A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 30 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ All_other_languages _The.Supplement
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) NEA #6 The Global Influence of Platformism Today: South Africa

From Northeastern Anarchist <northeastern_anarchist@yahoo.com>
Date Wed, 26 Feb 2003 14:21:02 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> NEFAC interviews the Bikisha Media Collective 
South Africa is a country where platformist influence
has had a huge impact on the burgeoning anarchist
movement. The Bikisha Media Collective is a young
platformist organization that formed out of the
remnants of the Workers Solidarity Federation, which
dissolved in 1999. They have a very active presence in
numerous social movements and popular struggles, and
continue to provide an inspiring example of what can
be accomplished when anarchists get organized. Those
of us from NEFAC have always maintained good relations
with comrades from the BMC, and we are very pleased to
be able to include them in this series. Below is an
interview with Michael Schmidt, who is the group?s
international secretary.

- interview by MaRK, Class Against Class

NEFAC: Could you start by giving a a general history
of class struggle anarchism in South Africa?

BMC: The first known anarchist activity in southern
Africa occurred in the 1870s when the black flag flew
over the Kimberley diamond diggings during an
industrial dispute. It is thought that several exiled
Communards participated in this uprising. Between 1896
and 1905, anarchist militants deported from Portugal
spent time in jails in Mozambique. It was there, in
the early days of the 20th Century, that the anarchist
printer Jose Estevam, having been released from
prison, established the first known anarchist
organization in the region, the Revolutionary League
(RL) of Lourenco-Marques, a city which today is the
capital Maputo.

Anarchism emerged in late nineteenth-century South
Africa, notably through the pioneer work of Henry
Glasse. It was only in the early 1900s that the
movement began to assume a more organized form.

The Social Democratic Federation, founded in Cape
Town, included anarchists as well as other leftists,
ranging from radicals to reformists (the founder of
the SDF, Wilfrid Harrison, described himself as a
philosophical anarchist). ?The Voice of Labour?, a
weekly radical labor paper, started in 1908 or so and
began to cover anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist ideas
with increasing frequency, and in 1910 two
specifically IWW-style organizations emerged: the IWW
and the Socialist Labour Party, each of which
identified with a different faction in the IWW split
in the US and elsewhere over "political action."
Needless to say, they were quite hostile to one

In 1915, a far more significant development took
place: the founding of the International Socialist
League (ISL), which brought together the veterans of
the by-then defunct IWW and SLP as well as a radical
anti-war group that had emerged within, and had left,
the rightwing South African Labour Party. The ISL soon
adopted an IWW approach; never calling themselves
anarchists, they were committed to a revolutionary
industrial unionism that would unite South African
workers across race, ethnicity and skill.

At the time, South Africa's workforce was divided
racially, with most skilled jobs being the preserve of
whites, unskilled labor undertaken by blacks (under
indenture contracts and strict controls over movement
and residence), with Indians, coloreds ("mixed-race",
a large group) and poor whites falling somewhere in
the middle.

The ISL tried (without much success, although ISL
militants became leading radical unionists in
Witwatersrand unions), to reform white craft unions in
an IWW direction, whilst also beginning attempts at
unionizing other workers: in 1917 the ISL helped found
the Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA, originally
called the IWW but changed after a month or so) in
Johannesburg, this being the first trade union for
black workers in South African history and probably
the first in British colonial Africa; that same year
it also founded the Indian Workers Industrial Union in
Durban; in 1919 it founded two unions in Kimberly,
mainly based amongst the predominantly colored
workforce there, these being the Clothing Workers
Industrial Union, which also emerged in other centers,
and the Horse Drivers Union.

