[Marxism] Letter to Desmond Tutu concerning President Robert Mugabe

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 6 12:24:43 MDT 2008

Walter wrote:
>A problem with the "either" "or" approach to politics is that it 
>leaves out of the equation those messy, less-satisfactory approaches 
>which sometimes occur in real life. The ultimatistic ultimatums we 
>sometimes hear about from those for whom nothing less than 100% will 
>suffice omit some of the unpleasant alternatives which real life at 
>times presents. In Colombia, the guerrillas are too strong to be 
>defeated, but not strong enough to win. Same as was the case with 
>the ANC in South Africa, and the IRA in Ireland. Sometimes the 
>solution which might be less desirable in theory becomes the viable 
>alternative to going on fighting without practical possibility of 
>victory. Perfectionism spells paralysis, it's worth keeping in mind.

Who is talking about "ultimatistic"? There have been all sorts of 
examples of redistributive economic policies that stop short of the 
Bolshevik revolution. Kerala is one that comes immediately to mind. A 
Communist government has promoted education, health, and land reform 
policies that most people expected from the ANC. The same was true of 
a number of "African socialist" countries that while not really being 
socialist were far more redistributive than Zimbabwe or South Africa. 
While there were all sorts of problems with Nyere's rural 
collectivization program, the least that could be said of it was that 
it favored the rich. Like Nyere, Nkrumah had a visionary program for 
Ghana that included installing tap water systems in rural villages. 
By contrast, Mbeki has been skilled at implementing water metering 
instead. It would have been easier for Ghana and Tanzania to succeed 
if they had the kind of abundance and technological infrastructure as 
South Africa. When I was in Lusaka in 1990, all the ANC'ers I spoke 
to had ambitious plans for redistributing the wealth. The way that 
this could have been achieved was by mobilizing the masses as had 
been the case up to the abolition of apartheid. After apartheid 
ended, the ANC brass decided that it was in their own interest to 
stop short of social liberation. This was not because it didn't 
achieve a "military victory" but because it lacked the political will.

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