Saturday, 16 June 2018

Remembering First Insurrection of 1976-1977

The notorious Brigadier Theuns "Rooi Rus" Swanepoel

There are many things forgotten or deliberately obscured and distorted about the "Soweto Uprising of June 16 1976". For one thing, it was in fact far wider and longer process than its celebration today suggests: it was a nationwide anti-apartheid insurrection over 1975-1977. For another, the spark that initiated it was not, as usually claimed, a schoolchildren's protest against being instructed in Afrikaans (though that was drawn into the mix later), but by working class Soweto residents in January protesting the dramatic increase in rates and services charges imposed by the Western Services Council after the all-white Johannesburg City Council ended its R2-million/year subsidy to it. Then, the students joining the protest in June were not high school pupils but  junior school kids - the protest picked up by the elder kids later. Next, Brigadier Theunis "Rooi Rus" Swanepoel who lead the riot cops against the students in a brutal and murderous fashion was a notorious police torturer who is alleged to have personally executed UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold after the latter survived his 1961 air-crash in Zaire in 1998. Also, the Insurrection has been misappropriated in memory as an ANC-inspired uprising, but to the extent that any ideology was dominant at that time, it was Black Consciousness not Charterism. Lastly, according to protest leader Selby Semela, the student leader usually upheld as the hero of the hour, Tietso Mashinini, was actually stoned by fellow students for asking them to back down in the face of police fire. 

Here are some harrowing reminiscences of two of my friends of the fateful day:

Izak Khomo: “I was in Britain on the 16th June 1976, Cardiff to be precise. At 21:00hrs after coming back from the pub and having bought a pasty and chips I sat before a television which had been liberated by a Capetonian friend Gordon, or rather he inherited the TV which had been initially liberated by his girlfriend Heather and thereby inherited by me. All same I was watching the News when what comes up us a report of South African Police having gunned down protesting Black students. Then the footage followed; it was shot from within the police lines. I cried, I was on my own and I immediately knew that things will never be the same again.”

Eric Miyeni was 10 years old in 1976 (as was I) and he recalled for me hearing a woman recently tell how her world had been turned upside down as a young girl on that day: “Her elder sister used to hand her clothes down to her, and she had her eye on this turquoise dress; she was actually jealous of her sister for that dress. Then one day she made a plan with the boy down the street, Thabane with the dreamy eyes, to meet at the corner of Kruis and Commissioner at twelve the next day. It was her first date, and her sister said 'here' and held out the turquoise dress. So she was wearing that dress in the taxi, her face pressed against the window and a smile on her face. She got to Kruis and Commissioner and waited. Twelve, then one, and no sign of Thabane. By four o'clock it was plain he wasn't coming so she took a taxi home and this time her face was sad. When she arrived she heard some boys talking; Thabane had been shot. So she never had that date; and that's how it was; some people were going on a date and it just never happened.”

[ENDS]

Monday, 11 June 2018

Working in bars and Boko Haram territory

 Michael Schmidt, Melville, South Africa, 2017 © Noel Coston

I wrote my last two published books in bars primarily because the task of a researcher and writer can be a bit lonely and that is offset by the geselligheid of the hospitality ecosystem. It's established a longstanding relationship with the cleaners, chefs, waiters and waitresses and bar-staff who make such places tick - and now I am planning on perhaps setting up my own juke joint. Rock 'n roll has its roots in the multiracial slave-class of Haiti, and it borrowed the term "juke" from the Mandinka of Mali and it means "unrighteous" which in the context of colonialism can be taken to mean unsubmitted to the West's missionary-colonisers. 

Besides working in bars, I love working in the field and and managed a project for radio and print journalists in Mali in 2008 on reporting on women in agriculture in Africa, in the capital Bamako and in the provincial town of Segou (below) which is half-way down the incredibly broad Niger River to the bend off which Timbuktu lies. Sadly I was unable to go to that wonderful medieval city and ancient centre of African science and literature that was so badly damaged by the Islamo-fascist Ansar al Dine terror group only a few years later, but I found the Tuareg and other Malians to be wonderfully gentle people, deeply infused with a love for the music that has justifiably made them famous. After my field work in Bangladesh among the survivors of the Rohingya Genocide this year, the next countries I hope to work in are Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon, in Boko Haram territory, training Kanuri-speaking journalists on their operational safety.

