user preferences

Και τώρα τι κάνουμε; Μαγική λύση δεν υπάρχει, ούτε θα ‘ρθει κάποιος σωτήρας να μας δώσει κανένα ψίχουλο αξιοπρέπειας. Έχουμε μόνο το μυαλό μας και τα χέρια μας! Απέναντι στην όλο και βιαιότερη εκμετάλλευση της εργατικής μας δύναμης, να προτάξουμε την ταξική αλληλεγγύη και τη συλλογική αντίσταση. Οργάνωση στους χώρους της δουλειάς για καλύτερους μισθούς και ανθρώπινες συνθήκες εργασίας με τα κατάλληλα μέτρα ασφαλείας.

Δεν είναι ατυχήματα, δεν έχουμε αυταπάτες
στα κάτργα των αφεντικών δολοφονούν εργάτες

Τα τελευταία χρόνια, και ιδιαίτερα με την όξυνση της καπιταλιστικής κρίσης, οι τραυματισμοί και οι θάνατοι εργαζομένων την ώρα δουλειάς τους έχουν πληθύνει. Αυτό αποτυπώνεται και στην ξανθιώτικη πραγματικότητα. Ενδεικτικά, τον τελευταίο μήνα έχουν γίνει τουλάχιστον δύο εργατικά «ατυχήματα» που έγιναν ευρέως γνωστά (ο θάνατος ενός εργάτη στην ΕΛ.ΒΙΖ. και ο σοβαρός τραυματισμός ενός άλλου στα Πλαστικά Θράκης), κι ίσως ακόμα περισσότερα που δεν έχουν ακουστεί λόγω του μικρού μεγέθους τραυματισμού ή της εργοδοτικής τρομοκρατίας. Άλλωστε είναι συνήθης πρακτική την ευθύνη να την φορτώνονται ατομικά οι εργαζόμενοι και τα αφεντικά ή να εξαφανίζονται… «ως δια μαγείας» ή να απειλούν με απόλυση.

Τα περιστατικά αυτά δεν αποτελούν την εξαίρεση στον κανόνα, αλλά τον ίδιο τον κανόνα. Την εργασιακή πραγματικότητα, δηλαδή, με την οποία ερχόμαστε αντιμέτωποι, εμείς οι νεοπλορετάριοι αυτή της χώρας, ανεξάρτητα από το είδος εργασίας ή τον κλάδο στον οποίο απασχολούμαστε. Η εξόντωσή μας είναι σίγουρη, είτε είναι άμεση και γρήγορη, είτε έμμεση και αργή με τις συνθήκες εργασίες να υποβιβάζουν σημαντικά την ποιότητα ζωής μας: Εργάτες δουλεύουν σε εργοστάσια και εργοτάξια χωρίς τις απαραίτητες προφυλάξεις, διανομείς θυσιάζονται στο βωμό της άμεσης παράδοσης, εμποροϋπάλληλοι και εργάτες στον τομέα του επισιτισμού λυγίζουν από την πολύωρη ορθοστασία, υπάλληλοι στο προμόσιον ξεπαγιάζουν μπας και πετύχουν τον απαραίτητο αριθμό πελατών για να πάρουν το μεροκάματό τους, κ.λπ.

Όλα τα παραπάνω σε συνδυασμό με την εντατικοποίηση της εργασίας, τους μισθούς πείνας, τα εξαντλητικά ωράρια, τη δουλειά τις Κυριακές και τις νύχτες, την αύξηση του ορίου συνταξιοδότησης (θα δουλεύουμε μέχρι να πεθάνουμε, ή θα πεθάνουμε δουλεύοντας;), την επισφάλεια και τη μαύρη εργασία συνθέτουν τις νέες εργασιακές συνθήκες, τις οποίες ήδη βιώνουμε στο πετσί μας. Σε όλα αυτά έρχονται να προστεθούν και τα ελλιπή (αν όχι ανύπαρκτα!) μέτρα ασφαλείας. Η γρήγορη και φθηνή διεκπεραίωση της δουλειάς ιεραρχείται πιο ψηλά από τις συνθήκες εργασίας στις οποίες δεν εξασφαλίζεται ουσιαστικά κανένα μέτρο υγιεινής και ασφάλειας, σε αντίθεση με τις υπογεγραμμένες συμβάσεις όταν και όπου αυτές υπάρχουν.

Ενώ για τον εργάτη ο μισθός είναι όρος ύπαρξης, για το αφεντικό είναι «κόστος». Ενώ για τον εργάτη η ασφάλεια στην δουλειά είναι ζήτημα σωματικής ακεραιότητας, ζωής και θανάτου, για το αφεντικό, σ’ ένα σύστημα που οι εργάτες είναι αναλώσιμοι μπροστά στην κερδοφορία του, είναι κι αυτό «κόστος». Τα αφεντικά μας, είτε είναι μεγάλα και «υπερεθνικά», είτε μικρότερα και ντόπια, έχουν ένα κύριο και κεντρικό στόχο: Το οικονομικό κέρδος. Και τις ευθύνες γι’ αυτό θα τις φορτώσουν στις πλάτες μας. Τα «εργατικά ατυχήματα», λοιπόν, είναι άμεσο επόμενο των πολιτικών λιτότητας των κυβερνήσεων και της ταξικής επίθεσης των αφεντικών στο νεοπρολεταριάτο για να διατηρήσουν, ή και να αυξήσουν το κέρδος τους, και δεν είναι μόνο οι τραυματισμοί, αλλά οι συνθήκες εργασίας στο σύνολό τους και η υποτίμηση της εργατικής μας δύναμης.

Και τώρα τι κάνουμε; Μαγική λύση δεν υπάρχει, ούτε θα ‘ρθει κάποιος σωτήρας να μας δώσει κανένα ψίχουλο αξιοπρέπειας. Έχουμε μόνο το μυαλό μας και τα χέρια μας! Απέναντι στην όλο και βιαιότερη εκμετάλλευση της εργατικής μας δύναμης, να προτάξουμε την ταξική αλληλεγγύη και τη συλλογική αντίσταση. Οργάνωση στους χώρους της δουλειάς για καλύτερους μισθούς και ανθρώπινες συνθήκες εργασίας με τα κατάλληλα μέτρα ασφαλείας.

ΝΑ ΜΗΝ ΣΥΝΗΘΙΣΟΥΜΕ ΤΟ ΘΑΝΑΤΟ
ΝΑ ΠΑΡΟΥΜΕ ΠΙΣΩ ΑΥΤΑ ΠΟΥ ΜΑΣ ΑΝΗΚΟΥΝ

ΣΥΓΚΕΝΤΡΩΣΗ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΛ. ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑΣ ΞΑΝΘΗ

ΣΑΒΒΑΤΟ 16/12 ΣΤΙΣ 11.30

Πέλοτο
στο δρόμο για τον κομμουνισμό και την αναρχία

Διεθνή / Αναρχικό κίνημα / Ανακοίνωση Τύπου Thursday December 14, 2017 20:37 byΔίκτυο Ευρωπαϊκών Οργανώσεων Anarkismo

Επομένως, πιστεύουμε και γι’ αυτό εργαζόμαστε για τη δημιουργία μιας κοινής κουλτούρας και στρατηγικής στις αντίστοιχες οργανώσεις και το δίκτυό μας, προκειμένου να ενισχυθούν οι κοινωνικοί αγώνες και να δυναμώσει η ταξική πάλη και, ταυτόχρονα, ο οργανωμένος χειραφετητικός αναρχισμός. Στόχος μας είναι η οικοδόμηση ενός διεθνούς δικτύου στην κοινή μας (γεωγραφική) περιοχή το οποίο θα είναι σε θέση να αγωνιστεί ενάντια στις διαδικασίες που αντιμετωπίζουμε. Με τον εντοπισμό των δυνατοτήτων αγώνα εκ μέρους μας, σχεδιάζουμε να δημιουργήσουμε μια εναλλακτική και μια ισορροπία δυνάμεων πιο ευνοϊκή σε εμάς.

Εμείς, οι αναρχικοί και ελευθεριακοί κομμουνιστές στην ταξική πάλη στην καπιταλιστική Ευρώπη

Οι ευρωπαϊκές οργανώσεις που αποτελούν μέρος του δικτύου Anarkismo συνεδρίασαν στις 18 και 19 Νοεμβρίου στη Γένοβα. Συζητήσαμε και ανταλλάξαμε, σκεφτήκαμε και μοιράσαμε τις απόψεις μας, ως δίκτυο που προσπαθεί να σχεδιάσει μια στρατηγική προς τα εμπρός για το κίνημα.

Αντιπροσωπείες από την Ουαλία, τη Γαλλία, την Ιταλία, την Ελβετία και την Ιρλανδία -με μια θερμή δήλωση αλληλεγγύης από τους Καταλανούς συντρόφους μας της Embat- εκφράσαμε την ανάγκη να συγκεκριμενοποιήσουμε και εμβαθύνουμε στο κοινό μας έργο.

Πού βρισκόμαστε;

Η φάση στην οποία ζούμε σήμερα συνιστά χωρίς αμφιβολία μία από τις συστημικές κρίσεις και περιέχει στρατηγικούς μετασχηματισμούς. Ο καπιταλισμός σε κρίση ψάχνει για ένα νέο μοντέλο λειτουργίας, ενώ η πολιτική αριστερά έχει κολλήσει στη δική της βαριά κρίση - στην έλλειψη σαφούς προοπτικής ή θέλησης.

Ο κοινωνικός φιλελευθερισμός είναι ένα ενεργό τμήμα του Κράτους και της Ευρωπαϊκής διαχείρισης του κεφαλαίου. Έχει εξελιχθεί σε μέσο κυριαρχίας και εκμετάλλευσης. Ένα άλλο τμήμα της πολιτικής αριστεράς εμφορείται από μεταρρυθμιστικές φιλοδοξίες που βασίζονται σε μια κρατικιστική στρατηγική, αλλά μέχρι σήμερα δεν έχει καταφέρει να διαμορφώσει μια εναλλακτική λύση προς την κατεύθυνση της πραγματικής κοινωνικής χειραφέτησης. Υπάρχει επίσης ένας σχετικά μεγάλος χώρος που αγωνίζεται να φέρει στη ζωή σημαντικές αντιστάσεις σε τοπικό επίπεδο, αλλά αρνείται να συμμορφωθεί με θεσμικά πλαίσια.

Μέσα από τη διαδικασία των φορντιστικού τύπου εκκαθαριστικών ξεπουλημάτων, ο καπιταλισμός μας οδηγεί πίσω σε μορφές εκμετάλλευσης που θυμίζουν τις αρχές του 20ού αιώνα. Το παραδοσιακό προλεταριάτο μετασχηματίζεται και διευρύνεται -παράγεται εκ νέου μέσω νέων μορφών εκμετάλλευσης, όπως η αυτόνομη εργασία και οι νέες δομές της μισθωτής εργασίας που ωθούν προς την κατεύθυνση γενικευμένων επισφαλών συνθηκών ζωής.

Ο κόσμος και ιδιαίτερα η ΕΕ, αντιμετωπίζουν νέες αντιφάσεις, με μια σχετική πιθανότητα έκρηξης, όπως είναι το Brexit ή η άνοδος των ακροδεξιών κινημάτων που τείνουν να γίνουν εθνικές δυνάμεις. Με τεράστιες εσωτερικές εντάσεις, το γεωστρατηγικό Ευρωπαϊκό μπλοκ βρίσκεται στην άκρη και στο εγγύς μέλλον θα μπορεί είτε να μεταβληθεί σε έναν συνεκτικό ιμπεριαλιστικό πόλο είτε να κινδυνεύσει να αισθανθεί την πίεση των άλλων κέντρων εξουσίας σε όλο τον κόσμο.

