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AUGUST 2013 • • ISSUE #1 • PRICE: R10 - R20 according to means


Anarchists: basically just a bunch of wild-eyed,

angsty teenagers...

in·cen·di·ar·y: (a device or attack) designed to cause fires, e.g., ‘incendiary grenades’ / tending to arouse strife, sedition, etc., e.g., ‘an incendiary speech’ / tending to inflame the senses, e.g., ‘an incendiary extravaganza of music and dance.’

In this issue Walking Reflections on the state of activism in Cape Town. We can’t educate our way out of inequality What would a truly radical education look like? Beyond Bolivaria A critical look at the fetishising of South American socialist leaders by the South African left.

Featured interview: We talk to Biko Mutsaurwa, an anarchist from Uhuru Network in Zimbabwe. + Writing on: radical environmentalism, capitalist realism, Abahlali baseMjondolo, black consciousness and more. + Creative writing | poetry | Art | Events | Book reviews Radical/anarchist views from around the world


A love letter from some anarchists.

The bolo bolo collective contemplate the state of political activism in Cape Town in 2013, exploring the attendant class and race divisions and asking how best we can move forward. “Comrades!” The cheap sound system crackles to life, a shrill, distorted voice piercing the Saturday morning air. “Comrades, we must not march yet. There are five more buses coming.” • Long walk to nowhere


e wait, like untold thousands have waited before us at this square, for another hour, but the buses do not arrive. They never do. Then we march, a thin, mostly red-shirted trail of 500-odd people (although the media will later report us as 2 000 strong), through the streets of Cape Town and towards parliament. The path is lined with riot police whose listlessness matches that of more than a few of the protestors. There’s a sense of dull resignation to the proceedings. A troubling tokenism. The most enthusiastic participants are the white academics – mostly European and American – who run up

and down along the sidelines of the march, tirelessly photographing the proceedings and stopping now and then to make important calls. When we arrive at parliament the gates are closed, as they always are on a Saturday. Undeterred, one of the leaders reads aloud our memorandum, with its modest demands and rousing conclusion, and then passes it through the closed gates to a minor official who promises to leave it on the desk of the appropriate member of staff for perusal on Monday morning. Most of us will never see the contents of the memorandum; fewer still will have had a say in them. The symbolic task now accomplished, we gather around the self-appointed vanguard of professional socialists for more speeches. A man dressed like Trotsky – with a beard to match – talks about material conditions and the means of production. Whenever the audience grows restless or an awkward silence descends, a cry and response of “Amandla! Awethu!” is delivered to lift our flagging spirits. More speeches follow, including an angry screed (mostly inaudible through the megaphone) and a message of solidarity from a union leader who drives a BMW. By mid-afternoon, it’s time to head back home. The weather-worn banners and cardboard signs are packed

Welcome to the very first edition of Incendiary Times, a joyous labour of love undertaken by the bolo’bolo collective and collaborators. away and, after a couple of final aluta continua‘s, the buses begin their long drive down the highway while the sunburned Europeans and Americans dissipate into the city to seek out open bars and restaurants.

• Interlude: a leisurely stroll in no specific direction A few months later, a group of largely white middle-class activists will march a similar route to protest against Monsanto. Their banners and costumes will be more colourful and the speeches will sound less like The Communist Manifesto and more like an Alex Jones radio show about secret cabals and Jacque Fresco and the Freeman Movement. Have you seen Zeitgeist? The gathering has the atmosphere of a Waldorf School reunion or an Afrika Burn fundraiser; some reminisce fondly about Occupy Chapman’s Peak. Words like ‘peace’, ‘pacifism’ and ‘we are all one’ are liberally employed. Here there are no academics along the sidelines, although there are a lot more photographers.

• Pacing in circles

Before you read any further, it’s only fair to warn you of something: we’re anarchists! In boldly stating this we realise that we’re jumping in the deep end; although anarchism has been around for over 160 years now (and much longer, if radical anthropologists are to be believed), it has received far less attention than it ought to have and remains largely maligned and misunderstood by people all across the so-called 'political spectrum’. In our own small way we hope to remedy this by exploring anarchist theories and practices and applying them to our contemporary situation–to concrete, everyday life in South Africa and beyond–in as broad and non-sectarian a way as possible. In doing so we also hope that you will see our latest project for what it is: not yet another collection of marketing leaflets from a cultish organisation trying to recruit you into their ranks but love letters, tied to bricks and hurled across the barricades towards the grey facade of spectacle and corporate hegemony that one day, soon, we hope to smash. For us, anarchism entails opposition to capitalism, the state, patriarchy, racism, ableism, speciesism, ecocide and all other relations of hierarchy and domination. In place of these shitty ways of relating to each other and the natural world, we work to create a world of ludic conviviality based upon the principle of equal-liberty and characterised by voluntary social relations of mutual aid and solidarity. If this ethos resonates with you then read on – you might be an anarchist too!

Participate! As an independent, non-commercial project, Incendiary Times comes out as frequently as we can manage or whenever we feel we have something worth saying. If you’d like to contribute content of any kind to future editions–articles, reviews, poetry, art, letters, pressing questions or recipes for revolution–then get in touch with us at:

With a few exceptions (most notably the recent Marikana settlement), this / continued on page 2

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“Our masters have not heard the people’s voice for generations and it is much, much louder than they care to remember.” - Alan Moore

Words in revolt.

This issue’s definition from the CrimethInc Contradictionary*.

pre·fig·u·ra·tion (n)


e must be the trouble we wish to see in the world. Anarchists have long sought to demonstrate the virtues of their vision through prefigurative projects: free food distribution, do-it-yourself health care, collective living arrangements. If only a working model of a better world could be created in microcosm, the thinking goes, everyone who experienced it would become partisans in a revolutionary struggle. Yet in a capitalist society, these experiments can only be carried out at the margins: the dregs making the best of debris. Meanwhile, at the Googleplex, cafés staffed by world-famous chefs offer healthy organic food in all-you-can-eat buffets. Google employees drop their children off at free day-care, avail themselves of free hairstylists and laundromats, take their pets to work, and play Ping-Pong or volleyball on pristine facilities. After they ride in on the free shuttle or park their electrical cars at the charging station, free scooters wait to convey them from one shining example of sustainable architecture to another; they are encouraged to decorate their workspaces however they wish, and whimsical features ornament the campus, including a tyrannosaur skeleton and a rocket ship. Massage therapists remedy their every complaint; a personal lifeguard watches a single swimmer exercising in a swim-in-place pool the size of a bathtub, with different speed settings for water flow. The brightest luminaries in every field are brought in on a daily basis to present free seminars to which everyone is invited—everyone, that is, who produces enough profit to keep a foothold in this city on a hill, and doesn’t flinch at swimming through a sea of blood to hold onto it. If corporations can prefigure a world of abundance more effectively than revolutionaries can, what does that tell us about this strategy? Perhaps that the important thing is not to prefigure utopia—which is already available to the winners of the rat race, albeit intramurally—but rather to prefigure the offensive that would render it accessible to all.


For more definitions, visit www.crimethinc. com/books/contra.html

Arizona police assist Food Not Bombs in prefiguring a world in which everyone has enough to eat.

Walking / continued from page 1

is the tone of activism and ‘radical’ politics in Cape Town in 2013. On the one hand, there are the unimaginative protests led by the usual Leftist suspects: a small gaggle of aging Trotskyist, Marxist-Leninist or, more often, vaguely socially democratic organizations. Donor money is used to bus in the poors and to pay for t-shirts and sound system rental. A tedious, obedient march towards closed gates, peppered with rhetorical and oftentimes grandiose speeches. The specialist organizing clique behind these marches, who write all the memorandums, also analyze the underlying issues in their publications, spilling copious ink on discussions of how many radical possibilities can dance on the head of a tripartite alliance in-between reviews of the latest Žižek book on Hegel and odes to the Bolivarian Revolution (did you know that Chavez once quoted Kropotkin?) These professionals are also the arbiters of legitimacy: for the most part they determine whose voice is to be heard and which issues are worth focusing on. Everything else is at best petit-bourgeois irrelevance, at worst counter-revolutionary. In some sense, this democratic left is a kind of historical reenactment club, a chance for old struggle comrades to wax mythical about the noble working class and a brief respite from their NGO jobs and comfortable senior positions in local unions. There are few people under the age of forty at their talks and workshops, apart from the usual members of the white savior industrial complex who, fresh from overseas, are here to participate in the struggle through the lenses of Tiqqun, or Negri and Hardt, or Alain Badiou (or to lecture other white saviors on how they should be uncritical allies of the fetishised mass of huddled poors). And then, on the other hand, there is the Occupy-inspired concerned citizens group – blindingly white and often disturbingly politically ignorant given that they live in the most unequal society on the planet. Most often their pacifist (some might say pacified) form of activist participation involves sharing Avaaz protests

Printed by the bolo’bolo anarchist collective • we fight and play for a world beyond measure

with each other or liking Facebook pages. They are seldom aware of the struggles of the poor, beyond deriding their protests as violent and counter-productive. …and never the two do meet.

• A dérive If there are grounds for deep cynicism in this admittedly contrived dichotomy, then there is also at least some reason for cautious optimism. Experiments with new creative forms of contestation – like the Marikana settlement occupation and the recent intervention at Open Streets (where members of Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape built a shack in the middle of the festivities to draw attention to their plight) – suggest that people are tiring of stale repetition of the same spent forms and the creativity and festive spirit of the March Against Monsanto, however non-representative its class and race composition, is perhaps a tiny reminder of Deleuze and Guattari’s provocative suggestion that true revolutions have

“In asking new questions, it is vital that we ask them together and that they emerge from practice: we need to experiment with new forms and new content.” the atmospheres of fetes. While not explicit, there’s also an emerging anti-authoritarianism and grassroots spontaneity evident in these actions. Perhaps we’re finally recognising what the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin meant when he observed that “when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called ‘the People’s Stick’.” While Bakunin was referring specifically to authoritarian communist states, we anarchists and autonomists have long known that our means need to reflect our ends: if

we don’t want to be beaten with the people’s stick then, we shouldn’t beat each other with it now. Perhaps most encouragingly, there’s also a growing engagement from younger people, along with a renewed enthusiasm for fresh ideas. A generation after The Struggle, perhaps we’re finally ready to begin looking at more sophisticated forms of radical praxis that aim beyond the old Leftist tropes.

• New maps However cynical, optimistic or wildly unrealistic we are though, it is clear that the time has come to explore new possibilities. As people passionate about creating grassroots radical social change, we need to admit to ourselves that what we have been doing has not been working and that whatever answers we think we have are the result of posing the wrong questions. In asking new questions, it is vital that we ask them together and that they emerge from practice: we need to experiment with new forms and new content. And what would happen if, turning a corner, our two marches met and merged into one? What would happen if middle class organic food enthusiasts joined forces with the people of Marikana settlement to help grow food on their occupied land, or even just acknowledged solidarity with them, in whatever token way? How could our marches against corporate hegemony be strengthened by the radicalism and bravery of those who are used to being on the receiving end of capitalism and the state every day of their lives? What could be achieved if we were willing to listen, for once, to stories of each others’ struggles and the lessons learned from these? What could the radically egalitarian politics of anarchism and anti-authoritarian leftism, slowly but surely spreading across South Africa in their own modest way, contribute to all this, beyond a bunch of dry tomes by dead white European males and hamfisted class analyses from a century ago? Walking, as the Zapatistas say, we ask questions.

