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international / the left / opinion / analysis Monday February 01, 2021 21:39 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
We are living in a world that for most people is broken and that has broken most people. It is not a god given world, but one that has been constructed by those in power and that has left most people mired in deprivation. Under COVID-19, this world has sunk to new lows. All is not lost though. There has historically been a section within the progressive movement – in different parts of the world and in South Africa – based around forms of radically democratic socialism that has not only tapped into the righteous anger of the working class, but has also sought to create a home and sense of belonging for people based on progressive values and principles such as mutual aid, solidarity and even love. If we want a better world, we need to revive the popularity of the types of politics, ethics, values, principles and practices that formed the essence – at their best – of such movements and update it for the context of the 21st century. read full story / add a comment
west africa / community struggles / feature Thursday November 12, 2020 17:33 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
A video went viral on social media platforms on October 3, outlining how the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian police force shot a young man, dumped him at the side of the road and stole his car. What followed was three weeks of protests by young people against such police brutality and the corruption that defines the state; initially via social media, #EndSARS, and later in towns and cities across Nigeria. During these protests the Nigerian state used various tactics to either suppress the protests or to try and demobilise them through insincere “concessions”. To begin with, the ruling class, the state it controls and its head, President Muhammadu Buhari, attempted to quell the protests through window dressing. Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu promised on October 11 that the SARS unit would be disbanded and supposedly replaced with a new unit called SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics). This was an obvious lie, as the same personnel that formed part of SARS would form part of SWAT. Over the last several years the government has made similar announcements resulting in no actual change. Needless to say, the protests continued and grew into the largest in the history of Nigeria. As the protests grew, the state changed tactics and responded to the escalation with outright violence. Part of this involved the state deploying thugs to attack protestors in order to try and intimidate people off the streets. When this failed to produce the state’s desired result, it deployed the military and implemented a curfew in a number of cities. By October 20, however, the protests had spread across Nigeria. Some of the assets of the Nigerian ruling class were also targeted during these protests and the largest and most lucrative toll road in country, Lekki, in Lagos, was blockaded. On that day the military attempted to brutally end the protests and shot dead 12 people at the Lekki tollgate. read full story / add a comment
international / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Wednesday July 15, 2020 01:40 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it often seems as if we are stuck in a dystopian movie. In this movie death is stalking us, hospitals overflow with the sick and dying, and the grave diggers are at work. We know more victims will soon die as the folly of millions of workers being forced by circumstances to return into cramped mines, banks, factories and warehouses is so evident. Those that are no longer needed by the billionaires who own the companies are marshalled daily by the police and military dishing out violence and on occasion, humiliation, to underline their power and the power of their bosses. It all feels so unreal, a ghastly movie playing out before our eyes.
The trauma of it all has led many people to seek solace in fiction or conspiracy theories. It can be morbidly comforting to believe in fantasy in times of strife. We, however, fall into such fantasies at our own peril. When we try and deny reality and escape from it – even if we are traumatised – we are left powerless. We miss that all of this has to do with the workings and power relations that define our everyday lives – the very workings and power relations of capitalism and state systems. read full story / add a comment
The ongoing capitalist crisis, and the impacts of COVID19, have made it clear that the capitalist and state system we live under is neither efficient nor just. Inequality has hit record levels and a small elite has more wealth than ever, while the very basics – such as a decent healthcare, water, housing, sanitation, food and electricity – cannot be effectively financed, run nor delivered. Politicians in every state abuse their power too and corruption is rife, only its severity varies. We see this even when there is a pandemic – some local politicians have even sold food parcels meant to alleviate people’s hunger during the COVID 19 lockdown. Parliamentary democracy is largely hollow with a majority of people having no real political power. The oppression of women and people of colour continues unabated and imperialism deepens everyday. Due to the ever-expanding nature of capitalism the ecology is on the verge of collapse. It is clear a movement for change and an alternative to capitalism and the state system is needed. One alternative that is proving to be viable in large parts of the Kurdish majority areas of the Middle East is Democratic Confederalism. In South Africa there is much we can learn, adopt and adapt from Democratic Confederalism for local movement building. read full story / add a comment
international / anti-fascism / opinion / analysis Tuesday June 02, 2020 19:13 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The rise of an authoritarian populist politics, which presents itself as against the “Establishment,”” for the “common” people and “anti-globalisation,” is happening worldwide — and there are dangerous signs in South Africa. The populist upsurge sees voters reject big, established parties that embraced neo-liberalism after the economic crisis of 2007, in the context of a retreating working class and left. The author argues that the solution is to build from below for a new society beyond the state, class rule and capitalism based on self-management and production for need. read full story / add a comment
international / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Thursday November 21, 2019 19:04 by Mandy Moussouris and Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Mandy Moussouris and Shawn Hattingh explain the roots and principles of anarcho-syndicalism and what these mean for the practice of worker education in movements inspired by these principles and traditions. Emphasising the democratic practice, working class rooted, organic and critical nature of the pedagogy, they explain that the practice seeks to intersect employed and unemployed women and men. Practically, the education provides a platform for post-revolutionary practice of direct democracy at the point of production and, thus, naturally included practical skills such as trades, accounting and sciences. read full story / add a comment
