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southern africa / community struggles / opinion / analysis Friday June 09, 2017 19:56 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The hope that the end of apartheid would herald a better life for the oppressed in South Africa has evaporated. Their conditions today are materially as bad as under apartheid - and even worse in some cases. But the upper classes are having the time of their lives. Working class struggles should be intensified and linked, based on self-organising and direct democracy to bring about real change.
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international / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Friday May 05, 2017 18:10 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Globally and in South Africa, the capitalist system is becoming more and more unstable. Over the last period, the responses of the ruling classes in many parts of the world to this growing crisis has been a turn to authoritarianism. This has been done to hold onto power and to increase their control over wealth. Factions within ruling classes, in countries such as South Africa, are also engaged in a battle over shrinking opportunities to accumulate wealth. Competition between factions within ruling classes is, therefore, also intensifying. This too is feeding into an intensification of imperialist rivalries. The consequences are that over the last few months the threat of large scale war globally, as part of a show down between imperialist powers, has become an awful possibility. The only force capable of changing this situation is the working class locally and internationally. Yet to do so, struggles need to come together, new forms appropriate to combating a rampant and growing authoritarian form of neoliberalism are needed; and such struggles need to be infused with a revolutionary progressive politics. While struggles are taking place in different parts of the world, none as yet have come to hold these three ingredients on a large scale. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Friday March 31, 2017 20:26 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
In the midst of gorging themselves through exploitation and corruption, competing factions of the flabby ruling class in South Africa (the ruling class being capitalists, politicians and top state officials) have once again stepped into the ring to take pieces out of one another. In the one corner of the fight is the Zuma faction - comprised of sections of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) capitalists, top state officials, and politicians aligned to Zuma - while in the other corner is the Ramaphosa/Gordhan faction - comprised of sections of the ANC leadership such as Ramaphosa and Gordhan, white capital and the South African Communist Party (SACP). These factions have recently been standing toe to toe exchanging blows and in the process, metaphorical blood has been spilled: those of a few Cabinet Ministers, including Pravin Gordhan. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / economy / opinion / analysis Sunday February 26, 2017 03:28 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance of South Africa stood up in the circus that passes itself off as a National Parliament and without any sense of irony what-so- ever declared that the South African state’s budget for 2017 was redistributive and progressive. If the Minister was to be believed, therefore, the budget was aimed at making a dent in the substantial class and racial inequalities that exist in the country. To back this up, supporters pointed out that the tax rate on top earners was raised marginally in the budget and people receiving dividends from shares would have to pay 5% more on these in tax. Despite this, one word could sum up the idea that the budget presented was redistributive and progressive: bullshit. Rather the budget presented by Minister Pravin Gordhan was yet again another attack on the working class. What the budget did was to favour corporations at the expense of the poor. In doing so, it remained based on the neoliberal dogma that has defined South Africa’s post-apartheid politics. In other words, the budget was a vivid demonstration of how the state is an instrument and weapon of the ruling class that functions to benefit that class. This can be seen throughout the budget, including how the state plans to raise money and how it plans to spend it. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Saturday November 05, 2016 22:47 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The battle between Pravin Gordhan and Jacob Zuma has been presented along the lines of a superhero comic. Gordhan, the hero, is portrayed as the last defence against the rampaging villain, vile Zuma. And like all superhero tales Gordhan the good appears to be gaining the upper hand over Zuma the bad – especially since corruption charges have been dropped and the damning Public Protector’s report on state capture has been released.
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southern africa / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Tuesday May 10, 2016 16:41 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Across the political spectrum, individuals and organisations have been expressing their disgust and shock that a faction – indeed a single family, the Guptas – have ‘captured’ the state. Consequently, there have been calls for state ‘capture’ to be ended though firing Zuma.
