WSF (1998): “Every worker must condemn attacks on foreigners”

WSF (1998): “Every worker must condemn attacks on foreigners”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

On September 3, 1998, a march organised by the conservative “Unemployed Masses of South Africa” organisation murdered three immigrants on a train near Pretoria, The marchers were carrying placards with signs such as “We Want Jobs, Not Foreigners”, and threatened to “take steps”. These “steps” included the brutal murders of three Senegalese: one was thrown out of a window, and hit by an oncoming train; the other two were electrocuted on the train roof when they tried to escape.

Every worker must oppose this thuggery. It is the bosses who fire the workers, not the immigrants. The foreigners are workers, like ourselves. They have the same concerns as we do- so why should we murder our fellow-workers? If we spend our time hating the immigrants, we forget the real enemy, the bosses who mercilessly oppress and exploit us. The bosses are mostly South African- but this does not give us anything in common. Instead of fighting immigrants, we must fight the bosses who control the country. And in this fight, we must UNITE with the immigrants. So long as the immigrants are unorganised, discriminated against, and terrorised by the police, they can be used by the bosses against other workers.

It is the old game of DIVIDE AND RULE. The bosses want workers to fight immigrants to make the unions weak. As soon as we organise the immigrants, and fight for their basic human rights, we become stronger, and the mighty working-class movement for socialism grows. AN INJURY TO ONE WORKER IS AN INJURY TO ALL WORKERS.

IT IS A LIE THAT FOREIGNERS ARE TAKING OUR JOBS

ONE: This thing of immigrants causing crime is a blatant lie. In 1996 only 257 Mozambicans, 65 Zimbabweans and 94 Lesotho citizens were arrested for criminal offences. And only ONE Zairian and SEVEN Nigerians were arrested for drug dealing. This shows that the vast majority of crime is by South Africans. The main reason why immigrants are arrested by the police is for not having the proper papers. That is, they are arrested for not carrying a pass. This is absolutely unacceptable in a post-apartheid South Africa.

TWO: Immigrants actually benefit the country they come to. Many have skills or money, and create work for other people. Immigrants also buy goods in the economy, and this helps boost the economy and create jobs in the industries that produce these goods.

THREE: Foreign workers have helped to build this country. Even today these workers are very important to the mining industry which is the lifeblood of the economy. It is the mining industry which raises money for the country to import the machinery needed to industry and farming. So these immigrants are important to sustaining the amount of jobs we have at the moment.

FOUR: Unskilled immigrants do work for very low wages. However, this problem is caused by greedy bosses who want to sweat blood from workers. The solution to this problem is not to attack the immigrants. It is precisely because the immigrants have no rights, and are always living in fear of the police that they are willing to accept these bad wages. If they try to organise for better conditions, then the boss threatens them that he will call the police. If South African workers also oppose the immigrants, they become even more vulnerable, and therefore even more attractive to greedy bosses. The solution is to organise the immigrants into the trade unions and fight for their rights. If we oppose the immigrants we play into the bosses’ hands, we do their dirty work of making the immigrants into cheap labour.

FIVE: We are all workers and we must stand together. If we are divided, we are weak. A working class united will never be defeated. Therefore if we organise and unite with the immigrants we will be stronger. If we are with the immigrants, all workers will benefit because the bosses will not be able to divide us and rule us. We all have the same basic interest: organising to fight for a better life. We are one class of people.

SIX: On principle we must oppose all racism in the workers movement. We must not be like the white workers in 1922 who went on strike against the black miners getting jobs. No! We have long fought against racism. Let us not now be racist against other workers just because they come from another country or because they speak another language.

SEVEN: Workers don’t own the country- the bosses do. And the government acts to help the bosses. If we think of ourselves first and foremost as South Africans, then we can easily forget that our real enemy is not the foreigners, our real enemy is at home-the bosses. We are not one nation with one common interest- the South African nation is deeply divided into rich and poor, and to fight for a common South African interest is to fool ourselves.

