25 June 2011

Permanent Revolution

State and Revolution, Part 1a

1848 in Germany

Permanent Revolution

In the thick of revolution great questions are suddenly thrust forward demanding decisive responses, in circumstances where the revolutionary forces - the Subject of History - are hardly coherent and may still be largely clandestine, and therefore invisible. In 1917 the revolution managed to articulate itself, as we will see during this course on “The State and Revolution”, to a considerable extent by reference to previous revolutionary experiences. One such passage of history began in 1848 and involved Karl Marx, who, like Lenin, applied himself to making clear the necessities of the moment, the line of march to be followed, and the allies to be taken.

Karl Marx’s March 1850 Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League begins by describing the working proletariat as the “only decisively revolutionary class”, and ends with a battle-cry for the workers: “The Permanent Revolution!”

In the Address, Marx is advocating all possible means of achieving revolutionary change which, if not theoretically reversible, would nevertheless in practice not be reversed.

“The workers' party must go into battle with the maximum degree of organization, unity and independence, so that it is not exploited and taken in tow by the bourgeoisie,” said Marx, with the events of the previous two years in mind, when the bourgeois allies of the working class had treacherously sold the workers out as soon as they could secure favourable terms for themselves from the reactionary feudal powers.

Marx then very frankly reviews the competing self-interests of the contending classes and fractions of the bourgeoisie.

“There is no doubt that during the further course of the revolution in Germany, the petty-bourgeois democrats will for the moment acquire a predominant influence. The question is, therefore, what is to be the attitude of the proletariat, and in particular of the League towards them,” declared Marx.

“As in the past, so in the coming struggle also, the petty bourgeoisie, to a man, will hesitate as long as possible and remain fearful, irresolute and inactive; but when victory is certain it will claim it for itself and will call upon the workers to behave in an orderly fashion, to return to work and to prevent so-called excesses, and it will exclude the proletariat from the fruits of victory,” warned Marx.

The working class must “be independently organized and centralized in clubs,” and “it is the task of the genuinely revolutionary party… to carry through the strictest centralization,” wrote Marx. Reading this section, it becomes clear that Marx was convinced that the building of the democratic republic and the building of the nation had to be one and the same set of actions.

The working-class tactics in alliance with the bourgeois democrats should be to “force the democrats to make inroads into as many areas of the existing social order as possible,” and constantly to “drive the proposals of the democrats to their logical extreme”.

The workers must always look ahead to the next act of the revolutionary drama. They will “contribute most to their final victory by informing themselves of their own class interests, by taking up their independent political position as soon as possible, and by not allowing themselves to be misled by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie into doubting for one minute the necessity of an independently organized party of the proletariat.”

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

Lenin against Syndicalism


Lenin against Syndicalism

"Demagogues are the worst enemies of the working class" - Lenin

This programme of political education texts is presently following the “Basics” course, which is the first of eight “Generic Courses” that are all accessible from the CU’s home page and from the SACP web site. Please see yesterday's post, called "Vanguard!", for instructions as to how to obtain the texts in hard copy from Jetline Print on Demand.

These Generic Courses are designed for self-organised Freirean study circles, meeting on a regular and presumably weekly basis without an outside lecturer. So, there is a main text for each week. This week, our main text has been “Worker Solidarity and Unions” from MIA, combined with Procedure of Meetings, based on Wal Hannington’s “Mr Chairman”. An introduction to these texts was sent out for yesterday, under the heading “Vanguard”.

As well as a main text each week, there is usually one or more than one supporting text, which may be regarded as supplementary, alternative, or additional reading. This week the supporting text to this discussion of the workers’ mass organisations and their necessary counterpart, the revolutionary Party, is made up of extracts from Lenin’s “What is to be Done?


In this book Lenin was concerned to oppose what he called “economism”, which is also called “syndicalism” and in South Africa in the past and still up to now, “workerism”.

Lenin was concerned to show (following the publication of Eduard Bernstein’s gradualist “Evolutionary Socialism” and Rosa Luxemburg’s “Reform or Revolution?”) that a revolutionary transformation of society was not possible without a revolutionary political party of the working class. Trade union organisation of the working class was never going to be sufficient.