The Gupta’s offering cabinet posts to politicians, if true, was brazen and corrupt. While the fact that a section of capitalists – in this case a family – have such influence over the state should disgust us; it should not come as a surprise. To understand why, it is important to look at what states are, why they arose, and whose interests they serve. Coupled to this, it is essential to look at a few examples of how the state and capitalism in South Africa have always been defined by cronyism and corruption. read full story / add a comment
international / economy / feature Sunday September 13, 2015 08:46 by Shawn Hattingh 1 comment (last - monday september 14, 2015 03:52) 1 image
It was long ago stated that capitalism came into the world dripping in blood and dirt, from every pore, from head to toe. While it has demonstrated that it won’t simply collapse under its own weight, the recent goings-on around the current capitalist crisis have shown that with age it has become even more hideous. Capitalism is now rank with massive state intervention required to simply keep its rotting body moving: through states propping up the financial sector and deepening the colossal attack on the working class.
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central africa / imperialism / war / opinion / analysis Wednesday April 29, 2015 17:31 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
In the heat of the struggle for statues like that of Rhodes – the arch-symbol of British imperialism – to be pulled down, and in the midst of the horror of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, few people seemed to notice an announcement by Jacob Zuma that South African troops will remain at war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for another year. Of course, Zuma made this announcement on behalf of the South African ruling class – comprised today of white capitalists and a black elite mainly centred around the state, Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and ‘traditional’ royal families. In this there was a real irony that while Rhodes’s likeness was falling from its perch at the University of Cape Town, and immigrants from other parts of Africa and Asia were being attacked because of sentiments stoked up by a rehabilitated relic of apartheid (the Zulu king, Zwelithini), the South African ruling class felt brash enough to say they will be continuing their own imperialist war in the DRC. read full story / add a comment
Karl Marx once said that history repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce. A case in point is that in South Africa sections of the left are once again calling for a mass workers’ party (MWP) to be formed to contest elections – this they believe will bring us closer to revolution. History says otherwise.
Of course the new calls for a MWP stem from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) breaking from the African National Congress (ANC). As an outcome NUMSA is exploring the possibility of setting up a MWP to contest elections. Many Marxist and leftist influenced organisations, but also cadres within NUMSA, are therefore providing reasons why activists should be interested in such a party. read full story / add a comment
Νότια Αφρική (Περιφέρεια) / Λαϊκοί Αγώνες / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Saturday October 04, 2014 20:54 by Shawn Hattingh - Lucien van der Walt 1 image
Ο θάνατος του Νέλσον Μαντέλα συνοδεύτηκε από χιλιάδες άρθρα και εκατομμύρια ανθρώπων τα οποία απέδιδαν σε αυτόν φόρο τιμής. Εξυμνώντας τον σωστά, για την εναντίωση του στον φυλετισμό, την συνεισφορά του στους απελευθερωτικούς αγώνες στην N. Αφρική και για την στάση του ενάντια στο καθεστώς του απαρτχάιντ, το οποίο και τον κράτησε φυλακισμένο για 27 χρόνια. Για μεγάλο μέρος της ζωής του ο Νέλσον Μαντέλα υπήρξε η βασική φιγούρα των απελευθερωτικών αγώνων στην N. Αφρική κατά την διάρκεια των δεκαετιών του 1960, 1970 και 1980.
