Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations

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The Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations were held from 1 to 4 May 1986 in Melbourne, Australia.

Preparations to celebrate the centenary of the formation of the first known anarchist organisation in Australia commenced in August 1984 by the Libertarian Workers for a Self Managed Society (L.W.S.S.)[1] The Melbourne Anarchist Club was formed on 1 May 1886 and included David Andrade, John Arthur Andrews, Monty Miller and Chummy Fleming.[2]

Anarchists celebrate 100 years of organisation at the Eight hour day Monument on May Day, 1986

The Centenary Celebrations were used by some anarchists to rebuff the negative connotations placed on the word "anarchy".

Anarchy is a bogy word: we are coming out of the closet, as it were, to show that we do not have horns or tails. We are simply Australians who have a different philosophy of life. We don't believe in Big Government: in fact, we don't believe in government at all. Government, any government is based on violence and power. If you don't believe it, just look at your headlines over the past few weeks. Anarchy doesn't mean bombs in the street or supersonic bomber raids, it means 'without rulers'. Anarchy means voluntary co-operation and self-management, equality, shared economic decision making.

— Dr Joseph Toscano, quoted in Herald Sun, 24 April 1986[3]

The Centenary celebrations included a May Day march on 1 May 1986 of about 400 people, including several large puppets and many banners, and several visiting anarchists from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, United States, England, France and Spain.[4] Over the weekend several events occurred including banner, poster and historical displays, a two-day conference held at RMIT and Melbourne University, and a picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.[5]

In conjunction with the conference, a two-day anarchist film festival was held featuring films such as All our lives, a history of Mujeres Libres told by the women themselves; We Aim to Please, a short Australian film on gender politics; Liberty My Love, an Italian anarchist film; Harry Hooton about an Australian poet; and Elsie: a study of a collective about a Sydney women's refuge; and many more.[6]

After the Anarchist Centenary Celebrations, the Anarchist Media Institute was established by Dr Toscano and other Melbourne anarchists to increase the media profile of anarchists and Anarchism in Australia and correct bias and misconceptions about anarchism in the media.[7]


  • Anarchy is Order Government is Chaos. Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations (Ed) Joseph Toscano & others (1988) Melbourne, No ISBN
  • The International Anarchist Film Festival. Melbourne 2–4 May 1986 Hilary May and Patrick Watson (Eds), Melbourne (1986) ISBN 0-9589028-0-1


  1. ^ Australian Anarchist Centenary posters Archived 23 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Labadie Collection. Retrieved 1 May 2007
  2. ^ Reason in Revolt Source Documents of Australian Radicalism. Retrieved 1 May 2007
  3. ^ "Anarchists come out of the closet with a friendly smile" Herald Sun, 24 April 1986
  4. ^ "Anarchists celebrate 100 years, but the march confuses some" The Age 2 May 1986
  5. ^ "Anarchists come out to clear their name" The Age 30 April 1986
  6. ^ "Free Women of Spain" The Age 30 April 1986
  7. ^ Australian Press Council Adjudication No. 1239 (April 2004) Archived 11 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine