On the 1st of May, 1886, unions in Chicago influenced by the American anarchist movement went on strike for the eight hour day. A worker was shot dead by a cop, leading to a protest on the 4th.  An unidentified person threw a bomb and the police started shooting. Eight Anarchists were convicted for the bombing in a kangaroo court. The State killed four, while one committed suicide.  The labour movement started a campaign for the exoneration of the Haymarket Martyrs and eventually succeeded.  In the process, May Day became the day of the international workers’ movement. 

As we commemorate May Day in 2024, we reflect on both the historic crises and the unique opportunities that now face the working class in Australia.



The Australian economy is being reshaped by the forces of international capital and the first federal Labor government in a decade. Like any other party, Labor governs in the interests of the bosses and the long-term stability of Australian capitalism. The specific aim of Labor, however, is to integrate the working class into this ‘national project’, so that the workers’ movement remains passive and obedient.

But capitalism has reached a turning point. Growth continues to trend down. Real wages are stagnating as rent and the prices of basic goods soar. Meanwhile, the most elementary organisations of working class power – the trade unions – are tied hand and foot by both state regulation and their self-serving bureaucracies.


Conflict has erupted across Europe, Asia, and Africa. This violence is driven by profit-driven corporations and capitalist governments competing for regional dominance. In response to Israel’s genocide in Gaza, the largest social movement in a generation has taken to the streets, demanding an end to war, occupation, and support for Israeli apartheid. Anarchists in Australia have responded to the call, working in campaign groups and our unions. The links between colonialism in Palestine and the oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have also been illuminated, strengthening both struggles.

The Palestinian solidarity campaign has also brought broader attention to the Australian war industry. The government has facilitated the transfer of materials to the Israeli war machine and supplies the domestic military industry with hundreds of billions of dollars. Australian weapons and parts find their way into the hands of reactionary regimes in Myanmar, Sudan, and Syria. Arms are given to Indonesia, where they are used to subjugate the people of West Papua.

Regional cities like Bendigo, Geelong and Wollongong, once manufacturing hubs, have been stripped of industry and jobs over the last few decades. Today, industry is poised to ‘return’ by producing weapons of death. This threatens to integrate significant parts of the Australian working class into the military complex.


Capitalism continues to drive us toward ecological catastrophe. Australia contributes more than its proportional share to global emissions, exporting huge amounts of coal while under-investing in renewables. Capitalists pat themselves on the back as they do their best to profit from, degrade, and exploit both the workers and the natural resources required for a just transition. But in a system based on endless growth and maximising profitability, a sustainable society is impossible.


Murders in Ballarat and the horror of the Bondi Westfield attack have demonstrated the brutal reality of sexism in Australia. Government, businesses and civil institutions offered lip service, but these institutions can’t get to the root of the problem. The capitalist state instead offers more power and weapons to the same sexist cops who break up picket lines, harass migrants, and lock up indigenous youth.

Rights and equality are won through struggle. They are the result of campaigns like the recent battle for domestic violence and gender affirmation leave. But to put an end to sexism once and for all – to ensure women's safety, and to achieve real equality – we need revolutionary change.



To defend itself at even the most basic level of wages and conditions, the working class in

Australia needs to rebuild the union movement from the ground up. This can only be done by establishing rank and file networks which are independent of the officials and capable of acting in defiance of them whenever necessary. A strong rank and file also opens the opportunity for the working class to act politically by refusing to supply war materials.

As anarchist communists we want to go further than improved wages and conditions. We want to end the rule of bosses and politicians. We want the working class to take control of production so that we can produce things based on what we need, not what’s profitable. While the unions can never be consistently revolutionary, they can still be vehicles of class struggle which build toward revolution. A fighting union is a school of struggle and solidarity.


Over the last four years, Anarchist Communist groups have been founded in both major and regional cities. Members of these groups have led strikes, organised protests and pickets, and played foundational roles in new organisations of class struggle. Workers' self-organisation and class struggle, the founding elements of the anarchist tendency within the socialist movement, have been restored to the centre of our politics.

Now is the time for Anarchists to unite around a common platform of theory and practice. By organising together, and through our interventions in the struggles of our fellow workers, we can demonstrate the usefulness of our ideas and the potential for a mass revival of revolutionary politics.

To work comrades, we have a world to win!

Anarchist Communists Meanjin organise on the occupied lands of the Jagera, Yugara, Yugarapul, and Turrbal Nations. We pay our respects to elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.