[Analysis]+ PDF: Lucien van der Walt, 2000, “Putting Profit First” (university restructuring)

Lucien van der Walt,  7 September 2000, “Putting Profit First,” The Sowetan.

Still relevant.

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Lucien van der Walt, September 7, 2000, PUTTING PROFIT FIRST, in THE SOWETAN

Wits is rapidly turning into a market university that serves the wealthy, while excluding working class people, writes Lucien van der Walt

Just more than two month ago, the University of the Witwatersrand retrenched613 support service workers. Their jobs – in catering, cleaning, grounds, and maintenance – have been taken over by outside contractors such as Fedics and Supercare.

While Wits vice-chancellor Colin Bundy says that the new companies have also taken on about 250 of the retrenched Wits workers, he says rather less aboutworking conditions in the new companies.

Wages have been halved and benefits slashed. A worker in one of Wits’ retail outlets, for example, now earns about R1200 a month – down from more thanR3000 – and with no benefits. Among the benefits lost is the right of children of all Wits employees to study free of charge. This situation has placed Wits workers in an extremely precarious financial position, and many fear that more outsourcing is coming.

Further, many supervisors in the new companies actively discourage unionisation. The mighty Wits branch of Nehawu – once a union stronghold in the tertiary education sector- is still reeling from the blow. Over half of its 800 members, including shop stewards, are amongst those who have lost their jobs, and the union has no real base in the new companies.

The support service retrenchments are part of Wits’ ongoing restructuring plan: Wits 2001. Like the controversial iGoli 2002 plan to restructure the greater Johannesburg municipal area, Wits 2001 aims to save money through outsourcing and retrenchments. It also aims to generate profits from its “core” business of research and teaching.

And as teaching and learning become more and more orientated towards the market and to profit making, rather than to providing a social service,academic departments that do no generate sufficient revenue also fall. In the Arts faculty, for example, at least three departments facing closure, and at least 25 academic posts face the axe.

Both iGoli 2002 and Wits 2001 must be seen in the context of government’s controversial Gear economic programme, which has slashed funding to higher education and local government, and which promotes “flexible labour,” the downsizing of the public sector, and the commercialisation and privatisation of state assets.

On the one hand, Wits University expels loyal workers, some with many years of service, and brings in low-wage contractors. On the other hand, it markets itself to middle-class students as the “best academic address in Africa” through the “Wits by appointment” programme and organises research contracts with big business and government.

This process of “privatising” Wits has not gone unchallenged. Whilst other campus unions buckled and bent in the  face of administrative pressure, and encouraged their members to sign up for retrenchment packages, Nehawu stood firm to the end. It never signed on for the University’s “social plan” and picketed daily for four months, recognising that, as worker activist Severino DiGiovanni once said: “The right to life is not given – it is taken.”

Faced with Bundy’s refusal to negotiate on the key issues, student organisations fought to support the workers, organising an occupation of Bundy’s office, as well as rallies and marches. Many students also fear Wits 2001 will mean rising student fees, excluding poor students from higher education.

The protest movement came to a head at a prestigious international  conference on Urban Futures co-hosted by Wits and by the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council in July. During the week of the  conference, there were several protests by the Anti-Privatisation Forum – a coalition that brings together groups organising against Wits 2001 and iGoli 2002, including retrenched Wits workers- culminating in a non-violent disruption of the final session.

But protests have taken place in the context of an increasingly authoritarian management style. The issues raised by Nehawu and the other protestors have fallen on deaf ears since the restructuring began in earnest in 1999.

And, following the Urban Futures disruption, Bundy’s administration applied for court interdicts against Sasco, the SRC, the Postgraduate Association and Nehawu, as well as 14 named individuals, including Nehawu’s president Vusi Nhlapo. The interdicts will, if obtained, ban protestors from activities such as making a noise, occupying or blockading offices, and “intimidation,” and empower the administration to use police to arrest activists.

This attempt to place the campus under police rule is matched by the iron discipline imposed on workers in the outsourcing companies, where management aims to extract the most labour for the least money.

It also has its echo in the shift in academic governance structures, away from traditional, participatory collegial institutions such as faculties,senate and council towards a parallel structure of appointed restructuring committees, ranging from the Academic Planning and Review Committees at faculty levels to the Academic Restructuring Review Committee and the Senior Executive Team at the top. And academic restructuring has encouraged many academics to hold their tongues, despite their deep disagreements with Wits 2001.

