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Anarchism in Sydney 1981-1982
The Jura Split

Anarchists at May Day Picnic, May 1st 1982 Anarchists at May Day Picnic, May 1st 1982
Vice President of the USA, George Bush Snr was visiting Sydney on this day and had a harbour cruise. Police helicopters hovered overhead, while police launches cruised up and down (as seen above left). Meanwhile a tense picnic was had by anarchists in the Botanic Gardens.
by John Englart, July 2002

Anarchism in Sydney 1975-1981 covered some of the events and major conflicts in the years 1975 to 1981 within anarchism in Australia, and Sydney in particular. In this article John Englart continues the story of Anarchism in Sydney in documenting the split in the Jura Books Collective during 1982. In Anarchism in Sydney 1982-2002 John briefly details the story of the two anarchist bookshops, Jura Books and Blackrose, up to 2002.

It is appropriate to examine this history as Jura Books celebrates its 25th anniversary in August 2002, while Blackrose celebrates its 20th anniversary in September 2002. The anarchist movement in Sydney is more than the two bookshops and their collective members, but they have provided a pivotal focus for educational and direct action activities for the movement over the last two decades.

Takver, August 2002


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The Origins of the Black Rose Bookshop in the Jura Split (1981-1982)

Brett has just rung me up to ask for information on the origins of Black Rose Books in Sydney. Black Rose has been going for 20 years in 2002, a real achievement for a volunteer and non-profit collective. All the original founding members, including myself, have moved on to other projects or life activities. But the origins of Black Rose lie in a bitter debate and division in another volunteer anarchist Collective, Jura Books. Jura Books will celebrate 25 years of operation in 2002. So here is the story of the Jura Split and Sydney's two anarchist bookshops.

Sydney Anarchism

So what is the history of the founding of Black Rose? Most of the people who foundered Black Rose, became interested in anarchism in the mid to late 1970's in Sydney. The Sydney Anarchist Conference in 1975, despite the disorganisation, clearly gave an impetus to anarchists getting together to discuss activities and do things (predominantly graffiti). The conference ushered in a period of anything goes 'carnival' anarchism.

At the June 1976 Anarchist conference in Melbourne, disruptive behaviour precipitated a walk out of those more interested in serious discussion on anarchist organisation and strategy. It was Mark Maguire who initiated the walkout. At a meeting of about 35 individuals at a comrades house, the Libertarian Socialist Federation was established with groups in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. In Sydney, a week after the conference, members of the LSF from Sydney and Melbourne met and decided to set up the Jura Literature Service.

The Jura Literature Service in Sydney was a small group of 4 to 6 people, with Richard Fields doing nearly all the book ordering and book stalls at three university campuses and at the Sydney Domain. Most of the stock was from Freedom Press from England; and later material from Black Rose Books, Canada; and Red & Black from Detroit, USA. The small group of people called themselves 'anarcho-syndicalist' in orientation, partly to emphasise their commitment to long term serious anarchist political activity.

Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists and Jura Books

Jura Books in 1978 Jura Books in 1978

During 1977 a number of new people had joined this Sydney group with the result that in August 1977 rented premises were found and Jura Books was established. This event occurred relatively suddenly, essentially at the instigation of one of the new members, an ex-trotskyist recently expelled from the Healyite Party - the Socialist Labour League. This person, while providing much of the impetus for founding the bookshop, after a few months and many arguments, left the group. His attempt at splitting the organization was unsuccessful and only one person left with him to pursue further their peculiar 'anarcho-trotskyist' ideas. For the first year of operation the bookshop had much difficulty in raising and paying the rent and bills; this difficulty continuing to menace the shop.

At the moment it opened it consisted of little more than half a dozen people. The name of the group - Sydney Anarcho-Syndicalists - had been chosen two or three weeks before the bookshop was started.

Anarchism in Sydney 1975-1981

Over the next two years, there was little time to discuss or debate political differences or various anarchist strategies. Keeping the bookshop open, expanding the range and paying the bills kept collective members extremely busy. Newtown was still a run down suburb, with a working class and student population. There were quite a few vacant buildings on King St, Newtown, so 417 King Street seemed an ideal location. Richard Fields left the bookshop in late 1977 to work and travel in England and Europe. As time went on, more people got involved in the running of Jura Books.

By May 1979 the last meeting of Sydney Anarcho Sydnicalists was held. It decided to hand over control of the building to the Jura Books Collective with the following provisos:

This necessitated firm definitions for joining and leaving the collective, which were finalised on the 8th July 1979. At the same time Direction Finding meetings were started to write a statement of basic principles, aims and objectives, conditions and procedures for joining and leaving, and a comprehensive manual of jobs around Jura Books. The collective never did reach a consensus for updating the procedures for joining, nor the requirements for lapsing membership and expulsion.