Another IWW aligned group, the Industrial Socialist
League (IndSL), which took a strictly anti-electoral
line (the ISL saw elections as a platform for
propaganda), emerged independently in Cape Town in
1918 as a split from what its founders saw as a
passive, propaganda-only SDF. They launched a monthly
paper entitled, ironically, The Bolshevik (a term that
at that time was synonymous with "insurrectionist").
The IndSL also formed a union, mainly amongst colored
factory workers, called the Sweet and Jam Workers
Industrial Union. Like their counterparts in the ISL,
IndSL members became very prominent in the Cape
mainstream union federation, but with little effect in
terms of winning the organizations as a whole to

The formation of unions amongst blacks, coloreds and
Indians from 1917 onwards marked an important step
forward for the South African anarchists and
anarcho-syndicalists. The IWW and SLP had, before
World War I, actively opposed racial prejudice amongst
white workers, and preached interracial unionism, but
remained entirely, it seems, based amongst whites.

The main body of ISL and IndSL members were also
whites, mainly working class as well, with a large
number of East European Jews as well as Scots, and
Irish represented. However, with the unions formed
from 1917, the overall racial composition of the
anarcho-syndicalist "movement" (as opposed to specific
groups like the ISL and IndSL) changed radically.

The leading black, colored and Indian workers in these
unions adopted anarcho-syndicalist ideas, and either
joined the ISL, or took these ideas with them into the
African National Congress, which on the Witwatersrand
had, by 1918, a significant anarcho-syndicalist
presence in its leadership, whose views were made felt
in the 1918-19 period in particular. For the ISL, the
IndSL and the militants in the unions associated with
these organizations, revolutionary industrial unions
were seen as serving several complementary functions:
uniting workers across race and combating prejudice;
providing the basis for mass campaigns against racial
laws; and laying the basis for a "general lockout of
the capitalist class" and worker self-management.

In 1921, the ISL, SDF and IndSL all played a leading
role in founding the Communist Party of SA. This
marked the death knell of the "first wave" of
anarchist organizing in South Africa. Although some
key figures in the CPSA continued to hold syndicalist
and anti-racist views, such as Percy Fisher. The huge
purges that took place in the Party in the 1930s, the
weight of Stalinist ideas, boosted by the immense
prestige of the USSR, and the rise of Trotskyism and
Black Nationalism all contributed to the decline of
libertarian currents. CPSA expellees with a
libertarian background tended to become Trots (e.g.
Frank Glass from the Cape) or move into nationalism
(e.g. Johnny Gomas from Kimberely).

It is notable that many of the black, colored and
Indian militants in the ISL and IndSL-linked unions,
joined the CPSA. The IWA became absorbed into a new
black general union, the ICU, founded in 1921 (a
successor to an organization of the same name founded
in Cape Town in 1919 which had variously co-operated
and competed with the IWA section there on the Cape
Town docks).

The ICU did adopt a version of the IWW preamble, and
the rhetoric of the general strike, but cannot be
considered more than quasi-syndicalist: the
revolutionary general strike jostled with nationalist
millenarianism, Garveyism and traditional ideologies
in an unstable (and terribly organized) union melange
that survived until the 1940s, but was effectively
dead by the late 1920s.

Following the collapse of the ICU, anarchism and
anarcho-syndicalism maintained only a twilight
existence in the shadow of Stalinism and Black
Nationalism. During the Spanish Revolution of
1936-1939, several South Africans fought on the side
of the republic against the fascists, as part of the
40,000 volunteers from 53 nations who defended the
republic, but it is not known if any of them were
specifically anarchist. Research will be done into
this aspect.

Although some anarchist materials were available in
South Africa in later years - for instance, through
the radical Vanguard Books in Johannesburg - and
although some anarchist materials were banned after
1950 (in terms of the sweeping "Suppression of
Communism Act," which also banned the CPSA), it was
only in the 1980s that the beginnings of a new wave, a
"second wave" of organized anarchist activism began.

Following the adoption of the armed struggle in South
Africa in 1961 by the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we
Sizwe (MK), several libertarians joined in the fight.
At least one anarchist, Thomas Meyer, a white teacher
of black students in the far north of the country, is
known to have joined MK as an anarchist and was
involved in smuggling materials into South Africa from
neighboring Botswana.