At the same time, the pay gap at Wits has widened radically: Bundy earns around R59, 000 a month, the new “executive Deans” who will be appointed in late 2000 will earn corporate-level salaries of maybe up to R500 000 a year, while lecturers in the most profitable courses and faculties seem set to see their pay packets jump.

This is the new face of Wits: a market university that serves the wealthy middle and upper classes, including the black middle class, while excludingworking class people from decent jobs and university education, as well as excluding working class needs from its research and teaching agenda.

Colin Bundy, an ex-Marxist whose appointment was supported by labour and students, has certainly kept his inaugural promise to link Wits to Johannesburg, but this promise has changed into a threat: that of Wits 2001 blending with iGoli 2002 in a neo-liberal recipe for social inequality and polarisation.

(The author is a member of the Concerned Academics Group and Nehawu.)

[Photo + speech]: Prof Lucien van der Walt at fees protests: “Free higher education, complete national liberation,” at “Rhodes” University, 19 October 2015

Speaking at Rhodes, Monday 19 Oct, 2015Personal statement by “Rhodes” University professor Lucien van der Walt:

“Rights are not given from above but won from below. Fight for free higher education as part of the struggle for change and completing the black working class national liberation struggle in South Africa. Move the struggle from individual VCs and universities to confront the neo-liberal capitalist state which has gutted university spending from the 1980s, starting with NP, continuing with ANC.

Existing individual university incomes literally cannot fund the fees. The issue is not to recut a shrinking cake by budget tweaks but to tackle the state that shrinks the cake. Build student-worker-staff alliances, conscious of the revolutionary tasks, as basis for deeper change, a larger transition, working-class driven, for a libertarian (free, anarchist) self-managed system that can complete the struggle against all oppression, exploitation and domination.” ‪#‎feesmustfall‬ ‪#‎nationalshutdown‬ ‪#‎zumamustfall‬ ‪#‎blademustfall‬

JOURNAL [+PDF]: van der Walt, 2001, “Pour une Histoire de l’Anti-impérialisme Anarchiste: ‘dans cette lutte, seuls les ouvriers et les paysans iront jusqu’ au bout’”


Lucien van der Walt, 2001, “Pour une Histoire de l’Anti-impérialisme Anarchiste: ‘dans cette lutte, seuls les ouvriers et les paysans iront jusqu’ au bout’”, Refractions, number 8, (France) pp. 27–38.

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JOURNAL [+PDF]: Byrne, van der Walt, 2015, “Review Article: Worlds of Western Anarchism and Syndicalism: Class Struggle, Transnationalism, Violence and Anti-imperialism, 1870s–1940s”

Sian Byrne and Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “Review Article. Worlds of Western Anarchism and Syndicalism: Class Struggle, Transnationalism, Violence and Anti-imperialism, 1870s–1940s”. Canadian Journal of History / Annales canadiennes d’histoire, volume 50, number 1, pp. 98-123.

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[PHOTO]: Lucien van der Walt, lecturer, addressing rally, in support of mass student protests at University of Witwatersrand, September 2010.

Lucien van der Walt, lecturer, addressing rally, in support of mass student protests at University of Witwatersrand, September 2010. The problem is the system.


ANALYSIS [+PDF]: Sefalafala, van der Walt, 2015, “Building a Mass Anarchist Movement: The Example of Spain’s CNT”

Zabalaza News's photo.

Thabang Sefalafala and Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “Building a Mass Anarchist Movement: The example of Spain’s CNT,” Zabalaza: a journal of southern African revolutionary anarchism, number 14, pp. 25–26.

Text below.

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“BUILDING A MASS ANARCHIST MOVEMENT: THE EXAMPLE OF SPAIN’S CNT”, 2015, Thabang Sefalafala and Lucien van der Walt, in Zabalaza: a journal of southern African revolutionary anarchism, no. 14

The ideas of anarchism have often been misunderstood, or sidelined. A proliferation of studies, such as Knowles’ “Political Economy from Below,” Peirats’ “Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution,” and others, have aimed to address this problem – and also to show that anarchism can never be limited to an ideology merely to keep professors and students busy in debating societies. Anarchists have been labeled “utopians” or regarded as catalysts of chaos and violence, as at the protests in Seattle, 1999, against the World Trade Organization.