Michael Schmidt, Segou, Mali, 2008 © Birgit Schwarz

[ENDS]

Sunday, 10 June 2018

New Editions of Cartography


I consider myself an African Makhnovist and “Manchurian” yet I have come a long way in my understanding of the international, organised, revolutionary anarchist movement over the past thirteen years since I first provided a historical sketch of in the pamphlet Five Waves: A Brief Global History of Revolutionary Anarchist Communist Mass Organisational Theory & Practice, Zabalaza Books, Durban, South Africa, 2005. 

A book tour of Canada in 2009 lead to me being approached to write a revised and more detailed and expanded version of the text – combined with parts of my talk which I’d called (De)constructing Counter-power – which was published as Cartographie de l’anarchisme révolutionnaire, translated into French by Alexandre Sánchez, Lux Éditeur, Montreal, Canada, 2012. I remain very proud that that book, or really pocket-book as it weighed in at a mere 35,163 words – forms part of a Lux series entitled Instinct de Liberté alongside great contemporary libertarian socialist theorists such as Noam Chomsky, David Graeber, John Holloway, and Howard Zinn, as well as classic anarchist writers such as my beloved Errico Malatesta, Voltairine de Cleyre and Elisée Reclus. 

That text was polished and slightly updated for its English-language edition in 2013, and I have since revised it and updated it significantly. In particular, I have developed a more refined explanation for the class betrayals of the anarcho-syndicalist House of the World Worker (COM) in Mexico and of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT) in the Mexican and Spanish Revolutions respectively, and have detailed the crucial uncompromised movements of the Manchurian and Ukrainian Revolutions, especially the Korean Anarchist Communist Federation (HMGY) and the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (RPAU). I have also distilled my now in-depth knowledge of the most important post-WWII anarchist mass movement, that of the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU) and its associated initiatives which built a union federation 400,000 strong by 1972, and have updated the text by sketching the Rojava Revolution currently underway in Western Kurdistan. 

I have also altered my periodisation to add in a Sixth Wave, by ending the Fourth with the collapse of brown-fascist Spain in 1975, and adding a “short Fifth” that ends with the collapse of the red-fascist USSR in 1991, and have significantly revised the footnotes to guide readers to the most incisive, honest – and critical – academic and movement analyses of the anarchist trajectory and track-record as the world’s most holistic and revolutionary libertarian communist praxis. The result is a text that now – though still a pocketbook – stands at 65,895 words. And now I am ready to have the revised English text published as Cartography of Revolutionary Anarchism – with, I’m sure you’ll agree, a stunning new glossy black on matt black cover by Dutch-South African designer Angela Meuwsen. 

The book is set to be published both as an e-book and in hard copy. The important thing to me is that the revised “Six Waves” English-language edition will be translated into Arabic and Spanish by some wonderful, top-drawer translators from Algeria and Chile respectively, the prior edition intended for the post-“Arab Spring” Maghreb and Mashriq, and the latter to the post-colonial Hispanophone world which is so embattled against neoliberalism and Bolivarist populism. In turn, the Arab world and intersecting Muslim community in particular desperately need an infusion of the practical ideas of proletarian revolutionary anarchist praxis in order to achieve the democratic-horizontalist promise of the Arab Spring.

[ENDS]

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Return of the Red-Headed Step-child


