8 November 2007

Nothing Wrong With Dual Power

Before the great split of 1914 that eventually led to the formation of the Communist Parties in the early 1920s, the working-class movement as a whole was generally referred to as “The Social Democracy”. One of the senses of this term was that it described a real and vast democracy that had been put together in the form of many, broadly united, democratic structures, created on the initiative of the working class in particular, and outside of the limited formal democracy provided by the bourgeois state.

In South Africa today we have something similar to that old “Social Democracy” in the shape of the SACP, the ANC and COSATU, plus individual trade unions. Their branch structures and their great plenary gatherings of thousands of delegates are the principal materialisation of democracy in South Africa.

The new parliamentary democracy based in Cape Town, hobbled by sycophancy, by its subordination to the Executive (Government) and to the Judiciary, and by its non-plenary status under the “sovereign” Constitution, appears insipid by comparison, and is in fact pitifully ineffectual.

Does the working class need to dismantle the autonomy of its existing “social democracy” in favour of a monolithic, binding, paper instrument, called an Alliance Pact? This question certainly springs to mind when reading SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande’s reflections on the occasion of the 90th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution, of which he recalls the “dual power” aspect in particular. This article appeared in the new Umsebenzi Online. See the first item below.

Dr Blade then refers us to the Bolivarian tradition of permanent dual power that is on the rise again in South America. The CU is able to provide some extra detail on this in the form of an interview with Venezuelan communist Jeronimo Carrera, done for the London communist daily newspaper The Morning Star by James Tweedie (see the second item).

In Cuba a dual power situation also exists, but it has been reversed. The members of parliament are all from mass movements, and not from political parties. Many are communists, but they are only in parliament on the strength of their support from mass democratic organisations such as trade unions. In other words, the “Social Democracy” has in Cuba displaced the vanguard political parties within the formal parliament, but has not abolished them. The Party’s democracy exists, as much as the parliamentary democracy exists. The pre-requisite for this Cuban arrangement is the prior overthrow of capitalism.

In a bourgeois parliamentary democracy like ours, all members of parliament are also members of one party or another, and the parliament tends to hold itself out as the totalisation of “democracy” in the abstract. We know of no hybrid system where delegates of mass movements mix with elected representative of political parties; and surely this is because there is no advantage to be gained from the collapsing of the dual power into such an indeterminate mixture.

The SACP yesterday issued an open letter, in the form of a second article in Umsebenzi Online, drawing the attention of delegates to the ANC 52nd National Conference in particular to the political imperatives of the moment, so that they may rise to the historical occasion. This statement, issued less than 24 hours ago as this CU edition is being written, has already made a national impact.

Dr Blade made yet another major statement yesterday, entitled “The Revolution is On Trial, (5)”. COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi also made a major speech to the same gathering (the SADTU NGC). It is very instructive to compare these two speeches. Of course, the debates we are having among ourselves are far more profound and meaningful than the confrontations we are obliged to have with the crass bourgeoisie. Why ever would that not be so? See the last two items.

Happy Diwali to everybody! The image above is of Lakshmi, goddess of plenty.

Click on these links:

Dual power - The living legacy of the Great October Revolution, Red Alert, SACP (2336 words)

Venezuelan Communist Jeronimo Carrera interviewed in Morning Star (1233 words)

We can’t go on like this - Together, Let us make sure things change, SACP (1841 words)

Revolution on trial (5), Build Working Class Hegemony, Nzimande to SADTU NGC (1907 words)

COSATU GS Z Vavi to the SADTU NGC, 7 November 2007 (2506 words)


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