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mashriq / arabia / iraq / imperialism / war / feature Sunday September 28, 2014 06:13 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
This article highlights how the US state created the conditions in the Middle East in which a right-wing reactionary force like the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) could emerge. Along with this – and central to the article – it discusses how the US state is refusing to back the only two effective forces that are fighting the Islamic State: the Kurdish Workers’ Party and the People’s Protection Units. Indeed, this article is also written to express solidarity with the People’s Protection Units that are currently fighting a key battle against the Islamic State to hold onto the city of Kobani in Syria. [Italiano] read full story / add a comment
mashrek / arabia / irak / imperialismo / guerra / opinione / analisi Saturday September 27, 2014 16:24 by Shawn Hattingh 1 comment (last - saturday october 04, 2014 07:38) 1 image
Le notizie che vanno per la maggiore raccontano le storie degli orrori commessi dallo Stato Islamico (IS) in Siria ed in Iraq ma anche di come gli Stati Uniti vogliano apparentemente mettere fine a questi orrori per ragioni umanitarie. Quello che non viene mai detto dai media privati e di Stato è da dove viene l'IS, quali sono le vere ragioni di questo nuovo intervento degli USA in Medio Oriente, della volontà degli USA di isolare e distruggere le uniche due forze che stanno realmente combattendo contro l'IS: il PKK e le YPG. [English] read full story / add a comment
southern africa / the left / feature Wednesday May 07, 2014 21:28 by Shawn Hattingh & Jonathan Payn 2 comments (last - tuesday may 13, 2014 21:37) 1 image
There has been much hype, amongst the media and sections of the public, in the run up to this year’s provincial and national elections in South Africa and, for some, the arrival of new parties to the electoral arena has renewed their faith in the possibility of an electoral solution to the myriad of problems facing South Africa. Politicians from across all parties have been using this hype and a seemingly renewed faith in the ballot box to their advantage. The question, therefore, is: can equality, socialism, national liberation or ‘economic freedom’ – or even a respite from state violence – for a majority be brought about through parties and activists entering into the state or through voting for parties that promise not to use the state for violent or oppressive means; or will this only lead to a dead-end for the working class yet again? read full story / add a comment
international / economy / opinion / analysis Saturday March 01, 2014 20:49 by Shawn Hattingh 2 comments (last - saturday march 08, 2014 20:36) 1 image
Since 2009 the US state has been undertaking Quantitative Easing (QE), which has involved the US state creating $ 85 billion a month, effectively electronically printing money out of thin air, and linking this to the “purchasing” of paper assets like US government bonds and also more importantly mortgaged backed securities from banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and asset management companies, which lost their value when the capitalist crisis hit hard in 2008. Through this, these financial institutions and banks have been given up to $ 85 billion a month for the last five years. Much of this money has been used by these corporations to increase their speculative activity, including speculating on government bonds sold by the likes of the South African, Brazilian, Argentinean, and Turkish states. Now the US state has been looking to start tapering QE and speculators as a result are exiting these government bond markets. As this article explores it will probably not be the ruling class (capitalists and top state officials) that suffer the worst convulsions associated with tapering, although they may be affected, but the working class in countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Argentina and Turkey. This article examines why and how this could take place, how ruling classes from different countries are trying to protect themselves; and why and how the working class will in all likelihood be worst hit. In order to, however, understand how the class war around QE is unfolding it is important first to look at the role states have played during the crisis, along with the competition that exists between states.
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southern africa / migration / racism / feature Monday December 16, 2013 00:39 by Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt 1 image
Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections on national liberation and South Africa’s transition
Shawn Hattingh and Lucien van der Walt
The destruction of the apartheid state form, with its odious policies of coercion and racism, was a major triumph for the working class in South Africa and elsewhere, showing that ordinary people can challenge and defeat systems that seem quite unbreakable. Mandela did play a heroic role, but was also the first to admit that “It is not the kings and generals that make history but the masses of the people, the workers, the peasants, the doctors, the clergy." And indeed, it was the black working class, above all, that through struggle tore down many features of apartheid by the late 1980s, such as the pass law system, the Group Areas Act and numerous other odious laws and policies.
The 1994 transition in South Africa was a political revolution, a break with the apartheid and colonial periods of state-sanctioned white supremacy, a “massive advance” in the conditions of the majority. It introduced a new state, based on non-racialism, in which South Africa was to be a multi-racial, multi-cultural but unified country, founded on human rights; welfare and social policy and legislation was transformed; capitalism was kept in place, but despite this, there were very massive and very real changes, political and material, that made qualitative differences in the daily lives of millions of black and working class people. And for millions, it is precisely the association of Mandela with that victory and with those changes that makes him so emotionally powerful.
