“Anarchism and the National Liberation Struggle” (Bonanno) – ARM / 1994 South African edition
Continuing with the series of materials published by the class struggle wing of the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) in Johannesburg … This was the 1994 South African edition of Alfredo Bonanno’s 1977 Anarchism and the National Liberation Struggle, which had been reissued as part of the “Bratach Dubh” anarchist pamphlets series produced by Jean Weir. It included a South African introduction by “L.V.” and map of then-current national liberation struggles from the New Nation newspaper.
The core value of this very influential pamphlet to the class struggle ARM group was its central arguments that anarchists “refuse to participate in national liberation fronts” that unite opposing classes, but instead “participate in class fronts which may or may not be involved in national liberation struggles, “in order to “establish economic, political and social structures in the liberated territories, based on federalist and libertarian organisations.”
Effectively this meant anarchists should participate in national liberation struggles, but must oppose the nationalist politics of cross-class alliances and statism. It was compared very favourably to what was seen as the ultra-left position of groups like Britain’s Anarchist Communist Federation (ACF) in their paper Organise! for revolutionary anarchism: their position dismissed “national liberation” movements as intrinsically multi-class struggles that invariably sought merely to replace one state with another (on the ACF’s impact, also see here).
Given South Africa’s history, this had very concrete practical implications…these were drawn out partially in the 1994 edition’s South African introduction of three pages. Bonanno’s view that national liberation struggles could be merged with revolutionary class struggle for anarchism converged the general shift that the class struggle wing of ARM was making from ultra-left positions towards a more practical politics of immersion in the working class, of which more here. (Other examples included the adoption of the view of the holding of non-racial elections in 1994, after years of apartheid, as a “massive victory” for the working class – notwithstanding its criticisms of capitalist elections as such: see editorial in the first issue of Workers Solidarity ).
Lastly: it is worth noting that the ARM class struggle militants activists were largely unaware of Bonanno’s insurrectionist anarchist line, which rejected unions and apparently, all formal organisation; this approach would have definitely been rejected, to judge from other materials the tendency published at the time.