However, anarchism has a constructive core and an important history as a mass movement – including in its syndicalist (trade union) form. It rejects the authoritarianism and totalitarianism often associated with Marxist regimes, and seeks to present a living alternative to classical Marxism, social democracy and the current neo-liberal hegemonic order. It rejects both the versions of Marxism that have justified massive repression, and the more cautious versions, like that of Desai in his book “Marx’s Revenge,” which claim that a prolonged capitalist stage – with all its horrors – remains essential before socialism can be attempted. It rejects the ideas that exploitation and oppression are “historical necessities” for historical progress.

The history of anarchism and syndicalism shows that the contrary is true. One of the crucial themes highlighted by recent works in this tradition is that the construction of a mass anarchist and syndicalist movement based on anarchist principles of anti-authoritarianism, equality, freedom, liberty, justice, and democracy is possible – and is something of which ordinary working class and poor people are perfectly capable.

This is wonderfully demonstrated by the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (the National Confederation of Labour) of Spain. It was formed in 1910 in Barcelona, in the Catalonia province of Spain – the country’s industrial hub. The CNT emerged out of difficult social, political and economic conditions that characterised Spain, and grew, despite severe repression, into the 1930s. Embodying the central anarchist principles of individual freedom, cooperation, and democracy, the CNT became the most powerful union – and mass – movement in the country.

Spain was marked by high level of inequality, and a social system that favored the elite; a rightwing Church often operated as an institution of oppression, as did the state. The activities by the CNT were heavily repressed through armed force. State power was continually used to smash working class and peasant resistance; this was essential for the ruling class to maintain their privileges.

Despite these conditions – and in contradistinction to the notion that repression, authority, exploitation, crippling poverty, hunger and misery, as well as wealth and power for people numbering no more than the fingers on one hand, are necessary evils – the CNT provided a practical example of ordinary human beings possessing profound capacities and intelligence. It built a mass union movement that defended and advanced workers’ conditions, that educated millions of people in an alternative worldview, that worked alongside communities against evictions and for lower rents, and that allied with working class, the peasant youth and women fighting for the anarchist cause.

Through its structures, its militancy, its education and its alliances, the CNT helped develop and nurture, on a mass scale, the capacities and innate intelligence of the masses – capacities and intelligence that nullified the need for mastery of the many by an elite. This was demonstrated most dramatically in the 1930s, when the CNT (and the allied Anarchist Federation of Iberia, the FAI, an anarchist political organization linked to it) launched or supported a series of popular rebellions. In 1936, the CNT and FAI helped stop a military coup, unleashing a massive and profound social revolution that saw millions of hectares of land, and vast parts of industry and services placed under worker and community control. Often governed through CNT

structures, the “collectives” were self-managed, highly efficient, and rejected the logic of production for profit; they moved towards the implementation of the maximum programme of anarchist communism.

Unfortunately, failures by the CNT and FAI stalled this programme, and opened the door to its defeat. That said, the CNT’s experience from the 1910s to the 1930s highlights the reality that we are, at this current conjuncture, in fact settling for far less than human beings are capable of creating. It is in the hands of ordinary people to remake the world. This should be remembered in movement building: the CNT model that, following in the footsteps of anarchist luminary Mikhail Bakunin, insisted crisply that “Future social organization must be made solely from the bottom upwards, by the free association or federation of workers,” first local, then finally, “in a great federation, international and universal,” embracing all suffering humanity, and capable of re-making the world into one based on social justice, equality and freedom.

ANALYSIS [+PDF]:van der Walt, 2015, “Self-Managed Class-Struggle Alternatives to Neo-liberalism, Nationalisation, Elections,” ‘Global Labour Column’

arntz09Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “Self-Managed Class-Struggle Alternatives to Neo-liberalism, Nationalisation, Elections,” Global Labour Column, Number 213, October 2015

Text below.