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“School has become the world religion of a modernized proletariat, and makes futile promises of salvation to the poor of the technological age.” - Ivan Illich

We can’t educate our way out of inequality Robbyn Banks debunks some of the myths surrounding education and its role in social upliftment, and asks just whose interests current models of education serve.


ost people think they know how to solve the problems of our society. It’s simple: people need to get educated, work hard so that they can go to university, get a job, buy a house and (only then) start a family. Governments and civil society also hold this view, as evidenced by the huge amount of resources pumped into education programs and by government’s fetish for promising job creation. Since getting an education and finding a job helps people get out of poverty, then education and jobs must be the solution to ending poverty, right? In South Africa class inequality is mirrored in the schooling system. It has been said that we have two separate education systems: one dysfunctional (containing the majority of schools) and the other functional (characterised by wealthy, former Model C ‘white’ government schools and private schools). One only has to visit schools from both systems to see the difference. Step into any poor rural school and you’ll likely be confronted with classrooms devoid of desks, books or even teachers, pit toilets with no doors, and an admin office without electricity, let alone a

working computer. The wealthiest schools, on the other hand, will boast fully resourced science labs, theatres with plush red velvet seating, and pristine hectares of sports fields. The difference in learner performance between these two groups is also vast and it is not only because of the difference in the quality of education received. Children attending dysfunctional schools are more likely to come from homes where they do not have access to educational resources (such as television, computers and newspapers), or even water or electricity. They are also more likely to go to school hungry, which affects their ability to learn. It is therefore not enough to pump resources into schools; indeed, increased government spending on education (even when it is properly administered) is not correlated with improved learner performance. What many governments and NGOs fail to realise is that school-focused interventions are unlikely to have any lasting impact if learners and teachers still go home to impoverished communities, with all of their associated hardships, at the end of the school day. The sad truth is, as long as we live in a capitalist society, these impoverished communities will continue to exist and our children will not have access to equal education. This may sound contrary to the promises of the capitalist: that capitalism is good for a country’s economy and is therefore good for the people of that country. The more money we generate, the more schools we can build and the more

jobs we can create so that we can keep on generating money...and so forth. But the sad truth is that capitalism creates inequality; in fact its very existence is dependent upon inequality. This is because there is a finite amount of wealth in the world; in order for me to have more, you must have less. Furthermore, those who start off with more wealth are likely to create even more wealth for themselves, often at the expense of those with less. Those children born into wealthy families will be sent to the best schools, study at the best universities, and land the best jobs. There is very little upward socio-eco-

own limits, but radically changing it would not be in their interests. In addition to the inequality created by capitalism, the schooling system (when it does function) is designed to churn out little capitalists ready to compete in the world of business. Almost as soon as learners enter high school they are encouraged to make subject choices that will ‘set them up for their careers’. Thirteen year-olds can study Business Management, Accounting and Computer Science. Arts subjects are viewed by many parents, schools (and even learners) as cute distractions. School outreach programmes are a voluntary afterthought. No matter what your subject and extra mural choices however, the most important thing is that you excel relative to your peers. And in privileged schools, even sporting and cultural activities are highly competitive (because imagine how good ‘Captain of Netball Team’ will look on your CV!). There is no doubt that good education is correlated with higher income, but this can never be a

“...the truth is that, even with all the good intentions in the world, equal education and opportunity are not possible in a capitalist society.” nomic mobility for people born poor and there is no ‘trickle-down effect’ of wealth. Those who are born on the top tend to stay there with little benefit for those on the bottom. Even if the South African government were efficient and corruption free (yeah right), they would never be able to remove inequality in a capitalist society; it is simply not possible. And they certainly won’t want to smash capitalism – they are too invested in neo-liberal economics, either personally or at a policy level. Our politicians could not travel in fleets of BMWs or collude with big business without capitalism. At most they can reform the current education system within its


reality for all learners no matter how good their schooling. Even if we could magically provide every learner in the country with an excellent education, capitalism cannot provide each one of them with a job. Job opportunities and wealth cannot be expanded indefinitely in a capitalist system which relies on finite resources to survive, which almost all industries in a capitalist society do, either directly or indirectly. The only effective way to address inequality (as with many social problems) is to focus on its causes. Inequality exists because we live in a hierarchical class society where wealth, resources and the means of production are not equally distribut-

It's simple: any time you have a discussion about anarchism with someone, mark off any clichés they spout. See how long it takes you to fill in your sheet!

Go live in Somalia if you like Anarchy so much.

Anarchists are just petit bourgeois white middle-class hobbyists. Unlike us, right, comrade?

Anarchist Catalonia and Ukraine were defeated in war, so this proves Anarchism can’t work. Democratic France being defeated in WW2 doesn’t count.

'Anarchist organisation'? Isn't that an oxymoron?

What have the Anarchists ever achieved? The “Haymarket affair”? Never heard of it.

Who would maintain the roads and gather the garbage?

Why don’t you create your own political party and run in the next elections?

People are too stupid and evil to voluntary work together. They need benevolent leaders to do it for them. What do you mean “who would choose the leaders”?

Who would control the huge corporations if the state didn’t exist? Today they’re perfectly regulated and kept in check by our incorruptible leaders.

You’re a Utopian. Anarchy will never work the way you idealize, unlike Capitalism and the State which work perfectly now.

Future By Design! Resource-Based Economy! Jacque Fresco! Zeitgeist! Anonymou! Isn't my V mask awesome? No, I didn't realise V for Vendetta was written by an anarchist...

You’re not a true anarchist unless you support the rights to private property, capitalism and wage slavery.


Your ethical arguments on how humans should act in an anarchist society makes you as bad as Stalin and Pol Pot. Evil collectivist!

If you oppose Capitalism so much, then why are you still using a computer and the internet, huh? And why do you buy groceries? Hypocrite!

Let’s say tomorrow we magically had an Anarchist society…

An anarchist society doesn’t exist right now, therefore it could never work. No, I don't know how old Capitalism is.

The state is required because humans don’t exercise voluntary organization. Much like shoes are required because our feet lack the callouses one would develop by not wearing shoes.

Whenever your revolutions were attempted, they ended up in brutal dictatorships after a bloody civil war. Unlike all democratic revolutions which were peaceful and never failed.

I demand to know the exact details of an anarchist society of the future. People could easily predict 20th century Capitalism during the 19th.

Humans need hierarchy. All human societies throughout history were hierarchical. ...anthro-what?

Why don’t anarchist start their own communes right now? Just buy the land from the state or capitalists and prove it works. Of course nobody will try to mess with it.

Libertarian Socialism is an oxymoron.

We are all one! -isms are bad! Let's just change the world by reflecting endlessly on ourselves in a non-violent and pacifist way. But quickly, I have a yoga class to get to...

I agree with you, but nothing can ever change, so why bother…

ed, not because people are uneducated. Trying to educate people out of poverty is like treating a symptom to a disease; it may help, but without targeting the cause of the disease, you will never cure it. Education is important, of course, but it needs to change from being focussed on the success of the individual in a capitalist society to being determined by the needs of the community within a classless society. Only then will education help end inequality, but until capitalism is eradicated (or at least until people realise that it needs to be), this will not happen. If we are really passionate about trying to cure the ills of our society through education, we need to take it into our own hands instead of waiting for governments, schools and higher education institutions to reform the current system. We don’t need their resources to educate the adults and children in our communities – all the most important skills for maintaining a free and liberated society are already known to us. Set up free schools. Teach a group of children how to read, or how to write poetry. Ask your neighbour to show you how to grow vegetables and distribute your surplus crops to the community. Give free first aid classes in your community hall. Set up a neighbourhood watch. Teach a friend how to knit and sew. These actions of mutual aid and solidarity may seem small, but they give power to our communities to create change for ourselves, without waiting for an oppressive and ineffective government to make changes for us. Do something now!

Further reading: Books: • • • • • •

Anarchism and Education by Judith Suissa. Capitalism and Education: Struggles for Learning by Jeff Bale and Sarah Knopp. Class Dismissed by John Marsh Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault

Online: •

Toward the Destruction of Schooling by Jan.D. Matthews (http:// anonymous-toward-the-destruction-of-schooling) The Promise of Deschooling by Matt Hern ( Why Not To Trust Your School by Anonymous ( Here I Stand - a speech by Erica Goldson (http://americaviaerica.

Adapted from website.

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‘Today, Western imperialism is the imperialism of relativism, of the “it all depends on your point of view”; it’s the eye-rolling or the wounded indignation at anyone who’s stupid, primitive or presumptuous enough to still believe in something, to affirm anything at all.’ - The Coming Insurrection


ll of this land was once our home. Fertile and rich, we were sustained. We knew the seasons and understood the elements, we could read the stars. Our children knew their kin and shared in our stories. Without shame or judgement they grew; but now no more. This is where I used to live. The wall along the boundary, the garden, the path; the door upon which visitors knock, the hall, the rooms and windows; the ceiling and rafters and roof; the jaded, faded memories of birth and death and life: was once mine but is no more. These walls were once our sanctuary; a habour from the tempests; keeping safe my family who I love most dear; a humble haven against the ravages of the relentless, blustering winds that have swept so much rubbish to these shores: our refuge no more. This grain of sand is now my home. Just a single, tiny grain that contains all of me: my history, my reality, my dreams all contained within this single grain. A single grain that is the mountains and the valleys, the oceans and rivers and the land: a grain so mighty and yet so small in which the seed of my existence was planted and nourished and where I grew; but seemingly no more. My afterbirth lies buried here in this grain with the murdered bones and the miserable torture and indignity and the tragic joy of my ancestors. Now this single, tiny grain once again contains all of my living, all of what is me. I am this land, the air; the mountains and the skies; the sunshine and the moon and the stars

The grain In this poetic piece, Mikey Wentworth reflects on the struggles of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African shack dwellers movement. and the clouds. The bricks, the mortar, the glass and the wood; each a moment carefully constructed. There a smile, or a tear or some laughter; a celebration, mourning, the sound of a baby crying, the final sigh of an elder dying. This grain of sand is all that is left of my birthright. Once a mighty mountain of resistance: now a lone wailing in the distance. Shivering outside, exposed to the estranged elements, dying inside on the sandy wastes of cinderblock tenements. This land is no longer my home. I have been evicted and abandoned, sacrificed for a corporate profit which purchased my vote and my hopes and the dreams of my children who now live here with me in this grain of sand upon which you stand without noticing my suffering. My life and my living became an obstruction: to your views, your plans, your safety and your justice. These walls which were once my home were bulldozed again, burying my plight along with my rights: another District 6, another Sophiatown, another Cato Manor; in the name of a gentrified Woodstock, a Slum Act for Kennedy Road and State corruption in Lenasia.

Bankers and corporations buttering bread for an exclusive banquet to which we were never invited, but are expected to serve: where they discuss the economy and foreign investment between trips to the toilet to make way for yet more gluttonous gorging where you and I are never mentioned except in passing.

who continue to rape and torture, prolonging the suffering of parents who must live so that they can repay all of their debt with interest. State sanctioned suppression and condoned murder; the brutal accomplices of this insecure tenure. And in the end I know that you will also want this tiny little grain that houses me and the misery that is all that remains of our once lofty ideals. This single, tiny grain that is the last vestige of resistance. Woodstock, Schubert Park, Itireleng, Skurweplaas, Mooiplaas, Debonair Park, Thembelihle, Lawley, Ennerdale, Khayelitsha... Abahlali baseMjondolo!

I know that no one speaks about my cupboard that is bare and broken beneath the rubble that was once the walls supporting my roof. The constitution and education is failing because already the children have learned how to mistrust and hate fate; learned that only money can change circumstance and financial success can be attained through criminal gain. A police force skilled in bullying and harassment: supposedly civilized men in uniforms and suits

Mikey Wentworth has been writing poetry and prose pieces since the 1970s. He honed his craft on the streets and in the gutters; in the ghetto and the ghetto hotels; with passion and certifiable insanity. He has written for a wide range of stage productions, documentaries, television and radio pieces, newspapers and magazines and is currently working on his debut novel, entitled ‘A Tale of Extra-Ordinary Madness’ whilst simultaneously co-ordinating an arts project at an underprivileged primary school in the Eastern Cape.

Sakina Grimwood ponders the invisibility of whiteness and what it means to 'not see colour' in a society that is deeply racially divided.



t some point during a conversation a few weeks ago, while confronting the issue of race as the only black person1 in front of a group of white people, a middle-aged blonde lady looked lovingly over at me and said in a soft voice, "Sakina, I know race clearly matters to you, but I really don't see colour." That ended the conversation. Translation: "I don't see the flaw that is your colour."

Printed by the bolo’bolo anarchist collective • we fight and play for a world beyond measure

he Abahlali baseMjondolo (shack wellers) movement grew out of a road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the city of Durban in early 2005.