Introduction: The Return of the Red-headed Step-child

Selby Semela was an 18-year-old school pupil and treasurer of the Soweto Students
Representative Council (SSRC) on June 16, 1976. Forced into exile after being shot
and wounded by a black policeman, he co-wrote this analysis aged about 21, and
the strength of thought that shines through it shows him to have been an exceptional
young man. He is believed to currently reside in New York City, but we have not
been able to interview him, or to discover anything about his co-authors.
Nevertheless, what you hold in you hands is a unique slice of South African history:
an analysis of the watershed ‘76 Revolt by a leading black participant in that insurrection
- from a rare libertarian socialist perspective. The shotgun wedding in which
South Africa was forcibly welded together out of two British colonies and two Boer
republics in 1910 produced grimly racialised authoritarian political offspring: White
Labourism and African Nationalism.
The real multiracial working class alternative of libertarian socialism (in its mass-based
form, revolutionary unionism and parallel revolutionary neighbourhood organisations)
was treated by both the Rand Lord oligarchy that grew rich off and the black
chieftain / merchant class that founded the South African Native National Congress
(SANNC, ancestor of the African National Congress, ANC) in 1912 as a red-headed
step-child. From the founding of a local section of the revolutionary unionist
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910, to the establishment of the Industrial
Workers of Africa (IWA) along similar lines in 1917, the step-child flexed its muscles
and served notice on the old order.
But libertarian socialism was crushed in the 1920s in a vice between the devil of
para-fascist Afrikaner nationalism, and the sea of “native republic” Stalinism. It fell
into a coma from which it only surfaced briefly in the late 1950s / early 1960s with
the establishment of a tiny libertarian Marxist current, the Movement for a
Democracy of Content (MDC), which played a key role in the successful Alexandra
bus boycott.
Then the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and the subsequent banning of the nationalist
“liberation” movements provided the pretext for the authoritarians of both camps to
embark on a war with racist overtones that peaked in 1976/1977 and again in 1985-
1987 (remember: the ANC only fully deracialised in 1985). While libertarian socialist tendencies were present in civic, street and trade union organising in the heat of
the conflict, it was only in the dying days of racial-capitalist apartheid and its pseudo-
opposition that a specific anarchist movement emerged from underground, culminating
in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of today, a working
class organisation that agitates among the poor for a rupture, a severence of ties
between the exploited and the parasitic classes that rule us. The red-headed stepchild
had awoken once more!
One of the pseudo-opposition’s main aims in the war was to cynically use rank-andfile
worker and poor community militancy to build the profile of what Semela and
company call “the old spinster/huckster organisations: the African National Congress
(ANC), the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), and the Pan Africanist
Congress (PAC).”
Today, these hoary old pseudo-liberators have gone further than the old Afrikaner
elite ever could to help the capitalist state overhaul its image, while maintaining iron
discipline over the blood and bread of the working class. The “democratic” emperor
and his phalanx of “corporate guerrillas” now wear Armani suits over their T-shirts of
that dead Stalinist, Ché Guevara. Capitalist class rule, aided by reworked race classification,
remains intact.
This is the process of deception, disintegration and decay the authors describe here
with regard to Semela’s own organisation back in the ‘70s, the SSRC - and the Black
Consciousness Movement (BCM). Both were, briefly, legitimately used by the
oppressed to throw off their chains. Both are here castigated for their later pretensions
to “leadership” of the struggle, for their “symbiotic” relationship with capitalist
power, and for their substitution of the vanguard party-form for the masses themselves.
That is the primary strength of this pamphlet.
Its main weakness is that while Semela & Co. make a distinctly libertarian socialist
(albeit not anarchist communist) critique, they fail to suggest clear socio-organisational
solutions to the problems they highlight. Hailing working class spontaneity,
they are so shy of “bureaucracy”, having had their fingers burnt by the BCM and
SSRC, that they do not dare spell out what plural and organic forms working class
organisation should take to ensure the continued political autonomy, self-sustainability
and anti-capitalist content of that militancy.
The working class, peasantry and poor need to create their own organisations in
their own image, completely divorced from the compromising models of both the ruling
class and its pseudo-opposition.
These must be organs of decentralised power (not the refusal of power - or the concentration of power), run along direct-democratic lines in which every participant is a
decision-maker, all empowered individuals strengthened by community.
These organs, as much as the “revolution” itself, are the “school of the oppressed”
which train them to create egalitarian grassroots communism in the shell of capital,
even as it is being gutted. These ideas, and not self-appointed leadership cadres,
are what shall lead a future South(ern) African Revolution, the final overthrow of parasitic
class rule and profiteering that our ANC/SACP/PAC/BCM “liberators” have forced to retreat far over our horizon.
True communism is only possible from below, when the vast majority of the underclasses
resolve en masse to end our slavery in our own right, in our own name and
by our own organs of communal power. The social revolution will only be carried out
by the “wretched of the earth”. The time has come for the return of the red-headed
step-child. With the hammer of revolutionary working class unity in her fist, she will
smash capital and the state.

- Michael Schmidt, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF), Southern Africa, 2005




[ENDS]

Han vill ge ny syn på anarkismen

Michael Schmidt på Sergels torg i Stockholm. Schmidt var i Sverige för att delta i en konferens arrangerad av det globala nätverket Icorn.