Η έλλειψη ενός κοινωνικού κινήματος που να είναι σε θέση να ελέγξει την επίθεση του κυρίαρχου μπλοκ πρέπει να αναβαθμισθεί για να κατανοήσει καλύτερα την παρούσα κατάσταση. Κανένα κίνημα μεταξύ των καταπιεσμένων δεν είναι σε θέση να προχωρήσει σε νέες κοινωνικές κατακτήσεις και να οργανώσει μια μαχητική εργατική τάξη υπό τις παρούσες κυρίαρχες κοινωνικές συνθήκες.

Και αυτό εν μέσω μιας κατάστασης που η άκρα δεξιά γίνεται καθημερινά πιο επιθετική και η αστική τάξη οδηγεί μια επίθεση ενάντια σε κάθε δίκαιη κοινωνική και άλλη κατάκτηση που είχε κερδηθεί μέσα από αγώνες τα τελευταία 150 χρόνια.

Πού θέλουμε να πάμε και τι πρέπει να κάνουμε;

Στην παρούσα φάση και σε αυτή που πρόκειται να έρθει, θα πρέπει και θα έχουμε να αντιμετωπίσουμε μια σκληρή και δύσκολη κατάσταση όσον αφορά τη συγκρότηση της παρέμβασής μας. Αλλά εμείς δεν θα πρέπει να φοβόμαστε και δεν θα κάνουμε πίσω.

Το τέλος του καπιταλισμού και η αυτοδιαχείριση του συνόλου της κοινωνίας είναι μια ανάγκη που δεν μπορεί να περιμένει κι άλλο. Ως εκ τούτου, αποτελούν ιστορικούς στόχους. Αυτοί είναι οι στόχοι που βρίσκονται στο επίκεντρο της πρακτικής μας, μέσα στις οργανώσεις των εκμεταλλευομένων. Μαθαίνουμε και προετοιμάζουμε τις αξίες του αύριο στους αγώνες του σήμερα.

Δεν πιστεύουμε ότι υπάρχει κάποια συντόμευση σε αυτό. Το καθημερινό μας καθήκον είναι να χτίσουμε βήμα-βήμα τους αγώνες και τις κοινωνικές συγκρούσεις στις γειτονιές μας και τους χώρους εργασίας μας. Πρέπει να συσσωρεύουμε τη δύναμή μας για να συγκεντρώσουμε και κινητοποιήσουμε το σύνολο της κοινωνίας που αντιστέκεται η οποία δημιουργεί και διαφωνεί, η οποία αρνείται να συμμορφωθεί με τον καπιταλισμό και υπερασπίζεται την μόνη δυνατή εναλλακτική λύση: την οργάνωση από τα κάτω και την καταστροφή κάθε μορφής κυριαρχίας και εκμετάλλευσης. η πολιτική μας σχετίζεται άμεσα με τη χειραφέτηση, την άμεση λαϊκή δράση και την οικοδόμηση της λαϊκής εξουσίας.

Έχουμε δει ότι η Ευρώπη, παρά τις αντιφάσεις της και τις εσωτερικές συγκρούσεις, δεν είναι μόνο μια υπερεθνική ένωση Κρατών, αλλά και ένα σύστημα διακρατικών δυνάμεων που έχει την κατάλληλη ικανότητα να παρεμβαίνει για τη διασφάλιση των ζωτικών συμφερόντων του κυρίαρχου μπλοκ.

Επομένως, πιστεύουμε και γι’ αυτό εργαζόμαστε για τη δημιουργία μιας κοινής κουλτούρας και στρατηγικής στις αντίστοιχες οργανώσεις και το δίκτυό μας, προκειμένου να ενισχυθούν οι κοινωνικοί αγώνες και να δυναμώσει η ταξική πάλη και, ταυτόχρονα, ο οργανωμένος χειραφετητικός αναρχισμός. Στόχος μας είναι η οικοδόμηση ενός διεθνούς δικτύου στην κοινή μας (γεωγραφική) περιοχή το οποίο θα είναι σε θέση να αγωνιστεί ενάντια στις διαδικασίες που αντιμετωπίζουμε. Με τον εντοπισμό των δυνατοτήτων αγώνα εκ μέρους μας, σχεδιάζουμε να δημιουργήσουμε μια εναλλακτική και μια ισορροπία δυνάμεων πιο ευνοϊκή σε εμάς.

Είμαστε αποφασισμένοι για όσο διάστημα απαιτείται να θέσουμε τη συλλογική μας συμβολή στο κίνημα των κοινωνικών αγώνων στην Ευρώπη και σε όλο τον κόσμο.

Μπροστά, στον αγώνα, για την οικοδόμηση της λαϊκής εξουσίας
Φέρνουμε έναν νέο κόσμο στις καρδιές μας

Υπογράφουν
Alternativa Libertaria/FdCA - IΙταλία
Alternative Libertaire - Γαλλία
Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes - Γαλλία
Libertarian Socialist Federation - Βρετανία
Organization Socialiste Libertaire - Ελβετία
Workers Solidarity Movement - Ιρλανδία

*Σχετικός σύνδεσμος: https://www.anarkismo.net/article/30712 Ελληνική μετάφραση “Ούτε Θεός-Ούτε Αφέντης”.

Ελλάδα / Τουρκία / Κύπρος / Λαϊκοί Αγώνες / Ανακοίνωση Τύπου Thursday December 14, 2017 04:43 byΑναρχική Ομοσπονδία

Απέναντι στη βαρβαρότητα του σύγχρονου ολοκληρωτισμού, μέσα από την ακηδεμόνευτη κοινωνική και ταξική οργάνωση και αντεπίθεση από τη βάση, χωρίς ηγέτες και αντιπροσώπους, ο μετασχηματισμός των υπαρχουσών παραγωγικών και κοινωνικών σχέσεων, διέρχεται μέσα από την καταστροφή του κράτους και του καπιταλισμού δια της κοινωνικής επανάστασης. Για να φτιάξουμε έναν κόσμο για όλους και όχι για λίγους. Έναν κόσμο όπου ο καθένας θα παράγει ανάλογα με τις δυνατότητές του και θα λαμβάνει σύμφωνα με τις ανάγκες του.

Να μη μείνουμε άλλο θεατές στο έργο της ταξικής μας εξόντωσης. Να αντεπιτεθούμε!

Η ολοκλήρωση της 3ης αξιολόγησης στο Eurogroup της 4ης Δεκέμβρη προμηνύει την επικείμενη κατάθεση ενός νέου πολυνομοσχεδίου που θα εντείνει περαιτέρω την ταξική αφαίμαξη, επιδεινώνοντας και διευρύνοντας τη φτωχοποίηση και την εξαθλίωση των από τα κάτω. Ο ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α. διατείνεται ότι το καλοκαίρι του 2018 ετοιμάζεται να «σκίσει» τα μνημόνια, ενώ οι μνημονιακές δεσμεύσεις υπαγορεύουν διεθνή οικονομική επιτροπεία μέχρι το 2060. Με λίγα λόγια μας κοροϊδεύουν απροκάλυπτα.

Οι αντιστάσεις της εργατικής τάξης βρίσκονται ενώπιον μίας τεράστιας απειλής καθώς με σχετική τροπολογία, ως προϋπόθεση για την κήρυξη απεργίας από πρωτοβάθμια σωματεία τίθεται πλέον η έγκριση από το 50%+1 των εγγεγραμμένων μελών, αντί της ισχύουσας εξασφάλισης της πλειοψηφίας των μελών που παρίστανται στη γενική συνέλευση του σωματείου. Ουσιαστικά αυτή η ρύθμιση καθιστά τυπικά αδύνατη την κήρυξη απεργιών, προσφέροντας απλόχερα στα αφεντικά το «δώρο» της ανεμπόδιστης -από τις κινητοποιήσεις των εργατών- άντλησης υπεραξίας. Αυτό σημαίνει πως μπροστά στην εργοδοτική αυθαιρεσία, στις εντατικοποιημένες και ελαστικές σχέσεις εργασίας, αλλά και μπροστά στην όξυνση της οικονομικής εκμετάλλευσης, η μαχητική συνδικαλιστική απάντηση θα έχει χάσει ένα από τα πιο σημαντικά εργαλεία της: την απεργία.

Ταυτόχρονα, επανέρχεται η νομιμοποίηση της ανταπεργίας (lock-out) που είχε απαγορευτεί από το 1982. Δηλαδή, όταν προκηρύσσεται απεργία, το αφεντικό έχει τη δυνατότητα να χρησιμοποιήσει απεργοσπάστες, είτε βάζοντας τους εργαζόμενους που δε συμμετέχουν στην απεργία να δουλέψουν είτε... αντικαθιστώντας όσους απεργούν, ενώ μπορεί ακόμα και να περάσει λουκέτο στην επιχείρηση, μη καταβάλλοντας τα δεδουλευμένα προς τους εργαζόμενους και δίνοντας τους μειωμένη αποζημίωση. Επιπλέον, σε περίπτωση εργατικού ατυχήματος απαιτείται πλέον η απόδειξη περί ύπαρξης δόλου από το αφεντικό, ώστε να καταβληθεί η αποζημίωση. Η προσφυγή στα αστικά δικαστήρια έχει σκοπό να ξελασπώσει το αφεντικό, μετατοπίζοντας την ευθύνη στο «χαρακτήρα» του κι όχι στις συνθήκες εκμετάλλευσης που το ίδιο επιβάλλει. Το κερασάκι στην τούρτα είναι η απελευθέρωση των ομαδικών απολύσεων χωρίς να απαιτείται εκ των προτέρων έγκριση, αυξάνοντας ακόμα περισσότερο τις εφεδρείες των ανέργων, αυτών που θα κληθούν, όποτε τους χρειαστούν τα αφεντικά, να δουλέψουν για ένα κομμάτι ψωμί.

Σαν να μην έφταναν όλα αυτά, προωθείται η μείωση και η κατάργηση διάφορων επιδομάτων. Συγκεκριμένα, το ΕΚΑΣ περικόπτεται κατά 240 εκατομμύρια (από 320 εκατομμύρια το 2017 σε 80 εκατομμύρια το 2018), με την προοπτική να καταργηθεί εντελώς το 2019 και το επίδομα θέρμανσης μειώνεται κατά 50% μέσα στο 2018. Το ΔΝΤ ζητά επανεξέταση των παροχών αναπηρίας μέσω της εμπλοκής ιδιωτικών κέντρων στη διαδικασία πιστοποίησης της, αξιολογώντας και καταγράφοντας εκ νέου τα ποσοστά της, με διαφαινόμενο σκοπό τον αποκλεισμό αρκετών από τους μέχρι πρότινος δικαιούχους του αντίστοιχου επιδόματος. Τα επιδόματα φτώχειας, απροστάτευτων τέκνων, φυσικών καταστροφών και ανεργίας νεοεισερχομένων από τον ΟΑΕΔ καταργούνται οριστικά. Όσον αφορά τα οικογενειακά επιδόματα, προβλέπονται μειώσεις σε συνδυασμό με την ανάδυση του κοινωνικού κανιβαλισμού δια της πλαγίας οδού. Ειδικότερα, μειώνονται τα επιδόματα τρίτεκνων και πολύτεκνων οικογενειών για να αναδιανεμηθούν τα αποσπώμενα ψίχουλα στις οικογένειες με ένα ή δύο παιδιά. Η καταβολή του στεγαστικού-φοιτητικού επιδόματος θα έχει ακόμα λιγότερους αποδέκτες, αφού οι δανειστές επιμένουν στη μείωση του εισοδηματικού ορίου των 30.000 ευρώ που ισχύει μέχρι στιγμής. Εξαίρεση δικαιούχων πρόκειται να εφαρμοστεί και για τη λήψη του επιδόματος στέγασης με πρόσχημα την αδυναμία κατοχύρωσης των πλεονασματικών στόχων για το 2018.