There was a revival of interest in anarchism among
student groups in 1968 as a result of the French
Revolt of that year which saw students provoke a
national crisis that saw 10-million workers go out on
strike, many towns become self-managing and the
near-collapse of General Charles de Gaule's regime. At
the then whites-only University of the Witwatersrand,
for instance, three students ran on an anarchist
ticket for the Students' Representative Council in
1968 and one was elected, but their understanding of
anarchism tended to be chaotic and was overshadowed by
the Trotskyists and other authoritarian Communist

>From the 1973 Durban strikes onwards, the black trade
union movement, which had been moribund since the late
1920s (excluding the 1946 miner's strike) was revived
and syndicalist elements again developed. Leading
revolutionary syndicalists at this time included Rick
Turner, who was assassinated in 1978, apparently by an
apartheid death squad.

By the time the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU) was founded in 1985, syndicalism, usually
termed the "workerist" tendency, was very powerful.
Vigorous debates took place within COSATU between the
syndicalists and the SACP-aligned "populists" who
wanted it to ally with the cross-class nationalist
ANC. Although the populists won the argument,
syndicalism remained strong within COSATU at the time.

In the 1980s, white, and to a lesser extent, Indian
youth involved in the punk subculture played a role in
the revival of anarchism, whilst there were also
individual black anarchists in a number of townships.
'Zines were the main form of anarchist writing at this
stage, and analyses of the South African situation
were rather weak, with 'zines reflecting the punk
subculture for the most part. The "movement" at this
stage had no organizational form, no platforms and no
noticeable effect on the big struggles of the period,
but did form part of the anti-militarist, anti-racist
culture of resistance.

In 1992, two years before apartheid came to an end,
but while neo-fascism, state-sponsored death-squad
activity, military conscription and murderous
large-scale battles between the nationalist
"liberation movements" like the ANC were common, an
organized group, called the Anarchist Revolutionary
Movement (ARM) was formed. But it was not very
coherent and so not very effective. A large section of
the organization remained within the counter-cultural
ghetto; however, an ARM section at the University of
the Witwatersrand campus - which included people
associated with the ?Revolt? 'zine, produced in 1992 -
consciously focused on work in the student movement
and had some success in recruiting an integrated
membership, and developing an analysis of South
African capitalism that sought to link the struggle
against apartheid to the struggle against capitalism,
arguing for a workers democracy rather than a
bourgeois post-colonial regime. It produced a once-off
magazine ?Unrest?.

In retrospect the student section of ARM was somewhat
too dogmatic and extremist. In 1995, following the
1994 all-race general election that brought the ANC to
power, the ARM became the Workers Solidarity
Federation (WSF), which grew by 1999 to around 40
members, around 80% of them black and working class.
The WSF was influenced deeply by the platformism of
the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland, and
developed a rigorous set of position papers and
materials, which we carry online today under our
"pamphlets" section of the Zabalaza website. The
theoretical work of the WSF marked an enormous step
forward for South African anarchism and continues to
provide the basic framework of ideas for current
organized South African anarchists. The WSF was
originally based in Johannesburg but soon linked up
with anarchists in Durban and Cape Town, becoming the
first national anarchist organization since the 1910s.
The WSF produced the journal ?Workers' Solidarity?,
which incorporated Unrest. It came out twice a year.

In the early 1990s, the Durban Anarchist Federation
(DAF) was formed, consisting of three groups: a
propaganda collective, a green collective and a "riot
grrl" collective. The propaganda collective was
initially known as the Awareness League, then later
Land & Freedom and throughout the 1990s, it published
the journal ?Freedom? which was in English with some
articles in Zulu. Land & Freedom continues today as
Zabalaza Books (ZB). The DAF initially worked
alongside the WSF, but declined an invitation to join
it, being far more affinity-based, but a Durban
section of the WSF was established. The DAF
transformed into the Anarchist Workers' Group (AWG) in
the late 1990s but the AWG collapsed several months
later because of internal political and personal
differences. I would personally say it's collapse came
about because it repudiated platformism, relying on
weak friendship-based affinity group organizing. In
practice, what happened was that when members had a
falling out, the AWG fell apart because their
political "cement" was not strong enough.

The WSF was involved in workers' marches, student
occupations, and propaganda work; it even flirted with
the notion of forming a union at one stage! However,
it saw itself as a specific political group, and not a
union, such as the IWW or CNT. WSF saw itself more as
an FAI, and in general aimed to work within existing
unions, rather than form new red unions. It also
maintained extensive international links, including
with anarchists in other African countries, but until
the recent signing up with the International
Libertarian Solidarity (ILS) we had no contact with
Latin American groups, mainly due to language
barriers. Thanks to our involvement with the ILS, this
is now changing and we see it as important because
conditions for organizations like the FAG in Brazil
are far more similar to those in South Africa than
those of European or North American organizations.

In August 1998, following a talk given in Lusaka,
Zambia, by myself to an audience of about 40 members
of the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Caucus and the
University of Zambia - Cuba Friendship Association,
the Anarchist & Workers' Solidarity Movement (AWSM)
was established by self-taught anarchist Wilstar
Choongo. It was the first known anarchist group in
Central Africa since the hey-day of the
anarcho-syndicalist influenced Industrial and
Commercial Union (ICU) which peaked at 100,000 members
in 1927 with a section in Zambia. The AWSM consisted
of both worker and student members. Close relations
were maintained between the AWSM and the WSF, but the
former appears to have collapsed in mid-1999 following
Choongo's death by malaria.

In 1999, the WSF was dissolved for a range of reasons,
the foremost of which were: weak internal education,
leading to a degree of organizational ineffectiveness;
the view that it was premature to launch a specific
anarchist political organization, as our small numbers
trapped us in the classic ghetto of the far left (an
organization that starts small remains small because
it is too small to attract serious attention as an
alternative for workers; a Catch-22 situation); and
the fact that objective conditions had yet to change
within the working class. Over the past two years,
those objective conditions have now changed, with the
class now starting to mobilize against the neo-liberal
regime of the ANC.

NEFAC: How did the Bikisha Media Collective first

BMC: The ex-WSF militants chose to focus on building
anarchists rather than building an organization. In
other words, the strategic focus shifted from trying
to win people to an organization, and instead to the
broadest possible diffusion of relevant anarchist
materials and literature to the widest layer of
workers, with an emphasis on the black unemployed
youth. The groundwork for future anarchist action
could be laid in this way. In 1999, two projects (not
organizations) were prioritized: Bikisha Media
Collective, founded in 1999, and Zabalaza Books, which
was already established in Durban - which worked
closely together to produce and distribute a wide
range of pamphlets and materials, and, more recently,
a journal called ?Zabalaza? (issue #4 of which is
currently in production).

Militants were expected to be involved in the class
struggle: for instance, Bikisha affiliated to the
Anti-Privatization Forum (APF) in Johannesburg, and
the Zabalaza Action Group to the Concerned Citizens'
Forum (CCF) in Durban. The main objective of the
projects is to provide theoretical and practical
support for the emergent social movements.

NEFAC: How would you say 'platformism' has influenced
your activity?

BMC: Platformism has proven to be a vital instrument
in welding together an organization of hardcore
class-war anarchists over the past decade. It has
given us the organizational and intellectual tools
necessary to take on the tasks we have and to stay the
distance. During the WSF days it enabled us to analyze
the South African transition in a non-sentimental
light and to focus on practical activism.

