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(en) southern africa, Anarchist Communist Front - ZACF - Zabalaza #13 Out Now
Tue, 12 Feb 2013 15:57:03 +0200
Issue number 13 of the ZACF's organ, Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Revolutionary
Anarchism now available online. ---- Editorial ---- Red and black greetings, comrades!
---- It’s been well over a year since the last issue of Zabalaza and much international
attention has focused on the socio-economic problems facing the European Union. Despite
the ravages of capitalism, and its neo-liberal form, the European ruling classes have
responded, generally, with more of the same: increased attacks on the working class
through propagating greater austerity measures, and less money spent on social welfare on
the one hand, and bail-outs and more tax breaks for the rich on the other. As is to be
expected, however, the European working class has not taken this lying down; resistance to
austerity imposed from above has been widespread.
In recent months we have witnessed, in Greece, a one-day general strike on October 18 and
a 48-hour general strike on November 6 and 7. Promisingly, and for the first time in the
wake of the global economic crisis of 2008 – we have also witnessed a common European
response in the form of a general strike on November 14 that affected Greece, Italy, Spain
and Portugal, with solidarity actions occurring across much of the continent.
These global conditions have unleashed greater waves of opposition to socio-economic and
political domination. Yet, as with protests and uprisings elsewhere over the last few
years, most have resulted in technical alterations at most, and not in the fundamental
dismantling of systems of exploitation and domination. The sooner the working class
realises that elections can never bring about freedom from social and economic oppression,
the sooner we can march towards a free and equal, or anarchist society.
Inspired by the Arab Spring, the year 2011 was – in the West at least – characterised by
the emergence of a number of “Occupy” movements modelled on the Occupy Wall Street
movement. Not surprisingly, however (and with the notable exception of Occupy Sandy, which
played a significant role in providing popular self-managed emergency response and relief
to victims of Hurricane Sandy in the United States) – a lot of these have by now faded
away without being very successful either in winning improvements for the popular classes
or building sustainable movements in struggle. This, again, highlights the centrality of
ideas in the class struggle and the necessity for strategic perspectives of building a
revolutionary working class counter-power and counter-culture.
Similarly, 2012 was marked by massive student struggles in Quebec, Canada, that also saw
workers and communities coming out in a general strike alongside students. Unfortunately,
due to space limitations, we do not publish anything on the Quebec students’ strikes in
this edition of Zabalaza. However, we intend to publish an analysis thereof by a comrade
from the ZACF’s sister organisation in Montreal, Union Communiste Libertaire (UCL), in
Locally, the South African ruling class has continued its assault on the rural and urban
working class (the organised, unorganised and unemployed). A range of measures have been
proposed or implemented in an effort to alter labour and community laws – won through
bitter struggle – that offer workers a semblance of protection from the bosses and
communities a bit of say in their locales. One example is a Constitutional Court ruling
holding unions liable for property damage during strikes and protests. Ideologically the
working class finds itself unable to buttress these challenges. Its leaders and
spokespeople continue to offer tried and failed ideas and strategies to counter economic
deprivation and political weakness. Inevitably they promote nationalism and other such
reactionary ideologies, seek to promote reliance on the state.
Climate change and environmental degradation were on the agenda for a range of activists
at the end of 2011 as South Africa hosted the COP-17 conference. We look at working class
priorities and their relation to fights for ecological conservation and improvement, and
conclude that these must be intrinsically linked to secure a better future – one of safe
and healthy work and leisure.
More recently, the police massacre of 34 striking mine-workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine
in Rustenburg unleashed a wave of condemnation, but confusion still abounds. In this issue
we address the role of the state as the defender of property and privilege in capitalist
society. Since Marikana, wildcat strikes and sit-ins have spread across the platinum belt
and into other mining sectors. In the Western Cape province farmworkers – who, together
with mine-workers, perhaps suffer the harshest consequences of the legacy of apartheid –
have also gone out on strike in pursuit of improved living and working conditions and
higher minimum wages. As with Marikana and the strikes in the mining sector, their just
struggle has been met with harsh repression at the hands of the state and farm bosses.
Unfortunately at this stage we cannot offer a South African anarchist analysis of the
strike wave that predated and followed the Marikana massacre – for a variety of reasons.
Partly we feel that the significance of this period in our history and for future warrants
a far deeper and closer look than was possible. Conflicting reports and analyses continue
to be released almost daily, many of which are not drawn from honest reflection and study.
However, we hope to look more closely at the strike wave in more detail in the next
edition, after the dust has settled.These are times of oppression and uncertainty for the
working class. They have also further revealed the confusion and disorientation within the
ranks of the authoritarian left. We are offered fertile ground for anarchist agitation and
education. We need to seize it! Anarchism has always stressed the necessity of directly
democratic organised, coordinated struggle and commitment. As such it was with great
enthusiasm that the ZACF sent a delegate to the 10th anniversary of the Brazilian Forum of
Organised Anarchism (FAO) and the First Congress of the Brazilian Anarchist Coordination
(CONCAB) in Rio de Janeiro this past June. At this auspicious event, the FAO was
reconstituted as the Brazilian Anarchist Coordination (CAB). The CAB brings together nine
especifista anarchist political organisations in what is the next step in the process of
building a national anarchist organisation in that country.
In August we also had the opportunity to send two delegates to Switzerland to the 140th
anniversary of the St. Imier International Anarchist Congress. Here we participated in an
international meeting of the Anarkismo network – which brings together over 30
organisations from 18 different countries – in an attempt to charter a course of united
global anarchist action.
Comrades, the road ahead is hard, but the path is clear: the world ripens again for the
ideas of anarchism. We, the popular classes (the working class and peasantry), scream out
for a way forward: a movement beyond endless suffrage and revolutionary betrayal. Let us
arm ourselves with the correct tools in which to defeat domination in all its forms:
capitalism and the state, racism and sexism, and many others. This, the ZACF contends,
must involve continuing to return to our roots in the Bakuninist wing of the First
International: a strategic orientation towards serious, critical theoretical understanding
which then informs organisation, strategy and tactics.
In memory of this history of struggle, we begin in this edition a series of articles on
“Black Stars of Anarchism”: anarchists and syndicalists of black African descent around
the world who, rejecting nationalism and the narrow politics of identity, have united the
struggle against racism and imperialism with the class war against capital and state. In
this edition we tell the story of the great South African syndicalist militant T.W.
Thibedi, whose efforts nearly a century ago to organise black workers around class
politics still deserve to be remembered as a revolutionary alternative to nationalism and
Such an understanding and strategic orientation, based on critiquing both the past and
present, is surely the ammunition we need to beat back the devastation of economic
oppression (capitalism in all its forms, whether state or free market-orientated) and
political domination (the state and other relations of authority between and within classes).
It is with regret that we heard of the death on 28 January of our friend and comrade Alan
Lipman, age 88, who with his wife Beata were among the drafters of the 1955 Freedom
Charter. Alan and Beata resigned from the Communist Party in 1956 in disgust at the Soviet
invasion of Hungary. He and some African Resistance Movement guerrillas firebombed the
offices where the apartheid state was collecting data on black women to put them on the
dompas, so the couple fled into exile in the UK where he got involved with the Campaign
for Nuclear Disarmament. Returning to SA in the democratic era, the couple got involved
with their local ANC branch, but were soon very disillusioned with the ruling party’s
venality. Although he maintained a life-long friendship with Walter & Albertina Sisulu, he
became a confirmed anarchist and addressed a ZACF/Anti-Privatisation Forum meeting at the
Orange Farm squatter camp in 2006 on what he called “the Anti-Liberation Movements”
(ANC/SACP). His autobiography, “On the Outside Looking In: Colliding with Apartheid and
Other Authorities” (2009) was first published by zabalaza.net. We shall miss his quiet
wit, gregarious spirit and sharp mind. Hamba Kahle, Comrade Alan!
As we close this editorial and prepare for publication, bombs and white phosphorous
continue to rain death and destruction on the men, women and children of Gaza, Palestine.
We also publish here an article by an Egyptian comrade written on the eve of the Egyptian
presidential elections. Whether the outcomes of these elections will retain the pro-US and
pro-Israeli policies of the Mubarak regime, or support the overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian
aspirations of the Egyptian popular classes – hundreds of whom have crossed the Rafah
border, some illegally, to support their Palestinian brothers and sisters – remains,
however, to be seen.
The Struggle Continues! Forward to International Popular Class Unity
Forward to Anarchism and to the free Socialist Society!!
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front
Related Link: http://zabnew.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/zabalaza-13.pdf
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