Jura Books July 1981 Jura Books at 417 King St Newtown, July 1981
According to the minutes of Business meetings, some of the problems can be traced as far as 1979. Richard had returned from Europe in early 1979 and rejoined Jura Books. In May 1979 Richard and Erst argued over the stocking of second hand books. In July 1979, negotiations and discussions commenced on the possibility of buying a building nearby. The person responsible for negotiating the purchase, Richard Fields, was later blamed for the negotiations failing. In June 1981 Richard threatened to discuss Mark McGuire's behaviour at a collective business meeting. The attempt was forestalled by Jim Couch presenting his formal written resignation for the purpose of preventing discussion about McGuire's relationship with the collective. There was discussion of Jim's 'power through knowledge' at the time, and some jobs were transferred to Lyn in June, but the discussion and skill transfer did not continue and by the end of the year Jim was still doing two crucial backroom jobs, overseas ordering and mail processing.

The Jura Split

The Jura Direction Finding Meeting on 5th December 1981 highlighted that all was not well within the collective. There was much discussion on aspects of power in the collective and loss of Collective spirit. Twenty people were present.

The Jura Direction Finding Meeting continued on 19th December. There was much discussion about issues raised previously and how to involve all people. Richard Fields proposed a round robin whereby everyone could speak in turn, with the order decided by a ballot. Mark McGuire passed around the hat for the ballot. Essentially, Richard wanted space to present his list of issues and problems and devised a way to do this giving the same power to others in the meeting. Richards main points as I heard them:

  1. Importance of commitments - on taking responsibility for ones promises and actions
  2. The necessity for an expulsion mechanism for the collective. (The question of Mark Maguire and the processes surrounding his membership and exit from the collective)
  3. Model of organisation for the collective - Affinity or Task.
  4. Lack of ideological discussion and debate (The limits to our pluralism are never discussed)
  5. Personal is political - political roots to personality problems
  6. Anti-intellectualism in the collective (initially raised by Jack Grancharoff)
  7. Meeting structure and decision making structure
  8. Richard's power empire- Wednesday Night Dinners
  9. Jim as the power centre -backroom empire building

That evening two groups did different social events, although not necessarily on the factional lines that eventuated. Those who went to dinner included: John, Sid, Erst, Col, Jim and Greg. Michael, Richard, Diane and Mark went to see Eric Burdon who was touring at the time. I wrote up a brief summary of the meeting plus my personal opinions and feelings and circulated it around Jura as my first position paper in the following weeks.

At the Jura Collective meeting on 3 January 1982 there was debate about who is a member of the collective and what the joining and leaving procedure is. This prompted me to research past minutes to ascertain who was a member and the actual agreed joining process. I published my research in my position paper 2 on the 19th January. The issue of who should be considered a collective member was not resolved till 6 June 1982 (when a decision was made solely with a view to deciding on a division or resolution of the crisis). The 'synthetic' group considered there were 10 members of the collective who had met the membership criteria and joining process, the 'pan' group, with a mucher broader and fuzzy view of collective membership, considered there were 13 members.

At the meeting of the 16th January it was recognised there was a division within the collective with two major ideological factions with several uncommitted people. Lyn summed up her dissatisfaction at the collective at this meeting as:

  1. Inability of the collective … to confront/cope with potentially unpleasant situations
  2. Inability of the collective to support and encourage growth of its individuals
  3. Reluctance of the collective to discuss, explore, introduce ideas essential to the essence of collectivity. Eg consensus decision making, regular rotation of jobs
  4. Reluctance of the collective to discuss, explore, understand anarchist principles, to discuss and debate differences of view point within anarchist philosophy.
  5. Tendency to restrict / over regulate new processes.
  6. Lack of preperation for business meetings and indifference to good minute taking and business procedures at …meetings
  7. Potential power structures - through dominance of personality (reacted to by condemning the person or allowing the dominance to go unchallenged); through power of knowledge (reacted to by ignoring/ pretending it doesn't exist)
    Statement to Jura Books Collective by Lyn 20 March 1982

In late January and early February there was a flood of written papers on the issues and problems in Jura Books. These included:

By March factions were well entrenched and members were polarised into two groups which adopted labels for the sake of simplicity of 'Pan anarchism' and 'Synthetic anarchism'. A split seemed inevitable.

