Anarchist-Feminist Conference 1975

The following extract from Susan Magarery, 2014, Dangerous Ideas: Women’s Liberation – Women’s Studies – Around the World, pp. 66-67, discusses the Anarchist-Feminist Conference held in Canberra, October 1975. The full text is available, open access, at JSTOR.

Uploaded as part of the Anarchism in Australia project.

Fewer people came to the Canberra conference, though 300 was not a negligible number. (199) It was loosely structured, discussion groups forming around particular sets of issues agreed on by participants on the spot. This mode of self-organisation, with its spirit of co-operation, was reflected in the tenor of the discussions. One large group, for example, spent most of a morning talking about what ‘anarchism’ is, a question which could not even have been asked in a competitive gathering dominated by a hierarchy of specialists. Another group started with the question, ‘Can [the concept of self-management’s] perspective, hitherto seen as proceeding through the elimination of class oppression, accommodate the aims of those struggling against an oppression antedating and not encompassed within the class struggle?'(200). That group went on to connect elements of Marxist, anarchist, and feminist theory into an analysis, unfortunately unrecorded, of sexist society. Yet another group formed itself to discuss the sexual politics of heterosexual relationships. The whole reinforced the idea with which the conference had been planned: the importance of embodying our theory in our actions here and now. It revived enthusiasm for the task of constructing an informed theory of feminist revolution. And it gave fresh vigor to the determination that the Women’s Movement must act in accordance with its own analysis and strategies, not in response to opportunities made available by the state.

199. Estimate made by Elizabeth O’Brien, who collected the registrations. This account of the Feminism-Anarchism conference was compiled from recollections of participants.

200. Daphne Gollan, ‘The Women;s Movement and the revolutionary critique of capitalism’, paper distributed at Feminism-Anarchism conference, Canberra, 11-12 October 1975, also printed as ‘The Women’s Movement — Revolutionary?’, International, no. 44, October 1975.