In this edition of the Education Series we look at one of the greatest experiments with an alternative to capitalism: the 1936 Spanish Revolution. People today seeking a democratic socialist and egalitarian society can draw lessons from both its successes and failures.
The Spanish Revolution occurred in the context of a civil war, but even so for a short period of time social relations changed – bosses were fired; workers practiced direct democracy in the fields and factories; greater gender equality was won; and socialism from below looked like a possibility.
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.
There has been a lot of talk about the promise of a National Minimum Wage (NMW) in South Africa. This means wages cannot go below a certain level. But capitalists and politicians continue to eat the food of the workers, the poor and unfortunate. Why? In some cases, the NMW is an improvement – but generally, the NMW is not a “living wage,” meaning a wage on which you can live a decent life. Prices keep going up. This society is based on the maximization of profit, this is its logic, and this means wages are not linked to what the workers and poor need, but to what bosses and politicians need. Wages are a system of exploitation. We live a capitalist society of stress and fear and jealousy, rooted in a system of cheap black labour, and power and profits for the bosses and politicians. We need to fight for something more, take back our unions, and lay the groundwork for an anarchists society, with equality based on workers and community councils.
Resist-Occupy-Produce: What can Anarchists and Syndicalists Learn from Factory Take-Overs and Worker Cooperatives in Argentina?
The remarkable “recovered factories” movement (seen in films like “The Take”) shows hundreds of closed factories reopened by workers, run democratically, creating jobs and helping communities. It shows there is only so much protesting can accomplish – you have to create something new. But it also shows that such alternative sites of production must be embedded in other popular class movements, and that unions and social movements must systematically develop alternatives to capitalist- and state- run social services and media. It is, however, simply impossible to escape capitalism by creating cooperatives – it is essential to build a mass revolutionary front aiming at complete socialisation of the economy and of decision-making through a revolutionary rupture.
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.