Foto: Olle Eriksson

Sydafrika har en lång historia av anarkism och syndikalism, men denna har haft liten eller ingen plats i den västliga anarkistiska historieskrivningen. Michael Schmidt, anarkist, journalist och författare från Sydafrika, vill ändra på det. För Arbetaren berättar han om kommande bokprojekt, rörelser i södra Afrika och sitt arbete med nätverket Icorn (Arbetaren, Sverige, 23 Maj 2012)

Rent allmänt tycker Michael att anarkister har misslyckats med att definiera vad anarkism är för något vilket bidrar till en bild av den som kaotisk, den reduceras till att vara enbart anti-stat och någonting som allt möjligt kan samlas in under.

– Det har alltid funnits en frihetlig sida i mänsklighetens historia men det betyder inte att det alltid funnits en anarkistisk rörelse, säger Michael Schmidt som daterar anarkismens födelse till 1860-talet då Michael Bakunin och hans kamrater levde och verkade. 

Förutom teori tar Black Flame även upp en mängd personer, grupper och organisationer som man anser har arbetat anarkistiskt genom historien. Kritiken mot boken har handlat om att dess definitioner varit alldeles för snäva och att författarna å ena sidan inkluderar personer och grupper som inte så självklart uppfattas av andra – eller ens definierat sig själva – som anarkistiska och å andra sidan exkluderar de många aktivister och grupper som själva kallar sig anarkistiska.

I kommande Global Fire är ambitionen att teckna en sammanhängande historia av anarkistisk organisering över hela världen från 1860-talet fram till i dag.

– Vi måste korrigera bilden av att anarkismens historia uteslutande handlar om Europa och USA. Mycket har faktiskt hänt i Latinamerika och andra delar av världen. De första fackföreningarna som bildades i Kina och Egypten var anarkistiska och den första fackföreningen för färgade i Sydafrika var anarkistisk. I arbetet med boken har vi bland annat studerat rörelser i Vietnam, Filipinerna, Uruguay, Algeriet, Kenya och Afghanistan. Många länder där man kanske inte tror att det funnits anarkistisk organisering, säger Michael Schmidt som med sitt författarskap fått ledarna för Cosatu, ett sydafrikanskt fackförbund med nästan två miljoner medlemmar, att börja läsa Bakunin.

– På en kongress för något år sedan citerade Cosatus ordförande ur Black Flame och menade att man måste börja ta intryck från anarkismens och syndikalismens idéer, säger Michael Schmidt.

 Anledningen till denna nydaning tror han beror på att de mest öppensinnade inom förbundet förstått att det gamla Sovjetparadigmet är dött. De alternativ som tidigare presenterats har kommit från landets kommunistiska parti som följer en kinesisk modell av nyliberalism och fascistisk korporativism.

– Sedan måste man komma ihåg Sydafrikas speciella historia med apartheidsystemets fall på 1990-talet. Dagens politiska elit har en ganska färsk illegal och revolutionär bakgrund, vilket antagligen gör dem något öppnare för sådana här idéer, säger Michael Schmidt.

Under 1900-talet har det funnits ett flertal anarkistiska och syndikalistiska organisationer i Sydafrika. I dag finns det organiserade syndikalister i Cape Town som arbetar med vinplantagearbetare, där man bland annat samarbetat med svenska SAC Syndikalisterna när det gäller Systembolagets affärer med sydafrikanska vinproducenter. 

Michael Schmidt, som varit med att bilda den anarkistiska kamporganisationen Zabalaza, berättar att man har bra samarbeten med anarkister i bland annat Zwaziland och Zimbabwe. Genom informationsspridning försöker man stödja respektive länders kamp för demokrati.

De senaste årens händelser i Nordafrika ger skäl att vara optimistisk och kanske hoppas på en anarkistisk massrörelse där, tror  Michael Schmidt.

– Den dagen då vi kommit dithän att anarkister dödas och fängslas och vi upptäcker att vissa av våra kamrater är polisspioner, då vet vi att vi är på rätt väg för då utmanar vi verkligen makten.

