Sugar Coating Exploitation

  • Posted on: 20 September 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="">Anarkismo</a>

<em>This article explores, from an anarchist perspective, the sugar industry in southern Africa, and how the two dominant companies - Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett - exploit and oppress workers and communities surrounding their operations.</em>

Southern Africa has become well known for being one of the cheapest places to produce sugar. Consequently, million of tons are produced in the region every year. Two companies have come to dominate much of this lucrative industry: Illovo Sugar and Tongaat-Hulett. It is little wonder (given how profitable the sector is), that in 2012 these two South African headquartered sugar giants once again declared massive annual profits. In fact, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett have been reaping in billions of Rands from their operations in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Swaziland over the years.

Illovo and Tongaat-Hullett have publicly claimed that despite their drive to maximise profits and their self-declared goals of becoming the cheapest sugar producers in the world; they have also played a valuable social role in the southern Africa. As part of this, both these companies have publicly declared that they care deeply about the welfare of workers. They claim workers employed by them are well paid, that they are respected and valued. It is, however, not only workers that these two companies claim to treat well. Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett have repeatedly highlighted their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, including work around HIV/AIDS and outgrowing schemes. This has all been used by these two companies to argue that they play a very positive role in society. </td><td><img title="Is there a positive role to play?" src=""></td></tr>...

Unfortunately, much of this is a public relations campaign that is designed to sugar coat the shady practices of these two companies. In reality, both of these companies’ profits are based on paying abysmal wages. Linked to this, other negative practices have been prevalent like forcing workers to work and live under appalling conditions, being involved in land grabs, destroying people’s livelihoods, and abusing the environment. Racial discrimination against low paid black workers also appears to be part of the practices of Illovo. If truth be told, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett too have benefited from the political links they have in the region, which has included states aiding these companies to break strikes or handing out tax breaks. The aim of this article is to trace some of these negative practices, and to juxtapose them with the positive images that have been portrayed by these companies’ public relations machines.

<h3>Paying a Pittance</h3>

While claiming to remunerate their workers relatively well, when one scratches beneath the media statements, one finds a much darker story. Many workers are badly paid, overworked and/or casaulised. Undoubtedly, the worst paid workers in Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett’s operations are the workers in the cane fields. In 2007 on Tongaat-Hulett’s Mozambique plantations, for example, cane cutters were being paid as little as R 300 a month. By 2012, the situation had not improved with cane cutters still earning a mere R 378 a month. The company has claimed that this was above the national minimum wage, and hence believes that there has been nothing wrong. However, this is no hard-stick to be proud of – the minimum wage in Mozambique is not enough to secure the very basics of life. Consequently, many of the field workers have had to find other ways of making extra money to simply cover the costs of food and rent. Coupled to this, some workers have complained that the company forces them to work up to 14 hours a day and that they have been expected to also work weekends. This means that within a month, some workers have been working up to 30 to 31 days, but were only paid for 26 days. <br />
<br />
Such practices are not isolated instances. Workers in the sugar sector from Tanzania to Malawi have complained of poor pay. Cane cutters at Illovo’s operations in Tanzania and Malawi were respectively earning R 371 and R 349 a month in 2011/12. Workers in Tongaat-Hulett’s fields in Zimbabwe were faring a little better and were receiving just over R 600 a month – which, however, is still a pittance. Workers too in South Africa have highlighted grievances around Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett. Workers have not always been paid overtime and promised bonuses have, at times, been withheld. <br />
<br />
To cut costs and increase profits, most workers in Illovo’s and Tongaat-Hulett’s fields are hired only on a seasonal basis. Outsourcing of agricultural production has also become common. While Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett claim that the lives of many people have been improved by these ‘outgrower’ schemes, the truth has not been so simple. Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett reportedly place immense pressure on the outgrowers to produce sugarcane at a very low price. To produce cheaply, many of the outgrowers are involved in employing vulnerable workers at extremely low wages. Targets are also set for the workers; and if not met, they are not paid in full. Benefits are reportedly also non-existent for many of the workers, which includes basic rights such as maternity leave, sick leave and over-time pay. Of course, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett benefit from such abuses: it has become cheaper and more profitable for Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett to outsource agricultural production, but it has been the workers that have paid the consequences.<br />
<br />
Along with paying many workers extremely low wages, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett also operate as exploitative landlords hiring out accommodation to their workers at high prices. This accommodation is often in an appalling state. It has been reported by the Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Organisation that rent charged by Illovo for housing for cane cutters was so expensive that up to 10 workers were being forced to live in one room; despite clubbing their wages to afford the rent. Likewise, at Tongaat-Hulett’s accommodation for seasonal cane cutters in Mozambique, 4 workers were being expected to share a single room. This accommodation was in a dreadful condition, and as a result an outbreak of cholera occurred in 2010. During this, 3 workers died in the accommodation; while more workers reportedly died later once they had been transported to hospital. Indeed, through renting accommodation to workers at high prices, both Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett have been, in practice, reducing the real wages that workers earn. Central, therefore, to the huge profits of these companies has been the ruthless exploitation of workers.

