Alternatives from the Ground Up: Anarchism/Syndicalism and (Black) Working Class Self-Emancipation in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Alternatives from the Ground Up - Lucien van der Walt

Author: Lucien van der Walt

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This commentary, an input at a Globalization School debate in Cape Town, engages current labour 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.

First Zabalaza Books edition, 2019

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The Anarchist Revolution

The Anarchist Revolution - Errico Malatesta

Author: Errico Malatesta

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THE REVOLUTION IS THE CREATION OF NEW LIVING INSTITUTIONS, new groupings, new social relationships; it is the destruction of privileges and monopolies; it is the new spirit of justice, of brotherhood, of freedom which must renew the whole of social life, raise the moral level and the material conditions of the masses by calling on them to provide, through their direct and conscious action, for their own futures. Revolution is the organisation of all public services by those who work in them in their own interest as well as the public’s; Revolution is the destruction of all coercive ties; it is the autonomy of groups, of communes, of regions; Revolution is the free federation brought about by a desire for brotherhood, by individual and collective interests, by the needs of production and defence; Revolution is the constitution of innumerable free groupings based on ideas, wishes, and tastes of all kinds that exist among the people; Revolution is the forming and disbanding of thousands of representative, district, communal, regional, national bodies which, without having any legislative power, serve to make known and to coordinate the desires and interests of people near and far and which act through information, advice and example. Revolution is freedom proved in the crucible of facts — and lasts so long as freedom lasts, that is until others, taking advantage of the weariness that overtakes the masses, of the inevitable disappointments that follow exaggerated hopes, of the probable errors and human faults, succeed in constituting a power, which supported by an army of conscripts or mercenaries, lays down the law, arrests the movement at the point it has reached, and then begins the reaction.

Errico Malatesta
Pensiero e Volontà, June 15, 1924

3rd Zabalaza Books Edition
January, 2019

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What is Communist Anarchism?

What is Communist Anarchism - Alexander Berkman

Author: Alexander Berkman

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“Our social institutions are founded on certain ideas; as long as the latter are generally believed, the institutions built on them are safe. Government remains strong because people think political authority and legal compulsion necessary. Capitalism will continue as long as such an economic system is considered adequate and just. The weakening of the ideas which support the evil and oppressive present-day conditions means the ultimate breakdown of government and capitalism. Progress consists in abolishing what man has outlived and substituting in its place a more suitable environment.”

Alexander Berkman,
What is Communist Anarchism?

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The ABC of Anarchism

The ABC of Anarchism - Alexander Berkman

Author: Alexander Berkman

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“Our social institutions are founded on certain ideas; as long as the latter are generally believed, the institutions built on them are safe. Government remains strong because people think political authority and legal compulsion necessary. Capitalism will continue as long as such an economic system is considered adequate and just. The weakening of the ideas which support the evil and oppressive present-day conditions means the ultimate breakdown of government and capitalism. Progress consists in abolishing what man has outlived and substituting in its place a more suitable environment.”

Alexander Berkman,
The ABC of Anarchism

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What is Anarchism?

What is Anarchism - WSF (2nd ed, ZB)

Author: Workers Solidarity Federation

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Anarchism is a working-class political ideology that opposes all forms of exploitation and domination. We think that all people are fundamentally equal, and should have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they do not harm the freedom of other people. We oppose capitalism because it is a vicious profit system that is based on the exploitation of the workers and the poor to the benefit of a small class of bosses and top government figures. We do not think that the government (courts, army, bureaucracy) is there to look after everyone, instead its role is to keep the ruling class in power. Racism, sexism and other forms of special oppression are primarily the product of capitalism and the State. In South Africa, racism was created to “justify”, strengthen and deepen the exploitation of the Black working class in the mines, farms and factories.

First published by the Workers Solidarity Federation, circa 1995. Johannesburg. South Africa.
Second revised edition, 1997 printing. Johannesburg. South Africa.
Third edition, 2003 by Zabalaza Books and Bikisha Media Collective
This edition 2018 by Zabalaza Books
Inspired by the Workers Solidarity Movement pamphlet, Anarchism and Ireland.

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The Principles of Anarchism

The Principles of Anarchism - Lucy Parsons

Author: Lucy Parsons

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A lecture by Lucy Parsons, in which she
outlines her views on anarchism.

It was during the great railroad strike of 1877 that I first became interested in what is known as the “Labour Question.” I then thought as many thousands of earnest, sincere people think, that the aggregate power, operating in human society, known as government, could be made an instrument in the hands of the oppressed to alleviate their sufferings. But a closer study of the origin, history and tendency of governments, convinced me that this was a mistake; I came to understand how organised governments used their concentrated power to retard progress by their ever-ready means of silencing the voice of discontent if raised in vigorous protest against the machinations of the scheming few, who always did, always will and always must rule in the councils of nations where majority rule is recognised as the only means of adjusting the affairs of the people. I came to understand that such concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science. Governments never lead; they follow progress. When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step, but not until then.

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AgitProp #19 – Anarchism and Crime

AgitProp #19 - Anarchism and Crime - SolFed

Author: Solidarity Federation

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Anarchists are repeatedly accused by our detractors of being idealist, utopian and impractical. One matter, on which the libertarian perspective is often seen as particularly weak, is the thorny topic of crime. It would be fair to say that the “all coppers are bastards”-type polemics trotted out with tiresome regularity do little to convince the potential convert that revolutionaries have anything of substance to offer as an alternative to the crime ridden status quo. Moreover, this continued failure to adequately address lay people’s basic questions with satisfactory answers surely goes a long way in explaining why contemporary anarchism has failed to gain a firm foothold in the collective psyche of the population. Here we offer one contribution towards addressing this perennial shortcoming.

From Direct Action, Issue #46, magazine of the Solidarity Federation
www.direct-action.org.uk

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