[ENDS]

Hurricane Update


A quick update on the closing phases of writing my major work, In the Shadow of a Hurricane - on which I am now in my 18th year, having worked in 14 languages:

COMPLETED OVER THE PAST YEAR: 

* USA: an intensive rewrite, especially focusing on the interwar and post-war period,based on a great new book by Chris Cornell on the topic, which uniquely helps articulate the lineages of a movement that is usually disarticulated by poor historiography (look up my book review Linking the Unchained);
* Imperial and Soviet Russia and its colonies: a total overhaul and rewrite from the Imperial to Soviet eras, with an in-depth and uniquely holistic analysis of the Ukrainian Revolution (including Odessa and western Ukraine), and the Russian Revolution in Siberia (Pereira, Heath and others), especially - based on my own translation of a ground-breaking new work by Chop & Liman on the city of Berdyansk under Makhnovist control - on a holistic study of the RPAU based largely on Makhno, Arshinov, Voline, Avrich, Darch, Savchenko, Azarov, Archibald, and Dubrovik into its exile formations in Poland, Latvia, Siberia and Romania, plus Anne Applebaum's great analysis of the Gulag Archipelago from its Okrana/Chekist roots to its dissolution;
* Georgia: a brand new section on the Georgian Revolution of 1905-1907 based largely on the study by Polonsky, fleshed out by Heath;
* Finland and the Baltics: integrating minority materials into the Imperial and Soviet eras;
* Poland: balancing the studies of Chwedoruk, Nagorsky, and Marek, with a focus especially on interwar anarcho-syndicalism - defeating the convention that Polish syndicalism was tainted by nationalism - and the anti-Nazi resistance and the Warsaw Ghetto and Uprising;
* Armenia and Azerbaijan: integrating new material on the 1890s-1900s Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaksutiun) and its attempt on the life of the sultan in Alloul et al, plus new material on the anarchist insurrectionists in the area;
* Croatia: a rewrite based on my own translation of a new Croatian book by Pejic on the movement up until WWII;
* Yugoslavia: interrogating Leeman's study of post-war Yugoslav "syndicalism";
* Bohemia / Czechoslovakia: a significant rewrite based on my own translation of a new Czech book by Tomak et al on the subject until 1923 with a focus on how the anarchists self-liquidated with the formation of the state of Czechoslovakia;
* Italy: integrating Pernicone's great study of the early movement from its origins in the 1860s to the early 1900s, focusing on how it evolved from insurrectionism to anarcho-syndicalism, and linking it to Sacchetti's sketch of the anti-Fascist resistance from the 1920s into the immediate post-WWII era;
* Greece etc: new material on the new insurrectonist movement in all its international aspects (links to Italy, Chile, Mexico, Rojava, etc), based on movement statement and news reports;
* Scandinavia: updating the material on Denmark based on Daniell Marcussen's new book until the early 1920s with a stress on the anarchist's relations with the Bolsheviks;
* Post-Revolutionary Spain and the exile movement: based on Peirats, and Ealham in particular, this traces the denouement of the revolutionary, reformist and counter-revolutionary factions in the MLE and CNT-Interior until the movement's post-Franco reconstruction - and schisms;
* Indonesia: integrating a brand-new Russian study by Damier et al plus other works by Stromquist, and Brown, on the East Indies anarchist movement in the colonial era with a focus on the national liberation struggle into the post-WWII period;
* South Asia: updating the story of the Ghadar Party in particular, reliant primarily on Ramnath's brilliant studies, stretching from 1913 into the post-independence era - with new materials on today's Indian Anarchist Federation and Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation;
* Korea and Manchuria: very extensive overhaul and total rewrite based on my own translation of Emilio Crisi's excellent new Spanish-language study (the very first academic study!) of the almost unknown anarchist Manchurian Revolution of 1929-1932 plus Dongyoun Hwang's great work on the interplay between anarchism and national liberation in Korea, with an analysis reaching through the post-WWII period up to the present day;
* Japan: integrating analyses by Tzusuki, Crump, Reichschauer and others on the post-WWII movement in particular;
* Costa Rica: integrating Thomas' new work on the pre-WWII movement;
* Jamaica and the Caribbean: integrating Montgomery Stone's 1975 analysis of state-driven "self-management";
* Mexico: balancing the works of Hart and Caulfield to better understand the Mexican Revolution, plus Alberola etc on the post-WWII movement (still looking out for a new Spanish-language book by Aguilar on the topic however);
* Peru: completing Hirsch's study of how the movement grappled directly with the race question, integrating Aymara and Quechua militants into its organisations (and their own);
* Uruguay: a very extensive and detailed rewrite, especially on the 1958-1976 period of the FAU - one of the most significant anarchist mass organisations of the post-WWII era - based on my own translation of Ricardo Ramos Rugai's brilliant book-length study plus work by Colombo, Mechoso, and others;
* Algeria, Morocco & Tunisia: a rewrite of the post-WWII era and the MLNA especially in the national liberation struggle in Algeria until its destruction in 1957, based on Porter, Mohamed, and others; 
* The 2016 implosion of the IWA: based on factional movement reports and analyses; and
* Conclusion: a very brief summing up of my major "discoveries" over 18 years of researching anarchist movement history.

