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Anarchism and Syndicalism in an African Port City

category southern africa | history of anarchism | press release author Sunday January 08, 2012 16:32author by Lucien van der Waltauthor email lucien.vanderwalt at wits dot ac dot za Report this post to the editors

The revolutionary traditions of Cape Town's multiracial working class, 1904–1931

This paper examines the development of anarchism and syndicalism in early twentieth century Cape Town, South Africa, drawing attention to a crucial but neglected chapter of labor and left history.

Lucien van der Walt, 2011, "Anarchism and Syndicalism in an African Port City: the revolutionary traditions of Cape Town's multiracial working class, 1904–1931," 'Labor History', Volume 52, Issue 2, 137, pp. 137-171

This paper examines the development of anarchism and syndicalism in early twentieth century Cape Town, South Africa, drawing attention to a crucial but neglected chapter of labor and left history. Central to this story were the anarchists in the local Social Democratic Federation (SDF), and the revolutionary syndicalists of the Industrial Socialist League, the Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA), and the Sweets and Jam Workers’ Industrial Union. These revolutionary anti-authoritarians, Africans, Coloureds and whites, fostered a multiracial radical movement – considerably preceding similar achievements by the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in this port city. They were also part of a larger anarchist and syndicalist movement across the southern African subcontinent. Involved in activist centers, propaganda, public meetings, cooperatives, demonstrations, union organizing and strikes, and linked into international and national radical networks, Cape Town’s anarchists and syndicalists had an important impact on organizations like the African Political Organization (APO), the Cape Federation of Labour Unions, the Cape Native Congress, the CPSA, the General Workers Union, and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (ICU). This paper is therefore also a contribution to the recovery of the history of the first generation of African and Coloured anti-capitalist radicals, and part of a growing international interest in anarchist and syndicalist history

Paper (PDF) available online, via university portals, or from author: contact lucien.vanderwalt(at)

author by Red and Black Actionpublication date Mon Jan 23, 2012 19:42Report this post to the editors

author by @ sjaak - Anarchist @ Amsterdampublication date Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:29Report this post to the editors

Dear ((public)) university researcher,

What I can't understand is the way you present your historical important "findings".
You claim the anarchist history is neglected, but you are also not sharing your remarkable academic findings here in a non-commercial way.

So what's the point writing this down, especially on a non-commercial website? Cheap status and recognition?

If it remains publicly hidden, then there is no way knowing your claim makes any sense.

Personally, I can only have contempt for researcher(s) who claim to have found an important part of (anarchist) history which is claimed to be neglected. Is there a story behind the commercial walls and the copyright formula's. What are the principles of the researcher(s)?

Commercial (post-)marxism? or a simple wish for an hierarchical relationship regarding 'owning' important hidden information?

author by Lucienpublication date Wed Feb 29, 2012 20:44Report this post to the editors

Before you start leaping to personal attacks, and posturing as the guardian of all that anarchism holds dear, why don't you bother to read the post and comments?

There are direct links there to copies, posted more than 2 weeks (in one case, almost 3 weeks) before your comment.

Plus anyone can get the article from me for the cost of typing an email (as the original post states quite clearly).

You could also use Google, where you'd easily find other copies too:

But please do not let this affect your outrage.

On your other notions:
- yes, scientific/ academic journals are almost all copyrighted

- no, I am not personally responsible for that situation, any more than a bus driver is responsible for tickets

- no, academics do not run, own or manage the big academic publishers

- no, scientific / academic articles are not 'commercial' ventures for academics: they do not generate any money for academics, who write the articles, and run and edit the journals, entirely without payment

- so, no, if someone did pay an publisher $25 dollars or whatever it is for an article sold through one of the big academic publishers online, the academic who wrote it would almost certainly not receive a cent of that money (despite the academics writing/ managing/ editing the journals)

- no, academics and researchers don't lie awake nights dreaming of how to hide their work, but actually want it to have some influence

Next time, think before you hit that reply button in the name of revolutionary Amsterdam.


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