South African and foreign workers must unite against the bosses. All people should be free to go where they please, without a dompas in the form of an ID book.

WSF (1998): “Land and Freedom: The struggle for the land: ‘Farm killings’: The real criminals”

WSF (1998): “Land and Freedom: The struggle for the land: ‘Farm killings’: The real criminals”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The real violence on the land is not criminal attacks on farmers- it is the farmers’ exploitation and oppression of workers and labour tenants.

CONSERVATIVE

According to the conservative Citizen newspaper, there were 114 farm attacks in the between March and May 1998. White farmers and right-wing groups have used this situation to demand more government protection, and have promised to set up private armies with helicopters and assault troops for self-defence. The Freedom Front has warned of race war on the land. The Conservative Party as usual thinks there is a “communist plot” and has produced obviously false documents to prove it. However, there is little evidence that there is a secret armed struggle movement on the land.

In the face of these right-wing threats, the ANC government has fallen over itself to reassure farmers that 90% of all crimes have been solved.

WRONG

What is wrong with this picture? For one thing, very few “farm attacks” involve murders, despite what the media claims. Even the Citizen admits only 6 people were killed in over 30 “attacks” in May 1998.

Second, the real violence on the land is NOT the farm attacks- it is the reign of crime against workers and labour tenants and their families by the FARMERS.

CRIME ON WORKERS

The media has systematically ignored mass evictions of farm tenants and farmworkers, particularly in KwaZulu Natal and the Northern Province- here farmers, fearing land reform, and introducing new labour-saving machinery, have thrown tens of thousands of workers out of employment.

UNION BASHING

Violent and repressive labour relations remain the norm on the farms. Before the 1995 Labour Relations Act, farmworkers had no rights to form trade unions and organise for better conditions. But little has changed since. COSATU has established a farmworkers’ union, which claims 30,000 members- the South African Agricultural Plantation and Allied Workers’ Union (SAAPAWU) is. But SAAPAWU is mainly based on the plantations, particularly in forestry which plantations linked to paper companies.

WHAT IS VIOLENCE?

If we talk about violence on the land, we must talk not just about a tiny number of farmers falling victim to crime. We must talk about brutal incidents such as the farmer and his sons who were recently charged for dragging a worker behind a tractor for several hundred meters, or the shooting of six month old Thobile Angeline Zwane near Benoni in April this year. These are the tip of the iceberg. These cases are also unusual- because these cases were actually prosecuted- most such violence goes unreported.

RICH VERSUS POOR

We must also talk about the violence of oppression and exploitation. When tens of thousands of people are thrown off the land into destitution, when millions of workers and tenants receive incomes of under R300 a month, are we not talking about a crime? Are we not talking about the crime of rich versus poor? Who are the worst criminals in the countryside? Robbers with guns, or robbers with farms? 68% of the rural population lives in extreme poverty, yet about 87% of all land is owned by about 100,000 farmers.

The worst crimes in the rural areas are not attacks on farms but attacks on millions of farmworkers and labour tenants. Although some actions like actual murder are illegal, it is NOT illegal to evict farmworkers or to pay low wages or for a tiny minority to own all the land and to exploit the millions who live on it. In fact, this is bosses’ justice- you can be arrested for refusing to be evicted from the farm you have lived on all your life- you can be arrested for squatting on unused land if you have no place to go.

Attacks on farmers are the product of rural poverty. People with no way of surviving through honest work are often forced into crime.

WORKERS JUSTICE

The real way to end rural crime – the real way in fact to remove crime more generally- is to create the basis for a better life for all. The way to fight back for justice for workers is to fight for better conditions and land redistribution. This will NEVER come through politicians. ANC land reform policy is based on the idea that workers must buy land back from farmers. How can we buy it if we have no money?

The only way forward here is MASS ACTION and TRADE UNIONISM by the workers. ONLY THE WORKERS CAN FREE THE WORKERS. Fight for LAND AND FREEDOM.