Sid, a major proponent for the status quo in the collective and a member of the 'pan' group, in a paper written between 25 January and 4 February summed up the two factions as:

'Synthetic' anarchism describes the attempt to synthesize from all the various strands of anarchist theory, a single ideology. That is, to obtain elements from the theories of anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-pacifism, etc … elements with which to form an interwoven unified, coherent theory.

With 'pan' anarchism each individual retains whatever basic description of their anarchism that they wish to use and would only have to agree to the basic operating procedures, aims and principles of the collective.

On the current Crisis in Jura Books' by Sid 4/2/1982

Greg made an attempt fairly early to present the arguments of both sides (while at that stage he was critical of both and in neither faction, he found that the 'Synthetics' were "at least a credible attempt to deal with the problems of the collective…"):

'Synthetic' - this proposal, which is in essence that the collective should have a specific coherent ideology, can easily be interpreted as a proposal to impose an ideology on the collective, even on issues which are not specifically relevant to the operation of the collective. This would alienate people unnecessarily and introduce pressures for conformity to other peoples' wills and/or ideas, and is given more substance by the fact that the chief articulator of this proposal is Richard, somebody who is a dominating (which is not the same as strong) personality, and is not adverse to blurring the distinction between personal criticism and personal abuse. This criticism, which is the main one advanced by the 'Pan' advocates is correct in so far that there is no need to adopt positions on questions which are of no relevance to the collective and the adoption of a predetermined political ideology (which is something which Sid and Jim seem, at least to me, to fear) is alien both to the nature of the collective as a book outlet, and to my concept of anarchism.

'Pan' - This scheme, which is in essence that the collective should not depart materially from current practices, has the defect of refusing to accept the adoption of an ideological position on every issue, no matter how relevant to the collectives situation, or even vital to it in the past the collective's practice (as distinct from its tentative, partial and often contradictory policy) has been to avoid all issues which could possibly raise ideological differences even at the expense of leaving problems of vital importance unresolved. One example is the departure of Mark McGuire and another is the way Richard relates to the other members and the collective as a whole. Private grumbling and slander campaigns behind peoples backs are not a substitute for collective discussion and resolution of problems.

Usually if the problem has been addressed at all, the result has been a papering over of differences rather than their resolution. The 'Pan' approach leaves itself open to the dangerous attitude of "let sleeping dogs lie", which really boils down to a militant defence of the status quo with no regard to the circumstances of the issue or the merits of any arguments raised. This results in a neglect of process and an increase in frustration and alienation as people grow more unhappy with a situation which they seem to be unable to change - a sorry state indeed for an 'anarchist' collective. The 'Pan' approach, which is a formalisation of our (I believe) abysmal method of dealing with problems having an ideological dimension, will lead to the continuation of the "strictly business" attitude to meetings and the festering of bad feelings and personal misunderstanding.

Anarchism - 'Pan' or 'Synthetic' by Greg 26 January 1982

Lyn, one of the early proponents to raise collective problems for discussion, stated in a paper on 20th March:

I supported …. The concept of 'Synthetic' (or as I prefer to define it Synthesizing) Anarchism as I see this as an attempt to live our Anarchism in our everyday situation, an attempt to involve continuos debate, modifying and changing our ideas and attitudes as we embrace living Anarchism and come to terms with throwing out the status quo.
Statement to Jura Books Collective by Lyn 20 March 1982

Richard presented to the business meeting on 27 February, "some elements in a proposal for the reorganisation of Jura Books" which he described as "a listing of the jobs which are at present done, together with some (I think) essential additions, for the smooth functioning of the collective and the bookshop; listed in such a way as to facilitate job rotation and other improvements to the collective running of the bookshop." It was the first attempt to map out all the tasks then being done, and to group them together logically as jobs. The most contentious job was the last on the list, additional to those done at present: "Agitator (1 person) as used in the New Model Army to present position papers and prompt political debate both inside and outside of the collective."

In early March a statement was issued by the 'Pan' faction which basically called on "those who do not accept the current processes of the Jura Books Collective, as described in this statement, to resign …. and form the sort of group that they want elsewhere". Although they labelled the Synthetics as the minority faction, who was a member of the collective was one of the questions in dispute. The interpretation of current processes which were described were:

The statement was signed by Jack Grancharoff, Rod Mason, Jim Couch, George McIlroy, Melissa Matteson, Sid Parissi, Eugenia Lovelace, Erst, Roger Allen, Col Pollard. It was decided that both factions would submit a plan or prospectus of how they could run Jura Bookshop.