western asia / indigenous struggles / opinion / analysis Wednesday March 20, 2019 19:25 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
For the past few years, most people would have come across news stories of how Kurdish fighters in Syria, especially women, have been crucial in battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Very few, however, would be aware that in the north and eastern parts of Syria these same Kurdish fighters are part of a revolution as progressive, profound and potentially as far-reaching as any in history. In the north and eastern parts of Syria, an attempt to create an alternative system to hierarchical states, capitalism and patriarchy is underway and should it fully succeed it holds the potential to inspire the struggle for a better, more egalitarian Middle East, Africa, South Africa and indeed world. As in any revolution it has had its successes and shortcomings, but it is already an experiment worth reflecting on as it shows a far different world could be built to the extremely unequal and increasingly right-wing and authoritarian one that exists today. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / environment / opinion / analysis Friday December 07, 2018 19:20 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
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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international / anti-fascism / opinion / analysis Thursday July 26, 2018 02:39 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The context we now exist in is one that is defined by glaring contradictions everywhere, its fractured, changing, unstable and confrontational. It is a time of despair, but also pockets of hope. On the one hand, a spectre is haunting us, but it is not the one that Marx spoke of. Rather an authoritarian and extreme right wing form of capitalism, last seen on extensive scale in the 1930s, is rearing its hideous ghost-like head. This right wing extremism has become an ‘acceptable’ form of politics amongst some people in the context of the unresolved capitalist crisis. It is the ‘solution’ amongst sections of ruling classes in many countries to a crisis that is not going away. As part of this, many states are passing laws attacking basic rights that oppressed classes have won through decades and even centuries of struggle (including in South Africa); states are beginning to bare their teeth more often rather than being in a position to rule by consent; toxic nationalisms based on exclusionary racial, ethnic and religious identities (including within sections of the population in South Africa) have once again become acceptable and even embraced by sections of the population (giving rise to the likes of Trump, Le Pen and Duterte and xenophobia and other ills in South Africa); and bigotry and hate are back. Yet there is also hope. In many parts of the world, sections of the working class have fought back. This has seen movements of protests in some parts, attempts to revive unions in others and in some cases the re-emergence of left political parties and projects. But it is also a restructured working class, a working class that is fundamentally different from even the 1970s. New or different forms of organising happen next to the old. It is thus also a working class in which the past weighs like a nightmare on the present in organisational terms; experimenting with the new and different ways of organising, but also falling back into the old. read full story / add a comment
mashriq / arabia / iraq / the left / opinion / analysis Friday June 15, 2018 07:57 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
In this education series we look at experiments, which have arisen through working class struggles, to create alternatives to capitalism. This will include looking at present and past alternatives to capitalism. In doing this, we are not saying these experiments should be carbon copied – they have often taken place in very different times and contexts.
Rather we are trying to show that, through struggle and experimentation, new societies that overturn capitalism can be brought into being; even under very harsh conditions. This, we believe, provides hope to working class struggles: what we have today under the capitalist and state system can be ended and replaced by a better society. Experiments in alternatives show clearly how another world is possible.
In this article, the first article of the education series on alternatives to capitalism, we look at an experiment that is taking place today, known as the Rojava Revolution, to overturn capitalism and the state system in northern Syria (which is being subjected to an imperialist and civil war). In Rojava a social revolution, influenced by libertarian socialism, has been underway since 2012 and a new society has emerged in the process.
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southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Monday February 19, 2018 14:58 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
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
international / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Saturday January 13, 2018 00:51 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Mechanisation and automation have been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But these are not inevitable or neutral economic realities. They are political weapons of oppression under capitalism. It is a war against the working classes to increase profits. It is no an accident that bosses choose to mechanise and automate in the context of the massive crisis of capitalism. read full story / add a comment
région sud de l'afrique / impérialisme / guerre / opinion / analyse Wednesday December 06, 2017 09:58 by Shawn Hattingh
Cet article s’attache à comprendre les événements récents qui ont entouré la démission de Robert Mugabe au Zimbabwe. L’auteur ne pense pas que cela est susceptible d’amener une quelconque forme de libération pour le peuple du Zimbabwe, étant donné que cela ne répond pas aux problèmes auxquels le Zimbabwe doit faire face : une classe dirigeante sans scrupules, l’État, le capitalisme et l’impérialisme. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / imperialism / war / feature Friday December 01, 2017 18:39 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
This article looks at the recent events around the removal of Robert Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe. It argues that this will not bring liberation for the people of Zimbabwe, as it does not address the problems Zimbabwe faces – a ruthless ruling class, its state, capitalism and imperialism.
Robert Mugabe, the longstanding authoritarian ruler that has waged a war against Zimbabwe’s poor, is gone. He was forced to resign in the wake of a coup – although the main actors in the coup comically denied it was one.
When it was announced that Mugabe was exiting power, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Harare to celebrate. Many are hoping that his exit will bring change for the better for Zimbabwe. This hope, unfortunately, may be wishful thinking. The reason for this is that Mugabe was a symptom of far deeper problems, and without addressing those problems, Zimbabwe cannot be free; nor can there be genuine equality. Similarly, those that removed Mugabe are cut from the same cloth, and come from the same ruthless ruling class. [Français] read full story / add a comment
southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Thursday October 12, 2017 19:58 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Wave after wave of community protests have been taking place in South Africa. People are angry that after twenty years of so-called freedom they are still confined to living in shacks, having to defecate in communal toilets, and having essential services terminated when they can’t afford to pay. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Friday June 09, 2017 19:56 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The hope that the end of apartheid would herald a better life for the oppressed in South Africa has evaporated. Their conditions today are materially as bad as under apartheid - and even worse in some cases. But the upper classes are having the time of their lives. Working class struggles should be intensified and linked, based on self-organising and direct democracy to bring about real change.
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international / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Friday May 05, 2017 18:10 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Globally and in South Africa, the capitalist system is becoming more and more unstable. Over the last period, the responses of the ruling classes in many parts of the world to this growing crisis has been a turn to authoritarianism. This has been done to hold onto power and to increase their control over wealth. Factions within ruling classes, in countries such as South Africa, are also engaged in a battle over shrinking opportunities to accumulate wealth. Competition between factions within ruling classes is, therefore, also intensifying. This too is feeding into an intensification of imperialist rivalries. The consequences are that over the last few months the threat of large scale war globally, as part of a show down between imperialist powers, has become an awful possibility. 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 appropriate to combating a rampant and growing authoritarian form of neoliberalism are needed; and such struggles need to be infused with a revolutionary progressive politics. While struggles are taking place in different parts of the world, none as yet have come to hold these three ingredients on a large scale. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Friday March 31, 2017 20:26 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
In the midst of gorging themselves through exploitation and corruption, competing factions of the flabby ruling class in South Africa (the ruling class being capitalists, politicians and top state officials) have once again stepped into the ring to take pieces out of one another. In the one corner of the fight is the Zuma faction - comprised of sections of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) capitalists, top state officials, and politicians aligned to Zuma - while in the other corner is the Ramaphosa/Gordhan faction - comprised of sections of the ANC leadership such as Ramaphosa and Gordhan, white capital and the South African Communist Party (SACP). These factions have recently been standing toe to toe exchanging blows and in the process, metaphorical blood has been spilled: those of a few Cabinet Ministers, including Pravin Gordhan. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / economy / opinion / analysis Sunday February 26, 2017 03:28 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance of South Africa stood up in the circus that passes itself off as a National Parliament and without any sense of irony what-so- ever declared that the South African state’s budget for 2017 was redistributive and progressive. If the Minister was to be believed, therefore, the budget was aimed at making a dent in the substantial class and racial inequalities that exist in the country. To back this up, supporters pointed out that the tax rate on top earners was raised marginally in the budget and people receiving dividends from shares would have to pay 5% more on these in tax. Despite this, one word could sum up the idea that the budget presented was redistributive and progressive: bullshit. Rather the budget presented by Minister Pravin Gordhan was yet again another attack on the working class. What the budget did was to favour corporations at the expense of the poor. In doing so, it remained based on the neoliberal dogma that has defined South Africa’s post-apartheid politics. In other words, the budget was a vivid demonstration of how the state is an instrument and weapon of the ruling class that functions to benefit that class. This can be seen throughout the budget, including how the state plans to raise money and how it plans to spend it. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Saturday November 05, 2016 22:47 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The battle between Pravin Gordhan and Jacob Zuma has been presented along the lines of a superhero comic. Gordhan, the hero, is portrayed as the last defence against the rampaging villain, vile Zuma. And like all superhero tales Gordhan the good appears to be gaining the upper hand over Zuma the bad – especially since corruption charges have been dropped and the damning Public Protector’s report on state capture has been released.
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