Revolutionary Speaking – President’s Weekly Column – Volume 1 Issue 28

Revolutionary Speaking – President’s Weekly Column Logo

Vol 1: Issue 28

14 April 2023


Not for the first time, and not for the last time, the SACP has done what it does on the eve of every General Elections in this country. It has publicly issued out one of those exhausted and futile threats that they will contest the 2024 Elections as a stand-alone political party if the ANC-COSATU-SACP Alliance is not “reconfigured”.

This soporific routine is usually the starter to the main course where COSATU will come out threatening to mobilise workers not to vote for the ruling party they blame for implementing policies that are anti-workers. We all know that the threat will soon vanish in favour of an overdrive campaigning for the ruling party by the very same COSATU, which will be begging the workers to give the ruling party a last chance. Meanwhile, both the leaders of COSATU and SACP would be on the Party Lists of the ruling party, while other leaders would have been already promised some Cabinet posts.

The prevailing situation where the workers are taken for a ride by trade union and communist party leaders is indicative of the fact that the Socialist Revolution is hundreds of years away if the Black working class puts its fate in the sterile Alliance. This Alliance remains exposed that it does not have the interests of the workers at heart. Its preoccupation is the consolidation and the retention of State power by the ruling party for the reactionary purpose of misgovernance and the looting the State resources.

Why is it almost impossible for both the SACP and COSATU to sever ties from the ruling ANC? The reason is political and ideological. The leaders of both COSATU and SACP have enjoyed Cabinet positions and the access to State resources through their parasitic relationship with the ANC. They are never assured of maintaining this warm relationship with power and resources if they were to go it alone and contest the Elections. In fact, the ANC is always rude to them by reminding them that “it is cold outside the ANC”. Indeed, they have seen ANC leaders who left the ANC crawling back and begging for forgiveness and reinstatement into the ANC.

Ideologically, the Tripartite Alliance subscribes Stagism, which is fanatically referred to as the Two-Stage Theory. Sometimes, this Stagism is masqueraded as the “National Democratic Revolution”, by which is meant that revolutionaries must first help develop the productive forces of a backward country by waging a Bourgeois Revolution that will be led by the capitalists. This is in line with the 6 stages of development that Marxism has prescribed that societies will go through. They are primitive communism (communalism), slave society, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and finally global and stateless communism. The reasoning is that in a predominantly feudal society, the peasantry will be dominant, while the working class may not be desirably strong enough to lead a Socialist Revolution. Compromised by their relationship to the means of production and the level of consciousness that emanates from there, the peasants are deemed not reliable to lead the Socialist Revolution.

The Tripartite Alliance has adapted Stagism to suit its political and strategic interests. While AZAPO characterised the rule preceding the democratic dispensation as white settler-colonialism, the Tripartite Alliance euphemistically referred to the same as a “colonialism of a special type”. AZAPO was bold enough to expressly describe that “special type” as “white settlement” in Azania. The Tripartite Alliance improvisation was that their alliance would be led by the “bourgeois” ANC against the apartheid regime. The thinking here is to get the ANC to lead a Bourgeois Revolution with the objective of freeing the productive forces from the shackles of apartheid and a “colonialism of a special type”. Once this Bourgeois Revolution is victorious, the SACP and COSATU are supposed to “gear” into the second stage of Stagism, which is the Socialist Revolution. However, it doesn’t look like the two “infant” organisations are ready to stop suckling from the ANC’s breasts in the Bourgeois Revolution. The bourgeois milk is so sweet that babies would rather crawl forever if ideological independence means losing the milk.

Who is the loser here? The workers whose struggles and the Socialist Revolution are indefinitely postponed. That postponement includes land repossession and total liberation.

AZAPO made it clear from the onset that the principal objective of the Azanian Revolution is land. The land has to be repossessed for historical and cultural reasons that our identity and dignity is anchored on the land. In this regard, the land historically belongs to the Black people who must reclaim it as the original owners of the land. That is the Black Nationalist aspect of the Azanian Revolution. We sometimes call this aspect of the liberation struggle, the National Question in which we include the fight against colonialism, white racism and oppression.

The second basis for which the land must be repossessed is the fact that the land is the primary and fundamental means of production upon which the socialist production will be developed. For this to happen, the land must be wholly owned by the Azanian people and held in custody through the State. In practical terms, the land must either be repossessed or socialised. For ideological reasons, in AZAPO we prefer to call the latter process “socialisation” (of the means of production), rather than “nationalisation”.

The socialisation of the land within the context of the Socialist Revolution is known as the Social Question in AZAPO’s Political Line. You may have noticed that we talk about the National Question and the Social Question in AZAPO. As we explained, the former addresses the landlessness, colonialism, racism and oppression. That is the domain of Black Nationalism, which calls for Black Solidarity of Black people in all their social classes. That includes the patriotic Black capitalists, which could not fully develop under white settler-colonialism and its imposition of a racist concrete ceiling. However, within the space of the Social Question, which addresses the Class Struggle and the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class, there are contradictions to be resolved between the Black workers and the Black Capitalists.

AZAPO accepts the revolutionary principle that the most oppressed class constitutes the Agents of Change. In Azania we found that class to be of the workers. We were confronted by a problem presented by white racism during the era of white settler-colonialism. Racism divided the working class into two as in the black and white sections. We found that the white section lacked revolutionary consciousness as a result of its cooption into the white power structure and the privileges that went with that. AZAPO referred to them as a Labour Aristocracy. The Black section of the working class was the one whose relationship to the means of production positioned them to be the Agents of Change that could lead both the Black Nationalist and Socialist struggles to their logical conclusion of land repossession and total liberation.

At this stage, we may ask the question: where does AZAPO stand with regards to the political doctrine of Stagism? AZAPO does not subscribe to the convenient compartmentalisation of the Azanian Revolution into “stages”. Accordingly, AZAPO consciously opted to fuse the National and Social Questions. That is why we say our struggle is nationalist in character, and socialist in content. That renders our struggle as an unbroken continuum. The concrete conditions in Azania do not necessitate a situation where we die on the battlefield only to bring about, or consolidate an economic system that we will later turn against as the new enemy. Put differently, AZAPO is not prepared to fight the mice by breeding snakes, which we will later fight against as the new enemy.

The point can now be made that if the SACP and COSATU considered it wise to throw their weight behind the ANC’s leadership of the Bourgeois Revolution, they should not be surprised that they now have to wage, albeit reluctantly, a Socialist Revolution against the “snakes” of their breeding.

As a matter of fact, those Marxists who attributed their Two-Stage Theory to Karl Marx, need to be reminded that Marx distanced himself and his Historical Materialism from such crude Stagism. In an 1877 letter addressed to the leading theorist of Russian Populists and anti-Marxist NK Mikhailovsky, Marx dismisses the Mikhailovsky’s interpretation of the First Volume of Capital. This interpretation suggested that Marx’s theory was that all societies had to follow a historical path that goes through bourgeois democracy. Marx responded:

“But this is too much for my critic. He must needs [to] metamorphose my outline of the genesis of capitalism in Western Europe into a historico-philosophical theory of the general course, fatally imposed upon all peoples, regardless of the historical circumstances in which they find themselves placed, in order to arrive finally at that economic formation which insures with the greatest amount of productive power of social labor the most development of man. But I beg his pardon. He does me too much honor and too much shame at the same time.”

Now that Stagism has been deprived of any authoritative origination, we can now take liberty to restate AZAPO’s position on the political necessity of trade unions that are free from bourgeois influence. This is to hold in high regard the paramountcy of the interests of working class. Proletarian interests must not be second even to the expediency of keeping together the Tripartite Alliance, which is nothing but a three-headed beast to give the various segments of the people convenient options (capitalist, socialist and labour) to keep them chained to the ruling party. Trade unions serve their political purpose best if they were to be kept non-sectarian.

Time is now to develop political conditions conducive to the building of the fighting United Front of the Left Forces in which there would be no room for pettiness and mediocrity. The liberation struggle should be taken beyond the Parliamentary confines to the communities and the streets where it belongs.