UNDER WAY NOW:

* Bolivia: polishing up, especially on the FOL and its feminine vanguard, the FOF of Petronilla Infantes, from 1927-1964, based on Dibbets et al (have to translate this from hard-copy Spanish);
* Argentina: polishing up, with a focus on how the resistance societies like SROPC initiated anarcho-syndicalist unions on the docks and at sea, based on de Laforcard;
* Spanish Revolution: total overhaul and rewrite of this, the 20th Century's most complex and historically contested Revolution, based on the most penetrating and critical organisational studies of Chris Ealham, Augustin Guillamon, Abel Paz, Jose Peirats, and Stuart Christie, taking a hard line against the de facto counter-revolutionaries of the higher committees of the CNT-FAI; and 
* Rojava Revolution: integrating the best new book-length study of the subject by Knapp et a with the positions of today's anarchist insurrectionists fighting ISIS in Rojava.

[ENDS]


Sunday, 27 May 2018

Anarchists and the Division of Korea

Delegates to the 1946 Korean Anarchist Congress

As the leaders of North and South Korea meet this weekend, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on how Korea came to be divided - and how the anarchists responded to the twin challenges of national liberation and repression, in this extract from my forthcoming book In the Shadow of a Hurricane. The Korean anarchist movement is a fascinating case study as it emerged as a resistance movement to Japanese imperialism, consolidating in 1910 after the Japanese invasion of Korea, achieved a full-blown revolution in Manchuria over 1929-1932 (wonderfully told by Emilio Crisi's new book on the topic), was *unbroken* by World War II - unlike the movements in Europe under Nazi-Fascism - and yet developed in a distinctly libertarian reformist direction in grappling with how to establish an independent Korean nation against the meddling of other imperialist powers, the USA, Russia and China.

