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southern africa / workplace struggles / debate Friday March 07, 2014 06:44 by Lucien van der Walt 1 image
Lightly edited transcript from Lucien van der Walt’s discussion at 1st National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) Political School, September 2013. From his debate with Solly Mapaila, 2nd deputy GS of the South African Communist Party (SACP) on anarcho-syndicalist versus Leninist views of the revolutionary potential of unions. A version was printed in ASR #61 2014, pp. 11-20
Captures van der Walt’s main points: the debate on the anarcho-syndicalist view that revolutionary trade unions, allied to other movements, creating a self-managed worker-controlled socialism through mass education, counter-power and workplace occupations; anarcho-syndicalism as a working class tradition; the anarcho-syndicalist view that unions can potentially be more revolutionary than political parties including Communist Parties, & be revolutionary without leadership by parties; the view that electioneering can be replaced with direct action campaigns; that the Spanish Revolution (1936-1939) shows unions taking power and making a bottom-up worker-controlled revolution; and how NUMSA’s current actions refute Marxist-Leninist theory; other problems with that theory’s traditional approach to unions; and the implications of all of this for current debates over the form of a new socialist movement in South Africa and elsewhere; and the nature of the South African ruling class and the primary social contradictions.
Lucien van der Walt is co-author of “Black Flame: The revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism” (w.Michael Schmidt, 2009, AK Press) and co-editor of “Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940” (w. Steve Hirsch and Benedict Anderson, 2010, Brill). He has a long history of involvement in the working class movements. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / anarchist movement / policy statement Monday February 17, 2014 14:37 by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front 1 image
Zabalaza means struggle, the continual struggle of the working class to access real freedom. We mean freedom from the repression of the state, and oppression by multi-national as well as local companies. Too long has a small elite been in control. Workers and their communities have risen up many times in the past but have always been crushed by the police forces of the state. In the past the working class – including the poor and unemployed – has protested but often lost: social movements have burnt out and trade union leaders have made bad deals with the bosses.
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southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Thursday January 09, 2014 15:56 by Mzee 1 image
Once we stop thinking as individuals and start thinking as a working class group, change will become possible.
Our country’s conditions have gotten worse and worse in many ways. There is corruption, inequality and limited freedom for the masses. Someone has to stand up and say “Enough is enough! We need better education, more jobs and people-driven development plans.”
We are calling for change now! read full story / add a comment
southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Saturday January 04, 2014 20:50 by Siyabulela Hulu 1 image
In September 2002, residents of Kwa-Masisa Hostel in Sebokeng faced evictions by the so-called new and private owners. They resisted and won. But since then, the hostel has been abandoned to its fate. Today the struggle for secure tenure, decent conditions and control continues. read full story / add a comment
This important article from the mainstream press in Johannesburg, South Africa, shows that, contrary to the assumptions of most political analysts in South Africa the metal workers' union, which has recently split from the ANC, will not be supporting either Julius Malema and his corrupt and neo-fascist politics or either of the two small Trotskyite parties.
Numsa is not an anarchist union but it is rooted in the workerist tradition and has a long history of shopfloor democracy. It is the largest and most militant union in South Africa and its break from the ANC is widely seen as highly significant. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / migration / racism / feature Monday December 16, 2013 00:39 by Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt 1 image
Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections on national liberation and South Africa’s transition
Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt
The destruction of the apartheid state form, with its odious policies of coercion and racism, was a major triumph for the working class in South Africa and elsewhere, showing that ordinary people can challenge and defeat systems that seem quite unbreakable. Mandela did play a heroic role, but was also the first to admit that “It is not the kings and generals that make history but the masses of the people, the workers, the peasants, the doctors, the clergy." And indeed, it was the black working class, above all, that through struggle tore down many features of apartheid by the late 1980s, such as the pass law system, the Group Areas Act and numerous other odious laws and policies.
The 1994 transition in South Africa was a political revolution, a break with the apartheid and colonial periods of state-sanctioned white supremacy, a “massive advance” in the conditions of the majority. It introduced a new state, based on non-racialism, in which South Africa was to be a multi-racial, multi-cultural but unified country, founded on human rights; welfare and social policy and legislation was transformed; capitalism was kept in place, but despite this, there were very massive and very real changes, political and material, that made qualitative differences in the daily lives of millions of black and working class people. And for millions, it is precisely the association of Mandela with that victory and with those changes that makes him so emotionally powerful.
Yet at the same time, Mandela’s policies and politics had important limitations that must be faced if the current quandary of South Africa, nearly 20 years later, is to be understood. Mandela never sold out: he was committed to a reformed capitalism, and a parliamentary democracy, and unified South Africa based on equal civil and political rights, a project in which black capitalists and black state elites would loom large. These goals have been achieved, but bring with them numerous problems that must be faced up if the final liberation – including national liberation – of South Africa’s working class is to be achieved.
The 1994 breakthrough was a major victory, but it was not the final one, for a final one requires a radical change in society, towards a libertarian and socialist order based on participatory democracy, human needs rather than profit and power, and social and economic justice, and attention to issues of culture and the psychological impact of apartheid.
As long as the basic legacy of apartheid remains, in education, incomes, housing and other spheres, and as long as the working class of all races is excluded from basic power and wealth by a black and white ruling class, so long will the national question – the deep racial / national divisions in South Africa, and the reality of ongoing racial/ national oppression for the black, Coloured and Indian working class – remain unresolved. And so long will it continue to generate antagonisms and conflicts, the breeding ground for rightwing populist demagogy, xenophobia and crime. By contrast, a powerful black elite, centred on the state and with a growing corporate presence, has achieved its national liberation.
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southern africa / miscellaneous / non-anarchist press Sunday December 15, 2013 21:44 by Slavoj Zizek
In the last two decades of his life, Nelson Mandela was celebrated as a model of how to liberate a country from the colonial yoke without succumbing to the temptation of dictatorial power and anti-capitalist posturing. In short, Mandela was not Mugabe, South Africa remained a multi-party democracy with free press and a vibrant economy well-integrated into the global market and immune to hasty Socialist experiments. Now, with his death, his stature as a saintly wise man seems confirmed for eternity: there are Hollywood movies about him — he was impersonated by Morgan Freeman, who also, by the way, played the role of God in another film; rock stars and religious leaders, sportsmen and politicians from Bill Clinton to Fidel Castro are all united in his beatification. read full story / add a comment
áfrica austral / a esquerda / opinião / análise Sunday December 15, 2013 05:43 by Bruno Lima Rocha 1 image
Ao superar o Apartheid, necessariamente o símbolo do território tinha de refletir a nova unidade pluriétnica read full story / add a comment
áfrica austral / community struggles / opinião / análise Friday December 13, 2013 13:38 by Lucien van der Walt 1 image
O nosso país está numa confusão. A fome, a pobreza, a exploração e a injustiça espreitam.
A classe trabalhadora e os pobres deparam, a cada passo, com os muros altos da injustiça, as cadeias do desemprego e as balas e os cassetetes da polícia.
Os conflitos agitam o país e as esperanças que brilhavam em 1994 estão a desaparecer, envelhecidas, enferrujando sob as águas da ganância, da opressão e da desigualdade; essas esperanças são como um sonho que desaparece quando se desperta para uma realidade sombria.
A questão nacional, as nossas profundas divisões de raça e nacionalidade, continuam sem solução: os políticos, pretos e brancos, pioram ainda a situação com o objectivo de obterem votos. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / the left / opinion / analysis Tuesday December 10, 2013 22:40 by Michael Schmidt 6 comments (last - saturday december 14, 2013 16:05) 2 images
A frail multimillionaire dies peacefully in bed at the grand old age of 95, surrounded by a coterie of those who love him and those with an eye on the inheritance, an event that would in the normal course of events be seen as natural—but the man concerned has been treated internationally as more of a supernatural entity than an ordinary man. The unsurpassed hagiography around Nelson Mandela, who died in the über-wealthy enclave of Houghton in Johannesburg last Thursday night, the famous prisoner turned global icon on a par with Mohandas Gandhi is upheld by most observers of South Africa as a necessary myth of national unity, and not least of the triumph of racial reconciliation of over the evils of segregation.
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áfrica austral / la izquierda / opinión / análisis Tuesday December 10, 2013 19:23 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 1 image
Mandela hoy es un ícono polivalente, de muchas caras, con sus luces y sus sombras. Las luchas del pueblo sudafricano contra el apartheid son un patrimonio de la humanidad, un hito importante en el proceso de humanización de nuestra torturada especie. Pero también estas luchas encapsulan las contradicciones de su tiempo: animadas por los valores de la izquierda, terminan entrampadas en el estrecho horizonte ideológico del neoliberalismo, donde la igualdad de todos fue entendida apenas como libertad ante el omnipotente mercado. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Tuesday December 10, 2013 15:12 by Lucien van der Walt 1 image
Our country is in a mess. Hunger, poverty, exploitation and injustice stalk the land.
The working class and poor face, at every step, the high walls of injustice, the chains of unemployment, and the bullets and batons of the police.
Conflicts shake the country, and hopes that shone in 1994 are fading, rusting under the waters of greed, oppression, and inequality; those hopes seem like a dream that fades when you awake to a grim reality. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Friday November 29, 2013 04:42 by Pitso Mompe 1 image
Forced evictions are a violation of human rights that requires urgent global attention. In 2008 between 30 and 50 million people in 70 countries worldwide lived under constant threat of being forcibly evicted (according to the International Alliance of Inhabitants). Those that are most affected are working class people and peasants living in poverty. It’s always the poor who are evicted. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / anarchist movement / link to pdf Thursday November 28, 2013 05:23 by Tokologo African Anarchist Collective 1 image
Welcome to the second issue of Tokologo, produced by the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective. Why do we publish this? We publish it because our country is crying out for an alternative. And that alternative is anarchism, which stands for a free and democratic society, run from the grassroots, in communities and workplaces, and based on equality and freedom. In such a society, wealth like land and factories would be collectively owned; production would be directed to meeting basic needs and ensuring environmental sustainability. In such a society, everyone would have a say in all matters that affect them; poverty and deprivation would be abolished; hatred and competition would be replaced by cooperation and mutual aid by all peoples. read full story / add a comment
This year  marks the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa, which marked the start of the fall of apartheid, and inspired activists worldwide. African working youth played a leading role, and their sacrifices showed us that ordinary people can make a difference to the injustices of our world. Revolutionaries should commemorate this struggle, but also learn from its failings.
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southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Sunday June 16, 2013 02:26 by Lekhetho Mtetwa 1 image
It is clear that the rights of the working class and poor people on the ground are not recognised by those in power, and will never be. After the 1994 elections, ordinary people thought that they will feel and enjoy real democracy. But to their surprise, things didn’t work the way they thought. People are being demoralised, threatened and killed when they stand up. It is now difficult for people to exercise their democratic rights.
It’s clear that voting won’t bring any change in people’s lives. The whole system is run by a small ruling class. Voting does not change the system. By voting we are just fooling ourselves about our rights. People voted in 1994 because they thought their votes will bring complete changes in their lives. No one thought of suffering after voting in the first elections. Promises were made by so-called leaders in order to be voted into power. Their promises were a big lie.
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southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Friday June 07, 2013 23:09 by Tina Sizovuka 1 image
Nelson Mandela has become a brand, “Brand Mandela,” his image, name and prison number used to generate cash and to promote the legend of Mandela. In July 2012, for example, the 46664 clothing line was launched (all “Made in China”).
But “Brand Mandela” is more than just an opportunity to sell stupid trinkets to tourists and celebrities. It is also a dangerous myth, based on Mandela-worship, promoted daily in the public imagination to serve far more sinister interests. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / anarchist movement / link to pdf Friday June 07, 2013 00:30 by Tokologo African Anarchist Collective 1 image
The first issue of Tokologo, the newsletter of the South Africa-based Tokologo African Anarchist Collective is now available for download in PDF. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Wednesday June 05, 2013 23:11 by Bongi Motahane 1 image
On 22 August 2012, communities from in, and out, of Gauteng had a meeting at Khanya College, Johannesburg, on the Marikana massacre. More than half of the 50 people who participated, most of the delegates, came from the mine areas affected by the situation in the North West Province.
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southern africa / repression / prisoners / feature Thursday May 09, 2013 23:48 by TAAC, iWAC, ZACF 1 image
Umthetho sisekelo walelizwe uthembisa amalungelo epolitiki nokulingana kwabantu. Kucacile ukuthi osozimali nosomapolitiki bazenzela umathanda. Banyathela ubuso babantu baseMzansi. Isibonelo esidumile esamaphoyisa ebulala abasebenzi bezimayini zaseLonmin Marikana. read full story / add a comment