ZACF on the increase of bread.

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Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 27 2008 13:41
ZACF on the increase of bread.


People must empower themselves, not wait for government

"We call on government to empower our people, especially through community
cooperatives with the necessary inputs for bread production, namely land,
tractors and seeds to plough wheat." - this was the demand made by the Young
Communist League (YCL) in their recent Statement on the Unjustifiable
Increase of Bread.

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) agrees with the YCL that "This
increase will have negative consequences on the majority of our people,
especially the working class and the poor youth who rely on bread as a
source of living." We support the YCL and Cosatu in defying this price
increase. We regard the vast and repeated increases in the bread price – and
in the prices of maize meal, other grains and food in general – as a direct
attack by capitalist profiteers on the very survival of workers and the
poor. An attack against which workers and the poor need to defend

But the YCL does not seem to recognise the inherent contradiction in its

The YCL stated its concern "that government is not protecting our people and
allows the capitalist market to undermine our struggle of building
sustainable livelihoods as a results of excessive prices of bread and other
basic commodities", but they are missing the point. If government did
anything other than protect market interests, the YCL would have reason for
concern. But that is not the case; the government is protecting the
interests of the market at the expense of the people it is supposed to
serve. This is what us anarchist communists have been saying all along, and
this is where we differ with the state socialists. Government cannot, and
will not protect the people from the capitalist market, as the very purpose
for government is to protect the capitalists, or capitalism, from the

Government, by its very nature, disempowers people by controlling and
regulating their lives, limiting their freedom to move and live as they
please and by making decisions that affect people's lives without first
consulting them. By acting on our behalf, and denying us the opportunity to
act for ourselves, governements - of all colours and ideological leanings -
undermine our ability for individual and collective empowerment.

Meaningful and lasting empowerment cannot come from anywhere other than
through the self-organised and self-managed activity and mobilisation of the
people themselves, of a people in search and in struggle of a better life
for all.

Whatever workers and the poor have won from the bosses or the government –
higher wages, shorter hours, electricity, water, houses, lower rent, the
defeat of the apartheid regime – they have won in struggle, not because the
government decided out of a sense of responsibility or the goodness of its
heart to give us these things. If we want bread, we must fight for bread.

As a result of our struggles or otherwise, the government might back a
community cooperative, as the YCL suggests, by providing it with the
"necessary inputs for bread production, namely land, tractors and seeds to
plough wheat". But if we just rely on the government and do not continue the
struggle, what is likely to happen is that those people will be expected to
operate their cooperative according to market values, and sell their produce
on the market instead of feeding themselves and their community. Government
might subsidise a few small cooperatives, the participants in which might
have access to a better life, but the government will never socialise all
the "necessary inputs for bread production", and so the vast majority of the
people, those in urban areas for example, will not benefit from these
symbolic acts of empowerment.

If we do win support for co-operatives, or cheaper bread, or even free
bread, we must carry on the fight. As long as the government and capitalists
are in place, whatever we force them to give us, they can still try to take

For anarchist communists the only way to empowerment, and the only way for
people to protect themselves from the capitalist market is to organise
collectively to rid the world of that market; a market that tramples on the
needs and rights of the many to satisfy the profits of the few.

We hold that people must collectively organise themselves, across all the
industries of the land - both urban and rural - in every school and in every
township, to take control of the "necessary inputs of bread production" and
the necessary inputs to satisfy all our needs, and place them under the
collective ownership and control of the people. No government, whether
socialist or not, can ever do this as the sole reason for existence of
government is to protect the rich from the poor, and so it is up to the
people themselves to create a better life for all. To create a free
socialism, without bosses or politicians.

Let us wait no longer for government to act, let us act ourselves. The
anarchist revolutionary Emma Goldman once said "If they don't give you
bread, take bread." Today we take bread; tomorrow we take the farms, the
factories, the railways, the roads, the ships, everything that we ourselves
built, that was taken from us, that we need to run our own lives. Onward to
the collective appropriation of all the necessary inputs for a better life
for all.

You cannot empower people, people must empower themselves.