The first plan was submitted by the Synthetic group on 19th March. As well as detailing finances, shifts, job allocation and existing members and potential members, the document also details how the proposal is in accordance to the Aims and Principles Statement of Jura Books. The document concluded with benefits for the collective:

  1. Development of a functional anarchist collective providing a structure for personal and political growth along anarchist lines.
  2. Formalisation of anarchist methods of practice: Job rotation; joining mechanism open and accessible; consensus decision making.
  3. Formalisation of a non-heirarchical structure for the collective by sharing of job responsibility, knowledge and access.
  4. Opening up of communication channels by specific delegation of a collective member to take responsibility for both internal and external communication. A job not done and not seen as important by the current collective.
    Plan for the running of Jura Bookshop by Diane, Greg, John, Lyn, Michael, Richard 19 March 1982

The 'Pan' anarchist prospectus for Jura Books, dated 27th March is prefaced with the following statement:

At the end of the last meeting it was decided that both "groups" would canvas amoung themselves the viability of "splitting the stocks" of Jura. After consideration, the current consensus amoung us is that Jura Books should remain intact, only the people should divide.

The 'Synthetic' group counter proposed that as "the 'Pan' Anarchists can accept no resolution involving Jura Books…. being run by the 'Synthetic' Anarchists, then let us consider the proposition of all groups leaving the name and premises of Jura Books."

For three months bitter debate raged at weekly business meetings. Most of the office jobs were done by the Synthetic group, and half the shop shifts over this period of time. On the 6 April 1982 Jura Meeting there was a report of Greg having a heated public argument with Mark McGuire at Sydney University which finished with Mark attacking Greg. Lyn Goldsworthy was also accosted on the street and physically intimidated by Mark McGuire. Business meetings were equally bitter with verbal assaults.

Anarchists at May Day March in 1982 Anarchists at May Day March in 1982
By mid April a new group had coalesced composed of the Synthetic caucus plus a number of other individuals. At first it mostly discussed issues to do with the debates in Jura. The group formalised its independent identity at the end of April, separate from the Synthetic caucus, and on the 31st May decided on a name: the Sydney Forum for Anarchist Initiative. This group became a sounding board and think tank for future directions. When the 'Synthetic' Caucus left Jura at the end of July, the Forum meetings stopped as a new bookshop group coalesced. Black Rose Books Collective developed out of the 'Synthetic' group from Jura, plus some of the people who were also involved in the Forum, and soon after opening some new people joined the Blackrose collective.

On 6 June the Jura Business meeting agreed on current membership of 13 people at Jura, seven from the 'Pan' group and six from the 'Synthetic' group. (Made with a view to deciding on a division or resolution of the crisis) A proposal to leave was put to the Jura meeting on 20th June by the Synthetic group, based upon an equal division of the resources and no longer insisting that both groups vacate the premises.

A settlement along these lines would enable both groups to concentrate their energies on constructive activity, rather than the soul-destroying warfare which has become the norm at Jura and would assuredly continue if a resolution is not attained. Neither side need concede defeat and both sides could set out to prove the viability of their respective ideas.

The "Pan' group accepted the offer conditionally. The stock was not divided equally, but as the 'Pan' group specified: "any title with 3 or less copies is not subject to division. All others will be divided 50/50 except in the case of odd numbers, where the extra remains at Jura." A resignation letter was also demanded from each member of the 'Synthetic' faction. (see John Englart's letter).

On 22 July 1982 'Synthetic' group members leave Jura Books, with some of the stock, personal effects and half of the money from the investment account. The Synthetic group took little time establishing itself. By the 5th August 1982 the new bookshop had a name: Redfern Blackrose Anarchist Bookshop; and a home had been located at 36 Botany Road Alexandria. The name for the bookshop was suggested by John Englart, and was adopted by the group from a shortlist of possible names.

The best part of a month was devoted to preparing the new premises: painting, carpeting, fitting out the kitchen, building bookshelves, contacting publishers and distributors. On a Thursday, 2 September 1982, Redfern BlackRose Bookshop opened its doors for the first time at 36 Botany Rd, Alexandria A public launch and celebration party was held on the Saturday, 4th September.

The new Jura Books Collective, in a report to Anarchist No 2 Bulletin (Melbourne, late 1982) described the debates and division this way:

This move was the result of many months of both personal and ideological conflicts around issues concerning the day to day running of the collective such as membership, method of job rotation and proposed changes in the procedures and the purpose of our regular weekly "business" meetings.

Central to all these conflicts was question of power. Most collectives face 'power' problems continually - it is something anarchist collectives must come to terms with. As anarchists we are concerned with the avoidance of power relationships, i.e. the equalization of social relationships within the collective, and although it is a difficult process given the competitive conditioning in capitalist society, it is necessary to keep working against the implementation of capitalist social relations. One method is to introduce job rotation and skill sharing. This should be as accessible as possible and everyone should he encouraged to participate. This has been practiced in the collective albeit not as successfully as we would have liked.