Since the founding of the BMC, with the Workers'
Library & Museum, we managed to carve out an
independent anti-governmental space in very hostile
circumstances (ANC and SACP opposition, financial
bankruptcy and corruption). This not only helped
establish us as serious, hard-working, practical and
constructive activists that communists and others were
forced to take seriously despite our small size, but
located us at the heart of the new social movements
when they developed later. I believe platformism was
vital to ensuring we kept cool, focused and
self-disciplined enough to weather the storms and
reach the point we are at now: ready to form a
regional anarchist federation based among the black
poor, at the barricades of the social movements.

NEFAC: You define yourselves foremost as a propaganda
group. Are there any plans to eventually link up with
other South African anarchist groups and developing
into a more formal anarchist federation?

BMC: We have all been linked from the outset into a
regional anarchist network and co-operate on a number
of different projects. Many projects have
cross-membership. Briefly, the main elements of the
regional network are:

(1) Bikisha Media Collective (Cape Town & Johannesburg
propagandists & activists: ran the Workers' Library &
Museum in Johannesburg, produces new works on
anarchism applied to local conditions; fights against
housing evictions, water & electricity cut-offs; some
involvement in workers' radio)

(2) Zabalaza Books (Johannesburg publishers and
producers of anarchist pamphlets, flyers, books &
T-shirts, publishes Freedom, runs the zabalaza.net

(3) Zabalaza Action Group (Umlazi, Durban township
militants: built the anarcho-syndicalist Workers'
Council; runs workshops at the Workers' College,
fights evictions & cut-offs)

(4) Workers' Council (Durban rank & file network of 60
workers belonging to different trade unions)

(5) Forest City Collective (Johannesburg urban ecology
group involved in anti-militarism and self-defense)

(6) Shesha Action Group (Soweto township study group
and community food garden)

(7) People's Library (Soweto township tool- and
book-lending library, study group and community food

(8) Anarchist Black Cross (regional class war prisoner
& refugee/immigrant support, runs the non-sectarian
Anti-Repression Network and publishes Black Alert)

(9) Red & Black Forum (Johannesburg quarterly
anarchist discussion group for people interested in
anarchist perspectives on social issues)

In addition, there is the Smithfield Study Group
(rural group based in the Free State, fighting farm
evictions and neo-Nazi farmers. Their emphasis on
fascism rather than the capitalist state as the
primary enemy makes them the sole local group with a
substantial difference to us). There are also
individual anarchists in centers like Khayelitsha
(Cape Town township), Pretoria and the Johannesburg
inner city that we connect with.

Our regional membership including all groups, for your
interest, is about 122 black, 13 white, 1 Indian, 1
colored, of which a minority of about a quarter are
women, a distinct weakness at this stage, which we
believe will change as we get more involved in the
social movements. The "racial" spread pretty much
reflects the national population. Most are unemployed
urban black youth, but one of our oldest active
members is a 42-year-old Class of '76 township

Experience, clarity of anarchist theory/practice and
enthusiasm varies, but we have some really tireless
fire-brands who will literally walk for four hours to
reach a meeting! Members are mostly working class and
come from a variety of political backgrounds,
including the SACP, Trotskyist tendencies, PAC, ANC
and even the IFP. We have Christian, Muslim and
atheist members. We have no armed wing, but our
collective military experience is notable: we have
members who during apartheid were army conscripts and
others who were township militiamen.

On December 16, 2002, at Soweto, the BMC, the Zabalaza
Action Group (ZAG), Zabalaza Books (ZB) and the
Anarchist Black Cross (ABC-SA) proposed at a meeting
with the Shesha Action Group (SAG) and the People's
Library (PL) the founding of a regional anarchist
federation to be named the Zabalaza Anarchist
Communist Federation (ZACF). The name reflects the
powerful attraction of egalitarian communism in South
Africa. The ZACF was proposed because of the rapid
expansion of the anarchist movement in South Africa,
in the townships of Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town in
particular (the movement tripled over the past year);
the need to co-ordinate between these groups in order
to effectively engage with the dynamic new social
movements in both urban and rural areas; the need to
unite the southern African anarchist movement, based
on clear (anti-)political, tactical and strategic
lines in order to provide a home to genuine grassroots
revolutionaries; and the need for an effective
anarchist strategy for combating capitalist
exploitation and state repression and to inject
anti-authoritarian politics into the social movements.

