Here’s one for Cameron and Asher
A new book by historian of the left, Toby Boraman.
Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters:
A History of Anarchism in Aotearoa/New Zealand from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s
Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters captures some of the imagination, the audacity, the laughs and the wildness that animated many of the social movements of the sixties and seventies in Aotearoa/New Zealand. During this time, particularly from the late sixties to the early seventies, an astonishingly broad-based revolt occurred throughout the country. Thousands of workers, Maori, Pacific people, women, youth, lesbians, gays, students, environmentalists and others rebelled against authority. Innovative new styles and anarchistic methods of political dissent became popular.
A colourful and energetic bunch of anarchists occasionally played significant roles in these struggles. Anarchists were prominent in the anti-nuclear, anti-Vietnam War, anti-US military bases, commune, unemployed and peace movements. Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters is a richly-detailed tale about a much neglected anti-authoritarian leftist current in Aotearoa/New Zealand history.
Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters will interest not only anarchists and other libertarian socialists, but also those just interested in what happened in the sixties and seventies. The book includes a broad-ranging overview of the protest movements and social context of the time. It challenges the liberal orthodoxy of most New Zealand historians that writes class struggle out of history.
This book covers such little-known events such as:
• The worker-student siege of parliament in June 1968.
• The death of anarchist punk rocker Neil Roberts while he attempted to blow up the Wanganui police computer in 1982.
• The “Jumping Sundays” or the liberation of Albert Park in Auckland in 1969, a spontaneous free festival involving thousands of people.
• The Mount John “rock festival” of 1972, when anti-US military bases protesters sabotaged the only access road to the Mount John US Military Installation.
• The 1974 ferry case when a near general strike spontaneously occurred over the imprisonment of union official Bill Andersen by the Labour Government.
• The anarchist involvement in the formation of Peace Movement Aotearoa and the successful Save Aramoana Campaign, a seminal ecological struggle.
• The legend of Bill Dwyer, an anarchist firebrand whose “illegal” activities, such as selling LSD/acid, were designed to further the anarchist cause.
• The firebombing of the Christchurch American Consulate in 1973 by a couple of anarchists.
• And many more events, groups and movements!
The book is a pioneering work. It represents the first major history of anarchism in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is primarily based upon interviews and correspondence with participants in the libertarian socialist scene. It also draws upon extensive research into unpublished manuscripts, documents, magazines, leaflets and other ephemera written by anti-authoritarians. To capture a little of the distinctive and colourful political style of the period, over 100 images are included in the book, including cartoons, posters and leaflets.
I’ve got a wee soft spot for anarchists. At least they believe in freedom, even if they do leave out the responsibility bit. Might even check out the book myself.