The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front was part of the Solidarity Committee that supported the historic 2010-2011 Mine Line Factory occupation in Krugersdorp. This is confirmed in the newspaper Izwi Labasabenzi, in an article available here. It was however critical of proposals that the factory be nationalized “under workers’ control,” arguing instead for self-management: see here. The occupation was almost completely ignored by the mass media: for one of the few reports, see here.
Shawn Hattingh and Mandy Moussouris, 2018, “The Humans who Control the Machines are the Real Threat,” Business Day, 27 March, from here
The late Stephen Hawkins had the following to say about the onset of the so-called 4th Industrial revolution: “If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”
What Hawkins was highlighting in this statement is that in a different society, machines could be of benefit to all of humanity. However, in the current class based capitalist society, machines pose a dire threat to the majority of people and the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution will lead to the vast inequalities that already exist increasing exponentially.
World Bank statistics show that currently automation is responsible for 17% of production and services, in 15 years this is projected to rise to 40%. A common held belief by most of the middle class is that automation is a threat only to blue collar workers but this is becoming more and more untrue. The full computerisation of bank tellers, clerks, bookkeepers and pharmacists jobs is an increasing reality and will soon start affecting the work of teachers, doctors, pilots and architects. To understand why mechanisation and automation is being rolled out today; and why this poses such a threat, it is important to understand how they have been used under capitalism in the past and for what purposes.
An important feature of the introduction of machines historically is that a small elite have owned Continue reading
Shawn Hattingh, 2019, “A Glimmer of Hope: The extraordinary story of a revolution within the Syrian civil war,” Daily Maverick, 5 March, from here.
For the past few years, most people would have come across news stories of how Kurdish fighters in Syria, especially women, have been crucial in battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Very few, however, would be aware that in the north and eastern parts of Syria these same Kurdish fighters are part of a revolution as progressive, profound and potentially as far-reaching as any in history.
In the north and eastern parts of Syria, an attempt to create an alternative system to hierarchical states, capitalism and patriarchy is underway and should it fully succeed Continue reading
Shawn Hattingh and Mandy Moussouris, 2018, “An Experiment for a Better Life is Under Way,” Business Day, 5 March, Business Day, from here
The Rojava Revolution lays down tracks to building a better, more democratic and more feminist society.
The world is facing an economic crisis on a scale last seen in the 1930s. It has resulted in living conditions and incomes of workers and poor people — and increasingly the middle class — being eroded by governments through austerity and by businesses through rationalisations and wage freezes.
Like the 1930s, this crisis is triggering the rise of extreme right-wing regimes and right-wing populism. It is also resulting in an increase in global conflict and threats of war, with Syria a key example.
But in the heart of the raging war that is Syria, there is a glimmer of hope.
In the north of Syria bordering Turkey and Iraq, the Kurdish and Arab people Continue reading
Shawn Hattingh, 2014, “Exploding Anger: Workers’ Struggles and Self-Organization in South Africa’s Mining Industry,” in Immanuel Ness, editor, 2014, New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism , PM Press, Oakland, CA, pp. 97-114, 281-282, 295-298
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SAFTU: The tragedy and (hopefully not) the farce
The labour movement has been unable to de-link itself from its archenemy: capital. As its structures bureaucratise, as its leaders become career unionists, as it opens investment companies and pays staff increasingly inequitable salaries, it increasingly mirrors the very thing it is fighting. If the South African Federation of Trade Unions is to meet its promise, it must be fundamentally different from the organisation it was born out of.
“History repeats itself first as tragedy, second as farce” – Karl Marx
The tragedy of the disintegration of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) happened slowly. As tragedies go, COSATU’s has been far less dramatic than most; it has rather been a sad slow and painful unravelling of a once vibrant and powerful organisation over 20 odd years. The unravelling of an organisation that forgot that the whole is made up of the sum of its parts; that continuously made the mistake of allowing personalities to undermine democracy, ambition to undermine equity and bureaucracy to undermine equality and democratic participation.
COSATU’s decay has had a significant impact on the South African working class. The impact has reverberated across the country in a myriad of ways and has been the result, both directly and indirectly, of COSATU’s failure to effectively and democratically represent the working class. This has been the case partly because of its alliance with the ANC and partly because of its (and the trade union movement in general’s) inherently defective organisational structure and patriarchal culture.
From the same ashes comes the rising of a new phoenix – a new hope for the South African working class – the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU). But the labour movement, broadly, has never been good at learning from its mistakes and this time around appears to be no exception. We can no longer make the mistake of thinking that changing the world is as simple as changing the colours of a flag. If we are to learn anything from history, it’s