In the process Lenin was moved to denounce demagogy in the severest terms (see the quote above, which is taken from the text that we are using today. One reason that Lenin denounced demagogues so emphatically is because they misrepresent themselves as being “left” or revolutionary, when in fact they are “right”, and in particular gradualist, reformist and class-collaborationist.

Worker’s Control?

Sometimes syndicalism arrives at a point where it proposes, demagogically, “worker’s control” under capitalism. Marx and Lenin both denounced such tomfoolery – see, for example, Marx’s “Critique of the Gotha Programme

Lenin showed that the worker’s political party, the communist party, remains a “must-have”. To achieve its goals the working class must combine in a "vast association of the whole nation" and so rise above the peasant and petty-bourgeois condition of being a "sack of potatoes".

Whereas the syndicalism of individual factories or isolated mines is nothing more than a reversion to petty-bourgeois consciousness, in conditions where such petty-bourgeois behaviour is hopelessly subordinated to a bourgeois market that it cannot possibly control.

How will they sell their products, unless on the terms of the Imperialists? This is why we say that demagogy is nothing but the class enemy’s message, dressed up and re-sold in fake-revolutionary clothes. Demagogues will even be found denouncing the real revolutionaries as fakes.

When in doubt about such things, it helps to study. Lenin is a good person to study, because he was good at telling the difference between genuine things, and fakes. Especially, Lenin opposed syndicalism, workerism, gradualism reformism and economism, all of which still exist today.


Value, Price and Profit


Value, Price and Profit

Please note the change to Thursday!!!!

By 1865 Karl Marx (pictured) had solved the theoretical problems of his work, “Capital”, on Surplus Value, and in that year he gave the well-known address to a gathering of workers that afterwards became a popular publication under the name “Value, Price and Profit”, also sometimes called “Wages, Price and Profit”. The first volume of “Capital” was published two years later.

This short book has served the labour movement well, down the years. Among other things, it debunks the argument, still attempted by employers and their apologists in South Africa today, that wage rises will cause unemployment.

It shows how commodities, including commodity Labour-Power, are normally sold at their full value, yet how, at the same time, the worker is getting swindled every day. It explains this apparent paradox.

It encourages workers to struggle for better wages and conditions, but it also (prefiguring Lenin’s argument against “Economism” forty years later in “What is to be Done?”) shows clearly why trade unionism, without political organisation, will never succeed in throwing off the yoke of capital. Karl Marx was not a syndicalist. He struggled against syndicalism relentlessly, throughout his life.

The abridged version of “Value, Price and Profit”, linked below, can serve as the short, or “basic”, version of “Capital” that so many people long for. It will help us to get a better grip on some of the key concepts in “Capital, Volume 1” such as Labour, Value, Labour-Power, and above all, Surplus-Value.

For this purpose we have put aside many of the sections of “Value, Price and Profit”. The work is available on the Internet for anyone who would like to read it in full. The best source for Marxist classics in general on the Internet is the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA).

24 June 2011

The April Theses

State and Revolution, Part 1

Lenin arrives at the Finland Station in April, 1917

The April Theses

This is the first part of our ten-part course on Lenin’s 1917 work “The State and Revolution”. The book has only six chapters, which we will take one at a time from part 4 to part 9. In the first three parts we will try to furnish some of the political context. In part 10 we will pose the question of where Lenin’s unfinished work would need to be taken, if it were to be extended in light of the now knowledge that we now have, nearly a century later after Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution.

The year of 1917 in Russia was actually a year of two revolutions, and another revolution had gone before, in 1905. The 1905 revolution had seen the formation of the parliament (the Duma) and also the organs of Russian popular power, the Soviets. Both the Duma and the Soviets still existed in 1917.

The “Great War”, or “First World War”, of 1914-1918 was still going on, involving tens of millions of armed men in unparalleled slaughter. It was an inter-Imperialist war. Russia was fighting Germany. The Bolsheviks (under Lenin’s leadership from exile in Switzerland) had refused to take part in this inter-Imperialist war in any way, and instead denounced it and opposed it.

The February 1917 revolution established something resembling a bourgeois-democratic republic based on the Duma. Lenin returned to Russia from Switzerland by train in April, two months later. All kinds of questions remained to be resolved. The question of war and peace was the most urgent. The nature of the revolution was still to be decided. In between April and October, Lenin pronounced the “April Theses”, and wrote “The State and Revolution”. We will begin with the first of these two.