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Introduction by Global Labour Column (GLC) editors: “In this week’s article, van der Walt expresses pessimism against statist Left policies as an alternative to neoliberalism. He advocates a working class Left approach that is freed of the failed statist past and rooted in historical anti-statist, libertarian Left traditions. He argues that statist Leftism is weakened by past crisis and current powerlessness, hence his call for a rebooted Left politics that must centre on self-managed class-struggle and universalism, rejecting notions that nationalisation or political parties can result in fundamental change. Van der Walt discusses, as an example, the bottom-up collectivisation of the anarchist/syndicalist Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939, and its strategic implications. Lucien van der Walt is Professor of Industrial Sociology at Rhodes University, South Africa, works on labour and left history and theory, and is involved in union and working class education and movements. We encourage you to make comments at the end of the article on the website. Till the next column. The GLC editors, Nicolas and Mbuso.”

STARTS: The 1970s-plus rise of neo-liberal policies profoundly destabilised Left currents that sought social change through the state. Old statist roads – the social democratic Keynesian welfare state (KWS), Marxist central planning as exemplified by the Soviet Union (USSR), and post-colonial nationalist import-substitution-industrialisation (ISI) – had some achievements.

But all had, on the eve of neo-liberalism, entered economic and political crises, and inherent flaws. The subsequent neo-liberal victory entailed more than shifts in ideas and policies. These were part of a deeper shift in capitalism that reflected and reinforced the historic failure of statist roads. To follow the old routes today, whether through new Left parties, or efforts to win state elites to defunct policies, is futile.

What is needed is a working class Left approach freed of the failed statist past, resolutely opposed to capitalist and nationalist solutions, and rooted in historical anti-statist, libertarian Left traditions. While the Left remains statist, it is crippled by past crisis and current powerlessness, under intellectual and political siege.

What might this rebooted Left politics involve? It must centre on self-managed class-struggle and universalism, rejecting notions that nationalisation or political parties (or localised projects/ struggles without a clear strategy of radical rupture), can enable fundamental change. As an example, this article discusses the bottom-up collectivisation of the anarchist/syndicalist Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939, and its strategic implications.

Sequence, statism, struggles

It was not neo-liberalism that destroyed the KWS, USSR-type Marxist regimes and ISI. Their failure *preceded and was a precondition* for neo-liberal victory. These systems were wracked by mounting economic problems (stagflation, industrial decline and balance of payment crises, respectively), and popular disaffection (exemplified by the global 1968 revolts).

The implosion of the KWS’s “first world,” Marxism’s “second world,” and ISI’s “third world” arose from deeper processes. Besides massive class revolts, there was a global economic crisis, ongoing globalisation of capital structures, and changing geo-political conditions.

Neo-liberal inequities should not generate nostalgia. The KWS never removed class or other inequality, and involved a massive bureaucratisation of society. USSR-type systems were exploitative state-capitalisms. ISI relied on cheap labour, and labour-repressive regimes.

Nationalisation, used in all three, never ended the fundamental division into classes of order-givers/order-takers, exploiters/ exploited. Hopes of “nationalisation under workers’ control” were illusions.

Neo-liberalism as phase

Neo-liberalism was initially one of several ruling class responses to the 1970s’ implosion. States, regardless of ideology, were waging class war to re-establish profits and power, revealing their true character: institutions of ruling class domination, helmed by economic and political elites.

Neo-liberalism’s striking success, compared to rivals, led to its rapid spread.

This was no post-modern nor post-industrial era, but globalised classic capitalism, akin to the 1870s-1920s’. Economic liberalism once again corresponded to state and capital structures, and immediate ruling class needs.

Working class crisis

Why did the working class and peasantry not use the 1970s to pose systemic alternatives? Because failed statist models dominated Left opinions and organisations. People were trapped between the old i.e. the dying “three worlds,” the new i.e. neoliberalism, and the empty alternatives: the radical Right or the society’s fracture into competing identities.

It is impossible to return to the KWS, USSR or ISI models, out-of-sync with global realities. Variants of neo-liberalism now provide the empty choices of mainstream “politics.”

Historically, elections have rarely led to major policy changes – this is truest today. Where Left parties win elections, e.g. France, 1981, Greece, 2015, they find it impossible to halt neoliberalism.

Left disillusion, falling expectations and millenarianism

Disillusion sees Left aspirations retreating from ambitious change. This is exemplified by mainstream Marxism – Communism – morphing into social democracy (e.g. Kerala) and neo-liberalism (e.g. China), and by “third world” nationalism morphing into crude chauvinism plus neo-liberalism.

Today’s social democratic and nationalist proposals are extremely modest: tinkering with state welfare, Tobin taxes, trade barriers, nationalisation, more “diversity” in management etc.

