Selby Semela, a leading figure in the 1976 revolt against apartheid, political exile, and author (with Sam Thompson and Norman Abraham), of “Reflections on the Black Consciousness Movement and the South African Revolution”, passed away on Wednesday, 22 August, 2018, aged but 60 years.
This is a 1979 Situationist-influenced text describing the mass student and worker protests that, in 1976 and 1977, shook apartheid South Africa with mass protests and general strikes. Written by two exiled black South Africans — Norman Abraham and Selby Semela, a leading figure in “76” — and an American revolutionary — Sam Thompson — the text is critical of heirarchical, nationalist and vanguardist modes of struggle, and affirms, instead, “the real black proletarian struggle in South Africa”. We do not endorse its every word, but we are republishing it, in honour of Semela who recently passed away, and to help recover and draw attention to the long, rich history of libertarian, class-stuggle socialist currents in Africa.
A call for socialist Left unity is heard widely today in South Africa, but is usually taken as a call for unity of praxis (unity in theoretical programme and action). This is sometimes framed as transcending old divides (these seen as outdated, divisive or dismissed as dogmatic), and sometimes as unity in order to have action (rhetorically set up as the opposite of “arm chair” theory).
What do we as revolutionary anarchists think?
In this education series we look at experiments, which have arisen through working class struggles, to create alternatives to capitalism. This will include looking at present and past alternatives to capitalism. In doing this, we are not saying these experiments should be carbon copied – they have often taken place in very different times and contexts.
Rather we are trying to show that, through struggle and experimentation, new societies that overturn capitalism can be brought into being; even under very harsh conditions. This, we believe, provides hope to working class struggles: what we have today under the capitalist and state system can be ended and replaced by a better society. Experiments in alternatives show clearly how another world is possible.
In this article, the first article of the education series on alternatives to capitalism, we look at an experiment that is taking place today, known as the Rojava Revolution, to overturn capitalism and the state system in northern Syria (which is being subjected to an imperialist and civil war). In Rojava a social revolution, influenced by libertarian socialism, has been underway since 2012 and a new society has emerged in the process.
On 17 November 2017, the Minister of Labour announced the state intends to carry out a new round of attacks on workers and their rights. The attacks come in the form of three Labour Bills currently being considered by parliament: the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill, the National Minimum Wage Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill. If passed, the changes to the labour laws these bills propose will be a major attack on workers’ rights, won through decades of struggle, and will further deepen and entrench inequality and roll back important democratic gains.
It’s been around 100 days since the birth of a “new” Zimbabwe. It’s been around a 100 days since 37 years of authoritarian rule by Robert Mugabe – Head of State since 1980 – finally came to an end. Zimbabwe has a new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who gained power through a soft military coup against Mugabe, and his chosen successor, Grace Mugabe. And recently, Zimbabwe mourned the death of former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai: an opposition leader, he came from the trade unions, and spent most of his life fighting against Mugabe.
But what has changed, and what we can we expect now?
by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
In South Africa, for white and international capital the last few weeks have been a period of rejoicing due to Ramaphosa being elected as ANC President. The slate that Ramaphosa won on was the promise to eradicate corruption within the state and the ANC. The reality is that the battle within the ANC and now Zuma’s total demise has very little to do with addressing corruption – despite Ramaphosa’s claims.
The article looks at the structural reasons why Ramaphosa replacing Zuma as the head of state in South Africa won’t end corruption.
Mechanisation and automation have been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But these are not inevitable or neutral economic realities. They are political weapons of oppression under capitalism. It is a war against the working classes to increase profits. It is no an accident that bosses choose to mechanise and automate in the context of the massive crisis of capitalism.
This article looks at the recent events around the removal of Robert Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe. It argues that this will not bring liberation for the people of Zimbabwe, as it does not address the problems Zimbabwe faces – a ruthless ruling class, its state, capitalism and imperialism.
Robert Mugabe, the longstanding authoritarian ruler that has waged a war against Zimbabwe’s poor, is gone. He was forced to resign in the wake of a coup – although the main actors in the coup comically denied it was one.
When it was announced that Mugabe was exiting power, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Harare to celebrate. Many are hoping that his exit will bring change for the better for Zimbabwe. This hope, unfortunately, may be wishful thinking. The reason for this is that Mugabe was a symptom of far deeper problems, and without addressing those problems, Zimbabwe cannot be free; nor can there be genuine equality. Similarly, those that removed Mugabe are cut from the same cloth, and come from the same ruthless ruling class.
The talk that I’m going to present today is based on a research project that I carried out with my colleague Vladislav Kruchinsky in South Africa in 2011-2013. The aim of our research was to analyse and explore the methods and practices of self-organisation from below that existed in the crucial 1980s period of the anti-apartheid struggle.
The vast majority of the material that’s written about that period of struggle is devoted to the role of the large, institutionalised anti-apartheid forces, such as the United Democratic Front, an umbrella body for the community-based anti-apartheid organisations including church and sports groups, which was formed in 1983. A large part of it also focuses on the African National Congress, which is presented in the dominant narrative of the ANC as the leader of the anti-apartheid struggle.
My aim, with Vlad, was to look beyond these big organisations, and to focus on communities’ struggles, viewed through ordinary people’s stories. When we started our research, we understood that we wanted first-hand information, from the participants in the struggles. This is social history, meaning that it looks at the view from below, with the people interviewed themselves active participants in the stories they tell. We conducted extensive interviews with active members of the communities, township residents, from those days. We hope to finish this project with a book, which will be a compilation of the interviews.