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Tag Archives: Lucien van der Walt

John Holloway

POLITICS AT A DISTANCE FROM THE STATE

A conference titled ‘Politics at a distance from the state’ is being held on 29th and 30th of September 2012 at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

The conference is intended as a space at which academics and activists sympathetic to or supportive of ‘politics at a distance from the state’ can openly and freely explore, discuss and debate this idea and form of politics. The conference arose in the light of the visit later this year to Rhodes University by John Holloway and Jacques Depelchin, both of whom will be in attendance at the conference. The conference seeks to consider anti-statist politics in South Africa and beyond.

Political practices in South Africa, since the end of Apartheid, have been dominated by state-centric forms of politics under the hegemony of the African National Congress (ANC). Although state-centred struggle and the capturing of state power were embedded – as important trajectories – within the anti-Apartheid organizations of the 1970s and 1980s, there was also a pronounced anti-statist tendency that sought to build alternative forms of communality in a pre-figurative way. Of significance in this regard was the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Black trade union movement. In large part, with the de-mobilization of anti-Apartheid struggles in the 1990s and a technocratic, neo-liberal programme pursued vigorously by the ANC state since 1994, anti-statist politics in contemporary South Africa are heavily compromised and marginalised. This form is politics is also rarely discussed in the academia. The conference, in its South African focus, seeks to revisit the struggles of the 1970s and 1980s and, in so doing, to identify and articulate the anti-statist moments inherent in them. Activists centrally involved in the BCM, UDF and trade union movement will be present to facilitate and contribute to these discussions. The three leading academics in South Africa who presently think and theorise about politics at a distance from the state will also be in attendance, namely, Michael Neocosmos, Richard Pithouse and Lucien van der Walt (co-author of Black Flame, 2009). As well, community activists and groups in South Africa supportive of and pursuing ‘at a distance’ politics, such as the shack-dweller movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, will be present.

The conference seeks to locate South African politics in the broader, more global, debates and activism. Academically, John Holloway’s book Change the World without Taking Power (2002) ignited an intense debate a decade ago about emancipatory politics and change; this work though spoke directly to the lived experiences and everyday politics of the Zapatista movement in southern Mexico. His overall critique of state-centred change is not an entirely new argument but his Autonomist Marxist perspective is certainly rich in nuanced insights about the prospects for interstitial revolution today. Jacques Depelchin, the highly esteemed Congolese historian, has – with Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba – tried to rethink politics in the Congo in Africa. The critique of state-centric emancipation has deep roots in Anarchist theory (and practice), and reaches back to the debates between Marx and Bakhunin. Over the last few decades, post-Anarchism (as a ‘fusion’ of Anarchism and post-Structuralism) has emerged (for instance the works of Richard Day and David Graeber), claiming that many of the localized struggles taking place globally have anarchistic principles (such as pre-figuration) embedded within them. Simultaneously, a range of other (often older, ex-Marxist) scholars – in the ongoing light of Paris ’68 – have constantly highlighted the significance of anti-statist politics (beyond ‘the political’) for authentic emancipatory processes. Of particular importance in this regard are Jacques Ranciere and Alain Baidou – it is from the latter that the title for the conference is taken.

Crucial differences exist between the different theoretical and political tendencies highlighted above. But they all share a comment interest in questioning emancipation in and through the state, and in exploring the possibilities and actualities of a lived immanent politics (some call it a living communism) taking place in the interstices of the current capitalist and hierarchical order. It is this shared common interest that forms of the basis for the ‘at a distance’ conference.

The conference is specifically designed for academics and activists with a particular interest in engaging constructively with politics at a distance from the state. This gathering is the first of its kind in post-Apartheid South Africa and it should appeal not only to individuals and groups within South Africa but also to individuals and groups outside South Africa who wish to engage through an interchange of ideas and practices with like-minded academics and activists in Africa.

The format for the conference has yet to be decided upon. But it will be as informal as possible yet very vigorous and engaging. It will entail a number of conversations in which all will equally participate.

For any further information, please contact:
Kirk Helliker, Sociology, Rhodes University: k.helliker@ru.ac.za
Richard Pithouse, Politics, Rhodes University: r.pithouse@ru.ac.za 

**END**

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Anarchism

BLACK FLAME: REVOLUTIONARY CLASS POLITICS OF ANARCHISM AND SYNDICALISM

South African author @ London book event, 10th December: BLACK FLAME: revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism

Lucien van der Walt, of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, will speak on “Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism

Co-authored with Michael Schmidt, also of Johannesburg, ‘Black Flame’ examines the anti-authoritarian class politics of the anarchist/syndicalist movement, and its 150 years of popular struggle on five continents.