<h3>Bullying workers</h3>

Despite clearly paying many workers exceptionally low wages, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett, nonetheless, claim to respect workers’ rights, including their right to organise. However, at various times, workers have complained that they have been subjected to abuses at the hands of these companies, including attacks on their basic organising rights. <br />
<br />
There is ample evidence to back up these claims. At Illovo Malawi, when workers embarked on a strike in 2011, to demand improved wages, some of the key workers involved were immediately dismissed. The grounds that the company dismissed the workers on included, amongst other things, holding a union meeting without the knowledge and permission of the company. Amongst those fired were officials from the Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers Union. Prior to being fired these two officials had been subjected to intimidation at the hands of management. Linked to this, the union had its access to emails restricted by the company. The company also colluded with the local police, and the two union officials were later detained. The fact that the company openly believes that a union should not be allowed to meet without its permission, reveals the level of arrogance that exists amongst top Illovo management. Indeed, such practices are a complete violation of the right of freedom of association. <br />
<br />
In Zambia in mid-2012 a similar attack on striking workers occurred at Illovo’s Nakambala Estate. In the run up to mid-2012, the company’s operations in Zambia had declared huge profits. In the light of this, 3000 workers demanded their rightful share and went out on strike for higher wages. Illovo and the state, however, declared the strike illegal. A solution looked like it had been reached when the company and the National Union of Plantation and Allied Workers reached an agreement around wage increases. With this, the workers returned to work. Illovo, however, went on the offensive and wrote letters to a 119 of the workers, informing them of the company’s intention to charge them with misconduct. Of these, 70 workers identified as ringleaders were also suspended. If truth be told, the company looks as if it is seeking to dismiss these workers in what appears to be blatant retaliation against sections of the workers that went out on strike.<br />
<br />
A similar story has occurred at Illovo’s operation in Tanzania. When migrant workers undertook a go-slow to protest against ill-treatment and low pay in 2011, they were threatened with losing their jobs. At one point, the local police were called by the company, in what was a barefaced bid to intimidate workers. This even saw police members individually questioning workers whether they intended to continue with their action. If so, they were informed that they would no longer be employed and would be physically returned to the areas from which they had come. Most workers chose not to return to work and in the end as many as 1 400 workers were fired. The company, realising production would be severely hit, then offered to re-employ some of these workers; many of whom rejected the offer. Clearly, Illovo in Tanzania has little regard for workers or their rights – despite what it may claim on its website. <br />
<br />
In the case of Tongaat-Hulett, the company has also been willing to use violence to break strikes. In Mozambique in 2007, one worker was killed by Tongaat-Hulett’s security guards during a strike. During this incident, the guards fired rubber bullets and even live ammunition at striking workers. <br />
<br />
Workers at Illovo have not only faced an attack on their basic right to organise, but at times have been subjected to racial abuse and humiliation. At Illovo’s operations in Zambia, for instance, it has been claimed that some managers – mostly white South African expatriates - have used racially abusive language towards workers. The company itself apparently favours hiring South African’s in management positions over graduates from Zambia. This same management too has reportedly unconstitutionally imposed curfews for workers in the past at its Nakambala Estate. It seems quite clear that Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett’s claims to care about workers’ rights have been hollow.

<h3>Intimidating communities, land grabbing and polluting</h3>

Unfortunately, it has not only been workers that have faced the callousness of these two companies, but also communities – communities that Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett claim to care sincerely about. <br />
<br />
In Zambia, for example, as part of Illovo’s outsourcing drive, the company has attempted to expand its outgrowing scheme to the Magobbo village. As part of this, people were expected to incorporate their land into the scheme. Some members of the community were, however, unwilling to join. One of these community members noted that when this happened Illovo threatened to come with graders and destroy their homes unless they joined.<br />
<br />
In Mozambique, Illovo has had similar practices. At Maragra it has also been attempting to expand its outgrowing scheme. Once again, people that refused to join were victimised. It has been alleged that Illovo did so by damming the local water-source, and then refusing local peasant farmers access to this water unless they joined the scheme. Fortunately, the National Union of Peasant Farmers (UNAC) has taken up the struggle against this. <br />
<br />
Peasant farmers in Malawi have also not been spared. There, the state transferred land that was being used by people for subsistence farming around Chipakuza to Illovo, without the people’s consent. While the company did provide some compensation, this was only for the people’s houses and existing crops; and not for the land or the future loss of income. Added to this, the compensation was small. <br />
<br />
Pushing people off the land has not only been limited to operations outside of South Africa. In South Africa too, Tongaat-Hulett has evicted farmworkers that had been longstanding residents on its land. Along with this, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett seem to have an utter disregard for the health of the communities that surround their factories in South Africa. In Durban, communities surrounding Illovo’s factory have repeatedly complained of air and noise pollution; and have been subjected to such pollutants as sulphur, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide; leading to numerous health problems.<br />
<br />
In fact, the environmental consequences of Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett’s production can be seen across southern Africa. An estimated 60% of the water supply in the Zambezi river basin – stretching across Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique – is used for sugar production, in which Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett are the biggest players. Illovo in Malawi has also diverted the Shire River to irrigate its plantations. The consequences have been that subsistence farmers in the area no longer have access to this water. During the dry season this has meant that these people face the real prospect of failed crops and starvation. As such, these two companies are not saints out to help society, but rather vultures that exploit people.

<h3>Connections in all the right places</h3>

Part of the reason why Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett seem to be able to get away with such practices is the power that they have, along with the political connections they have, in southern Africa. As a matter of fact, these two companies have very close relations with the states, and members of the political elite, in the countries in which they operate <br />
<br />
Zambia provides a good example of this. President Banda, along with the South African President Zuma, even opened the company’s Nakambala Expansion Project. In their speeches both of these Presidents highlighted how the economic policies of the states they head have been aimed at benefiting corporations, such as Illovo. In fact, in Zambia the company has been given massive tax breaks and incentives by the state. The state also protects Illovo from competition from imports, by placing high import tariffs on sugar. Added to this, Illovo managed to get the state to block the entry of potential rival, the Indian linked company Shree Rakuna, into the country. In 2009, President Banda even announced that crop levies for commercial farmers would be scrapped, of which Illovo was the main beneficiary.<br />
<br />
In the case of the South African state, it too protects the local operations of Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett through tariffs. In some states in southern Africa, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett are even involved directly with the state as partners in the sugar industry, which has included public-private partnerships, getting cheap finance from the state and other forms major assistance. Across the region, certain states have also pushed for, and adopted positions, in their trade policies and negotiations that benefit Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett. For example, the South African state in its negotiations around trade with the European Union pushed for preferential access to European markets for sugar produced in South Africa. Of course, the main beneficiaries of this would be Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett. <br />
<br />
Some politically influential people have also been part of the boards of these companies. For instance, Tongaat-Hulett’s board members have included a Director in SADC, the former Governor of the Mozambique Central Bank, a one-time member of the South African State Presidency’s National Planning Commission and an advisor to the drafters of the South African state’s economic policy, ASGISA. <br />
<br />
Indeed, the vast majority of policies and actions of the states in southern Africa have been aimed at benefiting capitalists, such as Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett. Even the SADC agreements around sugar were designed to benefit the likes of Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett. In many African countries, as touched upon above, local states have also intervened to assist the likes of Illovo in grabbing land and undermining strikes. As such, the great revolutionary anarchist Peter Kropotkin had a point when he said:
“<i>states have always interfered in the economic life in favour of the capitalist exploiter. They have always granted protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions – the chief mission – of the state.” </i>

Far from benefiting society in southern Africa, many of the actions of Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett have had a negative impact on workers and communities. As such, workers and communities linked to, or working in, Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett face a massive struggle. These companies possess a lot of power and have proven most willing to use this power against workers. The states in which these two companies operate have also been strong backers of Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett, and have intervened to blunt and undermine worker and community struggles. <br />
<br />
Despite these massive challenges, fortunately workers and communities have been involved in fighting many of the abuses of Illovo, Tongaat-Hulett and their state backers, as has been evident in such actions as strikes (including wildcat strikes). The fact that Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett operate in a number of countries, however, has been a major challenge to the effectiveness of such struggles. Because Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett have operations in different countries they have been able to undermine and hold out against local strikes as their operations in other countries have remained unaffected. As such, they are able to play workers off against one another, and are able to continue production in other areas as normal <br />
<br />
To effectively combat this requires that workers forge unity across borders, and that in the region they begin to work towards building a counter-power that can win the massive gains that are so desperately needed. Both Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett are multinationals, and therefore, need to be challenged in all of the areas in which they operate, so that any gains won do not remain isolated or rolled back. Through cross-border struggles, the power that Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett currently have could be undermined. For example, strike actions would be far more effective if they could take place simultaneously across borders. This would mean Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett’s operations as a whole would be impacted on; limiting the manoeuvrability they have. The prospect of workers forging unity and taking up struggles across borders, nonetheless, remains distant; but steps have already been made in this direction through an initiative called the Southern African Farm Workers Network. This, however, would have to be built on if workers in Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett are to win better wages and working conditions as it would require uniting to fight across the region.<br />
<br />
Linking across borders, nonetheless, needs to also be connected to linking the struggles of communities and workers. The trade union organisational form has the potential to do this. This, nonetheless, would require that unions go beyond narrowly focusing on permanent workers. It would, thus, require unions to also take up the issues of casual workers and those faced by the impoverished communities that surround Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett’s operations. For instance, trade unions could take up issues such as land grabs, or access to water, or they could demand jobs for community members. Unions would also need greater flexibility so that they could recruit casual workers and impoverished community members. Considering that permanent work is also on the decline, such a strategy may prove vital for the survival of unions. But taking up struggles of all workers and the wider community would also strengthen the hand of permanent workers, and could ensure community support when strikes are undertaken.<br />
<br />
An important part of the struggle against companies like Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett is that unions need to be based on direct democracy, self-organisation and self-education. Unions need to be directed by members themselves along with establishing an culture of self-education. This is vital in effectively fighting bosses – without militant, confident, self-organised, and knowledgeable members, unions can’t win gains on a sustained basis. If union officials become disconnected from workers, if unions rely on specialised negotiators, institutionalised social dialogue and the law to try and win and maintain gains, they usually end up becoming bureaucratised and their power sags. It is only independent worker power that can win gains, and that requires very democratic and militant unions. Certainly, hoping that institutionalised social dialogue or the state (which is allied to the bosses) will bring workers gains, as opposed to workers themselves mobilising and fighting for gains, offers little hope. While demands by workers must be placed on bosses and the state, to win meaningful gains needs workers’ power and militancy. It was long ago pointed out that only workers can free themselves, the same too applies for workers struggling for gains against Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett. <br />
<br />
<b>Shawn Hattingh</b><br><br>


unions are fucking stupid. needs more egoist, insurrectionary communism with a splash of nihilism and any of those french fuckers.

