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People must empower themselves, not wait for government

category southern africa | the left | opinion / analysis author Saturday January 26, 2008 22:15author by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front - ZACFauthor email international at zabalaza dot netauthor address Postnet Suite 47, Private Bag X1, Fordsburg, 2033, South Africa Report this post to the editors

ZACF on the recent Young Communist League (YCL) Statement on the Unjustifiable Increase of Bread. [ Ελληνικά ]

"We call on government to empower our people, especially through community cooperatives with the necessary inputs for bread production, namely land, tractors and seeds to plough wheat." - this was the demand made by the Young Communist League (YCL) in their recent Statement on the Unjustifiable Increase of Bread.

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) agrees with the YCL that "This increase will have negative consequences on the majority of our people, especially the working class and the poor youth who rely on bread as a source of living." We support the YCL and Cosatu in defying this price increase. We regard the vast and repeated increases in the bread price – and in the prices of maize meal, other grains and food in general – as a direct attack by capitalist profiteers on the very survival of workers and the poor. An attack against which workers and the poor need to defend themselves.

But the YCL does not seem to recognise the inherent contradiction in its statement.

The YCL stated its concern "that government is not protecting our people and allows the capitalist market to undermine our struggle of building sustainable livelihoods as a results of excessive prices of bread and other basic commodities", but they are missing the point. If government did anything other than protect market interests, the YCL would have reason for concern. But that is not the case; the government is protecting the interests of the market at the expense of the people it is supposed to serve. This is what us anarchist communists have been saying all along, and this is where we differ with the state socialists. Government cannot, and will not protect the people from the capitalist market, as the very purpose for government is to protect the capitalists, or capitalism, from the people.

Government, by its very nature, disempowers people by controlling and regulating their lives, limiting their freedom to move and live as they please and by making decisions that affect people's lives without first consulting them. By acting on our behalf, and denying us the opportunity to act for ourselves, governements - of all colours and ideological leanings - undermine our ability for individual and collective empowerment.

Meaningful and lasting empowerment cannot come from anywhere other than through the self-organised and self-managed activity and mobilisation of the people themselves, of a people in search and in struggle of a better life for all.

Whatever workers and the poor have won from the bosses or the government – higher wages, shorter hours, electricity, water, houses, lower rent, the defeat of the apartheid regime – they have won in struggle, not because the government decided out of a sense of responsibility or the goodness of its heart to give us these things. If we want bread, we must fight for bread.

As a result of our struggles or otherwise, the government might back a community cooperative, as the YCL suggests, by providing it with the "necessary inputs for bread production, namely land, tractors and seeds to plough wheat". But if we just rely on the government and do not continue the struggle, what is likely to happen is that those people will be expected to operate their cooperative according to market values, and sell their produce on the market instead of feeding themselves and their community. Government might subsidise a few small cooperatives, the participants in which might have access to a better life, but the government will never socialise all the "necessary inputs for bread production", and so the vast majority of the people, those in urban areas for example, will not benefit from these symbolic acts of empowerment.

If we do win support for co-operatives, or cheaper bread, or even free bread, we must carry on the fight. As long as the government and capitalists are in place, whatever we force them to give us, they can still try to take back.

For anarchist communists the only way to empowerment, and the only way for people to protect themselves from the capitalist market is to organise collectively to rid the world of that market; a market that tramples on the needs and rights of the many to satisfy the profits of the few.

We hold that people must collectively organise themselves, across all the industries of the land - both urban and rural - in every school and in every township, to take control of the "necessary inputs of bread production" and the necessary inputs to satisfy all our needs, and place them under the collective ownership and control of the people. No government, whether socialist or not, can ever do this as the sole reason for existence of government is to protect the rich from the poor, and so it is up to the people themselves to create a better life for all. To create a free socialism, without bosses or politicians.

Let us wait no longer for government to act, let us act ourselves. The anarchist revolutionary Emma Goldman once said "If they don't give you bread, take bread." Today we take bread; tomorrow we take the farms, the factories, the railways, the roads, the ships, everything that we ourselves built, that was taken from us, that we need to run our own lives. Onward to the collective appropriation of all the necessary inputs for a better life for all.

You cannot empower people, people must empower themselves.

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On Sectarianism

Southern Africa | The Left | en

Wed 03 Sep, 07:46

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zacfront_symbol_1.jpg imageThe “Democratic Left”: A Small Step Towards United Working Class Struggle 01:46 Wed 23 Feb by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front 0 comments

From 20 to 23 January 2011, working class and revolutionary militants from throughout South Africa, including a ZACF delegation, gathered in Johannesburg for the Conference of the Democratic Left (CDL). The gathering ended in the launch of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) as a loose alliance of organisations and individuals in struggle.