An  indispensable conceptual and historical roadmap, with close attention to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, looking at its:
·   Opposition to hierarchy, capitalism and the state
·   Strategy: building revolutionary counter-power
·   History: labour, community, anti-imperialism
·   Agenda: participatory, cooperative economics
·   Revolutions: Mexico, Spain, Ukraine, Korea
·   Revival: today’s struggles

DATE: 2pm, Saturday 10th of December
PLACE: Freedom Bookshop
Angel Alley
84b Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX
Directions:
http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/wp-content/uploads/Freedom-map11.gif

MORE @ http://black-flame-anarchism.blogspot.com

This groundbreaking volume has been praised by reviewers as “deeply impressive”, “fascinating, revealing and often startling”, “a grand work of synthesis”, “remarkable” “outstanding”, “inspired” and “a welcome antidote to Eurocentric  accounts”.
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REVIEWERS SAY:

·   “one of its distinctive contributions is its global scope… their book is brilliant and thought-provoking … a valuable study for activists, students and academics alike…” (Mandisi Majavu, Africa Project for Participatory Society, ‘ZNET’)

·   “deserves to be read by all those on the Left seeking to understand anarchism’s diverse contributions to democratic socialist thinking and practice …” (Devan Pillay, ‘Amandla’)

·   “illustrates the universality of anarchism, which until now, other literature has not done … countless examples of  large movements globally from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and the United States, to South Africa, Egypt, Korea and Japan … Spain, Italy, Russia, the UK and Ireland …” (Mandy Moussouris, ‘South African Labour Bulletin’)

” extraordinary …  succeeds in bringing anarchist ideas into vivid relief in their historical contexts … shows the increasing relevance of an anarchist critique for our own time” (Martin Miller, Duke University, author of ‘The Russian Revolution’, ‘Kropotkin’) 

·   “a fascinating account of the often obscured history of anarchists, their organisations and history. There is much to commend in the book …” (Leo Zeilig, ‘International Socialism’)

·   “the depth and breadth of the research  are impressive, the arguments sophisticated, and the call to organize timely …” (Mark Leier, ‘Labour/Le Travail’)

·   “If you have a passing interest in radical politics, get this book. If you have an interest in anarchism, get this book …” (Deric Shannon, ‘Interface: a journal for and about social movements’)

·   “fascinating, revealing and often startling …” (Alan Lipman, anti-apartheid exile, author of ‘On the Outside Looking In: colliding with apartheid and other authorities’)

·   “useful and insightful …  a  grand work of synthesis  … an excellent starting point…” (Greg Hall, ‘WorkingUSA’)

·   “Brilliant  … outstanding … Do yourself a favour and buy it now!” (Iain McKay, author of ‘The Anarchist FAQ’, volume 1)

·  “considerable scholarship and deep reflection  … remarkable … powerful and lucidly written  …” (Jon Hyslop, University of Witwatersrand, author of ‘The Notorious Syndicalist: JT Bain, a Scottish rebel in colonial South Africa’)

·   “an outstanding contribution   …  unique in examining anarchism from a worldwide perspective instead of only a west European angle …” (Wayne Price, author of ‘The Abolition of the State: anarchist and Marxist perspectives’)

·   “a must for everybody interested in nonauthoritarian social movements … ”  (Bert Altena, Rotterdam University, author of ‘Piet Honig, Herinneringen van een Rotterdamse revolutionair’)
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Michael  Schmidt is a Johannesburg-based investigative journalist/ journalism trainer and activist, with experience in Chiapas, civil war Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Darfur, and Lebanon.

Lucien van der Walt teaches at the University of theWitwatersrand. Winner of the 2008 international ‘Labor History’ dissertation and the 2008/2009 CODESRIA Africa thesis awards, his extensive publications include (with Steve Hirsch) ‘Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940’ (Brill 2010).

 

**END**

 

‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)

 

‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

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‘Cheerful Sin’ – a new song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

 

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The Man in Black

DEBATING ‘BLACK FLAME’

NEW: Lucien van der Walt, “Counterpower, participatory democracy, revolutionary defence: debating ‘Black Flame,’ revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism”

Lucien van der Walt, 2011, “Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence: debating ‘Black Flame,’ revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism,” ‘International Socialism: a quarterly journal of socialist theory’, no. 130 (2011), pp. 193-207, online at: http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=729&issue=130

This article is, in part, a response to criticisms of the broad anarchist tradition in ‘International Socialism’ (ISJ), an International Socialist Tendency (IST) journal. However, it is also an examination of issues like the use of sources in Marxist/ anarchist debates, the historical/ current impact of anarchism/ syndicalism, anarchism and the question of defending revolutions, revolutions and pluralism, anarchism and political struggles and bodies, the Spanish anarchists’ debates on taking power, anarchism’s relationship to democracy, the historical role of Marxism, the role of Bolshevism in the fate of the Russian Revolution, Lenin and Stalin, and the tasks of the 21st century left.