“these two companies are not saints out to help society, but rather vultures that exploit people.”

there is no way to judge the value of, or behaviour of, the notional ‘thing-in-itself’, whether that ‘thing’ is a ‘person’ or a ‘corporation’, since there is no way to physically separate them from their relations with the space they are included in; i.e. it is their relations with one another and the collective that define them.

are European colonizers definable in themselves? they say they have built a wonderful new world in America at the same time as the indigenous peoples say that they destroyed a wonderful established world on Turtle Island.

these are two ‘perspectives’ on the same notional ‘thing-in-itself’ raising the question as to ‘whose perspective is most correct’. as Howard Zinn explained in ‘A People’s History of the United States’, there is no way to resolve these opposing perspectives which he, after Camus, termed ‘the executioner perspective’ and ‘the victim perspective’. the way the paradox is resolved in practice is by whoever gets to write and popularize their historical account. this is otherwise known as the principle of Lafontaine; « la raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure. » (the view of the most powerful is always the most correct).

there is no resolution as to whether the net effect of a ‘thing-in-itself’ is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because there is no such entity as a ‘thing-in-itself’.

first we have a continually replaceable collection of people swarming around in the space on the surface of the earth and somebody, a self-proclaimed corporate CEO, tosses a bunch of money out of truck and a swirl forms within the swarm and it is called a ‘corporation’. it is NOT a ‘thing-in-itself’, it is a relational dynamic within a larger relational dynamic aka a ‘system’ within a ‘suprasystem’. in other words, ‘things’ are relational features within a relational flow [a ‘holodynamic’].

the ‘Western’ way of thinking based on ‘things-in-themselves’ that purportedly jumpstart their own behaviours out of their own internal components and processes is a trap. it is ‘delusion’, the popular delusion of an entire [Western capitalist] culture, as Nietzsche and Mach and Poincaré and Schroedinger have expounded on at length.

if a person [or corporation etc.] is a ‘thing-in-itself’, then we should be able to understand ‘it’ out of the context of its relations with the habitat it seems to be inextricably included in. how do we understand ‘executioners’ such as the European colonizer races out of the context of their abusive relations with the indigenous Turtle Island ‘victims’? as usual, ‘polar opposites’ are not separate [mutually excluding] things, they are tautological definitions. ‘creation’ [the wonderful work the colonizers did in America, and ‘destruction’ [the heinous acts committed by the colonizers on Turtle Island] are conjugate aspects of a single dynamic, ... ‘relational transformation’, ... the ongoing dynamic that the world is made of.

no matter how many ‘good constructive things’ one can round up to say about the colonizers, there are just as many ‘bad destructive things’ to be said of them. one just has to adopt the ‘opposite perspective’. it all depends on which of the opposing perspectives one is coming from. As Zinn said, he wrote ‘A People’s History of the United States’ from a ‘victim’ perspective because, while it is a fully valid perspective, it rarely gets heard because the executioner ends up in control of the media by which historical perspectives are made popular.

so, here we are again with the dual perspectives on Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett, and Shawn Hattingh is attempting to counter the ‘executioner perspective rhetoric’ with some ‘victim perspective rhetoric’.

just as in the case of the European colonizers and the indigenous colonizeds, both views are ‘true’ in the sense that they are fully validated by personal experiences. what has to give, then, is the notion of a ‘thing-in-itself’ and ‘what it does’; i.e. the ‘thing-in-itself’ called the ‘executioner’ and or ‘the victim’ and the ‘historical account’ of things that it respectively gives. as Zinn says;

“My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.

Thus, in that inevitable taking of sides which comes from selection and emphasis of history, I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the stand point of slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokee, of the Civil War as seen by the New York Irish, of the Mexican War as seen by the deserting soldiers of Scott’s Army, of the rise of industrialism as seen by the young women in the Lowell textile mills, of the Spanish-American war as seen by Cubans, the conquest of the Philippines as seen by black soldiers on the Luzon, the Gilded Age as seen by southern farmers, the First World War as seen by socialists, the Second World War as seen by pacifists, the New Deal as seen by blacks in Harlem, the post war American Empire as seen by peons in Latin America”

let’s be clear. there is no solution to these opposing perspective in terms of ‘which one is the true one’. this philosophical problem has been resolved by Nietzsche et al. the people who build wooden houses to shelter the vulnerable are, at the same time, guilty of destroying forests. one can put together a totally convincing case for whichever side of this constructive-destructive duality one wants to focus on.

what is ‘wrong’ here? how can there be an irresolvable contradiction? and do we even want to figure it out because if we are among the victims, we are emotionally invested in vilifying our executioners who use brute force power to rape and pillage us, and if we are among the executioners, we see ourselves as superior benefactors of our ‘inferiors’ who ungratefully vilify us because they cannot face up to and concede their own ‘inferiority’.

the flaw in reasoning here has been identified [Mach, Nietzsche]; i.e. it lies in our confusing ‘being’ and ‘identity’ for physical reality when it is ‘idealization’ based on nothing other than ‘common belief’. ‘common belief’ in the definition of a word, such as ‘abuser’ or ‘victim’ is what supports the ‘meaning’ of the word; i.e. the meaning of a word stands or falls on the basis of common belief in its meaning. the ‘state’ is a word that claims that something called the state ‘exists’ as a ‘thing-in-itself’ and that this ‘state’ is capable of doing stuff. the notion of a ‘thing-in-itself’ that ‘does stuff’ and the general WESTERN [not aboriginal, not Zen, not Taoist] worldview in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ stands or falls on the basis of ‘common belief’.

and we know how ‘common belief’ is influenced by politicians and media, do we not? the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island certainly know, because that sort of show business was imported from Europe and they got to see first hand how Western people dance to the tunes called out by a notion supreme central authority of a notional ‘state’, and force the non-believers to do the dance as well.