In Korea, the anarchists remained a powerful force at the end of the Second World War. In 1940, the anarchists Yu Rim of the Korean Anarcho-Communist Federation (HMGY) and Yu Ja-Myeong of the Korean Revolutionist Federation (HHY) and Korean Anarchist Federation in China (HMY-J) were elected to the exile Korean Provisional Government in Chungching, China. The following year, other HMGY anarchists like Jeong Hwa-Ahm and Park Kee-Seong became members of its shadow parliament. In 1945, Yu Rim was elected to the cabinet. The Provisional Government declared itself in 1941 to be "a Government established by the national united front of revolutionary parties and socialistic parties,” and included the HMGY, the Korean People's United Revolutionist Federation, the Korean People's Revolutionary Party, the Liberation Federation, and the Korean Independence Party of Kim Gu, who became premier of the exile government. In the meantime, anarchist guerrillas were incorporated into the armed forces of the Provisional Government. The anarchist Korean Youth Wartime Operations Unit, for example, which had been fighting the Japanese since 1938, was incorporated into the newly founded Korean Liberation Army as its 5th Detachment (later, its 2nd Detachment). The defeat of imperial Japan saw Korea and Taiwan made independent, and the Korean Liberation Army ceased its activities. However, matters were not so simple. The Soviet Union was interested in regaining territories lost in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, and in expanding its sphere of influence in the east. Soviet relations with the Allies in East Asia were increasingly fraught – particularly given American support for the Guomindang in China – and were shaped by growing Western alarm at Communist expansion. While the American occupation forces allowed the Korean Provisional Government under Premier Kim Gu to return to Korea, it had no official standing. Conflicts between the Americans, based in the south of Korea, and the Soviet Union, which had entered the north, were resolved by a plan for joint American-Soviet Union "trust regime" to last five years. 
When the trusteeship plans were announced in December 1945, riots broke out across the Korean peninsula. Korean Communists initially opposed the deal but switched their stance in early 1946 to one of support, following a Soviet directive that the local Party must support Communist territorial gains in the north. Nonetheless, the deal was widely opposed – hardly suprising given the long history of struggle against Japanese colonialism, the anti-imperialist sentiments of the left, the strength of Korean nationalism, and ongoing Allied talk of the right to self-determination. The dispute appears to have shattered the Provisional Government: Kim Gu apparently plotted a coup shortly after the trusteeship announcement, but was arrested, and warned, on pain of death, to desist. The riots were suppressed by occupation troops, a number of anti-trusteeship activists were assassinated, and publications opposed to trusteeship were suppressed. The country was divided into two zones of influence, the north ruled by the Russian military through proxy "people's committees" and the south ruled by the US military through the remnants of the old Japanese colonial administration. In the north, the Soviet Union formed a Communist government on the lines of those established in East Europe, and headed by Communist leader Kim Il Sung, who had been a Communist guerrilla implicated in attacks on the anarchists in the 1930s. Under his rule, opponents - ranging from anarchists, to the Korean Workers' Party and the moderate Korean Democratic Party – were suppressed, and Korean Workers' Party leader Pak Hun Yong was executed in 1955. Even independent-minded communist groups were caught up in the repression. Even by this time, however, Korean anarchism had been decimated in the North by ongoing Communist incursions that dated back until the late 1920s.
In the south, the anarchists remained a powerful force, but were deeply divided. Post-war meetings demonstrated that a sector of the movement had moved from an anarchist approach to national liberation to an openly nationalist one. In 1945, most of the anarchist groups were united as the Federation of Free Society Builders (JSBY), also known as the League of Free Social Constructors. This was founded in Seoul at an All-Korean Anarchist Congress by about almost 100 delegates who had emerged from underground in Korea, China and Japan. Among the founding organisations of the JSBY were the Korean Anarchist Federation in China, the East Asian Anarchist Federation, the Korean Youth Federation in South China (HNCY), the League of Truth and Fraternity (JHY), the syndicalist Dong Heong Labour Union (DHNJ) of Japan, the syndicalist Wonsan General Trade Union that had emerged in Korea itself, and more than 12 "black societies" from Japan – such as the Black Friends' League – and across Korea. Overall, the founding JSBY congress supported the unification of Korea, and independence, but treated this as a prelude to social revoluton. It also formed two organisatons: the Autonomous Workers' League (JNJ) and the Autonomous Village Movement (JMU). On the other hand, however, a clearly nationalist tendency had also emerged. Yu Rim of the HMGY and Yu Ja-Myeong of the HHY established the General League of Korean Anarchists (HML), representing the “anarchist” bloc in the provisional government. Now, while it might be argued that the libertarian participation in the Provisional Government did not involve participation in a state – that the Provisional Government was itself simply a broad anti-imperialist front – it is clear that this was not the case. The Provisional Government had aimed to take power after the defeat of the Japanese, and the anarchists who participated in it clearly recognised it as a statist formation. 
