ANC Today attacks anarcho-syndicalism

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Sifuna Zonke
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Sep 17 2007 12:35
ANC Today attacks anarcho-syndicalism

ANC Today: online voice of the African National Congress

Volume 7, No. 36 •14—20 September 2007

http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/anctoday/2007/at36.htm

David in Atlanta
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Sep 19 2007 01:08

hurm, I wonder who the "workerist tendency" they're talking about is?

pgh2a
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Sep 19 2007 02:55
Quote:
By the time the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was founded in 1985, syndicalism, usually termed the "workerist" tendency, was very powerful. Vigorous debates took place within COSATU between the syndicalists and the SACP-aligned "populists" who wanted it to ally with the cross-class nationalist ANC. Although the populists won the argument, syndicalism remained strong within COSATU at the time.
from:
http://www.nefac.net/node/245
syndicalist
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Sep 19 2007 05:00

Interesting stuff, considering that Anarcho-syndicalism is singled out.

It appears to me that this is part of a series written by the late Dumisani Makhaye (who died in 2004) laying out a general state-socialist line within the ANC. In an 2003 ZACF piece on @-infos (http://www.ainfos.ca/03/jun/ainfos00504.html ) it appears he went after some in the SACP as well. Perhaps one of our ZACF comrades can straighten out whether this is one and the same person.

I would be curious to also learn if there's some sort of on-going intra-left & ANC fight going on. The "workerist" attack might be directed at growing worker dissatisfaction with ANC economic policies and the long developing retreat of militancy on the part of COSATU unions.

The below quote by Slovo is revealing in one sense. It showed just how far behind the SACP, its dominated paper trade union SACTU* and the ANC were behind the curve. It appears it was an effort to ring in marxist militants who may also haven fallen prey to workerism.

Quote:
In 1988, Joe Slovo wrote: "The syndicalist notion that trade unions should act as political parties is so discredited that it has few, if any, open adherents. But, from time to time, the notion is introduced through the back door in the shape of policies which would, in practice, allocate such a role to the trade union movement...

"Workers' political leadership must represent the working class not just in economic struggles against the bosses but, more so, in its relation to all classes of society and to the state as an organised force. We stress again that a trade union cannot carry out this role. Only a political vanguard of the working class can do so."

See also: http://as101.subvert.info/archive/display/250/index.php SACP: "Errors of Workerism"

Very interesting.....considering for many years FOSATU* "workerist"unions and the community social organizations (including those black consciousness unions affiliated to NACTU** and community organizations asscoiated with the BCM*) which were, in essence, leading the rebellion against apartheid: in the community and shopfloor. Understanding that the SACP was still underground, it did not have the influence ---of the "vanguard party" --- that those outside the ANC and SACP had. The real "vanguard" were the workerists and community non-party affiliated social activists for many years.

* Hack history: "Organize or Starve-The History of the S.A. Congress of Trade Unions http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/congress/sactu/organsta00.html

** http://disa.nu.ac.za/articledisplaypage.asp?filename=FwJul79&articletitle=What+does+Fosatu+stand+for%3F&searchtype=browse

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Council_of_Trade_Unions (in particular CUSA and Azanian Confederation of Trade Unions)

*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Consciousness_Movement

Mark.
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Sep 19 2007 11:43
Quote:
By the time the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was founded in 1985, syndicalism, usually termed the "workerist" tendency, was very powerful. Vigorous debates took place within COSATU between the syndicalists and the SACP-aligned "populists" who wanted it to ally with the cross-class nationalist ANC. Although the populists won the argument, syndicalism remained strong within COSATU at the time.
from:
http://www.nefac.net/node/245
Quote:
In 1988, Joe Slovo wrote: "The syndicalist notion that trade unions should act as political parties is so discredited that it has few, if any, open adherents. But, from time to time, the notion is introduced through the back door in the shape of policies which would, in practice, allocate such a role to the trade union movement...

At the time I don't think the term "syndicalist" was really being used by the people the ANC and SACP were criticising. It was more of a theoretical term used by SACP ideologists for discussing a tendency in the unions that wasn't following the party line. If I'm wrong about this maybe someone could correct me.

syndicalist
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Sep 19 2007 12:14
Quote:
JH: At the time I don't think the term "syndicalist" was really being used by the people the ANC and SACP were criticising. It was more of a theoretical term used by SACP ideologists for discussing a tendency in the unions that wasn't following the party line. If I'm wrong about this maybe someone could correct me.

My recollection is that it was an on the ground term. The nature of much of the early workerism was akin to revolutionary syndicalism. A look at the 1979 "What Does FOSATU Stand For" http://disa.nu.ac.za/articledisplaypage.asp?filename=FwJul79&articletitle=What+does+Fosatu+stand+for%3F&searchtype=browse would give one a sense that a home-grown syndicalism had developed. Not that I care much for EP Thompson, but he call this sort of development "syndicalism without the syndicalists".

Gotta run.

Flint
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Sep 19 2007 13:26

Congratulations?

David in Atlanta
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Sep 19 2007 14:06

I've been browsing some of the speeches Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary, has been making recently. He's very cautious not to mention names but he's attacking the government for adopting neo-liberal economic policies.
see particularly his Address of the COSATU General Secretary to the SACP 12th Congress

Feyd
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Sep 20 2007 08:02

dumisani makhaye is long dead, thankfully (he was a true anc anti-worker right-winger), so no, i presume this piece was written by the paranoid-delusionals in the anc's political education unit which has a long track record of equating the extra-sacp left with the far right and white capitalist interests. we suspect the anc was shaken by the degree of working class unity and shopfloor militancy displayed by this year's month-long public sector strike. keep an eye out for the next edition of both the zacf's "zablaza" and nefac's "the northeastern anarchist" for an analysis of the strike.

- zacf international secretary
http://www.zabalaza.net