The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of human life. It has had a dev-astating effect on people’s physical and mental health, social relations and communities, our livelihoods, and freedom to move about. It has also significantly curtailed our ability to organise effective political protests and strengthened the hand of the State.
It has highlighted the fundamental problems of global capitalism and its need for continued growth and profit. The State’s support for those goals, has been behind the origin, spread, and tragic consequences of the disease. The need for revolution has never been so apparent.
However, as we struggle to fight back, the weaknesses of the working-class movement have also been revealed. We have seen a mounting death toll, health services overwhelmed, key workers treated as expendable, and the economic costs borne by those least able to afford it, yet resistance has been negligible. Nevertheless, the pandemic has also brought out actions and sensibilities that are key to social transformation: solidarity, mutual aid, self-organisation, and internationalism.
Covid-19 and other zoonotic diseases that have emerged over the last few decades are caused by the spread of global capitalism. As capitalism takes over more and more land for logging, mining, and agribusiness, wild animals are losing their habitats and com-ing into contact with humans, creating the potential for diseases to ‘spillover’ from other species to humans. This situation is exacerbated by the demand for exotic animal meat by the growing middle and upper classes around the world.
Everything we are now is built upon all that we were and where we came from. The same can be said for countries, any analysis has to look backwards before it can begin to understand the influences and causes of the present. This makes analysis intrinsically complex and often, almost impossible. At some point we are forced to simplify, look for patterns and analyse situations with a focus on where the key locus of power lies.
An analysis of the recent events taking place primarily in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng has to be done with this in mind. It is impossible to follow every strand of the complexity that is South Africa, but at the same time the link between the spate of large scale looting that took place and two very obvious conflicting ruling class power bases that currently exist in the country is undeniable. To claim that there was an exercising of working class power is to fundamentally misunderstand the powers at play and where the locus of power at this point in history actually lies.
The ZACF is pleased to co-sign this statement along with anarchist groups around the world to commemorate May Day.
May 1st, 1886, a wide-ranging strike started in the United States demanding an eight-hour working day. The journey’s slogan was “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”, propagandised since the mid-19th century and through which the labour movement struggled to seize power from Capital and dispute worker’s time for life, culture, and enjoyment.
The strike was prepared in advance. The American labour movement decided on it in 1884. To carry it out, hundreds of meetings and rallies were held, funds were collected, at times when union organising was illegal. Manifestos and newspapers were circulated encouraging workers to join the planned strike.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first modern social revolution in the glorious history of oppressed people’s struggle, the Paris Commune of 1871. For 72 days, the proletarians of the city of Paris re-organised the social relationships in terms of direct democracy, towards the direction of economic equality, mutual aid and political freedom.
International anarchist statement on International Working Women’s Day
Today, March 8, we commemorate International Working Women’s Day, a historic date on which we raise the struggle for the political, social, economic, and sexual rights of women, lesbians, and transgender people of the oppressed classes. Today, we aim to put an end to the systematic violence of patriarchy and support the revolutionary workers’, popular and anti-colonial struggle. First proposed by a group of socialist women at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910 in Copenhagen, the day was initially intended to promote women’s civil rights. Later, it became a day of agitation, mobilization, protest, and strike for the lives and liberty of women and dissidents of the gender system across the globe. From the protest for women’s labor and political rights in the industrial states at the beginning of the 20th century to the revolt for bread and peace by working women that began, along with other strikes and demonstrations, the Russian Revolution of February 1917, March 8 as International Women’s Day was slowly consolidated through the active struggle of working-class women. Therefore, we rescue such great attainment that allows us to remember the achievements of the feminist movement against patriarchal oppression. March 8 also allows us to appropriate the debates and proposals our predecessors had and build spaces that enable us to raise our voices against the injustices and violence of this capitalist, patriarchal and colonialist, system of domination.
International anarchist statement on the centenary of the 1921 Kronstadt Uprising
On 1 March, 1921, the Kronstadt Soviet rose in revolt against the regime of the Russian “Communist” Party. The Civil War was effectively over, with the last of the White armies in European Russia defeated in November, 1920. The remaining battles in Siberia and Central Asia were over the territorial extent of what would become the USSR the following year. Economic conditions, though, remained dire. In response, strikes broke out across Petrograd in February, 1921. The sailors of Kronstadt sent a delegation to investigate the strikes.
We stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Mapuche people who are currently experiencing another episode of persecution and repression by the racist and colonial State of Chile. The State of Chile is aided by far-right groups and militias.
For more than 90 days, nearly 30 Mapuche political prisoners have been on a hunger strike demanding immediate freedom or at least a change to precautionary measures for Covid-19. The review of judicial processes is still underway. Their demands: the end of the criminalisation of the Mapuche people, the repeal of the Anti-Terrorism Law (which was inherited from the dictator Augusto Pinochet), and the application of ILO Convention 169 (art. 7, 8, 9 and 10) whose omission from the State’s law resulted in the serious health condition of Machi Celestino Córdova. Córdova’s condition is a result of several hunger strikes protesting the repression of Mapuche spirituality by the State and its colonial institutions.
Anarchists in Rojava, Northern Syria, standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and anti-colonial struggles.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the United States and beyond in response to the police killing of George Floyd. Protesters in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles and dozens of other cities demanding justice were met with extreme police violence, leading to more deaths and numerous injuries.
A common slogan heard at the protests is “No justice, no peace!,” raising the essential question of how a political system founded on a bloody history of white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism can ever provide true and meaningful justice. Some call for police reforms. Others call for the redistribution of funds. Still others argue that abolishing the police is the best option, but many people — even on the left — find it hard to imagine the viability of such a system.
Democratic confederalism, the ideological framework organizing society in Rojava, outlines the features of a post-revolutionary justice system.
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.
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.