Dongyoun Hwang writes in Anarchism in Korea: Independence, Transnationalism and the Question of National Development, 1919-1984 (SUNY Press, State University of New York, New York, USA, 2016) that at a preparatory conference in February 1946, the “crucial issue for [the anarchists was] to lay out an autarkic economic system in Korean, which could make the country truly independent. In short, what was discussed and decided at this meeting was to place the accomplishment of ‘national democratic revolution’ as their new task. A follow-up, much larger conference was soon held two months later from April 20 to 23, 1946 at Hongchu Buddhist Temple in a small town called Ahui in Southern Gyeongsang Province. Titled the National Convention of Korean Anarchists… or the National Convention of Anarchist Representatives… it was the first national convention and initiated by Yu Rim. At it, ninety-seven anarchists were registered and present, and it marked a turning point in the history of Korean anarchism in terms of its direction after 1945. Attendees included almost all of those who were affiliated with two major Korean anarchist organizations at the time, the Free Society Builders Federation… organised in Seoul by Yi Jeonggyu and Yi Eulgyu after Japan’s surrender, and the General Federation of Korean Anarchists... Many Korean anarchsits who attended the convention were affiliated with both organizations simultaneously, mostly maintaining dual memberships. The convention was chaired by Yu Rim, Yi Jeonggyu, and Sin Jaemo, and lasted for three days. It was of cardinal significance in that Korean anarchists now formally began to identify themselves not just as anarchist but, just like Yu Rim called himself, as ‘one who favors an autonomous government’ (jayul jeongbu juuija), distinguishing themselves from conventional anarchists who were usually believed to negate the state. This.... identification constituted a major breakthrough to post-1945 activities.” 
The outcome of the conference was the formation of an Independent Workers' and Peasants' Party (DNN) to participate in future elections. Its mouthpiece was The Workers' and Peasants' Newspaper. The Party’s aims were quite clear: John Crump in Anarchism and Nationalism in East Asia (University of York, York, UK , 1995) quotes the argument used in support of forming the DNN at Anui: "We, the Korean people, have today neither a free country or nor a free government. If we do not demonstrate our ability to govern ourselves we are about to fall under the rule of a foreign trusteeship. Under these conditions, even anarchists are bound to respond to the urgent desire of the people to build our own country and our own government. Therefore the anarchists must form our own political party and play a positive role in building a new Korea … a positive role in politics."
In the meantime, the growing north/south divide in Korea, deepened by the intervention of the great powers, would escalate into a bloody war. The United Independentist Conference collapsed. In 1948, Kim Gu met with Kim Il-Sung, with a view to uniting north and south Korea, but failed and ended up signing a document in favour of the trusteeship. He was later assassinated. Following a separate election in the American-linked south – boycotted by the DNN – the divide was formalised with the proclamation of the “Republic of Korea”. Kim’s predecessor in the Provisional Government, Syngman Rhee (Lee Seung-Man), was elected president. The north responded by proclaiming the “People's Republic of Korea” and the divisive die was cast. In 1950, the Korean War broke out between the north and the south, with the Soviet Union and Mao’s China supporting the north, and the United States the south. In a replay of Stalin’s policies from 1939, the Chinese Communist Party combined support for Kim with the conquest of Tibet. 
This was one of the many “hot” wars of the Cold War, and lasted until a stalemate was reached in 1953, with the country still divided roughly along the 38th Parallel. Half a million Westerners died, along with 2-million Koreans, in a war driven by the great powers, and which made no real difference to the geographical division of Korea – it simply hardened the division into two camps, and the alliance of each camp with its foreign backers. By that time, the first of the post-war South Korean dictatorships was formed, when Syngman Rhee closed the National Assembly and began to rule as an autocrat. Subsequently, the events of the Korean War would be echoed in Vietnam, where the country was roughly divided along the 17th Parallel. In 1960, the Northern Vietnam government advocated a war to liberate the South, where a Vietcong, or National Liberation Front, was formed. By 1965, the Vietnam War broke out, with the United States occupying the territory in the South. Heavily based among the peasantry, the armed forces of the National Liberation Front were – just like the CCP army in China before 1949 – quite outside of popular control. They were subject, instead, to a party hierarchy. While Birchall is correct to point to the National Liberation Front’s politics of a cross-class alliance throughout the 1960s – and its weak roots amongst the urban working class – it must be stressed that the eventual withdrawal of the United States in 1975 was followed by the formation of a “People’s Republic” of Vietnam under Ho Chi-minh. 
The Korean “anarchists” of the DNN and South and North Kyeungsang Province Anarchist Conference lines had little opportunity to carry out their programmes. South Korea would fall under a series of repressive governments from the 1950s. The stridently anti-Communist Syngman Rhee forced the anarchist movement, as well as other left-wing groups, underground, and the DNN collapsed in all but the cities of Taegu and Pusan, only recovering by 1956 when the country briefly liberalised again. But the DNN was finally repressed following the military coup of General Park Jung-Hi in 1961. An aggressively enforced Anti-Communist Law passed in the wake of the coup in 1961 (and only repealed in 1991) drew a broad definition of those whom Park’s junta saw as the enemies of the state: anyone sharing “a world-view or ideology with radical, socialist, anarchist or communist inclinations.”



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