A South African ruling class brawl

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by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

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In the midst of gorging themselves through exploitation and corruption, competing factions of the flabby ruling class in South Africa (the ruling class being capitalists, politicians and top state officials) have once again stepped into the ring to take pieces out of one another.

In the one corner of the fight is the Zuma faction – comprised of sections of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) capitalists, top state officials, and politicians aligned to Zuma – while in the other corner is the Ramaphosa/Gordhan faction – comprised of sections of the ANC leadership such as Ramaphosa and Gordhan, white capital and the South African Communist Party (SACP). These factions have recently been standing toe to toe exchanging blows and in the process, metaphorical blood has been spilled: those of a few Cabinet Ministers, including Pravin Gordhan.

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Why Workers’ Education? Why trade unions and what’s next?

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educateby Lucien van der Walt (ZACF)

Published in “South African Labour Bulletin“, 40 (5): 46-48

In these grim times, both globally and locally, it is important to reaffirm the centrality of workers’ education, and the need for a strong working-class movement. Ordinary people have immense potential to change the world, and steer it in a more progressive direction than that promised by capitalists, populists and the political establishment, writes Lucien van der Walt.

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2017 South African Budget Speech: No Pravin, it was not progressive nor redistributive

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by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

First published at Pambazuka.org

Credit: Daily Maverick
Credit: Daily Maverick

On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance of South Africa stood up in the circus that passes itself off as a National Parliament and without any sense of irony what-so- ever declared that the South African state’s budget for 2017 was redistributive and progressive. If the Minister was to be believed, therefore, the budget was aimed at making a dent in the substantial class and racial inequalities that exist in the country. To back this up, supporters pointed out that the tax rate on top earners was raised marginally in the budget and people receiving dividends from shares would have to pay 5% more on these in tax. Despite this, one word could sum up the idea that the budget presented was redistributive and progressive: bullshit.

Rather the budget presented by Minister Pravin Gordhan was yet again another attack on the working class. What the budget did was to favour corporations at the expense of the poor. In doing so, it remained based on the neoliberal dogma that has defined South Africa’s post-apartheid politics. In other words, the budget was a vivid demonstration of how the state is an instrument and weapon of the ruling class that functions to benefit that class. This can be seen throughout the budget, including how the state plans to raise money and how it plans to spend it.

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Bakunin for Anti-Imperialists

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Bakunin for Anti-Imperialists by Arthur Lehning
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by Arthur Lehning

On imperialism itself, [Mikhail] Bakunin [1814-1876] has nothing specifically to say. That is not strange, because imperialism in its modern form had not yet appeared; besides, opposition to imperialism by a revolutionary is a rather obvious thing. But I think Bakunin’s writings can be useful to anti-imperialists in several ways. Firstly, on account of the general view held by Bakunin about the essence of the revolutionary struggle and his conceptions about federalism and the state. Secondly on account of his activities in the eighty forties.

As far as the last point is concerned, it is clear that I don’t wish to stress it too much. All historical parallels can be abusive. However, it is not abusive to point out the similarities between various kinds of Nineteenth Century nationalism and anti-imperialism in our time. This is not only because a great deal of today’s anti-imperialist fight is carried out on nationalist platforms, but also on account of the intensity with which the banner of then and that of today monopolise the attention of men with radical consciousness. In this respect, Bakunin has important things to say.
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Poster: Anti-Voting [Zulu]

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Poster: Anti-Voting [Zulu]
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Crisis within Crisis, Zimbabwe: As we manufacture our own oppression

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by Leroy Maisiri (ZACF)

d01f82389ada4e8fa0d0e0e1c4db3229I have been home for exactly 13 days. For the sake of finding a fitting analogy I have always understood Zimbabwe to be like the story of the children of Israel stuck in Egypt under a Pharaoh whose heart had been hardened while we wait to one day wake up in our promised land. This analogy is important for me as it creates specific boundaries, limits my excited imagination and almost grounds the present to a particular past.

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Brazil: High school students show way forward for working class resistance

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by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)

Published in “Workers World News”, issue 102, December 2016

"Autonomy and struggle: students and workers decide!"
“Autonomy and struggle: students and workers decide!”

In September 2016 the Brazilian government published a Provisional Measure (MP 746) outlining a reform in secondary education that would have devastating consequences for the education system, disproportionately affecting majority-black working class students.

Students responded with direct action and occupied schools in the state of Paraná, with occupations soon spreading to at least six other states. One month later 600 high schools in Paraná alone had been occupied to protest the government’s attack on public education – which comes in the context of a broader attack on the working class through a Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC 241) that threatens to freeze public spending on health, education and social welfare until 2037.

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