Two and a half years after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian streets have spoken again. Mohamed Morsi has been ousted after a one-year reign and four days of demonstrations on an unprecedented scale in the history of the country. The Egyptians have reminded the world that an election is not a blank cheque which leaves representatives free from all constraint. Real democracy involves control over those mandated by those giving the mandate and it would be nothing without the ability to remove those who betray their mandate. No constitution gives that power to the workers (except for some “recall referendums”, à la Chavez) – the ruling classes would be too afraid of the democratic spiral that could eventually be damaging to them. Unconcerned with constitutions, the law, the supposed “democratic legitimacy” of elections, the workers in Egypt have reclaimed their destiny through collective and revolutionary mobilization. Let our little Western bosses beware, and let workers around the world take note!
I met Mohammed Hassan Aazab earlier this year over tea at a table of young anarchists in downtown Cairo. The anniversary of the revolution had just passed with massive protests and the emergence of a Western-style black bloc that appeared to have little to do with anarchists in the city. At the time, much of the ongoing grassroots organizing was against sexual violence — in particular, the mob sexual assaults that have become synonymous with any large gathering in Tahrir. The trauma of such violence carried out against protesters was apparent in our conversation. In fact, Aazab told me that he was done with protests and politics, and had resigned himself to the dysfunction of day-to-day life in Egypt.
Then came June 30. Crowds reportedly as large as 33 million took to the streets to call for the Muslim Brotherhood to step down from power, just a year after Mohammed Morsi took office. In the pre-dawn moments of July 1, as Aazab’s phone battery dwindled steadily, I reconnected with him to chat a bit about his return to resistance.
Call for solidarity and endorsement against the persecution in Brazil of anarchist militants and the Federação Anarquista Gaúcha in Porto Alegre
In Porto Alegre, on June 20 last, about 15 officers from the Civil Police raided the Ateneo Batalha da Varzea, the political and social premises where the Federação Anarquista Gaúcha is located, without a warrant.
In this city where, since the beginning of the year, there have been massive demonstrations for popular demands concerning public transport, health, education, against corruption, with the aim of creating social change for their locality and their country.
Download Issue #1 of the Newsletter of the
Tokologo African Anarchist Collective here
[PDF: 2.83 MB]
Sam Mbah is the co-author, with I. E. Igariwey, of African Anarchism, originally published in 1997. In that book, Mbah and Igariwey argued for an anarchist alternative in Africa. I have included excerpts from African Anarchism in Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Last year, Mbah gave an interview in which he discusses the prospects for anarchism, and a “African Spring,” in Nigeria, where he remains active. Below, I reproduce some excerpts from the interview, in which Mbah discusses power and corruption in Nigeria, the negative role of established religion, the weakness of civil society and trade union organizations, the role of the oil industry, environmental degradation, deindustrialization and the need for continuing support from people outside of Nigeria.
The entire interview can be found at: http://sammbah.wordpress.com/
Bathapi le boradipolitiki ba molato! Ba tshwanetse go
emisa mapodisi go dira dilo tse di sa siamang.
Ga gona molao, ga gona kagiso. Ga go na Zuma,
ga go na Malema, ga go na LONMIN!
A4 double-sided Flyer [seTswana]
Molaotheo o tshepisitse ditokelo tsa dipolotiki le tekatekano. Go a bonagala gore boradipolotiki le bathapi ba dira ka mo ba ratang ka teng. Ba tshameka ka batho. Seo se bonagetse ka nako eo mapodisi a bolaileng badiri bao ba neng ba dirile ditshupetso kwa moepong wa Lonmin Marikana. (more…)
Osozimali nosopolotiki banecala! Asimise ukuhlukunyezwa ngamaphoyisa. Akukho bulungiswa. Akukho xolo.
Asifuni uZuma, Asifuni uMalema, Asefuni iLONMIN!
