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Bill Andrews and South Africa’s Revolutionary Syndicalists

category southern africa | history | opinion / analysis author Dienstag April 05, 2016 18:44author by Lucien van der Waltauthor email tokologo.aac at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Published in Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective, numbers 5/6, p. 24

If W. H. "Bill" Andrews (1870- 1950) is remembered today, it is usually as a founder and leader of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA, today the SACP). In that role, he served as party chair, member of the executive of the Communist International, leading South African trade unionist, visitor to the Soviet Union, and defendant in the trial of communists that followed 1946 black miners' strike.

However, in his earlier years, Andrews was a leading figure in the revolutionary syndicalist International Socialist League (ISL). Born in Britain, Andrews was a skilled metal worker and came from the unions. After a brief stint in parliament for the SA Labour Party, Andrews joined other radicals in the newly-founded ISL in 1915.

In CPSA/ SACP writings, the ISL usually appears as a sort of CPSA-in-the-making, made of solid Marxists. The reality is that the ISL was - like many on the radical left worldwide - part of the broad anarchist tradition: in this case, it championed revolutionary syndicalism. It stressed uniting all workers, black and white, in One Big Union to smash capitalism and the state, and national/ racial oppression, and put the workplaces under direct workers' control.

Andrews worked inside the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) (absorbed many years later into the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, NUMSA), helped run the ISL paper, "The International," and was sent abroad by the ISL to attend a (failed) socialist peace conference in Stockholm in 1917. After his return, he was appointed paid ISL "industrial organiser" to promote revolutionary syndicalism through workers and shop stewards' committees. His major aim then was to form a rebel Witwatersrand Shop Stewards' Council. Although he stressed the importance of winning white workers, then the majority in unions, he actively supported efforts to organise Indian and black African workers and their strikes.

In 1921, like many of his comrades he helped found the CPSA, where he played a leading role despite being expelled from 1931-1938. He passed away in Cape Town in 1950, a grand old man of the Left, and remains an SACP icon.

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author by Alternativa Libertaria/FdCA - Ufficio Relazioni Internazionalipublication date Mi Apr 06, 2016 23:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bill Andrews ed i sindacalisti rivoluzionari in Sud Africa
category southern africa | history | opinion / analysis author Tuesday April 05, 2016 17:44author by Lucien van der Waltauthor email tokologo.aac at gmail dot com Segnalare questo messaggio alla redazione

Pubblicato su Tokologo: Newsletter del Tokologo African Anarchist Collective, numbers 5/6, p. 24

Oggi, W. H. "Bill" Andrews (1870- 1950) viene solitamente ricordato come fondatore e dirigente del Partito Comunista del Sud Africa (PCSA, oggi SACP). In quel ruolo egli fu segretario del partito, membro dell'Esecutivo dell'Internazionale Comunista, dirigente sindacale sudafricano, visitò l'Unione Sovietica, imputato nel processo ai comunisti che seguì allo sciopero dei minatori neri nel 1946.

Tuttavia, agli inizi, Andrews era stato una figura dirigente nella Lega Socialista Internazionale (ISL) di ispirazione sindacalista rivoluzionaria. Nato nel Regno Unito, Andrews era un metalmeccanico qualificato e proveniva dagli ambienti sindacali. Dopo una breve esperienza parlamentare per il Partito Laburista sudafricano, Andrews aderì insieme ad altri radicali alla ISL rifondata nel 1915.

Nella letteratura del Partito Comunista sudafricano, l'ISL appare di solito come una sorta di esperienza propedeutica al partito, composta da solidi marxisti. In realtà la ISL faceva parte- al pari di molte altre esperienze di sinistra radicale in tutto il mondo- della grande tradizione anarchica: in questo caso del sindacalismo rivoluzionario. La ISL puntava all'unità dei lavoratori, neri e bianchi, in un solo grande sindacato per abbattere il capitalismo e lo Stato, l'oppressione razziale e nazionalista, per mettere i posti di lavoro sotto il controllo diretto dei lavoratori.

Andrews aveva lavorato all'interno della Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) (confluita molti anni dopo nel sindacato metalmeccanico sudafricano National Union of Metalworkers of SA, NUMSA), diede una mano a gestire l'organo della ISL, "The International," e venne inviato all'estero dalla ISL per partecipare ad una conferenza pacifista socialista (non riuscita) a Stoccolma nel 1917. Al suo ritorno venne nominato funzionario della ISL nel ruolo di "organizzatore sindacale" per promuovere il sindacalismo rivoluzionario tra tutti i lavoratori e tutti i comitati di rappresentanti sindacali. Il suo scopo principale era quello di formare un Consiglio dei Delegati sindacalista rivoluzionario nella regione di Witwatersrand. Sebbene desse molta importanza alla sindacalizzazione dei lavoratori bianchi, all'epoca in maggioranza nei sindacati, si adoperò attivamente per organizzare i lavoratori neri e quelli di origine indiana nei loro scioperi.