FARMERS BASHING UNIONS, EVICTING WORKERS

The majority of the estimated 5 million farmworkers remain unorganised. This is partly due to the problems of organising small groups of workers scattered over large areas. More importantly, farmers have been strongly opposed to unions. In May 1998, for example, nine SAAPAWU members were evicted from “Alpha Farm” for “drunkenness and laziness”. According to COSATU, the eviction was enforced by seven armed men in paramilitary uniforms. The men, who claimed that “evicting farm workers was their job”, threatened the workers, and assaulted one. Overall, fifty workers were evicted. This is clearly union bashing. Farmers -both the old White agricultural unions and the National African Farmers Union- have opposed even the mild and flawed laws to protect tenants.

When farmers act this way, they are continuing a long tradition of repression and violence against Black workers- a pattern that helped break the last big union on the farms, the ICU (Industrial and Commercial Workers Union) in the 1920s.

There have been more than 763,000 jobs lost in the farming sector over the past four years, according to the Central Statistical Service’s figures released in August 1998. The figures showed a reduction in the number of employed down from 1,4-million to just 637,000. According to Graham Macintosh, chairman of the bosses’ Kwazulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) job losses will continue. This is because the farmers are competing on regional and international markets, and are therefore trying to cut costs.

BRAZILIAN LANDLESS SHOW THE WAY FORWARD!

Brazil is perhaps the only country in the world with a higher level of inequality than South Africa (not that any countries fare well). Today less than 3% of the population owns almost two thirds of all farmland. More than half of the farmland, however, lies unused.

In the last elections, the usual lying promises were made that there would be land redistribution. But nothing has been done by the government (no surprise there, all governments serve the rich).

Landless peasants and workers have taken the best step – they took matters into their own hands. The story starts in 1985, when a small group of desperate peasants squatted on unused plantation land. They managed to defend themselves against attacks by police and hired thugs for two years. The government then agreed to give this land to the peasants, who have set up a co-operative (worker controlled) farm employing 1,432 people.

If the politicians were hoping this would be the end of matters, they were dead wrong. The 1985 occupation helped spark a mass movement of landless peasants and workers. This is called the MST- the Movement of Landless Workers.

In 1997, 60,000 people marched for two months to the capital city Brasilia to demand land redistribution. They were also marching to commemorate the anniversary of a massacre at El Dorado dos Carajas. In this massacre 19 people occupying a farm were killed by military police. Since 1988, over 960 people have been killed in land disputes. However, there have been many successes. 200,000 landless families have successfully taken back 7 million hectares of land. At the moment, another 50,000 families are camped near empty land. Even the urban homeless have been inspired to squat unused city buildings.

The MST has even set up a national pirate radio station, calling on the poor to organise themselves, and not rely on the government’s promises.

Workers of South Africa! The road will be long and hard, but why don’t we learn from our Brazilian comrades? Don’t wait for the government! The poor must take back the land!

ONLY WORKERS’ REVOLUTION CAN SOLVE LAND QUESTION

In the end, however, full land redistribution will never take place while we live under the capitalist system. Under capitalism, all wealth (land and factories and mines and buildings) is held by the bosses. In other words, unequal land ownership is built into the system. And it is protected by all the power of the system: courts, government, political parties, big business. Government is a tool of the bosses and defends unequal land ownership.

Only when workers create a libertarian socialist society will land go the workers. In the early days of the Russian Revolution (1917), and also in the Spanish Revolution (1936), workers solved the land question by chasing the farmers away and running it through village committees. In the Spanish case, 7 million workers took the farms and ran them through worker collectives. Such change requires a revolutionary workers movement on the land.

WSF (1998): “Parliament is a Rotten System: Vote with Struggle, not Paper”

WSF (1998): “Parliament is a Rotten System: Vote with Struggle, not Paper”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

IS PARLIAMENT PROGRESSIVE?

It is better to live under a parliamentary government than under a racist dictatorship. At least under the parliament we have basic rights of free speech and free association. The laws are not based on race, but claim to be opposed to all discrimination. In addition, labour law has been improved in some respects- notably the extension of union rights to farm workers and domestics.