Οι ηλεκτρονικοί πλειστηριασμοί που ξεκίνησαν ήδη από τις 29/11, σύμφωνα με θεσμική εξαγγελία πρόκειται να ενταθούν το επόμενο διάστημα, ώστε να φτάσουν τους 18.000 τους επόμενους μήνες. Οι πλειστηριασμοί θα επεκταθούν και σε οφειλές προς το δημόσιο, ενώ με αλλαγές του πτωχευτικού δικαίου, ανοίγει ο δρόμος για την παράδοση των κόκκινων δανείων στα κερδοσκοπικά funds και αίρεται η προστασία της πρώτης κατοικίας. Οι τράπεζες μάλιστα πρόκειται να ανακεφαλαιοποιηθούν με ενισχύσεις ύψους 10 δισεκατομμυρίων ευρώ. Η μεταβίβαση πλούτου από τη βάση της κοινωνικής πυραμίδας προς την κορυφή γίνεται με τον πλέον ειδεχθή (και προ πολλού απροκάλυπτο) τρόπο. Η ηλεκτρονική διενέργεια των πλειστηριασμών αποτελεί την έσχατη λύση ή καλύτερα την παράκαμψη των κοινωνικών αντιστάσεων που πανελλαδικά έχουν μπλοκάρει εδώ και ενάμιση περίπου χρόνο τη ληστρική μεταβίβαση της πρώτης κατοικίας στα κερδοσκοπικά funds και στους θεματοφύλακές τους, δηλαδή στα ντόπια και διεθνή τραπεζικά ιδρύματα. Οι πλειστηριασμοί πρέπει να γίνουν πάση θυσία κατά απαίτηση των δανειστών, για αυτό και η συγκυβέρνηση ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α.-ΑΝΕΛ ετοιμάζεται να ψηφίσει νόμο για την αυτεπάγγελτη δίωξη όσων παρεμποδίζουν την τέλεσή τους.

Ένα ακόμα κομμάτι του συνολικότερου ξεπουλήματος αφορά τις ιδιωτικοποιήσεις με επίκεντρο την ηλεκτρική ενέργεια, τις μεταφορές, το νερό, τις τηλεπικοινωνίες και τον φυσικό πλούτο. Η ΔΕΗ θα πρέπει να εισφέρει το 51% των μετοχών του ΑΔΜΗΕ (Ανεξάρτητος Διαχειριστής Μεταφοράς Ηλεκτρικής Ενέργειας) σε εταιρείες συμμετοχών και το 40% της λιγνιτικής παραγωγής της ΔΕΗ θα πρέπει να εκποιηθεί. Δύο λιγνιτικές μονάδες στη Μεγαλόπολη και μία στη Μελίτη πρόκειται να πωληθούν. Στις 17/11 το ΤΑΙΠΕΔ (Ταμείο Αξιοποίησης Ιδιωτικής Περιουσίας του Δημοσίου) ανακοίνωσε την έναρξη της διαδικασίας εκδήλωσης ενδιαφέροντος για τη συμμετοχή σε διεθνή δημόσιο διαγωνισμό, με σκοπό την ανάθεση σύμβασης παραχώρησης υπηρεσιών για τη χρηματοδότηση, λειτουργία, συντήρηση και εκμετάλλευση του αυτοκινητοδρόμου της Εγνατίας Οδού και τριών κάθετων οδικών αξόνων της. Νέα διόδια πρόκειται να προστεθούν, παράλληλα με ανακατατάξεις στα τιμολόγιά τους.

Στο «σφυρί» βγαίνει και ο ΔΕΣΦΑ(Διαχειριστής Εθνικού Συστήματος Φυσικού Αερίου), το 66% του οποίου πρόκειται να αποκρατικοποιηθεί μέσα από διαγωνισμό που προκήρυξε το ΤΑΙΠΕΔ και από τη συνακόλουθη αποχώρηση του ΔΕΠΑ (Δημόσια Επιχείρηση Αερίου) από τη Θεσσαλία και τη Θεσσαλονίκη. Η ΕΥΔΑΠ ιδιωτικοποιείται κατά +0,17%, ενώ η ΕΥΑΘ κατά +2,17%. Το νερό από αναφαίρετο κοινωνικό αγαθό μετατρέπεται λόγω της κερδοσκοπικής αδηφαγίας σε εμπόρευμα, οι παρεχόμενες υπηρεσίες φθίνουν ποιοτικά, τα κοστολόγια ανεβαίνουν, οι αποδοχές των εργαζομένων συμπιέζονται προς τα κάτω, οι συνθήκες εργασίας «σκληραίνουν» και οι απολύσεις είναι ένα από τα πρώτα στρατηγικά βήματα των καινούριων διαχειριστών. Προς ιδιωτικοποίηση τίθεται και το Μετρό, ενώ το ξεπούλημα του αεροδρομίου του Ελληνικού αντιμετωπίζει κάποια ενοχλητικά κωλύματα μέχρι στιγμής, όπως το ξερίζωμα δασικών εκτάσεων και την εύρεση αρχαιοτήτων, ενώ τον Ιούνιο απομακρύνθηκαν περίπου 150 μετανάστες που είχαν βρει καταφύγιο στα κτήρια του παλιού αεροδρομίου. Το επενδυτικό «όνειρο» της ιδιωτικοποίησης του Ελληνικού θα πρέπει να έχει ολοκληρωθεί μέσα στο πρώτο τρίμηνο του 2018, ώστε κατόπιν να ξεκινήσει η ανέγερση ενός σύγχρονου καπιταλιστικού παραδείσου, με την ανέγερση τουριστικού συγκροτήματος στο οποίο θα στεγάζεται και καζίνο. Μπροστά στην απρόσκοπτη κερδοφορία των καπιταλιστών η γη καθίσταται «φιλέτο» προς πώληση.

Ο προνοιακός προϋπολογισμός πρόκειται να «κουρευτεί» κατά 1,6 δις για το 2018, ενώ η φοροληστεία θα διογκωθεί συνολικά κατά 900 εκατομμύρια ευρώ. Η κρατική χρηματοδότηση των δημόσιων νοσοκομείων θα περιοριστεί κατά 363 εκατομμύρια ευρώ και από τον ΕΟΠΠΥ θα περικοπούν 214 εκατομμύρια ευρώ. Το ήδη ασθμαίνον δημόσιο σύστημα υγείας καταρρέει όλο και περισσότερο. Τα ψηφισμένα μέτρα για την κατάργηση της έκπτωσης 10% επί του φόρου στις ιατρικές δαπάνες και την άρση της έκπτωσης φόρου της τάξεως του 1,5% κατά την εκκαθάριση των φορολογικών δηλώσεων μισθωτών και συνταξιούχων, πρόκειται πλέον να τεθούν σε εφαρμογή με στόχο την επίτευξη πρωτογενούς πλεονάσματος 3,5% του ΑΕΠ (3,82% προβλέπει βέβαια ο προϋπολογισμός). Από την πρώτη μέρα που μια οφειλή προς το δημόσιο κρίνεται ληξιπρόθεσμη θα χάνεται πλέον η δυνατότητα της ρύθμισης των 100 δόσεων. Επιπρόσθετα, οι συντάξεις θα επαναϋπολογιστούν για να μην ισχύει πια το πλαφόν του 30% για τη μείωσή τους σε περίπτωση πρόωρης συνταξιοδότησης, ώστε ο περιορισμός της σύνταξης να είναι μεγαλύτερος. Το 2019 θα περικοπεί και η λεγόμενη προσωπική διαφορά στις συντάξεις. Η νέα μείωση των εισοδημάτων που έχει οριστεί να ξεκινήσει από 1/1/2019, ενδέχεται να εφαρμοστεί από το 2018 αν το απαιτήσουν τα στενά περιθώρια της δημοσιονομικής αναπροσαρμογής. Επιπλέον, στα μέτρα της 3ης αξιολόγησης συγκαταλέγονται η αξιολόγηση και η κινητικότητα των δημοσίων υπαλλήλων, υποβαθμίζοντας περαιτέρω τις ήδη διαλυμένες δημόσιες υπηρεσίες σε συνδυασμό φυσικά με απολύσεις και αρνητική μεταβολή στις εργασιακές σχέσεις. Στον χώρο της εκπαίδευσης θα αξιολογηθούν καθηγητές και σχολικές μονάδες, το ωράριο των καθηγητών θα φτάσει τις 30 εργάσιμες ώρες την εβδομάδα, ενώ θα αυξηθεί και ο αριθμός των μαθητών ανά τάξη.

Στις 22/1/2018 πρόκειται να ξεκινήσει η διαδικασία της 4ης αξιολόγησης, που θα επιφέρει νέο μπαράζ αντεργατικών και αντικοινωνικών μέτρων. Αυτή είναι η ωμότητα της μνημονιακής πραγματικότητας. Η καταλήστευση της κοινωνικής πλειοψηφίας θα συνεχίζεται και θα εντείνεται επί μακρόν. Όταν η ίδια μας η επιβίωση αμφισβητείται με τον πιο ξεδιάντροπο τρόπο και οι ζωές μας παζαρεύονται σε διακρατικές πιστωτικές συμβάσεις για την ανακύκλωση του χρέους, ώστε να διασωθούν και να πλουτίσουν ακόμα περισσότερο οι καπιταλιστές, όλοι εμείς, οι εκμεταλλευόμενοι και οι καταπιεσμένοι δε γίνεται να καθόμαστε με σταυρωμένα τα χέρια. Οι κυρίαρχοι μας λένε να κάνουμε υπομονή και μας τάζουν ότι οι θυσίες μας θα επιβραβευτούν όταν «έρθει η ανάπτυξη». Αν δεν καταλάβουμε πως με όλους αυτούς βρισκόμαστε σε αντίπαλα στρατόπεδα, λόγω της θέσης που κατέχουμε στην παραγωγική διαδικασία και κατ' αντιστοιχία στην κοινωνική πυραμίδα, η εξαθλίωσή μας δε θα έχει τελειωμό. Η διαταξική ειρήνη και η εθνική ενότητα είναι πράξεις ταξικής «αυτοκτονίας» για τους/ις προλετάριους/ες. Με αυτούς που ζουν από την εργασία μας, με αυτούς που καρπώνονται τον πλούτο που παράγουμε, με αυτούς που αποφασίζουν φαινομενικά «για λογαριασμό του λαού» στα πλαίσια της εκλόγιμης ολιγαρχίας και του κρατισμού, αλλά αποτελούν το πολιτικό προσωπικό του κεφαλαίου, δεν έχουμε τίποτα απολύτως κοινό! Τα συμφέροντά μας είναι εκ της υλικής πραγματικότητας αντίθετα.