Every aspect of our collective running of the bookshop has been a developmental process and while we were having problems with job rotation (often due to lack of time and energy committed) we did not accept the solution proposed by what was to become the 'splinter group': compulsory job rotation.

All the sharing of skills and of responsibility under the sun alone will not overcome social elitism. This instance of social power relationship was the most difficult one to confront and was one of the major reasons that the Jura Book Collective could not resolve the "split".

Both groups had entirely different perspectives of the issues and due to the degeneration of the dialogue into personal 'mudslinging', the ideologies involved were never debated. The details of the fight are not worth going into here, however there are many lessons to be learned from this experience. Not the least of these is that the exercise of power by overly dominant personalities needs to be confronted by anarchist collectives (and by anarchists everywhere) from the beginning - before manipulation, animosity and alienation can gain a foothold.

In an unpublished letter to the English anarchist newspaper, Freedom, dated 5th August 1982, the debates and division were described by John Englart, a member of Black Rose:

The issues in the seven month debate were many and included: membership definition, that is, who is a member of the collective and who isn't; the interpretation of joining and leaving procedures; responsibility and commitment of members; the function of meetings; decision making and skill sharing in the collective including a debate on job rotation and power cliques; the need for ongoing political discussion as part of the collective project; the need for discussion of the personal as political as it especially affects peoples behaviour in and about the bookshop; the interpretation of history in terms of past practices and procedures used in the collective.

The causes of the split could be argued about, and I'm sure will be. In my view they amount to: the inability of the collective, as an 'anarchist' organisation, to discuss and debate the ideas of Anarchism as they relate to the practices of the collective and individuals within the collective; and the inflexibility of some members to critically examine collective processes and procedures. Much of the debate centred around the 'Aims and Principles' of the collective, and how they relate to the practice of Jura Books.

Within 6 weeks of the two groups in Jura separating (22nd July), there was a second anarchist bookshop in Sydney.

What should be remembered is the level and seriousness of the debate and discussion. Much of the discussion is recorded in the position papers. Although there was no formal discussion of these papers, they were avidly read, and dissected. Many of the issues about collectivity occur again and again in anarchist groups, although I think there is now more experience in how to deal with collective issues positively. Sadly, I think the split in Jura traumatised some people in the 'Pan' faction so that they cannot work collectively, and this has carried over to the present, as can be seen in subsequent crises at Jura, and with the accountability of Rebel Worker.

To continue the story of Sydney's two anarchist bookshops read:

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A number of articles were circulated by myself and others to help in the discussion during the early months of the Jura crisis in 1981-1982. These are:

Other Sources:

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Appendix 1:Position papers circulated during the Jura Split

19 December 1981 Position paper 1 by John Englart. A summary of the meeting and provides personal opinions which is circulated around Jura people.
19 January 1982 Position Paper No 2 by John Englart
I did extensive research through the minutes to highlight the historical procedures for joining to help define who was a member. This issue was not resolved till 6 June 1982.
24 January 1982 Position Paper 3 by John Englart read at a Sunday night meeting
26 January 1982 Anarchism - 'Pan' or 'Synthetic' by Greg
Late January 1982 A reply to Richard. From Erst.
2 February 1982 An Open Reply to Erst's Paper by John Englart
4 February 1982 On the current crisis in Jura Books. By Sid
4 February 1982 Jura. A Contract for Freedom? By Rod
9 February 1982 Some Quotes concerning the Crisis at Jura Books. By John Englart
February? 1982 Some elements in a proposal for the reorganisation of Jura Books submitted by Richard
Early March 1982 Statement by seven members of Jura: signed by Jack Grancharoff, Rod Mason, Jim Couch, George McIlroy, Melissa Matteson, Sid Parissi, Eugenia Lovelace, Erst, Roger Allen, Col Pollard
19 March 1982 Plan for the running of Jura Bookshop by Diane, Greg, John, Lyn, Michael, Richard
20 March 1982 Statement to Jura Books. Lyn
22 March 1982 Letter from Alison (former collective member in Italy)
27 March 1982 Jura Crisis Meeting

'Pan' anarchist Propectus for Jura Books

The Aims and Principles Document by Sid

On the question of the 'synthetic' anarchist claim to represent the correct direction by George

Proposals for Discussion as set out by Greg,Di, Lyn, Richard, John, Michael
1 April 1982 Three paths to take. Anonymous paper circulated.
Early June 1982 'A statement on the anarchist aims, and the practices of the Jura Books Collective' or 'As We Don't see it' by the 'Synthetic' Group
20 June 1982 Statement by the 'Synthetic ' Group in Jura Books to Jura meeting: a proposal to leave Jura Books
Early July 1982 Statement by 'Pan' Group in Jura Books on division of stock and separation of the groups

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Appendix 2: Jura Books Aims and Objectives - 1981

Preamble: The Basic Principles That Bring Us Together

Anarchism, as derived from the classical Greek, strictly means without government, rulers, or imposed authority.