Having since grown to include branches in Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town and elsewhere, it is currently the largest shack dweller's organization in South Africa and campaigns to improve the living conditions of poor people and to democratize society from below. The movement refuses party politics and boycotts elections. AbM's key demand is that the social value of urban land should take priority over its commercial value and it campaigns for the public expropriation of large privately owned landholdings. Their key organising strategy, according to AbM, is to try to recreate the commons from below through the formation of a series of linked communes. According to The Times, the movement "has shaken the political landscape of South Africa." According to Professor Peter Vale, Abahlali baseMjondolo is "along with the Treatment Action Campaign the most effective grouping in South African civil society." However, the movement has faced considerable repression. You can read more about AbM at:

You can read more of Mikey’s writing on his blog: http://michaelwentworth.

Consciously black, consciously white



Underlying this statement is a subtle assumption that being of colour is something to be pitied, much like being a woman, an animal, an African or disabled is often pitied. As if being black is somehow shameful. More importantly, this statement flies in the face of a basic fact. There are people who are black just like there are people who are white. It is a matter of more or less melanin in a person's body. To deny this, would be to deny a scientific fact as well as our history as humanity in many parts of the world, especially South Africa. To deny colour is to deny slavery, oppression and racism. To deny colour is to deny the reasons so many of us black people, irrespective of class or education, carry low self-esteem. Black bodies were brutalised and degraded. This is fact. The statement made by this friend of mine denies the internal suffering many of us face in a world shaped – to this day – by white men, a suffering not even white men themselves are immune to.

This may seem like a radical statement; it is simply a fact, nothing more, nothing less. bell hooks, an African-American feminist scholar whose work focuses on race and gender, describes the currently dominant paradigm as 'imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy'.2 According to this view, the fundamental tenet upon which human society was established and is still based today turns on a cultural paradigm enforced, violently so, by white men. You do not even need to read between the lines of a history textbook, newspaper, Forbes' list of the richest people in the world or list of the greatest philosophers of all time to see this. The point of acknowledging whiteness and blackness is neither to demonise nor to victimise any race. It is to acknowledge that there are both obvious and subtle ways in which society is still much easier to navigate, not only for men but for white people too. This, ultimately, could allow for open and honest discourse around a new paradigm outside of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The reality, after all, is that any black South African aged 19 or older lived under Apartheid, and people who are younger have also experienced racist treatment or been exposed to racist thought, irrespective of race, after the (official) / continued on page 6

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"The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself." - Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

His enemies say he was a king without a crown, and that he confused unity with unanimity. And in that, his enemies are right. It has been several months since the death of Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, predestined leader of Latin American anti-imperialist resistance to US hegemony, hero of the people, reincarnation of Simon Bolivar and shining beacon of 21st Century Socialism. Already, as it is with all revolutionary leaders, all great men of the people, deification - both in his homeland and in the glowing eulogies of liberal Anglophone leftists - is now practically complete. Indeed, even in death the chief caudillo1 continues to haunt Venezuelan politics; Chávez's party, PSUV (The United Socialist Party of Venezuela - an ingenious merger between various broadly left and social dem-

power in the hands of the 'boligarchy' and violently oppressed resistance? There is, it seems, a dangerous polarisation of opinion in this regard, an ideological clash between the liberal left, who remain almost entirely uncritical of Chávismo and all that it signifies for them (that same feverish dream of a benign state socialism previously signified by Castro and before him by the Soviet Union) and neoliberal sentiment, with its dishonest red scare style caricatures of the supposedly totalitarian regimes of the Bolivarian bloc. Is a more nuanced discussion possible? More importantly, why is the debate so polarised? Why do even near-anarchist thinkers like Chomsky as well as social democrats with communist tendencies – Michael Albert and Amy Goodman, for example – promote such a rosy (and ethically dubious2) view of what are essentially state capitalist projects?

of the millenium or how literacy has more than doubled. Apart from the irony inherent in employing this kind of hamfisted quantitative approach to measuring the complexities and vicissitudes of life in contemporary Venezuela – a market-logic reductionism leftists are usually the first to balk at – it's also the case that much of the underlying data and analyses come directly from the Venezuelan state, or from non-governmental organisations that retain only a dubious independence from the state. Running alongside these econometrics one can also find the occasional glowing comparisons between Chávez and Guerrillero Heroico3, readings that seem to mistake a few radical-sounding reforms and poorly grasped political forms for the stirrings of the revolution; these, in a few exceptionally sad cases, are even bought into by supposed anarchists like the FAU (Federación Anarquista

Beyond Bolivaria Aragorn Eloff takes a critical look at the fetishization of Chávez and '21st century Socialism', moving past the anti-imperialist and neoliberal rhetorics that form the respective poles of popular opinion on Chávismo and electing instead to listen to the groundswell of dissenting voices on the ground in Venezuela.

ocratic factions) will doubtless continue to build a grotesque personality cult around him. Elsewhere in Latin America the so-called 'pink tide' – the Bolivarian pseudo-revolution – continues to wash up against the shores of the popular imagination: Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Evo Morales (Bolivia) and Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) – these are the lesser lights of Bolivarianism.

His enemies say if Napoleon had had a newspaper like “Granma,” no Frenchman would have ever learned of the disaster at Waterloo. And in that, his enemies are right. What are we to make of the myth of Chávez and his regime? Was Venezuela under the PSUV an example of socialism from below – of the decentralization of power and the spread of democracy? Through this man, who grew up in a mud hut and who was as seemingly comfortable discussing Gramsci and Lenin as he was quoting Chomsky or Kropotkin, did Venezuela succeed in warding off encroaching Western interests, uplifting the poor, revolutionizing healthcare and education and sustainably developing its almost entirely oil-centric economy? Or was Chávez a tyrannical dictator who massively centralized

Most important of all, why do so many within the South African left invest so uncritically into this view?

His enemies say he exercised power speaking a lot and listening little, because he was more accustomed to echoes than to voices. And in that, his enemies are right. At first glance it's clear that there's a simplistic 'enemy of my enemy' mindset at work: to the extent that Venezuela is anti-imperialist (and so, for instance, will offer refuge to Edward Snowden, a pro-Ron Paul free market fundamentalist), then any criticism of Venezuelan politics must automatically render one an agent of neoliberalism. If you're not for 21st century socialism then, according to this Cold War-style logic, you must be an apologist for unrestrained capitalism. Echoing this, what you'll find in almost any leftist discussion of Chávez is a little unexplained lip service to 'some residual problems in contemporary Venezuela' or 'a couple of small mistakes along the way' (this may all begin to sound familiar). More often, what is offered is a tedious unpacking of gini coefficients and similar economic measures to bolster arguments around how inequalities have fallen since the turn

Uruguay), who can be found proudly singing the Venezuelan anthem at gatherings, Chávez posters adorning the walls of their ateneos (a close South American equivalent to an autonomous space / infoshop). All that is still needed is the obligatory endorsement by Chomsky, who somehow, through some bizarre cult of identity has become the primary arbiter of left-legitimacy, and the argument becomes unassailable: the Bolivarian Revolution is proceeding apace, Western imperialism and petit bourgeois intellectualism be damned! But Chomsky often gets even the most basic facts about Venezuela wrong4. He has only visited the country briefly for some government-run revolutionary tourism ala Cuba and, like Michael Albert, his experience has consisted primarily of five star hotels, along with some tokenistic sampling of the local working class cuisine (a Chávez favourite, which must make him a noble worker and soldier, right?) and an equally tokenistic sampling of local coops.5 And why does the Chomsky-KleinGoodman Left Liberal Industrial Complex have so little to say on Chávez's cozy relations with autocrats and dictators, including Putin (with whom he collaborated on an

which the system has created through the years and courage is to do what you are scared of. And you experience this. You are leaning against the police and you move forward as you lean. The police is doing everything they can to stop you. Even though you slow down sometimes the sound of the other clashes are whispering in your ear: “we are moving forward”. You are getting excited and you lean again and again. On the final strike you see that the police is retreating, no you see they escape maybe you are living what you have been expecting for a long time.

4 June 2013: WE ARE WINNING! - We have seen the beach beneath the stones we have carried the black flag of the revolution On İstiklal Street, around French Consolate, 200 meters far from police, holding the stones of the beach in one hand and the flag of the revolt in the other you are clshing with the police. A piece of cloth wet with talcid is your gas mask, police is spraying pressured water, throwing gas bombs one and after, you are left in the middle of gas retreating throwing stones you are out of breath smothered, breatheless at that moment somebody run near you, spray water with antiacid on your face, asking “how are you, are you okay?” You are not okay but immediately you get well. You take a stone of the beach in one hand, taking the flag of the revolt in the other. You lean against the barricade with your half breath. Your breath is refreshing with the freedom of rebellion. Because everywhere there is solidarity, this revolt is adorned with solidarity, you fall but you are picked up, they are asking when you are hitching, you boo at the same time when the sound bomb exploded, you hold your breath together when gas bomb comes. When the blocade fades out you sing together and shout out your rebellion. Never ending pressure water, gas and resistance. You got tired sit on a pavement to take a breathe one coming with water in her hand and gives you water another one brings a sandwich. You are not either thirsty or hungry because everywhere the people share, there is no “mine” or “ours” here. Everyone is together. There is no slackness, if you were to fall the one next you would not. There is no crestfallenness, if you were to fall your comrade would not. You are getting rid of the fear

You meet with others on Taksim Square, you are glad to see your loved ones. After hugging each other for a while you start building barricades. Without losing time. The ones with you start to croon a song from 1930’s, the song of Spanish anarchists. You join in. “For bread, justice, freedom everyone to the barricades...” As the song gets louder the barricades are build; with upside down police cars, police buses, barriers of a “looted construction” Let them come, let them come and see the communion and solidarity is increasing. Everyone wants to move away from selfishness from competition. The tables ar opened the tents are erected. A people’s square is being created. There are a few insincere ones but you dont care. Because every moment from everywhere, from Ankara, from İzmir, Antalya, Dersim rebellion. From Athens, Thessaloniki, Paris, Sofia... The news of solidarity are coming. Solidarity is growing, one’s who share are increasing. The revolt is spreading because we are winning. Now, a revolt is telling us about herself a revolt is telling us what we had forgotten. Telling us the importance of communion solidarity organisation and most important of all, freedom. Now the never ending cinder in our hands is glowing with a revolt. Now inside the rebellion we are looking into our shimmering eyes in other words to each other. We are holding each others hands which carry the stones of the beach, hold the flag of revolt, which were burned by the gas bombs. We are hugging each others bodies which are carrying our hearts full of revolution. And although we don’t say it aloud, we say thank you to each other with the happiness of sharing this moment. This is a temporary thank you without being content. Without being content we are waiting for tomorrow side by side from today. The first statement on the uprisings in Turkey written by Devrimci Anarchist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) and originally published in Meydan Gazetesi.

/ continued on page 6

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Page 5

"Every society has the criminals it deserves." - Emma Goldman

/ continued from page 4

end of Apartheid. The ease with which white men in particular navigate through the world, especially in South Africa, is perhaps most visible on the level of material wealth. On a more subtle level, there are innumerable social biases, assumptions and expectations around whiteness and blackness that shape our ways of relating to one another: we prize specific languages, accents, dialects, areas, educational institutions, dress codes, ways of wearing our hair and lovers based on their perceived 'whiteness'. Essentially then, whiteness and blackness, though skin deep, have also shaped psyches and it is possible for someone to be 'white' without their skin being so. The term 'coconut' is not arbitrary in this regard and not merely a matter of defining people who portray the behaviour of a white person whilst not themselves being white; it is

merely a reflection of various complex factors, including the desire to be acceptable. Whiteness has been associated with what is 'right' (the phrase "if you ain't white, you ain't right" comes to mind), whereas Blackness is associated with deviance. Although this dates back to archaic understandings, it is still seen today in far more subtle ways. There may be those who challenge the influence of the dominant culture, but the reality is that for the most part we follow these norms like sheep. Us black women straighten our hair, wear weaves and generally feel – or are made to feel – less attractive the darker our skin. You may have friends who are black regardless whether or not you are black yourself; the question is though, how much do you expect these people to conform to behaviours that embody whiteness? Often, we judge a person's intelligence, worth and abilities on

Beyond Bolivaria / continued from page 5

arms deal worth around R150 billion), Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar Assad? If we want a more detailed view, perhaps we should stop paying so much attention to a clique of tenured Western intellectuals (remembering, of course, to grant event less credence to the rabidly neoliberal US mainstream press) and start listening to the peoples' movements, the grassroots organisations sold out by Chávez, the independent labour organisers, the indigenous and the radicals that have suffered from the double-edged sword of oppression and incorporation.