Western people have this mental thinking tool called ‘science’ and they take something that is purely relational like the continual blooming of human organisms in the persisting space of the earth’s biosphere, and focus in a subswarm within the swarm and break it down into ‘its’ components and processes, and weave a story in terms of what these components and processes do [what the people and their activities do] to make it seem as if the subswarm is a ‘thing-in-itself’ with ‘its own’ internal component and process driven and directed development and behaviour, totally ignoring, or setting aside for the moment, that the subswarm is a ‘system within a suprasystem’, a relational dimple within a relational flow. [As systems sciences pioneer Russell Ackoff observes, they fail to acknowledge that inwards-and-back-out-again scientific analytical inquiry must be grounded in outwards-and-back-in-again synthetical inquiry, otherwise, there will be no acknowledging of the fact that the system, rather than being a ‘thing-in-itself’ as it appears, is a relational feature within a suprasystem so that its development and behaviour is outside-inwardly orchestrated by the relational-spatial dynamics it is included in.

the first thing you know, these Western people and their half-assed scientific-analytical mind-tool are going to look at the subswarm of a storm-cell, a relation flow-feature in the atmosphere, analyze what goes on inside of it, give it a name, and start ‘believing’ and talking about it as if it were a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own self-jumpstarting development and behaviour; ... “oh yes, that’s Katrina, the hurricane, she is growing and intensifying. now she is moving north towards the Gulf Coast. now she is wreaking destruction. now she is dissipating”. Or, they will do this with a subswarm of people that they have put in a notional box called by a name, poke those brothers in the eye with a stick, repetitively, then say... “oh yes, that’s Iraq, she is growing more and more belligerent. now she is striking out and biting the good hands that feed her. she is animated by her internal components and processes and there is an innate nastiness now lurking in her that, unfortunately, we must crush in order to protect the good peoples of Iraq and of the world. there will be much collateral damage but this is the price that must be paid for crushing the nastiness inside her that is sourcing her belligerent behaviour.”

these are of course the views we get when we ignore the relational nature of all physical systems, and re-render dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ as the scientific-analytic mental thinking-tool achieves for us.

so here we are again. in our standard Western delusional state powered by scientific-analytic mental thinking tools, building the ‘total Fiktion’ view of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’, and then arguing over whether these ‘things-in-themselves’, this time called Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett, are ‘doing more good’ or ‘doing more harm’.

the physical reality is the full swarm in the relational space of the earth’s biosphere that was swarming/flowing prior to anyone conceiving of Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett and will continue to swarm long after the incorporation papers that conceived Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett have been discarded or burned, and long after the truck with the Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett logo that threw out money and orchestrated a subswarm in the swarm has stopped running.

anyone who insists that Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett are physically real ‘things-in-themselves’ [as Shawn Hattingh is doing in the article] is nuts. if most of the adherents of Western civilization continue to claim that Illovo and Tongaat-Hulett are physically real ‘things-in-themselves’ with ‘their own internal component and process sourced development and behaviour’, then one can only conclude, as Giordano Bruno did just before he was burned at the stake in 1600 for his ‘relational’ world view, that ‘the majority has no monopoly on the truth’.

so, what about Hattingh’s citing of kropotkin who seems also to impute ‘real existence’ to ‘the state’;

“the great revolutionary anarchist Peter Kropotkin had a point when he said: ---“states have always interfered in the economic life in favour of the capitalist exploiter. They have always granted protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions – the chief mission – of the state.””

kropotkin was 17 years old when Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ was published and had begun to lock a lot of minds into a new way of thinking based on ‘species’ as ‘things-in-themselves’ rather than as ecosystemically defined relational forms within a relational space [this understanding was surfacing as a viable option in parallel to Kropotkin’s thinking/writing at the fin-de-siecle].

kropotkin made an important revision to Darwinism, but without challenging the basic ‘thing-in-itself’ building block that Darwin had used. Kropotkin’s ‘Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution’ was published in 1902. Mach’s complementary argument with ‘the Church of Physics’, that space was relational rather than absolute, peaked in about 1910 when Mach chose to ‘quit the Church of Physics’.

kropotkin’s basic idea is that outside-inward relational forces [mutual aid and cooperation] influence the evolution of ‘the thing-in-itself’. this is consistent with lamarckian, nietzschean, machean thinking but comes out differently when one retains the stake-in-the-ground notion of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. mach and nietzsche ‘let go of’ the notion of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ and allowed the relations amongst things to prevail over the notion of ‘things-in-themselves’, since the ‘things’ were continuously emerging forms within a persisting relational space [e.g. the earth’s biosphere and/or the universe]. this relational space view is corroborated by relativity and quantum physics.