However, parliament is not now, nor will it ever be, a road to workers freedom. The State as a whole (courts, police, soldiers, government bureaucracy, ministries, parliament) is not a neutral tool. It was set up because we live in a capitalist society divided between rich and poor. The rich -the bosses and top government officials- exploit the poor- all the workers, the unemployed, the labour tenants. The government exists to enforce the power of this minority over the rest of us.

WHERE DOES GOVERNMENT COME FROM?

Class divisions emerged when people invented agriculture many thousands of years ago. Once farming began, more food was produced than was needed. The extra- the surplus- was taken over by a small group who stopped working and began to live as parasites on the majority. This small group – the ruling class- took control over the surplus by stealing the land and tools from the rest of the people. The armed force of the State was used to make and defend this process.

This is what happened in the days of ancient Egypt, Rome, and China. What is called “civilisation” was in fact the emergence of brutal exploitation, leaving as its monuments the useless ruins of tombs and monuments for kings and other ruling class figures. These buildings are symbols of greed and brutality, not of achievement.

IS PARLIAMENT A DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM?

In the old days, the exploited majority was usually slaves and peasants. Today, the exploited are “wage-slaves”- the working class and poor. Our modern system is not slavery but capitalism, based on big corporations and governments owning all the land, factories, mines, and offices.

In all times, the exploited majority – the oppressed class- has always fought back. There is a class struggle between the oppressed class and the ruling class.

The struggle of the working class has forced some concessions from the ruling class. Parliament is one of them. But parliament is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the existence of a parliament means that the ruling class has been forced to give some basic rights to the working class.

On the other hand, though, parliament is still part of the capitalist state. Parliament is only 400 seats in a vast machine in which most real decisions are taken by unelected, faceless, top officials such as permanent secretaries and directors. If a parliament got out of hand, it would be overthrown by the ruling class, probably through a military coup or by foreign intervention, invasion, “dirty tricks”, and the flight of money out of the country. Real power is not in parliament but in the army and police, the top levels of officials, and company boardrooms.

DOES PARLIAMENT LEAD TO SELL OUTS?

It is rare that extreme steps need to be taken- the “sweet life” of the average paid politician means that they soon lose touch with people on the ground, and become co-opted to the ruling class. The power of the ruling class, and the co-option of the politicians, ensures that it is business as usual- and the ruling class gets the decisions made that it wants. How many of the comrades of yesteryear now support privatisation, retrenchments, and capitalism (with a few more Black faces at the top)? This problem has taken place again and again, and in country after country. It has led to the downfall or sell out of every single socialist party that has ever put a foot in parliament. But even if parliament were a way forward, we would still oppose it. Freedom must be brought about by the direct action of ordinary people everywhere – not by the actions of mere 400 “leaders” who take decisions for us.

THE UNION IS YOUR PARTY -THE STRUGGLE IS YOUR VOTE

Comrades sometimes say: if we do not vote, how can we make our voice heard? The answer is that the workers and the poor can be heard through the democratic civics and trade unions.

Trade unions are much better vehicles for workers interests than any political party.

FAT CATS

Parties only want people to vote every five years. At election time, they want to be voted in to make money. In your union, you have a say at every meeting.

Parties demobilise the workers, telling them to rely on the leaders and the government. Unions mobilise and unite the workers to struggle for freedom.

Parties try to use the government to improve matters. The problem is that t

he politicians get high pay and disappear from the sight of the grassroots. The government system also acts in the interests of the bosses all the time.

PHAMBILI BASABENZI

Unions organise workers as a CLASS to FIGHT the bosses directly, with workers real muscle: strike action, the go-slow, occupations.

Parties include all elements, including bosses and tribalists. Unions are made up only of the WORKING CLASS. Unions must be INDEPENDENT of all parties, and all non-working class forces.

BUILDING A REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS MOVEMENT

BOSSES GOVERNMENT

We live under an unfair system. Workers do all the work. They build every house, every car, every road, grow every crop, run every office. But workers get nothing. They are poor, they have bad schools, and they are looked down upon by the bosses. At work, the workers are driven like slaves. At home, their families suffer unemployment, crime and misery. The bosses get everything- nice houses, fancy clothes, elite education, holidays in the sun. And government does not help the workers. It just does what the bosses want- privatisation, flexible labour, cuts in education, retrenchments in the public sector.

FREE SOCIALISM

As long as the bosses rule, workers will be poor and oppressed. Workers must take the bosses down from their ruling place. Workers must take over factories, mines and farms, and use them to benefit the working class. Instead of a boss’s government, workers will run society through their trade unions (allied with democratic working-class civics). This is libertarian socialism.

Tomorrow is built today. We must start to build a revolutionary working class movement. The starting point must be the trade unions. The unions must be kept democratic. They must be independent. They must educate the workers to fight for socialism. They must mobilise the workers to fight back against the bosses in the spirit of no compromise. In this way, the workers will be welded together as a CLASS able to fight in their own interests.

ORGANISE

More than unions, we also need to build an organisation that will spread the revolutionary idea amongst the workers. Such an organisation will expose the bosses’ and governments’ lies, and help show the workers the way forward. This organisation will not aim to RULE the workers- it will encourage and educate the workers to fight back, and it will join in the workers’ fight. But it is only the workers who will change the world- ONLY THE WORKERS CAN FREE THE WORKERS.

The alternative to parliament is WORKERS STRUGGLE, WORKERS. THE UNION IS YOUR PARTY. VOTE WITH STRUGGLE- NOT AT ELECTIONS!

WHOEVER YOU VOTE FOR, THE BOSSES GET IN

For the ruling class bosses, the main use of parliament is the way that it distracts the working and poor masses, and tricks them into thinking that change can come about through putting a piece of paper in a box every five years.

Parliament always leads to betrayal. In 1914, there were powerful socialist parties in the parliaments of most European countries. But all these parties voted for World War One, a savage war between rival groups of bosses for land in which millions died. In 1973, the people of Chile elected a left-wing parliament. When the parliament took some steps at reform, workers made even more demands. The rich got worried and used the army to take power and kill the militant workers- 11,000 died in one year.

And in 1994, the people of South Africa elected a parliament on the basis of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which promised more jobs, houses, land, electricity and education. Two years later RDP was replaced by the anti-worker GEAR programme of privatisation, retrenchments, flexible labour, cuts in social spending etc…

WSF (1998): “EDITORIAL: South Africa’s transition goes sour”

WSF (1998):  “EDITORIAL: South Africa’s transition goes sour”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

IN 1994, people danced in the streets after the results of the elections were announced. How far have we come in the five years since that time? Not far enough. The elections were a great victory because they ended legalised racism in South Africa- the oppressive laws created by the bosses to ensure an endless supply of super-cheap Black labour.

But while the law has changed, conditions on the ground have not. Working and poor people have been increasingly impatient with the slow pace of “delivery” of the goods and services promised in the 1994 elections. Worried about its election prospects, the ANC has done its best to excuse the broken promises. It has manipulated the loyalty of many workers to blame the failure of delivery on unnamed “forces” who want to return South Africa to the past. It has done its best to label critics anti-patriotic or right-wing. And it has asserted its domination in the Tripartite Alliance, demanding that COSATU and SACP toe the line and stop criticising ANC policies.

Of course, there are right-wing forces in South Africa. But the NP left the Government of national Unity years ago. As for the other big conservative group, the IFP, the ANC is hinting of a merger between Congress and the IFP.

The real blame for the ANC’s lack of delivery lies in its GEAR (Growth Employment and Redistribution) policy. GEAR is an attack on the jobs, incomes and social services of the working class. It is based on the idea that the bosses must be allowed to make more profits from cheap labour. So instead of taking money from the bosses and using it to benefit the Black working class majority, the ANC policy tells the bosses to become richer, promising the poor that crumbs from the bosses’ banquet table will fall to them.

