11 February 2008

What is to be done?

The Communist University meets this (Tuesday) afternoon at 17h00 on the third floor of COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, to discuss “Reform or Revolution?” by Rosa Luxemburg, first published in 1900. This great work was a rejection of Eduard Bernstein’sEvolutionary Socialism”, in which, Luxemburg said (correctly as it has turned out) that Bernstein had written the last word on reformism and had thereby done the world a favour.

The question, “Reform or Revolution?”, is precisely the one that hangs in the background of the new ANC
Strategy and Tactics” document, and that hangs over South Africa generally, as it will continue to do, for both objective and subjective reasons-.

Rosa was quicker off the mark than V I Lenin, who attacked the same Bernstein book in 1902 with his famous “What is to be Done?”, linked below in extracts. This work of Lenin’s is the blueprint for the modern communist parties, starting with the Bolsheviks. Lenin’s argument turns upon the relationship between “economist” (i.e “workerist” and by the way also reformist) mass organisations of the working class, mainly trade unions, and on the other hand the vanguard professional proletarian party that Lenin insists is a revolutionary necessity.

The question of workerism versus the Leninist mass/vanguard model is the one that hangs in the background of COSATU’s deliberations about an Alliance Pact within which COSATU would have a direct treaty with the bourgeois state, by-passing the proletarian political party, the SACP. COSATU declares that their Alliance Pact will not be a collaborationist Social Accord or a Social Contract. Whether this is actually so or not may be judged according to the standard set by Lenin.

Cde Dinga Sikwebu has prepared an opening to the discussion on “What is to be Done” for next week. Which aspect of the work he will choose to emphasise, we do not yet know, but we do know that he has strong views on the matter.

In history, the concept of a single, monolithic state is (if we are not mistaken) invariably cast like a shadow by the bourgeois state, whether prefigured, present, or past. In other periods of history, not heavily influenced by capitalist relations, the actual plurality of institutional power (whether democratic or not) has been openly recognised. From the “Orders” of the Roman Republic to the “Estates” of feudal France, and in the plural court systems of Britain, multiple powers have been the rule more often than not.

Thus when an entity like Eskom comes forth as a power unrestrained by the executive, bullying and terrorising the population, it is no use to make excuses for it on grounds that we are “socialist”, or “left”, and therefore must not expose a parastatal to criticism. Fortunately the NUM has no such delusions and it hits hard. See the second linked item. The plurality of power is a reality which cannot and should not be disguised for the sake of “developmentalism”, or by dreams of an enforced single “political centre”.

For further particulars about the Eskom scandal, the Johannesburg Star has some revelations. The Communist University also has in its possession a PDF of slides presented last month by Eskom CE Jacob Maroga, from which the CU derives a table. Both these items are linked below.

Finally, the Google Groups are very reliable but right now there is a rare problem. We are currently unable to make pages on the CU’s group site. Therefore the invitation to Uranium Road cannot for the moment be added to “Coming Events”. But see the link below.

Click on these links:

Lenin, 1902, What Is To Be Done, Compilation (11576 words)

NUM warns Eskom of its unilateralism, NUM Media Release (225 words)

Eskom documents show business knew of crisis, Louise Flanagan, Star (1047 words)

Eskom's Proposed Solutions de-euphemised by the CU (Table)

Uranium Road, film, 18h00, Wits Senate House, 18 February 2008

Coming Events


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