The April Theses is a classic document, not because it is polished (it is rough), but because of its impact at a moment of history. It was given by Lenin verbally. The written version (download linked below) was prepared very shortly afterwards.

Lenin arrived in Petrograd (also called St Petersburg and Leningrad) barely a month after the February, 1917 revolution which had overthrown the Tsar and installed a bourgeois republican government that had the intention of continuing the disastrous intra-Imperialist war in which Russia was involved.  South Africa was also involved in it.

It was among those South Africans who opposed the 1914-18 Imperialist that the need for our communist party was first seriously raised. The Communist Party of South Africa was formed by admission to the Communist International in 1921. That Communist International (A new International.”) had been called for by Lenin in this document, the April Theses, in Thesis 10:

“We must take the initiative in creating a revolutionary International, an International against the social-chauvinists and against the ‘Centre’,” it says.  The Third International (also called Communist International or Comintern) was duly established in 1919.

The “social-chauvinists” of different individual countries (e.g. Germany, Britain, France and Italy as well as Russia) had supported the Imperialist war against each other, while the Russian Bolsheviks and the German Spartacists had opposed the war and had supported proletarian internationalism. The term “revolutionary defencism” was a code for the further continuation of the Russian war policy, which Lenin clearly opposes in Thesis 1.

The “April Theses” are short and do not therefore need a long introduction, but one can usefully highlight the following:

Thesis 2 says: “The specific feature of the present situation in Russia is that the country is passing from the first stage of the revolution — which, owing to the insufficient class-consciousness and organisation of the proletariat, placed power in the hands of the bourgeoisie — …

“This peculiar situation demands of us an ability to adapt ourselves to the special conditions of Party work among unprecedentedly large masses of proletarians who have just awakened to political life.”

There are echoes of this situation in South Africa today.

Thesis 4 says: “As long as we are in the minority we carry on the work of criticising and exposing errors and at the same time we preach the necessity of transferring the entire state power to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, so that the people may overcome their mistakes by experience.” This led to the slogan “All Power to the Soviets”, and Thesis 5 then says “to return to a parliamentary republic from the Soviets of Workers' Deputies would be a retrograde step.”

Thesis 8 says: “It is not our immediate task to "introduce" socialism, but only to bring social production and the distribution of products at once under the control of the Soviets of Workers' Deputies.” In other words, the bourgeois dictatorship was to be replaced at once by a dictatorship over the bourgeoisie.

Thesis 9 proposes to change the Party’s name from “Social Democrat” (RSDLP) to “Communist Party.”

So much of this did come to pass, as we know, that it is difficult to imagine that Lenin’s support for these demands, among the leadership and even among the strictly Bolshevik leadership, was small.

But Lenin knew how the base of the Party was constructed and how it was reproducing itself. Hence he was able to be bold. He knew that the Bolshevik cadre force as a whole, and potentially the entire working masses of Russia, were behind his proposals, or soon would be. And so it came to pass.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

23 June 2011

Lenin’s The State and Revolution

State and Revolution, Part 0

Lenin’s The State and Revolution

Short General Introduction

The State and Revolution is a book of V I Lenin’s that was written in the months between the February and October Russian Revolutions of 1917.

Interrupted by the Bolshevik Revolution, the book was never completed.

The State and Revolution is an uncompromising description of The State and of how it can be revolutionised, written as a revisit and critique of the writings of Marx and Engels on the one hand, and of those of various reformist, opportunist and anarchist characters on the other hand, all the way up to Karl Kautsky.

Kautsky had been the leading renegade among the German Social Democrats of the 2nd International, at the outbreak in 1914 of the war that was still going on in 1917, and which did not come to an end until the following year.

The State and Revolution is well worth studying in its entirety of six chapters. In form, it is ideal for the Freirean method of pedagogy through study circles. Each Chapter is of a suitable length for reading and discussion by a group that meets weekly. This course includes parts of some of the documents mentioned by Lenin in the book, with other relevant and related material, and is thereby extended to our standard course-length of ten parts.

One problem that appears in relation to the State is whether or to what extent the State can be treated as benign, or developmental? In the SACP we do not repudiate Lenin, yet we still praise state ownership and state “delivery”. How are these things reconciled?

If the State is benign, then why would we want it to wither away?

