of Australian Boxing’ but he led an equivalent Catholic gang, the ‘Greens’, into vicious battles for turf dominance and thus control of the profits of crime specific to his locale. Other gangs were designated, as they are today, by geography or cultural artefacts – such as, in Sydney, ‘the Miller’s Point Push’, ‘the Straw Hat Push’, ‘the Forty Thieves’ from Surry Hills and ‘the Gipp Street Mob’. The jostle between them was constant and gangs rose and fell in status but one could remain on top for an extended period. The well-known boxer, ‘Griffo’, was celebrated as ‘The King of the Rocks’ because he was push leader when the Rocks Push dominated its area close to Circular Quay wharves from the 1870s to the end of the 1890s.[260] Born Albert Griffiths (1871-1927), he sold newspapers and learned to fight well enough to become World Champion in the Lightweight Division in New York in 1895. Some gangs fought when and where required for whoever was paying – ‘although protected by bruisers, (John Norton) was apt to resort to physical violence.’[261] In this Melbourne 1889 case, ‘roughs’ acting under police instruction were opposed to a number in the crowd that Andrews claimed were prepared ‘for sterner business’ implying a degree of organisation. ‘Defy the police’ was the watchword ‘but extreme order was maintained’.        A respectable but supine path available to the desperate who were not organised was to ask the government for work.[262] Community charity was often insufficient to prevent a slow wasting turning into quick self-murder. Up to four bodies a day were being found in the Yarra, often with a pawn ticket their only possession. Beattie ironically suggested the poorest get together as a ‘Suicidal Saviours Association’. Every midnight members could cast lots, the unlucky member to force himself or herself into the ‘odouriferous mud’ of the river, his or her nearest relative or friend would then ‘have the privilege of finding the body’ and thus be entitled to ten shillings, and five other members might be employed as jurors at the inquest, and get paid four shillings each.[263]

Late in June 1889 Andrews reported that he was shifting his Sunday soapboxing to Studley Park [suburban Melbourne] and requested assistance from others.[264] In August he considered that:

The number of persons reached by some form of socialist propaganda      in    Melbourne is certainly not less than 3000 weekly … The party of       Anarchy is       become too large to form a circle of acquaintances under any condition.[265]

Although prepared to stand alongside Symes on behalf of freedom of speech[266] ‘Chummy’ eventually realised that the approach of the Liberator’s editor was to brow-beat ‘Thomas Workman’ about self-help. Andrade’s approach to ‘the labor question’ was equally unhelpful. Reporting a meeting of 700 unemployed he wrote:

(Much) to their discredit they did nothing beyond complaining of the tauntan MP had given them, and resolving to ask the government to nationalise the land (poor deluded people)…their lack of employment is not to be wondered at, when they show such pitiable ignorance of the cause of their misery.[267]

Andrade was trying to keep the MAC going. At least two Club meetings were held in 1889 at the ‘Co­operative Home’. A Reunion on 9 July, 1890 attracted his brother back from Sydney, a man called ‘Rose’[268], Anstey another future MP, Newberry, McMillan, Fleming and Goodlet. Meetings were thence held fortnightly at the Temperance Hall until 4 December 1890.[269] Andrade then established a newsagency and printery in Sydney Road, Brunswick and it is probable that an affiliated group met there until sometime in 1892 when he established ‘Liberty Hall’ in Russell Street, Melbourne. This was no more successful and he moved his family to country Gippsland in 1894 where he became the local postman and attempted self-sufficient living.

Arguments in the Sydney ASL over education were separating supporters of the freedom to allow students to decide what they preferred (Winspear, William Andrade) from those who saw a need to provide opportunities for all through co-operative action (McNamara, and others). Some of the ‘free communists’ were drifting towards accepting parliamentary reform as the way to ensure community programs. What bothered these collectivists in the ASL was not the association of force with anarchism – though they recognised its strength[270] – but the charge of individualism. In his editorial in the 17 August 1889 issue, Winspear showed where his thoughts had led him by anticipating an article from him which would:

be a direct challenge to those who do not believe in individual liberty, laissez-faire, free land, free labor and unrestricted competition.

Before it appeared, McNamara moved to have the Sydney ASL sever connections with an editor considered to be ‘advocating all that real socialists fight tooth and nail against’. It is not clear how the ASL reached this decision or whether there was any dissension. Winspear preferred to print ‘Jack’ Andrew’s ‘long effusions’ from Melbourne rather than those of Sydney members Yewen, or Weber, or even ASL meeting reports.[271] The Radical, never a profitable enterprise, limped on without the ASL till April 1890. When he could not even feed his family, Winspear tried burglary, was arrested and jailed. Bereft then, even of an erstwhile bread-winner, Alice suicided, abandoning their children to welfare. The ASL was unable to put into effect plans for a newspaper of its own.