Ο ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α. ανελίχθηκε στην εξουσία εξαγοράζοντας με κάλπικο τρόπο τις ελπίδες των καταπιεσμένων, υποσχόμενος έναν καπιταλισμό με ανθρώπινο πρόσωπο, απονεκρώνοντας τις κοινωνικές και ταξικές αντιστάσεις, ενσωματώνοντας και αφομοιώνοντας μάλιστα μεγάλο τμήμα τους. Στην εποχή των βίαιων αναδιαρθρώσεων που επιζητεί το κεφάλαιο για να ξεπεράσει τη δομική κρίση υπερσυσσώρευσης που γεννούν οι ίδιες οι εσωτερικές αντιφάσεις του καπιταλισμού, η σοσιαλδημοκρατία αποτελεί ξεπερασμένη και ασύμφορη συνταγή για το κεφάλαιο. Η ενδεικτική λύση για τους καπιταλιστές είναι η λεηλασία των πληβειακών στρωμάτων μέσα από νεοφιλελεύθερες μεταρρυθμίσεις. Αν εμφανιστούν βέβαια εκρηκτικές κοινωνικές αντιστάσεις που απειλούν την ίδια τη βιωσιμότητα του συστήματος, ο φασισμός επιστρατεύεται ως η τελευταία και πιο βάρβαρη εφεδρεία του κεφαλαίου, με το σενάριο, βέβαια, ενός γενικευμένου πολέμου εκτεταμένης ως και παγκόσμιας κλίμακας για την καταστροφή έμψυχων και άψυχων τμημάτων της παραγωγής και την επέκταση των αγορών να είναι πάντα μέσα στο παιχνίδι.

Όσο αποφεύγουμε τον αγώνα τόσο θα βιώνουμε την ήττα. Τα κεκτημένα που κερδήθηκαν με μακρόχρονους αγώνες, που δε μας χαρίστηκαν επ' ουδενί, «γίνονται καπνός» σε κάθε επόμενο γύρο της μνημονιακής αξιολόγησης. Η θηλιά στενεύει ακόμα περισσότερο στο λαιμό μας. Για να μη ζήσουμε σαν δούλοι και να μη γεράσουμε επαίτες οφείλουμε να οργανώσουμε την κοινωνική και ταξική αντεπίθεσή μας ενάντια σε κράτος και κεφάλαιο. Να οργανωθούμε σε σωματεία βάσης, τη στιγμή που ο γραφειοκρατικός-καθεστωτικός συνδικαλισμός αποτελεί τροχοπέδη για τους εργατικούς αγώνες, διότι αποτελεί έναν πόλο διαταξικής ειρήνης και συναίνεσης στις πολιτικές κοινωνικής και εργατικής εξόντωσης, ενώ την ίδια στιγμή συντηρούνται παρασιτικά «επαγγελματίες συνδικαλιστές» και χτίζονται πολιτικές καριέρες από επίδοξους αριβιστές πάνω στις πλάτες των εργατών. Να κάνουμε λοιπόν τον συνδικαλισμό αδιάλλακτο και μαχητικό, επικίνδυνο για τα αφεντικά, τις γενικές απεργίες, διαρκείας και όχι θεαματικές τουφεκιές στον αέρα για να ολοκληρωθεί η συνδικαλιστική υποχρέωση.

Απέναντι στη βαρβαρότητα του σύγχρονου ολοκληρωτισμού, μέσα από την ακηδεμόνευτη κοινωνική και ταξική οργάνωση και αντεπίθεση από τη βάση, χωρίς ηγέτες και αντιπροσώπους, ο μετασχηματισμός των υπαρχουσών παραγωγικών και κοινωνικών σχέσεων, διέρχεται μέσα από την καταστροφή του κράτους και του καπιταλισμού δια της κοινωνικής επανάστασης. Για να φτιάξουμε έναν κόσμο για όλους και όχι για λίγους. Έναν κόσμο όπου ο καθένας θα παράγει ανάλογα με τις δυνατότητές του και θα λαμβάνει σύμφωνα με τις ανάγκες του. Έναν κόσμο όπου θα παύσει η εκμετάλλευση ανθρώπου από άνθρωπο, φύσης από άνθρωπο και η εξουσία ανθρώπου πάνω σε άνθρωπο. Αγωνιζόμαστε για μια κοινωνία πανανθρώπινης χειραφέτησης, ελευθερίας, ισότητας και αλληλεγγύης, όπου οι ομοσπονδίες των αυτοδιευθυνόμενων κομμούνων και των ελεύθερων ενώσεων των παραγωγών θα συγκροτήσουν μια παγκόσμια συνομοσπονδία, που θα υπερβεί το βάρβαρο οργανωτικό μοντέλο κοινωνικής διάρθρωσης που συγκροτούν το κράτος και ο καπιταλισμός, με σκοπό την ολόπλευρη ανάπτυξη και ικανοποίηση των αναγκών και των επιθυμιών της ανθρώπινης προσωπικότητας.

ΟΛΟΙ/ΕΣ ΣΤΟΥΣ ΔΡΟΜΟΥΣ
ΝΑ ΜΠΛΟΚΑΡΟΥΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΕΦΑΡΜΟΓΗ ΤΩΝ ΜΕΤΡΩΝ ΤΗΣ 3ης ΑΞΙΟΛΟΓΗΣΗΣ

ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΚΗ ΚΑΙ ΤΑΞΙΚΗ ΑΝΤΕΠΙΘΕΣΗ ΕΝΑΝΤΙΑ ΣΤΗ ΒΑΡΒΑΡΟΤΗΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΚΡΑΤΟΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΥ ΚΕΦΑΛΑΙΟΥ

ΟΡΓΑΝΩΣΗ ΚΑΙ ΑΓΩΝΑΣ ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΑΝΑΡΧΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΝ ΚΟΜΜΟΥΝΙΣΜΟ

ΓΕΝΙΚΗ ΑΠΕΡΓΙΑ ΠΕΜΠΤΗ 14 ΔΕΚΕΜΒΡΗ
ΚΑΛΕΣΜΑΤΑ

ΑΘΗΝΑ:
ΣΥΓΚΕΝΤΡΩΣΗ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΡΕΙΑ:

11.00 ΜΟΥΣΕΙΟ

ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗ:
ΠΟΡΕΙΑ
10:00 ΚΑΜΑΡΑ

ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΟ ΚΡΗΤΗΣ:
ΠΟΡΕΙΑ
10:00 ΑΓΑΛΜΑ ΒΕΝΙΖΕΛΟΥ
συμμετέχουμε στο κοινό αναρχικό μπλοκ

Αναρχική Ομοσπονδία
anarchist-federation.gr
info@anarchist-federation.gr
twitter: witter.com/anarchistfedGr
fb: facebook.com/anarxikiomospondia2015/

southern africa / the left / opinion / analysis Wednesday December 13, 2017 18:23 byLucien van der Walt, with Sian Byrne and Nicole Ulrich*

A lightly edited transcript of a presentation at a workshop hosted by the International Labour Research & Information Group (ILRIG) and the Orange Farm Human Rights Advice Centre in Drieziek extension 1, Orange Farm township, south of Soweto, South Africa, on 24 June 2017. It was attended by a hall full of community and worker activists, including veterans of the big rebellions of the 1980s.

South African ‘Workerism’ in the 1980s: Learning from FOSATU’s Radical Unionism

By Lucien van der Walt, with Sian Byrne and Nicole Ulrich*

This is a lightly edited transcript of a presentation at a workshop hosted by the International Labour Research & Information Group (ILRIG) and the Orange Farm Human Rights Advice Centre in Drieziek extension 1, Orange Farm township, south of Soweto, South Africa, on 24 June 2017. It was attended by a hall full of community and worker activists, including veterans of the big rebellions of the 1980s.
Thank you comrades for having me here. The Federation of South African Trade Unions is the focus of my talk. I want to look at what FOSATU stood for and what we can learn from FOSATU. When people remember it, they often label it as marked by “workerism,” and they take that as a bad thing. But I want to show the so-called “workerism” of FOSATU was very radical, that this radical South African “workerism” is very important to understand, and build upon, today.

I want to stress, at the start, that what I speak about here rests very heavily, not just on my research, but the work of other comrades, notably Sian Byrne and Nicole Ulrich… Although they are not here in person, they are here as a key influence and inspiration and, in a sense, are my co-presenters in spirit.

Before there was the Congress of South African Trade Unions, today’s COSATU, there was FOSATU. FOSATU was set up in 1979. There had been strikes and struggles in the 1970s, starting with a big strike wave in Namibia from 1971-1972, which was then a South African colony, then a big strike wave starting in Durban 1973, which spread around the country. Although we remember 1976 for the bravery of the youth and students, we must remember that the 1976 uprising also involved general strikes by the black working class, mass stay-aways.

And as the working class started to flex its muscles, and to organise new, independent unions, the need for unity was felt. In 1979, at Hammanskraal, FOSATU was set up. The flag of FOSATU was red, black and gold, with a hammer, a spanner and a spade. FOSATU grew quickly, despite repression by the apartheid state. Leaders and activists in FOSATU were banned, jailed; some, like Andries Raditsela, were murdered by police. There was continual intimidation, and employers would fire workers for going on strike or “agitating” at work. Unemployment is not just about money: unemployment is a weapon of the bosses, and this weapon was used many times against FOSATU.

But, despite the pain, repression and suffering of the comrades in FOSATU, it got bigger and bigger, and stronger and stronger, and by 1985 it was the single biggest black working class organisation in the country. And not just the biggest, but in many ways, the strongest. It didn’t just exist in a moment of protest, or as a crowd that gathers around a grievance or in a crisis; it existed continuously, as a democratic, bottom-up machine that ran smoothly even when struggles died down. And it had 150,000 members, it had large education programs, it had a newspaper, it had choirs, it had successful strikes and campaigns, it had affiliates across the economy.

FOSATU’S “Workerism”

“Workerism” was a label that was painted onto FOSATU by those who did not like what FOSATU was doing. The people who gave it the label were not the racist National Party government, were not the police’s brutal Security Branch, but the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress. They denounced FOSATU repeatedly.

There was a simple reason: FOSATU refused to bow down to a political party, it did not trust the ANC and it did not like the SACP’s top-down politics. FOSATU said that control in FOSATU needed to be in the hands of the workers, and that change in the country had to be radical and benefit the working class, and that parties could not be trusted to do this.

So, the first thing about “workerism” – the main current in FOSATU, and its core politics –was its emphasis on building autonomous workers’ unions. What that meant was that trade unions needed to be free of outside control. They needed to be controlled by their members – the ordinary workers – and not controlled inside the union by a few leaders, and not controlled outside the union by political parties, by the bosses or by the government.

We must remember that in those days there were large so-called registered trade unions like the Trade Union Council of South Africa. In fact TUCSA was bigger than FOSATU at one stage. But unions like TUCSA were sweet-heart unions, moderate, entangled into the state, run from above, and weak; they were racially segregated, largely excluding black Africans, and also treating their Coloured and Indian members badly.

FOSATU didn’t want to be anything like TUCSA. It wanted autonomy for the working class and poor, who were part of the working class. FOSATU wanted a union movement embracing all workers and under workers’ control. In reality, it was mainly black African in composition but it was strong in places where there was a large Coloured working class, for example Port Elizabeth and East London, and where there was a large Indian working class, for example Durban. In its search for the unity of the working class across race, FOSATU also tried to recruit white workers in the factories in Port Elizabeth, East Rand, the Vaal, but with little success.

Bottom-Up Industrial Unions

The second key part of FOSATU’s “workerism” was its stress on systematically building mass-based, bottom-up, profoundly democratic and fighting industrial unions. The idea was to organise industry by industry. So FOSATU would organise one union for the metal industry, one for textiles, one for chemicals and so on.

But rather than rely on laws or leaders, like TUCSA, FOSATU’s approach was to organise carefully, patiently. I call it the brick-by-brick approach that creates a mighty fortress. A good example was FOSATU’s Metal and Allied Workers Union, which was active in the ISCOR steel factories of the government, in the private sector car factories owned by multinationals, like Ford and Volkswagen, and in the metal and auto industry generally, much of it owned by local white capitalists.

FOSATU’s approach, illustrated by MAWU, was quite careful. It would set up a very clear program of action, targeting first a big factory, with, say, 4,000 workers: it’s easier to organise a big factory than a small factory. It would capture this base by forming a fighting union that raised demands and won them plus won “recognition agreements” (i.e. negotiating rights) with the bosses. From there, it sent out units to organise other factories nearby, including the smaller ones. Where needed, it would try and combine negotiations across factories, so that the smaller factories and union branches could be helped by the larger ones.