But if the state is but “a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” [Marx/Engels, Communist Manifesto], and “an Instrument for the Exploitation of the Oppressed Class” [Lenin, State & Revolution] then how can it at the same time be beneficial?

We will reflect on these matters, among others, as we go through the work.

Lenin realised that the eventual transition to communism had to be secured in the process of the transition to socialism. He realised that there would be a moment of danger when it would be possible that the worker’s state could redevelop the characteristics of the bourgeois state.

This is what happened in the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the eventual consequence was the collapse and break-up of the Soviet Union into a scattering of bourgeois states. The revolution was not permanent, after all. The undead bourgeois state re-grew itself like a “Terminator”.

The next post will open the discussion of Lenin’s The State and Revolution with Lenin’s return to Petrograd in April 1917, and his declaration, at the Finland Station, of the “April Theses”.

20 June 2011

ANC Strategy and Tactics, Polokwane

National Democratic Revolution, Part 10a

ANC Strategy and Tactics, Polokwane

This is the last item of the CU series on the National Democratic Revolution. It will be followed by a ten-part series constructed around Lenin’s “The State and Revolution”.

Static or revolutionary?

This, the second in this final part, where the main document is the SACP 2009 discussion document, is the current version of the ANC Strategy and Tactics - amended several times since the original was adopted in Morogoro in 1969 - as passed by the 52ndANC National Conference at Polokwane.

The ANC 52nd National Conference was otherwise considered a victory for the popular forces within the ANC. But from paragraph 90, this document launched a revision of the previously much clearer understanding of class and colour in South Africa.

Now, in the latest S&T, all are ranked in a single notional table, as “motive forces”. “Blacks in general and Africans in particular” become commensurate with “The Working Class”.

In the draft, monopoly capital, too, was going to be included as a “motive force”, thereby removing even the most oppressive factor from anti-popular side of the equation, but this was changed in commission at Polokwane. Monopoly capital is not officially part of the alliance.

This version of the S&T document remains above all marred by its static and non-revolutionary conception of “National Democratic Society” as a “Holy Grail” and final steady-state condition of what Thabo Mbeki used to call a “normal” society. The NDR has to be more than a set of tick-boxes.

The idea of closure on the NDR without its becoming something more, is close to Francis Fukuyama’s provocative 1992 “post-Cold-War” essay “The End of History and the Last Man”. History has not ended; and the “Last Man” is only a nightmare of the proto-fascist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).

We have not yet arrived at a closure of the NDR. The struggle continues.Hi

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

16 June 2011

Hegemony in the NDR

National Democratic Revolution, Part 10

Hegemony in the NDR

On 14 September 2009 the South African Communist Party released a main discussion document (click on the link below) in preparation for the SACP Special National Congress that took place in December 2009 at the Turfloop campus in Polokwane, Limpopo Province.

This document is titled “Building working class hegemony on the terrain of a national democratic struggle”. It is therefore directly in line with the previous eleven parts of this series on the National Democratic Revolution, and presents an opportunity to conclude the 10-part series in an open-ended fashion that is suited to the present conjuncture.

The most relevant parts of this document to our discussion so far are Part 2.4 (“The politics of working class hegemony...versus the politics of a multi-class balancing act”) and the whole of Part 3 (“Towards a politics of mass-driven, state-led radical transformation on the terrain of a National Democratic Revolution”).

In an echo of Lenin’s “The State and Revolution”, the SACP document notes that the “sectarian left” (equivalent to Lenin’s “anarchists”) and the “centrist reformists” (Lenin’s “opportunists”) are twins in their subjective denigration of the NDR. Lenin said that the anarchists and the opportunists are twins.

This document was work-in-progress.

At the Congress, a Political Report was given which is downloadable in PDF format from the SACP web site, here. It is called “Together, let’s defeat capitalist greed and corruption! Together, build socialism now!”

As usual in the Freirean practice of pedagogy, we are not looking for closure, but rather to reveal and expose the problems of the moment: In short, to problematise. The second instalment of this part will be the Strategy and Tactics document passed at another Polokwane event, held two years earlier, the 52nd National Conference of the ANC; and that will be the end of the series on South Africa’s National Democratic Revolution this time around.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

13 June 2011

The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development

National Democratic Revolution, Part 9b

The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development

The third document in this part of our NDR course wherein the main text is Joe Slovo’s “SA Working Class and the NDR”, is David Moore’s 2004 article, “The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development” (linked below).

