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OVERVIEW: There is a healthy skepticism among many activists about simple grand plans, arising partly from disastrous Marxist experiments like the Soviet Union. But the opposite — faith that struggles spontaneously reach the best outcomes if freed of theory and plans — has serious problems. Many struggles falter or are captured as old mistakes are made again. Capitalism and the state cannot be defeated by a growing wave of loosely linked alternative “spaces” and experiments. These systems are based on coercion and exploitation; their defeat requires large-scale confrontation by a coordinated bottom-up working class counter-power with clear politics. The point of resistance is to change the world: it is not an aim in itself, just a response; a politics fetishising perpetual resistance must rely on a world of oppression. Closing discussion by labeling views “dogmatic” is a recipe for imposing other positions and elites through the backdoor. There is no need to repeat the tragic errors of the past. Other revolutionary theories from working class struggles – like anarchism and syndicalism — share no blame for the failures of vanguardism and reformism, and have valuable insights on building a participatory, transformative, project of “people’s power,” and on moving from resistance to reconstruction.It is important to speak openly about theory, strategy and vision, and to engage openly with the revolutionary traditions of the popular classes, like anarchism and syndicalism, born of our past struggles, and distilled from those struggles. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Sunday June 15, 2014 17:58 by Red and Black Action 1 image
Revolutionaries should commemorate the 1976 uprising in South Africa, struggle, but also learn from its failings -- including the limitations of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) of the time ... as did Selby Semela, leading Soweto student militant, later a libertarian communist. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / the left / feature Wednesday May 07, 2014 21:28 by Shawn Hattingh & Jonathan Payn 2 comments (last - tuesday may 13, 2014 21:37) 1 image
There has been much hype, amongst the media and sections of the public, in the run up to this year’s provincial and national elections in South Africa and, for some, the arrival of new parties to the electoral arena has renewed their faith in the possibility of an electoral solution to the myriad of problems facing South Africa. Politicians from across all parties have been using this hype and a seemingly renewed faith in the ballot box to their advantage. The question, therefore, is: can equality, socialism, national liberation or ‘economic freedom’ – or even a respite from state violence – for a majority be brought about through parties and activists entering into the state or through voting for parties that promise not to use the state for violent or oppressive means; or will this only lead to a dead-end for the working class yet again? read full story / add a comment
In the build up to the 2014 (May 7) elections, politicians – whether from the DA, ANC, EFF, or PAC – have been calling on us to vote. As part of this, they have promised to meet people’s needs, end poverty and serve communities when they are elected. The promises of all these politicians are lies. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / history of anarchism / press release Thursday May 01, 2014 05:07 by SAASHA 1 image
southern africa / workplace struggles / link to pdf Monday March 24, 2014 16:54 by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front 1 image
The trade unions are the combat organisations of the working class. They were built to defend and advance workers' interests against the bosses. BUT the unions can be MUCH more. The unions have the potential not only to fight the bosses in the here and now. They can ALSO organise the workers for a REVOLUTIONARY GENERAL STRIKE. This means that the workers take the land, mines and factories from the bosses and politicians. It means we run them in the interests of the workers and the poor. Real democratic socialism and real working class freedom and power will never come through getting new political parties into parliament. This is an illusion. Parliament is the graveyard of struggles. It is the place where the radicals of yesterday become the crooked politicians of today. Socialism, freedom and power can only come through class struggle. This means organising in communities AND building strong worker organisations. Worker organisations must be built to defeat the bosses, and their ally, the state… and replace them with direct workers control of production. Free of the politicians. Free of the bosses. This is the REVOLUTIONARY GENERAL STRIKE. And this can only come though revolutionary industrial unionism (anarchist syndicalism). Revolutionary unions are vital for replacing the bosses and politicians with a grassroots working class democracy. read full story / add a comment
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
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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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 7 comments (last - tuesday december 17, 2019 00:48) 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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