We do not wish to merely build an organization for its
own ends, but a) because history shows us that
specific anarchist organizations are required to form
an ideological/practical centre of gravity to weld
militant grassroots forces into a libertarian weapon
against the elites, even those within the social
movements; b) that at times of rapid growth, anarchist
education and co-ordination is vital in order to
present a solid challenge to Marxist-Leninists and
other opportunists on the ground.

The proposal includes the following:

PRINCIPLES: That the ZACF be founded on revolutionary
anarchist-communist principles. By anarchism we mean
opposition to all forms of authority, be they social,
political or economic and by communist we mean a mode
of production and distribution based on the principle
"from each according to ability, to each according to
need". That the federation stands for direct
democracy, functional equality, horizontal federalism,
workers' self-management, and revolutionary
anti-capitalism and anti-statism. That the ZACF base
itself on the proud fighting tradition of more than
140 years of anarchist-communist history and on those
anarchists like Thomas Thibedi, Bernard Sigamoney,
Kapan Reuben and Talbot Williams who founded the
revolutionary syndicalist unions in South Africa in
1917-1919. That the federation base itself on the 1927
?Organizational Platform of Libertarian Communists?:
federalism, tactical and theoretical unity, and
collective action and responsibility.

STRUCTURE: That the ZACF be a horizontal federation of
anarchist projects, groups and individuals, networked
together in common revolutionary anarchist cause. That
each group, project and individual retain its autonomy
of action, so long as it is not deemed by a majority
of the federation to be in contradiction of federation
or anarchist principles. [I envisage that the
functions of the various groups - publishing, prisoner
support etc - will continue under the ZACF] That the
federation decides at its annual congresses on joint
projects and that it maintain constant contact with
all members to ensure efficient co-ordination of all

MEMBERSHIP: That membership of the ZACF be restricted
to reliable, convinced anarchist revolutionaries who
agree to abide by the federation's principles and who
are active in the radical social movements. That
membership be on an individual basis [by invitation
only, I propose], but that a group that has all its
members join be confirmed as a member section of the

FUNCTIONS: That the primary functions of the ZACF be
to a) provide theoretical and practical support to
revolutionary working class autonomous organization
and to defend the class against political
opportunists; b) provide theoretical and material
support to the broader anarchist, autonomist and
anti-authoritarian left movement in the region; c)
maintain regular continental and international
contacts with the global revolutionary anarchist

CONGRESSES: That the ZACF should hold regional
congresses once a year which will set the entire
federation's tactics and strategy for the forthcoming
year. That a majority of the federation can call an
emergency regional congress within a month if needed.
That sub-regional meetings be held in the main centers
of activity four times a year or more frequently as
required. That the founding congress establishes the
rules of decision-making at congresses and meetings
(including what is meant by terms like "majority"), so
long as they conform to anarchist and platformist
principles. That decision-making be as far as possible
by consensus. That congress can elect
immediately-recallable commissions to cover federation
projects such as printing its journal. That groups and
projects convene their own meetings as frequently as
they deem necessary to ensure efficient operations.

Anarchists and anarchist groups from across the
country are currently being polled on the proposal
with the intention to draw up a draft constitution for
debate at the founding congress of the ZACF later this
year, possibly around May Day.

NEFAC: What are some of the main difficulties class
struggle organizing in post-apartheid South Africa?

