[Marxism] South Africa: Anti-Immigrant Attacks…And Unfulfilled Dreams of Liberation

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 10 14:26:45 MDT 2008

>From REVOLUTION, the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party,
lead by Bob Avakian, here's a look at South Africa which should seem
very familiar to readers of Marxmail as well. I don't agree with some
opinions from the RCP, their analyses, like those of various other
currents on the political left, are prepared in a serious manner and
provide us all with food for thought. These Maoists play an active
role in many of today's protests through THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT as they
had before through NOT IN OUR NAME and other vehicles. They share a
militant hostility to Barack Obama with the prevailing opinions on
Marxmail as well.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Revolution #135, July 13, 2008

South Africa: Anti-Immigrant Attacks
…And Unfulfilled Dreams of Liberation


The unstoppable waves of struggle against the hated apartheid regime
had presented the South African rulers and the imperialists with a
political crisis and they had to stop the rebellions. To do this, the
South African regime moved to suppress the uprisings through the
brute force of the military and police. But this alone was not
sufficient to get past this crisis. The South African rulers also
needed to find a partner among the opponents of apartheid who could
be drawn into negotiations that would lead to a “new South Africa,”
that would supposedly have economic justice and racial equality for
all. The solution they went for was to bring black Africans into some
top political posts as well as incorporate a section of the Black
national movement into South African colonial rule in almost every
sphere of society.

The African National Congress (ANC) and its leader, Nelson Mandela,
became a very willing and crucial partner in carrying out this
imperialist program. By the early 1990s the apartheid regime had
released Mandela from prison and begun negotiations with him and the
ANC. In the 1994 elections—the first time ever that black people were
allowed to vote in South Africa—Mandela was elected president and the
ANC became the ruling party in the country.

The press called the 1994 elections the “most profound and promising
transformation to democracy in modern times.” But in fact, what this
election actually represented was the consolidation of the
imperialist-backed South African neocolonial state—in a new form and
with a new “democratic” look. It was an organized transfer of the
presidency and parliament to the ANC, in a joint administration with
representatives of the old white ruling National Party.

The struggle of the people was consciously diverted by the ANC into
what became known as the “negotiations” process. Preaching harmony
and national reconciliation, the ANC’s message in effect liquidated
the difference between oppressed and oppressor and provided the
ruling class with an opportunity to preserve and reinforce the
political and economic system that had underlain apartheid, while
getting rid of some of the open barbaric features of white-only rule.
And this election was an important political success for imperialism
internationally—providing an example of how to successfully defuse
national liberation struggles and divert the anger of the masses into
a “safe” process of working within the system.

No Fundamental Change

The system of apartheid was formally ended. But in reality, the form
of imperialist domination was retooled and refined in order to create
more favorable conditions for this domination to not only continue
but to intensify and expand. And this was orchestrated and financed
to a great extent by the imperialists, especially the United States.
The new government still represented the same ruling class interests
and the country remained subordinate to and oppressed by imperialism.
And the deep inequalities and severe impoverishment of the masses
engendered by apartheid remain in place and are growing worse.

The ANC government has succeeded in creating a relatively small black
middle class and even a handful of black tycoons, but the severe gap
between the rich and poor has grown even wider than in the days of
apartheid. Between 1995 and 2000 the average black household income
shrank by 19%, while that of whites and the black middle class grew
by 15%. The poorest 10% of South Africans now have the same share of
the national income as they did in 1993, the year before the official
end of apartheid. And in 1996 there were 1.9 million people in South
Africa living on less than a dollar a day; in 2006 that number rose
to 4.2 million. The official unemployment rate is said to be 23% but
most analysts put it closer to 40% nationwide and 50% in the
townships (and slightly higher for township youth). Only 50% of
African families get their main income from a job.


In countries like South Africa (and most of the rest of the world),
the task of national liberation from imperialism is the pressing
task. A new democratic revolution, as the first stage of a socialist
revolution, is the first, essential step. This is a revolution that
unites and represents the interests of all who can be united to
overthrow feudalism and semi-feudalism, the bureaucrat-capitalist
class and state system dependent on and serving imperialism.

But the ANC had a very different program. The ANC never fought for
genuine liberation of the people. The ANC has never been about
overthrowing and uprooting the economic, political, and social
relations of capitalism that exploit and oppress the masses of
Azanian people. The ANC has never been about kicking imperialism out
of the country. It has never been about ending the situation where
the country is dominated by and subordinate to global imperialism.
The ANC came to power with a whole program built around the idea that
working within the system of capitalism and imperialism is what is
not only the best that can be done in the world today, but what is
desirable. They came to power with a program based on the view that
the solution to South Africa’s problems was opening the country up to
the global capitalist economy even more. And at the heart of that is
the continuation, intensification, and extension of all the
production, class and social relations and ideas that go along with
that. The African proletarians will be guaranteed super-exploitation
while the imperialists are guaranteed the protection of their private
property and their right to super-exploit the Azanian people. The ANC
program represented the class interests of the comprador
bourgeoisie—a class whose interests lie in allying itself with and
becoming the “brokers” for imperialism and a class which is, in turn,
backed up and propped up by imperialism.

For example, mining—and all of the production and social relations
associated with it—was not only preserved but developed further as
the backbone of the economy. And today most of the miners doing the
difficult and dangerous work in the mines are black while the vast
majority of the management staff remains white. And most of the
mining corporations are based in the European Union countries or the
U.S. Many of the corporations that formed the economic backbone of
the apartheid economy occupy the same position in the economy today,
except that they are now based in the UK instead of South Africa, a
distinction that offers them more flexibility and privileges than
they would have as a South African-based corporation. Manufacturing,
especially the auto industry, is another important element of the
economy and the imperialist corporations involved are familiar to
all—Ford, GM, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota, Bavarian Motors,
and Daimler.


There are anywhere from three to five million immigrants in South
Africa today—many if not most are undocumented and considered to be
“illegal.” The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are from
Zimbabwe—estimates range from just over one million to three
million—and much of the Zimbabwean economy depends on the money and
commodities it receives from this migrant labor. The overall
immigrant population in South Africa is growing at an incredible
rate. While the native South African population growth is estimated
at 2.4%, the foreign born growth rate has been as high as 19% in the
past 12 months.

Similar to the situation facing undocumented immigrants inside the
U.S., the South African economy needs the profit it reaps from these
immigrants. As part of creating a situation where immigrants are
forced to live in the shadows, terrorized and willing to work for
whatever wage offered, the South African regime has unleashed a
campaign of raids, arrests, and deportations of “illegals.” According
to the International Organization for Migration, the South African
government deported 102,413 undocumented immigrants to Zimbabwe
between January and June of 2007 alone, a monthly average of 17,000
people. Living in this kind of terror, the undocumented immigrants
are preyed on by the mines, factories, and farms of South Africa. In
fact, this rapid growth in undocumented immigrants has corresponded
to a shrinking of the “legal” contract laborers brought into the
mines from other countries.

As native South Africans and immigrants are forced to compete with
each other to survive, tension is created and in this context it
doesn’t take much to set off a terrible situation when two very
desperate groups of people are set off against each another. Each one
blames the other for their suffering. And the lack of a revolutionary
leadership ensures that each group will remain blind to its real
interests and be played by the imperialist system. This is what is so
horribly on display now with the anti-immigrant riots.


     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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