“The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation” – ARM / ACF – 1994

Another 1994 production by the class struggle wing of the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) in Johannesburg, this was a reprint of The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation by Britain’s Anarchist Communist Federation (ACF, now the Anarchist Federation or AFed).  It also included a South African introduction: this is part in the scan, but will also be published in a separate post.

Some copies of the ACF paper Organise! for revolutionary anarchism had made their way to South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The paper was apparent banned in the apartheid censorship index.  Unlike the Class War Federation (see here) and the class struggle wing of ARM (the nucleus of the later Workers Solidarity Federation, or WSF), the ACF was generally hostile to unions and to national liberation struggles. However, the ACF claimed to take Platformism as a reference point, and also kept in print George Fontenis’ controversial 1953 Manifesto of Libertarian Communism – often regarded as part of the Platformist tradition.While in retrospect a bit vague about the internal structure and operations of an anarchist political organisation, The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation certainly argued for the importance of anarchists engaging in class struggles in an organised way in order to win the battle of ideas in the working class.

As with Revolutionary Organisations, also issued in 1994, the class struggle wing of ARM issued The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation as part of making the case for a far stricter and more cohesive structure than ARM the provided.  Both publications had the additional merit of outlining a concrete alternative to  Marxist vanguard parties, an important issue to address in the activist milieu in which the class struggle wing of ARM engaged.

ARM The Role of The Revolutionary Organisation

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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).