anyone who has attempted to go share ideas on relational space runs into the problem that he has to do so using ‘words’. it is difficult to share complex ideas with words but it is more difficult still, without words. animals that are without language do fine, but because they cannot share ideas with language, they cannot manipulate one another’s behaviour as we do. the ‘state’ is based on nothing other than ‘common belief’ and the believers in the existence of the state obviously listen to the ‘heads of state’ because to be part of the state’s dynamic, they must hear what they are supposed to do, whether they should go right or left, forward or back, bash an Iraqi or bash a Brit etc. etc.

whether or not kropotkin was prepared to go another level deeper than ‘the state’ treated as a ‘thing-in-itself’, i do not know [my google search did not turn up any commentary by kropotkin on Mach or vice versa] but Lenin’s attack on relational thinking definitely put Kropotkin in the same bin as Mach;

“In 1920 an unusual attempt was made at retroactive censorship. Krupskaia, whom Lenin had appointed to a new propaganda bureau called Main Committee for Political Enlightenment (Glavpolitprosvet), decided that Soviet libraries should be “purged of obsolescent literature.” [kind of like the pro AGW scientists try to do with climate dissident science]. She had the Commissariat of Enlightenment [great labels! isn’t the manipulative power of language fabulous!] instruct Soviet libraries to remove from their shelves all copies, save two to be preserved in a “Special Depository” (Spetskhran), of the works of 94 authors, among them Plato, Descartes, Kant, Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, Ernst Mach, Vladimir Solovev, Nietzsche, William James, Leo Tolstoy, and Peter Kropotkin.” --- Richard Pipes, ‘Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime’

ok, an apparent anomaly is ‘herbert spencer’ who coined the term ‘survival of the fittest’ implying the evolution proceeds through the ‘thing-in-itself’ rather than relationally, but spencer appears to have ‘gone both ways, making use of the relational model of evolution as in Lamarckism;

“Spencer is best known for coining the concept "survival of the fittest", which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use of Lamarckism.” ---Wikipedia

so, how would kropotkin rewrite his own phrase cited above, if he were in the machian relational camp? here’ how it might go.

(1.) as he wrote it;

“states have always interfered in the economic life in favour of the capitalist exploiter. They have always granted protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions – the chief mission – of the state.”

(2.) as he might have written it;

“as we all know, ‘the state’ is a concept in our minds that does not exist in physical reality but is based solely on ‘common belief’. ‘things-in-themselves’ do not really exist as Nietzsche and others have pointed out, they are total Fiktions, but useful Fiktions, particularly for manipulating behaviour and achieving ‘herd behaviour’ by notionally imputing the existence of a supreme central authority that resides in the interior of the notional thing-in-itself state. as aboriginals have discovered, the believers in these Fiktions notionally carve up the unbounded natural space into numerous notional ‘compartments’ and notionally assign a supreme central authority to each compartment along with a flag and flagpole. within each compartment, the ‘head’ of the supreme central authority can raise the flag up the flagpole and have the whole herd dance around it as if dancing around a maypole in a pagan fertility rite. this gives rise to a quite amazing scene; i.e. where once prevailed an open terrain in which people moved about in free association, there were now multiple notional imaginary-lined bounded compartments with internal flagpoles around which everyone who believed in the existence of these ‘things-in-themselves’ danced around the maypole when instructed to do so by the notional ‘head of the supreme central authority symbolized by the orientating power of the flag and flagpole’.

i feel obliged to present to you this ‘prologue’ to clear up any suggestion that i, too, have fallen into this trip of giving false credence to the notion of the ‘real existence’ of the state, rather than acknowledging ‘the state’ to be a mental concept like ‘the corporation’, useful to the manipulating and organizing of the behaviour of a collection of people, hereafter known as ‘the believers in the existence of the thing-in-itself state/corporation’. with this clarification, i can now proceed with my argument, which employs the word ‘state’, the above meaning of which you may now attach to my use of it.

one other comment in this regard. given that the ‘independent existence’ of the state is not physically real, since indigenous peoples and non-believers in the notion of sovereign states can still roam the unbounded terrain so long as they humour those who police the imaginary borders, we must acknowledge that if one of these so-called ‘thing-in-itself states’ prospers and ‘grows’, since it is, in physical reality, a relational subswarm within a global swarm, it does so thanks to the web of relations in which it is included. the global web of relations persists so that when we say that a state or empire ‘grows’, it merely means that the flagpole gets taller and the maypole dance captures more of the global swarm within it. there is no physically real ‘growth’ of the state because there is no physically real ‘state’, only a subswarm within the global swarm. the dimple in the flow of the atmosphere that we refer to as a storm-cell is not a thing-in-itself that ‘grows larger’. it is a feature in the transforming relational space wherein the calm space and the turbulence form are mutually defining, conjugate aspects of one and the same relational dynamic. the growth of the ‘cell’ and the shrinkage of the ‘not-cell’ are absolute reciprocally complementary and instantaneous [reciprocally changing faster than the speed of light]. this reciprocal complementary is simultaneous because the dynamic form is a ‘thing-in-itself’ only in our head. the evolution of a cell derives not from some sort of internal inside-outward asserting genetic force, but from cooperation and mutual aid of the multiplicity of cells in the relational web of cells it is included in. so, now you will know what i intend by the following words;

“states have always interfered in the economic life in favour of the capitalist exploiter. They have always granted protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions – the chief mission – of the state.”