A4 double-sided Flyer [isiZulu]
Umthetho sisekelo walelizwe uthembisa amalungelo epolitiki nokulingana kwabantu. Kucacile ukuthi osozimali nosomapolitiki bazenzela umathanda. Banyathela ubuso babantu baseMzansi. Isibonelo esidumile esamaphoyisa ebulala abasebenzi bezimayini zaseLonmin Marikana. (more…)
Call World Social: The people want the fall of the system
Revolutionaries of the world,
On the occasion of the World Social Forum which will be held in Tunisia during March 2013, we believe that the liberal reformist approach opted for by the organizing bureaucracy of the Forum will in no way lead to a revolutionary project for the people of the world. Even though the event is presented as an opportunity for the revolutionaries coming from all corners of the globe to meet, we deem that the ultimate objective, namely the collapse of the capitalist system, will not be taken into consideration.
The Revolution, back in Black: The Black Bloc must provide Egyptians with a Positive Vision if they want their Struggle to Succeed
The last time kids in black caused this much trouble in Egypt, it was Satan’s fault. Well, at least that’s what the Muslim Brotherhood and the Mubarak government claimed during the infamous “Satanic metal affair” of 1997, when over 100 metalheads – musicians and fans – were arrested and threatened with prosecution and even death simply because they dressed in black and liked extreme music.
The persecution of Egypt’s metalheads, or “metaliens” as many called themselves, drove the burgeoning scene underground for much of the next decade. It did not begin to resurface until the mid-2000s, at the same time as political movements like Kefaaya emerged, and the strikes in the industrial centre of Mahallah occurred. This period saw a renewed, if still sporadic, militancy that would coalesce into the revolutionary surge of late 2010 and early 2011.
An unprecedented situation is taking place in the city of Port Said – complete self-management, a rejection of everything that authority represents. It is a situation that the main actors in the Egyptian struggle at this time – the workers – are trying to reproduce in other cities too.
Port Said is now completely in the hands of the people. At the entrance to the city, in place of the old police roadblocks, there is a checkpoint manned by locals, mostly striking workers calling themselves the “popular police”. The same is true for the traffic – no more traffic cops but young men, students and workers who are self-managing the city’s traffic.
Anarcha-feminists came today, 12 February 2013, to the embassy of Egypt in Moscow to express solidarity with the victims of sexual assault/violence that took place throughout Egypt during the revolution and even after the revolution, when the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.
We don’t have any illusions about the Egyptian government and we don’t ask it to protect demonstrators, who are actually protesting against the system.
We appeal to the demonstrators, to the people, who came out onto the streets in order to fight for justice and a better life. Women are half of society. They double the voices on the streets! Women will strengthen this movement; if you say “no” to medieval customs and let women become your comrades in the struggle!
Solidarity with the Libertarian Socialist Movement!
Support the Egyptian People!!
Last Sunday, January 21, several political activists were arrested after the riots provoked by the police in front of the Alexandria court of justice. Among them are four members of the Libertarian Socialist Movement, a member of the Revolutionary Socialist organization (Trotskyist) and 16 other unaffiliated. All are activists who fight against the reactionary regime of the Muslim Brotherhood. After January 21, the defendants were wrongfully imprisoned for twenty days. Today, they are released on bail, except the Trotskyist militant, and they all still awaiting trial.
This sentence is not a coincidence: these activists are deeply involved in union and neighbourhood mobilization, and they are fierce opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood. This happens in a context in which the police have shown, for the last few months, great brutality against the protesters and demonstrators. Besides, all the political activists are followed, receive anonymous threats and are harassed. Proof of this is the raid against political activists who distributed leaflets in the streets of Alexandria a few days after the events of January 21.
by Warren McGregor (ZACF)
Movements for ecological awareness and protection, such as those against climate change, are making important contributions to social understanding regarding the effects of industrial production and consumption. However, many arguments and analyses against ecological destruction and for environmental protection are seemingly not based on a class analysis and not informed by the lives of working class people. Thus many of these analyses do not question the systems of domination that lie at the root of social inequality and ecological devastation: capitalism and the nation state.
