ANALYSIS [+PDF] van der Walt, 2014, “T.W. Thibedi and the Industrial Workers of Africa, April-July 1919″

Lucien van der Walt, 2014, “T.W. Thibedi and the Industrial Workers of Africa, April-July 1919,” Tokologo no. 3, July 2014, p. 10

pdflogosmall

PDF is here

tw-thibediT.W. Thibedi, radical school-teacher, was a leading figure in the anarchist / syndicalist International Socialist League (ISL) and the revolutionary syndicalist Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA) union. He was involved in late 1910s struggles, like the March-April 1919 anti-pass law campaign on the Witwatersrand. The campaign had been driven by more radical members of the Transvaal ANC — including members of the revolutionary ISL and IWA, like Fred Cetiwe and Hamilton Kraai. But the campaign was called off by conservative leaders of the South African Native National Congress (now the African National Congress, ANC).

Thibedi always believed that workers needed their own structures, outside the ANC – like the IWA and ISL. In April 1919, he issued an IWA leaflet arguing that workers needed their own “council” (this is included below). When the anti-pass campaign was called off, Thibedi challenged the ANC leadership at a mass meeting in Vrededorp on 9 July 1919. Then he called a meeting for “all labourers” at St. Mary’s Hall, Johannesburg, 26 July.

Here he called for building the IWA into a mass movement against passes and for higher wages. He stated: “Congress don’t utilise money properly, they use it for themselves, and we, the working men, get nothing” so “We must separate and call ourselves the Labourers and have our own leaders. The workers must separate from Congress.”

But this did not happen – and by the end of 1919, the conservatives were firmly in control of the ANC again. Below is part of Thibedi’s April 1919 IWA leaflet.

INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF AFRICA

… the time has come for you all who call yourselves Country Workers that you should join and become members of your own Council. It is not to say that we workers stop you from joining any other Councils, but you must know what you are in the Country for (rich or poor). All workers are poor therefore they should have their own Council.

… Friend are you not a worker?

… Why should all workers be pressed down by the rich when they do all the work of the Country?

… Why should you be kicked and spat at whilst working.

… How is it that you black workers asking for bread from the Government as their children, are arrested and sent to gaol?

… Workers come together and be united and join your own Native Council. Why are you afraid to become members of the Industrial Workers of Africa whilst you call yourself Workers?

ANALYSIS [+PDF] van der Walt, 1997, “Breve Histoire de l’anarchisme en Afrique du Sud”

Lucien van der Walt, 1997, “Breve Histoire de l’anarchisme en Afrique du Sud,” Le Monde Libertaire, 12 November 1997, no. 1099.

pdflogosmall

 

Click the image to get the PDF  or click here

 

van der Walt - Breve Histoire de l'anarchisme en Afrique du Sud [1997]

 

 

CHAPTER [+PDF] Lucien van der Walt, 2014, “Revolutionary Syndicalism, Communism and the National Question in South African Socialism, 1886-1928”

brill2Lucien van der Walt, 2014, “Revolutionary Syndicalism, Communism and the National Question in South African Socialism, 1886-1928”,  in Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt (eds.), (foreword by Benedict Anderson), 2014, Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, Studies in Global Social History , pp. 33-94.

pdflogosmall

Get the PDF here.

This chapter examines the manner in which anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists confronted the national question in South Africa, particularly during the 1910s, the period of unquestioned syndicalist hegemony on the revolutionary left. The national question centred on two main elements: the deep racial and national divisions in the country, and the national oppression of the African, Coloured and Indian majority.

I argue that local anarchists and syndicalists maintained a principled opposition to racial discrimination and oppression, and a principled commitment to the creation of a multiracial anti-capitalist, anti-statist movement. These positions constituted the irreducible core of the libertarians’ approach to the national question— however, the most successful strategic/ tactical application of this approach was the activist-integrationist approach: this moved from analysis and principle to consistent and targeted efforts to mobilise African, Coloured, and Indian workers around both class and  national issues.  It enabled the construction, by 1921, of a genuinely multiracial revolutionary syndicalist movement, organised in a network of newspapers, unions and political groups, firmly committed to uniting the local working class to struggle simultaneously against the specific national oppression of the African, Coloured and Indian majority, and the capitalist exploitation and state domination of the whole working class, African, Coloured, Indian and white. The vehicle of this combined struggle was generally envisaged as a revolutionary interracial One Big Union on the model of the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW) — this was to be the proletarian forge in which a common society embracing all, regardless of colour, would be created. The aim of the working class revolution was not to constitute an independent national  state. It was to overcome national and class inequality through the working class battle to constitute a self-managed libertarian socialist “Industrial Republic,” which would also form “an integral part of the International Industrial Republic”.

This vision has been obscured by the misrepresentations of the pre-Communist Party of South Africa left practiced by the influential “Communist school” of labour and left history. It is also fundamentally at odds with the two-stage strategy identified with the Communist Party from 1928 onwards, which envisages the establishment of an independent, democratic and capitalist republic as a stage towards a socialist order.  This Communist Party strategy assumes the necessity and desirability of delinking anti-colonial and class struggles, and tends to conflate national liberation with  nationalism.  By contrast, the One Big Union against national oppression, capitalism and the state, would fuse national liberation and social revolution, both in immediate struggle and as a final project, thus simultaneously addressing the national and social questions. It poses a solution to the national question that is anti-nationalist, since it rejects key precepts of nationalism: formation of a nation-state (for anti-statism), cross-class alliances within the nation (for class struggle), and national exclusivity (for popular class internationalism).

