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Search author name words: Lucien van der Walt

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southern africa / workplace struggles / debate Friday March 07, 2014 05:44 by Lucien van der Walt   image 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
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Διεθνή / Αναρχικό κίνημα / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Tuesday February 04, 2014 17:08 by Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
Στο παρόν κείμενο παρουσιάζεται μια ανάλυση του μαζικού αναρχισμού και συνδικαλισμού από θεωρητική και πρακτική πλευρά, ως απάντηση στις απόψεις του Daryl Glaser, που θέλουν τα εργατικά συμβούλια να μην πληρούν τις βασικές δημοκρατικές αρχές και να χρησιμοποιούνται μόνο ως ένα απλό εργαλείο κατά την διάρκεια των πρώιμων σταδίων μιας επανάστασης, τα οποία είναι πολύ πιθανό είτε να καταρρεύσουν είτε να οδηγήσουν σε ένα σταλινικού τύπου καθεστώς- ενώ αντιπροτείνει μια μορφή κοινοβουλευτισμού μέσω συμμετοχικών δομών. read full story / add a comment
Nelson Mandela
southern africa / migration / racism / feature Sunday December 15, 2013 23:39 by Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt   image 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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international / anarchist movement / debate Friday December 13, 2013 16:12 by Lucien van der Walt   text 1 comment (last - saturday december 21, 2013 05:24)   image 1 image
Examining the theory and practice of ‘mass’ anarchism and syndicalism, this paper argues against Daryl Glaser’s views that workers’ council democracy fails basic democratic benchmarks and that, envisaged as a simple instrument of a revolution imagined in utopian ‘year zero’ terms, it will probably collapse or end in ‘Stalinist’ authoritarianism—Glaser also argues instead for parliaments, supplemented by participatory experiments. While agreeing with Glaser on the necessity of a ‘democratic minimum’ of pluralism, rights, and open-ended outcomes, I demonstrate, in contrast, that this ‘minimum’ is perfectly compatible with bottom-up council democracy and self- management, as envisaged in anarchist/syndicalist theory, and as implemented by anarchist revolutions in Manchuria, Spain and Ukraine. This approach seeks to maximise individual freedom through an egalitarian, democratic, participatory order, developed as both means and outcome of revolution; it consistently insists that attempts to ‘save’ revolutions by suspending freedoms, instead destroy both. Parliament, again in contrast to Glaser, from this perspective, meets no ‘democratic minimum’, being part of the state, a centralized, unaccountable institutional nexus essential to domination and exploitation by a ruling class of state managers and capitalists. Rather than participate in parliaments, ‘mass’ anarchism argues for popular class autonomy from, and struggle against, the existing order as a means of winning economic and political reforms while—avoiding ‘year zero’ thinking—also building the new society, within and against, the old, through a prefigurative project of revolutionary counter-power and counter-culture. Revolution here means the complete expansion of a bottom-up democracy, built through a class struggle for economic and social equality, and requiring the defeat of the ruling class, which is itself the outcome of widespread, free acceptance of anarchism, and of a pluralistic council democracy and self-management system. read full story / add a comment
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África austral / community struggles / opinião / análise Friday December 13, 2013 12:38 by Lucien van der Walt   image 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
international / anarchist movement / debate Thursday December 12, 2013 19:18 by Lucien van der Walt
Examining the theory and practice of ‘mass’ anarchism and syndicalism, this paper argues against Daryl Glaser’s views that workers’ council democracy fails basic democratic benchmarks and that, envisaged as a simple instrument of a revolution imagined in utopian ‘year zero’ terms, it will probably collapse or end in ‘Stalinist’ authoritarianism—Glaser also argues instead for parliaments, supplemented by participatory experiments. While agreeing with Glaser on the necessity of a ‘democratic minimum’ of pluralism, rights, and open-ended outcomes, I demonstrate, in contrast, that this ‘minimum’ is perfectly compatible with bottom-up council democracy and self-management, as envisaged in anarchist/syndicalist theory, and as implemented by anarchist revolutions in Manchuria, Spain and Ukraine. This approach seeks to maximise individual freedom through an egalitarian, democratic, participatory order, developed as both means and outcome of revolution; it consistently insists that attempts to ‘save’ revolutions by suspending freedoms, instead destroy both. Parliament, again in contrast to Glaser, from this perspective, meets no ‘democratic minimum’, being part of the state, a centralized, unaccountable institutional nexus essential to domination and exploitation by a ruling class of state managers and capitalists. Rather than participate in parliaments, ‘mass’ anarchism argues for popular class autonomy from, and struggle against, the existing order as a means of winning economic and political reforms while—avoiding ‘year zero’ thinking—also building the new society, within and against, the old, through a prefigurative project of revolutionary counter-power and counter-culture. Revolution here means the complete expansion of a bottom-up democracy, built through a class struggle for economic and social equality, and requiring the defeat of the ruling class, which is itself the outcome of widespread, free acceptance of anarchism, and of a pluralistic council democracy and self-management system. read full story / add a comment
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southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Tuesday December 10, 2013 14:12 by Lucien van der Walt   image 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
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norte da África / história do anarquismo / link para pdf Monday December 02, 2013 21:59 by Lucien van der Walt & Michael Schmidt   image 1 image
Esse texto dos autores sul-africanos apresenta elementos para uma compreensão da desconhecida história do anarquismo no norte da África. Trazem fatos e personagens de mais de um século de anarquismo em países como Egito, Argélia, Marrocos, Tunísia e Líbia. Continuam, dessa maneira, a mostrar que o anarquismo não se resumiu e nem se resume ao eixo do Atlântico Norte ressaltado nos estudos de referência.
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Διεθνή / Αναρχική Ιστορία / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Wednesday October 09, 2013 18:39 by Lucien van der Walt-Michael Schmidt   image 1 image
Αγωνιστική Μειοψηφία: Το Ζήτημα της Αναρχικής Πολιτικής Οργάνωσης - Των Lucien van der Walt και Michael Schmidt read full story / add a comment
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Διεθνή / Αναρχικό κίνημα / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Wednesday October 09, 2013 18:34 by Lucien van der Walt-Michael Schmidt   image 1 image
Αγωνιστική Μειοψηφία: Το Ζήτημα της Αναρχικής Πολιτικής Οργάνωσης Των Lucien van der Walt και Michael Schmidt read full story / add a comment
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Διεθνή / Αναρχικό κίνημα / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Wednesday October 09, 2013 18:22 by Lucien van der Walt-Michael Schmidt   image 1 image
Αγωνιστική Μειοψηφία: Το Ζήτημα της Αναρχικής Πολιτικής Οργάνωσης read full story / add a comment
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international / history of anarchism / debate Saturday August 31, 2013 05:49 by Lucien van der Walt   text 3 comments (last - sunday december 15, 2013 04:57)   image 1 image
This article defends the argument that anarchism/syndicalism emerged in the 1860s, as a libertarian form of socialism, opposed to social and economic hierarchy/inequality, favouring international class struggle and revolution, from below, for a self-managed, socialist, stateless order; it defends the necessity using a truly global history and analysis, placing the colonial and postcolonial world, and a wide range of mass movements, centre-stage, in order to grasp the "canon" of texts/thinkers/theories that must be ‘regarded as authoritative for anarchist thought and practice or especially significant in the historical development of anarchism’. It rejects claims that anarchism is a timeless "orientation" existing outside of contexts and classes, and demonstrates the methodological and analytical problems that arise from such approaches, including tautology, assertion and selective use of evidence. read full story / add a comment
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internacional / movimento anarquista / opinião / análise Tuesday August 13, 2013 20:10 by Michael Schmidt e Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
Introdução do livro Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism [Chama Negra: a política classista e revolucionária do anarquismo e do sindicalismo de intenção revolucionária]. read full story / add a comment
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southern africa / history / opinion / analysis Wednesday March 06, 2013 00:50 by Tina Sizovuka and Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
This article aims to explain, from an anarchist / syndicalist perspective, the rapid rise and fall of Julius Malema, the controversial and corrupt multi-millionaire leader of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) “youth league” (ANCYL). It is demonstrated that Malema’s posturing as radical champion of the black poor was simply a means to an end: rising higher in the ranks of the ANC, in order to access bigger state tenders and higher paying political office. The larger political implications of the Malema affair are also considered, especially the role of the ANC – as a vehicle for the accumulation of wealth and power by the rising black elite, which is centred on the state. read full story / add a comment