However, we do not see the solution to GEAR as a new party to replace the ANC. The ANC did not adopt GEAR because it was “bad”. ANC adopted GEAR because the bosses -who include many top ANC members and funders- demanded GEAR. We live in a time of class war- war by the employers against the working class. The only solution can be mass struggle, not elections – THE UNION IS YOUR PARTY, THE STRUGGLE IS YOUR VOTE

ARM, ca.1994: Lucien van der Walt, “The Fire Next Time: Lessons of the Los Angeles (LA) Uprising”

This introduction was written for a reprinted imported pamphlet on the 1992 LA riots in the USA.  A copy of the pamphlet itself will be uploaded at a later stage. The introduction was by the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) group at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). It spells out the standard positions: opposition to racism and national oppression, anti-nationalism, and class struggle. This section of ARM later became part of the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF). The author was “L.V.” = Lucien van der Walt.

ARM: THE FIRE NEXT TIME: LESSONS OF THE LOS ANGELES (LA) UPRISING

At a meeting at the First A.M.E. Church during the first hours of the rioting, the mayor, clergy, and community leaders were booed and ignored by much of the audience. A young Black women charged the podium, and took control of  the microphone. “We can’t rely on these people up here to act … I believe they have our best interests at heart, but we cannot rely on them … You know what we need to do … ”  (from Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist News monthly June 1992. New York)

The LA uprising of 1992 was a class rebellion in the heart of capitalist America. Triggered by the acquittal of four White cops videotaped beating a Black truck driver, Rodney King, the uprising spread through dozens of American cities, and even internationally: in Berlin, masked youths battled police under banners calling for the destruction of capitalism and proclaiming “LA did the right thing.” While people of many different backgrounds participated in the action, there is no doubt that poor Blacks, one of the most oppressed segments of the US working class led the way. This shows that Black liberation must be central to any real  working class challenge to the system. By the time the  military and police forces of the regime managed to put down the uprising, there had been 58 deaths (mostly Black), 4,000 injuries, 12,000 arrests, 10,000 businesses destroyed and countless shops looted.

The bulk of this pamphlet provides an eyewitness account of the revolt as it happened in Los Angeles itself. A final section looks draws out some of the significance of the uprising. In this introduction we argue that this sort of rising can and should be turned into a revolutionary attack on the State and capitalist system. We also suggest what Anarchist revolutionaries can do to achieve this.

Its quite clear that capitalism and the State lie at the heart of the oppressive and marginalised experiences faced by working class people in America’s inner-cities. Lower class Black Americans were supposedly “emancipated” over a 125 years ago but racism and poverty is still an everyday experience.  “Of Black men between the ages 20 to 29. 1 in 4 will go to prison or be placed on probation. 60% of women in prison are women of color. Poverty and the absence of other opportunities to escape it compel many Black youth to turn to gangs, drugs, and anti- social crime … Half of all Black and Hispanic youth of South Central LA belong to gangs. in Central LA, half of the Black families fall below the poverty line, and youth unemployment hovers at 50%.” (Love and Rage June 1992).

This oppression is clearly rooted in a racist capitalist order that has roots in the Slave trade, where racism was used to justify the sale of human beings. Today, racism still serves the ruling class who divide working class people into fractions on the basis of differential levels of treatment(eg. different wages, jobs, social services), with Blacks and women at the bottom of the heap. This hampers united resistance, and it makes for super- exploitation of disempowered sections  of the workforce.

At the same time, the extreme poverty of the inner- cities is linked to capitalism’s incessant hunger for profits, as usual at the expense of people. The inner- cities were mostly built around large factories which have since migrated from the high taxes and wages of the cities to suburbs and third world countries, Here unions are often repressed, wages low, and environmental controls non- existent. At the same time as inner city wages fall, the corporations are making huge profits and the bosses receiving record pay increases (LA Today … 1992, Minneapolis, p1). In the USA, the top 4% earns as much as the bottom 50% of the population (Plain Words, 1994, New Jersey, p4).