We extend this to opposition to all oppressors (e.g.: church, state, boss, etc.), and all forms of domination (e.g.: political, economic, religious, sexual, ageist, racial, educational, cultural, etc.).

This necessitates a revolutionary transformation of the, society that we know.

By this revolutionary process we hope to build a free society based on voluntary co-operation, solidarity, and mutual aid. Such a society would be organised in a decentralised and non-hierarchical way; the social and physical structures in this society should be in harmony with the surrounding ecology and environment.

An anarchist society is one in which each person takes responsibility for their own actions and how their actions affect the community. This requires that we be educated out of our customary reliance on government, bosses, churches, union officials, teachers,etc., and learn to think and act for ourselves, both as individuals and as members of a community. Voluntary co-operation and solidarity would replace competition as the functional basis of society. Skills and resources would be shared on the basis of needs not priviledges.

The means chosen to bring about this social transformation. must be consistent with the ends sought.


The Aims and Objectives of Jura Books Collective are Fourfold:

  1. To Disseminate Anarchist and Related Literature as widely and as cheaply as possible,
    1. Through maintaining, and encouraging the growth of, a stable shopfront location.
    2. By setting up bookstalls at appropriate places e.g. on campus, at the domain, rallies or conferences.
    3. By involvement in relevent community activities as an anarchist bookshop e.g. fairs, festivals, fetes and frolics.
    4. By supplying books, information and encouragement to other groups or individuals wanting to set up anarchist bookstalls or shops.
    5. By providing an outlet for the literature of sympathetic groups.

  2. To Function as an Anarchist Communication and Resource Facility
    1. By providing an accessible contact point for people interested in the anarchist movement.
    2. By making our resources available for other anarchist and libertarian oriented groups.
    3. By providing a meeting room for any groups not in conflict with anarchist ideals.
    4. By providing a room for the Fanya Baron library.
    5. By participating in, and encouraging the growth of, regional/international anarchist networks.

  3. To Develop a model of Collective Anarchist Organisation
    1. By sharing our practical experiences in collective work and decision making.
    2. By consciously functioning in a non-discriminatory non-hierachical way.
    3. By relating to each other with warmth and empathy.
    4. By encouraging interested people to become involved.
    5. providing an example of energy systems and ecologically sound practices in our premises.
    6. By expressing solidarity with appropriate campaigns.

  4. To run an anti-profit bookshop as an act of propaganda of the deed.
    1. By relying solely on voluntary labour.
    2. By relying solely on .donations to cover rent and maintenance of the premises.
    3. By spending all takings from sales on the replacement of stock.
    4. By operating with a minimal markup which generally allows us to sell well below the recommended retail price.


  1. Agreement with the .principles set out in the preamble and with the aims and objectives of the collective.
  2. Recognition of the collective's openness to specific debates/strategies purposely left undefined in the preamble. (See Appendix A)
  3. Commitment to anarchist principles and a desire to disseminate anarchist literature.
  4. Commitment to working in a collective and an acceptance. of the decision-making processes currently in use.
  5. Demonstration of a commitment to the general running and maintenance of the shop premises.
  6. Acceptance of current procedures for running the shop (as enumerated in Section X) and utilisation of collective methods for changing these procedures.
  7. Attendance of a reasonable number of business meetings obviously depending on the circumstances of the member.
  8. Acceptance by the existing membership of the collective.

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For the past seven months the members and friends of the Jura Books Collective have gone through a traumatic experience. This has eventuated in two, quite disparate, groups within the Collective developing. The reasons for the conflict I put down to : criticisms of practices within the Collective and the inflexibility of some members to critically examine the workings of the collective ; and differences in interpretation of the Aims and Principles, past decisions, and past and present practices. The attached document, 'AS WE DON'T SEE IT', elucidates further upon this.

The Proposal to Leave was our second concretely proposed solution to this extended conflict. I maintain this proposal should be seen as a split in the collective, rather than a resignation of some members and the continuation of the old organisation. The division of the stocks, and the winding up of the investment fund makes it clear that this is an organisational division, not an individual division. It is a dissolution of the Jura Books Collective, with the stocks and resources being divided amoung both groups by negotiation and agreement. The fact that one group retains the name, the location, does not alter the fact that one organisation has dissolved and two have taken its place.