BLACK STARS OF ANARCHISM: T.W. Thibedi (1888-1960): The Life of a South African Revolutionary Syndicalist
by Lucien van der Walt
The son of a Wesleyan minister, Thibedi William Thibedi was one of the most important black African revolutionary syndicalists in South African history. Thibedi was a leading figure in the International Socialist League (ISL) and in the Industrial Workers of Africa syndicalist union. Later he played an important role in the early Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), particularly its union work. He was active in all of the key black unions from the 1910s to the 1940s.
Reviewed by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)
Published in 2011 by Pambazuka Press, My Dream is to be Bold: Our Work to End Patriarchy is the welcome result of the work of Feminist Alternatives (FemAL), “a group of feminist activists in South Africa working against sexism and oppression”. The book provides insight into the lives, struggles and ideas of nineteen feminist activists based in South Africa, who organised “to come together over two days and reflect on women’s organising in the context of a patriarchal, neoliberal social and world order”. The book itself is a collection of writings by the nineteen activists, developed during a publication workshop held in Cape Town in June of 2009. The workshop, organised by FemAL, sought “to build collective analysis through speaking to other women, comparing experience, collectively trying to understand that experience and theorise it”.
by Yasser Abdullah *
Beginning in December 2010, a series of uprisings in Arab countries brought hope to workers and the poor – not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. Dictators have been toppled in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and struggles continue throughout the region.
For anarchists the question has always been: will the struggles stop with overthrowing dictators, an important victory but one that cannot end oppression? Or will it go further? Can a mass movement continue the struggle until imperialism, exploitation, capitalism and the state itself are finally destroyed?
by a Syrian comrade
This could to some extent tell my situation when I was inside the “liberated territories” of Syria, that is the territories controlled by the free army, the armed forces of the Syrian opposition. But still it is not the whole truth. It is true that not all the free army militants are devoted jihadists, although most of them are thinking, or telling, that what they are practicing is “Jihad”. The truth is there are a lot of ordinary people, even thieves, etc. among them, as in any armed struggle. My first and lasting impression about the current situation in Syria is that there is no longer a popular revolution going on there – what is taking place there is an armed revolution that could degenerate simply into a civil conflict. The Syrian people, which showed unprecedented courage and determination in the first few months of the revolution to defy Assad’s regime despite all its brutality, is really exhausted now. 19 long months of fierce repression, and lately, of hunger, scarce resources of all types, and continuous bombardment of the regime’s army, weaken its spirit.
by Oliver Nathan
South Africa is an extremely unequal society. The post-apartheid dispensation has seen the situation of the majority poor black working class worsening (characterised by increasing unemployment, a lack of adequate and affordable service delivery and exacerbated by rampant inflation). On the other side of the coin, a few elites have ‘made it’ in capitalism and through the state, often through the elitist forms of ‘Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE)’ and corruption. Inequality in South Africa is easily illustrated when one observes the massive disparities in development, service delivery and wealth between townships and rural areas on the one hand, and suburban areas on the other.
Nationally, South Africa faces a massive backlog in service delivery. Some 203 out of 284 South African municipalities are unable to provide sanitation to 40% of their residents. This means that in 71% of municipal areas, most people do not have flush toilets. A staggering 887 329 people still use the bucket system and 5 million people, or 10.5% of the population, have no access to sanitation at all. It is perfectly understandable, then, why working class and poor people take to the streets in protest against poor and costly service delivery; it is these same people that are impacted most by insufficient and costly service delivery, corruption and municipal mismanagement.
Get Rich or Lie Trying: Why ANC Millionaire Julius Malema posed as a Radical, why he lost, and what this tells us about the Post-Apartheid ANC
by Tina Sizovuka and Lucien van der Walt
This article aims to explain, from an anarchist / syndicalist perspective, the rapid rise and fall of Julius Malema, the controversial and corrupt multi-millionaire leader of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) “youth league” (ANCYL). It is demonstrated that Malema’s posturing as radical champion of the black poor was simply a means to an end: rising higher in the ranks of the ANC, in order to access bigger state tenders and higher paying political office.
The larger political implications of the Malema affair are also considered, especially the role of the ANC – as a vehicle for the accumulation of wealth and power by the rising black elite, which is centred on the state. It is not a party that serves, or can serve, the working class; on the contrary, it is the site of bitter struggles for state contracts and office between rival elite factions. It is a bureaucratic-bourgeois-black nationalist party, lodged in the state.
by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
It has become common knowledge that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. Only 41% of people of working age are employed, while half of the people employed earn less than R 2 500 a month . Worse still, inequality is growing with wages as a share of the national income dropping from 50% in 1994 to 45% in 2009; while profit as a share of national income has soared from 40% to 45% . In real terms this means that while a minority live well – and have luxurious houses, swimming pools, businesses, investments, and cushy positions in the state – the majority of people live in shacks or tiny breezeblock dwellings, are surrounded by squalor, and struggle on a daily basis to acquire the basics of life like food and water. Likewise, while bosses, state managers, and politicians – both black and white – get to strut around in fancy suits barking orders; the majority of people are expected to bow down, do as told, and swallow their pride.
by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
The South African state’s oppression of the ongoing wildcat strikes, including at Marikana, is clearly deepening. Over the last few weeks troops were deployed in the platinum belt in what was a barefaced bid by the state to stop the protests by striking workers, and essentially force them back to work. As part of this, residents at the informal settlement at Marikana, and those surrounding Amplats, have been subjected to a renewed assault by the police. Many residents in the process were shot with rubber bullets; their homes were raided; they were threatened; and tear gas, at times, lay over these settlements like a chemical fog. In practice, a curfew has also been put in place and anyone gathering in a group on the streets has been pounced upon by the men in blue. Threats have also emerged from the Cabinet that a crackdown on any ‘trouble-makers’, that are supposedly inciting workers to continue to strike, is going to happen. New arrests have also taken place at Marikana and even workers who are witnesses in the state’s Commission of Inquiry into the events at Lonmin have been arrested and harassed. A number of strikers at Amplats too have been killed or injured by the police.
Alternative Needed to Nationalisation and Privatisation: State Industries like South Africa’s ESKOM show Working Class deserves better
by Tina Sizovuka and Lucien van der Walt
“To assure the labourers that they will be able to establish socialism … [through] government machinery, changing only the persons who manage it… is… a colossal historical blunder which borders upon crime…”
“Modern Science and Anarchism”
Privatisation – the transfer of functions and industry to the private sector – is widely and correctly rejected on the left and in the working class. Privatisation leads only to higher prices, less and worse jobs, and worse services. Given this, some view nationalisation – the transfer of economic resources (e.g. mines, banks, and factories) to state ownership and control – as a rallying cry for a socialist alternative. As the supposedly pro-working class alternative, this cry has resounded in sections of the SA Communist Party (SACP), in the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), in the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) membership, and on the independent Trotskyite and social democratic left.
This article argues that nationalisation has never removed capitalism, nor led to socialism, and it certainly does not have a demonstrable record of consistently improving wages, jobs, rights and safety. Nationalisation, rather than promote “workers’ control” or companies’ accountability to the public, has routinely meant top-down management, union-bashing, bad services and bad conditions.
Who Rules South Africa?: An Anarchist/Syndicalist Analysis of the ANC, the Post-Apartheid Elite Pact and the Political Implications
by Lucien van der Walt
2012 is the centenary of the African National Congress (ANC). The party that started out as a small coterie of black businessmen, lawyers and chiefs is today the dominant political formation in South Africa. It was founded by the black elite who were marginalised by the united South Africa formed in 1910, and who appeared at its Bloemfontein inauguration “formally dressed in suits, frock coats, top hats and carrying umbrellas”. Today it is allied via the Tripartite Alliance to the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Can the ANC be a vehicle for fundamental, progressive, social change in the interests of the black, Coloured and Indian working classes (proletariat), still mired in the legacy of apartheid and racial domination? This is what Cosatu (and the SACP) suggest.
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.