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The history of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (ICU), formed in South Africa in 1919, is replete with lessons for today's movements. The ICU, which also spread into neighbouring colonies like Basutoland (now Lesotho), Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Southwest Africa (now Namibia) was by far the largest protest movement and organisation of black African and Coloured people of its time. Influenced by a range of ideas, including revolutionary syndicalism, the ICU had both amazing strengths and spectacular failings. This piece explains. ... read full story / add a comment
Η Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union of Africa (Ένωση Βιομηχανικών και Εμπορικών Εργατών Αφρικής - ICU) ιδρύθηκε στο Κέιπ Τάουν το 1919. Το 1920 συγχωνεύθηκε με την επαναστατική συνδικαλιστική ένωση, Industrial Workers of Africa (Βιομηχανικοί Εργάτες της Αφρικής) και άλλα συνδικάτα. Μεγάλωσε ταχύτατα στη Νότια Αφρική μεταξύ της έγχρωμης και μαύρης εργατικής τάξης και των εκμισθωτών γης. Εξαπλώθηκε επίσης, τις δεκαετίες του 1920 και του 1930, σε γειτονικές χώρες. ... read full story / add a comment
The first part of this series stated that, despite various well-intentioned efforts by forces on the extra-Alliance and independent left over recent years to unite working class struggles in South Africa, these largely have and will continue to fail to resonate with the working class, help build unity in struggle and form the basis of a new movement because of the theoretical understandings of class and power – and their strategic implications – on which they are founded and which are prevalent on much of the left. This article will give a basic overview of these theoretical understandings of class and power and their strategic implications and limitations and why it is therefore necessary to refine and develop understandings of class and power more capable of responding to the context of the neoliberal restructuring of the working class in order to advance the class struggle in pursuit of socialism. [Part 1] ... read full story / add a comment
Across South Africa, municipalities are in crisis. They are under-funded, anti-working class, anti-poor and anti-township, and riddled with corruption by elites. The working class is oppressed by the state - as well as the private bosses - and we say "Enough is Enough!" We need to build an alternative: organs of counter-power, which can demand changes and lay the foundations for a deep redistribution of wealth and power to the mass of the people: the working class and poor.
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Twenty-five years into democracy the black working class majority in South Africa has not experienced any meaningful improvements in its conditions. The apartheid legacy of unequal education, healthcare and housing and the super-exploitation of black workers continues under the ANC and is perpetuated by the neoliberal policies it has imposed. The only force capable of changing this situation is the working class locally and internationally. Yet to do so, struggles need to come together, new forms of organisation appropriate to the context are needed; and they need both to be infused with a revolutionary progressive politics and to learn from the mistakes of the past. Outside the ANC alliance, there have indeed been many efforts to unite struggles – but these have largely failed to resonate with the working class in struggle and form the basis of a new movement. Nowhere is this more evident than with the newly-formed Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) – which got less than 25 000 votes in the national elections, despite the fact that the union that conceived it, Numsa, claims nearly 400 000 members. [Part 2] ... read full story / add a comment
Don't abandon the unions, or take sides in inter-union rivalries. Build a serious, organised, non-sectarian project of democratic reform and political discussion that spans the unions, including a rank-and-file movement that fosters debate, and opens the treasure-chest of union and left history and theory. Recover the politics of disconnecting from the state as raised by, for example, Occupy and the Rojava Revolution. Replace reliance on the state and parties with struggle, and destructive inter-union rivalry with a serious project of working class counter-power.
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This article, with the guidance of anarchism as a theory, provides a critical analysis of Zimbabwe and its current state, arguing against simple analysis and going beyond individual politics. The real, underlying problem is a society governed by a class system under the control of a predatory state that cannot survive a day without the exploitation of its people. It is essential to organize and educate the masses for a revolution they can claim as their own, against all forms of oppression and that builds on everyday struggles to improve the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe. ... read full story / add a comment
The question of state government elections and running a Workers or Socialist political party continues to be raised in the working class movement and the Left globally. As we may know, there was excitement about the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party in Britain, left political parties in certain parts of Europe and Latin America and, more recently, certain shifts to more centrist positions in the United States amongst a section of the Democratic Party calling themselves “Democratic Socialists”. In South Africa, many workers and some activists seem cautiously optimistic by NUMSA’s formation of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party that will seek to participate in the 2019 general elections. ... read full story / add a comment
Um apelo à unidade da esquerda socialista é amplamente ouvido em toda África do Sul, mas ele é frequentemente interpretado como um chamado à unidade da práxis (unidade no programa teórico e na ação). Isso muitas vezes é enquadrado como a transcendência de velhas divisões (estas vistas como antiquadas, sectárias ou descartadas como dogmáticas), e outras vezes como unidade a fim de agir (retoricamente posta como o oposto da teoria de gabinete). O que nós, anarquistas revolucionários, pensamos? English ... read full story / add a comment
Con oltre un secolo di ritardo la Germania si scusa per il genocidio commesso in Namibia contro le popolazioni indigene. A quando il turno dell'Italia per Libia, Etiopia, Jugoslavia...? ... read full story / add a comment
When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, South Africa falls within the 15 biggest polluters in the world. But there is also a class dimension when it comes to pinning down which sections of society are responsible for air pollution – the major polluters in South Africa are the ruling class (capitalists, politicians and top state bureaucrats) and their state and corporations (including state corporations), continuing an economy based on cheap black labour, mining and externalising costs. State-backed”empowerment” firms — for Afrikaners from 1948, and blacks from 1994 — are deeply involved.
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Racism has been a curse in South Africa, and remains embedded in the society. But how scientific are racist ideas? Where do they come from? And how can we fight racism and create a truly equal and fair society? What do we as revolutionary anarchists think?
Racial conflict, inequality, and hatred are not natural, but fed and reared by capitalism and the state. To really change the system, we need a massive programme of upgrading education, health, housing and services; an end to the racist heap labour system; a challenge to the ideological control that splits the working class; and a radical redistribution of wealth and power to the working class and poor –which in South Africa, means primarily the black working class and poor –as part of a social revolution. ... read full story / add a comment
southern africa / the left Saturday July 21, 2018 - 05:45 by Warren McGregor 2 comments (last - tuesday february 05, 2019 - 23:41) 1 image
A call for socialist Left unity is heard widely today in South Africa, but is usually taken as a call for unity of praxis (unity in theoretical programme and action). This is sometimes framed as transcending old divides (these seen as outdated, divisive or dismissed as dogmatic), and sometimes as unity in order to have action (rhetorically set up as the opposite of “arm chair” theory).
What do we as revolutionary anarchists think? ... read full story / add a comment
There has been a lot of talk about the promise of a National Minimum Wage (NMW) in South Africa. This means wages cannot go below a certain level. But capitalists and politicians continue to eat the food of the workers, the poor and unfortunate. Why? In some cases, the NMW is an improvement – but generally, the NMW is not a “living wage,” meaning a wage on which you can live a decent life. Prices keep going up. This society is based on the maximization of profit, this is its logic, and this means wages are not linked to what the workers and poor need, but to what bosses and politicians need. Wages are a system of exploitation. We live a capitalist society of stress and fear and jealousy, rooted in a system of cheap black labour, and power and profits for the bosses and politicians. We need to fight for something more, take back our unions, and lay the groundwork for an anarchists society, with equality based on workers and community councils. ... read full story / add a comment
Cela fait environ cent jours depuis la naissance du "nouveau" Zimbabwe. Cent jour qu'il en est enfin fini des 37 ans de règne autoritaire par Robert Mugabe, chef d'état depuis 1980. Le Zimbabwe a un nouveau président, Emmerson Mnangagwa, qui a accédé au pouvoir grâce à un coup d'état militaire "soft" contre Robert Mugabe et son successeur choisi, Grace Mugabe. Récemment le Zimbabwe a également pleuré la mort de Morgan Tsvangirai, un leader de l'opposition, issu du syndicalisme, qui a passé la plus grande partie de sa vie à se battre contre Mugabe. ... read full story / add a comment
On 17 November 2017, the Minister of Labour announced the state intends to carry out a new round of attacks on workers and their rights. The attacks come in the form of three Labour Bills currently being considered by parliament: the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill, the National Minimum Wage Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill. If passed, the changes to the labour laws these bills propose will be a major attack on workers’ rights, won through decades of struggle, and will further deepen and entrench inequality and roll back important democratic gains.
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This commentary, an input at a Globalization School debate in Cape Town, engages current labor and Left debates on building alternatives, drawing on the experiences of the radical wing of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and on anarchism and syndicalism. It argues for a strategy of bottom-up mobilization based on debate and pluralism, and building structures of counter-power and a revolutionary counter-culture that can prefigure and create a new social order. The aim is to foster a class-based movement against exploitation, domination, and oppression, including national oppression, that can win reforms through self-activity, unite a range of struggles against oppression, and develop the capacity and unity needed for deep social change. This should be outside parliament, the political party system and the state. The outcome, ultimately, would be the replacement of capitalism, the state, and social and economic inequality, by a universal human community based on self-management, the democratization of daily life, participatory economic planning, and libertarian socialism. ... read full story / add a comment
It’s been around 100 days since the birth of a “new” Zimbabwe: 37 years of authoritarian rule by Robert Mugabe ended when Emmerson Mnangagwa took power through a soft military coup . But what has changed, what we can we expect now? This paper argues that no deep changes are taking place. The slight liberalizing of political life and some promises of economic reform (good and bad) do matter. But the changes in the White House of Zimbabwe centre on removing one vicious state capitalist manager to make way for another, and will not bring liberation for the masses. This replacement does not address the problems Zimbabwe faces: a ruthless ruling class, a predatory state, crisis-ridden capitalism and imperialism. The problem is not individuals: the system is the problem. This paper argues against Mugabe and Mnangagwa, but also against the state as a form of social organization and against the idea that states can be used for liberating the people. All states oppress the working class, peasantry and poor, and the state in Zimbabwe is just an extreme example of how states are based on repression, corruption and promoting the interests of economic and political elites (the ruling class). It rejects the notion that Mugabe was a champion of the poor and landless, and the claim that his ousting was a defeat for progressive forces. But it has no illusions in Mnangagwa. True, real freedom will never come through parliament, or military take- overs, or old men who take turns to spout out neo-liberal or ultra-nationalist rhetoric, while their hands are covered in blood. It can only come from mass action and organising, the transformative engine to build real democratic, stateless socialism based on self-management, freedom political tolerance and common property (anarchism).
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The article looks at the structural reasons why Ramaphosa replacing Zuma as the head of state in South Africa won't end corruption. ... read full story / add a comment
southern africa / the left Wednesday December 13, 2017 - 18:23 by Lucien van der Walt, with Sian Byrne and Nicole Ulrich* 1 image
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. ... read full story / add a comment