Now, because I have never belonged to or been a member of the group who will be remaining at Jura Books, it is ridiculous to expect I can resign from it. It now should be abundantly clear that I regard the Jura Books Collective as dead, and I don't propose to participate in its resurection.

Therefore, upon the removal of our groups stocks and personal effects, I aknowledge I no longer have automatic access to the office and any other non-public areas occupied by an organisation I am not a member of. With this in mind I still claim a reasonable access to : all records, files, minutes of Jura Books and organisations I have been associated with, which have been kept throughout the life of the shop up until the time of settlement of the division.

I remain, true to myself and the aims and principles of Jura Books.
John Englart
22 July 1982


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The ratified aims and objectives of the Jura Bookshop has been the major source of discontent for our group. Not, as some people have criticised, because we wish to change these aims and objectives, but rather we wish to comply more fully with them.

We would like now to critically examine the Preamble and Aims and Objectives document and compare it with past and present practices of the collective.

  1. The document firstly gives a definition of anarchism. It then goes on to say that " this necessitates a revolutionary transformation of the society that we know." To us this means primarily transforming ourselves individually and then the anarchist collective in which we work. We feel that we must constantly try to banish the influences of the capitalist society in which we live and replace them with anarchist influences, and that this process must be a conscious one. The collective has not even attempted to look at the processes needed for a revolutionary transformation of society.

  2. In the next paragraph it is stated that " such a society would be organised in a decentralised and non-heirachical way." The current practices of the bookshop are an antithesis to this. Hierarchy confronts us everywhere. Access to knowledge, information, and responsibility for tasks all vary greatly. Admittedly, a lot of this has been almost unconscious in the past, however we feel the problem presented here is not solved by calling all workers and helpers in the shop part of the collective, whilst allowing the internal power structures and hierarchies to continue to exist.

  3. In paragraph 5 : "an anarchist society is one in which each person takes responsibility for their own actions and how their actions affect the community. This requires that we be educated out of our customary reliance on government ...." How and where is this very necessary process going to happen? Surely now it is time for us to take responsibility for ourselves, at least within our collective. However, it is very true that we must literally be educated out of our past bad ways. This should not come as an imposition from some elite group of theorists or teachers. We don't want gurus from the past or present. We do want solidarity and constructive criticisms from our comrades.

  4. Further on in paragraph 5 : "Voluntary cooperation and solidarity would replace competition as the functional basis of society." Many of the structures which are currently used in the bookshop are in fact diametrically opposed to this thesis. Currently we must compete to get the satisfaction of an office job, we must compete to get attention from meetings; quiet, less forceful people must become aggressive to have their ideas listened to. In fact this anarchist collective encourages a typical go-Better capitalist type person.

  5. Continuing paragraph 5 : "Skills and resources would be shared on the basis of needs not priveleges." Has Jura Books really made a positive internal commitment to skill sharing? We think not. Why are there so many people who don't understand many of the basic principles or mechanisms within the shop? Yes, we tried to write out how to do all the jobs, but real skill comes by actually doing a job, it is a practiced art. So skill sharing involves job sharing. Have we done that to any substantial degree?

  6. Continuing on to the Aims and Objectives : "To disseminate Anarchist and related literature as widely and as cheaply as possible." obviously the collective has been limited by time and numbers but we would question whether we have been sufficiently encouraging or open to other anarchist individuals or groups. Communication within the collective has been atrocious and it is even worse to outside the collective. We all want to help build a strong, viable Australasian Anarchist Movement, we therefore should be following up and encouraging every enquiry or communication which we receive,

  7. Aim 2 : "To function as an Anarchist Communication and Resource Facility
    "(a) by providing an accessible contact point." We would question whether we were really accessible. We set about developing a complicated procedure for joining the collective. We all knew it but did anybody who was involved on the periphery of the bookshop understand? Did we set about fostering any real ongoing communication either within or external to the collective?
    "(b) by making our resources available for other Anarchist and libertarian oriented groups." All very well but no one or very few people have asked us. Why? Because they didn't know what we had. Our tight, incapsulated, inward looking group had not been able to get beyond our own front door. ,
    "(c) by providing a meeting room." Once again, did we advertise this fact? No one has asked us for the use of this meeting roam, Why? Easy - because no one, outside the immediate environs of the collective, knew about it.
    "(e) by participating in, and encouraging the growth of, regional/ international anarchist networks." Once again we have been particularly remiss in terms of communication with other anarchist collectives, especially those which are not engaged in publishing as a prime activity,

  8. Aim 3 : "To develop a model of Collective Anarchist Organisation." It is in this section that we feel that the current Jura Books Collective has been extremely remiss. Almost from the first it was a myth. Heirachy, power structures, cliques and elites have been present from the beginning. The collective has been busy with the business of administering the shop, and these all important things have been left till when we have note time and energy. Now they have become so entrenched that we really have to look right into the innards. We have to consciously set up structures which are anti-power, anti-elite, and anti-heirachy. It is in this sphere that we feel the 'Pan Anarchist' group are sticking their heads in the mud. Or at the most only making token gestures to overcome the very real problem. Let us examine this section more closely.

