Welcome to the first edition of Workers World News for 2023. Even though this is officially the first full, ‘post-COVID’ year, the first three months of the year have confirmed that there are plenty of other crises afflicting our country and globe, more especially the broad working class. At the same time, such crises also present that same working class and other progressive forces with new opportunities for struggle and new spaces to effect the kind of systemic changes we all so desperately desire and need,
In South Africa it is the historic and ongoing crises centred on ESKOM that has now taken centre stage.
We headline this edition with two guest articles that emerge from presentations at ILRIG’s recent webinar entitled: ESKOM Crisis – Is There Still a Place for Public Ownership?
The lead article by Lucien van der Walt takes a critical, historical look at the ESKOM crisis. He reminds us that our understanding of the crisis informs possible solutions and accompanying working class struggle. Lucien lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of state failure and neo-liberal policies/actions and argues that solutions will not come from more state interventions, but through working class organisation and struggle. Following on from this, Sandra van Niekerk shows us how the global neo-liberal agenda of privatisation and corporatisation of energy over the last few decades has fundamentally failed to deliver accessible and affordable energy. She argues that the only serious and sustainable answer in confronting this failure is by retaining and strengthening energy as a public good, while providing international examples from which we can learn. Turning to another more local/regional crisis in the ‘My Struggle’ column, Abigail Jele shares with reader a view from the coalface of Swaziland’s struggle for freedom and democracy. Paying tribute to the principled commitment of the assassinated human rights lawyer and activist, Thulani Maseko, Abigail alerts us of what is at stake for the Swazi people as well as those in the region. With passion and courage, she reminds us that it is only through the mass struggle of the majority that the long road to freedom will be completed.
In Gender News, newly arrived ILRIG research and education officer Lara Reddy sketches out the heart- rending story of the incredible loss, pain and suffering of the poorest and most marginalised communities as a result of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. She highlights the particularly devastating impacts on the repressed LGBTIQ+ community, women and Kurdish minorities and the need for feminist and internationalist solidarity.
Continuing with the fourth instalment of the educational series from last year on forging alternative paths of self-government and autonomy from the state, Shawn Hattingh shares the inspiring example of the people of Cheran in Mexico. In this we learn about how the people organised themselves to expel drug dealers and multinational corporations and implement a radical system of self-government and people’s defence.
In ILRIG News, Dale McKinley provides a reflection on the very successful 2022 ILRIG Political Schools which focused on the scourge of xenophobia. The key take-away from the schools is that participatory political education and discussion/debate can not only positively develop and change consciousness but also reaffirm the core principles and values of inclusive, internationalist organisation and struggle.
Lastly, on our Cultural Page we share an incredibly powerful poem by the renowned writer and poet Alice Walker entitled Democratic Womanism. It is a tribute to all women in their constant and historic struggle against capitalist patriarchy, greed and the destruction of our planet and a timely reminder of why women must be at the centre of all progressive organisation and struggles for systemic change.
Onward Ever, Backward Never!