Friday, February 26, 2010

Soweto: "Black Flame" workshop on Class Struggle, Anarchism and Syndicalism, 6 March 2010

Invitation to a workshop on class struggle, anarchism and syndicalism (revolutionary trade unionism) as part of the launch of the book Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism by Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt
We find ourselves at a critical juncture - nearly a million jobs have been lost in South Africa since the onset of global crisis in 2008. The planet is teetering on the brink of environmental collapse. The United States continues to wage war on the world's poorest regions.

The workers' movement remains the key force for defending the popular classes from neoliberal and government onslaughts, and in building a sustainable, egalitarian and just society. If we do not act, we should not complain.

But how? In his Political Report to the 10th Cosatu national congress, Zwelinzima Vavi argued for the need to "Build Marxism" by learning from other left traditions. In particular, he mentioned anarchism as useful for "developing a vision for socialism in the 21st century", laying "the basis for the unity of the left in our country".

Vavi made especial mention of a new book from South Africa: Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, by Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt. This was launched at Wits University last year, at a major gathering of intellectuals, trade unionists, social movement and students activists.

A Soweto launch of this book is being organised by the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) and the Orlando West study circle on anarchism. This will be part of a workshop on class struggle and revolutionary trade unionism on the 6th of March 2010 at 1 pm. Both authors of "Black Flame" will be present to discuss topics covered in the book, and the importance of anarchism for the revolutionary social and political praxis of the workers' movement and the socialist project.

We hereby invite you, or your organisation to send shop-stewards, organisers and rank-and-file delegates to this event, which we have no doubt will prove to be both very informative and inspiring, giving us lots to consider as we set about building a revolutionary workers' movement for the 21st century.

Date: Saturday 6 March, 2010
Time: 13h00
Place: Funda Centre, Soweto

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Black Flame", Cape Town launch, Thursday 11 March, 5:30 for 6:00

The Book Lounge presents the Cape Town launch of 

BLACK FLAME: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism
Lucien van der Walt & Michael Schmidt

'Black Flame' examines the anti-authoritarian class politics of the anarchist/syndicalist movement, and its 150 years of popular struggle on 5 continents. An indispensable conceptual and historical road map, 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

 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".

THURSDAY 11 MARCH 2010 @  5.30 for 6.00

The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland Street (corner of Buitenkant), Cape Town


With thanks to Leopard's Leap Wines.

Please RSVP to /  021 462 2425.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New review, Sean Benjamin, in "Upping the Anti"

A recent issue of Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action (no. 9, November 2009, Toronto, Canada: has a fine (and carefully considered) Black Flame review by Sean Benjamin. Its entitled "Fanning the Flames" (p. 159 onwards). Some quotes:

 "... Schmidt and van der Walt avoid the 'great thinkers' approach to historical research instead focusing on excavating the histories of largely unknown individuals and movements in order to analyze various  strategies  and  tactics  among  these  groups. They  devote less attention to individual thinkers and focus instead on anarchist ideas and the movements they  informed ... "

"While most historical  studies of  anarchism have  focused on Western  Europe  and North America,  Black  Flame counters  this Eurocentric approach. As the authors explain, 'the broad anarchist tradition was an international movement that cannot be adequately understood through the focus on Western anarchism that typifies most existing accounts' (8). Anarchist movements  in Africa, East Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and  (to a  lesser extent) the Middle East are amply documented."

"In recent years, there has been an upsurge in class struggle anarchism, or social anarchism ... In these circumstances,  there  is a need  for a clear and more forceful theoretical statement of principles, and Black Flame serves as an excellent opening statement of the relevance of class struggle  anarchism  in  a  twenty-first  century  context. Whether or not one accepts all of the components of the authors’ analysis
of  the  broad  anarchist  tradition,  this  book  is  an  impressive introduction  to  the  history  of  anarchist  theory  and  anarchist movements.

"It  radically  reframes  the debate over anarchism and how  it  is perceived by both  its advocates and  the world at  large, and successfully argues for anarchism’s relevance in contemporary struggles.  Their  forthcoming  second  volume,  Global  Fire:  150 Fighting Years of International Anarchism and Syndicalism, will focus on the history of the global anarchist movement to complement the theoretical focus of Black Flame. If the second volume is as good as the first, they will stand together as a truly significant contribution to both anarchist theory and history."