Quite obviously then, we need to destroy capitalism and the State once and for all. We need to establish a new society based on grassroots worker and community councils, and distribution and production according to need not profit. This is anarchism or free socialism (as opposed to the State capitalist dictatorships set up by the Marxist “communists” since 1917).  This must be the task of the working class (white- and blue- collar workers, workers’ families and youth, the unemployed and the rural poor).

Why? Firstly, only a productive class can set up a truly free society, for the simple reason that only a productive class does not need to exploit and dominate others in order to survive. Secondly, class position fundamentally shapes the experience of oppression. The Black middle/ upper class (professionals and capitalists) that led the civil rights movement has expanded rapidly, living off the sweat of all American workers. While between 1967 and 1990 the proportion of Black families at the lowest income level grew by 50%, the percentage of high income Black families more than doubled (New York Times, September 25, 1992). Not surprisingly, the Black middle class and capitalists firmly supported the military occupation of the ghettos, because working class fightback was not in their interests.

Clearly, the arguments of Black nationalists that all Blacks should unite across color lines is very wrong, basically because Blacks do not have the same class interests. Working class Blacks have more in common with working class Whites, also at the !@#$%^&* end of the bosses stick, than the Black midde/upper class.

But we do not take a simplistic “class unity” line.  Precisely because of the historic divisions in the working class, its especially oppressed segments (like women, Blacks, and homosexuals) need to organize themselves to be able to put their own specific problems firmly on the agenda of the revolutionary working class movement. This is the basis for principled class unity, and a revolution that will smash all oppression.

What can Anarchists do to turn revolts such as the LA uprisings in a revolutionary direction? Firstly, we must get involved with and support all genuine working class resistance. At the same time, however, we need to spread the ideals of revolutionary Anarchism through the working class.

In practical terms this means debate as equals, and cheap revolutionary literature. In both cases we must argue against authoritarian (or top-down) politics on the left and right, spread information about resistance, and draw the lessons of earlier struggles. We must argue that the working class take direct action to secure its own particular interests (eg. for housing, jobs, peace, and freedom), and to ultimately smash the system. In no case do we assume, as the Marxists do, that our analysis gives us the right to speak for or act in the place of the working class (this is called vanguardism — the belief that a certain left-wing “party” has the right to rule the ruling [sic.] class, as in Russia).

Secondly, we need to start to build practical alternative structures which demonstrate the viability of Anarchist politics. Some of these demonstrate new ways of organizing production and distribution: collective childcare facilities, community- run clinics, free shops that redistribute old clothes, community gardens, local newspapers, workers theater etc. Other counter- institutions will play a more confrontational role: street committees, revolutionary trade unions that aim to seize and democratically administer the land and factories, and self- defense units which are internally democratic and accountable to the community. In no case do we place any faith in the parliamentary system.

If we build the revolution today, the next mass rising has a very real chance of become an insurrection that can provide a sustained revolutionary challenge to the system.

We say    FORWARD TO WORKING CLASS POWER FORWARD!!!
LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF REVOLUTIONARY ANARCHISM LONG LIVE!!

L.V. [Lucien van der Walt]

Poster – Workers Solidarity Federation – 1998 – “The Poor Must Seize the Land”

This was a poster was one a series produced by the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), in this case for recruiting members at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in its opening (Orientation or “O”) week. WSF was the direct predecessor of today’s Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF). Scanned PDF is here.

WSF - 1998 - The Poor Must Seize the Land poster

 

Poster – Workers Solidarity Federation meeting 19 May 1998 – End Racism in Sport

This was a poster for a lively meeting of the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), the direct predecessor of today’s Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF), held at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) on Tuesday 19 May 1998. The talk was by cde Patrick Nt. Scanned PDF is here.

WSF - Tuesday 19 May 1998 - Racism in Sport poster