But his enemies do not say that he was posing for history when he exposed his chest to the bullets when the invasion came; that he confronted hurricanes on equal terms, from hurricane to hurricane; that he survived six hundred thirty-seven assassination attempts; that his contagious energ y was decisive in transforming a colony into a homeland, or that it was not due to a Mandinga spell or a miracle from God that the new homeland could survive ten presidents of the United States, who had each tucked in their napkins to serve it up as lunch, with knives and forks. For far left and anarchist movements in Venezuela, 21st century socialism looks very much like what came before: a wide range of inequalities both exacerbated by and supporting a drive for hypermodernisation based on the extraction and exploitation of energy resources, this in turn supported by a political system based on populist domination and underpinned by military strength. In stark contrast to all the rhetoric, what is experienced by millions of Venezuelans is rampant inflation, currency devaluation (the bolivar was revalued just before Chávez's death, rendering many in vogue economic arguments moot), rising unemployment, labour precarity and the casualisation of the

workforce, service provision crises, education and health systems again in decline, a housing shortage, failing public works, on-going privatization and enclosure of public space and a demagogic approach which pays attention to only the most extreme scarcities experienced by the most desperate people. Although there has been a massive economic boom due to growth in the oil economy (with concomitant growth in GDP, that most useless of measures), the structural causes of poverty remain unaddressed; what are instead promoted are a variety of short-term and largely symbolic palliatives (and yes, successful literacy programmes, the creation of primary medical care units in poor neighbourhoods, some subsidies for basic foodstuffs and, something we in South African can especially relate to, programs for substituting slum huts for houses). If this were not the case then one would be hard-pressed to explain the serious increase in violence during the same period and the continued exclusion of large sectors of society. The speculative Bolivarian bubble, it seems, has either burst already or is rapidly approaching critical size. The more one engages with the anarchists and the independent unions in Venezuela the more it seems as though President Chávez was in fact primarily focused on creating attractive conditions for further foreign corporate investment and economic globalization. Major players in the nominally nationalized Venezuelan oil economy (in reality a collection of mixed business ventures with multinationals, with the government retaining a slightly larger cut), for example, include Petrobras, ChevronTexaco, BP, ExxonMobil, Shell and a variety of other corporate behemoths with known anti-environmental histories and human rights abuses. To these flagships of Empire have been granted concessions to, among other things, heavy crude and natural gas from the Orinoco Belt and the large

superficial markers of what is understood to be better. This is not a matter of blame – instead, it is simply about cultivating awareness of the deeply disturbing fact that most black people have low self-esteem around their blackness and strive for better: the white ideal. I can see that I am, as much as I'd like to think otherwise, no exception to this. It is this recognition that has allowed me to observe my own striving and bring new understanding to the beauty of being black. In saying all of this, we should embrace our diversity. In addition, we should love both that which is white and that which is black in each of us. This statement does not diminish the suffering that black people have historically faced in the world, especially in South Africa. After all, whiteness showed up as a demonic force, violently oppressing countless people over several centuries in this country. Blackness was a victim. It is, how-

ever, ultimately about acknowledgement, not blame. It is only through honest discourse, awareness, and not denying the facts that we can grow beyond our demons and our victims and rest in a place that is love.

off-shore reserves of the Plataforma Deltana. If Venezuela's relationship with the forces of capitalist globalization begins to seem somewhat more servile in light of this, one can at least find some small solace in the fact that there are also a host of regional energy-sector mergers in various stages of development – joint ventures between state oil and mining companies and private Latin American firms that include Petrocaribe, Petrosuramérica and Carbosuramérica. Either way it amounts to puntofijismo6 as usual, especially for the bolibourgeoisie7.

This mad rush to industrialise, much of it forming part of the FTAA-style 'South American Regional Infrastructure Integration Initiative' (IIRSA)13, a huge regional development bank project requiring continued investments and commitments from every country on the continent, has an almost plantation economy logic to it: IIRSA seeks to tie together all the major industrial infrastructure across South America, including transportation routes, water, dams, ports, hydrocarbon pipelines and energy grids, in order to facilitate the massive exploitation and exportation of the continent's vast natural resources, with scant regard for the livelihoods of the workers, the indigenous and the rural poor (does this sound familiar?) As Cesáreo Panapaera, a Yucpa community leader from the mountain region of Tokuko puts it, "They are destroying our farming practices, they are going to destroy our water, and they will end up destroying our lives." Panapaera argues that coal exploitation has already destroyed many rivers, contaminated the air and displaced many farmers and indigenous people from their lands. Not that this should surprise anyone. After all, while the nationalization of resources may appear to be an attractive alternative to the ravages of free market privatization, States, of whatever stripe, have seldom respected the lives of indigenous peoples even when, like Bolivia's Evo Morales, the heads of state are themselves indigenous, dress in traditional garb, eat peasant food and gather with the rural poor to celebrate cultural rites (is any of this sounding familiar?)

“National and international capital headed by oil companies have donned the red beret and sash and advancing with triumphant strides impose their privatization program under the guise of socialism for the 21st century.” - Pablo Hernandez Parra 8 There are serious ecological implications to all this. The fossil fuel economy of the region is framed in terms of sustainable development and the rights of nature and indigenous people, but what emerges when we scratch beneath the surface is rampant over-industrialisation and displacement and a slew of environmentally devastating projects including the grandiose (albeit currently shelved due to the economic crisis) Harvesting Oil for Integration and Life 9 plan that aims to convert Venezuela into the biggest energy supplier of the world10 and entails the construction of continent-wide gasducts, pipelines11, ports and refineries; the expanded exploitation of coal in indigenous territories of the Sierra de Perijá; gold and diamond mining in the Imataca Forest Reserve and the ill-termed Return to the Land/Vuelta al Conuco program that promotes agro-ecology and prohibits the use of GMOs but at the same time “stimulates the planting of large mono-culture plantations like pines trees and African palm, promotes the importation of trans-genetic soy, allows the use of toxic agro-chemicals and advances the construction of petrochemical plants for the fabrication of synthetic fertilizers.”12

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1: The definition of which is the black consciousness, as stated by Steve Biko, being "those who are by law or tradition politically, economically and socially discriminated against as a group in the South African society and identifying themselves as a unit in the struggle towards the realization of their aspirations". ( 2: bell hooks "Rock my soul: black people and self-esteem" (2002). 3: Contrary to popular belief, the large disparities between whites and blacks persist. Since the fall of Apartheid, the wealth held by black households has increased by 169% and by white households in South Africa has increased by 88%. White households still, however, have six times more income than black households. These are findings from the census 2012.

And they don’t say that this revolution, having grown up under punishing conditions, is what it could be and not what it wanted to be. Nor do they say that, to a great degree, the wall between desire and reality was being made higher and wider thanks to the imperial blockade that drowned the development of a Cuban style democracy, that forced the militarization of society and turned it over to the bureaucracy, which has a problem for each solution - the alibis it needs to justify and perpetuate itself.

There are also the continuous oil leaks over thousands of kilometres, the open air petroleum waste beds, the mercury contamination in the headwaters of the Caroni river as a result of the exploitation of gold, the contamination of aquifers and underground waters in the Orinoco Oil Belt, the contamination of agriculture lands and the destruction of marine, terrestrial and bird life from off-shore gas exploitation; all these are easily ignored, as are the lives of the Wayuu, Barí, Yukpa and other peoples. "They were so easy to fool, one might call their triumphalism willful ignorance. When all the delegates came to the Climate Change conference in Tiquipaya, the government simply had to cover up all the sawmills lining the main road from Cochabamba, and nobody asked what was behind the curtain." - Evo's Highway14 How often is this discussed in the papers and gatherings of the international left, save for some token gestures towards the ameliorative potential and dubious anti-authoritarian prospects of a Kovelian eco-socialism15? This is clearly insufficient in the face of the on-going ecocide and displacement taking place – in Venezuela, Bolivia and everywhere, in the service of the global industrial economy. One possible reason for the silence is the widespread assumption that under Chávez such injustices, even when they are so glaringly obvious as to be near impossible to ignore, must nonetheless be impossible given the strong support for direct democracy in the Venezuelan constitution, which enshrines high levels of state support for cooperatives and establishes a framework for community platforms where the poor can voice their grievances and practice people's power. According to political analysts like Rafael Uzcátegui, a longtime Venezuelan anarchist and social justice activist, however, it is more the case that the social movements have been heavily co-opted and have even, in more than a few cases, turned into the government’s first line of defence.

And they don’t say that despite all the grief, despite the aggressions from abroad and the inconsistencies from within, that this suffering but insistently persevering island has generated the least unjust society in Latin American. On paper, the vision of decentralised communal councils and a quarter of a million new coops cannot fail to warm the heart of even the most cynical radical. In practice, however, the top-down implementation of these so-called 'organs of peoples power' has served primarily as an apparatus of capture: geniune grassroots movements are incorporated into the logic of the state bureaucracy, encouraging a relationship of dependency and submission. The communal councils, all of which remain legally, functionally and financially answerable to the State, are essentially a new coat / continued on page 7

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"Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners." - Edward Abbey

When people find out I'm an anarchist, some of the first things they inevitably ask me are: ...but who would take out the garbage? ...but what would we do without police? ...but how would we manage the roads and energy provision and sewage systems? ...but what about lazy people? Us anarchists have always been good at coming up with answers to these kinds of questions and so when people pose them to me, whether disingenuously or not, I'm usually quick to respond: We'd all take out our garbage as we each have an interest in being a part of a thriving, healthy community. We'd look after each other using the principles of restorative justice and communal self-defence if there were no police. We'd use all sorts of decentralized models like federalism and consensus to coordinate our social affairs on whatever scales we decided to organise and collaborate on. We'd have less lazy people in a society that was premised upon empowering and supporting every person to explore their unique individual becomings without judgment, and we wouldn't persecute poets and dreamers for 'wasting' time that could be spent pursuing more 'valuable' or 'responsible' ends. Lately however, I've been asking another question in return: What would our lives look like if we all got to come up with answers to these questions together?

our maps, their territories Because in the world we currently live in, the simple truth is that most of us don't get to have a say. We don't get to propose alternatives or share our answers, however profound, in any kind of meaningful way beyond idle fantasizing and speculation – coffeeshop chatter and internet debate. We have deferred our power and responsibility - or had it taken from us in ways both forceful and insidious - to a set of abstractions that we have reified and which now serve to rearrange every part of our lives in their own codified, hierarchical image, alienating us both from each other and from ourselves from our collective capacity to determine our own trajectories. In the face of all this, the real question we should be asking each other is not how would your ideal world work, but rather, how can we take power back so that we can decide together?

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Page 7

"Is anarchism possible? The failure of attempts to attain freedom does not mean the cause is lost." - Johann Most

Beyond Bolivaria / continued from page 6

of paint on local government and the whole structure resembles nothing more than a top-down charade of participation – not the autonomy of participatory democracy but a much shallower participation in what amounts to little more than the implementation of state policies.16 Trade unions are similarly compromised through this logic of incorporation and the workers council project seems almost purposefully designed to eradicate the threat of small oppositional unions; Chávez went so far as to explicitly threaten striking workers with nullification through inclusion when he told striking transport workers that he would turn them into a cooperative if they didn't call off the strike. And when this doesn't work, unionists can always be killed.17

of a hundred poor peasant families squatting land in a neighbourhood ironically named 'Bolivarian Paradise' (sounding familiar yet?) to the criminalisation of street blockades in the reformed penal code, it is obvious that, as with every post-revolutionary state project, brutal and endemic oppression forms part of a subterranean disciplinary mechanism that allows for the smooth functioning of the spectacle of daily life (...)

