- The Art of Shoplifting
- LaTrobe University Students' Representative Council, Melbourne, July, 4 pp
This article on shoplifting was to become the catalyst for a five-year anti-censorship campaign. Echoing Proudhon's claim that "property is theft", this satirical article implicitly problematises the criminalisation of shoplifting. It positions corporations as entities which, through the practice of chain-store retailing, routinely exploit customers and workers and create poverty by encouraging the maintenance of an 'army of reserve unemployed labour' which is thereby largely excluded from shopping at their stores. The article presents this critique from a Neo-Marxist perspective which positions the poor university student who is tempted to shoplift, not as a potential criminal but rather as a potential anti-capitalist activist. The leading paragraph reads: "Shoplifting is a topic that is practically relevant to many and it should therefore not become an exclusive craft confined to a small shoplifting elite. On the contrary, shoplifting is an art that deserves the widest possible dissemination. For your convenience we have printed below a step by step guide to shoplifting. Good luck." The author is named as "Carmen Lawrence" the former Western Australian labor party premier who, that year, was found by the Marks Royal Commission to have misled parliament. (This finding led to perjury charges but she was aquitted of these in 1999.) However, the article is actually an edited version of one published previously in the Sydney anarchist zine, Destroyer 267. Hence, the phrase, "with thanks to Joshua the destroyer" is added to the byline.
The copy contained here (a scan of the original hard copy) has been heavily redacted because the original publication is still banned. However, the full text of the article can be found as an annexe to the Federal Court judgment on the case.
Contents include: "Preparing Oneself for the Big Haul", "On Entering the Maze", "Blind-spots and Other Lifting Techniques", "Exchanging Crap for More Crap", "Leaving the Store Safely".
(This redacted version of the article is published in the public interest - for the purposes of academic scholarship and to encourage debate on censorship.)