7 November: A war of words is being played out on inner west walls as tensions between far left and far right activists heat up.
A flood of posters preaching anti-fascist and anarchist messages have been plastered around Marrickville, Enmore and Newtown, including provocative ones urging readers to kill capitalists and fascists.
Only a few months ago racist posters, authored by The Australia First Party, were stuck on the front of a left-wing bookshop in Ultimo demanding overseas students go home. Anti-foreign student literature was also distributed to households in Newtown and Erskineville.
Tensions further increased after The Australia First Party’s Jim Saleam threw his hat into the Marrickville Council by-election being held on November 15.
A local resident, who asked to remain anonymous, has taken offense to the latest round of posters calling on readers to ‘kill capitalists’ with images of guillotines and a man in a suit with a rifle target on his head.
He said the posters discredited the left wing by giving them the image of a “terrorist” organisation and there should be equality when it comes to voicing political opinions.
“Inciting violence against anyone in Australia is a crime,” the local resident said.
“I would have similar reservations about similar messages posted by right wing/nationalist activist,” he said.
He posted photos of the posters on Reddit asking for an end to the aggressive slogans.
Reddit users have responded to his post with some agreeing with him and others not seeing the harm in the posters. “Violence isn’t always physical, what’s wrong with wanting to fight back?” one users wrote.
Marrickville Council said legally it was not possible to stop people distributing offensive material and cited the Ban the Burqa mural that went up in Newtown in 2010.
“If they were judged to be ‘offensive’, then council’s graffiti crew would be instructed to remove them,” a council spokeswoman said.
She also said the council had not received any complaints regarding the posters and as to whether they are offensive “ I think that’s a matter of personal opinion”.
University of Technology’s Associate Professor James Goodman, who conducts research into social change and global politics, said the latest string of posters were acting as a counter-balance to a rise in extremist right-wing organisations and public fear.
These include the Australian Defence League, a far-right wing group waging a vicious anti-Muslim campaign on social media, and has been accused of harassing Islamic women in public.
“It seems there is a push from the Australia Defence League to capitalise on current fears about Islamic State being voiced by western governments… Anti-fascist groups have sought to counter this, not surprisingly” Mr Goodman said.
Mr Goodman said the left-leaning activist groups have had a good response, “as most people understand the difference between Islam and authoritarianism, and can see how the government is exploiting the situation to serve their own agenda”.
He added that the war of words on inner city streets wasn’t new.
“Although I dont really recall governments characterising an insurgency as a ‘death cult’, something that doesn’t shed any light on what is actually going on ie in Iraq/Syria.”