In explaining our relationship to the DLF, we will here summarise our reservations, while explaining why they are outweighed by the genuine achievements of the CDL. The reservations cover three main areas: attitudes towards the state and elections; leadership structures; and the DLF programme and demands. (We are also less than enthusiastic about some new terms that have become popular in the CDL and DLF, such as “eco-socialism”; but this is largely a matter of language, which we will not discuss in detail here.)

textIn Solidarity with Cosatu and the Workers of the World 19:26 Fri 16 May by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front 0 comments

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) recognises that the crisis in Zimbabwe, ongoing xenophobic attacks and rising food prices are of great importance to the working class, both in South Africa and internationally. Resolving these crises in favour of the poor and working poor will require mass direct action and solidarity. [ Italiano]

textZACF statement on the "racist anarchists" of Potchefstroom 17:10 Wed 27 Jun by Jonathan Payn 3 comments

Right-wingers in the South African town of Potchefstroom removed street-signs with the names of liberation figures and replaced them with those of Boer leaders. But the Potch City Council attributed the actions to "racist anarchists".

textSWAZILAND: Rush hour for liberation movement 18:08 Thu 07 Dec by International Secretary ZACF 0 comments

Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation statement on alleged armed struggle tendency of Swaziland pro-democracy movement.

textPower corrupts the left in South Africa 21:26 Fri 19 Aug by Zabalaza 0 comments

Even sitting on the government council at a local level puts a person on the other side of the line between oppressed and oppressor / exploiter and exploited and that is why we say that it is only when we fully control our communities and workplaces ourselves will we be able to provide decent food, clothing and housing for ourselves and our families

textSouth Africa: COSATU & Social Movements 22:15 Fri 12 Aug by Michael Schmidt (International secretary) 0 comments

COSATU has remained an ANC loyalist organisation - despite the 1-million job-losses under ANC rule but a survey by the human sciences research council shows that while 75% of COSATU members still consider themselves ANC loyalists - 25% of its 2-million members have lost confidence.

imageNelson Mandela Dec 10 by Michael Schmidt 6 comments

A frail multimillionaire dies peacefully in bed at the grand old age of 95, surrounded by a coterie of those who love him and those with an eye on the inheritance, an event that would in the normal course of events be seen as natural—but the man concerned has been treated internationally as more of a supernatural entity than an ordinary man. The unsurpassed hagiography around Nelson Mandela, who died in the über-wealthy enclave of Houghton in Johannesburg last Thursday night, the famous prisoner turned global icon on a par with Mohandas Gandhi is upheld by most observers of South Africa as a necessary myth of national unity, and not least of the triumph of racial reconciliation of over the evils of segregation.

imageTowards a Truly Democratic Left Dec 27 by Jonathan Payn 1 comments

Failures of democracy have been a big part of the history of the DLF. We in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) have had to raise such challenges several times (see “DLF structure: concerns and proposals” by ZACF). We have long been troubled by the lack of proper democratic structures, by a leadership that consists far more of middle-class intellectuals than of grassroots militants, and by a programme that seems to be determined in advance by the academic and NGO interests of these intellectuals instead of by the immediate needs of the workers and the poor.

imageWhat Anarchism and Syndicalism offer the South African Left Sep 02 by Lucien van der Walt 0 comments

This article outlines the core features of the anarchist/ syndicalist vision, strategy and relevance to contemporary struggles. While of general interest, it is also directed to South African militants on the left, as part of the larger debate on the future of the left project.

textZACF Analysis of the 2009 South African National and Provincial Elections May 15 by nestor 3 comments

The following analysis was presented by a member of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) at the Khanya College organised Seminar on the 2009 Election Results, held in Johannesburg on Sunday 10 May 2009. The topic of the seminar was “What do the 2009 Election results mean for the South African working class?”.
There were speakers from the following organisations present: Bolshevik Study Circles & Che Guevara Film Club, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF), General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA), Soweto Concerned Residents (S.C.R–A.P.F), NKUZI – Fieldworker of Farmworkers' Programme and Kathorus Concerned Residents (KCR)
It should be noted that - owing to the constraints of time allocated for this presentation - this is by no means a complete analysis of the 2009 elections, and what the ANC victory and Zuma administration means for the poor and working class of the region. It serves only to raise some of what we believe to be important issues for consideration going forward. [Italiano]

textPassive Voting or Active Boycott: The True Question of Elections Dec 01 by Jonathan P & James Pendlebury 0 comments

This article argues that active abstention is the only strategic and tactical approach to the 2009 South African elections which is consistent with revolutionary anti-capitalist politics. It was written for a forthcoming issue of Khanya: A Journal for Activists, which will present a range of different approaches that social movements may take in response to the 2009 elections.

more >>

imageThe “Democratic Left”: A Small Step Towards United Working Class Struggle Feb 23 ZACF 0 comments

From 20 to 23 January 2011, working class and revolutionary militants from throughout South Africa, including a ZACF delegation, gathered in Johannesburg for the Conference of the Democratic Left (CDL). The gathering ended in the launch of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) as a loose alliance of organisations and individuals in struggle.

In explaining our relationship to the DLF, we will here summarise our reservations, while explaining why they are outweighed by the genuine achievements of the CDL. The reservations cover three main areas: attitudes towards the state and elections; leadership structures; and the DLF programme and demands. (We are also less than enthusiastic about some new terms that have become popular in the CDL and DLF, such as “eco-socialism”; but this is largely a matter of language, which we will not discuss in detail here.)

textIn Solidarity with Cosatu and the Workers of the World May 16 ZACF 0 comments

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) recognises that the crisis in Zimbabwe, ongoing xenophobic attacks and rising food prices are of great importance to the working class, both in South Africa and internationally. Resolving these crises in favour of the poor and working poor will require mass direct action and solidarity. [ Italiano]

textZACF statement on the "racist anarchists" of Potchefstroom Jun 27 ZACF (southern Africa) 3 comments

Right-wingers in the South African town of Potchefstroom removed street-signs with the names of liberation figures and replaced them with those of Boer leaders. But the Potch City Council attributed the actions to "racist anarchists".

textSWAZILAND: Rush hour for liberation movement Dec 07 Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation 0 comments

Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation statement on alleged armed struggle tendency of Swaziland pro-democracy movement.

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