Thursday, 23 November 2017

The First 8 Pages (As Text)

Each page takes about 2 minutes to read. So breaking these up, and taking turns at reading them, is a good way to start off an action that has a lot of new people in attendence.

Page 1:

Acknowledgement of Country: Can't Stand By would like to acknowledge that our network operates on the occupied land of the Aboriginal people. We pay our respects to elders both past and present and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

The Can't Stand By network exists to make the Australian government's regime of mandatory detention of refugees so economically, politically and socially expensive that they have no choice but to abandon this policy.

CSB is designed such that it will continue to operate until all offshore detention centres have been closed, the worst of the Australian onshore detention centres have been closed and there is a 30-day limit placed on detention in Australia with periodic judicial review of any detention after that. CSB will continue to apply pressure until these demands are not just an agreement but an operating reality.

There will be no extra time given even to politicians who say they are on our side. The government
has already had way too much time to do this of its own accord. As responsible adults, we now have
a moral duty to force an immediate end to this abuse. Once our demands have been met, the political pressure which holds the network together will no longer exist, and it will begin to dissolve
accordingly. However, if CSB did need to reactivate in response to a return to mandatory detention,
it is designed so that this could happen relatively quickly, even after a prolonged period of inactivity.

The following manual aims to give any member of the general public the necessary knowledge to effectively participate in the Can't Stand By network. CSB is intended to be an addition to, not a replacement for, any currently existing efforts to fight against mandatory detention in Australia.”

Page 2:
What CSB Does - Decentralised Networks

The CSB network is leaderless and completely decentralised. The most recognisable form of this type of organisational structure is in a “Mexican wave.” From an organisational perspective, a defining feature of a Mexican wave is that no individual person is in control of it. It is a genuinely mutual collective effort. Also, a person does not need to have any direct contact with the person or people who started a Mexican wave to participate. This decentralisation means that these waves can scale in size very quickly.
The CSB network shares three essential elements with a Mexican wave: 1. A simple, practical action that many people can easily replicate. 2. A rapidly transferable understanding of how this simple activity relates to the broader social forces. 3. A consistent rhythm which grants a significant number of previously unconnected people the ability to act in a coordinated manner.

As a participant in a Mexican wave, the broader social forces would include things like the entire crowd as an entity and the stadium which frames them. It is this context which gives significance to what would otherwise be the ordinary act of people using chairs. People stand up and sit down all the time, but it does not become significant until it is coordinated and framed correctly. The question for opponents of mandatory detention then becomes, what does the “stadium” look like for
us? What would it look like to “get out of our chairs”? And how can we use consistency or rhythm to facilitate decentralised coordination between large numbers of previously unconnected people?”

Page 3:

Civil Resistance

For CSB, “Getting out of our chairs” must be something which is capable of raising the cost of mandatory detention to such an extreme that the government is left with no choice but to immediately abandon it. It has been said that “Protest is when you say, “I object to this or that,” while resistance is when you do whatever it takes to make sure “this or that” can no longer happen. So for example, saying, “don't come through that door!” is a form of protest. On the other hand, putting your foot in the way of the door is resistance.

Can't Stand By is a non-violent resistance network, not a protest group. CSB is not aiming to convince the government or “speak truth to power”. It is known that the Australian media is so monopolised that one has to look towards third world dictatorships to find significantly worse examples of concentrated media ownership. The logic behind "speaking truth to power" assumes that “power” does not know what it is doing and this whole thing has been an unfortunate misunderstanding. But no one commits escalating covert human rights abuses for two decades by accident. The leadership of the Labor and Liberal parties know precisely what they are doing. To engage them in a serious debate about the legitimacy of mandatory detention would be an insult to all those who languish under its rule.

CSB is not trying to out-debate the government. We are working to out-organise them. Our goal is to use our numbers to make it physically impossible for any political party to continue mandatory detention. Like an ambulance with a siren that brings all traffic to a halt, or a fire alarm that triggers the evacuation of an entire building, the technique of civil resistance operates under the logic that there is an emergency situation so severe and urgent that business as usual needs to be suspended, in specific ways, until such a time that the emergency can be resolved.”

Page 4:

Crimes against humanity, like mandatory detention, are precisely the types of emergencies that warrant this kind of action. As serious as disrupting business as usual is, the issue of ending human rights abuse must be more important. Convenience and wealth can not be allowed to be more valuable than human dignity. Fortunately for opponents of mandatory detention, on a logistical level - on the level of who needs to stand where - mounting a campaign of civil resistance in Australia can be a simple and completely non-violent thing to do. In fact, it has been summarised in four basic words; Without Trucks, Australia Stops

These signs refer to the fact that an industry-wide strike of transportation workers would bring the entire country to a halt. Aside from the disruption that such industrial action would cause to the transportation industry itself, there is also the fact that almost every other industry depends on the transportation industry to function. If all the truck drivers went on strike tomorrow, Australia most certainly would stop. However, as true as it is to say “Without trucks, Australia stops,” it is also true to say that Australia stops, without the roads on which trucks depend. Without certain roads, there can be no trucks, and without trucks, there can be no economy.
The radical potential of this modified slogan is that while not everyone is a professional truck driver, almost everyone living in a big city lives within a short distance of an economically significant roadway. Any of these people could block these roads simply by walking over and standing on them. This simple act, carried out on a large enough scale, would in effect shut down the entire country. At the same time, it is important to stress how literally pedestrian and ordinary it is to close a road. The government will want to sensationalise it and make it seem aggressive and dangerous. But we should resist this framing. We must show that closing a road is NOT an extraordinary thing to do.