BMC: There are two sets of problems; practical and
political. Practical problems include the extreme
poverty of the people (75% of all homes don't have
food security, hence the anarchist community food
gardens). This means that our activists and those they
work with are often hungry and too broke to pay for
transport and telephones, which in turn makes
networking and meeting difficult. Poverty also means
that practical projects are delayed because of a lack
of funds and that BMC and ZB (which have employed
members) have had to provide things such as building
materials or tools. Another practical problem is the
migrant labor system, combined with traditional duties
which urban sons & daughters often have to perform at
home in the rural areas. This means comrades sometimes
simply disappear for months on end, not having been
able to phone to alert us, only to reappear in some
distant part of the country.

Political problems include the aggressive attitude of
the ruling neo-liberal ANC, which is in government
with the social-democratic SACP and Zulu chauvinist
IFP towards the "ultra-left". This has involved over
500 arrests last year, many of them pre-emptive,
police attacks on peaceful marches, assaults on
comrades in jail by police, the threatened or actual
deportation of foreign-born activists, demonization of
the social movements in the mainstream media, and
spying and harassment by National Intelligence Agency
spooks. Another political problem is the
demobilization and demoralization of civil society:
the ANC-aligned COSATU has had its militants silenced
by internal gagging orders and its militant unions
rendered ineffective by gerry-mandering, that the
mass-based alternative structures (people's militia,
street committees, radical civics, rank & file worker
networks) have largely been disbanded, often by the
ANC which feared grassroots opposition. A third
political problem is the "savior" status of the
liberation movements, especially the ANC and
particularly that of Nelson Mandela among poor South
Africans, with capitalist media choirs singing their

Fortunately the new social movements have grown out of
and away from these authoritarian parties, usually
around nuclei of hardened street activists. Fourthly,
there is the usual game being played by the
Trotskyists - the largest active political left
faction - who are attempting to monopolize and command
the new social movements, transforming them into a
Workers' Party. Fortunately, there is muuch rank &
file opposition to this opportunism. Finally, unlike
Latin America, we have no elder anarchist movement to
rely on for experience. All the other liberation
movements in the region were and are authoritarian. It
is difficult to spread the anarchist message in a
country that has forgotten its anarchist past. The
advantage of this is we are starting from scratch and
do not have to deal with lunatic fringe terrorist or
primitivist factions. More broadly speaking, South
Africa's level of development by comparison to its
neighbors puts it in a position where its
social-political resistance is forced to develop in a
virtual vacuum, with similar movements in neighboring
countries which have tiny industrial proletariats
forced by necessity to also be tiny.

NEFAC: What sort international relations does the BMC

BMC: We have had intermittent contact with the
Awareness League (AL) in Nigeria, whose book ?African
Anarchism? we have kindly been allowed to reprint in a
cheaper edition for southern Africa, and have recently
made contact with comrades in the Anti-Capitalist
Convergence of Kenya (ACCK), a newly-formed joint
anarchist and socialist network. But overall,
anarchist contacts are few and far between in Africa
and war, poor communications, poverty and migrant
labor make maintaining contacts difficult. The
CNT-Vignoles and the IWA-AIT cover most groups in
Francophone countries such as Morocco and Burkina
Faso. Bikisha's militants have involved themselves in
at least one international event a year, believing
practical internationalism to be vital to the
successful creation of a coordinated global anarchist

At home, we have participated in the mass protests
against the bourgeois-capitalist events of the World
Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in August 2001 and in
the protests against the World $ummit on $ustainable
Development (W$$D) in Johannesburg in August 2002. We
have maintained close links with, in particular, the
SAC (Sweden), the CNT-Vignoles (France), the
Federation Anarchiste (France/Belgium), the WSM
(Ireland), the CGT (Spain) and NEFAC (USA/Canada).
Bikisha and Zabalaza Books were both signatories to
the international platformist/anarcho-communist
statements issued at some of the anti-globalization
actions in recent years and sent delegates to the
"Other Future" international anarchist gathering in
Paris, France, in April/May 2000, the anti-Eurotop
anarchist congress in Gothenburg, Sweden, organized by
the SAC in June 2001, and ILS meeting at Porto Alegre,
Brazil, in January 2003. It was at the "Other Future"
event in Paris that Bikisha took part in the
international discussions that suggested the forming
of a new network to link the large anarcho-syndicalist
unions that fell outside the IWA-AIT and smaller
anarchist political groups such as ourselves that fell
outside the IAF-IFA. Bikisha and Zabalaza Books
endorsed the founding of International Libertarian
Solidarity (ILS) in Madrid, Spain, in May 2001, and
today, both organizations, plus the Zabalaza Action
Group based in Durban, are members of the ILS. Our
approach has always been deliberately non-sectarian
towards all genuine anarchist formations, so we remain
on friendly terms with, for instance, both the IWA-AIT
and the expelled anarcho-syndicalist organizations now
grouped under the ILS.

NEFAC: What are your future plans for the group?

BMC: Specifically, in the African context, our
objectives are to:

(1) Write new anarchist pamphlets that analyze the
challenges facing the southern African working class,
peasantry and poor and which provide anarchist
solutions to these;

(2) Provide these theoretical materials to the
emerging social movements, and in particular to fight
against the attempts of the Marxist-Leninists in the
Social Movements Indaba and the Landless People's
Movement to transform these formations into a Workers'
Party, that tried-and-failed authoritarian non-option;

(3) Provide practical support to the emerging social
movements, by liberating those jailed, broadcasting
information about social struggles, working in
community gardens, providing material aid like
building materials, participating in actions against
the police and other thugs sub-contracted by the

(4) Network all Anglophone anarchist groups on the
continent, help them with materials and enable them to
contribute discussion pieces to our journal, with a
view to not only producing new African
anti-authoritarian practices, but practical
intercontinental solidarity;

(5) Establish the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist
Federation (ZACF) as the ILS representative in South
Africa. The ZACF would probably also seek membership
of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF);

(6) By doing all of the above, re-establish South
Africa's recently-lost fighting tradition of
grassroots militancy - township militia, street
committees, autonomous civics, rank & file syndicalist
networks, the very popular organizations that brought
apartheid to its knees - in order to meet the
challenges of the domestic and global neo-liberal
regimes. From this strong, horizontally federated
base, the South African poor would have the ability to
launch a social revolution that would outflank our
bourgeois communists and resonate across Africa and
the world.

Bikisha Media Collective 
Suite no. 153, private bag X42 
Braamfontein, 2017, SOUTH AFRICA 
email: bikisha@mail.com
http://www.struggle.ws/inter/groups/ bikisha/main.htm


The Northeastern Anarchist is the English-language
theoretical magazine of the Northeastern Federation of
Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC), covering class struggle
anarchist theory, history, strategy, debate and
analysis in an effort to further develop
anarcho-communist ideas and practice.


Current issue is $5ppd ($6 international) per copy,
back issues are $2ppd ($3 international) per copy.
Subscriptions are $15ppd for four issues ($18
international). For distribution, bundle orders are $3
per copy for three or more copies, and $2.50 per copy
for ten or more. 

Checks or money orders can be made out to
"Northeastern Anarchist" and  sent to: 

Northeastern Anarchist
PO Box 230685
Boston, MA 02123, USA
email: northeastern_anarchist@yahoo.com 

For more information about NEFAC, visit us on the web
at: http://www.nefac.net

       ****** The A-Infos News Service ******
      News about and of interest to anarchists
  COMMANDS: lists@ainfos.ca
  REPLIES: a-infos-d@ainfos.ca
  HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
  WWW: http://www.ainfos.ca/
  INFO: http://www.ainfos.ca/org

-To receive a-infos in one language only mail lists@ainfos.ca the message:
                unsubscribe a-infos
                subscribe a-infos-X
 where X = en, ca, de, fr, etc. (i.e. the language code)

A-Infos Information Center