And his enemies don’t say this feat was the work of the sacrifice of his people, but it was also the work of the stubborn will and the old-fashion sense of the honour of this gentleman, who always went to bat for the losers, like that famous colleague of his from the fields of Castilla. [18]

Which brings us to the criminally ignored levels of state repression in Venezuela. From the 2010 broadcasting law amendments, the so-called “reform bill for social responsibility on radio and television,” which aimed to clamp down on anti-government criticisms in the media (sound familiar?) to the violent crushing of demonstrations – the El Callao miner protests for example – with rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition (sound familiar?) to the framing of anarchist and libertarian socialist groups in Venezuela as CIA collaborators to the eviction

In short, and no matter where we look, there's a massive disparity between rhetoric and reality. For anarchists, this does not come as a surprise. We've always argued that a genuine people's democracy has to come from below, not from elected representatives with their own economic and power-centric interests. Not only does real people's power come from below, it stays below too, refusing to incorporate itself into any form of bureaucratic abstraction – state, market or otherwise. Until this is acknowledged there will never be a true break from the legacy of capitalist imperialism and the logic of conquest and domination, hierarchy and control. For all his faux communism-lite, his friendliness with autonomous Marxist Antonio Negri and, irony of ironies, his ex-Situationist Minister of Information and Propaganda, Chávez was, in the end, just another macho ex-military populist

Further research:


“In revolution, trade unions must disappear ... trade unions were born with the same poison of the autonomy. The trade unions can not be independent, we should finish with that.” - Hugo Chávez speech at the launch of the PSUV, Caracas, 24 March 2007

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Chomsky as Chávez's clown - Octavio Alberola Anarchism in Latin America in Organise! Issue 80 (http://www. Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle - Rafael Uzcátegui Refuting the Deafs: Chávism and Anarchism in Venezuela - El Libertario Venezuela Behind the Smokescreen - Lorenzo Vidal-Folch Duch El Libertario magazine / website The revolution delayed: 10 years of Hugo Chávez's rule – El Libertario interviewed by Charles Reeve An Anarchist At the World Social Forum – Walker Lane Macho Men and State Capitalism - Is Another World Possible? - Hanna Dahlstrom Venezuela: the myth of "Eco-socialism of the XXI Century" - Maria Pilar Garcia Guadilla The Bolivarian Government Against Union Autonomy - Rafael Uzcátegui Neither mourning nor celebrating: time for social struggles to become autonomous! - Venezuelan anarchist statement on the death of Hugo Chávez (March 4, 2013) Our oil and other tales (film)

1: A caudillo is an authoritarian political military leader. 2: In 2007, when pro- Chávez paramilitaries shot student and anarchist protestors during demonstrations against a public referendum that would have extended welfare and made Chávez president for life, Democracy Now! refused to run the story. 3: A nickname for Che Guevara. 4: For example, Chomsky states that only under Chávez did healthcare become free in Venezuela, whereas according to local anarchists, healthcare has always been free in Venezuela since 1958 or has been, at least, an obligation of the state. Chomsky also falsely claims that Chávez nationalized Venezuela’s oil; oil was nationalized in 1975 and Chávez actually took steps backward with respect to such nationalization. “How can Chomsky commit the same error as some famous intellectuals of the past century, some praising Stalin and some, years later, revering Mao and his “Little Red Book”? They did so because they believed that in Russia and in China they were building the “true communism” and he does so now because he believes that in Venezuela “a new world, a different world” is being created. How can he forget that later all those intellectuals were forced to confess a “mea culpa” for their ideological blindness that prevented them from seeing what was behind the Stalinist and Maoist revolutionary discourse? That totalitarianism, responsible for the death of millions of people, inspired Castro to impose for fifty years a dictatorship in Cuba that Chávez devoutly imitates.” - Octavio Alberola, Chomsky as Chávez's Clown 5: As Rafael Uzcátegui states, "the régime chooses a certain number of sights for sympathis-

leader, a political opportunist who was happy to collude with international capital and the local bourgeoisie even as he sang the praises of Castro and argued for the nationalisation of key industries. Whatever loyalty he may have had towards the people, whatever sincerity and compassion was in his heart, however true his ideals remained, have we not seen enough of these cults of 'revolutionary' leadership? Hasn't this all played out enough times already? Does this not all sound strikingly familiar? Perhaps there's more continuity between colonialism and these fetishized post-colonial, anti-imperialist regimes than we are willing to acknowledge. So why do we continue to uncritically promote the Bolivarian pseudo-revolution in South Africa? Why does the Morales-Chávez-Kirchner-Castro bloc form the horizon of our own utopian political yearnings? Is it perhaps because of the failure of our own post-struggle government, with all its revolutionary communist rhetoric (as muddied and incoherent as the simultaneous state capitalist and pro-privatization rhetoric might render it), to live up to its promises? Have we simply, in a stunning act of disavowal, displaced our misguided hopes onto the Bolivarian revolution as a way of ignoring our own plight, fetishizing a noble socialist other so that we're not forced to confront the fact that the form itself, as the Soviet Union, Cuba, Zimbabwe and so on have so amply demonstrated, in all their different ways, is inherently flawed? The challenge is threefold: a diagnosis, a critique and a renewed (anti-) political project. First, if we are serious about direct democracy, people's power, egalitarianism and all those other old staples of radical discourse – if we really want full commu-

nism—anarchy—and not just tepid social democracy or crypto-Leninist vanguardist 'democratic' socialism – we need to do some serious soul searching in order to locate the exact origins of, and drivers for, the left's fawning adulation of 21st century market socialism, even if that means challenging the ideologically dominant views of Chomsky and friends. Second, we need to engage in a full critique of the operations of these regimes in order to disentangle the rhetoric from the reality; this includes listening to dissenting voices on the ground regardless of any a priori inculcated aversions many might have to listening to anarchists, autonomists and others suffering from the 'infantile disorder' (which is still better, it must be noted, than an infantalising order). Finally, and most crucially, we need to loosen the long stranglehold authoritarian Marxist orthodoxy has had on South African leftist and radical politics, with the result that our forms of political engagement have become increasingly wooden and anachronistic19, even when they are given a new lick of Zizek-coloured paint. In undertaking this challenge we would do well to spend some time familiarising ourselves with the genuinely ecological, genuinely pro-indigenous anti-authoritarian left and anarchist movements in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America and their desire not for a socialism ' from below' (and flowing ever upwards) but a radical horizontalism that has no above or below, simply a together. The changes we need will never be won through elections, regardless how radical the party, nor will they be achieved through military coups, reforms, nationalisation or single issue anti-imperialism, all disavowals and mechanisms of capture and incorporation that serve to neutralise

struggle. Instead, what is required if we are to reach a free and equal society is the fomenting and expansion of the autonomous initiative of the broad masses of society that make up the working class and poor, manifesting in a thousand different ways in a thousand different places. As Venezuelan anarchist group El Libertario says: “we are not, nor do we want to be, contenders for the control of institutionalized power: we are anarchists and we aspire to the disappearance of state power and any other oppressive hierarchical structure. This is not just a profession of faith; our actions here and now mean assuming the commitment to promote and empower the autonomy of any social movement consistent with our ideals....We bet on social movements that build the dynamics for independent action and organization, based on the widest participation on all levels that will allow the formation of different modes of direct action and self-management away from the state’s control or any other instance of oppression; it is the only way to consolidate spaces of freedom, equality and solidarity that will be the seed and support of the future we struggle for... We call for the organisation of manifestations of the genuine desire to be free and equal in every possible space, in solidarity with base-level, independent organisations of workers, women, peasants, indigenous, the young, the cultural sector and all who find themselves socially excluded, in order to begin the search for the emancipation of our society.”20

ers to go and tour round. But this is quite the caricature: they organise international conferences on occupied factories without the participants visiting a single occupied workplace...Celebrities like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Campell come, are led around some barrio under construction for the benefit of the poor, to some co-operatives or to some state farm. Their visits are filmed in order to make propaganda...We know that most people who come here want to see what they expect to see. Like those who visit Cuba. So it all depends on their ideological training. Visitors from more libertarian and critical backgrounds can accept seeing the good and the bad, while those from more traditional Marxist Leninist groups, Guevarists and Maoists, tend to confirm in their heads what propaganda has told them."

ever in The New Petroleum, Gas, and Mining policy (la Nueva Apertura Petrolera,Gasifera y Minera) and made concrete by the issuing of licenses for 35 years with the option of renewing for 30 more to trans-national companies for the exploration and exploitation of these resources. During a ceremony which granted ChevronTexaco one of these licenses, Chávez cheerfully stated: "Welcome to Paraguaná, misters. Somos buenos amigos, buenos socios y buenos aliados de muchas empresas estadounidenses que trabajan con nosotros y cada dia estamos mas alineados en el trabajo." ("We are good friends, good partners, and good allies of many U.S. companies who work with us and every day we are more aligned in our work.")"

quently, these Councils, which are meant to be part of civil society, become dependent on and conditioned by a paternal state. Chávez often uses the ideas of the iconic Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci to explain his policies. Conversely though, Gramsci’s ideas about civil society absorbing the state seem to have been inverted by Chávez to be about civil society being absorbed by the state!

6: According to Wikipedia, puntofijismo “is aimed at preserving Venezuelan democracy by respecting elections, by having the winners of said elections consider including members of the signing parties and others to positions of power in bids for national unity governments, and by having a basic shared program of government. According to others, the pact bound the parties to limit Venezuela’s political system to an exclusive competition between two parties."

11: The Chávez-Lula-Kirchner Project: a mega natural-gas pipeline that will span 12.000 kilometers, extending its destruction all the way from Venezuela to Argentina,passing through Brazil and Uruguay, irreversibly harming the fragile ecosystems of the Venezuelan Guayana and the Amazonian headwaters. 12: From The Bolivarian Developmente Model in Venezuela: Its Enviromental and Social Impacts by the Society of Friends in Defense of the Gran Sabana.

In short, to borrow a phrase popularized in Argentina in recent years, ¡que se vayan todos! - get rid of all of them! Escualidos21, unite! Somos equalés!

17: In many industries the law obliges the state to give priority of tenders to co-operatives above private enterprises with the result that many people have started creating co-operatives in order to win contracts with government bodies. That as the case with the public roads. Private enterprise is transformed inter a co-operative to win tenders and. at a stroke, workers lose their rights and bonuses. They now have three-month renewable contracts and co-operatives (in reality, the new name for the boss!) has no duties towards them. Thanks to this lie, after a few months it was said that there were 200,000 co-operatives in Venezuela.All this in order to make propaganda showing that society has changed. But it is all artificial, created by decree. the casualisation of work. Also, the 2007 Report of PROVEA states that after Colombia, Venezuela is the country where trade union activity is riskiest.

7: In Venezuela such networks have always been integral to the functioning of society. Initially the Chávistas tried to break with this set-up but in reality there were only minor changes in the structures of bureaucracy and corruption and patronage continued.

13: South American Regional Infrastructure Integration Initiative (IIRSA). This continental-wide project financed by the Andean Corporation Fund(CAF) —one of the largest recipients of financial support from the International Monetary Fund.

8: Parra is an oil expert; this quote is from an article of his on

14: From the online article Evo's Highway, by John Severino.

19: See, for instance, the new WASP party:

9: From The Bolivarian Developmente Model in Venezuela: Its Enviromental and Social Impacts by the Society of Friends in Defense of the Gran Sabana.

15: Joel Kovel is a Marxist and psychoanalyst who focuses on combining Marxism with something similar to social ecology.

20: The crisis in Venezuela by the Editorial Collective of El Libertario

10: Rafael Uzcátegui states that "the open veins of Venezuela are more visible today than

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16: The Communal Councils funds are handed out from government institutions whose directors are handpicked by Chávez. Conse-

18: Excerpts from 'Fidel', first published in Eduardo Galeano's 'Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone'.

21: 'Squalids,' a nickname used by Chávists to describe their opponents.

