Fwd: [BLACK-LEFT] SACP Speech to COSATU Congress

Russell Grinker grinker at SPAMmweb.co.za
Sun Aug 22 05:46:16 MDT 1999

Just a few more points:

my other question... was what the SACP ought to
>be doing now instead of what he believes it is doing.

Does my opinion really matter?  They agreed long ago to live with GEAR and
make the best of a bad situation from inside the movement.  Minister
Fraser-Moleketi is a perfect example of a Communist Party member who  went
down that path. I'm sure her intentions were honest.

If the SACP is now hopeless,
>what should its angry rank and file do?

Again my opinion is of little consequence.  The real issue is how to relate
to a situation in which public disenchantment with political life is
becoming the norm.  The SACP used to represent a political philosophy (with
all its warts and deformations) which at least represented one of the key
(contending) visions of a desirable society.  Politics here today (including
the SACP's politics) increasingly have little in common with the forces that
shaped the old national liberation/2 stage struggle.  The CP today has
little room for the robust advocates of revolution.  While conference
bulletins may look like the old stuff with their references to imperialism
or neo-liberalism, its everyday programme has more to do with technical
tinkering with real existing capitalism (and is effectively the programme of
the ANC).  But it's not just that they've become more realistic and moderate
(although they have).  The real point is that they've given up on politics
with a capital P.  The logic of working from inside the system means that
today, mobilising the masses is not on.  Where once their programme
emphasised internal contradictions in the accumulation process or maybe
inequitable distribution or under-consumption (they always were pretty
eclectic) as the problems with capitalism, and the working class as the
agent of change, they now accept, along with every other tendency, that
there is no alternative to the market.  This outlook affects the masses as
much as the leadership.  They are exhausted as a collective political force.
Rather than come up with the usual prescriptions for what should be done
(build a new party/enter the movement to influence left-moving
forces/reconstitute fragments of the left etc, etc), one needs to ask: how
do we relate to this radically different situation?  It first requires us to
grasp intellectually just how much things have changed.

>On this general topic, Jay Moore posted an LA Times article taking jabs at
>SACP leaders in government for opposing the workers:

The Times' little digs aside, the article is essentially correct in its

I have no idea how the SACP
>members in the public services union are going to handle the situation when
>their co-workers ask them why their comrade Fraser-Moleketi imposed the
See my points on this in my previous posting.

>In this last election, the ANC was overwhelmingly supported by the workers
>and poor, and received little or no support from the big bourgeoisie who
>were terrified of its getting a two-thirds majority and of South Africa's
>becoming a "one-party state".  (Russell, correct me if I'm wrong here.)

You are wrong.  While substantial portions of the old white working class as
well as its traditional white middle class constituency supported the
Democratic Party, the big bourgeoisie effectively dumped the DP and called
for an ANC vote.

>course the question of where the votes come from does not determine  class
>character.  But what does?  Can we say that the bourgeoisie has created
>structures which ensure that the ANC is completely and irretrievably under
>their control, as they have with the Democratic Party in the U.S.?  I don't
>think so.

Probably.  Time will tell.

the same can be said
>with much greater force of the AFL-CIO in the United States, for example.
>That doesn't mean the AFL-CIO doesn't have any working-class character.

It's not a political party.  But anyway, it may be appropriate in some cases
to write off even a labour federation if it's ceased to be of any use in
defending wages and conditions/effectively undermines defence of these.

>Furthermore, I think it's questionable whether the ANC is really completely
>in control of the state or not, that is, of the police and the army.

No it isn't (on its own admission).  Does this mean we advise throwing
everything else to the wind to defend it against old guard elements in the
military?   There seems no real coup threat at present.  In fact the alleged
threat of a white right coup was precisely used (by De Klerk) to rush the
left into support for the negotiations strategy prior to 1994.  This threat
proved to be a real paper tiger.
>Frankly, and speaking personally, the more I think about the situation in
>South Africa, the more I think it resembles a very murky kind of dual power
>situation, one which is very unusual and which has arisen only because of
>the peculiar and unusual historical circumstances, in South Africa and
>globally, which brought it into being.  At the risk of sounding crazy, I'm
>going to say that it's sort of as if the demand 'All Power to the Soviets'
>had for some unusual reason been won in Russia in July of 1917.  The ANC is
>sort of like the Congress of Soviets itself (rather than like one of the
>parties within it),

No - it is now a fairly tightly run centralised organisation

but it's not (yet?) a Bolshevik Congress of Soviets.
>Therefore, important political struggles are going on within it at all
>levels, and the situation is completely unstable.  The bourgeoisie wins the
>round if it is able either (a) to completely subvert the ANC and convert it
>into its tool, or (b) to overthrow the ANC.  The working class wins the
>round if it is able to BOTH (a) win over the ANC to the socialist road and
>(b) get a monopoly of armed force (state power) either by stealing the
>existing army from the bourgeoisie or by creating new formations.

Historical analogies are dodgy at the best of times. Given the current state
of the working class this one is ridiculous.
>But the level of strain and instability is clearly intense.  Or at least it
>seems that way from here,

Yes, this is broadly speaking true (not necessarily true of the coherence of
ANC structures).  This is inevitable in a country where development is so
uneven.  Any resistance is however likely to be increasingly fragmented,
outside organised structures and consequently susceptible to being hijacked
by reaction.


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