Michael Matteson

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Michael Matteson was an anti-war activist who resisted conscription into the Australian Army during the Vietnam War, due to his anarchist philosophy and principles.[1]

In 1972, Matteson was being escorted by two Commonwealth policemen—handcuffed to one at each wrist—as he had previously taken part in highly public escapes. As the police escorted him through Sydney University, thousands of university students nonviolently confronted and blockaded the officers' movement. The combined action of the students pressured the officers into freeing Matteson. The event became known as the "Michael Matteson Handcuff Incident".[2][3]

In late November 1972 Matteson was jailed but within weeks, along with six other draft resisters, he was freed on direction of newly elected Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.


  1. ^ Matteson, Michael (Sep–Dec 1971). "Power To All The People Or To None At All". Peacemaker. Federal Pacifist Council of Australia. 33 (9). Geoff Mullen and I are both anarchists. We both believe that you must take personal responsibility for your actions and follow this wherever it leads you. We were both influenced by the Orwell of "Homage to Catalonia" and the collected essays. However the practical form of anarchism that I support, and which Geoff would reject as largely futile, is the anarchism that has always seen itself as the left-wing of the labour movement. This is the anarchism of Mikhail Bakunin's "libertarian socialism" of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists who carried out successful workers' control in 1936-37. It identifies with the popular movements that struggled for self-management against the Bolshevik counter-revolution 1917-21, and workers' councils of the Hungarian revolution 1956. 
  2. ^ Markey, Ray (1998). "In Praise of Protest: The Vietnam Moratorium" (PDF). Illawarra Unity. Illawarra Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History; University of Wollongong. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  3. ^ "100 Years in a Day: 1970 to 1980". ABC Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. January 2002. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 

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