Yet at the same time, Mandela’s policies and politics had important limitations that must be faced if the current quandary of South Africa, nearly 20 years later, is to be understood. Mandela never sold out: he was committed to a reformed capitalism, and a parliamentary democracy, and unified South Africa based on equal civil and political rights, a project in which black capitalists and black state elites would loom large. These goals have been achieved, but bring with them numerous problems that must be faced up if the final liberation – including national liberation – of South Africa’s working class is to be achieved.
The 1994 breakthrough was a major victory, but it was not the final one, for a final one requires a radical change in society, towards a libertarian and socialist order based on participatory democracy, human needs rather than profit and power, and social and economic justice, and attention to issues of culture and the psychological impact of apartheid.
As long as the basic legacy of apartheid remains, in education, incomes, housing and other spheres, and as long as the working class of all races is excluded from basic power and wealth by a black and white ruling class, so long will the national question – the deep racial / national divisions in South Africa, and the reality of ongoing racial/ national oppression for the black, Coloured and Indian working class – remain unresolved. And so long will it continue to generate antagonisms and conflicts, the breeding ground for rightwing populist demagogy, xenophobia and crime. By contrast, a powerful black elite, centred on the state and with a growing corporate presence, has achieved its national liberation.
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international / imperialism / war / opinion / analysis Thursday April 18, 2013 22:56 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
Many people in South Africa were shocked by the death of at least 13 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops when rebels overran their base in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Amongst the public and within the media questions soon started arising around the possible reasons why troops were in CAR to begin with. When it emerged that troops were possibly partly deployed to protect businesses in CAR linked to top African National Congress (ANC) officials, there was widespread outrage. The fact that South African troops were involved in protecting the political and economic interests of wealthy people linked to the South African state in CAR, and other African countries, should perhaps, however, not come as a surprise. Throughout its history, whether during apartheid or post apartheid, the South African state – which is controlled by the ruling class and headed up by members of this class - has been most willing to deploy troops in parts of Africa to protect the political, economic and strategic interests of the South African ruling class.
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southern africa / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Sunday February 10, 2013 00:28 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
The series of strikes and protests that recently took place in and around farms in South Africa’s Western Cape Province was fuelled by the deep-seated anger and frustration that workers feel. On a daily basis, farm workers face not only appalling wages, bad living conditions and precarious work, but also widespread racism, intimidation and humiliation. The extent of the oppressive conditions run deep and it is not uncommon for workers to even be beaten by farm-owners and managers for perceived ‘transgressions’. Indeed, life for workers in the rural areas has always been harsh, but over the last two decades it has in many ways gotten even worse and poverty has in many cases grown. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / workplace struggles / feature Monday September 17, 2012 19:06 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
This article explores, from an anarchist perspective, the sugar industry in southern Africa, and how the two dominant companies - Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett - exploit and oppress workers and communities surrounding their operations. read full story / add a comment
southern africa / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Tuesday September 04, 2012 17:19 by Shawn Hattingh 1 image
While any human being with any sense of justice should be appalled by what happened at Marikana it would, however, be a mistake to view it as an isolated incident that emerged out of the blue. read full story / add a comment
Ελλάδα / Τουρκία / Κύπρος / oικονομία / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Tuesday May 29, 2012 21:03 by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF) 1 image
Καθώς η κρίση στην Ευρώπη έχει ενταθεί, ο ταξικός πόλεμος και ο ιμπεριαλισμός έχουν εμβαθύνει στην Ελλάδα. Πράγματι, η ελληνική εργατική τάξη έχει υποστεί περαιτέρω επιθέσεις σε βάρος της από την τοπική άρχουσα τάξη -που αποτελείται από τους καπιταλιστές και υψηλόβαθμους κρατικούς αξιωματούχους- και τις ιμπεριαλιστικές δυνάμεις. read full story / add a comment