[Briefing for UPM] Lucien van der Walt, “One Year after the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders: Attacks Hurt Working Class and Poor, Only Capitalists and Politicians Benefit”

One Year after the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders: Attacks Hurt Working Class and Poor, Only Capitalists and Politicians Benefit

Lucien van der Walt

*Text commissioned by Unemployed People’s Movement, Grahamstown, October 2015.

*Edited version: November 2016.

A year ago, starting 20 October 2015, around 75 small shops were looted, some burned down, in the eastern townships and downtown area of the small Eastern Cape university town of Grahamstown/ iRhini, South Africa. The attacks targeted Asian and African immigrants, many of them Muslim, and displaced 500 people. These riots were largely ignored by the media.

The text below is a slightly revised revision of a briefing I was asked to write at the time for the local Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM). The UPM played a heroic role in opposing the attacks and assisting the displaced. The text’s general points remain relevant to the working class’s fight against prejudice and racism. And the riots of 2015 should not be forgotten.grahamstown-riots


The heroic struggles for justice being waged today by workers, students and neighbourhoods across the country show the possibility of a better future, based on justice and freedom.

But casting a deep shadow over these struggles, and helping block a better future, are terrible, ongoing incidents like anti-immigrant / anti-foreigner attacks. They show how far we have to go, before we can free ourselves from the darkness of oppression.

The 2015 riots in Grahamstown were directed against foreign nationals, accused in hateful rumours of murdering local people to steal their body parts for ritual purposes. From such sparks sprang the wildfires of violence and terror. Within days over 500 people were displaced or in hiding.

So what is the solution? A fire needs fuel to burn; without fuel, sparks sputter away, die out. So what was the fuel that the sparks ignited? To fix a problem, we must know its cause.


Anti-immigrant views and violence are common in South Africa.

The most common explanation is provided by the media. And it is wrong. This explanation describes anti-immigrant ideas and attacks as “xenophobia.” Read more of this post

[PHOTO] With comrades at the 2016 Vuyisile Mini Winter School, Eastern Cape

With comrades on the 16 July 2016, last day of the Vuyisile Mini Winter School on “Labour and Social Policy,” organised by the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit, and the Institute for Social and Eocnomic Research, at Rhodes University,  Grahamstown.


[PHOTO] With comrades at the NUMSA-Wits grdauates colloquium

With comrades at the 8 October 2016 colloquium of graduates from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Afeica (NUMSA)-University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) “Social Theory and Research” programme. This ran from 2010-2015, and will be followed by similar initiatives in 2017.



[PHOTO] With cde Oupa Lehulere on plenary on “Racial Capitalism” & “Workers’ Movements” in South Africa

With cde Oupa Lehulere on plenary on “Racial Capitalism” & “Workers’ Movements” in South Africa. At Global Labour University’s Summer School for unionists, 2 October 2016, Bronkhorstspruit. Cde Eddie Cottle in the chair.


[SPEECH] Lucien van der Walt, 2006, “Xenophobia, Solidarity and the Struggle for Zimbabwe”

I gave this talk at the”Freedom in our Lifetime” resistance festival in Newtown, Johannesburg, 10 December, 2006

It was previously published online, uncredited, at http://www.anarkismo.net/article/4424

Xenophobia, Solidarity and the Struggle for Zimbabwe

Lucien van der Walt, 2006.

How to fight for freedom in Zimbabwe? How to avoid another Mugabe coming into power? How to fight poverty, inequality, unemployment? How to create equality and decent lives for all? These are the burning questions we must face.

There are two main issues we have been asked to talk about today: xenophobia and solidarity. Let’s look at each of these, and then explore them, and look for answers to the burning questions.


Around the world, millions of people are moving between countries. Some move to find jobs and a better life. Some flee repressive, murderous regimes. And some just want to see more of the world: nothing wrong with that.

What is a problem is that the States, the governments, of the host countries, seek to divide the immigrants from the local working class and peasants. Let me be more precise. Rich immigrants are left alone. Their money brings them access to the charmed circles of the wealthy and powerful elites. The ruling class of one country recognises its fellows from other countries.

The elite knows the elite, and they know that they have something in common: their wealth, their power, are based on keeping the mass of the people – the working class, the peasants and the poor – in their “place.” And what place is that? Working for masters, earning low incomes, being told what to do: suffering through domination and exploitation from above.
Read more of this post

[Analysis in translation] Lucien van der Walt, “Κολλεκτίβες στην Επαναστατική Ισπανία”

Greek translation of http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/spain/coll_l.html

Κολλεκτίβες στην Επαναστατική Ισπανία

Sunday July 24, 2016 at Anarkismo
Το κράτος δεν παρέχει μία εναλλακτική οδό στον καπιταλισμό ούτε ο καπιταλισμός στο κράτος. Και οι δύο αυτές δομές κοινωνικής οργάνωσης συνδέονται εσωτερικά και αλληλοσυμπληρώνονται. Δεδομένου του γεγονότος ότι καμία από τις δύο δομές δεν είναι επιθυμητή αναδύεται η ερώτηση: υπάρχει ένας τρίτος δρόμος; Η συζήτηση που προηγήθηκε για τον αναρχο-συνδικαλιστικό-ακρατικό σοσιαλισμό – προσπάθησε να δείξει τη διανοητική συνοχή, την πιθανότητα, και την επιθυμία του ως εναλλακτικής διεξόδου. Το θέμα επομένως που αντιμετωπίζουν οι σοσιαλιστές δεν είναι: “εάν ήρθε το τέλος της ιστορίας” Η πρόκληση μάλλον είναι να ανακαλύψουμε ξανά και να μάθουμε από ένα σημαντικό κομμάτι της ιστορίας, την πλούσια και ιστορικά καταξιωμένη παράδοση του αναρχοσυνδικαλισμού.


Η ισπανική επανάσταση ξεκίνησε ως επακόλουθο ενός αποτυχημένου ισπανικού πραξικοπήματος

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: