Let us learn from our past struggles, in the USA and in Malaysia. May Day should be an occasion to reflect not jubilate, to engage not agonize, to demand not relent, and to organise, not complain. We need systemic change that can guarantee equality, fraternity, self-management and socialisation of the commonwealth, guided by a bottom–up approach to decision making. We need a labour movement that is multicultural and international, feminist, active in urban and rural struggles, and that prizes reason over superstition, justice over hierarchy, self-management over state power, international solidarity over nationalism. We need to fight for a universal human community, not parochialism and separatism. The organisational power and strategic location of the Malaysian union movement provides an excellent point of departure for building this counter-movement. This is our appeal and message as we celebrate this May Day, on the eve of dark days in which the storm clouds gather over humanity – but in which the light of hope of a better future can break through, if we arm ourselves with the correct ideas and approaches. May Day began as an example of globalisation-from-below. Let us rally to it. Let us take back its original vision: liberty, equality, unity.
South African unions are large but fragmented, substantial but politically weak. They represent different political traditions and all are marked by serious organisational problems. They have little impact on the official public sphere. The unions need to work towards realizing a stateless, classless, self-managed society without hierarchy, based on political pluralism and freedom.
Published in “Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective”, numbers 5/6, November 2015
I-Syndicalism uhlelo oluzama ukwehluka kunezihlelo ezejwayelekile zokuphatha nemibuso, ngamanye amazwi i-capitalism nohhulumeni. Ekuqadeni uhlelo lwe-capitalism ubukhomanisi badala into esabeka kakhulu ngokubeka amandla omnotho ezandlani zikehhulumeni kuphela. I-Syndicalistm ishiya emuva zonke izinhlelo zokuphatha esezidale ukucindezelwa noku xhashazwa komuntu ngomunye umuntu futhi. I-syndicalism ibuye izame ukwakha inhlangano eyakhiwe phezu kwezidingo zabantu hhayi izifiso zeziphathimandla futhi eyakhiwe phezu kokubambisana kwabantu abazibusayo, abalinganayo okubhekele ekutheni izidingo zika wonke wonke zifezeke, hhayi zabasezikhundleni.
by Pitso Mompe (ZACF)
Trade unions have played a major role in defending workers’ rights against the bosses and politicians, also in advancing workers’ interests. This is why, even today, workers are still loyal to their unions. However, there are obstacles within the unions – one being the union bureaucracy, of paid and full-time officials. This can develop its own interests, undermining the unions.
This is a challenge faced by many unions. This bureaucracy is at times unable to represent workers’ grievances effectively: they often spend more time fighting amongst themselves for certain positions within the union instead of for workers’ rights. Due to this bureaucracy, which is structured hierarchically, higher positions hold more power, including in terms of decision-making. Those in leadership are often full-time and recieve much higher salaries than those of the workers they represent. This means they often want to prevent union actions that threaten their own positions, like long strikes.
Thabang Sefalala* and Lucien van der Walt (ZACF)
The ideas of anarchism have often been misunderstood, or sidelined. A proliferation of studies, such as Knowles’ Political Economy from Below, Peirats’ Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution, and others, have aimed to address this problem – and also to show that anarchism can never be limited to an ideology merely to keep professors and students busy in debating societies.
Anarchists have been labeled “utopians” or regarded as catalysts of chaos and violence, as at the protests in Seattle, 1999, against the World Trade Organization. However, anarchism has a constructive core and an important history as a mass movement – including in its syndicalist (trade union) form. It rejects the authoritarianism and totalitarianism often associated with Marxist regimes, and seeks to present a living alternative to classical Marxism, social democracy and the current neo-liberal hegemonic order. It rejects both the versions of Marxism that have justified massive repression, and the more cautious versions, like that of Desai in his book Marx’s Revenge, which claim that a prolonged capitalist stage – with all its horrors – remains essential before socialism can be attempted. It rejects the ideas that exploitation and oppression are “historical necessities” for historical progress.