When adopted by states, these proposals get welded onto neo-liberal capitalism: welfare and tax reforms become pro-capital, nationalisation bails out corporations, “diverse” managers prove equally exploitative etc.

Reforms remain possible, but not on a scale ending neoliberalism. For example, post-apartheid South Africa has managed to expand its state welfare system. But this provides no long-term unemployment coverage, is means-tested and minimalist, with e.g. $30 monthly child support grants for the poorest. Further expansion is blocked by elite accumulation, and future fiscal sustainability is questionable.

Left desperation leads to millenarianism, like “redwashing” Dilma’s Brazil, Li’s China, Castro’s Cuba, Putin’s Russia, and Maduro’s Venezuela, or euphoria over empty spectacles, like Obama’s election.

Progressive projects and theory are also under siege from irrationalist post-modernism and crude identity-based mobilisation – all backed by Establishment forces, despite their rebellious image.

Something missing

Big revolts keep emerging, but without a universalistic, radical Left project, they falter, as with the “Arab Spring.” The only currents shaking the current order are the radical Right, including religious fundamentalists – none offering anything but a graveyard peace.

Unless realistic, appealing, organised Left alternatives are presented, the working class will remain able to *disrupt* neo-liberalism, but unable to transcend it – or will veer Rightwards.

One current hopes alternative institutions, like cooperatives, lead to socialism. Another dismisses decisive mass confrontation with the existing order, on a systematic programme, as “dogmatic” an unnecessary. “Revolution” gets redefined as building “spaces” of daily resistance. Modest acts like skipping work get construed as assaults on capitalism. With “revolution” no longer a desired or decisive rupture – only daily life – larger strategy and theory get dismissed.

Compared to top-down statist and party politics, any stress on building local, democratic relations must be welcomed.

But notions that capitalism, neo-liberal or not, can be slowly, peacefully “exited” or “cracked” through cooperatives, local projects and daily choices are flawed.

Collectives, class-struggle, self-management

The existing order rests upon centralised institutions of exploitation and coercion, states and corporations, not popular consent.

It’s not possible to carve out alternative economies on any substantial scale, involving more than a minority, because ruling classes *already* monopolise key resources.

A truly different order requires real revolution, not small battles, but a final conflict. States and corporations will not go gently; their survival rests on violence and enclosure. Changing the world is not possible without a rationalist strategy and theory that addresses these realities.

Means of administration, coercion and production can only come under collective ownership, and democratic control, through collectivisation and self–management, undertaken from below, by the *popular classes.* Not through states and nationalisation, as the “three worlds” proved, nor through building localised projects or daily resistance as end goals.

This requires accumulating popular *power*: building capacity through universalist, independent, democratic, mass organisations, forged in direct *class-struggles* – and winning these to creating a global, libertarian, stateless socialism, including a realistic appreciation of the tasks. Only as *part* of such a project can co-operatives, projects and daily choices aid revolution.

Building revolutionary counter-power and counter-culture requires rejecting notions that theory is “dogma,” plans “authoritarian” etc. Today’s capitalism is sufficiently similar to earlier incarnations that historic working class experiences and theory – especially the libertarian Left’s – remain valuable.

For example, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist movement, centred by the 1930s on the 2-million-strong National Confederation of Labour (CNT), promoted self-reliance, self-activity, and revolutionary collectivisation. A bottom-up, well-organised yet decentralised union, with a minuscule full-time staff, its influence was even greater than its enrolled membership.

CNT had mass bases in manufacturing, services and mines, but also significant bases in neighbourhoods and villages, plus close links to anarchist youth, women’s, unemployed, rent-strike and propaganda groups, soldiers’ and sailors’ cells. It published dozens of newspapers, including mass-circulation dailies, radio, film, books and leaflets.

In 1936, CNT led the defeat of a military coup by the radical Right. CNT structures then implemented sweeping collectivisation, drawing in other unions. 2 million workers were involved in urban collectives, including 3,000 Catalonian enterprises e.g. public transport, shipping, power, water, engineering, auto, mines, cement, textiles, hospitals. Two-thirds of farmland underwent collectivisation, involving 5-7 million.

The core economy came under efficient worker/peasant self-management through assemblies and committees; capitalist relations were abolished; daily life, including gender relations, changed for millions; production was democratically co-ordinated at industry and regional levels. Power was relocated from state and capital to collectives, congresses and militias.