The idea is that you didn’t just declare a campaign and make a demand, without an organised base, and without working class power to back it. You wage careful, sometimes slow, social war, factory by factory, workplace by workplace. Each that you win over is another fortress, another centre of working class power from which you can expand outwards. You don’t make demands that you can’t win and you don’t drop a demand that you raise. So MAWU might demand, for example, equal wages across races, fight for it, even for two or three years, get a deal, also raise an issue around layoffs, fight, get a deal and so on. These were things that bosses did not want to give, they did not want to concede, but they had to be fought for, and they could be won.

Each struggle and each victory developed confidence, numbers and layers of militants, and made real gains for the working class. If you take the workers out into a battle that you can’t win, you lose the larger war; you lose the workers because they are tired and weakened; you break their hearts and wills. And struggle is based fundamentally on the fire and strength of the heart and mind, the will, that power within yourself to keep going. So that is a precious resource and FOSATU understood that you needed to manage it carefully.

By 1982, FOSATU had built MAWU into a mass-based metal union, as well as other strong unions. It was confident that it could confront the employers in key sectors and firms as well as the state where needed, act regionally and nationally and not just at individual workplaces, consolidate the power of the union base, and carry out struggles based on directions from the shop floor.

FOSATU did not, let me stress, reject participation in the formal Industrial Council negotiating system of the state. Rather, it insisted that all agreements be directed by and checked by, the base, to prevent the hijacking and misuse of their demands.

Assemblies and Committees

That brings me to the third key part of FOSATU’s “workerist” approach. What FOSATU stressed was that a union was not a head office or a service centre, but was based on the shop floor. So they organised based on regular mass meetings, or assemblies, that elected shop stewards, and gave them clear instructions, and made sure they reported back and acted against them if they did not. The idea was you wouldn’t have unions based on officials from outside the workplace; as much as possible the workers would be the organisers, and officialdom would be kept in check. This would be carried out within each union, and also across the federation.

So, the leadership at all levels were to be delegates, kept on a tight leash, always accountable to regular meetings. The idea here was to build a union that was based on many, many layers of cadreship, militants – and a leadership generated and regenerated from below. Remember, in the apartheid days, horrors like the 2012 massacre at Marikana, which shocked us, were a regular occurrence; death, torture, mass imprisonment were the daily business of the old regime.

The advantage was that, if one layer got taken out, sent to jail, banned, killed, the union survived. It was not secure because the different parts were separate and independent from each other, like independent cells with sporadic links – but rather, because it was deeply rooted in the workers at the workplaces, with the workers unified through effective, democratic structures and procedures that renewed themselves, in tight unions and a tight federation. The idea was that of a mandated, multi-layer worker-leadership.

Some people now praise assemblies and workers’ committees as an alternative to unions, but for FOSATU, the union and the federation centred on assemblies and workers’ committees.

People who were hired by the FOSATU unions or federation for specialist jobs, like media work or full-time organising, but who were not elected, could not vote in the union structures. Anyone hired was to earn an ordinary worker’s wage.

ANC and SACP enemies of FOSATU often claimed that “white intellectuals” were running it. And certainly FOSATU activists included people like Alec Erwin, a former university lecturer. But people like Erwin were a tiny minority in the union leadership; they served either in elected positions, and so were accountable, or in unelected non-voting positions, and so were contained. And most “intellectuals” in the union were black African or Coloured worker-intellectuals, like MAWU’s Moses Mayekiso and FOSATU’s Joe Foster.

Education, Identity, History

Fourth, FOSATU’s “workerism” placed a heavy emphasis on building working class education, working class identity, working class culture and working class history.

To understand that the working class and its struggles come from and to learn from earlier struggles, and to remember and value them, FOSATU outlined the history of the working class. That the working class in South Africa comes from the older classes of slaves and servants, sailors and soldiers. That the working class in South Africa is part of the working class of the whole world, with a common interest and struggle. That, in building a working class movement, we must understand where we come from, who are, to understand our struggles and recover our historical memory as a class, our pain and our victories.

In FOSATU Worker News, FOSATU outlined South African history from the perspective of the oppressed classes over three hundred years. It took a class line, attacking European colonialism and racism, but linking these to capitalism; and it drew attention to the role of African kings and chiefs in upholding oppression, including through slave-trading. Before FOSATU, there was the SA Congress of Trade Unions; before SACTU there was the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union; outside the unions there were movements like the slave revolts of the old Cape, unemployed movements, the anti-pass protests of the 1950s and 1910s, the squatter movements of the 1940s; and many more.

And FOSATU helped popularize and publicize this history – to celebrate it, but also to learn from past failures, such as how the ICU was destroyed by sloppy organising, unaccountable leaders and ineffective strategy. FOSATU also worked with the radical History Workshop of academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, participating in their conferences. In 1984, thousands of workers attended the conference, going to and presenting in seminars, learning, talking, making and enriching a history from below.

For FOSATU, we South Africans were part of the world’s working class: a South African worker, a Russian worker, a worker in Brazil were of the same class, with the same enemies. You can have Coca-Cola, you have a Sprite, a Pepsi, but they are all fizzy soft drinks. You are exploited in South Korea, you are exploited in Brazil, and you are exploited in Poland: different flavours but the same stuff. FOSATU stressed that the problems that we faced in the 1980s were not only South African problems, they are global, and part of a global struggle. So FOSATU highlighted struggles in Zimbabwe, Poland and Britain, and it located the South African class struggle in a global history of struggle.

FOSATU made interventions in a range of areas. It ran worker choirs, culture days, and promoted images and slogans that stressed its messages. Similarly FOSATU developed materials for the youth, around women’s issues, and engaged in a range of political and social areas.

Beyond Wages, Beyond Workplaces

That brings me to the fifth element: contrary to what its enemies said, FOSATU “workerism” was never about ignoring politics or ignoring the world beyond the workplace.

At the workplace, FOSATU did not just raise issues around wages and conditions but other issues too. They recognized that women workers, especially black women workers, faced specific forms of oppression. They raised the need for crèches and childcare at work, and noted how women’s jobs and incomes and promotion and role in the unions was affected by the double burden: after the factory, the home. They campaigned for changes and equality. They spent time catching bosses who were sexually harassing women, setting up traps and catching them, and getting them fired or disciplined.

FOSATU positioned itself as the voice of black, Coloured and Indian workers in a racist, capitalist society. It fought the apartheid wage gap, within the same jobs and between different jobs; and racist pension and labour relations and on-site facilities systems; and tackled the authoritarian and racist workplace management system. It fought to make the workplace more democratic, more non-racial.

So FOSATU’s “workerism” wasn’t just about money, wasn’t just about bus fares, wasn’t just about pensions, it was about the working class’s struggle for dignity in the workplace, against racism in the factories – and also beyond the workplace. Because FOSATU did not stop at the workplace. It campaigned against oppression in the townships and the larger society, the oppression of the black and Coloured and Indian working class community.

It fought around the specific issues that some workers faced that others did not, from the perspective of solidarity and unity: besides the oppression of women, they spoke to the youth, to the unemployed, they put a lot of stress on the plight of migrant workers in the towns, and of the workers in the homelands or Bantustans. While unions like FOSATU were able to operate fairly openly in so-called “white” South Africa, homeland leaders like Lucas Mangope and Gatsha Buthelezi did not allow independent unions at all. FOSATU fought this, opposed the homeland system, and tried to break into them and organise unions.

So FOSATU wanted to become involved in township and other struggles, and extend the influence of the unions and organised workers into these spheres. Where possible, FOSATU entered into alliances or common work, especially through its shop-steward councils, which spanned the different FOSATU unions.

These brought together FOSATU workers from different FOSATU affiliates, who lived or worked in the same area. These councils could then engage directly with local community organisations, both as members and leaders in these, and through them bring the power of the unions to bear in their support. This could range from forcing employers to put pressure on bus companies, to infusing these structures with democratic practices drawn from the FOSATU tradition, and radical ideas drawn from that tradition.

FOSATU’s politics also suggested that workers’ control meant that workers, as the majority in the township communities, also had to have a large level of influence in those communities.

Alliances, Errors, Hesitancy

FOSATU was criticized, sometimes correctly, for being a bit too cautious in these engagements, and for not giving a greater lead. Sometimes it worked in parallel with other structures, rather than with them; sometimes it stayed away from campaigns; generally it avoided long-term alliances.

Part of this hesitation was because FOSATU was afraid of being swallowed by other groups. It believed, correctly, that many community-based anti-apartheid groups lacked stable democratic structures; that they were often run by the petty bourgeoisie, much of which was aligned to the ANC, SACP and other nationalists; and some engaged in political thuggery, including against FOSATU. FOSATU did not trust forces from outside the working class, and did not trust nationalism, which downplayed class differences by stressing common racial and national experiences.

In hindsight, it can be argued that they would have been much stronger and more influential by building long-term links and alliances – tragically, FOSATU stayed out of the United Democratic Front, formed in 1983, and lost the chance to build links with large, like-minded youth and community currents in the UDF. They did work with UDF at times, or support it, but in staying out, they also surrendered it to the nationalists and middle class.

But it is not correct to present FOSATU’s “workerist” politics as narrow or bureaucratic. What FOSATU was doing was, in fact, carrying out its agenda, outlined at its 1982 congress in a position paper delivered by Joe Foster. This was that workers needed to be part of the “popular struggle” but to have their “own, powerful and effective organisation,” “worker leadership” in the neighbourhoods, and forge a “working class movement” that went beyond the unions. FOSATU understood that unions were not enough, that the project and power that was developing at workplaces also needed to extend the larger working class, and that unions should be only one part of the FOSATU project.

Expansive “Workers’ Control”

And this meant the need to strengthen the identity of the working class, to know where we fit into the capitalist system, to understand our power as the working class, and to understand that it is the working class alone who has the power to change society in a way that is fundamentally progressive.

So the notion that the FOSATU “workerist” politics was about being small and contained was completely wrong. There were contradictions and errors and hesitancy in FOSATU’s work, but it was never a moderate, narrow movement.

That brings me to the sixth element: FOSATU “workerism” involved dealing with issues beyond wages in the workplace, and also, it involved building beyond the workplace, but what was the aim?

It pointed to an expansion of worker control over the society and the economy as a whole, a new South Africa, in which the working class, the masses, were not just responding to what capital and the state were doing, but exercising real control. “Workers’ control,” at one level, meant workers control of the unions; but at another, it was a more radical vision of steady transformation.

This could build on steps like pushing back the frontier of control at work, for example, by having a growing input on decisions, but it would not end its steps there. A new South Africa had to be one in which capitalism and the profit system that exploited and oppressed the working class would be progressively removed.

Some of the workerists, like Mayekiso, argued clearly against the ANC slogan that “The People Must Govern,” asking: who are “the people”? Did they include capitalists? Homeland rulers?

“The people,” here, was rooted in the ANC’s nationalist politics, which downplayed class issues and aimed at a multi-class alliance of all democrats, rather than a class struggle of all working class people. The cost of that alliance, what made it possible, was retaining capitalism. But retaining capitalism meant retaining the exploitation of the majority.

In place of the ANC/SACP “Freedom Charter,” Mayekiso called for a Workers Charter, which would provide a basis for the workers to “take over and direct the whole” economy.

Elsewhere in Africa, independence brought positive reforms, but soon ended up captured by a nationalist elite that turned on the working class. FOSATU studied the case of neighbouring Zimbabwe very closely, noting that nationalists led by Robert Mugabe smashed up strikes and unions, and defended capitalism, soon after taking office.

Why would ANC be different? If there are workers at the bottom, whatever the colour of the president, who are suffering then there is no deep change. So Mayekiso insisted that the Freedom Charter was a “capitalist document,” rather than a program for “a change of the whole society.”

So what you can see here is a radical anti-capitalist class struggle politics. But at the same time, FOSATU distanced itself from the SACP, and through its support for workers’ struggles in Poland by the Solidarność union movement, also rejected the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its client states, because in these workers had no power.

Workers Power, National Liberation

This meant that the struggle against apartheid had to be linked to the struggle against apartheid. The ANC and SACP wanted to remove apartheid but follow it with a reformed capitalism, a first “stage” called the “national democratic revolution” or NDR. According to the SACP, this would later (somehow) be followed by a second “stage” of socialism.

FOSATU’s “workerism” did not just disagree with the SACP’s vision of what the second “stage” would be (a USSR-style dictatorship), but rejected splitting the anti-apartheid and the anti-capitalist struggles. Mayekiso insisted that “apartheid is an appendage and a branch of the whole thing – the tree of oppression of capitalism.” So it was not enough to defeat the son, apartheid, you had to defeat the father. Capitalism, Foster said, hid “behind the curtains of apartheid and racism,” but “capital and its lackeys were undoubtedly the major beneficiaries of apartheid.”

FOSATU argued against the NDR two-stage theory, which was being pushed in the UDF and in unions outside FOSATU and by ANC and SACP cells inside FOSATU. In Mayekiso’s words, there should not be “two stages” but “one stage continuous; this thing of two stages is a waste of time and a waste of blood.” So it was crucial that the unions and the working class did not get captured or confused by existing white capital or emerging black capital.

Working Class Nation

FOSATU wanted one nation – but centred on the working class. It believed in a united South Africa: remember in those days, there was the Bantustan policy, the apartheid segregation in everything from jobs to toilets to schools, around 14 different parliaments for different races and homelands, different TV stations, different everything.

For FOSATU, these divisions had to be removed, as unjust, and as part of the working class struggle: the working class has many races, languages and cultures, but it had to be united around a common identity and aim.

A new South African nation needed to overcome the old divisions, including race, but be forged in struggle and based on justice and equality. Race was not the basis of inclusion or exclusion, but racial equality through radical changes in the cities, in the economy, in the society was essential. Here, majority rule meant working class power, and, of course, the majority of the class was black African, Coloured and Indian.

So the new nation would be non-racial, but it would be one in which the working class predominated. It would be driving the car, not fixing the car. It would be one in which the working class put its imprint on the nation. The culture of the nation would be that of the working class. The governance and power of the nation would be vested as much as possible in the working class.

It is sometimes argued that the choice is between national liberation (from apartheid) and workers’ liberation (from capitalism), but FOSATU never set up such an empty choice: rather, real national liberation for the working class required workers power and anti-capitalism.

In Closing: Strengths & Weaknesses

I want to make three general points in closing. One, in many ways FOSATU was right. If we look at South Africa today, the poverty, powerlessness, injustice, if we look at how people like Cyril Ramaphosa – in his time, a hero of the working class, a union man, today a capitalist and a traitor – if we look at the ANC today, we have exactly the anti-worker outcome that FOSATU warned against.

FOSATU was right: when you get tied into the political parties, they take your best and brightest and corrupt them, they seek to capture the unions and smother them. FOSATU was right: the working class needs its own independent program, it needs to be anti-capitalist, its power needs to rest in working class mass organisations, not just in unions but communities and it cannot rest until capitalism is defeated by workers control.

But, in other ways, FOSATU was also wrong. FOSATU had a good criticism, a good daily practice and a vision of a good future. But at the level of a strategy linking what it did, in organising, educating and mobilising, and what it wanted in the end – that new South Africa it sought – there was no clear link. You can pack your bags for a trip to Cape Town, but unless you have got a plan to get there you are probably not going to get there.

In terms of a strategy linking the vision, linking workers’ control today to a working class-centred new nation, linking present-day winnable demands to a massive shift in power and wealth, linking criticism of the nationalists to defeating the nationalists – FOSATU fell down.

Some parts of FOSATU were spending their time on court cases as part of a strategy to reshape the state; some parts were aiming at taking power: these are not the same thing. Some parts were working with the ANC quietly, some parts were saying to hell with the ANC. Some parts thought of the new South Africa as socialist, others as social democratic. All were vague on details. “Workerism” was not anarcho-syndicalism but a mixture of different ideas.

The “workerist” thinking in FOSATU wasn’t developed enough. This was partly because of daily pressures and a stress on getting things done. But it was also because the “workerists” hadn’t organised themselves into a specific group that could develop theory and strategy. They were a network, based in the unions, rather than a coherent group.

This also meant that, when the ANC and SACP began to build cells and secret cabals in the FOSATU unions, the workerists were not able to respond effectively. They needed to organise as a group in the unions, and outside the unions, including in the UDF, to plan and evaluate and strategise and intervene. Not just to clarify the problems in strategy, but to deal with other threats too.

People like Jacob Zuma, then the head of ANC secret intelligence, were directing ANC/SACP plans to capture the unions: they were skilled and they did not care about democracy. And they ended up winning.

When FOSATU joined with other unions in 1985 to form COSATU, it was the biggest and best-organised bloc, and the first COSATU resolutions had a deep “workerist” imprint, including independence from parties. Within two years, they were gone as a serious force. Even MAWU, which became the heart of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa in 1987, ended up adopting the Freedom Charter and NDR, even if they gave this a radical interpretation. Jay Naidoo, a great activist but an ANC cadre, was one who worked inside FOSATU, and he helped forge the defeat of “workerism” in COSATU.

Tomorrow, Today

Third, in closing, let us remember something key from FOSATU: the idea that tomorrow is built today, that, as MAWU said, learn from the past, act in the present, to build the future. What we do now shapes what we get tomorrow – you cannot take a tree that is growing, cut it down, take off the bark, take off the leaves and use as a kierie, or club, and then put it back in the ground and think that it is going to be a tree. You cannot build an undemocratic organisation and think it will become democratic. You cannot raise your dog to bite people and then be surprised when it bites people.

If we want a democratic, worker-controlled society, FOSATU understood, you need democratic unions and a democratic working class movement. If you want a society beyond capitalism you need clear ideas of how to get there and you need to practice what you preach. The ANC in exile was a top-down structure, it was run from the top by men like Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, top-down. When the ANC was unbanned, the exiled ANC took over and systematically undermined the best of the democratic traditions of the UDF, which it soon disbanded, and of COSATU, which it has systematically penetrated. It did not have democratic traditions or tolerate opponents then, and there should be no surprise that it is undemocratic and intolerant now.


* Lucien van der Walt delivered the talk, but it is based on joint work with Sian Byrne and Nicole Ulrich. See Sian Byrne, Nicole Ulrich and Lucien van der Walt, 2017, “Red, Black and Gold: FOSATU, South African ‘Workerism,’ ‘Syndicalism’ and the Nation,” in Edward Webster and Karin Pampillas (eds.), The Unresolved National Question in South Africa: Left Thinking Under Apartheid. Wits University Press.

southern africa / the left / opinion / analysis Wednesday December 13, 2017 18:12 byJonathan Payn

A lightly edited transcript of a presentation at a workshop hosted by the International Labour Research & Information Group (ILRIG) and the Orange Farm Human Rights Advice Centre in Drieziek extension 1, Orange Farm township, south of Soweto, South Africa, on 24 June 2017. It was attended by a hall full of community and worker activists, including veterans of the big rebellions of the 1980s.

Lessons from the 1984-85 Vaal Uprising for Rebuilding a 'United Front' of Communities and Workers Today

By Jonathan Payn

This is a lightly edited transcript of a presentation at a workshop hosted by the International Labour Research & Information Group (ILRIG) and the Orange Farm Human Rights Advice Centre in Drieziek extension 1, Orange Farm township, south of Soweto, South Africa, on 24 June 2017. It was attended by a hall full of community and worker activists, including veterans of the big rebellions of the 1980s.
Comrades, the talk I am giving is based on a paper that I have written. The paper is a work in progress. I am hoping that, through the discussions we will have, you will give me some direction. I can see some of the dots that can be connected, but I am missing some. The written paper is called “Asinamali! Rebuilding a united front of communities and workers: #GraveFeesMustFall, neoliberalism and the 1984-1985 Vaal Uprising.” It’s a big title but we’ll unpack it.
When we talk about people’s power we are not thinking about putting our leaders into the very same structures. We do not want Nelson Mandela to be the state President in the same kind of parliament as Botha. We do not want Walter Sisulu to be Chairperson of a Capitalist Anglo-American corporation.
So said a United Democratic Front pamphlet called “Building People’s Power” that was produced in the 1980s. It continued, “We are struggling for a different system where power is no longer in the hands of the rich and powerful. We are struggling for a government that we will all vote for.” The UDF, formed in 1983, was a coalition of anti-apartheid community, church, worker, youth, sports and other groups. Along with forces like the “workerist” Federation of South African Trade Unions it played a key role in resistance.

What the UDF wanted sounds like almost the exact opposite of what actually happened: more than 20 years later, it is not Sisulu who is chairperson of Anglo-American Corporation, but the ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa, the Butcher of Marikana, who is a shareholder on the capitalist Lonmin Corporation. Even though people have the right to vote now, fewer and fewer people are actually voting because they don’t get what they vote for; and power and wealth are still in the hands of the rich and powerful.

What went wrong, and what lessons we can draw? What are some of the similarities between the 1980s and today? What is the way forward?

The Vaal Uprising, 1984

Conditions in the townships for the black working class in the 1980s were very similar to the conditions today. Starting in the late 1970s and into the ’80s, the economy was in a recession. If we look at the Vaal, there had been a slump in the steel industry, so there had been mass retrenchments at ISCOR, the old state steel company, which had a large plant in the Vaal. This has since been privatised and is now Arcelor-Mittal. The conditions in the townships, which were already bad, because of the racist policies of separate development between the black townships and white suburbs, were getting worse and worse. There was a deepening education crisis that had been exposed in 1976, and black youth were not happy with the quality of education that they were receiving, with racism in the schools and so on. There was a severe housing crisis as well. The government was not building nearly enough of the houses that were required in the urban townships.

And, to top it off, starting in the late 1970s, the local government dealing with black African townships – the Black Local Authorities and the Bantu Administration Board – started increasing rents and charges for services like electricity and water included in the rent. In July 1984, the Lekota town council announced that there would be a rent increase in the Vaal. The Vaal Civic Association, which was affiliated to the UDF, started organising an anti-rent campaign throughout August, and, on the 2nd of September 1984, the different representatives from different committees that were part of the VCA met at the Roman Catholic Church to plan for a stay-away, or community-based general strike, the next day, Monday 3rd September.

That fateful day workers responded to the VCA call for a stay-away. Students responded, there were protest marches and so on and, as some of you comrades will recall, the police opened fire on marchers, and the situation exploded. People started to fight back and what started here, in the Vaal, on the 3rd of September, had within a matter of months spread across the country, beginning the 1984-85 township uprising.

People organised themselves, as they had already been organising for some time, and they made the townships ungovernable: the BLAs began to crumble, they didn’t have any authority in the townships, and neither did the larger apartheid state. Some areas were made no-go zones for the state, and people started to take control of the townships and to take back control of their lives.

#GraveFeesMustFall

That was part of the beginning of the end for the apartheid system. What started on the 3rd September contributed directly to the collapse of apartheid. But more than 30 years after the Vaal Uprising began, here in the very same region in the Vaal, people have found it essential to start organising against another rates increase, this time imposed by the post-apartheid government: grave fee increases.

