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Against Chauvinism, Against Nationalism!

category southern africa | migration / racism | press release author Friday May 23, 2008 16:29author by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front - ZACFauthor email zacf at zabalaza dot netauthor address Postnet Suite 47, Private Bag X1, Fordsburg, 2033, South Africa Report this post to the editors

An introduction by the ZACF

[ Nederlands] [ Ελληνικά] As the media, the politicians and the "experts" rack their brains in search of the cause of the "criminality" and "xenophobia" that has killed 42 people in 10 days and driven 15 000 from their homes, organisations of the working class have come closer to the truth than any of these wise men and women.

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front supports and replies to the Abahlali baseMjondolo Statement on the Xenophobic Attacks in Johannesburg

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As the media, the politicians and the "experts" rack their brains in search of the cause of the "criminality" and "xenophobia" that has killed 42 people in 10 days and driven 15 000 from their homes, organisations of the working class have come closer to the truth than any of these wise men and women.

Abahlali baseMjondolo tell how "the anger of the poor can go in many directions". They tell how fury is stirred up by "the rats and the fires and the lack of toilets", by unemployment, homelessness and mandrax. They tell how people are "damaged" in a world where few are rich and many are poor.

The demon that has been unleashed in Gauteng, that is spreading to Mpumalanga and other provinces, is the demon of poverty. It is the child of the demon of capitalism, of the demon of exploitation.

But another demon has also been unleashed. This is the demon of NATIONALISM.

Abahlali point out that all the poor, all the workers, face "the same kind of oppression". They call on all the poor and the workers to join in struggle against this oppression. The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front joins this call.

But against this unity of the working class appears another unity, a false unity, the unity of nationalism. This is a false unity between the rich and the poor, between the oppressor and the oppressed. It is a false unity that divides those who should be united. It proclaims that because the master and the slave were born in the same country, they have something in common, from which the slaves of other countries must be excluded.

The ZACF does not deny or reject bonds of language, culture and tradition. But in the greatest of struggles, the struggle against poverty, exploitation and oppression, we proclaim that class unity, the unity of all the oppressed and exploited, must come first.

When Winnie Madikizela-Mandela declares that those who attack foreigners are not real "South Africans", she calls up the demon of nationalism. She says that to be South African is good, and not to be South African is bad. She presents herself as a leader who can decide who are the real South Africans. And like so many politicians, she would surely say we should be "proudly South African" - as if where you are born is the most important thing to be proud of.

These are the divisions that keep us in slavery, that stop us uniting against our true enemies. Our true enemies – the real criminals – are the capitalists and the state, the robbers who exploit us and the politicians who lie to us. Always these partners stand together against us, and seek to stop us standing together against them. They so fill our heads with lies that some of us even think the insane rise in food prices is somehow the work of foreigners – when clearly it is the work of the small band of capitalists of all countries who control the world's food.

Poverty and oppression can never be resolved through capitalism or the state.

The ZACF agrees with the greatest part of Abahlali's analysis and supports the bulk of their demands. But we have one difference. We cannot join in their call for "a police force that serves the people". No police force can be anything other than a force of repression, a force for the state to keep itself on top and the masses at the bottom, a force for the defence of the rich against the poor. Again and again the police have shown this against the movements of the poor, arresting, torturing and murdering us. Not to mention their attacks on immigrants. When the politicians condemn poor South Africans for attacking foreigners, it is because they wish to preserve this power of violence for themselves and their forces alone.

We can and do fight to stop the worst police repression. And any of us, in fear of our lives, will seek the help of the police when there is no alternative. We cannot blame anyone for seeking refuge with the police, or for calling them in to prevent imminent attacks.

But we hope for something better. If there is no alternative, let us try to create one. Let us build our movements to the point where immigrants – or women facing rape, or gay and lesbian people facing chauvinistic violence – do not need to seek the dubious help of the police. Let us build strong, organised working class communities that can defend themselves and their comrades against repression and chauvinism.

And let us build our movements to the point where they can fight oppression in every form, everywhere. The dockworkers of Durban recently prevented a shipment of weapons from passing through South Africa to the Mugabe regime – but the weapons reached the butcher of Harare by another route. With a stronger movement, an international movement of the working class, we could halt all future shipments. We could cease quarreling over the supposed ideals of tyrants and topple tyranny. We could cease fighting over who should get a house, and demand and obtain houses for all. We could cease blaming our brothers and sisters for "taking jobs", and demand and get jobs for all. We could cease seeking scapegoats for soaring food prices, and force a halt in the rise in prices as a step towards food for all. We could win ID books for all – or better still, a world in which none will need ID books. We could tear down the Lindela concentration camp. And building a global movement that reaches across every border, we could proclaim to the whole world:

NO BORDERS! NO NATIONS! NO DEPORTATIONS!

Related Link: http://www.zabalaza.net
author by Karl Blythepublication date Wed May 28, 2008 12:03Report this post to the editors

This introduction, and the statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo, are not only powerful statements in and of themselves, addressing the specific attacks in South Africa in a revolutionary way; they also exemplify the revolutionary (and, in the case of ZACF, anarchist-communist) stance of proletarian internationalism, as it is manifested by the question of immigration and "foreign labor."

