Ron Press anclondon at gn.apc.org
Thu Apr 20 20:55:19 MDT 1995


>>>>>>>>>>> From Chris Burford

That is why I have tried to suggest from time to time on this
list, for exploration and critical clarification, that curiously,
for marxists in the "West" the decades old strategy of national
democratic movement, (stripped of any nationalism), or a new
democratic movement, is a serious route to explore.

I don't want to lumber Ron with my terminology or my approach but
some time ago he suggested that the South African political
situation might have relevance more widely. I detected no positive
response to what he said on this, and wondered if most of the list
thought it was far-fetched. But I don't think it is far fetched
for the reasons I have indicated above for myself.


The discussions on the list recently have become much more
practical. I myself do not know much about the various
organisations mentioned but the postings remind me very much if
the situation in the United Kingdom.

It is extremely difficult to be a revolutionary in a non
revolutionary situation. The result is that those who do not like
what is going on spawn a myriad of organisations. In the fullness
of time one or two of them survive.

This process has gone on in many lands and in South Africa in the
early thirties.

We had a great advantage. A communist party that recognised that a
broad organisation that represented the desires of the mass of the
most oppressed people was necessary and that that organisation was
the ANC, or at least that the ANC could develop into that

This led to the alliance.

This is not really unique or original. It is a variant on the
Broad front strategy against fascism, or the Anti-Vietnam
organisations, or CND in the UK, .....

One thing seems for sure. That to present the mass of the people,
especially at the present state of play, with the simple choice of
the "socialist revolution" or nothing is counter productive.

On the other hand to abandon the aim of socialism is likewise to
lead the people of Israel into the desert without even the hope of
a promised land.

So what to do? The left needs a focus, a centre where tactics,
strategy, agreements can be discussed and worked for. The left
needs to act together in the unions, in the community, in the
ghettoes, wherever there are problems to help the people. Not to
decide for them but to learn from them in struggle, in action.

It seems to me that the left is fragmented into sects. Arguing not
even about how many angels can sit on the head of a pin but where
the angels went wrong in trying to sit on the pin in the first
place. Discussion fine. Philosophy fine. Disagreements fine. But
about what? And to what end?

It seems to me that the left tear its self to pieces. For power?
What power? They love it when we fight amongst ourselves.

I remember my mate Brian used to say "Why do the far left parties
never grow?" " Because as soon as they recruit the third member
they have a congress to expel one of the first two.?"

The SACP used to do this in the thirties. They thankfully gave it
up as a bad job. I am not saying that we do not argue and fight
but we try as much as possible to stick together.  "Stalinists"
"Leninists" "Believers" Democrats" we have them.

The issue is who is the enemy and how can we organise the maximum
number of people to fight them.

The question of the present Government of National Unity is
consistent with our general philosophy but also the result of an
assessment of reality. There was no way we could (I mean the
Liberation Movement) overthrow the regime militarily. So we had to
do the best we could.  We still have an uphill battle to
redistribute the good things of life to all the people, our RDP.
Reconstruction and Development Plan. It is better to have our
erstwhile enemies with us in cabinet and parliament, than to have
them outside fomenting counter revolution.

Sectarianism comes from the failure to recognise ones own
weakness. When one is strong then tolerance comes easily (or
should, one of Stalin's mistakes) When one is weak then only by
recognising it and seeking allies can one become strong.

We got help from China (A whole ship full of food for our camps)
The USSR trained our cadres, India was one of the first to
institute a boycotts, David Steel a liberal in the UK was
president of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Huddleston an arch
bishop was also, Kenneth Kaunda was very supportive in concrete
ways, so was Castro. We looked for friends wherever we could find
them. We even approached the UK, The USA, West Germany, well they
were more reluctant so we tried again later.

History is very strange.

In the 1980's the Tories declared the ANC and the SACP terrorists.
( Me included) In the early 1990's the British special branch of
the police instituted special protection for us in the UK. (They
Did d not like the South African special branch letting off bombs
in London) In 1992 We were invited as observers to the Tory Party
conference. Me a member of the SACP given a pass to enter and
observe the Tories at work? Amazing. Then the other day Mendi
Msimang my immediate chief in the UK for many years shook the
Queens Hand.

Moke you sick. Sometimes I wonder if we are on the right path. But
when I look back we have travelled far and have far to go.

So have you. I wish you would get on with it.

Ron Press

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