This article can stand as a representation of the growing realisation in broader South African circles that the class struggle is still the engine of history, including historical “development” in any useful sense of the word, and that class struggle has winners and losers, so that the idea of “win-win” development is wholly illusory.

By 2004 the promise of a beneficial New World Order following the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade-and-a-half previously had proved false. Instead, the USA and its “coalition of the willing” had mounted monstrous, plundering, Imperial wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, which are referred to briefly in this article. There was clearly to be no holiday from class struggle at any level.

In South Africa, the YCL had been re-launched the previous year (2003) and the SACP was undergoing a growth phase which is still continuing now, in 2011.

The ANC NGC in the following year (2005) showed that the ANC had become mature and democratic in its legal form, reborn since 1990.

COSATU’s affiliates had mostly stabilised into strong working-class negotiating machines capable of taking on any employer.

Moore’s article in the short-lived Johannesburg newspaper “ThisDay” was a groundbreaker. It reminded readers that development is class struggle. For practitioners of the National Democratic Revolution, this was a potential turning point.

It remains to be seen whether the change has been made. The 2007 Strategy and Tactics draft was arguably even more of a “balancing act” than previous documents of the ANC. This, and the 2009 discussion document for the SACP Special Nation Congress of that year, will form the last part of this 12-part series on the NDR, next week – not for “closure”, but rather as samples of the state of the national-democratic-revolutionary debate as the struggle continues.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

11 June 2011

Transformation, Not a Balancing Act

National Democratic Revolution, Part 9a

Transformation, Not a Balancing Act

The main text of this part is still Joe Slovo’s “The SA Working Class and the NDR”. The supporting texts begin with “We Need Transformation, Not a Balancing Act” (linked below), published nine years after Slovo’s pamphlet, in 1997, the year following the beginning of what has since become known as the “1996 Class Project”, of which this document is an initial critique.

In the mean time, the SACP and the ANC had been legalised in 1990, the UDF had been disbanded, the CODESA talks had taken place, SACP General Secretary Chris Hani had been assassinated, the ANC had been elected to government in 1994, and Joe Slovo had passed away, on 6 January 1995. All of this triumph and tragedy, and a lot more, constituted part of the National Democratic Revolution, not least the building of the ANC and the SACP as legal, open, organised structures around this large country with its population of approximately 40 million in the mid-1990s (now nearly 50 million).

This SACP document looked at a number of other documents published at that time, including from the ANC Youth League, from COSATU, and from the SACP itself, but in particular from the ANC in the form of a November, 1996 document called “The State and Social Transformation” (note that the Young Communist League was not re-established until 2003).

Nzimande and Cronin were saying that the ANC document stood out from the others in terms of its class-neutral “balancing act” approach. They conclude that the document should rather have been called “The State and Social Accommodation”.

Another way of putting this would be to say that the ANC document in question was selling class collaboration and not class alliance. “The State and Social Transformation” was selling the end of class struggle instead of the prosecution of the class struggle by alliance with favourable forces, and against unfavourable forces.

There is a difficulty in Nzimande’s and Cronin’s document. On the third page, under “Dealing with capital”, two conceptions of capital are described: “factors of production” and “capital meaning capitalists”. The authors say that in the ANC document these two conceptions are elided or confused, giving the impression that factors of production can only come attached to capitalists, which is not so.

That is all well and good, but what is absent is the understanding of capital as a dynamic relationship, and the “accumulation” of capital as being the reproduction of that relationship and of all of the support to that relationship, including the grooming of the working class and the dominance of banks and markets.

Even in terms of pure money, what the capitalist does with it is to throw it into circulation, not hoard it. Therefore the accumulated wealth of the miser is not capital, though it may be money.

The circulation of money as capital proceeds via the purchase of labour-power and the extraction of surplus-value. Therefore, we do not escape the reproduction of capital by making the state the owner of the capital.

The revolutionary escape from capital is achieved by accumulating the prerequisites of socialism, which mainly consist of the ever-increasing ability of masses of people to resolve and act together, consciously, and scientifically. This is the “Democratic” part of the National Democratic Revolution.

Nzimande’s and Cronin’s document does arrive at this point. It does, at the end, confirm that the free-willing collective Subject is both the maker and the product of revolution.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

10 June 2011

SA Working Class and the NDR

National Democratic Revolution, Part 9

SA Working Class and the NDR

The previous week’s part of this 12-part series on the National Democratic Revolution was based around the ANC’s Morogoro Strategy and Tactics document of 1969. We took our examination of the development of South Africa’s NDR up to the beginning of 1976, when the document “The Enemy Hidden Under the Same Colour” was published following the treachery and the consequent expulsion from the ANC of the “Gang of Eight”.

Later the same year the “Soweto uprising” of youth began and spread all over the country.

Trade Unionism re-expanded from the early 1970s with strike waves in Durban and in the Witwatersrand where the watershed Carletonville Massacre took place in 1973. FOSATU, a syndicalist-led federation, was formed in 1979. It gave way to the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance-aligned COSATU in 1985.

The United Democratic Front was launched in 1983.

All of these activities, amounting to the creation of living, democratic structures on a national scale, typify the National Democratic Revolution. They showed precisely how organisation into democratic structures formed the relentless collective Subject of History that then became impossible to resist.

Joe Slovo published “The SA Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution” (see the link below) in 1988 at a time when he was the General Secretary of the SACP. The Party was still clandestine; the end of its 40-year period of enforced illegality was to come two years later. Like many political documents, this one takes shape around a polemical response to contemporary opponents who may no longer be well remembered. In this case it was the particular “workerists” and compromisers of the time that Slovo mentions on the first page of the document.

But as with the polemics of Marx, Engels and Lenin, in the course of the argument against otherwise long-forgotten foes, Slovo was obliged to set up a fully concrete, rounded assessment of the meaning of the NDR, which still remains today as the best single and definitive text on this matter; he succeeded brilliantly.

Slovo quickly establishes the class-alliance basis of the NDR and quotes Lenin saying that: “the advanced class ... should fight with… energy and enthusiasm for the cause of the whole people, at the head of the whole people”. 

This advanced class is the working class.

Slovo goes on to write of the continuity of the NDR and of the institutional organising work that produces the bricks-and-mortar of nation-building.

Slovo’s incomparable document has many possibilities as the basis for a discussion; and that is always our purpose: dialogue.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

7 June 2011

Arusha Declaration

National Democratic Revolution, Part 8c

Arusha Declaration

So far in this series we have moved through five decades from the 1920s to the 1970s, with sufficient detail to demonstrate that in the world at large and in South Africa in particular, conscious, deliberate National Democratic Revolution was the main historical process under way in that time. In Africa, the process gathered speed from 1960.

On 25 May 1963, earlier regional initiatives, especially the Pan-African Freedom Movement of East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA), of which Tanzania had been a leading member, gave way for the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa Day is consequently celebrated each year towards the end of May.

The last supporting document to the Morogoro Strategy and Tactics is named after another Tanzanian town: Arusha. It is the famous 1967 “Arusha Declaration” of Julius Nyerere and the ruling TANU (Tanganyika African National Union) party of Tanganyika at the time, on Socialism and Self-Reliance. (Tanganyika and Zanzibar united in the following year as Tanzania, and TANU united with the Afro-Shirazi Party in 1977 to become the Chama cha Mapinduzi – “the party of the revolution”, CCM).

This document reflects TANU’s view of the political economy of their country and how it could be led to a better condition (i.e. a better life for all). This document is now over forty years old but at the time of the release of Nelson Mandela it was only a little over twenty years old. Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College was established in Morogoro only about a decade after the Arusha Declaration. (In those days “Arusha Declaration” was slang for “going by foot”).

The document has a peculiar understanding of socialism, which it calls both a policy, and also a belief. Nyerere’s 1962 pamphlet “Ujamaa – the Basis of African Socialism” (also linked below) call socialism “an attitude of mind”. Peasants can be as socialist as workers, according to these documents. Yet Tanzania did have an understanding that a purely peasant family was not fully socialised. So they encouraged villagisation and rural party organisation according to the “tenth house” (chumba kumi) principle. The document tries to reconcile socialist aspirations with peasant facts of life.

The document is both national-democratic and developmentalist. It prefigured much of what has happened since, including in South Africa, and which is still happening. It prefigures President Zuma’s sentiments about his May, 2010 visit to Sweetwaters, for example, except that South Africans do not say that “money is not the weapon”. On the contrary, in South Africa money, translating into “delivery”, is nearly always thought to be the weapon.

