“Social Blunder” zine #5 (1990)

There was a fairly substantial zine scene in late 1980s South Africa around the largely white (and Indian) punk and hardcore scene.  Some zines invoked “anarchism” or its symbols, but most were subcultural, devoted to music, tape swapping and “scene” reports and personalities. Almost none discussed anarchism in any real way, or tried to concretely link it to South Africa’s burning class and national questions. Political issues tended to dealt with at an abstract level — individual freedom, dislike of the universal military conscription applied to young white men, a nominal anti-racism — beyond environmental and animal rights issues.

Social Blunder, produced by two Indian brothers, HG and NG, in Lenasia township, south of Soweto,  was the great exception. It was overtly anarchist, class struggle and political, and wanted punk to be a source of genuine rebellion, issue #5 asking whether it was to be a trendy “safety pin routine” or a “real punk revolution” with “real anarchist bands” “speaking out against the never ending list of social problems and crimes against mankind and the environment?… Where today are the anarchist workshops? … militant youths with more than just a circled A on thier [sic.] backs?”  It is not surprising that HG would co-found the radical Azanian Anarchist Alliance / AAA in 1991, which probably the first organised anarchist group the country had seen in decades (more on AAA here).

Get the PDF of issue #5 of Social Blunder here (large file).


About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I have long been 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 or published 100s of papers conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 4 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and produced five books. 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. My books includd include 'Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical and African Perspectives' (2018, co-edited with Kirk Helliker), '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).