Pre-history… In 1989, local anarchists established a group known as the International Workers’ Club. The IWC aimed to raise enough money to purchase a warehouse to establish an anarchist social centre. By 1994, a little less than $10,000 had been raised. At a final meeting of the IWC, it was decided not to proceed with the purchase of a space and to instead fund two new projects: Barricade, and the Black Star PA system…
Barricade opened its doors for the first time at 115 Sydney Road, Brunswick on February 4, 1995; the outcome of several years preparation by a loose association of local anarchists. Notably, Barricade is the fourth such shop to open in Melbourne since the beginning of the 1970s.
Barricade’s opening didn’t go unnoticed, as just five months later, on July 3, police raided the premises (with an unsigned warrant). Three items of stock were confiscated: a pamphlet (Left Libertarianism’s Lavender Lineage) and two t-shirts, one with the word “fuck” on it, the other with a picture of a penis. A worker was charged with selling ‘obscene’ materials. A week later, on July 11, in a further act of harassment, neo-Nazis smashed the shop’s windows. As a result, for almost two years, the infoshop looked like a real live barricade, with ‘temporary’ iron sheets placed over the front windows. Still, the infoshop continues to function.
The smashing of the shop’s windows, and their replacement with temporary hoardings, is followed by various forms of low-level harassment, including the painting of swastikas on the shop’s front door on Invasion Day, January 26, 1996. An anti-fascist demonstration is held in Brunswick soon after, and marches to Barricade in solidarity.
Finally, in June 1997, at the end of a long but eventually successful battle with the local council, the shop was fitted with bullet proof plexi-glass. Having survived police and fascist intimidation, so ends the first chapter in Barricade’s history.
For the six-year period from 1997 through to 2003, Barricade and Sydney Road served as a focal point for anarchists in Melbourne. Dozens joined the collective — some for just a week or two, others for years. Many more attended film screenings, meetings and parties. The collective published five issues of a zine (In Ya Face), and numerous other written propaganda. Many different projects evolved out of or were located at the infoshop during this period, including the Anarchist Black Cross, Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation and Food Not Bombs; organising collectives for the J18 celebrations (June 1999) and the ‘No Gods No Masters’ anarchist/autonomist conference of April 2001; and, following the Woomera breakout in March 2002, the infoshop was even raided by police looking for escaped refugees!
In mid-2003, as a result of escalating rents, Barricade moved into a small studio at Irene community art space in Brunswick East, operating tentatively until 2006. In late 2006, Barricade collective members squatted an empty funeral home in Sydney Road, Coburg, renamed it ‘The Wake’, and operated it as a social centre with the aim of holding benefit gigs and opening Barricade once more to the public. After two successful months holding benefit parties most weekends, on the eve of the G20 protests in November, ‘The Wake’ was evicted by police, along with other squats around the city.
In 2007, the Melbourne Anarchist Club purchased a property in Northcote, with the aim of creating an anarchist social centre and a home for the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation and Barricade Infoshop. After several months of renovations, the space is nearing completion and Barricade is ready to open its doors once more, this time permanently.
Larissa Dubecki, ‘Bursting the bubble on originality’, The Age (Metro), March 1, 2005, p.2:
“…But my favourite artistic stunts involve no personality-driven grandstanding, rather a delight in perplexing people in complete anonymity. A little compilation of Australian pranks and hoaxes called How To Make Trouble and Influence People is — going by the imagination-free bubble episode — probably a more useful publication for the uni student neophyte than the official orientation guide.
I bought my photocopied, hand-stapled copy from Barricades [sic] bookstore in Brunswick’s Sydney Road almost a decade ago. Barricades is itself long gone now — a smart cafe that serves babychinos stands where the skanky bookshelves once were…”
Jason McQuinn, ‘Anarchist press review’, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, #56, Fall-Winter 2003-04, p.23:
“In Ya Face / ‘Journal of Barricade Books’ (#5) is a very readable and intelligent, 52-page magazine presenting an eclectic variety of perspectives within the Australian milieu. The issue starts off with Andrew & Aggy’s “Renegotiating the Terrain” (focusing on the autonomous nature of recent Australian — and worldwide — anti-capitalist resistance), an examination of “Strategies against the WTO” (in preparation for last winter’s WTO “mini-ministerial” in Sydney), a strange “Proposal for a Regional Anarchist Federation” (inspired by the goal of having a federation exert control over “anarchist resources” like bookshops, and including as an appendix, the wildly misnamed 1975 “Organisational Platform of the Federation of Australian Anarchists” — not by any stretch a platformist document), and continues with many more articles on prisons, affinity groups, “Building an antiwar movement”, Aboriginal sovereignty, anarchist education, etc. Overall, a solid effort.”
‘Nazi attack on Brunswick shop’, The Melbourne Times, February 7, 1996:
The front of [DG]’s house and the Barricade book shop in Sydney Road, Brunswick, have something in common — they are swathed in swastikas. Barricade Books has a distinctly war-zone ambience, with its smashed windows and semi-permanent shutters… The response from the Brunswick community was a rally at the traditional battleground — Brunswick Town Hall — followed by a march to Barricade Books. The protesters mostly matched the ambience of the any-and-all cause bookshop — shaved heads, coloured hair, overalls, work boots and politics ranging from the local Radical Women group to anarchists to mainstream politicians making election speeches… Speeches were made about “scum” who only come out in the dead of night — in 1993 a group of young National Action members did rally at the town hall, where they were pelted with eggs and abuse… Eventually, after mutual congratulations on a fine rally, the crowd went home — or popped into Barricade for a fresh supply of stickers and PC t-shirts. One member of Barricade’s collective organising committee said the steel shutters would remain while the bookshop tried to get permission to put up proper night security shutters to protect the windows.”
‘Fear of Nazi revival’, Northcote Leader, Monday, July 17, 1995:
“The Friends of Barricade Bookshop group fears a resurgence of neo-Nazi activity in Brunswick after two attacks on its bookshop in as many months. The group claims neo-Nazis smashed its windows at Barricade Bookshop in Sydney Road last Tuesday. “We believe the attack was buoyed by the police raid [see History] because the news had gone out on the streets and the neo-Nazis acted in response to that”, group member [SS] said. Mr S said members feared a resurgence of neo-Nazi activity similar to that in March last year. Mr S said two witnesses saw three young men, who looked like [boneheads], smash the windows about 1am.”