that is to say; ... ‘the state’ is a concept used to manipulate the behaviour of a collection of people; i.e. to break them out of their natural patterns of free association and to have them, ... ‘dance around a central maypole’... according to the instructions of the flag-bearing head of state who is designated as the ‘supreme central authority’ that all of the believers in the state must obey. the ‘state’ orders that all people residing within the imaginary line boundaries must think in terms of the land they have been living in as a ‘thing-in-itself’ that the state can carve up into ‘properties’, and which must be given up by the residents of the state to the state, who will manage the re-allocating of the properties on the basis of a system of monetary compensation called ‘capitalism’. the state encourages individuals and group to exploit the labour and services of other individuals and groups in a kind of dog-eat-dog dynamic. the commoditized land is the prize for winning such competitions and the more of it one accumulates, the more one can accumulate still more by using the profits from the production of the land to pay for more worker services to expand land holdings and operations, always keeping a margin of profit between the returns on the production of the land, and the wages paid to those who work to sustain the production. such a system would not be possible without the state having first reduced the living space, in the minds of the believers in the state, to an objectified logical commodity, as captured in a legal description on a piece of paper, and having delivered up all of these chits to the state central authority so that the state can ‘bankroll’ the dog-eat-dog game of competition to maximize one’s land-holdings by charging rent on the existing lands that others are forced to ‘land on’, and using this rent to buy more, as in the game of Monopoly. those who achieve monopoly enjoy a ‘lock-in’ for some time during which they enjoy the wealth and power of the production generated from the land through the services of their workers. the state not only ‘knights them’ for this production [which is attributed to ‘them’], it uses the threat of violence by police and military to protect the monopolization of property by the few who turn out to be the best manipulators/exploiters. this is what i mean by “states have always interfered in the economic life in favour of the capitalist exploiter. They have always granted protection in robbery, given aid and support for further enrichment. And it could not be otherwise. To do so was one of the functions – the chief mission – of the state.”

could kropotkin’s views be unpacked in this way, making them consistent with those of mach and nietzsche?

difficult to say so long after the fact, but highly likely. kropotkin took the first major step in contradicting darwinism [which credits the thing-in-itself for its own growth and productive accomplishments] and exposing the reality that ‘the thing-in-itself’ such as the state and/or the corporation is a Fiktion that allows ‘the thing’ to take credit for its own productive accomplishments, when the reality is that it is a relational subswarm amongst many such subswarms with a global swarm that, if it prospers and grows, can do so only by way of mutual aid and cooperation. in other words, the relational dynamics of mutual aid and cooperation determine the growth and behaviour of the notional ‘thing-in-itself’ rather than some notional innate internal force within the supposed ‘thing-in-itself’. the maypole that the believers dance around is more like a capstan as on a sailing ship which workers turn to generate a huge amount of power that can be applied via a central ‘axis’. the central ‘axis’ is NOT the source of the power and the related productive achievement, the power and the source of the related productive achievement is the workers who man the capstan.

however, once the ‘system’ is declared to be a ‘thing-in-itself’, just as with the storm-cell/hurricane, one imagines that the source of the power derives from the central axis, since the relational flow or ‘suprasystem’ that the system is included in [the global swarm in which the subswarm gathers] is nowhere to be seen. in other words, when we declare the local, independent existence of a ‘thing-in-itself’, we frame it in an absolute fixed empty and infinite reference frame/space, and the relational flow it is a feature within ‘disappears’. the power and productive achievement does not derive from the interior of the notional ‘thing-in-itself’ whether capstan axis, state or corporation, but from the relational-spatial dynamics it is included in. of course, if one follows the anchor chain back from the thousand pound anchor, it will lead to the central axle and it will be ‘true’ [in an incomplete truth sense] to say that the power and source of the productive accomplishment [of lifting the anchor] is coming from the ‘axle’, the centre of the ‘thing-in-itself’. but if it were not for the workers who ‘man the capstan’, the power of the central axis would disappear. thus, the notion that the power of a state derives from the interior of the state is merely ‘schaumkommen’ (‘appearances’).

the notion that the power and productive accomplishment of the state and/or corporation is merely ‘schaumkommen’ (‘appearances’).
the central axle of the system can continue to generate power and productive accomplishments for a thousand years, but only because generation after generation of working men flow through and continue to man the capstan. the captain can claim that power to be his and use it to draw and quarter those who refuse to dance around his maypole [man his capstan], but the power is not his, and if belief in the state collapses so does the power that comes through the central axis of the state.

articles such as this one, ‘Sugar Coating Exploitation’ by Shawn Hattingh simply confuse the issue by trying to portray the ‘thing-in-itself’ notion of the ‘corporation’ as an evil exploitive thing, rather than exposing it as a Fiktion. the corporation is NOT a ‘real physical thing’, it is a concept that stands or falls with our belief in it. of course, we are paid to believe in it, so that is a problem, just as it is a problem in the case of belief in the state. the founders of the colonizer state went out and notionally objectified and expropriated a bunch of real-estate and offered a piece of the real-estate deal to others, colonizer-settlers, in exchange for sustaining belief in the existence of the state; indeed, swearing an oath to bear arms and give their lives, if necessary, to sustain belief in the existence of the state.

when the indigenous elder views the terrain from the mountain, now compartmentalized by imaginary lines and notional ‘things-in-themselves’ sovereign states concepts, he can see the physical reality of the believers dancing around their respective maypoles, and he can see that those maypole dances are really capstan operations that deliver power to a central axis and attribute productive accomplishment to a central axis, ... a Fiktional formula that is repeated at many scales, in the corporation based economy of the state.

the 'maypole dancing' activity is physically real, the interpretation of the state and corporation as a ‘thing-in-itself’ whose great power and capacity for productive achievement jumpstarts from its own interior or central axis is meanwhile total Fiktion that stands or falls on the basis of common belief in it.

what can the indigenous elder on the mountain do but laugh at this. if he doesn’t laugh at the madness of it, as a joke that the universe is playing on itself, he will be seized by the seriousness of it and cry himself into deep depression.