Starting last year, people have organised against increases in the cost of municipal plots to bury their relatives. I am sure comrades have heard – it has been talked about on community radio, and you have heard about the #GraveFeesMustFall campaign, or been involved – the cost of a plot went from between R400 to R600, to over R1,000. And that is only if you get buried in your municipality of residence. If you get buried outside your municipality, it is even more expensive. Because municipal cemeteries are getting full, sometimes you either have to resort to “reopening,” where they bury someone on top of an old grave, or you have to get buried at another municipality. But if you get buried elsewhere, costs are huge. So, say for example, that you lived here in Orange Farm, in the City of Johannesburg municipality, but the local cemeteries are full, then you have to go to another municipality to be buried, and your family gets charged up to R4,000.

When we ask why the grave fees have become so expensive, there are two main reasons. First, it seems that the ruling party, the African National Congress, and the state, are selling land to private individuals to profit by opening private cemeteries. Second, local government is using every opportunity to squeeze more money out of working class and poor residents.

If the cemeteries are getting full, then surely the government needs to make more land available for graves instead of privatising them. What we need are cheap affordable grave sites, and yet these are getting privatised or commercialised to make a profit. This shows where the government’s priorities lie.

Urban Neo-Liberalism

The problem is linked to the capitalist system of neo-liberalism, which is affecting us, in every part of our lives. Privatising, commercialising and raising service charges, which is what the #GraveFeesMustFall campaign is fighting, brings us up against the problem of neo-liberalism, and how this links to the legacy of apartheid.

It is important to understand what neo-liberalism involves. It is about privatisation, commercialisation, outsourcing, rising service charges, more cut-offs, flexible jobs – and removing all barriers to profit-making at the expense of the working class and poor.

Starting in the 1970s, the economy internationally, and also in South Africa went into crisis. The bosses were not making enough money, they were losing profitability, and one of the ways that the government tried to get profitability back for the capitalists and bosses from the 1970s, was to use neo-liberalism.

Neo-liberalism is enforced by states, allied with big companies. It is embraced by the ANC today, but did not start with it. It started with the racist National Party government, which moved in the 1970s in the neo-liberal direction. It cut its social spending on things like education, healthcare, service delivery and so on, and started making local governments raise more of their own money within the municipal area. So instead of the national treasury giving enough money to municipalities, local government needed to find ways to raise money itself to be able to function. This meant charging more and spending less, and ensuring cost-recovery, meaning recovering money spent on things.

The NP and the Townships

Obviously this approach hits the black working class hardest, whether under the ANC or the NP. So, in the 1970s, when the apartheid state introduced the BLAs, and allowed black Africans to vote for local councillors in the BLAs, it also made the BLAs have to raise their own money for development in those townships, from those same voters.

One of the main ways that municipalities raise money is by charging businesses, corporations and property owners taxes, based on the value of their property. Another key way is to charge them for electricity, water and so on. So, when the apartheid state introduced the BLAs, they insisted the BLAs raise most of their own money.

As you can still see in the townships, there weren’t a lot of businesses, there were no big corporations or workplaces, and property was not worth a lot. The townships exist, mainly, as reservoirs of cheap labour, neglected by the state. So the BLAs could not get a lot of money through taxing properties in the townships, unlike, for example, in rich areas like Sandton, where there are a lot of big corporations, as well as the hub of the economy, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The apartheid white municipality for Sandton could cope with falling money from central government quite easily, by raising property taxes and service charges, on the companies and the JSE and on wealthy residents. This caused some complaints, but no crisis.

But the BLAs, based in poor and under-developed areas, with a mainly working class and poor population, did not have these options. So they raised rents. This caused massive unrest, and sparked the Vaal Uprising, which sparked the township insurrections of the mid-1980s.

The end of the NP and the apartheid regime, brought some important changes, including the end of the BLAs and the merger of black African, Coloured, Indian and white local government into unified municipalities. The formal segregation was ended.

The ANC and Townships

But the new ANC government did not end neo-liberalism. Instead, its reforms are all framed by neo-liberalism. So, the ANC soon started doing the same thing as the NP when dealing with the townships. Local government had to raise a large part of its own money; the amount of money from the national treasury that goes to local government has actually been cut drastically in the last 20 years.

The result is that local governments, like the City of Johannesburg, raise money and cut costs by privatising or commercialising services like electricity and water, by casualising and retrenching workers, by raising charges and cutting people off if they do not pay. Raising grave fees in the Vaal is just another way for the municipalities to try raise more revenue, and another way to try create space for business to make profits.

But there is not enough money raised, even with these methods, so the townships remain poor and under-developed. This continues the legacy of apartheid’s separate development, with its divide between the suburbs and the townships, which can be seen in everything from streetlights to roads to housing.

This is one of the main injustices that people were fighting against in the townships in the 1970s and 1980s. The old apartheid urban policies don’t exist on paper anymore, but current neo-liberal policies have the same effect.

Because what happens is that the City of Johannesburg, for example, generates a lot of revenue in Sandton, in Rosebank, in the wealthier old white suburbs, and that money gets invested back into the same areas to develop them, to maintain them, to keep them clean and things like that. But Orange Farm, for example, which is also part of the City of Johannesburg municipality, is a township and a squatter camp, and the municipality can’t raise a lot of money here and so, it does not spend a lot of money here.

So the legacy of separate development continues. The money raised by the municipality in the historically (and still mainly) white suburbs stays there, while not enough money is raised in the historically (and still mainly working class and poor) townships to develop these areas, and reverse the legacy of separate development.

The Past in the Present

Other objective conditions are very similar today, to what they were in the 1970s and 1980s. Starting in 2008, the global economy started going into crisis again. The thing about capitalism is that it is full of crises, and the system doesn’t really work smoothly, it is not stable. Every couple of years it goes into crisis, whereby the bosses are not making enough money and the governments lose out on tax, and so they need to find ways to increase profitability.

What they do is that they cut wages, they retrench people and they try to make the working class and the poor pay for the crisis, by shifting the cost of the crisis onto the backs of the working class. They are trying to make the workers and the poor, in South Africa the black African and Coloured working class especially, pay for the capitalist crisis in order to increase the incomes of the bosses and politicians and the ruling class.

Since the 1970s this has involved neo-liberalism. From the 1970s, urban neo-liberalism by the BLAs worked by increasing the rent. From the 1990s, urban neo-liberalism works by increasing specific charges, how much you pay for electricity and water – and now, for graves.

Other conditions are also very similar between then and now. We know that there is still a big crisis in the education system, as we have seen with the Fees Must Fall and Rhodes Must Fall campaigns: black students are not happy with the content and quality of education, and with the fact that it is not affordable. Government funding cuts to universities have led to massive increases in fees, which exclude black working class students, as well as to outsourcing, which attacks the workers.

We still have a massive housing crisis in this country, despite government building low-cost “RDP” housing. At the beginning of May 2017, there were big protests in black African and Coloured townships in the south of Johannesburg like Freedom Park, Ennerdale and in the Vaal, around housing, because the government is simply not building enough houses to end the apartheid backlog or deal with the ongoing growth of the towns.

On top of that, there are massive evictions going on in places like the Vaal. What made rent so key to the BLAs was the fact that a very large section of township houses were actually state-owned. As far as possible, the apartheid state wanted to prevent blacks having urban property, rather keeping them on leases. So the BLAs could squeeze people for rent, and evict non-payers.

Many of these municipal houses have since been quietly privatised, and many have ended up in the hands of banks, with many people are now paying off bonds to banks. With all the other costs going up, with the rising unemployment and low and stagnating wages, all associated with the cheap black labour system inherited from apartheid, and deepened by neo-liberalism, many can’t afford to pay their bonds anymore. With people defaulting on their bonds, they are facing evictions.

So, the problem of the townships is not solved, but continues.

The Subjective Factor

The objective conditions of the 1970s and 1980s, just before the Vaal Uprising, and those of today are very similar, but we are not seeing a massive rebellion today. Rent increases in 1984 were the last straw, they pushed people over the edge – to say, “We can’t take it anymore! We can’t afford to pay more for rent, we are starving and we can’t afford it” – and to a social explosion.

But today, despite massive suffering, and sporadic and wide-spread protests, developments like #GraveFeesMustFall, conditions have not pushed people over the edge, or led to big campaigns, higher and sustained levels of struggle, or a unification of the different protests countrywide.

Why not? The reason lies in what we call the “subjective conditions”: the level of organisation and consciousness of the black working class in the townships (and in the workplaces) are not as developed now, as they were in the 1970s and 1980s. So although the urban working class and even the unions, are bigger than ever before, they are not as powerful and active as before.

One reason is that for at least 30 years the black working class has been under attack, firstly by neo-liberalism, which has tried to make the working class pay for the economic crisis, and which has gutted movements and unions and deepened divisions, and secondly, by nationalism.

The working class has been ideologically and organisationally attacked by nationalism.

What do I mean by “nationalism”? Nationalism is the idea that all people in a nation – regardless of class – need to unite to win state power, through a formation, a nationalist party. This thinking is at the heart of the ANC, as well as the rival nationalist parties.

Nationalism defines the political task as building a party that can capture the state. The state can then, supposedly, liberate the oppressed nation. Meanwhile, divisions in the nation, such as between rich and poor, need to be hushed up.

For the ANC in the 1970s and 1980s, this meant that all movements, including the UDF and FOSATU, were seen simply as ways to build the ANC, which would carry out a so-called stage of National Democratic Revolution. The NDR would be capitalism under black majority rule. Later (some hoped) this would be followed by a second “stage,” a transition to socialism. The core social base of ANC nationalism lay in the black middle class and educated black intelligentsia.

“People’s Power” and the UDF

But the nationalist project involved undermining what people on the ground were actually doing. From the 1970s, people started organising themselves on a massive scale. They knew, as the UDF stated, that “the Apartheid state doesn’t represent us and have our interests at heart,” and they rejected the BLAs and other cosmetic reforms; they organised to have more control over their lives.

They did it in workplaces where they started organising democratic trade unions, based on the factory floor, democratic worker-controlled unions workers built in struggles, which led to FOSATU. This was a way for workers to try and get more control over their lives, including in the workplace, and a means to fight exploitation and oppression. The aim was seen as “workers’ control.”

FOSATU became the hub of this approach.

And in the townships, people did the same thing, through structures like street committees, civics, clinics, crèches, student groups, women’s groups. Like the new unions, these engaged with a range of issues, and were usually built by focusing on immediate issues that affected working class and poor people. So these were involved in fighting evictions and putting people back in their houses, in campaigning against rent increases and the cost of busses, and things like that. This is what the VCA was all about. By focusing on these immediate issues, and by winning small victories, and by linking the immediate problems people faced to the bigger situation in the country, of racist rule and capitalist exploitation, they were able to build strong democratic organisations and conscientise people.

So, when the Vaal Uprising happened, there was already a relatively high level of organisation amongst the working class, with people organising to try and reclaim power and some control over their lives. The UDF became the hub of this approach.

When the Vaal Uprising happened, people took this self-organisation to another level: the BLAs collapsed in many areas, and many townships were made into no-go areas for the apartheid state. People started to move from this situation of “ungovernability,” to what was called “people’s power,” where ordinary people started to administer the neighbourhoods through “organs of people’s power.”

This could involve street committees, or removing sewerage, or taking control of sanitation, or trying to restructure education, or building “people’s parks,” or “people’s education,” or anti-crime patrols, which were taking over the function of the police from the state and making sure that people were not engaging in anti-social behaviour, drastically reducing rape and murder and violence. In some cases, this involved “people’s courts,” to deal with people that infringed on other people’s rights, and committed anti-social acts.