CHAPTER [+PDF] Hirsch and van der Walt, 2010, “Final Reflections: the vicissitudes of anarchist and syndicalist trajectories, 1940 to the present

Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt, 2010, “Final Reflections: the brillvicissitudes of anarchist and syndicalist trajectories, 1940 to the present”,in Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt (eds.), (foreword by Benedict Anderson), Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, Studies in Global Social History, pp. 395-412.

pdflogosmall

Get the PDF here

Concluding chapter to widely-praised edited volume, this tracks anarchism and syndicalism from the 1940s to the present, disputing the notion of eclipse (by drawing attention to a range of important post-1940 anarchist and syndicalist movements, influences and waves of growth), and disputes the notion that there is a “new” anarchism from the 1960s (since most of the “new” features are long extant). It also provides a partial explanation for the relative decline of the movement from the 1940s to the 1990s, and its current revival, stressing both objective factors (repression, the rise of statist forms of capitalism, state funding of Marxist movements etc.) as well as subjective factors (including costly organisational and strategic errors on the part of the anarchists and syndicalists — errors not by any means, it should be noted, inherent in anarchism and syndicalism).  Concludes that labour, left and colonial history must give due weight to the contribution of anarchism and syndicalism,

**The edited volume included specialist papers by Steven Hirsch, Lucien van der Walt, Luigi Biondi, Arif Dirlik, Anthony Gorman, Dongyoun Hwang, Geoffroy de Laforcade, Emmet O’Connor, Kirk Shaffer, Aleksandr Shubin, Edilene Toledo — and an introduction by the renowned Benedict Anderson. The focus was on movements in the period of classic imperialism, and countries covered included Argentina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, Korea, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa, and the Ukraine. The original edition appeared in 2010, and a paperback, slightly revised and with a new preface, appeared in 2014.  You can read more about the volume here and here.

CHAPTER [+PDF] van der Walt & Hirsch, 2010, “Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: The colonial and post-colonial experience, 1870-1940”

brillLucien van der Walt and Steven J. Hirsch, 2010, “Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: the colonial and post-colonial experience, 1870-1940”,  in Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt (eds.), (foreword by Benedict Anderson), Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, Studies in Global Social History, pp. xxxi-lxxiii .

pdflogosmall

Get the PDF here.

Extensive introduction to widely-praised edited volume, examining the role that anarchism and syndicalism played in the colonial and postcolonial world, from 1870-1940. Close attention is paid to the movement’s role in union movements, in anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and national liberation struggles, and in tackling the national question including racial segregation and divisions.  To understand anarchism and syndicalism, a global analysis that places in Africa, Asia, East Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Ireland, centre stage, is essential. This does not mean inventing false categories like “Southern” or “third world” anarchism, but rather, seeing anarchism and syndicalism as a global current conceived and forged internationally. While absolutely crucial, the Spanish movement was neither unique nor unusual, but , and but one of a series of mass movements, with close linkages that are partially captured by a transnational analytical framing.

**The edited volume included specialist papers by Steven Hirsch, Lucien van der Walt, Luigi Biondi, Arif Dirlik, Anthony Gorman, Dongyoun Hwang, Geoffroy de Laforcade, Emmet O’Connor, Kirk Shaffer, Aleksandr Shubin, Edilene Toledo — and an introduction by the renowned Benedict Anderson. The focus was on movements in the period of classic imperialism, and countries covered included Argentina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, Korea, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa, and the Ukraine. The original edition appeared in 2010, and a paperback, slightly revised and with a new preface, appeared in 2014.  You can read more about the volume here and here.

REVIEW [+PDF] Lucien van der Walt, 2012, Berry and Bantman (eds.), “New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism: the Individual, the National and the Transnational”

Lucien van der Walt, 2012, “David Berry and Constance Bantman, eds., New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism: the individual, the national and the transnational ”, Anarchist Studies, volume 20, number 1, pp. 123-126.

David Berry and Constance Bantman (eds.), New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism: the Individual, the National and the Transnational, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, 228pp.
ISBN 978-1-4438-2393-7

pdflogosmall

 

Get the PDF here

 

Bantman, BerryThis fine collection draws together studies of anarchism and syndicalism, mainly covering the 1890s to the 1940s in Europe. These underline the important role of anarchism in labour movement history, and, conversely, demonstrate anarchism’s and syndicalism’s commitment to a libertarian, revolutionary class struggle politics. The individual chapters are remarkably interesting and solidly researched; the editors’ introduction is insightful; and the volume is cohesive, as important synergies make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Berry and Bantman make a case for the importance of global – especially transnational – approaches to labour and left history. They argue for the utility of biography, network analysis, comparative analysis and attention to political languages, in shifting

p. 124

from the ‘methodological nationalism’ (p.6) that has long shaped these fields. Bert Altena’s stimulating survey picks up these analytical issues. He argues against approaches that treat syndicalism as something ‘abnormal’, a ‘Pavlovian reaction’ triggered by external structural conditions such as the second industrial revolution, social democratic failure etc. Inc problem is that mass syndicalism existed where many of these conditions did not apply (e.g. Spain, 1870s, France, 1890s), and was conversely absent (e.g. Belgium) or only a minority current (e.g. Germany) where they did apply. Second, structuralist arguments fail to examine syndicalism on its own terms, as a revolutionary movement with its own political culture, driven by the *ideas* and *aspirations* of working class people in particular communities and contexts.

The editors apologise for their ‘Eurocentrism’, but this is surely unnecessary.  The methodological problems of Eurocentrism reside not in a focus on Europe *as such*, but in a conflation of world history with (West) European history, with other regions ignored or caricatured. This is certainly not the approach of Berry and Bantman, who are keenly aware that European anarchism/syndicalism was but part of a global movement. Levy’s fine discussion of anarchist ‘global labour organiser’ Errico Malatesta’s role in anti-colonial risings in Bosnia and Egypt, and in activism and networks in North Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America, Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: