Welcome to the second edition of Workers World News for 2023. While the last few years have been rough, the times we are presently experiencing have no doubt made us all feel at times like we are drowning in a sea of negativity and loss of hope and possibility. Indeed, as the South African winter begins to bite, our country and the world remain in the grip of various waves of social, political and economic crises.
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war not only continues to shed huge amounts of blood but to fuel global political and economic instability and division. The war against women also continues unabated on many fronts, with record levels of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). More people than ever are formally unemployed and engaged in increasingly desperate and survivalist struggles to meet their basic needs such as food, housing, health and education; and the list could go on.
Nonetheless, ILRIG always believes that where there is crisis, there is always struggle and thus also, always new possibilities for positive change. It is in this spirit of a critical but realistic approach to and engagement with both the objective and subjective ‘worlds’ around us that we offer this edition to our readers.
The lead article by ILRIG’s Dale McKinley critically analyses the ways in which some on the left in South Africa and globally have approached the Russia-Ukraine war. More specifically, he argues that there has been a very selective interpretation and thus application of, the principle of internationalism, which has led to various hypocrisies when it comes to the interpretation of the war itself along with the ways in which left activists and forces in Ukraine and Russia have been treated.
Continuing with the focus on international developments and struggles, ILRIG Board member and Swazi activist Abigail Jele provides a concise analysis of the twin crises of unemployment and poverty in Swaziland. With important insights provided from an interview with Lucky Dlamini – President of the Swaziland Unemployed People’s Movement (SUPMO) – comrade Abigail lays out some of the possible ways in which these crises can be addressed.
In the ‘My Struggle’ column, the relatively new but growing movement coming out of the Cape Metro’s occupations/informal settlements – Intlungu Yasematyotyombeni – shares the brief but intense history of its struggles for housing and basic services. In doing so it reveals the discriminatory and elite-led class and race-based politics of the City of Cape Town and how IYM has and continues to respond through selforganisation, the politics of solidarity and popular education.
Then, in the fifth instalment of the educational series focused on forging alternative paths of self-government and autonomy from the state, Shawn Hattingh profiles the historical example of the Shinmin Commune. From 1928-31 and with over 2 million Korean, Chinese and Manchu people involved, the Commune went a long way in establishing a democratic, self-governing socialism. Even though it was ultimately defeated, the lessons it provides for anti-capitalist and democratic struggles today, remain timeless.
Following on from her offering in the ‘Gender News’ column of the last edition, ILRIG’s Lara Reddy gives us a hugely important but often frightening look into the epidemic of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in South Africa. She reveals some of the horrifying statistics, shows how the state is failing women and, in the process uncovers the core reasons behind the epidemic.
And, in ILRIG News, Lara provides readers with a peek inside what happened at the Gauteng Provincial Platform which she organised with local community partners. Two positive things stand out: the majority participation of women and queers which is part and parcel of ILRIG’s continued efforts to feminise our organisational spaces and practice as well as solidarity spaces and struggle; and, the embracing of the need for systemic change and adherence to progressive values and principles.
Lastly, for our Cultural Sections we reproduce a lovely poster (wall mural from Chicago) which reminds us of the centrality of inclusivity and solidarity across all borders, as well as the radically inclusive, democratic and inspirational opening remarks of the Zapatistas from the 1996 international gathering in Chiapas, Mexico for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism. If ever there was a time for us to put into practice what this picture and these words tell us, it is now!