Nel 1921, insieme a molti altri suoi compagni, contribuì a fondare il Partito Comunista del Sud Africa, in cui svolse un ruolo dirigente nonostante l'espulsione subita dal 1931 al 1938. E' morto a Cape Town nel 1950, un grande vecchio della sinistra, tuttora un'icona del SACP.
Lucien Van del Walt
(traduzione a cura di ALternativa Libertaria/fdca - Ufficio Relazioni Internazionali)
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Southern Africa | History | en

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textCPSA veteran Alan Lipman's biography online 22:50 Di 10 Apr by Alan Lipman 0 comments

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa is proud to present an online version of Alan Lipman's autobiography.

imageThe relevance of the ICU of Africa for modern day unions and liberation movements Dez 12 by Warren McGregor (ZACF) 0 comments

The history of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (ICU), formed in South Africa in 1919, is replete with lessons for today's movements. The ICU, which also spread into neighbouring colonies like Basutoland (now Lesotho), Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Southwest Africa (now Namibia) was by far the largest protest movement and organisation of black African and Coloured people of its time. Influenced by a range of ideas, including revolutionary syndicalism, the ICU had both amazing strengths and spectacular failings. This piece explains.

imageOur History of Struggle: the 1980s “Workerist-Populist” Debate Revisited Dez 09 by Warren McGregor 0 comments

Today the terms “populism” and “workerism” are widely thrown about in South African political circles. Often, these terms and others (“syndicalism,” “ultra-left,” “counter-revolutionary,” “anti-majoritarian” …) have no meaning: they are just labels used to silence critics. SA Communist Party (SACP) leaders do this often. But in the 1980s, “populism” and “workerism” referred to two rival positions battling for the soul of the militant unions.

These debates, thirty years on, remain very relevant: let us revisit them, and learn. Today’s radical National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) was part of the “workerist” camp, while its key rival, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was identified with “populism.” The early battles over the direction of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) still echo today, although there is no longer a clear “workerist” camp.

imageThe 1976 Struggle and the Emancipation of the Future Dez 06 by Bongani Maponyane 0 comments

The massacre of South African school children in 1976 – for protesting for instruction in their native languages and for a proper curriculum – continues to be remembered and to influence us today. It showed the brutality of the apartheid state and it left scars still felt by people today.

The challenges faced by youth today are different to that experienced in 1976. This does not mean everything has changed. We need to look to history to learn about and not to repeat mistakes made. But we also look to history to provide us with inspiration. We need to revisit the spirit of the youth of 1976 and copy their courage – to overcome these issues facing our young people today. We need to be the change that we want to see.

imageAnti-militarist United Fronts and Italy’s “Red week”, 1914 Sep 03 by Jonathan Payn 0 comments

The United Front tactic – aimed at uniting masses of workers in action and winning Communist leadership for the working class – was adopted as policy by the Communist International (Comintern) in 1921 and will be discussed later in this series. However, there are important examples of working class unity in action which predate Comintern policy and bear relevance to the united fronts discussion. One often-cited example is the united front to defend the gains of the February Revolution from a military coup in Russia in 1917, which will be discussed in the next article in this series.

Before looking at this, however, there is another example of proletarian unity in action – that didn’t seek to win Communist leadership – which warrants attention; that of a revolutionary worker-peasant alliance. This conception of united front action found expression in Italy’s anti-militarist “red blocs” and it is to these that we now turn.

First published in issue 87 of Workers World News Part 1: NUMSA and the ‘United Front Against Neoliberalism’
Part 3: The 1917 Russian Revolution and United Front
Part 4: United Working Class Action and the Workers’ Council Movement in Germany, 1920-1923

imageRemembering and Learning from the Past: The 1976 Uprising and the African Working Class Jun 18 by Zabalaza 0 comments

This year [2006] marks the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa, which marked the start of the fall of apartheid, and inspired activists worldwide. African working youth played a leading role, and their sacrifices showed us that ordinary people can make a difference to the injustices of our world. Revolutionaries should commemorate this struggle, but also learn from its failings.

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textCPSA veteran Alan Lipman's biography online Apr 10 allied to ZACF (southern Africa) 0 comments

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa is proud to present an online version of Alan Lipman's autobiography.

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