I cried myself into a deep depression when I saw the length of this comment friend!

nobody cares. (as evidenced by the lack of comments.)

which is sad cuz this is one of the only acticals actually about struggle

But African resistance is either religious or platformist, thus anarchists are not really interested into getting into basic 101 debates about the tactics or desires of these often recuperative rebellions. Are there actually ANY African anarchist groups beside white middle-class ex-colonialists clinging to some inherited land and secretly communicating their college learned ideas about Chomsky-type liberation? Sorry.

"...beside white middle-class ex-colonialists clinging to some inherited land and secretly communicating their college learned ideas.."

YEAH! Look at all these fucking white colonialist manarchists!!!!

Good luck to the activists shown in the link you provided, also to any liberation fighters for whatever political group they represent which seeks justice and the defeat of capitalist exploitation. The point I was making was that anarchism is un-african due to the structure of tribal folk-lore and animistic belief systems that exist there, but also because the dominance of colonialist religions such as christianity and islam within the fabric of most african communities has replaced other forms of spirituality. You don't seem to realise that africa is an intensely spiritual nation and thus more unlikely to accept anarchism first and foremost precept, that there is no god. Let's face the facts, true anarchist society, even individualist anarchism, is a Westerncentric desire, and I was being sarcastic concerning the white middle-class Chomsky version of anarchism representing any african presence. But it seems this was lost on you, and your knee-jerk reaction just shows your lack of a deeper understanding of humyn relationships and the forces that govern society.

And anyway, africa doesn't need anarchism, there exists there an integrated sentiment for ground up organic rather than top down bureaucratic control meshed into its idea of community politics. Like for instance, in Kenya some thieves tried to pull a heist on the payroll at some factory or mine and although they had guns, the 1,000 workers just charged and killed them stomped them to a pulp, cops only came to pick up the pieces. I think it's even neo-colonialist to assume to introduce anarchism to africa, how could you say that smashing bank windows could get close to approaching the vitality of spirit which exists there. So like I said before, you don't understand some of the cultural dynamics, and anyway, what the fuck do you want, a totalitarian anarchist global movement?

Jesus Christ. Please fuck off and die.

I would feed you to the hyenas instead.

the article portrays a struggle of ‘workers’ versus ‘the evil corporation’ which is not what is going on. a ‘struggle’ is not something that transpires between two ‘words’ supposedly connoting ‘things-in-themselves’, ... the word ‘workers’ and the word ‘corporation’.

first there is an unbounded continent with all kinds of activity going on, and then politicians NOTIONALLY divide it up into states [not even all of the people buy into this imaginary division, the existence of which depends on nothing other than common belief and the threat/application of violence].

Next, the states authorize the dividing up of the general activity into ‘corporations’ which ‘come into being’ by way of a piece of paper declaring ‘incorporation’ which is good enough for those who believe in ‘the law’ and/or feel threatened by the violence that backs up the law.

then people start building illusions on top of illusions, as in ‘wars between states’ and ‘competition between corporations’ and ‘struggles between workers and corporations’.

the struggle is not really/physically between idealized things-in-themselves designated by words [state, corporation, worker]. the struggle is with these word-based phantoms running around in people’s heads. and as we know, when people’s heads are ruled by phantoms, the social milieu can get vicious if not lethal in a hurry.

those with anarchist leanings are not so impressed with rhetorical historical accounts of notional ‘struggles between workers and corporations’ and/or historical accounts of ‘struggles between cowboys and indians’. what captures the anarchist imagination is an ‘uprising’ or ‘revolt’ against ‘the system’. unfortunately, ‘the system’ is too often taken to be ‘people and processes’ rather than the ‘beliefs’.

this article, while mainly rhetorical/historical, indirectly/unintentionally brings out the folly of believing in the ‘thing-in-itself’-designating word ‘corporation’ by way of the arbitrariness of being able to characterize it both as benefactor and exploiter. this common, irresolvable paradox, explored by howard zinn in ‘A People’s History of the United States’, is resolved by acknowledging that ‘the state’ and/or ‘the corporation’ are NOT ‘things-in-themselves’ but ‘belief-engendered’ dynamic organization within the greater global dynamic [states and corporations are like storm cells in the atmosphere that continually come and go, morphing along the way with mergers and acquisitions, within the relational flow of the global social dynamic.]

the story delivered in the article is yet another classic portrait of Western civilization's quixotic penchant for ‘tilting at windmills’.

fuck you emile you fucking suck. or rather, some ethereal horribleness in the relations between you are the world creates how awful you seem.

I'll take peyote rather than quixote or even coyote stew anytime buddy, but thanks.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Enter the code without spaces.