Page 8

"Anarchism is not a concept that can be locked up in a word like a gravestone. It is not a political theory. It is a way of conceiving life, and life, young or old as we may be, old people or children, is not something definitive: it is a stake we must play day after day: When we wake up in the morning and put our feet on the ground we must have a good reason for getting up, if we don't it makes no difference whether we are anarchists or not." - Alfredo Bonanno

Is there no alternative? Aragorn Eloff interrogates our acceptance of capitalist realism and challenges us to move beyond its false impasse. I heard it again the other day: ‘if

you’re not a socialist by age 19, you have no heart. If you’re not a capitalist by age 29, you have no brain.’

professional career was cut short by his disavowal of academia in 1997 and subsequent ‘disappearance’, but during those few years he produced a singularly provocative body of work that is becoming increasingly influential within the burgeoning speculative realist movement, culminating in the recent publication of the 666 page compilation of his ‘hyperstition’ (Land’s term for his blend of Lovecraftian theory-fiction), Fanged Noumena. As interest in his work grows, Land himself has reappeared in a slightly modified form, filtering his perennial interests in Deleuze and Guattari,

through everything from popular films like Children of Men to the theory du jour of Žižek and Badiou, the symptoms of late capitalism and, more vitally, why there is so little resistance to it. Fisher’s ‘realism’ is the ironic distance of postmodern culture – a weary, ‘nothing too serious’ cynicism that staves off totalitarianism and fanaticism and is also a capitulation to the ‘view from nowhere’ of the market: a perennial Hobbesian each against all. This desensitization to the world results in what Robert Pfaller calls ‘interpassivity’: we collectively acknowledge how our behaviour affects

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us in a cynical way that performs our reaction for us, allowing us to avoid change. For example, the animated films Wall-E and Avatar perform our resistance to the destruction of the natural world, also acknowledging the negative effects this has for each of us. This then leaves us free to destroy the natural world and wallow in the consequences, this all despite the fact that, as Žižek has observed, ‘cynical distance is just one way to blind ourselves to the structural power of ideological fantasy: even if we do not take things seriously, even if we keep an ironical distance, we are still doing them.’ The loss of value caused by this cynical distancing results in a disenchanted world view Fisher calls ‘reflexive impotence’; a tacit acceptance of the impoverishment of capitalist realism that is characterised by ‘depressive hedonia’: the compulsive seeking out of dulling consumer pleasures (comfort foods, mainstream television, video games, narcotics) at the expense of all else, even though there remains a lingering feeling that something important is missing. So how do we resist something so insidious? Neither, according to Fisher, by appealing to sentiment nor by questioning the specifics of capitalist ideology. These critiques are easily absorbed because ‘the role of capitalist ideology is not to make an explicit case for something in the way that propaganda does, but to conceal the fact that the operations of capital do not depend on any sort of subjectively assumed belief.’ What we have to do then is to challenge the very assumption that capitalism is indeed some kind of post-ideological view from nowhere, that it’s ‘just how things are’. In part, we do so by exposing the hypocrisies of its functioning, specifically, how it depends on what it disavows. For instance, says Fisher, observing the effects of the move away from state intervention and towards the neoliberal business model in his native UK, capitalism cannot work without bureaucracy. It also requires constant coercion in the form of marketing, advertising and PR. Additionally, it breeds a generalised malaise – as well as an increase in serious psychological dysfunction (see, for instance, Oliver James’s The Selfish Capitalist) – that runs wholly counter to the happy, healthy, freely exchanging rational subject always presented as the inexorable result of freeing markets. We also need, according to Fisher, to rethink revolutionary politics: we cannot continue to be satisfied with mere reaction but must also move to create alternatives, even if these are merely prefigurative, alternatives to capitalism that challenge its claims of ubiquity and in doing so undermine its hold on our collective imagination. This project might be hard, but at the same time, as Fisher concludes, ‘the long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism.’ Through this hole we can already see some distinctly possible – and socialist, in its best, most radically democratic sense – alternatives.

Page 9

Viva the uprising, viva insurrection! Beauty is found on the streets.

" the long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect."



What fascinates me about this ‘truism’ – and those who spout it – is its sense of utter resignation. Not only are we to regard as peripheral or jejune all the impulses, desires and preferences deemed valuable through their association with the heart, the implication is also that we’re supposed to accept that there is indeed no alternative – that the ‘right’ life consists of a single predetermined trajectory from the youthful sentimentalist folly of socialism to adult capitalist rationalism. This uncritical position has been internalised not just by individuals approaching their 30s, but also by so-called ‘oppositional’ groups like Greenpeace and the WWF, originally set up to challenge the hegemonic ravages of capitalism; they have now accepted the ‘only game in town’ hypothesis, tempering their activism until it amounts to little more than a PR campaign for big business. There is a profound tension here: capitalism (relatively unrestrained market forces, if you prefer) sells itself as the most flexible, effective way to obtain all that we can possibly imagine, beyond any arbitrary limitations imposed by the specificities of time or place…and yet the logic of the market simultaneously permeates everything, until it becomes a kind of view from nowhere, the only way for us to relate to each other and participate in the social and material worlds. The inimitable Deleuze and Guattari say it best in their A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia: capitalism deterritorializes all flows; it allows the exchange of anything and everything to flow freely across the surface of the earth while shunning any traditions, codes or laws that might limit this flow. In doing this, however, a capitalist axiomatic takes hold of and subsumes all our interactions until it seems as though there is no outside to capitalism at all. For Deleuze and Guattari, both socialists of a libertarian strain, this observation, far from inducing despair, merely calls for new tactics, and much of their collective work explores such exotic possibilities for resistance and change as micropolitics, lines of flight, war machines and creating Bodies without Organs. For one of their most adroit interlocutors however, the legendary

renegade philosopher-occultist Nick Land, there is no possibility for resistance – capitalism has become some sort of self-perpetuating, ever-accelerating cybernetic feedback system that, virus-like, infects everything in its path. We should submit to its dark will. Land co-founded the entirely unlikely Cyber Culture Research Unit at the prestigious Warwick University in the mid-90s; their university-funded activities included producing collaged texts of continental philosophers, William Burroughs and binary code, theorising the voodoo / occult underpinnings of markets, composing abrasive electronic music and, ostensibly, consuming inhuman doses of psychedelics as often as possible. Land’s

cyberpunk and chaos magick through the language of the free market. Topics on his new blog include everything from a bizarre concern about peak humans (what do we do once our capacity to create highly dense living spaces exceeds our capacity to increase the human population) to a much more predictable cheerleading of the Singularity. Whether his new work is partly intended as parody or, instead, Land has merely spent so long trawling the voodoo depths of hyper-capitalism that he has simply become a parody of his earlier self, his recent writing perfectly captures the disturbing absurdities that result from taking free market ideology to its radical conclusion while buying into the assumption that there really is no longer an outside. Co-founder of the CCRU, theorist and writer Mark Fisher, challenges all this in his newly-published Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? In Fisher’s words, capitalist realism is ‘the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it’. From this starting point, he proceeds to explore,

"Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has so often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions, which are always straining after higher forms of expression." - Rudolf Rocker


Energy crisis? What energy crisis?

Muna Lakhani of Earthlife Africa explores local environmental issues in this regular column. In this issue, Muna looks at South Africa's flawed energ y policy and traces its political and economic roots.


ne gets so tired of hearing “crisis” everywhere we look, but when you look closely, almost every crisis is rooted in stupidity, the blind following of so-called economists by our leaders and extortion by big business. Take electricity, a popular topic of discussion in South Africa today, remembering that Eskom is a para-statal i.e.100% “owned” by our government (and is therefore ours, or at least in theory). Do you believe that we have an electricity crisis? If so, you have been well and truly made a fool. Claims are often made that countries are run for the benefit of companies, mainly Trans-National Corporations / Multi-National Corporations (TNC’s / MNC’s). Consider this: One company, BHP Billiton, uses nearly 10% of our electricity; they pay 13c to 22c per kWhr when it costs Eskom 41c to generate 1 unit (what was the figure on YOUR last electricity purchase or bill? R1 per unit?). Eskom pays them 75c per unit NOT to use electricity and as if this were not bad enough, BHP Billiton generate only 0.01% of GDP (despite GDP being a poor way in which to measure an economy, more of that later) and only creates 0.005% of jobs in the economy. Is this worth 10% of our electricity? Claims are often made that countries are run for the benefit of companies, mainly Trans-National Corporations / Multi-National Corporations (TNC’s / MNC’s). Eskom’s latest plans to build 9600MW of nuclear power is in-

herently anti-poor (look who lives next to mines) with all its attendant problems of radiation, mining and contaminated water and land. There are also the myths of “safe nuclear power” (the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are but the tips of the iceberg of daily radioactive emissions along the nuclear chain) and long timelines - if we started today, they would be unlikely to come on stream in less than 12 to 15 years. This is even more ludicrous when you consider that in 2010, solar power (PV) became cheaper than nuclear, without any of the massive subsidies that nuclear receives, directly and through environmental and social costs. In fact, all nuclear reactors are only made possible by being underwritten by governments. One of the key advantages of solar and wind power is that they can be deployed in as little as four years, confirmed by the then Acting CEO of Eskom, P.M. Makwana. Adding insult to injury, plans are afoot to build and licence 3 nuclear waste metal smelters, which will smelt radioactive metal with uncontaminated metal, and then release it into our local market. Just this year alone, a company in the USA and in the UK had to recall products as they were radioactive – one being a belt buckle – do you want radiation near your nether region? It seems that government will simply not look at the facts. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013, global electricity generation from nuclear dropped 7% in 2012 in one year, and is down

nearly 12% from 2006's peak. The average construction time of the units that started up between 2003 and July 2013 was 9.4 years and costs have skyrocketed from US$1,000 to US$7,000 per Kw installed. The Vogtle project in the USA was supposed to cost US$660 million, but the latest cost is US$9 BILLION. Uranium, used for fuel, is set to run out sooner rather than later, according to industry sources, and no solution has been found for nuclear waste as of yet. Perhaps the forced “nuclear renaissance” in SA is occurring simply because the estimated budget for the proposed nuclear chain would be over R1 trillion and represents an unparalleled opportunity for corruption, especially if linked to the “secrecy” bill. South Africans are supposed to get 50 free kWhrs of electricity per month, not necessarily applied across the board, and is in fact, being reduced by the City of Cape Town for most beneficiaries. Research by Earthlife Africa shows that for a barely liveable standard of living requires at least 200 kWhrs per month for the average poor home. For Eskom to be able to afford the additional free basic electricity, would mean that the large users of electricity would need to pay

is ms Mecharan d by A nâh Moo

h’ in re used for ‘trut with a t a th s m is n ed echa in a reality imbu order to enterta ose do they serve? Othpurp meaning, what pt to soften the questioning er than an attem in the mind, wandering lost eties voice that echoes ey dull the anxi th , d de en sp ible su ng in timehing to the inta ‘signs’ tc lu C e. nc te is pes; of our ex dreams and ho wisps of ideas, to light a path – for what? To coming together, to calm... To burn away any comfort, to ease sponsibility, of care external semblance of re seeing these lanterns. Evenithin to the desire of eptions of self w– fornc co by d de in ence tually bl tirety, above pres whole, beyond enence of the entirety within getting the presity. Mechanically, almost ritself. Of commun ping out of the horizontal in ualistically, stepvertically inclined ego. order to fuel the


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only 1,5c per kWhr more than they are currently paying, still well below cost of generation. One wonders if this is likely to happen… And what about “expensive, intermittent” renewable energy? Solar and wind power can and do in fact supply reliable industrial baseload electricity, but of course, Eskom does not want to lose their monopoly, so renewables get little government attention. In spite of the ridiculously small portion of renewables “allowed” by government to date, businesses have massively oversubscribed the government quota for renewables energy production, with not one business touching nuclear. Makes you think, doesn’t it? The Medupi (and almost certainly, Kusile) mega-coal fired power stations are already massively over budget at a massive R105 billion (excluding interest during the construction period) making it one of the most expensive coal fired plants in the world.

