The recent wave of student revolt around the world has brought to light the power that students have to challenge oppressive racial and economic regimes.
In South Africa, university students held national mobilizations against tuition increases and for university workers’ rights. They were able to shut down the entire university system, and ultimately force the government to negotiate with them.
In the US, Black students at the University of Missouri have mobilized against violent, anti-Black threats on campus. These students organized with professors and football players to shutdown key parts of the university, and ultimately forced out the school chancellor and president.
Similarly, Black students at Berkeley High School organized a 2000 person walkout in protest of violent, anti-Black threats. This event made national headlines as another moment in the broader #BlackLivesMatter movement
These experiences raise vital lessons for militants to study and learn from. In this vein, we provide below a flier that we produced shortly after the walkout on it’s lessons and possibilities. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Posted in Bay Area Class Struggle, Flyers, Resistance News
Tagged austerity, Berkeley High School, Berkeley Protests, blacklivesmatter, BLM, Mizzou Protests, Police Brutality, race, racism, south africa, Students, walkouts
After the Marikana massacre last August, South African miners rose up, forming self-organized workers’ committees across the platinum belt. This wave of militancy spread into other sectors, first gold and coal, and then eventually transport, dockworkers, and most recently, agricultural workers in the Western Cape. Not since the late 1980s have we seen militant wildcat waves like those that have transpired since August 2012, and for this reason Advance the Struggle engaged in solidarity work with the strikers. From a 150-person rally in downtown Oakland to our work with the South African Miners’ Solidarity Committee, we have consistently pushed this kind of work.
Our comrades Zach and Gerald gave a talk last fall on the history of labor militancy and resistance during and since the end of apartheid, and we continue our educational initiative by promoting the following documentary by two young radical filmmakers from Berkeley, Shweta Kumar and Gabrielle Forte. Their independently produced film Empty Promises explores community mobilization in South Africa’s informal settlements against eviction and failure of service delivery by the local government. The documentary addresses the following questions: Why do community members mobilize? Which factors lead individuals to protest? How do individuals define their aims/objectives? And where do members place themselves in relation to the police and local government?
Kumar and Forte interview activists, leaders, and community members from six informal settlements in Johannesburg and Durban in an attempt to portray the political landscape of post-apartheid South Africa. The film was independently funded and made in collaboration with the Socioeconomic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI).
On Thursday, March 7 at 7 pm, come see the premier of their documentary Empty Promises with both filmmakers in attendance! Admission is only $5, and it all goes down at La Peña Cultural Center at 3105 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Join AS, Kumar, and Forte for another evening of post-apartheid militancy!
You’ve probably heard about the class struggle unfolding over the past few months in South Africa. An unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes has all but shut down much of the mining sector since August, with workers resisting wage cuts, layoffs, and hyperexploitative working conditions. When the South African Police Service massacred 34 strikers in broad daylight, the workers were not deterred; instead of backing off, the strikes spread across the entire mining sector, with iron ore and gold miners joining their platinum mining comrades in struggle against the multinationals that own and profit from these oppressive conditions. Now the struggle has spread into Namibia, Botswana, the Western Cape, and elsewhere, and strikers have self-organized workers’ committees across the platinum belt.
So what does all of this mean for class struggle in South Africa? How are these workers’ committees being organized, and why is this (as the Financial Times recently claimed) potentially the most effective strike wave to hit South Africa since the demise of apartheid?
Mazibuko Jara, a long-time organizer from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and one of the founders of the Democratic Left Front, will be giving two presentations on this new wave of class struggle:
On Thursday, Nov. 15, he will be speaking at a forum organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies at 4 pm (575 McCone Hall). While admission is free, we highly encourage people to make donations to the strike fund for these unprotected workers’ committees. Please give generously; every last dollar will help prolong this struggle.
On Friday, Nov. 15, Mazibuko will be speaking at La Peña in Berkeley (3105 Shattuck Ave) at 7 pm. Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-20, but please give as much as you can: every dollar raised will go to the workers’ committees. Additional donations are highly encouraged.
We hope to see you at one or both events. A luta continua! Forward to a living wage for all workers!
Posted in Event Announcements
Tagged Africa, class struggle, internationalism, labor, marikana, marikana miners, miners, Police Brutality, political repression, south africa, strikes, Unions, workers, workers' committees, working class
My mother was a kitchen girl//My father was a garden boy//That’s why I’m a communist//I’m a communist//I’m a communist! – Popular apartheid-era song still sung today
The recent armed conflicts between miners and police in South Africa are part of a long legacy of class struggle against the capitalist state. Recently we in AS along with our comrades in La Pena 2nd Gen organized a forum to tap some of our comrades’ knowledge on the incredible history of South African working-class resistance, both against apartheid and against the neoliberal African National Congress.
The first presentation “The Birth of the Modern Trade Union Movement in South Africa”, by former Black Panther Gerald Smith, is a very useful initial overview of South African history from a class struggle perspective; it’s also a more specific history and analysis of Black labor militancy in the 1980s under apartheid. Learn something from his dynamic speaking style!
The second presentation, “Social Struggles and the Capitalist State in South Africa since 1994”, by UC Berkeley PHD student Zachary Levenson, focuses on post-apartheid history. Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and describes the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.
Check it out and tell us what you think!
Posted in History, International Labor History, Videos
Tagged Africa, apartheid, black people, class struggle, colonialism, internationalism, labor, Police Brutality, racism, south africa, strikes, Unions, Videos
Artists from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South
With the chorus of ‘eighteen years and we’re still the victim’ this song from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South represents in English and native tongues the hypocrisy of the post-Apartheid regime in South Africa. The African National Congress was a political party central to ending apartheid, making use of political strikes as one of its most powerful tactics. This tactic must be used here in the USA. But without a communist goal, all the best tactics in the world will loop back to capitalism and all its horrors.
Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa under the ANC but its plain to see the dictatorship of capital still reigns supreme. The National Union of Miners has always been a pillar of the ANC, but today they work hand in hand with capitalists to put down workers’ righteous struggle. With our own black president, with our own popular “Democratic” party, and with our own sell-out unions, we in the US feel South African proletarian pain.