    "(a) Sharing our practical experiences in collective work and decision making." For us this means both sharing work by job rotation and equal sharing of decision making by consensus. Consensus is when all involved in the collective participate in the making of a decision and in which all agree on a final path of action. Within Jura Books we have hardly had job rotation, and because of this have favoured some members with more decision making power than others. True consensus can not be achieved unless there is a relatively equal understanding of the skills and knowledge required for the decision.

    "(b) By consciously functioning in a non-discriminatory, non-hierachical way." We have never closely examined the workings of our collective, let alone tried to institute methods and structures for the elimination of discrimination and hierarchy.

    "(c) By relating to each other with warmth and empathy." We see this as an integral part of collective activity and consensus decision making. It is what makes the collective a social organism, rather than a robot devoid of all feelings and emotions. Once again we have hardly had much of this in the collective.

    "(d) By encouraging interested people to become involved." By telling them how to join? We've hardly been effective if this is the case. By relating to individuals through the merchandise we sell? (Buy a book - it's good for our business). The situation is we have tended to piss off, alienate, many more people than we have encouraged. Those that have got involved have usually been introduced through a friend or friends. If you are totally outside this circle, it is easier to go to hell (or become a trotskyist) than becoming involved at Jura Books.

    (e) One can take this aim of "providing an example of energy systems and ecologically sound practice" as one of long term, if you assume a strict technical definition. However, a looser definition of the term ecological (as Bookchin uses it) has great implications for the way the collective functions - it has a social aspect. One could argue the validity of the practice at Jura Books with regard to this aim,

    "(f) By expressing solidarity with appropriate campaigns." This aim means, we as a collective can endorse any campaign or popular front and take an active participation in such campaigns. Expressing solidarity can take many forms, only one of which is the relatively passive action of selling literature.

  9. "To run an anti-profit bookshop as an act of propaganda of the deed." Fortunately to date we have done fairly well as far as Aim 4 goes, it being the most basic aim of the Jura Bookshop Collective.

  10. Agreed Conditions. We have attempted to show that past practices of the collective whilst purporting to agree with these aims have not in fact done anything practical to set about achieving them. In fact it seems to us that some members of the 'Pan-Anarchist' group are thwarting attempts to live up to these aims. We agree with the Agreed Conditions for Membership as stated in all sections, but especially noteworthy are

    "(d) Commitment to working in a collective and an acceptance of the decision making processes currently in use."
    "(e) Demonstration of a commitment to the general running and maintenance of the shop premises."
    "(g) Attendance of a reasonable number of business meetings obviously depending on the circumstances of the member."

    We feel that the problems presented cannot be addressed unless you have a collective membership both coming to a reasonable number of business meetings and participating fully in the day to day work of the collective.

  11. Recognizing the problems which have been outlined above we see a real need for urgent changes in the collective functionings. Some proposals have been made. These were not seen as final solutions, but rather suggestions for collective consideration. They should not be seen as all the solutions or the only solutions. They are only a start. However, our group has a real commitment for change - a commitment which we see lacking in the other group.

    Benefits which we can see accruing if some of our proposals were adopted were

    1. Development of a functioning anarchist collective providing a structure for personal and political growth along anarchist lines.
    2. Formalisation of anarchist methods of practice by Job Rotation by a Joining Mechanism both open and accessible by Consensus Decision Making.
    3. Formalisation of a non-heirachical structure for the collective by sharing of job responsibility, Knowledge and access.
    4. Opening up of communication channels by specific delegation of a collective member to take responsibility for both internal and external communication. A job which is not done and not seen to be important by the current collective.
It cannot be stressed more the importance we as a group place on the Aims and Principles document. It has been a fear of our group that because the practice has not been substantially living up to the aims and objectives, that these aims and objectives will be changed to accommodate the present practices. The other alternative that we fear might happen is that they remain a meaningless figurehead - irrelevant to the practice, but a good wank for those who preach them, but practice the antithesis.

JUNE 1982

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