The only real beneficiaries seem to be the subsidised smelters and other industries, and certainly not ordinary South Africans. Given that the majority of our various industrial production systems produce for export, “cheap” South African electricity is effectively subsidising the lifestyles of the Global North. If anyone still believes that the West and the Global North owe nothing to Africa, that the very lifestyles they enjoy are not at the cost to Africans, or that the various “crises” are not a product of overconsumption by the rich, then their myopia reigns supreme. Muna is a volunteer for activist social and environmental justice organisation Earthlife Africa ( for more than 20 years, and is founder and national co-ordinator of the Institute for Zero Waste in Africa (www.

drive should lose the ividue on y sa to t But ind This is no of individuality. to gain a sense uality’s sake has put the colality for individup on the stake. Fuelled by a lective’s needs ctive system that manipulapowerfully sedu ticeably – instils a subcontively – barely nohidden desire to ‘be better’, scious greed, a more, give less, love less and ‘do better’, earn tion of independence more feel the exhilaraof these mechanisms. A systhrough the use up-realisation, for numerous tem fearful of groes ‘self beyond entirety’ and reasons, promot ition. Conversely, self-real‘healthy’ compet aim of fitting into and benisation with the ecological puzzle calls for efiting the widerof symbiotic relationships. It an appreciation reness that without the other, calls for an awa are lost. in all forms, we

Page 10

" The anarchists are not promising anything to anyone. The anarchists only want people to be conscious of their own situation and seize freedom for themselves." - Maria Grigor'evna Nikiforova

Featured interview:

Biko Mutsaurwa (Uhuru Network, Harare, Zimbabwe) Every issue we ask an anarchist from South Africa or abroad to tell us about themselves, their views on contemporary anarchism, the ways in which they apply anarchist principles in their communities and their hopes and concerns for the future. For this issue, Stefanie Noire and Aragorn Eloff talked with Biko Mutsaurwa, an anarchist and radical hip-hop artist from Zimbabwe.

Background: Biko was born in Harare, in Kazuma township and has stayed in townships all his life. He became an activist in college and joined the Socialist Workers Organization. He worked with them for two years before breaking with their brand of authoritarian socialism in 2005 and joining the Uhuru Network, with whom he has been working ever since. Can you tell us about some of the stuff Uhuru Network does? The permaculture collective was built over the last five years in response to a lack of service delivery. There was recently a huge cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, probably due to lack of provision of clean water, and this affected mostly the working class and poor township residents. Electricity cuts are also a regular thing and public places like community halls have become dysfunctional because of economic decline and the government following the World Bank's advice and cutting spending on social services. So, what the permaculture collective has been doing is reclaiming public space for community gardens. This has become a key program given the fact that many people in townships are HIV positive and have no access to ARV's. The only alternative remedies that are available are herbal medicines and so the collective has been growing these outside community halls and vacant lots in townships, along with vegetables. These are all freely distributed to those who need them. The collective also runs a refuse management program where they sort waste to biodegradable waste and stuff that needs to be sent to recycling plants; the biodegradable stuff is used for composting and organic manure for community gardens. We have also set up two social centers where comrades have been living communally. The mere fact of living in a different type of setup to a traditional family structure cultivates an alternative lifestyle. We see ourselves as, in these social centers, creating an embryo for the counterculture. We think it's a learning experience for comrades who have been living in these centers. The Toyi Toyi Artz Kollective runs a community recording studio. In Zimbabwe, there's only state-owned media: they control the four radio stations and two TV stations, and it's either state newspapers or corporate newspapers. So the Artz Kollective has been producing radio programs that are packaged onto CDs. It's illegal to broadcast in Zimbabwe, but we can argue that radio CDs are really music albums and through this we've been able to disseminate alternative ideas. The media collective has been producing five monthly community newsletters for the five communities we've been working with in Harare and a sixth for Bulawayo. They've been able to do these by taking

advantage of a clause in the media laws that allows for organizations to have internal newsletters that are for members and are not sold. The media collective also trains community members on how to write and publish their own stories, how to film using video recorders and so on. Then we have a collective that focuses on worker's consciousness. Most of the members in that collective are trade unionists and they hold study circles that are also attended by members of other collectives. That's where we cultivate anarcho-communist ideas, in these study circles. Finally, we have a collective that runs a community library from a social center. There are books there for community members to come and borrow and a collection of anarchist books and leaflets. We've been able to attract a number of people into the network through the library. How did you discover anarchism? I was a student radical when the Movement for Democratic Change was at its height and we had very strong branches within the International Socialist Organization. We felt that some of the ideas that we were pushing for in the organization were being disregarded and every time when we were pushed down the argument that was advanced was that of

them, only an ultra-leftist. The opposition movement, however, tends to brand you as unruly, disorderly, a rebel without a cause. They perceive it as chaotic – mere anarchy. So what IS anarchism then? Anarchism to me is the absence of any form of oppression, the absence of hierarchy basically. Wherever there is hierarchy there is someone on top and someone below and, to use the Rasta lingo, whoever is on top is “downpressing” the one who is below. So we're all for equality, horizontal existence, horizontal live-it, to borrow from the Rasta again. Why do you think we need anarchism? If we are to be free and eliminate oppression, poverty and malnutrition, and also if we are to allow everyone full freedom so that we all benefit from everyone's contributions in this life, we need to ensure that no one is oppressed. The faith behind our devotion to anarchy is a faith that stems from the belief in every single individual's uniqueness and in that uniqueness a gift, a special gift to the human society. We feel that past societies have not flourished to the fullest primarily because some of those gifts have been denied the opportunity to manifest. People don't exist in conditions that allow them to offer their gifts to humanity and we be-

the nationalist bourgeoisie and the imperialist forces as a fight between the working classes and the imperialist forces, but there is a marked difference. A concrete example is the mere fact that of the land expropriated from the transnational companies and white farmers in Zimbabwe, the settler farmers, about 90% of that land has gone to the nationalist bourgeoisie and they're farming in exactly the same way the white capitalists did before. It's still capitalist production and, in fact, because of the play at ethnic identity and patriotism, the farm workers under the new black capitalist farmers are worse off than they were when they had white farmers. The union of farm workers is much weaker and much more prone to victimization than it was when it was fighting against the white capitalists. In summary, the land gains of the black capitalist class have left the peasantry and black farm workers worse off - the working class is basically in retreat from the advances of the black capitalist class. Let's talk practical stuff. We'll start with an easy one: how can we bring about an anarchist society? The first task is to raise our levels of consciousness. We've been conditioned by capitalism to think in a capitalist mode, to believe that the society we live in is the only one that can be. The educational process is primary and then beyond that there

"The first task is to raise our levels of consciousness. We've been conditioned by capitalism to think in a capitalist mode, to believe that the society we live in is the only one that can be. " democratic centralism. So we were basically disillusioned by what we perceived as a Stalinist way of running the organization. We realised that we can have one big No! to capitalism but it does not necessarily mean that we have to go back to Stalinist socialism. We therefore started reading about alternatives to capitalism that weren't Stalinist or state capitalist or about building the Revolutionary Party and around 2005/2006 we discovered anarcho-communism, partly through interaction with anarchists from the South African Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation.

lieve that humanity itself can only continue if everyone has a chance to offer their gifts. Otherwise, humanity perishes.

What was the appeal of anarchism for you? For starters, we hadn't been exposed to forms of organizing that acknowledged that we as regular Zim people, who were experiencing these harsh struggles directly, could also have something important to contribute. We felt that within the anarchist forms of organising each of us is respected. Anarchism also appeared to explain the gap we could see between the national liberation struggle, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the need to advance a leftist struggle. It all came together because before that it was either Stalinism or capitalism.

One often hears the charge that anarchism is a Eurocentric import that's irrelevant in an African context. How would you respond to this? Definitely, the term anarchism is from a European language. When we were forming the network, the best we could do in trying to localize it was to translate the meaning of the term and that's when we felt that the word that could replace anarchy in our language, as African people, was “uhuru”. But then again uhuru is not a new word, it's not a word we invented. The very existence of this words from times before, from epochs before, indicates that the dream was alive back then and that, therefore, the dream itself is not Eurocentric. Admittedly, the most solid theoretical formulation of the anarchist struggle were made in the 1800s in Europe, but this is merely because of objective conditions shaping the subjective formulations of people. At that time in Africa the struggle was fighting colonialism and therefore, as one would expect, Africans were preoccupied with formulating a vision beyond colonialism.

What is it like to be an anarchist in Zim? You are able to attack the ruling party from the left and see them unable to respond to your argument. Robert Mugabe and his party ideologues want to paint an image that they are the most radical force in society, but they can't be as radical as anarchists are! So, they can't face up to it and don't know how to respond to you because they tend to think you are one of

National liberation is frequently spoken of in a revolutionary, pan-Africanist context. What are your views on national liberation struggles? For an anarchist to confine their struggle or even to frame it within the nationalist discourse is to contradict themselves to the extent that they are actually shooting themselves in the foot! One can easily be confused if they mistake the fight between

Printed by the bolo’bolo anarchist collective • we fight and play for a world beyond measure

is a deceptive persuasion a lot of people fall into that it cannot be now. I think that we need to move beyond and start living that vision now, becoming the change we seek, changing our patterns of interaction, embodying the ideals and values that we hold dear, challenging the capitalist society at every turn and every twist, whether it be in the workplace whether it be in the community, starting to create organs that hold a different form of power from the power that we are challenging. The combination between these two aspects - our new culture and our new forms of holding power - is in itself an advancement of the anarchist struggle, and all we need to do then is expand until it takes over all facets of human living. Can you talk a bit about some of the ways in which people in Zimbabwe are living the vision now, as you put it? What the Zimbabwean experience has taught us most is that the system of capitalism cannot provide for all the people. The devaluation of the Zim dollar and ridiculous inflation rates led to an absolute collapse of the money system; money as a form of exchange became useless and people had to find alternative ways of sustaining themselves. I remember what made our permaculture project more relevant in our community was that at one point food was a serious problem and so what we called for was for people to come together and utilize land and from then on the food would be shared. Now this was in itself very radical in the sense that people would work together collectively, but it wasn't even new, it was a concept that we borrowed from traditional society called nhimbe - collective work. Of all

the community gardens the permaculture collective helped found, none of the produce was sold to anyone; all the members would come and harvest together. Beyond that there were some families that were very desperate in those times who would receive vegetables all the time from the gardeners. The point here being that one did not have to produce a piece of paper money or to necessarily do a specific activity to benefit from a communal project. The whole arrangement of it defied the capitalist way of doing things because it was driven instead by human need. Those who needed it the most, got those items. You mentioned traditional society and I wonder if you could say a bit more about communal living and traditional African family structures. The African family structure is indeed very broad - it's radically different from the traditional European structure. In the African sense, the word 'cousin' does not exist: either you are my brother or sister everywhere in one generation. The words 'uncle' or 'auntie' don't exist either: you are either my little father or my bigger father, little mama or bigger mama. So it is broad in that sense but it still has a division of labour around sex, so basically in that context a boy like me can grow up and never ever wash a plate or clean the clothes. So there are certain conservative family structures that still perpetuate certain forms of oppression. This is where it radically differs from the social center, from the commune we set up. Basically when I was a student activist and expelled form college I started living in a commune and one time also - I think this played an important role - we had no women living with us. Therefore, male comrades were forced to do the washing and cooking and they developed a love for these art forms, as we now call them. When we noticed this shift, we started engaging our female comrades more seriously and they started participating more in our struggles. Through this we could see that people had changed their outlook with regards to tasks and how to be together. It even affected the way we held conversations - we started using the circle more as a form of being together, and that kind of placed us on an equal footing. It is a difficult thing to move from an African lifestyle that you have been conditioned with your whole life to not only advocate but also to embody the ideas of gender equality. How optimistic are you about reaching an anarchist society? Not in my lifetime but it's the only path. I shudder what to think what it will be like if that doesn't happen: it means Armageddon or the destruction of humanity. It's either freedom or death, and if I wasn't so optimistic I wouldn't devote my life to its pursuit. What can each of us do? I think we need to ensure that it's not only us. In the words of the Black Panther Party, each one teach one. We need to increase the ranks in the anarchist movement and ensure that we learn from the mistakes of the old movement, mistakes that have led to a belief that the anarchist movement is the most disorganised, that the anarchist movement is in disarray because of our reluctance to embrace some kind of organisation. The challenge for the movement today is to concretise the emergence of an anarchist movement on a global level that is also linked to a global network of anarchists, because that's the only way we can bring energies that can destroy the capitalist the movement the capitalist system is the most organised one there is. Thanks Biko! Is there anything else you'd like to add? These are my last words...I couldn't resist saying: FUCK CAPITALISM!

