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.
Before there was the Congress of South African Trade Unions, today’s COSATU, there was FOSATU. FOSATU was set up in 1979. There had been strikes and struggles in the 1970s, starting with a big strike wave in Namibia from 1971-1972, which was then a South African colony, then a big strike wave starting in Durban 1973, which spread around the country. Although we remember 1976 for the bravery of the youth and students, we must remember that the 1976 uprising also involved general strikes by the black working class, mass stay-aways.
And as the working class started to flex its muscles, and to organise new, independent unions, the need for unity was felt. In 1979, at Hammanskraal, FOSATU was set up. The flag of FOSATU was red, black and gold, with a hammer, a spanner and a spade. FOSATU grew quickly, despite repression by the apartheid state. Leaders and activists in FOSATU were banned, jailed; some, like Andries Raditsela, were murdered by police. There was continual intimidation, and employers would fire workers for going on strike or “agitating” at work. Unemployment is not just about money: unemployment is a weapon of the bosses, and this weapon was used many times against FOSATU.
Published in “Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective”, numbers 5/6, November 2015
Roughly 50 years ago we saw the dismantling of most of the European colonial empires in Africa. High hopes greeted the “new nations” that merged – and certainly, a move from colonial rule, with its racism and external control and extractive economies, was progressive.
However, many of the hopes were soon dashed. Politically, most independent African states moved in the direction of dictatorships and one-party systems, normally headed by the nationalist party that took office at independence – and, over time, the military became a major player too. Many of these states were highly corrupt, even predatory, and the gap between the rising local (indigenous) ruling class, and the masses, grew ever vaster.
Ghana, West Africa, was a British colony called “Gold Coast” until 1957. It became the first independent country in “black” Africa after reforms and struggles in the 1940s and 1950s. The new president, the brilliant Kwame Nkrumah, and his Convention People’s Party (CPP), had fought for independence. Now they aimed at major changes in the society, even speaking of socialism. And Nkrumah proposed a united African government for the continent: Pan-Africanism.
But by the mid-1960s, hopes were fading. There were good reforms in education and services and self- respect for Africans that helped remove colonialism’s damages. But the CPP has become a dictatorship, with a personality cult around Nkrumah. Unions and struggles were suppressed. The economy was in trouble. A new elite hijacked independence and resources. When the military seized power in 1966, people celebrated in the streets. Today Ghana is one of the poorest African countries.
What went wrong and what can we, anarchists in Africa, learn from this experience?
In 2013, Zabalaza/ ZACF took a decision to redirect our energies into certain aspects of our work that we felt were more urgent and immediately important at the time, given the challenges and conditions we were facing. The bad news is that this decision took its toll on our publishing work, which partly explains the long gap (over two years) between issues of our journal. The good news is that this reorientation has paid off elsewhere: hiccups notwithstanding, over the past two years our militants have participated in various new initiatives in and around Johannesburg, where we have witnessed a renewed and growing interest in anarchism. The inclusion of several new names in this issue is a much-welcomed reflection of these changes.
Over the past two years, there have been many important developments that deserve special consideration. We have tried to include our own, anarchist, appraisals of these where possible, although in some respects we have fallen unavoidably short. It is precisely because South Africa’s burning social and national issues remain unresolved (in fact they cannot be resolved within the existing capitalist and political party systems established in 1910 and 1994), that the country continues to undergo social turbulence, seen in strikes, union splits, struggles over symbols, and sadly, anti-immigrant attacks.
This article highlights how the US state created the conditions in the Middle East in which a right-wing reactionary force like the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) could emerge. Along with this – and central to the article – it discusses how the US state is refusing to back the only two effective forces that are fighting the Islamic State: the Kurdish Workers’ Party and the People’s Protection Units. Indeed, this article is also written to express solidarity with the People’s Protection Units that are currently fighting a key battle against the Islamic State to hold onto the city of Kobani in Syria.
The Korean anarchist movement wanted to build an independent self-governing anarchist society, a cooperative system of the masses of the Korean people. They wanted to take civilisation from the capitalist class, and return it to the popular classes. By doing so, the capitalist and colonial society that existed in Korea (as elsewhere in Africa and Asia and east Europe) would be replaced with a new society. This new society would be based on the principles of freedom and equality, that guarantee the independent self-rule of the producing classes: the working class and the peasantry.