As the UDF noted, the risings starting in 1984 were met with massive repression, including successive States of Emergency, and this meant you couldn’t have the big mass rallies, community meetings and things like that. This pushed people to organise on a more local level, and this often meant that the organisations became more democratic, because people were organising street by street by street, organising street committees and block committees and so on, because they couldn’t have mass community meetings anymore.

So the practice of “people’s power” was shaped by the increased repression, and, as the UDF said, the proliferation and growing role of organs of people’s power could be seen as a “positive growth out of a defensive measure.” The UDF noted, for example, “the development of people’s clinics in several townships”: “in setting up people’s clinics, and in training comrades in basic first aid skills we are also beginning to plant the seeds of a new society.”

They went on, “We must be clear that we do not aspire at this stage to erect a completely alternative health structure. The medical facilities, the big hospitals, and the clinics that do exist in our country should belong to all.” So, do not just build people’s clinics on the margins, but also build the power to take control of the major clinics and hospitals and so on that already existed.

This raised a complex strategic issue:

Should our people’s organisations take responsibility for running crèches in our townships? Or should we put pressure on the government to supply crèches? When local administration collapses, should our organisations take responsibility for refuse removal? Or should we demand that the state resumes the service? When people’s organisations run soup kitchens … are they forgetting the struggle and becoming charity organisations?
The UDF answered: “the removal of rubbish, or the supply of soup kitchens or crèches is neither reformist or progressive in itself. It depends on the concrete situation and the way in which these actions are combined with other activities. The supplying of crèches or of soup must never become an end in itself.”

Subordinating “People’s Power”

So, people began to build organised power outside and against the apartheid state. The idea of workers’ control was central to FOSATU, and people’s power, to the mass base of the UDF, and in both cases, there were moves to expand these to take more power, as “the seeds of a new society.” In fact, the central UDF structures, which were dominated by the black middle class, were left behind. It was the ordinary people who started doing this first, and the UDF’s national secretary, Popo Molefe, admitted that the UDF was caught “trailing behind the masses.”

The UDF leadership then started to theorize “people’s power.” But the leadership was responding after the fact, since the practice was already developing. Because the UDF leadership was often aligned to the ANC, it theorised “people’s power” in a way that fitted it into the ANC’s nationalist project. So, while they were trying to understand what was happening on the ground, they also sought to bring the UDF base back under the control of the UDF leadership, and also tried to link “people’s power” to the ANC’s NDR project.

For example, the UDF leadership insisted: “we do not want to tie organisations down in the endless supply of services if it means they forget the main task of the political struggle.” But then they defined the “main task of the political struggle” as the capture of state power, by the ANC. This wasn’t necessarily the “main task” as defined by the people on the ground, when they set up “people’s power” in the first place. And the UDF leadership completely ignored the basic contradiction between a project of building “workers’ control” and “people’s power” from below, with the daily participation of the masses, and of mass movements and local structures; and the project of state power, which is power from above, in the hands of a few, and of parties, which excludes the masses.

The “NUMSA Moment”?

By the end of the 1980s, the ANC had come to play a central role in the struggle, and this included it taking over the struggle from unions and community movements. And with this, the projects of workers’ control and “people’s power” were deeply undermined. When the ANC was unbanned in 1990, it quickly closed down the UDF, and strengthened its grip on the unions. After it was installed in government in 1994, it then carried on with the neo-liberal project and did its best to prevent protests.

Since then, there have been many efforts to rebuild a mass working class protest movement – one that could tackle the ANC government – but mostly without success. The most recent is the United Front, started by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, which broke its ties with the ANC in 2013. So far, all of these efforts have foundered. Why? And what can we learn from the 1980s about what is needed to rebuild a mass movement?

One of the problems has been the tendency to forget what the 1970s and 1980s showed: you do not start a movement with grand declarations, but with people’s daily struggles, like around wages or rents or corrupt municipal officials, and then you move from there to the bigger issues. It is clear from the 1980s that a lot of ordinary working class people didn’t get involved in movements that seemed to operate outside their experiences, where they didn’t feel comfortable with the language and the tone, or felt that the movement was being led and dictated from outside.

NUMSA sees its United Front as a revival of the UDF process, with the United Front meant to link workplace and township struggles. But NUMSA has not yet done enough of the hard, patient work needed to build its credibility through participation in daily township struggles, reintegrating into these struggles.

Instead it has put its energies into calling for a new workers’ party, while presenting itself as the vanguard of the whole working class. But what FOSATU and the UDF base showed was that you need to start small, in daily life, to build the basis for a countrywide movement.

NUMSA is skipping these vital steps, like other post-apartheid initiatives, and does not see, for example, the importance of issues like #GraveFeesMustFall; and it has also retained much of the old ANC framework of the NDR, with its focus on capturing the state. Unfortunately NUMSA has not gone back to its roots in the “workerist” FOSATU, which had kept the ANC at arm’s length, and which rejected the NDR idea on the grounds that the struggle against apartheid had to be combined with the struggle against capitalism – and the grounds that nationalist movements betrayed the working class.

Whereas the ANC/Congress tradition said that the main political task was the transfer of state power from the whites to the majority, FOSATU went further to say you could only tackle racism if you tackled capitalism as well. This meant that the struggle against apartheid must at the same time be a struggle against capitalism, and that you needed strong, independent working class organisations – including worker-controlled unions – to do this.

In these ways, NUMSA has not really addressed the problem of the subjective conditions. Instead, it has actually been “trailing behind the masses,” as many people in communities realized that the ANC was capitalist and neo-liberal 20 years ago: NUMSA, which thinks that it is the vanguard of the working class, has taken a long time to arrive at the same conclusion.

The Big Lesson

The focus on state power, championed by the ANC and its allies in the UDF leadership – and in sections of the unions, including the NUMSA leadership today – has led us to where we are now. But the state is an instrument of minority rule. Whether it is headed by a P.W. Botha in 1984, or Nelson Mandela in 1994, the state is part of the capitalist system. It must, in the current period, implement neo-liberalism; it must, in all periods, promote the interests of the rich and powerful over the interests of the working class and poor. It ensures that the capitalist class can continue exploiting and oppressing the workers. Its top-down approach is completely at odds with real workers’ control or “people’s power.” To get out of this mess, we have to build a powerful working class movement. If we are going to be able to build such a movement, then we need to go back to basics, back to what people were doing in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and rebuild democratic, independent unions and working class organisations in the townships, rebuild workers’ control and people’s power by grappling with daily struggles.

That means engaging in and building movements that are able to actually win gains, that improve the conditions in the workplaces and the townships, and that can accumulate capacity to the point that they can start – as in the 1980s – to replace the existing system with control from below. A movement that fights to liberate the black working class – not with the intention of giving that power on a platter to someone else, but to use organs of workers’ control and people’s power to take back control of our lives and society, and to put the economy and the administration of the country under the control of the working class.

This page has not been translated into 한국어 yet.

This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Català Ελληνικά Deutsch



¿Què està passant a Catalunya?

¿Què està passant a Catalunya?

Sat 16 Dec, 17:16

browse text browse image

header.jpg imageΔεν είναι ατυχήμ^... Dec 15 17:27 by Πέλοτο 0 comments

460_0___30_0_0_0_0_0_0_0___10_0_0_0_0_0_banner.jpg imageΣτην ταξική πάλη Dec 14 20:37 by Δίκτυο Ευρωπαϊκών Οργανώσεων Anarkismo 0 comments

20133e0fdca21275db24b1ccc1f939d0.jpg imageΝα αντεπιτεθούμε... Dec 14 04:43 by Αναρχική Ομοσπονδία 0 comments

fosatu_logo.png imageSouth African ‘Workerism’ in the 1980s: Learning from FOSATU’s Radical Unionism Dec 13 18:23 by Lucien van der Walt, with Sian Byrne and Nicole Ulrich* 0 comments

uf.jpg imageLessons from the 1984-85 Vaal Uprising for Rebuilding a 'United Front' of Communities and ... Dec 13 18:12 by Jonathan Payn 0 comments

textNosotrxs, anarquistas / libertarixs, en la lucha de clase en la Europa del Capital. Dec 13 01:32 by EuroAnarkismo 0 comments

textNós comunistas anarquistas/libertários na luta de classes, na Europa do capital Dec 12 00:58 by EuroAnarquismo 0 comments

460_0___30_0_0_0_0_0_udf.jpg imageΠρακτικές αυτο-ο`... Dec 11 19:43 by Daria Zelenova 0 comments

textNoi comunisti anarchici/libertari nella lotta di classe, nell'Europa del capitale Dec 11 05:39 by EuroAnarkismo 0 comments

0_0___10_0_0_0_0_0_banner.jpg imageWe, anarchists and libertarian communists in the class struggle in capitalist Europe Dec 11 05:38 by EuroAnarkismo 0 comments

0_0___10_0_0_0_0_0_banner_2.jpg imageNous, communistes anarchistes/libertaires, dans la lutte des classes dans l’Europe du Capi... Dec 11 05:38 by EuroAnarkismo 0 comments

do28ajmx0aadwzr_1.jpg imageΌταν τα αφεντικά ... Dec 09 17:51 by Musaferat 0 comments

northmaramine1024x722.jpg imageΕγκλήματα της “Barrick Gold” Dec 07 17:58 by Yves Engler* 0 comments

textWork For The Dole Schemes Dec 07 11:01 by Pink Panther 0 comments

12311094_1697455980474713_9086228949900891244_n.jpg imageΕνάντια στην επί`... Dec 07 04:31 by Αναρχική Ομοσπονδία 0 comments

weallcandoit1.png imageLuttons contre le harcèlement et toutes les violences patriarcales ! Dec 07 03:14 by Relations extérieures - CGA 0 comments

poing_vernis.jpg image#Moi aussi, j’ai #balancé : et après ? Dec 07 03:10 by Julie, Emilie & Flo 0 comments

drapeau_noir_violet.jpg imageContre les violences masculines, solidarité féministe ! Dec 07 03:06 by CGA - Lyon 0 comments

br.png imageΟ σκοπός δεν αγιά ... Dec 06 20:48 by Αναρχική Συλλογικότητα mⒶnifesto 0 comments

ethn_ant2300x180.jpg imageΥπεράσπιση κυρια... Dec 06 20:39 by Ελευθεριακή Συνδικαλιστική Ένωση (ΕΣΕ) Ρεθύμνου 0 comments

textLe vieux et le Coup d’État Dec 06 09:58 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

torrealta_7_dicembre_1.jpg imageFalange Armata, Ultimo Atto Della Strategia Della Tensione? Dec 06 03:01 by Alternativa Libertaria /fdca 0 comments

peq_1.jpeg imageFor a Theory of Strategy Dec 06 00:10 by Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira 0 comments

udf.jpg imagePractices of Self-Organisation in South Africa: The Experience of the 1980s and its Implic... Dec 05 23:37 by Daria Zelenova 0 comments

textInterview: Alex Pirie Dec 05 19:10 by AWSM 0 comments

textDeclaración de Apoyo a la Federación Anarquista Gaúcha Dec 05 17:17 by Federación Anarquista Uruguaya 0 comments

textCarta Opinión Noviembre Dec 05 17:11 by Federación Anarquista Uruguaya 0 comments

textNURIYE LIBERA! Dec 05 04:38 by Gianni Sartori 0 comments

liquidity.jpg imageAs oligarquias da mundialização financeirizada esgotam a pouca democracia do sistema capit... Dec 04 20:26 by BrunoL 0 comments

dlm5wz0waaa4zyn.jpg imageBuscando las claves del proceso independentista catalán Dec 04 18:54 by Miguel G. Gómez 0 comments

more >>
© 2005-2017 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]