Solidarity Message from Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa to FWCUI conference in Baghdad on 02.April 2005
March 23, 2005


Revolutionary syndicalist greetings to the FWUCI from the Zabalaza Anarchist
Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa. ["Zabalaza" means
"Struggle" in Zulu & Xhosa].

We are friends with a veteran of the 300-strong Shagila, which split from
the Iraqi Communist Party (HCI) in 1973 and waged a guerrilla war against
the Ba’athist security police and whose members crossed into Iran to support
the worker’s Shorahs and community Kommitehs during the Iranian Revolution
1978-1979. As opponents of the US-lead invasion of Iraq, we have a great
interest in your organisation.

We are a revolutionary organisation - not a party! - that advocates direct
democracy, working class unity and the control of industries and
municipalities by workers and the poor, as was achieved in Iran before
Khomeini’s Hezbollah thugs smashed the revolution. We were formed in 2003
after the emergence of black anarchist organisations in townships like
umlazi and soweto. Our membership is roughly 50/50 "white"/"black" and many
of our activists have been involved in anarchist organisation, union and
community struggles for more than a decade, dating back to before the end
of apartheid.

Black anarcho-syndicalists like Thomas William Thibedi built the first black
trade union in British Africa (the Industrial Workers of Africa) in 1917
and we are proud of standing in this tradition which built the Most powerful
working-class revolutionary unions the world has ever seen.

May Day of course commemmorates the martyrdom by judicial murder in 1886 of
anarcho-syndicalists in Chicago, a day that is still recognised by all
working and poor people of the world because of the dominance that anarchism
achieved within the labour movement in the 1890s to the 1930s (especially in
Argentina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal and
Uruguay). This dominance was eroded by both the reformism of social
democracy and by corporatist fascism (Mussolini, Stalin, Peron, Castro, and

The final thrust of the early phase of anarcho-syndicalism was in 1956, when
anarchist labour organisers dominated the Cuban Revolution, provoked
Argentina’s largest-ever general strike, and came close to siezing power in
Chile (until betrayed, as usual by the so-called "communists"). Despite last
gasp attempts by anarchist guerrillas in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Spain,
Iraq (Shagila) and Iran (the Scream of the People) to sieze the initiative
in the 1970s, the old "shock battalions of the working class" - the
anarcho-syndicalist unions - were virtually dead.

Capitalism developed ever more sophisticated and cruel means to ensure its
survival at the expense of the global underclasses: computerisation;
casualisation; third world sweat-shops; etc. But the objective conditions of
exclusion, repression and extraction of profit that define those
underclasses still exist and have given rise to a new anti-capitalist
movement in which autonomous grassroots syndicalist organisations similar to
your own - and anarchist political organisations like our own - are again
surfacing and starting to win the "leadership of ideas" among the resistance
which is emerging in countries like Iraq.

The fall of the Berlin Wall transformed most old "communist" parties, either
into tiny red fascist factions, or into social democratic frauds
("capitalism with a human face"). The union federations linked to such
parties, like the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) in France and the
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) here, have lost their way
in the wilderness. Here, the South African Communist Party (SACP) has become
a social democratic front for the neo-liberal elite’s assault on the
working class, peasantry and poor, a process that we see the new elite In
Iraq is starting to accellerate.

In France in 2000, the traditional May Day demonstration in Paris saw 6,000
anarchists - mainly of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT - outnumbering the 5,000
CGT members present. And this year (2005), the anarcho-syndicalist CGT in
Spain - the inheritor of the Spanish Revolution’s CNT - became the country’s
third-largest trade union federation, representing 2-million workers, while
alternative grassroots syndicalism emerges in Latin America, Europe, and it
seems, Iran. As during anarchism’s "glorious years" (1895-1956), these
organisations are intimately linked into the social struggles beyond the
factory gates, so cannot be considered "workerist" or for the employed
only. Rather, they are rooted in real communal equality and social

We know anarchist communism as a living, organised grassroots tradition. We
believe in the dynamic tension between communal responsibility and
individual freedom. As Marx’s great opponent, Mikhail Bakunin, said:
"Freedom without socialism is privilege & injustice. Socialism without
freedom is slavery & brutality." We are impressed with the FWUCI’s aim of
building workers’ councils across all industries in Iraq, irrespective of
the ethnic origin, gender etc, of the workers concerned.

We are also Very impressed with the decision-making process of the FWUCI,
which embraces the powerful anarcho- syndicalist concept of policy decisions
being made by the entire membership - rather than by a "democratic
centralist" elite committee that rules the membership as if it was counted
among the boss-class.

We wish you all strength and success in your struggles. Not simply because
you are comrades to us in the global fight against capitalist exploitation
and its handmaidens of imperialist war and religious/ethnic prejudice. But
also because you have chosen the most powerful working-class tools for
resistance: reliance on your own class unity & integrity across all false
capitalist-induced divisions, and directly-democratic processes that strike
fatal blows at the roots of elite rule. We look forward to a fruitful
interaction between our organisations and our regions.

red & black regards

- Michael Schmidt (ZACF International Secretary)

Tel: +27-11-633-2701

Post: ZACF

Postnet Suite 116

Private Bag X42



South Africa