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southern africa / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Thursday February 28, 2013 19:13 by Tina Sizovuka and Lucien van der Walt   text 1 comment (last - sunday march 03, 2013 02:14)   image 1 image
Privatisation – the transfer of functions and industry to the private sector – is widely and correctly rejected on the left and in the working class. Privatisation leads only to higher prices, less and worse jobs, and worse services. Given this, some view nationalisation – the transfer of economic resources (e.g. mines, banks, and factories) to state ownership and control – as a rallying cry for a socialist alternative. This article argues that nationalisation has never removed capitalism, nor led to socialism, and it certainly does not have a demonstrable record of consistently improving wages, jobs, rights and safety. This article appeals to progressive working class forces to look instead to another way:collectivisation from below, where industry is placed under direct workers’ self-management, subject to worker-community participatory democratic planning and control to meet human needs and end oppression, in a universal human community. read full story / add a comment
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southern africa / history of anarchism / opinion / analysis Tuesday February 19, 2013 06:30 by Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
The first installation in the Zabalaza's new series on Black Stars of Anarchism: The son of a Wesleyan minister, Thibedi William Thibedi was one of the most important black African revolutionary syndicalists in South African history. Thibedi was a leading figure in the International Socialist League (ISL) and in the Industrial Workers of Africa syndicalist union. Later he played an important role in the early Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), particularly its union work. He was active in all of the key black unions from the 1910s to the 1940s. read full story / add a comment
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southern africa / indigenous struggles / feature Thursday February 14, 2013 19:31 by Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
2012 is the centenary of the African National Congress (ANC). The party that started out as a small coterie of black businessmen, lawyers and chiefs is today the dominant political formation in South Africa. It was founded by the black elite who were marginalised by the united South Africa formed in 1910, and who appeared at its Bloemfontein inauguration “formally dressed in suits, frock coats, top hats and carrying umbrellas”.[1] Today it is allied via the Tripartite Alliance to the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). Can the ANC be a vehicle for fundamental, progressive, social change in the interests of the black, Coloured and Indian working classes (proletariat), still mired in the legacy of apartheid and racial domination? This is what Cosatu (and the SACP) suggest. read full story / add a comment
Spanish anarchism/ syndicalism: mighty, but not unique
international / history of anarchism / opinion / analysis Friday September 28, 2012 15:20 by Lucien van der Walt   image 5 images
This article, excerpted from a talk by Lucien van der Walt, co-author of Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, covers key elements of anarchist and syndicalist history, including its role in Asia, Africa and Latin America, its impact on unions and anti-colonial struggles, and its historical centrality. read full story / add a comment
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internazionale / movimento anarchico / recensione Thursday March 08, 2012 17:05 by Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
Nelle regioni del mondo soggette a colonialismo e imperialismo il movimento anarchico, in particolare la sua propaggine sindacalista, riveste un ruolo chiave. Il ruolo degli anarchici e dei sindacalisti nel movimenti di liberazione nazionale è stato centrale, a volte determinante. [Deutsch] read full story / add a comment
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international / anarchistische bewegung / rückblick / besprechung / rezension Wednesday February 29, 2012 16:49 by Lucien van der Walt   image 1 image
In den Weltregionen, die dem Kolonialismus und Imperialismus unterworfen sind, spielte die anarchistische Bewegung – einschließlich ihres gewerkschaftlichen Ablegers, des Syndikalismus – eine Schlüsselrolle. Die Rolle der Anarchisten und Syndikalisten in den nationalen Befreiungsbewegungen war zentral, manchmal führend. Die Bewegungen in Asien, Afrika, Lateinamerika und der Karibik – aber auch in Teilen von Europa, insbesondere in Osteuropa und Irland – müssen als integraler Bestandteil der Geschichte der Arbeiterklasse, der Linken und der Unabhängigkeitsbewegungen in diesen Regionen betrachtet werden. [Italiano] read full story / add a comment
Revolutionary Trade Unionism: The Road to Workers’ Freedom

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