This was not nationalisation, but *collectivisation,* prepared by decades of patient work. Revolution emerged directly from established mass organisations involved in daily struggles – not spontaneously, nor from cooperatives, nor from the margins.

The CNT had a comprehensive revolutionary programme, including military defence, economic planning, and internationalisation.

This was, however, stalled in an effort to maximise Left unity against the resurgent Right. The cost of unity was suspending the programme, leaving the revolution isolated, collectivisation incomplete. But the CNT’s “allies” turned on it, precipitating the Right’s 1939 victory.


However, the emancipatory aspects of Spain’s Left revolution show self-management as essential weapon in class-struggle, nucleus of a new, better society. The revolution failed by stopping midway, not through excessive ambition.

A renewed Left requires, not nostalgia, nor post-modernism, nor crude identity-based politics, but an overarching vision of a new society, realistic strategy, a working class/peasant focus, and a universalist, modernist outlook. It requires unifying multiple sites and struggles into mass movements, consolidated into democratic organisations, and developing capacities and ideas to defeat *and* supplant ruling classes.

Daily struggles must prefigure the new world, but prefiguration is not enough: radical, systemic change is essential. There is much to learn from historic Left traditions, not least anarchism/syndicalism, and the CNT.


Lucien van der Walt is Professor of Industrial Sociology at Rhodes University, South Africa, works on labour and left history and theory, and is involved in union and working class education and movements.

[RECORDING]: Lucien van der Walt, 21 August 2015, “Classes, Commons, Collectivisation: Labour and the Left” (at “Class, Colonialism and the Commons: The Case of Southern Africa” colloquium: Rhodes University, South Africa). Chaired by Mazibuko Jara (United Front)

SPEECH [+PDF] Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “Working Class Struggle, Blazing a Path to Freedom”

Lucien van der Walt, 2015, “SPEECH: Working Class Struggle, Blazing a Path to Freedom [24 Sept 2012, Heritage Day event, Joza Township, Grahamstown],” Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Revolutionary Anarchism, no. 14, pp. 26-27.

Talk by Lucien van der Walt at 24 Sept 2012, Heritage Day event, Joza Township, Grahamstown

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NOTE: Heritage Day is a post-apartheid South African national holiday; unlike most, it has no clear link to major struggles in the past, although there are efforts to position it as a more “political” day. The talk below was given by Lucien van der Walt at an event organised by Sakhaluntu Cultural Group in Grahamstown, for black youth.fau_book_graphic439_1.jpg

Thank you all for coming. Thank you, chair, for the invitation. Thank you, organisers, for the event today. Today looks like a great day, a great day to look forward.

But before we look forward, we must look back as well. Unless you know where you come from, you will never know where you can go.

This sort of reflection is extremely important to the working class struggle. Heritage Day provides a space to think back, to look back at where we have come from, and to think about where we need to go in future. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved so far, but also on what we still need to achieve in order to secure emancipation.

If we look at that past from the perspective of the working class masses, it’s clear that the past is bittersweet.

It’s bitter: there are many injustices and horrors that we cannot avoid seeing. It’s bitter: there is a long dark night of suffering, dispossession and exploitation that casts its shadow over today. It’s bitter: the past is the time of massacres of the working class, of the repression of unions, of the pass laws, of the Land Act of 1913, of the Bantu Education system, of the imperialist wars against Africans and Afrikaners.

Struggles and Victories

It’s sweet also: the past saw ordinary people, the people on the ground – the working class – rise up and fight for justice, for equality, for our rights: to dignity, to decency, to decide how to run the basics of our lives.

It’s sweet: the time of the mass strikes and uprisings, such as those of 1913, 1918, 1922, 1946, 1960, 1973, 1976, 1983, and 1993. These brought light into the darkness, into the long, dark night of suffering and oppression, where bitter battles were waged for freedom.

It’s sweet: when ordinary people stood together, when the working class united, when the sleeping armies of the exploited, the oppressed, the workers, the poor, woke up, the ground shook. The darkness was driven back.

It’s sweet: every small victory fed the campfires of hope, fanned the flames of resistance and rebellion, moved the people into more action.

1913 saw massive struggles by white as well as black workers for basic rights. 1918 saw the first attempt at a general strike by black workers. Read more of this post


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