EXTENDED version:
Lucien van der Walt, 7 April 2011, “Detailed reply to ‘International Socialism’: debating power and revolution in anarchism, ‘Black Flame’ and historical Marxism,” 62 pp., online at
http://lucienvanderwalt.blogspot.com/2011/02/anarchism-black-flame-marxism-and-ist.html

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World Crisis

INTERNATIONAL SOCIALISM JOURNAL – ISSUE 130

Now Out

See: http://www.isj.org.uk

Analysis

The return of the Arab revolution
Alex Callinicos

Engels on the power of nature

The return of fear
Iain Ferguson

Tunisia: the people’s revolution
Chamseddine Mnasri

Act One of the Egyptian Revolution
Philip Marfleet

Social media and social movements
Jonny Jones

The origins of the united front policy
John Riddell

The Tories, Eton and private schools
David Renton

I love the sound of breaking glass: the London crowd, 1760-2010
Keith Flett

Feedback

Facing the crisis: the strategic perplexity of the left
Stathis Kouvelakis

Sexuality, alienation and capitalism
Sheila McGregor

Counterpower, participatory democracy, revolutionary defence: debating Black Flame, revolutionary anarchism and historical Marxism
Lucien van der Walt

The social roots of “impairment”
Lee Humber

Book reviews

We want rebel music
Lee Billingham

Natural’s not in it
Martin Empson

State of the union
Chris Bambery

Forgotten famine
John Newsinger

Africa’s opening
Andy Wynne

Pick of the quarter
This quarter’s selection

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ANARCHISM AND SYNDICALISM IN THE COLONIAL AND POSTCOLONIAL WORLD

Book Announcement: Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940
URL: http://labourhistory.net/news/i1012_6.php

“Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940: The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism, and Social Revolution”
Edited by Steven Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt
Preface by Benedict Anderson

Narratives of anarchist and syndicalist history during the era of the first globalization and imperialism (1870-1930) have overwhelmingly been constructed around a Western European tradition centered on discrete national cases. This parochial perspective typically ignores transnational connections and the contemporaneous existence of large and influential libertarian movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Yet anarchism and syndicalism, from their very inception at the First International, were conceived and developed as international movements. By focusing on the neglected cases of the colonial and postcolonial world, this volume underscores the worldwide dimension of these movements and their centrality in anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles. Drawing on in-depth historical analyses of the ideology, structure, and praxis of anarchism / syndicalism, it also provides fresh perspectives and lessons for those interested in understanding their resurgence today.

“Table of contents”

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
List of Contributors

Preface, Benedict Anderson

Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: the colonial and post-colonial experience, 1870-1940, Lucien van der Walt and Steven J. Hirsch

PART ONE: ANARCHISM AND SYNDICALISM IN THE COLONIAL WORLD

“Diverse in race, religion and nationality. but united in aspirations of civil progress”: the anarchist movement in Egypt 1860-1940, Anthony Gorman
Revolutionary syndicalism, communism and the national question in South African socialism, 1886-1928, Lucien van der Walt
Korean Anarchism before 1945: a regional and transnational approach, Dongyoun Hwang
Anarchism and the Question of Place: thoughts from the Chinese experience, Arif Dirlik
The Makhnovist Movement and the National Question in the Ukraine, 1917-1921, Aleksandr Shubin
Syndicalism, Industrial Unionism, and Nationalism in Ireland, Emmet O’Connor

PART TWO: ANARCHISM AND SYNDICALISM IN THE POSTCOLONIAL WORLD

Peruvian Anarcho-Syndicalism: adapting transnational influences and forging counterhegemonic Practices, 1905-1930, Steven J. Hirsch
Tropical Libertarians: anarchist movements and networks in the Caribbean, Southern United States, and Mexico, 1890s-1920s, Kirk Shaffer
Straddling the Nation and the Working World: anarchism and syndicalism on the docks and rivers of Argentina, 1900-1930, Geoffroy de Laforcade
Constructing Syndicalism and Anarchism Globally: the transnational making of the syndicalist movement in São Paulo, Brazil, 1895-1935, Edilene Toledo and Luigi Biondi
Final Reflections: the vicissitudes of anarchist and syndicalist trajectories, 1940 to the present, Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt

More at http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=210&pid=28985

* Please note that this is the hard cover edition. Please consider ordering for your library. It is intended that a paperback follows at some point. 

—END—

‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com