18 February 2008


[posted early] At 17h00 tonight (Tuesday) we meet on the 3rd floor of COSATU House (1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein) for our discussion of V I Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?”. We hope that Cde Dinga Sikwebu will be present to give us his firm views on this work, as he has threatened to do since last year!

“What Is to Be Done” is an argument about the necessity for a working-class party (i.e. a vanguard or communist party), made against those who would say that the defensive, reformist mass organisations of the working class, and particularly the trade unions, are sufficient to the task of carrying the working-class interest to a satisfactory conclusion. In South Africa today, such people are known as “workerists”; in Lenin’s day, they were called “economists”.

This text is the pivotal work, but not the last word, in our set called “
Can We Do Without A Communist Party?” (click on that title for a link to the entire course and further links to the texts, this time in MS-Word download format). It followed on from the polemic with the reformist Bernstein and it preceded the Second Congress of the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) of August, 1903, when that party split into two factions, the revolutionary Bolsheviks and the reformist, gradualist Mensheviks. Following that Congress, Lenin wrote a report of it called “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, which is our discussion text for next week (linked below), and which in turn prompted Rosa Luxemburg to respond with the pamphlet that is known as “Leninism or Marxism?”, which we will also discuss in due course.

These texts have all been taken from, and can be found in full at, the
Marxists Internet Archive. The image is of a 1921 poster, taken from Bolshevik Festivals 1917-1921, by James von Geldern. The caption says “The martyrs of the Paris Commune were resurrected under the red banner of the Soviets".

Fait accompli” is the French phrase for something that is taken for granted, or sometimes “finish and klaar”, or “cast in stone” as some people would have it. Undemocratic lobbyists strive to create a fait accompli, beyond the reach of reason and argument. Eskom’s behaviour in the past months may have been no more or less than their way of deliberately creating a fait accompli for what they want to happen in the future.

The first line of Samantha Enslin-Payne’s report below spells it out quite obviously: “Eskom will turn to the private sector to build and operate a base load power station, to plug a gap between the commissioning of two new coal-fired plants and new nuclear capacity.” This looks like the main Eskom agenda, smuggled through in broad daylight under cover of the panic that Eskom itself has stage-managed. “Uproar in the West, success in the East”. The senior Eskom managers need to be pruned, along with the ministers who have been close to this mess, to squash any suggestion of fait accompli.

These sorcerers’ apprentices have created a chaos, spelled out clearly in Mathabo le Roux linked article. Meanwhile, the DA fishes in troubled waters, not minding the privatisation but alleging corruption, as if privatisation was not already corruption. This is similar to the DA’s attitude to the arms deal, where they want uncorrupted militarism – a contradiction in terms. See the fourth linked article below.

The article about Bulelani Ngcuka is a “reverse” news story. It starts when Ngcuka tries to secure a “fait accompli” favourable to himself. But he is pulled up and told that the Polokwane policy is broad-based BEE. So he runs to the Business Report with a sob story and they print it. See the link.

Although Eskom has now stopped its power cuts in SA, they are still continuing in Zimbabwe. This is causing serious communication problems for the contending parties in the election campaign there. It also means that the foreign web sites dealing with Zimbabwe, many of which look like intelligence operations, have an advantage at the moment. The linked report from the “Zimbabwe Guardian” website offers what looks like good information, which we are not yet able to confirm separately.

The People's Budget Coalition (PBC) comprises COSATU, the SA Council of Churches and the SA NGO Coalition.
Click here to download their 640 KB 33-page 2008 PDF budget download.

Click on these links:

Lenin, 1904, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Compilation (14954 words)

Eskom needs private power station, Samantha Enslin-Payne, B Report (552 words)

Coal markets rocked by Eskom, Mathabo le Roux, Business Day (664 words)

Shortlisting of corruption tainted company, Enslin-Payne, B Report (382 words)

Political ties weigh on Ngcuka Vodacom bid, Thabiso Mochiko, B Report (334 words)

Zimbabwe election of sorts, Editorial, The Zimbabwe Guardian (496 words)

Coming Events

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