Anarchy among anarchists as anti-capitalist clubhouse listed for sale
The remaining club members say this also removed the members’ positions as office bearers for the club’s legal entity, along with any rights they may have had to the property.
A representative speaking on behalf of the remaining club members said the former members’ removal helped the club give the space back to the community.
“The split that occurred meant that people who wanted to have the space open to the community, to keep doing workshops and keep it from being owned and run by this one arsehole,” she said.
“They held an open meeting transparently to ask who wanted to be involved in the space,” she said.
However, the other side sees it differently.
The alienated members, who also claim to be the legitimate Melbourne Anarchist Club, said the larger club had been illegally occupying the building ever since the split.
The building has hosted a number of anarchist groups in the past year, such as Food not Bombs, which provides free food for those in need several times a week.
However, the building has been unusable since May.
The representative for the remaining members said this was because the former members illegally entered the building, removed doors, electricity and water services, forcing them to move out.
She said her group did not report the alleged property damage to police because doing so would contravene the principles of anarchism (which include opposing government bureaucracy and capitalism).
Both sides, however, have been discussing the dispute with Consumer Affairs Victoria (a state government agency).
A member of the alienated group would not comment, but via a mediator explained members of the smaller group rejected accusations of property damage as “absolute fantasy”.
“These people have come in within the last two years,” the mediator said. “They took issues with some of the personalities and have decided to just occupy the space.”
He said the larger collective refused offers of mediation and were not running the Melbourne Anarchist Club in a way that was legally sustainable.
“I think that any registered community group has to follow [the] rules. It’s not a question of what ideological ideals are driving them, it’s a question of law,” he said.
“It’s all very well to say we will allow people to cook in our premises, but then who is liable if someone gets food poisoning?”
Each side has attempted to change the name of the officer bearer listed on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website, both claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the club.
However, the fight reached a new level when the smaller group listed the clubhouse for sale.
“They have no right to do what they are doing, it’s an unauthorised sale and it’s tantamount to fraud in so many ways,” said the spokeswoman for the larger group.
“We have spoken to lawyers … we are going to fight this.”
The real estate agent handling the saledid not wish to comment, but said the sale would proceed.
Regardless of who has legal ownership, the building now sits empty, dilapidated and almost certainly set for demolition if the sale goes ahead.
The mediator said the handful of former members would use the proceeds of the sale to buy a new clubhouse for Melbourne’s anarchist community to gather in.
“In terms of its survival and livability, in the long term, it is absolutely in the best interest of the property… It’s in the best interest of the community.”
But for the several hundred people who used the space previously, it is unclear where they will be able to meet in future.
“It’s awful,” said the representative for the larger group.
“A lot of donated time and effort and work has gone into making that space usable and it’s been ripped apart in a matter of days.”
Matilda reports breaking news for The Age