“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).

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Azanian Anarchist Alliance – undated -“Anarchy and Organisation: For all those that think anarchism is purely a personal thing”

This text, written in 1991 or 1992, was a response to people who viewed “anarchism” as a personal lifestyle choice and/ or opposed formal organisation. It argued that, on the contrary, “Anarchism is not just a way of living one’s life. It is the most radical espousal of total social revolution. Anarchists wish to create a society which is libertarian, classless and stateless… Anarchism begins when people organise to change the world…” The Azanian Anarchist Alliance favoured, instead, a revolutionary organisation, and also published some texts influenced by Platformism: Revolutionary Organisations (based on a chapter from Class War, Unfinished Business) and The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation (by the Anarchist Communist Federation) (see here).

Get the PDF of “Anarchy and Organisation” here (2 pages).

Azanian Anarchist Alliance – 8 August 1991 – “Boycott Unilever”

A leaflet (also printed as a poster) for an unsuccessful protest against Unilever, which was recruiting at the University of the Witwatersrand under the heading “Discover a New World at Unilever.” The print quality of the pamphlet is not very good. The boxes in the middle were sourced from a booklet included in the Chumbawumba album of 1986, Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, which exposed multi-national corporations (like Unilever), the aid industry and the oppression of the colonial and formerly colonial world. (Materials like this booklet were a major influence on the Azanian Anarchist Alliance / AAA).

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.