Take Back What’s Yours: the Mine-Line Occupation

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

Forward to Worker Control

The economic crisis in South Africa has seen inequalities, and the forced misery of the working class, grow. While the rich and politicians have continued to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth, workers and the poor have been forced to suffer. It is in this context that the majority of the leaders of the largest trade unions have, unfortunately, elected to once again place their faith in a social dialogue and partnerships with big business and the state [2]. So while the state and bosses have been on the offensive against workers and the poor, union officials have been appealing to them to save jobs during the crisis. Not surprisingly, this strategy has largely failed. While union leaders and technocrats have been debating about the policies that should or should not be taken to overcome the crisis, bosses and the state have retrenched over 1 million workers in a bid to increase profits [3]. It is, therefore, sheer folly for union leaders to believe that the state and bosses are interested in compromise – without being forced into it. As seen by their actions, the elite are only interested in maintaining their power, wealth and lifestyles by making the workers and the poor pay for the crisis. For the elite, social dialogue is simply a tool to tie the unions up and limit their real strength – direct action by members. In fact, even before the crisis, social dialogue had been a disaster for the unions contributing towards their bureaucratisation and having abysmal results in terms of them trying to influence the state away from its pro-rich macro-economic policies [4].

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The Kronstadt Rebellion: Still Significant 90 Years On

Over the last few years, many on the left have been trying to formulate a vision of socialism based on democracy. As a consequence countless papers and talks have been produced internationally about how socialism needs to be participatory if true freedom is to be achieved. Some have given this search for a form of democratic socialism evocative names, such as ‘Twenty-First Century socialism’, ‘socialism-from-below’ and ‘ecosocialism’. In South Africa the desire for a democratic socialism has also inspired initiatives such as the Conference for a Democratic Left (CDL); while even the South African Communist Party has outlined a need for a more participatory socialist agenda.

  • This text can be downloaded as a PDF pamphlet here

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Towards a History of Anarchist Anti-Imperialism

“In this struggle, only the workers and peasants will go all the way to the end”

The anarchist movement has a long tradition of fighting imperialism. This reaches back into the 1860s, and continues to the present day. From Cuba, to Egypt, to Ireland, to Macedonia, to Korea, to Algeria and Morocco, the anarchist movement has paid in blood for its opposition to imperial domination and control.

However, whilst anarchists have actively participated in national liberation struggles, they have argued that the destruction of national oppression and imperialism can only be truly achieved through the destruction of both capitalism and the state system, and the creation of an international anarcho-communist society.

This is not to argue that anarchists absent themselves from national liberation struggles that do not have such goals. Instead, anarchists stand in solidarity with struggles against imperialism on principle, but seek to reshape national liberation movements into social liberation movements.

Such movements would be both anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, would be based on internationalism rather than narrow chauvinism, would link struggles in the imperial centres directly to struggles in the oppressed regions, and would be controlled by, and reflect the interests of, the working class and peasantry.

In other words, we stand in solidarity with anti-imperialist movements, but condemn those who use such movements to advance reactionary cultural agendas (for example, those who oppose women’s rights in the name of culture) and fight against attempts by local capitalists and the middle class to hijack these movements. We oppose state repression of anti-imperialist movements, as we reject the right of the state to decide what is, and what is not, legitimate protest. However, it is no liberation if all that changes is the colour or the language of the capitalist class.

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Revolutionary Anarchism and the Anti-Globalisation Movement

[This article in Italian]

Riot police battling youth. Armed forces locking down a major American city. Tens of thousands under anti-capitalist banners. Western youth and workers physically battling the WTO and imperialism. These potent images of the ‘battle of Seattle’, November 30, 1999, were seared into the minds of militants the world over, inspiring millions upon millions fighting against the class war from above that some call ‘globalisation’. Followed by further mass protests in Washington and Davos, and two massive international co-ordinated actions on May 1, 2000 and September 26, 2000, Seattle marked, by any measure, an important turning point for the global working class and peasantry.

“The Idea That Refuses To Die”

And anarchists were in the thick of these protests and solidarity actions, whether in Rio, Johannesburg, Prague, Istanbul, New York or Dublin, demonstrating an impressive organizational ability, growing credibility, and rising popular appeal.

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Race, Class and Organisation

The View from the Workers Solidarity Federation *

Originally published in Black Flag, 1998


We recently observed a very fruitful discussion on race and class on the internet, particularly around “black” anarchism, special oppressions and the desirability of separate organisation.

One of the best and most comprehensive posts came from a member of the Workers Solidarity Federation of South Africa, an anarchist/syndicalist group which while in a personal capacity reflects their politics and positions on these matters. Interest in anarchism is growing throughout the world. There are active groups in most parts of the world, with the exception of the Indian subcontinent, Antarctica and as far as we know the Chinese dictatorship. This process will no doubt accelerate and there is a challenge for us to make our ideas accessible. But as our South African comrades point out below, “it was the ability of anarchism to provide alternatives and to pay special attention to the specific needs of these different sections of the working class in order to unite the whole class that made the success (of the Cuban anarchists and IWW) possible,” not “a revision of anarchism to accommodate nationalism”.

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Anarchism, Racism and the Class Struggle

Racial oppression remains a defining feature of the modern capitalist world. It is manifest most spectacularly in violent attacks on immigrants and minorities by fascist gangs. More important to the fate of these communities has been the systematic and increasing discrimination by capitalist states, manifest in attacks on the rights of immigrants, cuts in welfare services, and racist police and court systems.

How can racism be defeated?

An answer to this question requires an examination of the forces which gave rise to, and continue to reproduce, racism. It also requires a careful analysis of which social forces benefit from racial oppression.

By racism is meant either an attitude denying the equality of all human beings, or economic, political and social discrimination against racial groups.

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South Africa after Apartheid

Article in Le Mode Libertaire by WSF * delegate to the October/November 1997 congress of the International of Anarchist Federations, Lyon, France.

Historically, South Africa epitomized the poverty and oppression associated with capitalism and racism. The first non-racial elections to parliament in April 1994 gave many hope for the redress of the injustices of the past. The holding of elections open to all people, and the replacement of racist laws by basic democratic and civil rights was a big victory for the struggle in South Africa. But the new government of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) has consistently failed to address the demands of the Black working class for equality and the redistribution of wealth


In South Africa, 47% of Black African households live on, or below, the poverty line. Yet the ten richest South African families are together worth R18 billion. In South Africa there is an unemployment rate of 30%, but managers in big companies earn up to R900,000 per year. 5 big companies control 801@,@ of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and 120,000 (mainly White) farmers own 87% of the land.

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