Articles by SA Anarchists
by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
Karl Marx once said that history repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce. A case in point is that in South Africa sections of the left are once again calling for a mass workers’ party (MWP) to be formed to contest elections – this they believe will bring us closer to revolution. History says otherwise.
Of course the new calls for a MWP stem from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) breaking from the African National Congress (ANC). As an outcome NUMSA is exploring the possibility of setting up a MWP to contest elections. Many Marxist and leftist influenced organisations, but also cadres within NUMSA, are therefore providing reasons why activists should be interested in such a party.
This article highlights how the US state created the conditions in the Middle East in which a right-wing reactionary force like the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) could emerge. Along with this – and central to the article – it discusses how the US state is refusing to back the only two effective forces that are fighting the Islamic State: the Kurdish Workers’ Party and the People’s Protection Units. Indeed, this article is also written to express solidarity with the People’s Protection Units that are currently fighting a key battle against the Islamic State to hold onto the city of Kobani in Syria.
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.