Page 5:

With decades of experience, many school crossings have demonstrated that two primary school children can be entrusted with the power of closing down a public road. Therefore, surely 30 grown adults should be able to manage to do a similar thing without needing police to hold their hands
while they do it.
The next way they will attempt to insight panic around CSB demonstrations will be over the topic of ambulances. However, no demonstration would ever block the path of an emergency vehicle. It may even be easier for ambulances to move around the halted traffic of a CSB action, rather than having to predict the path of moving vehicles with their potentially inattentive drivers. Added to which, the media panic is always selective.

The media never screams, "Won't somebody think of the ambulances!?", when traffic is gridlocked by a football grand final, lack of decent public transport or by the government shutting down an entire city to host a trade summit. If the government can close down a city for a human rights abuser like Vladamir Putin, then surely the people of Australia are more than justified in doing the same thing in defence of human rights.

Furthermore, CSB demonstrations have enough flexibility that they can dissolve at any point. If it ever became apparent that an action would pose a danger, then it can always be quickly dispersed. We refuse to let them scare us out of resisting. The practical issue of scaling up from mobilisations of 1 or 2 people to national demonstrations of tens of thousands will be addressed shortly. But for the moment, when we are searching for a way to “get out of our chairs” all that is needed is an understanding that ordinary people can easily bring the entire country to a halt simply by doing nothing more radical than standing in inconvenient locations together.

Page 6:

As peaceful as these actions are, we can see the kind of economic impact they might have by looking at examples where highways in Australia have been accidentally blocked. For example, on the 9th of March 2016, two highways were blocked in Sydney due to two separate traffic accidents. In the two hours it took the police to unblock the road, an estimated $16 million had been wiped from the Sydney economy. That equates to roughly $1 million for every seven and a half minutes.

What this means is that we do not have to hold the roads indefinitely. Instead, we can simply occupy them for short periods repeatedly. Rather than any one particular action being the decisive blow, the CSB network is instead designed to build up a cacophony of tiny pin prick disruptions that will eventually become unsustainable for the status quo.

The power of the strategy is that it makes a physical conflict between demonstrators and police completely unnecessary. Our aim is NOT to fight the cops. Our goal is to mobilise on such a scale that we can exhaust and overwhelm the police to such a degree that they become irrelevant as to whether or not the economy can continue to function. The day that the Australian government has to ask for its own roads back is the day that there will no longer be mandatory detention.

Heading - Material Impact

A mass campaign of non-violent economic disruption would raise three specific costs on the government.

ECONOMIC COST: The occupations are intended to operate like a citizens' initiated trade embargo. They will impede the functioning of the economy in general with the intent of costing it so much money that any government, no matter which party, will have a pressing economic incentive to end mandatory detention.

POLITICAL COST: The demonstrations will give an advantage to any political party that does not support mandatory detention by allowing it to promise voters an end to the costly

SOCIAL COST: The demonstrations will expose the reality that all governments are ultimately critically dependent on almost all their citizens voluntarily choosing to be compliant. Once ordinary
people have the political consciousness to recognise the industrial potential of their immediate surroundings, and the organisational capacity to act politically on this knowledge, the government is in a weaker position not just on this issue, but all issues.

Page 7:

The CSB network is a tool to allow opponents of mandatory detention to demonstrate and develop our organisational capacity. The government and the police (as an institution) will want to draw people's attention away from our organisational achievements by trying to pressure demonstrators into physical conflicts. We should be aware of this and resist being goaded into fighting on their terms. They would much prefer to have a physical fight, because even if they lose a physical fight, they can then use that loss to become even stronger on an institutional level. The fight the government does not want to lose is an organisational one, because this type of loss is much harder to spin in the media. An example of a government being unable to repackage a loss of this kind
occurred during the Abbot Liberal government's failed Operation Fortitude in 2015.

It boils down to the fact that it is entirely possible to have so many people on the streets that for the police to try to disperse the crowds would clearly work against the government's interests.
Heading - Operation Fortitude

Operation Fortitude was an incredibly dumb political stunt pulled by the Australian government. The plan was to have police officers patrolling the streets of Melbourne asking to see people's ID as though they were in Berlin in the 1930s. Obviously, this was not going to influence refugees. It was an effort in what is called “security theatre.” But the problem for the Abbott government was that people pushed back immediately and in a way the government could not contain. They had forgotten that since the advent of offshore processing, the Australian public has been physically cut off from the mandatory detention apparatus. They discounted the fact that geographic accessibility for the general public to the grounds of mandatory detention has not played out well for the government in the past.

Page 8:

In times when refugees were detained onshore, centres were often the target of sizable demonstrations held by the Australian people in solidarity with the refugees. In 2001, protesters even pulled and cut down fences, which contributed to the escape of up to 40 asylum seekers.

Offshore processing is advantageous for the government because even when there is a significant level of hostility towards mandatory detention, it can struggle to manifest because there is no obvious, physically accessible target against which to take action. The mistake of Operation Fortitude was to not only give the movement a tangible target, but a particularly vulnerable and obnoxious one at that. When the government announced their plan, demonstrators rallied almost immediately in the middle of a major intersection in down town Melbourne.

In the photos of the event, you can see that the police surrounding the demonstration are facing outwards to direct traffic. The demonstrators could not possibly have a permit. However, the police were still not trying to move them. They did not try to clear them because the government was afraid that if they pushed the protesters at this point, it would attract more attention from the public and the media.

Within 2 hours it had already gotten to the point that the police were overwhelmed, how much control might they have lost by the scheduled end of the operation in 2 days time? So the government instead called off the operation, despite the massive embarrassment this caused.

CSB aims to achieve a similar type of victory on a larger scale.

No comments:

Post a Comment