Subversion's communist critique of the anti-working class nature of the African National Congress (ANC) and its leader, Nelson Mandela, during the anti-apartheid struggle.
Mandela v the working class
If you thought Nelson Mandela was a great heroic leader of the oppressed masses of South Africa who, now risen like Christ after 27 years in the underworld and poised to lead said masses, if not to life everlasting, at least to freedom in the here and now, you might be a little puzzled.
Surely that can't be right. Mandela condemning the schools boycott and 'ordering' students back to school. Mandela supporting the use of South African state forces to suppress riots. Mandela and de Klerk singing each others praises. Etc. etc. What's going on?
If you were surprised by all this, it's because you didn't realise what the ANC was all about. The ANC has always been a capitalist organisation.
THE STRUGGLE IN SOUTH AFRICA
The working class in South Africa is probably the strongest on the continent, and has been increasingly showing this strength in the last few years.
There have been major strikes by both coal and gold miners, in the hospitals and on the railways. This in addition to the resistance in the squatter camps, the rent strikes and school boycotts. All of these struggles are a shining example to workers everywhere and show that the workers in South Africa are among the most advanced in the world in combativity. However, they face a serious threat from the ANC.
THE CLASS NATURE OF THE ANC
The ANC is one of many similar groups around the world, such as the PLO, IRA, SWAPO, Sandinistas, etc. who claim to be fighting against oppression and for, usually, 'national liberation'. All of these organisations are simply the latter-day equivalents of the nationalist, bourgeois democratic movements of the historical period following the French Revolution. At that time the emerging capitalist powers needed an ideology which would bind the whole population to the ruling class. They found it in the idea of the 'nation' - a unity of both rulers and ruled, oppressors and oppressed, capitalists and workers who, because they lived in the same area of land and spoke the same language, supposedly were a single unit with a single interest.
THE BIGGEST CON IN HISTORY
It has worked well for the capitalists. The ideology of nationalism has always meant that the working class has accepted the aims and interests of its exploiters, the capitalist class, as though they were its own. It is perhaps the biggest con in history.
Today, capitalism is dominant throughout the world, but there are always conflicts between rival capitalist powers large and small, both between countries and between different factions within a single country. The weaker capitalist factions make use of the same old lies about democracy and 'national liberation', usually coupled with the left-wing capitalist policy of Nationalisation, i.e., direct state control - thus the rhetoric of these groups like the ANC, PLO, etc.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
When they come to power the result is always the same. They get on with the business of running capitalism and exploiting the working class.
When the MPLA, Frelimo, Zanu, Sandinistas, etc. came to power the masses discovered the same thing they did after the French Revolution
- plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose (the more it changes. the more it stays the same.
When the ANC comes to power it will be exactly the same, only they're being a bit more obvious about it than most. This is because of the dovetailing of interests between them and the Nationalist Party at this moment in history.
MENE MENE TEKEL UPARSIN
The growing world economic crisis has hit South Africa badly - especially since the greater part of the international capitalist class has mounted the campaign of sanctions (this latter because they can see the writing on the wall for the Apartheid regime, and they want to get in the good books of the non-racial regime whose accession to power is only a matter of time anyway). The more intelligent and forward looking faction of the white bourgeoisie, represented mainly by the Nationalist Party, realises that a non-racial capitalism is necessary - and as this is also the aim of the ANC, hence the increasingly pally relationship.
For the working class, in South Africa as elsewhere no form of capitalism, whatever fancy phrases it uses, will change the relationship between exploiters and exploited - it will just be an exchange of one lot of exploiters for another.
THE WORKING CLASS ALTERNATIVE
The working class must not allow itself to be conned by the ANC's version of capitalism. Our class can only free itself by abolishing wage-labour itself and taking the means of production - the factories, mines, land, etc. - into its own hands, running them collectively for the collective needs of society. This is the basis of what we call Communism. In contrast to the widespread use of the term Communism to mean state capitalism, as in the Eastern Bloc, we mean a classless society without national boundaries, without inequalities or oppressions, where money, markets and commodity production have been abolished and replaced by production for need, with free access for all.
It will be the first genuinely free society in history. To achieve this genuine liberation, the working class must fight resolutely against all factions of capitalism. The ANC is just one more gang of capitalists confronting us.
DOWN WITH DE KLERK DOWN WITH MANDELA
FORWARD TO COMMUNIST REVOLUTION
Subversion's text here above
Subversion's text here above has also been translated in French and in Czech by the group Třídní válka.
MERRY CRISIS AND HAPPY NEW FEAR
It's not just Mandela against
It's not just Mandela against the working class but the whole of his capitalist class, including the ANC and its left wing, rank and file section. Looking back on the development of capitalism in South Africa I think it's a particularly good example of the poverty of racial identity politics (along with all identity politics), the poverty of the idea that the main fight of the working class is against the right wing (where, necessarily, the working class has to align with the left wing of capital). The history shows the corruption of the idea of the "lesser evil" as well as that of trade unionism and national liberation - formidable arms of the left wing of the capitalist state.
Here's a link to the last in a series of articles by the ICC:http://en.internationalism.org/content/16598/south-africa-election-president-nelson-mandela-1994-2014
The ANC was multi-racial for
The ANC was multi-racial for the 30 years prior to the end of Apartheid. Prior to that it was part of a coalition. It seems a little silly to me to describe opposition to racial Apartheid as 'racial identity politics'. Especially when Mandela made a deal with FW de Klerk.
However the ICC's own website notes that founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, Steve Biko, was a martyr of the cycle of 'proletarian struggle' from '73-'77, years where the ANC was mostly out of the picture. http://en.internationalism.org/international-review/201702/14250/soweto-1976-anc-power-1993
That article doesn' t really analyse the period or do any evaluation of Biko and BCM, but really bored of seeing ANC takes that completely erase the other organisations and movements in South Africa whether then or now.
For an evaluation of BCM, see
For an evaluation of BCM, see the final section of this: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=4599
And for a critique of the Mandela cult at the time of his funeral, see this: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/articles/class-struggle-histories-2/south-africa-now-then/
Nymphalis Antiopa wrote: For
I couldn't find it - is it the wrong link?
Sorry - got them the wrong
Sorry - got them the wrong way round.
For a text about BCM see the end of this: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/articles/class-struggle-histories-2/south-africa-now-then/
For a critique of Mandela, and of his worshippers, see this: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=4599
Thanks, now I found it. That's a good summary of BCM. I recently read I Write What I Like and there's a big disconnect between Biko's praxis and the rare moments where he says what he'd like post-apartheid South Africa to be like (which more or less approximates to a Democratic Socialist position - mixed economy, redistribution, nationalisation). However given what he actually did and wrote elsewhere, and how little of it there is, it reads to me more like a latent reformism than something strongly held; hard to tell whether those bureaucratic tendencies would have taken over or been rejected had he survived and how much it reflected the politics of other activists. I haven't been able to find much/anything by other people involved in BCM.
There's an interesting TV video interview with a Soweto uprising participant on the run, where he says "I'm not a communist [meaning Marxist Leninist], but if you act against apartheid, you're treated like one anyway" or similar.
Similar problems with the ICT/CWO's account of South Africa in the discussion on https://libcom.org/blog/trotskyism-war-syria-01092018
It's one thing to critique national liberation movements and figures like Mandela, it's quite another to then ignore the class struggle against colonial/apartheid regimes which occurred without and sometimes against the officially recognised national liberation movements. And this is something that leaves a massive vacuum for left-nationalist/campist stuff to fill.