That problem is equally relevant today in the United States, where the conventional leftist and liberal stances consist primarily of denouncing "anti-American" free trade policies, which take away jobs from middle-class American workers to send overseas, and secondarily of a very confused and diluted argument over foreign (especially illegal) immigrant labor. In the latter case, this especially has led to confusion from foolish but well-meaning liberals who argue that illegal immigrants simply "take the jobs that Americans don't want to do" (i.e. agricultural labor). Thus the main point -- the inherent exploitation of the labor market, without regard to "national identity" except when it useful -- is missed entirely, and it is no wonder that poor and working-class Americans fall for the reactionary rhetoric of "national security" and job-protection, looking for support to conservative demagogues who play to such emotions even as they align with (indeed, are part of) the capitalist profiteers who are squeezing them dry through the labor market.

We need more clear, blunt explanations of this sort regularly addressing the working class, in conjuction with practical work of the sort which seems to coming from the ZACF as well as Abahlali baseMjondolo, in the United States and other countries. Looking ahead, with history as a guide, it is even highly possible that such work will make the difference between a new fascism and a mass revolutionary movement, among the working class.

 
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Southern Africa | Migration / racism | Press Release | en

Sun 26 Feb, 01:09

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We in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front will shed no tears for the killing of the racist Eugene Terre'Blanche. Why should revolutionary workers lament the death of a thug who lived in nostalgia for the days when his emulation of Hitler and (empty) threats of war shook the whole country, and who never ceased to exploit and terrorise the black workers on a farm that should rightly be managed by those who work it to meet the needs of all and not be the property of any one single person?

imageOne Year after the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders Dec 15 by Lucien van der Walt 0 comments

A year ago, starting 20 October 2015, around 75 small shops were looted, some burned down, in the eastern townships and downtown area of the small Eastern Cape university town of Grahamstown/ iRhini, South Africa. The attacks targeted Asian and African immigrants, many of them Muslim, and displaced 500 people. These riots were largely ignored by the media.

The text below is a slightly revised revision of a briefing I was asked to write at the time for the local Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM). The UPM played a heroic role in opposing the attacks and assisting the displaced. The text’s general points remain relevant to the working class’s fight against prejudice and racism. And the riots of 2015 should not be forgotten.grahamstown-riots

imageAttacks on Foreigners: Only the Ruling Class Benefits Feb 01 by Siyabulela Hulu-Hulu 0 comments

Attacks on African and Asian foreigners flared up in South Africa twice in 2015, first in April, mainly in KwaZulu, then in October in Grahamstown, the Eastern Cape. Many attacks were on small (spaza) shops run by foreigners. Maybe 500 were displaced in October. The looting and smashing of property in spaza shops, and the immensity of these criminal activities country wide, has had an incredible and negative impact on our democracy, on our lives, on our livelihoods, and reflects badly on the nation's morality.

imageDear Mama: Anarchist poetry against the anti-foreigner pogroms in Grahamstown, South Africa Nov 09 by Leroy Maisiri 0 comments

The poem below was written by Zimbabwean Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front comrade Leroy Maisiri, against the backdrop of the a wave of riots against African and Asian ‘foreigners’ that started to sweep Grahamstown, South Africa, from Wednesday 21 October 2015. By Saturday, around 300 shops, mostly small businesses, owned by people from countries like Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia, had been targeted, many burnedand looted. Perhaps 500 people have been displaced, many are in hiding. While university and college student protests across town faced down the state in the fight against high fees in a heroic struggle, mobs provoked by rumours of murders and mutilations by ‘foreigners,’spurred on by malicious forces including local taxi drivers, attacked the ‘foreigners.’ Heroic efforts by the local Unemployed Peoples Movement (UPM) and some other township residents were not enough to halt the carnage. Working class, see this divide-and-rule for what it is! You have nothing to gain from this. As the UPM says, “We are all the victims of colonialism and capitalism. We all need to stand together for justice. If unemployed young men chase a man from Pakistan out of Grahamstown they will still be unemployed and poor the next day. The students have shown us what unity can do.” The students have shown us the way forward.

imageFor how long can South African elites keep misleading the people? Aug 26 by Philip Nyalungu 0 comments

Those in power don’t want to confront the status quo of hatred against immigrants, or South Africa’s imperialist role in the region. They have a narrow set of interests: getting votes, accumulating wealth and power. However, the recent wave of attacks on immigrants and the ruptures of relations with other African countries – especially where South African corporations are operating – have touched the most delicate nerves of the established political powers, who have vowed to advance corporate interests in making profits.

image‘Xenophobia’, service delivery protest and government failure: The case of Thembelihle Jun 02 by Jonathan Payn 0 comments

Like in 2008, the recent wave of anti-immigrant violence and looting of foreign-owned stores that followed King Zwelithini’s statement that foreigners must “pack their bags and leave” quickly spread to cities and townships across the country. Unlike other places in Johannesburg, however, there were no reports of xenophobic violence in Thembelihle and, although the violence spread to numerous parts of Soweto in 2008, this adjacent township was unaffected then too. This article, based on an interview with an activist from the Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC), looks at how working class self-organisation and solidarity helped curb or prevent the outbreak of xenophobic attacks and attempts to draw lessons for preventing future attacks.

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imageTerre'Blanche is dead; long live the workers! Apr 28 ZACF 0 comments

We in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front will shed no tears for the killing of the racist Eugene Terre'Blanche. Why should revolutionary workers lament the death of a thug who lived in nostalgia for the days when his emulation of Hitler and (empty) threats of war shook the whole country, and who never ceased to exploit and terrorise the black workers on a farm that should rightly be managed by those who work it to meet the needs of all and not be the property of any one single person?

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