Presentation to the Melbourne Atheist Society, Tuesday May 10th, 2011
As David Miller, co-ordinator of the Atheist Society has pointed out Dr. Joe Toscano, of the Anarchist Media Institute, was supposed to be speaking this evening. It is very unfortunate that the has been unable to attend due to family matters and I am humbled that he nominated me to take his place; although I have had only a short period to prepare for this presentation, I will be using the title nominated by Dr. Toscano, and hopefully it will be in a similar spirit.
I will take this opportunity to mention that Dr. Toscano is one of the great radicals of Melbourne. A medical practitioner and surgeon, he was the chief organiser of the 1986 Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations, has run the Anarchist World radio show on 3CR since 1977 and produced a weekly newsletter, the Anarchist Age Review, since 1991, which is nearing a thousand issues. One of the most prominent recent campaigns he has been involved in is founding and promoting "Defend and Extend Medicare" through decentralised community groups. That attracted not only the criticism of the government's health minister as well as briefing papers on the activists by "a senior intelligence official".
If there are any "senior intelligence officials" in the audience, I hope you enjoy tonight. Please listen carefully and take plenty of notes. You and your masters might learn something.
Imposed authority; it can blunt and obvious, as the truncheon on the skull, or can be subtle, through laws, regulations and very importantly property relations. It can be carried out by legal authority which claim a legitimate monopoly on violence, or it can be carried out by illegal groups. It can be carried out in an organised fashion or randomly. It can be carried out by individuals, groups, or through formal institutions. But ultimately it relies on the use of force against individuals who have not breached their natural, subjective rights or those rights that arise from inter-subjective agreement. That particular classification is noted in order to distinguish against that those who engage in imposed authority against these natural rights of others will find that their rights are temporarily suspended. One who engages in violence against another may discover that, contrary to their will or consent, that others will restrain their actions of harm, and this applies equally to the criminal or the government.
More radically, one include in this is the right to an equal share of natural resources; the distinction between economic land, labour and capital is often overlooked since political economy has become a very specialised rather than general discipline. "Land rights" are natural rights - following Locke, Rousseau, Paine, Adam Smith, David Ricardo and through to contemporary economists such as Galbraith, Friedman, Solow, Samuelson, Vickery - the withholding of natural resource to the exclusion of others without compensation is an act of subtle violence. As this address is being made in a Unitarian church hall, I feel it appropriate to refer to Harriet Martineau's comment: "The old practice of man holding man as property is nearly exploded among civilised nations; and the analogous barbarism of man holding the surface of the globe as property cannot long survive. The idea of this being a barbarism is now fairly formed, admitted and established among some of the best minds of the time; and the result is, as in all such cases, ultimately secure"; to secure land to exclusion of others without compensation to the community is to be a enslaver.