The NDR is constantly debated.

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading:

6 June 2011

Dealing with the Anti-Communist Tendency

National Democratic Revolution, Part 8b

Dealing with the Anti-Communist Tendency

Following the African National Congress National Executive Committee meeting of 14-16 May 2010, it was reported in the mass media that ANC President Jacob Zuma had referred in his summing-up to the story of the Gang of Eight, and had mentioned at least one of the eight (Kgokong, also known as Mqota) by name.

The National Union of Mineworkers Central Committee, meeting 13-14 May 2010, also resolved as follows:

“CC noted with dismay the current anti-communist tendencies publicly displayed through public platforms and at times hidden under questions already addressed by the SACP CC in the response to the Gang of 8 in 1976. CC rejects any insinuation that the ANC is under serious threat by Communists and the CC further confirms that the ANC class character should be defended, in fact any attempt to chase Communists away or removing them from leadership of the ANC should be rejected by members of the ANC. CC further confirms that any member irrespective of other political activeness who gets nominated and elected in the ANC elective conference is nominated and elected as ANC member by ANC members, this means that there are no Communist or SACP representatives in any structure of the ANC .”

The full text of the 1976 SACP CC statement on the Gang of Eight is contained in Document 131 of the volume “South African Communists Speak”, published in 1981, and in the African Communist, 2nd Quarter, 1976. The document, called “The Enemy Hidden Under the Same Colour”, is also archived here. It directly quotes from, and reinforces in argument, two of the other main documents used here this week: the “Road to South African Freedom” and the (Morogoro) “Strategy and Tactics”.

This Gang-of-Eight document is 14 pages and nearly 9000 words long For that reason the shorter 1962 document issued by the SACP following the breakdown of the South Africa United Front because of the treachery of the PAC was preferred for discussion, and is the one available in hard copy through Jetline and downloadable from the link below.

The 1976 CC statement makes an emphatic the link between the two occasions. It refers to the Gang of Eight, and the PAC, as “Birds of a Feather”. More precisely, it says:

“…like the PAC before them, this group is the expression of a political trend which seeks to dilute and eliminate the revolutionary content of South Africa's liberation struggle. Basically it wants the ANC to return to a type of nationalism which serves only a small elite and not the masses of the oppressed people. The social base for this tendency is to be found amongst those classes and groups within the oppressed who seek the kind of 'liberation' which will, at best, replace the white exploiter with a black exploiter.”

The South Africa United Front, made up of the ANC, PAC, SWANU and SAIC had been put together after Sharpeville. The linked document is a contemporary article by Dr Dadoo about the break-up of the Front and the causes of the break-up, which had to do with the behaviour of the PAC, in particular. This document is useful for its description of the political structures and for Dadoo’s enunciation in it of the general principles of united fronts (which the PAC had violated).

Once again, like all of the main theoretical and programmatic documents of the movement, these are about National Democratic Revolution in particular. More than most, they deal with it directly and in its most difficult aspects. The 1976 document unequivocally denounces “the type of nationalism which is not revolutionary but reactionary”.

It goes on to say:

“Our movement has never hidden the fact that there is a relationship between the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party on those questions of policy which both organisations share in common. In particular both organisations believe that in the present stage of the revolutionary process in South Africa, the primary aim is the national liberation of the most exploited and most oppressed section of the South African people - the Africans.”

This formulation, which is cheaply denounced as “stagism” by the camp-following panders and scavengers of the revolution, is actually the very understanding which liberates the National Democratic Revolution from “stewing in its own juice” in the manner proposed by the 2007 Strategy and Tactics, as we discussed here. Because as Joe Slovo later wrote in “The South African Working class and the National Democratic Revolution”, (1988, which we will come to next week in this series) the point about a stage is that it is followed by another stage.

Tomorrow, in the interest of an all-round view of the politics of National Democratic Revolution, we will look at Tanzania’s Arusha Declaration, forever associated with the late Mwalimu (“Teacher”) Julius Nyerere.

[Image: Dr Yusuf Dadoo, President of the South African Indian Congress, Chairman of the SACP, Vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Council]

Please download and read the text via the following link:

Further reading: