The relationship of a hunter and his dogs has always been an unfair relationship. A hunter leads his dogs into the bush to hunt impalas. He provides instructions as to where to find the impalas and decides how many to catch. The dogs have only one thing to do and that is “catch the impala when you see one”. But after the dogs have chased and killed the impalas the hunter takes the impalas away from the dogs. He goes home with the catch and locks the dogs into their cages. He prepares his meat of fresh impala. Out of the meal the hunter takes the whole fresh meat. And the dogs? Well, after a long tiring chase of the impalas the dogs would get the bones and intestines of the impala.
The above is an analogy in capitalist democracy. The poor masses/workers are taken to the hunting trip as dogs under the guidance of the political parties with hidden agendas. After they have chased and held the impalas the poor masses/workers have to eat only the bones and intestines (they have to be kept in their shacks where they would die of fires and drink water with the animals in rivers). The hunter would only give them street lights so as they can die with dignity.
The history of South Africa and its peoples, like that of all peoples’ struggles, do not begin or end with contacts with other nations, states and peoples. More precisely, the tendency to begin the history of South African peoples at the point of conflict with the white people and their influences in Africa, if we base history in this way, it is both mis-historical and racist.
The history of any society is based on how its people fashion a living for themselves, how they contend with the forces of nature and consequently how the relations between people develop. The South African struggle is a long story and it is not complete without the total ownership of the land by the aboriginal people of South Africa. The land where the economy is build on and the land where everyone live on, if this land is still owned by colonialists then the aboriginal people of South Africa will have nothing, be nothing and the struggle to take the land will continue. If the colonial question were absent from the South African history, the idea that the land belongs to all of the people would be correct. The idea of equal rights and representation in the Freedom Charter, as well as the ANC’s concept of multi-racialism, is problematic.
The people of South Africa, especially in Gauteng and many parts of the country where the ANC lost power in local government, went to voting stations this year with changed hearts and minds; to change the ANC from power because it gave them intestines and bones after they went on a hunt and defeated the apartheid National Party. The people needed to take the land back from colonialists; they needed change. But what kind of change?
Some might have thought that DA is different from the ANC and they decided to replace ANC with DA. But in fact, they are the same. They will both take the poor masses/workers to the hunting trip and when they come back with the catch they will give the poor masses/workers the intestines and bones and chain them back into the cages. We all know that Cosatu in the ANC alliance is misleading the poor workers; it serves capital at workers expenses. Remember the relationship between the capitalist and workers is a relationship between the exploiter and the exploited. If you are on the side of the exploiter then you are an exploiter – capitalist.
SACP too in the alliance is confusing the communities simply because people want to get rid of the oppressive system and they find themselves in the system through SACP. People are leaderless, that’s why we see hundreds and hundreds of protests everywhere. The SACP should have been the one organizing and leading the masses in to a revolution that could destroy this oppressive system and bring change; a socialist change.
In working out our understanding of how these works we must pay careful attention to the processes taking place in the mass organisations. These will change over time, reflecting the ebb and flow of the mass movement. Over long periods of relative class peace in the ANC-COSATU-SACP alliance the labour movement (COSATU) recently came under the pressure of alien classes; the poor black masses, the black middle class and white capitalists. The poor black masses demand socialist change while the black middle class (bourgeoisies) demand mixed-economy moved to the right. And the white capitalists demand free market economy with very little or any intervention by the state. This mass formation (ANC-COSATU-SACP alliance) and unions have acquired a thick bureaucratic crust that influences policy in government. NUMSA was fired from COSATU for advocating for socialist change and demanding that COSATU leave the ANC.
But without the active participation of the workers, the ANC-COSATU-SACP internal life becomes stagnant. The whole system would fall increasingly under the influence of the bourgeoisies. For two decades the ANC government introduced many policies to try to make the economy work. They were carrying out counter-reforms after another: deregulation, privatization and budget cuts. But these resulted in three main challenges:
- Loss of millions of jobs between 1998 and 2001 which affected many poor black families. This is because of privatization programme of some of key state companies.
- The culture of materialism or consumerism. Many black families and communities struggle with ever increasing demands for “objects”, luxury lifestyles and drugs abuses, and this often results in broken families. The communities have to produce two things: One – Izikhothane culture, and two – Nyaope and alcohol edicts.
- Lack of opportunities and high unemployment rate. There would be no new job opportunities open as the capitalists would try to minimize labour costs by either casualising labour or relying on peopleless technologies.
To try and avoid the above factors the ANC still adopted constructive engagement with the capitalists as a pressure device. And this is not working. In the current upsurge, thousands have left the ANC to seek political solace under DA and EFF leadership. Thinking they might present better alternatives.
In history the ANC continued to receive massive support from the people between 1994 and 2001 in elections, although this has fluctuated from 2001 and 2016 due to various political developments in the country. Its enduring popularity among the masses can probably be attributed to one factor. First, the ANC represents, in spite of changes in outlook and approach, a century long struggle, or the entire period of the contemporary struggle against white domination. History and longevity are not lost on the masses, regardless of other factors.
But then what if ANC looses power totally to the DA, and may be in the next 10 years? The worst would come. First DA will dismantle labour unions and destroy Cosatu – a federation of workers. Second, DA will totally repeat what ANC did with PAC. It will destroy totally Pan-Africanist ideology and its organisations from the public domain – by using capitalist media to advance imperialist agendas.
And third, apartheid is guaranteed in its new form if DA takes power totally. DA will cancel #Feesmustfall and “free education” slogans. It will end NSFAS to give way for private loan providers to provide black students with loans pay for their studies. These private loan providers are white and mostly Europeans. And every black child will be forced, by family circumstances, to take these loans and be indebted to a whiteman anew. Like his father, grandfather and his great grandfather, a black child will grow with a debt ticket to a whiteman because of this. And a black child will have to work to pay his debt from the first day until he dies. His child and child after that will have to be a whiteman’s slave from the day they are born until they die. A black man would have to work for a wage paid every month by a white man, whom he owes.
DA and ANC are capitalist agents working for the musters to lie to the masses about everything. They need to legitimize their stay in power in the form of elections. They need the masses to endorse their robbery by voting and think it is a proper way to voice their grievances. In fact, they represent capital. They are not revolutionary, but reformists. They will never allow the destruction of capitalism (that feed them) but they will allow trimming and painting of its body – through reforms in parliament.
Even if ANC and DA go into collision government they are one thing – capitalist agents. So they serve one purpose – capitalist programmes. EFF, as well is not a genuine alternative to the two. Besides having programmes that are slightly better it is still not revolutionary enough. It believes in negotiating with capital, the mistake that ANC did in 1980s and still doing today. EFF appears on the left of the slide and DA/ANC on the right. EFF might go into collision with DA, sooner or later. How do left mix with right? By reconciling and coming at the centre. This is where the ANC started after 1994.
But we must never forget that the difference between right- and left-reformism is only relative. The essence of reformism – whether of the right or left variety – is the idea that it is not necessary to overthrow the capitalist system, that it is possible gradually to improve the conditions of the workers and oppressed within the framework of capitalism. But the experience of Greece, Venezuela, and everywhere else this has been attempted shows that this is not possible. Either you take the necessary measures to destroy the dictatorship of Capital, or Capital will destroy you.
That is what we mean when we say that betrayal is inherent in reformism. It is not a question of deliberate betrayal but of the simple fact that if you accept the capitalist system, then you must accept the laws of that system. In the present day situation that means you must carry out a policy of budget cuts and austerity that we see in Europe today. While many poor voters are giving critical support to the left reformists (EFF) they must not foment any illusions, or accept any responsibility for their actions if they choose to marry capital in DA.
The EFF must learn that the sharp shift to the right in the mass organisations in the past period led many left groups to develop centre-left conclusions, writing off the mass organisations altogether. If they believe they could build an alternative to the left of the old organisations then they are for the surprise later. However, all the attempts of the sects to declare new revolutionary parties have ended in miserable failure. The centre-lefts fail because they ignore the real movement of the masses and their organisations. But centre-leftism also leads inevitably to opportunism. In trying to get the ear of the masses, they end up by watering down the programme in order to try and get a wider audience giving space for the capitalists to infiltrate.
This opportunism, which usually attempts to disguise itself by appeals to “transitional demands”, always ends in a blind alley. If the masses want a reformist programme they already have plenty of reformist leaders to turn to. The transitional programme is not a series of individual reformist demands that you cherry pick to “fit in” in a reformist milieu. It is a complete and worked out programme for international socialist revolution, for workers’ power.
Our priority at this stage is to position to that layer in society where we can build mass workers party on a socialist programme now, not in the future. That is generally the youth, which is open to revolutionary ideas. By winning the youth and training them in the ideas of socialism we are laying the basis for successful work in the mass organisations when the conditions present themselves.
Vote or no vote, organise the revolution!