ARM – April 1995 – Statement on the Workers Occupation at Wits

These Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) posters were put up, and around, the 1995 sleep-in/ occupation at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) to defend the Wits 5. The sleep-in was led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). ARM was actively involved. More on this struggle here.

Images below: get the PDFs here and here and here.

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ARM – May 1995 – Notes on the “Wits 5” defence campaign and NEHAWU sleep-in

On 20 October 1994, members of the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) were part of a mass march led by the South African Students Congress (SASCO) on the headquarters of the Department of Education in Johannesburg. The march drew in university and technikon students from across the region. Some time after marchers from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) returned to the Wits campus in the late afternoon, word spread that management was holding a disciplinary hearing against a worker, a member of the SASCO-allied National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). A group, involving people from the Socialist Students Action Committee (SSAC, later the Socialist Worker Students, later part of Keep Left), SASCO and NEHAWU, disrupted the hearing and refused to let management representatives leave.  Police were called in and 37 were arrested.

In 1995, university management proceeded with criminal charges, charging four NEHAWU workers and one SSAC student with kidnapping and assault. ARM played an active role in the “Campaign to Defend the Wits 5” Defence Committee, which kicked off in may 1995 and was driven by ARM and SSAC. ARM and SACC organised pickets, tabling with petitions and ARM issued an ARM Statement on the Campaign. On the 22 May, ARM and SSAC co-organised a mass meeting. SASCO was not active the campaign at this stage, but NEHAWU took the dramatic step of organising a sleep-in at the Senate House Concourse.

ARM members participated, alongside SSAC and SASCO, but student participation was very limited besides the hard-core. A complaint was lodged against an ARM member with the Students Representative Council (SRC) after she supposedly “intimidated” someone (she was part of a group taking chairs to build an enclosed space for the occupation).

Soon after this campaign, ARM was renamed the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF).

The criminal charges against the Wits 5 were eventually dropped, although the SSAC member was by then underground, having jumped bail.

 

ARM – August 1994 – Article and reply to “Wits Student” newspaper

Members of the “class struggle” section of the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM), active at the University of the Witwatersrand, were interviewed for the campus newspaper, Wits Student. The content of the article, which appeared in August 1994, was accurate but the heading (“Chaos Rules Okay”) was a caricature. ARM responded with a poster (“Anarchy not Chaos”) that included the article and the ARM reply.

The PDF is here (2 pages).

 

ARM – 1995 – “What is Anarchism?” leaflet

This was printed in bulk and distributed at the University of the Witwatersrand and elsewhere from early 1995. By this stage the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) had a new address (see leaflet), following developments in late 1994 which saw a section of ARM (including people associated with the “Backstreet Abortions” distribution project) leave to form a “counter-cultural network,” with what remained as ARM becoming a class-struggle group. The old address used by the larger ARM and “Backstreet Abortions” could no longer be used. Meanwhile this text indicated clearly where ARM was now positioned. More on this history here.

Get the PDF here. The text is below the image.

What is ANARCHISM?

Anarchism is a revolutionary class struggle tradition which has had a massive impact on struggles in Asia, the Americas, and Europe, reaching its fullest expression in the Ukrainian (1918-1921) and Spanish (1936-1938) Revolutions.

We stand for INDEPENDENT WORKING CLASS ACTION to smash all forms of domination (being bossed around) and exploitation (being ripped off). People should be free to live their lives as they see fit, provided this does not suppress the freedom of others, i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental destruction, imperialism, etc.

For us working class action is any collective struggle by working class people to regain control over their lives. It does not matter whether this is in the workplace, in the community, in the schools or elsewhere. By working class we mean everyone who has to work for a living and lacks social power (blue- collar and white- collar workers, workers’ families and youth, rank and file soldiers, the unemployed and the rural poor).

The government and the capitalist system are at the root of all the oppressions afflicting working class people. So we must smash them, not collaborate with them (for example, voting for parliament) . We fight for an INSURRECTION TO ESTABLISH STATELESS SOCIALISM. Stateless or Anarchist Socialism is a society based on democratic worker, community, and other councils, federated internationally.

Production and distribution are organised on the basis of need, not profit.

We support and get involved in everyday struggles for wages, houses, land, education, and basic freedoms. It is only in these daily struggles that organs of grass-roots working class power can be built and the ideas of revolutionary Anarchism spread. The working class must be organised and revolutionary to ensure the success of the revolution. THE REVOLUTION IS BUILT TODAY!

To work towards the revolution Anarchist militants need a decentralised, democratic ANARCHIST ORGANISATION with clear principles. The Anarchist organisation’s function is to help build democratic working class power, and to promote Anarchist ideas. Our aim is thus to help the working class to liberate itself. Unlike others on the Left, we make no claims to “lead” the working class. Any revolution based on a division between so-called “leaders” and “led” can only lay the basis for new tyranny and exploitation. A perfect example was the Russian Revolution, where already by 1918, the Communist Party was well on its way to becoming the new ruling class.

ANARCHIST REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT
Write to us at: ARM, PO Box 1717, Rossetenville, 2130
The views expressed are definitely not those of the Senate, Council or SRC.

 

ARM – 1994 – “Towards Anarchism” (by Malatesta)

This small pamphlet was published by the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) in 1994. It is notable for expounding the argument that anarchists should engage in immediate struggles, even for modest reforms,  as a means of building popular capacities for a revolutionary transition from below. This was a substantial break with the more purist position taken by the “class struggle” wing of ARM in 1993 and even early 1994. It pointed to a new direction for this wing of ARM, and was carried over into the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF) formed in 1995.

Get the PDF here.

 

Some notes on the “Azanian Anarchist Alliance,” 1991-1993

The Azanian Anarchist Alliance (AAA) was a small group at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), in Johannesburg, South Africa, formed in 1991. It was probably the first organised anarchist group in the country in decades.

One of the founders, HG, co-published the radical zine Social Blunder with his brother NG, in the Indian townshipof  Lenasia, south of Soweto and Johannesburg. The group’s politics were a mix of class struggle, radical environmentalism, anti- apartheid and third worldism. The group tried to promote anarchism in various ways. On 8 August 1991, the group called an unsuccessful protest against Unilever, which was recruiting at Wits. That year it also published the pamphlets Anti-Mass, Sam Dolgoff’s Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society, and Peggy Kornegger’s Anarchism: the Feminist Connection. These were typed up from the few compilations of anarchist texts available locally, and given short introductions in an effort to link them to South African conditions. In 1992, the AAA produced Revolt magazine: there was only one issue, but it was numbered as #2.

In 1992, EG and RL established the “Backstreet Abortions” distribution in Johannesburg, and produced the zine Internal Conflict. They were also linked to the 1994 zine No Sensation. “Backstreet Abortions” carried AAA pamphlets, these now including (besides those listed) Revolutionary Organisations (based on a chapter from Class War, Unfinished Business), Alfredo Bonnano’s  Anarchism and the National Liberation Struggle (this was billed as a “South African edition,” with a long introduction added), the Anarchist Communist Federation text, The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation and Ten Days that Shook Iraq (a Council Communist-influenced text from the UK). Class War (or the Class war Federation) was a British group, as was the Anarchist Communist Federation: both groups had a huge influence on AAA, which had collected a fair number of their papers, Class War and Organise!

EG and RL initiated the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) in 1993, a loose group that shared the address of “Backstreet Abortions.” Around this time AAA was wrapped up.