[Marxism] South Africa - point of clarification

glparramatta glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Sat Aug 18 18:48:19 MDT 2007

--- In GreenLeft_discussion at yahoogroups.com, Walter Lippmann 
<walterlx at ...> wrote:
 > Nevertheless, I must say that I was startled by Norm Dixon's really
 > strong statement about the South African government. Keeping in mind
 > that South Africa has a coalition government with Communists in the
 > cabinet, Norm's description was truly remarkable. Since Norm is an
 > authoritative leader of the DSP, I'd like to ask if this is the
 > considered political position of the DSP on South Africa today?
 > Thanks,
 > Walter Lippmann
 > Los Angeles,California


I answered this already. I also put a few questions to you, which you 
have studiously ignored. I don't pretend to be ``an authoritative leader 
of the DSP'', on developments in South Africa or anywhere else. I try to 
be guided by my understanding of Marxism, by the views of socialists 
inside South Africa and the facts on the ground there.

You are ``startled'' by my ``remarkable'' observation that ``the ANC 
government, a harsh neo-liberal capitalist regime that is now 
Washington's appointed major partner on the African continent.'' Why?

You accept that the ANC in South Africa is a capitalist government. 
There is a fierce class struggle in South Africa between the South 
African working class and poor communities and the ruling capitalist 
class and its capitalist government, led by the African National 
Congress. There are daily clashes in poor neighbourhoods around 
Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town over the installation of 
pay-as-you-go water meters, evictions and to stop the cut-off of water 
supplies and electricity. In June, South Africa experienced its longest 
public-sector strike in history in which almost 1 million workers were 
on strike and had to face ruller bullets, tear gas, water cannon and 
police batons. The ANC mobilised troops to scab onm strikers and and 
intimidate picket lines.

Since at least 1997, the ANC has imposed a neoliberal austerity regime 
directed at the working class and poor, which includes strict limits on 
government spending, privatisation, expansion of user-pays services, 
failure to address the apartheid legacy, while all along delivering 
massive tax cuts to big business and the most wealthy and creating (in 
open collaboration with the existing white capitalist class) a new class 
of black rich capitalists, many of whom were former ANC leaders (Tokyo 
Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa).

In those struggles, socialists take sides with the workers, the poor and 
the oppressed -- so obviously the articles that GLW carries are often 
critical of the neoliberal, anti-worker government of South Africa (in 
general the only ``critising'' we do is let the facts speak for themslves).

IN GLW, we attempt to present the views of the mass movements of the 
poor and workers, groups directly particpating in the struggles -- the
Anti-Privatisation Forums, the movements against water and electricity
cut-offs, COSATU and the SACP. We also attempt to report and reflect
the debates taking place on the SA left, including within COSATU and
the SACP, and outside of it, about the way forward to achieve a
government that genuinely rules in the interests of the workers and
poor of South Africa, and heaven forbid, at some time ahead a socialist 
South Africa.

Does that make me (or the DSP) Sparticists? Why decend to such 
apolitical, uncomradely insults?

I asked in an earlier post: What would Walter suggest we do otherwise. 
Stop reporting the class struggle in South Africa and the views of the 
activist left involved there, for fear that it will put the ANC regime 
in a bad light? Instead, trawl for ``good news'' stories about the ANC? 
I suggest they are few and far between, and to concentrate on that would 
simply be an excerise in misleading our readers about the actual nature 
of the ANC regime and developments in South Africa.

Should socialists not offer solidarity to those struggling against a 
capitalist, pro-US regime? Should we condemn them for struggling against 
a party that once played a progressive role in the overthrow of 
apartheid, but is now on the other side of the class struggle? On whose 
side should we be? The capitalist government of South Africa or the 
workers and poor in struggle against it?

Socialists oppose capitalist governments and offer solidarity to those
in struggle against them. In the long run, socialists' goal is to in 
each country they live in is to overthrow capitalism, isn't it? And 
socialists outside offer solidarity to their struggles, don't they? At 
the minimum they try to understand what is going on. If that makes me 
(or the DSP, but the views above are my own) a Spart, so be it.


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