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“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.” - Emma Goldman


Obviating the state by stating the obvious

In this regular column we answer all your gnawing questions about anarchism, anarchy and anarchists, either directly or by sharing classic anarchist texts. If you'd like to ask us something, simply drop a mail to with the subject line anarchy101 and we'll get back to you.

Alfredo Bonanno what are anarchists? 1: Who do anarchists struggle against? Against the State seen as the centralised organisation of power in all spheres (administrative, financial, political, military, etc.) Against government which is the political executive organ of the State and makes all decisions concerning repression, exploitation, control, etc. Against Capitalism which can be considered both as the flux of productive relations in course and individual capitalists, their activity, their projects and their complicity in this form. Against the individual parts that the State and capital are divided into. In other words the police, judiciary, the army, school, newspapers, television, trade unions, the large multinational firms, etc. Against the family, which forms the essential nucleus upon which the State structure is based. Against the world of politics, therefore against political parties (all of them), Parliament which is the expression of bourgeois democracy, and the political ideology which serves to mask real social problems. Against fascists and all the other instruments of repression used by the State and Capital

to reduce man to an automat always capable of working and obeying. Against humanitarianism which calls for peace and safety of an abstract idea of man but does not act concretely to attack class enemies. Against nonviolence which blocks the just violence of the exploited which is their only arm of liberation.

Against prisons wh.ich institutionalise the repression of the poorest of the exploited classes.

Against hierarchy which educates towards social stratification. Against obedience which represses all individuality. Against authority which prevents the autonomous development of the individual. Against progressivism, a modern version of evolutionism which is the ideological covering of reformism. Against economism which puts the economics at the centre of the history of class exploitation. Against trade unionism which is the direct product of economism and which means to limit the class struggle to claiming at the

family with life in common based on love and reciprocal affinity and on the basis of real sexual equality. Organisation of life, such as that of production, based on free associations differing according to the problems to be faced, interests to be defended and affinities to be developed. The whole of these organisations federated on a local basis, by groups of communes, then widening the relations to a larger federation until it reaches the maximum possible of the liberated areas of the revolution. Education free and aimed at an awakening of individual aptitude which in a liberated society will be meaningful only in the limits in which this liberation is realised. The spreading of atheism and anti-religious propaganda, always necessary because on these problems even the liberation that has come about cannot exercise more than a limited clarification.

Against male chauvinism which reduces women to sex objects.

Against the delegate which separates the exploited from direct action.

Against efficientism which wants

3: What anarchists want

Against racism which defines a part of the human race as inferior.

Against the army which is an armed force that is used against the people,

Against reformism which wants to set social problems right by using laws, political parties, parliaments, referendums, votes, etc.

Anarcho-syndicalism, with all its revolutionary declarations does not escape this reformist limitation.

Against militarism which justifies the function of armies with the swindle that their role is the defence of the homeland.

Against feminism which closes itself within an asphyxiating inverted male chauvinism.

2: What false ideas do anarchists struggle against?

level of the workplace.

Against patriotism which feeds the absurd idea of the homeland in preference to other nations, whereas the exploited have no homeland but are brothers of the exploited of the whole world.

Against religion and the Church which constitute a potent ally to repression.

Against asylums which repress the different.

Originally published in Alfredo Maria Bonanno’s La dimensione anarchica in 1974 and translated into English by Jean Weir. For more works by Bonanno (and other insurrectionary anarchists), visit:

Abolition of the State, Government, Capitalism, the family, religion, the army, prisons, asylums and every form of power which uses the law to force others to do something. Therefore refusal also of any kind of workers’ or socialist State and of any form of dictatorship of the proletariat. Elimination of the private property of land, the tools of labour, materials, machines, factories, the land and anything else required for the production of what is necessary in order to live. Abolition of salaried work and reduction of work to a minimum organised by individual groups federated on the basis of their own aptitudes and sympathies as well as on the basis of their own needs. Substitution of the traditional

Printed by the bolo’bolo anarchist collective • we fight and play for a world beyond measure

Completion of the social revolution until all domination of man over man be abolished.

4: The means anarchists want to use The specific anarchist organisation which is an active minority of conscious individuals who share personal and political affinity and give themselves the aim of calling on the exploited to organise themselves with a view to revolution.

leaflets, graffiti, etc. what the intentions of the ruling structure are and the dangers facing the exploited. Also to supply indications of the anarchist struggle and show who anarchists are, or to urge the exploited to rebel, denouncing the consequences of obedience and resignation. The struggle to claim better conditions — Although we are not reformists, the struggle to obtain improvements in one’s immediate situation (wages, habitation, health, education, occupational, etc.) sees anarchists present although they do not see these moments as ends in themselves. They push the exploited towards this form of struggle so that they can develop the elements of self-organisation and refusal of the delegate which are indispensable in order to develop direct action at all other levels. Violent struggle to realise the social revolution along with the exploited. The attack against the class enemy (State, government, capital, church, etc.) must necessarily be violent, in the case of the contrary it would only be a sterile protest and would determine a reinforcement of class dominion. This attack could be: •

• • •

isolated attacks against individual structures or people who are responsible for repression an insurrectional attack by a specific minority a mass insurrectional attack a mass revolutionary attack

Each of these levels, starting from the first, may or may not create the conditions leading to the successive one to develop. Political and economic analyses can foresee this possibility within certain limits, but cannot give an absolute response: action itself is the only test for action. The moral foundation of violent struggle already exists in the fact of repression as it has been exercised by power for centuries.

A federation of different anarchist groups who while changing nothing of their particular specific structure, link with each other with informal, federative pacts in order to better coordinate their own action. Propaganda to explain through books, pamphlets, newspapers,

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" Anarchism is the revolutionary idea that no one is more qualified than you are to decide what your life will be." - CrimethInc., Days of War, Nights of Love: Crimethink for Beginners


(76 Lower Main Rd, Observatory)

Wed 7th 8 - 10pm

Free screening: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman: The Radical Life of Emma Goldman The remarkable life of the immigrant christened "the most dangerous woman in America" is explored in this documentary focusing on noted birth-control advocate and anti-military conscription activist Emma Goldman. A noted Russian-born woman who became a key part of the anarchist movement upon immigrating into the United States, Goldman, aka "Red Emma" was renowned for her outspoken vocal attacks on the government and her staunch opposition to World War I.

Fri 9th all day

It's Woman's Day. We'll be celebrating in anarcha-feminist fashion :-)

Sat 10th 4 - 5pm

Free: Live cello performance by Gidon Levenbach

Wed 14th 8 - 10pm

Free screening: The Ambassador Max Brügger sets out to expose Western complicity in the illicit trade of blood diamonds within

a frail, highly unstable African nation. Posing as a well-to-do diplomatic wannabe, Mr. Cortzen, Brügger arranges to purchase credentials from a shady Dutch broker that entitle him to a position within the Central African Republic, ostensibly as a Liberian representative. Employing a variety of ruses from simple letters of introduction to “envelopes of happiness” (i.e. bribes) and outrageously colonialist sartorial guises (finely tailored suits, riding boots, a ubiquitous cigarette holder), Brügger manages to gull most of the local elites into believing he intends to set up a match factory using Pygmies as the indigenous labor force. Most of his high-level contacts, like Minister of Mines Dalkia Gilbert, understand this would be a cover for Cortzen’s real business agenda: acquiring diamonds that he can, as a person with diplomatic immunity, legally transport out of the country, along with millions in cash.

Wed 21st 8 - 10pm

Free screening and open discussion: Radical Poltics short film night!

Our monthly radical politics short film night. Join us for a video update of grassroots activism and projects from around the globe, followed by an open discussion on how we can apply the ideas and practices reflected in these films to struggles in our own communities in and around Cape Town.

demanded they choose a different path, as well as the simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of animals who have seen both sides of the cage. MTD aims to re-ignite the debate about animal testing by bringing these rarely-heard perspectives to the fore.

Sat 24th 2:30 - 5pm

Sat 31st 6 - 10pm

Ally/solidarity workshop A roundtable discussion that seeks to explore the complexities, pitfalls and promises surrounding ally/ solidarity work from a variety of perspectives. The dialogue will locate and address key issues that face people involved – or who are seeking to be involved – in grassroots social justice movements.

Wed 28th 8 - 10pm

Free screening: Maximum Tolerated Dose Equal parts found-footage mashup, verité investigation, and artful meditation, the film charts the lives of both humans and non-humans who have experienced animal testing first-hand, with hauntingly honest testimony of scientists and lab technicians whose ethics

Evening program for attendees at the Earth Animal Communities conference, hosted at UCT by the Institute For Critical Animal Studies Africa. All welcome. See for further information.

Coming up in September

What the Foucault? A talk on French philosopher Michel Foucault, with a focus on his relevance for contemporary radical politics. We'll update the bolo'bolo website with more information on this talk (and other upcoming September events) closer to the time.


31 August & 1 September, UCT

This conference is the first in Africa and aims to bring together academics, activists and anyone else with an interest in animal rights and liberation, social justice and grassroots environmentalism. You can find out more at www., or by searching for our event on Facebook. Come join us in exploring the many paths towards collective liberation!

words were ‘viva l’anarchia!’ Vanzetti's were, 'what I wish more than all in this last hour of agony is that our case and our fate may be understood in their real being and serve as a tremendous lesson to the force of freedom so that our suffering and death will not have been in vain.'

Aug. 23, 1927 | Sacco and Vanzetti Executed in Boston

Having grown up in Italy in the 1890s, Sacco and Vanzetti left for America in 1908; their experiences there as overworked and underpaid labourers, of 'poverty and squalor in the midst of plenty,' turned them into anarchists. They became militant followers of Luigi Galleani, a leading figure among Italian anarchists in America and a captivating speaker. Galleani’s attitude was simple: 'We do not argue about whether property is greedy or not, if masters are good or bad, if the state is paternal or despotic, if laws are just or unjust, if courts are fair or unfair, if the police are merciful or

exploring liberation

Join us for a free two day conference hosted by The Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) Africa.

This month in anarchist history:

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants living in the US, were anarchists who were famously framed in a repressive show trial and executed as robbers, murderers and enemies of the state.

Earth Animal Communities:

brutal. When we talk about property, state, masters, government, laws, courts and police, we say only that we don’t want any of them.' As insurrectionaries, the Galleanisti had no faith in trade unions or any formal organisations, which they thought would hold back and try to control the inevitable revolt. Revolt was what they praised and practised: revolt against church, state and capitalism, from strikes up to and including explosions and assassinations. Arrested in 1920 under dubious charges of murder and robbery, Sacco and Vanzetti were tried in 1921 and then spent six more years in prison, enduring a long series of appeals and further trials. Finally, in April 1927, they were sentenced to death and, just before midnight on the 23rd of August 1927, their execution was carried out. Sacco's final

COLOPHON Incendiary Times is typeset in

Garamond 10/12 with asides in

Akzidenz Grotesk; we've chosen

Memphis and its italic as our

primary display face, along with a few guest appearances by Mrs Eaves and her italic. Our overwrought ramblings are printed on Envirotext using two colour risography.

Printed by the bolo’bolo anarchist collective • we fight and play for a world beyond measure

Shortly before his death, Vanzetti was interviewed by a reporter. When asked if he regretted anything, Vanzetti said, 'if it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words — our lives — our pains — nothing! The taking of our lives — lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler — all! That last moment belongs to us — that agony is our triumph.'

GENERAL INFORMATION Incendiary Times is published by the bolo'bolo anarchist collective. Come visit us at our infoshop and vegan coffee house at 76 Lower Main Rd., Observatory, Cape Town, or online at You can also search for us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Incendiary times Issue 1  
Incendiary times Issue 1  

Issue one of bolo'bolo's in-house anarchist newspaper. Check out for more info.