by 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.
by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
First published at Pambazuka.org
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.
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.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Leroy Maisiri (ZACF)
I 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.
by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)
Published in “Workers World News”, issue 102, December 2016
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.
One Year after the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders: Attacks Hurt Working Class and Poor, Only Capitalists and Politicians Benefit
by Lucien van der Walt (ZACF)
*Text commissioned by Unemployed People’s Movement, Grahamstown, October 2015.
*Edited version: November 2016.
A year ago, starting 20 October 2015, around 75 small shops were looted, some burned down, in the eastern townships and downtown area of the small Eastern Cape university town of Grahamstown/ iRhini, South Africa. The attacks targeted Asian and African immigrants, many of them Muslim, and displaced 500 people. These riots were largely ignored by the media.
The text below is a slightly revised revision of a briefing I was asked to write at the time for the local Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM). The UPM played a heroic role in opposing the attacks and assisting the displaced. The text’s general points remain relevant to the working class’s fight against prejudice and racism. And the riots of 2015 should not be forgotten.