Articles by SA Anarchists
by Shawn Hattingh & Jonathan Payn
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?
by Shawn Hattingh
Since 2009 the US state has been undertaking Quantitative Easing (QE), which has involved the US state creating $ 85 billion a month, effectively electronically printing money out of thin air, and linking this to the “purchasing” of paper assets like US government bonds and also more importantly mortgaged backed securities from banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and asset management companies, which lost their value when the capitalist crisis hit hard in 2008. Through this, these financial institutions and banks have been given up to $ 85 billion a month for the last five years. Much of this money has been used by these corporations to increase their speculative activity, including speculating on government bonds sold by the likes of the South African, Brazilian, Argentinean, and Turkish states. Now the US state has been looking to start tapering QE and speculators as a result are exiting these government bond markets. As this article explores it will probably not be the ruling class (capitalists and top state officials) that suffer the worst convulsions associated with tapering, although they may be affected, but the working class in countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Argentina and Turkey. This article examines why and how this could take place, how ruling classes from different countries are trying to protect themselves; and why and how the working class will in all likelihood be worst hit. In order to, however, understand how the class war around QE is unfolding it is important first to look at the role states have played during the crisis, along with the competition that exists between states.
Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist/Syndicalist Reflections on National Liberation and South Africa’s Transition
by Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt
Since Nelson Mandela’s death, thousands of articles and millions of people have paid tribute to him. They have rightly praised him for his stance against the apartheid state, which saw him spend 27 years in prison, his non-racialism, and his contribution to the struggle in South Africa. For much of his life Nelson Mandela was indeed the most prominent figure in the liberation struggles in Africa that were waged in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Anarchism/Syndicalism as a Vision, Strategy and Experience of Bottom-up Socialist Democracy: A Reply to Daryl Glaser
Politikon, 2013, Vol. 40, No. 2, 339 – 349
ABSTRACT Examining the theory and practice of ‘mass’ anarchism and syndicalism, this paper argues against Daryl Glaser’s views that workers’ council democracy fails basic democratic benchmarks and that, envisaged as a simple instrument of a revolution imagined in utopian ‘year zero’ terms, it will probably collapse or end in ‘Stalinist’ authoritarianism—Glaser also argues instead for parliaments, supplemented by participatory experiments. While agreeing with Glaser on the necessity of a ‘democratic minimum’ of pluralism, rights, and open-ended outcomes, I demonstrate, in contrast, that this ‘minimum’ is perfectly compatible with bottom-up council democracy and self- management, as envisaged in anarchist/syndicalist theory, and as implemented by anarchist revolutions in Manchuria, Spain and Ukraine. This approach seeks to maximise individual freedom through an egalitarian, democratic, participatory order, developed as both means and outcome of revolution; it consistently insists that attempts to ‘save’ revolutions by suspending freedoms, instead destroy both. Parliament, again in contrast to Glaser, from this perspective, meets no ‘democratic minimum’, being part of the state, a centralized, unaccountable institutional nexus essential to domination and exploitation by a ruling class of state managers and capitalists. Rather than participate in parliaments, ‘mass’ anarchism argues for popular class autonomy from, and struggle against, the existing order as a means of winning economic and political reforms while—avoiding ‘year zero’ thinking—also building the new society, within and against, the old, through a prefigurative project of revolutionary counter-power and counter-culture. Revolution here means the complete expansion of a bottom-up democracy, built through a class struggle for economic and social equality, and requiring the defeat of the ruling class, which is itself the outcome of widespread, free acceptance of anarchism, and of a pluralistic council democracy and self-management system.
Many people in South Africa were shocked by the death of at least 13 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops when rebels overran their base in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Amongst the public and within the media questions soon started arising around the possible reasons why troops were in CAR to begin with. When it emerged that troops were possibly partly deployed to protect businesses in CAR linked to top African National Congress (ANC) officials, there was widespread outrage. The fact that South African troops were involved in protecting the political and economic interests of wealthy people linked to the South African state in CAR, and other African countries, should perhaps, however, not come as a surprise. Throughout its history, whether during apartheid or post apartheid, the South African state – which is controlled by the ruling class and headed up by members of this class – has been most willing to deploy troops in parts of Africa to protect the political, economic and strategic interests of the South African ruling class. Read the rest of this entry »
The series of strikes and protests that recently took place in and around farms in South Africa’s Western Cape Province was fuelled by the deep-seated anger and frustration that workers feel. On a daily basis, farm workers face not only appalling wages, bad living conditions and precarious work, but also widespread racism, intimidation and humiliation. The extent of the oppressive conditions run deep and it is not uncommon for workers to even be beaten by farm-owners and managers for perceived ‘transgressions’. Indeed, life for workers in the rural areas has always been harsh, but over the last two decades it has in many ways gotten even worse and poverty has in many cases grown.
by Shawn Hattingh
The South African state’s oppression of the ongoing wildcat strikes, including at Marikana, is clearly deepening. Over the weekend, troops were deployed in the platinum belt in what has been 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 have been subjected to a renewed assault by the police. Many residents in the process were shot with rubber bullets; their homes were raided; and tear gas, at times, lay over the settlement like a chemical fog. In practice, a curfew has also been put in place and anyone gathering in a group 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.