On the 20th May 2014, the Numsa top leadership issued a press statement ‘Numsa and the question of a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist political organ of the working class in South Africa today’. We argue that this statement shows a backtracking by the Numsa leadership from the bold advance that was encapsulated in their SNC (Special National Congress) resolutions of Dec 2013. This matter is especially important as there is massive pressure from the right and imperialism, through the ANC task team, to get Numsa to abandon its Congress resolutions to break from the ANC and SACP and set up a new revolutionary working class party and a United Front.
Why is imperialism and the ANC so desperate to get Numsa to abandon the formation of a revolutionary working class party?
There is a world wide revolt against the rule by imperialism capitalism. The single most important factor that has thus far prevented any of these uprisings from setting up a workers’ government, is the absence of a revolutionary working class party that has sufficient support among the masses.
The masses around the world have always been prepared to fight the capitalists and their system; what has held the masses back has been the presence of a counter-revolutionary leadership at the head of the workers’ movement.
The Numsa moment has opened up the possibility of not only the displacement of the counter-revolutionary leadership of the masses but also of the setting up of the necessary fighting organ, namely a revolutionary working class party. The overnight growth of the EFF which posed as radical, shows what is possible if Numsa had set up a workers party- indeed, a Numsa led workers party would immediately have eclipsed the DA, if not also the ANC. In short, the Numsa Congress resolutions pose a threat to capitalist exploitation and rule not only in SA, but immediately in Southern Africa, a step that could inspire, encourage and direct the masses of the world to follow suit. Thus world capitalist relations are being threatened by the Numsa moment.
On a secondary level, the needs of imperialism meets with the need of the ANC and SACP leaders to maintain their position of privilege within the capitalist state. Without the workers, the ANC (and thus the current SACP) would be nothing. Without the workers, the ANC and SACP leaders would not be able to enter the limited positions of privilege that imperialism throws to them. The reliance of imperialism on an economy that is kept in slavery as a primary exporter of raw unprocessed goods, means that the middle class and new elements of the capitalist class (the black capitalists) is small in number. Without the workers, the ANC and SACP would not be able to play their role of chaining workers to capitalist slavery.
Thus the ANC task team, headed by billionaire capitalist Cyril Ramaphosa, represents an alliance of big capital and the ANC against the Numsa members and the entire working class, to maintain the tripartite alliance, ANC-SACP-COSATU, so that the masses can be kept in permanent slavery to capitalist rule. In short, the alliance is needed to maintain the cheap labour super-exploitative relations in Southern Africa.
The Numsa leaders are clinging to the capitalist NDR of the SACP
On the one hand the Numsa leaders claim that the political organ (where a revolutionary working class party is only one of the options) will be ‘all determined in the theater of struggle’; on the other, they are limiting the programme of such an entity to the Stalinist SACP programme of the national democratic revolution and the Freedom Charter.
Lenin has never proposed a ‘national democratic revolution’; the NDR was an invention of the stalin period within the communist movement when the fight for workers’ power was deliberately sabotaged.
We turn to Lenin’s State and Revolution, Chapter 1 part 3 to clarify Lenin’s notion of a democratic state:
‘The omnipotence of ‘wealth’ is thus more secure in a democratic republic, since it does not depend on the poor political shell of capitalism. A democratic republic is the best possible shell for capitalism, and therefore, once capital has gained control of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly that no change, either of persons, or institutions, or parties in the bourgeois republic can shake it.
We must also note that Engels quite definitely regards universal suffrage [the vote- ed]as a means of bourgeois domination. Universal suffrage, he says, obviously summing up the long experience of the German Social Democracy, is an ‘index of the maturity of the working class; it cannot, and never will, be anything else but that in the modern state’.’
Lenin also clarifies that the replacement of the bourgeois state with a workers’ state is only possible through extra-parliamentary revolutionary mass action.
The Numsa leaders rely on the SACP programme of 1989 which calls for working class organizations to be strengthened ‘in all sectors of the state’. The SACP of 1989 was preparing the working class for incorporation of the ANC into the capitalist state. Lenin says no change in state institutions will shake the bourgeois republic, the SACP of 1989 and the Numsa leaders argue that the capitalist state institutions should be strengthened. Numsa leaders want the working class and even the new Movement for Socialism to be incorporated into the capitalist state, not to work for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.
Before and since the 19th March national strike, the Numsa United front has been largely silent, even though one of the longest mining strikes in the history of the country is taking place. The struggle for R12 500 directly challenges the cheap labour capitalist relations not only in mining but in the rest of the economy. The United Front has failed to spearhead the mining revolt which has been left in the hands of the syndicalist Amcu leaders.
The Numsa leaders call for preparation for local government elections but even this is a break with Leninism as their approach is electoral and not linked to a class struggle approach, nor even to exposure of the capitalist relations. [We have no problem with an approach to preparing for local govt elections as a means to expose the hold of the capitalists over the state that keep the masses in poverty and destitution in the land of plenty but we say a Marxist approach always places mass struggles first and above any electoral campaign].
Has the past 20 years not shown that not a single democratic demand eg for jobs for all, not even a single clause of the Freedom Charter, even an economic demand for real beneficiation, on a mass and fundamental scale (and not tokenism) can ever be achieved under capitalist relations? It is not sufficient merely to say as Joe Slovo did and the SACP of 1989/1990, that the black middle class and upper strata are inconsistent and ‘soft targets’ for the enemy in achieving reformism rather than revolutionary change.
There has been no long period of capitalist development as happened in Europe. The tiny black capitalist class that has developed is totally dependent on imperialism and thus is in essence, counter-revolutionary and anti-working class.
Lenin stated in State and Revolution that upon the attainment of a democracy that the middle class (certainly the upper middle class) and the capitalist class lose all their revolutionism.
Let us look at Cyril Ramaphosa for example: He obtained the capital for his shares in Lonmin from a loan from Lonmin itself. The Lonmin capitalists own him. Thus is follows that the capitalists instructed him to repay his dues by using his connections in govt to perpetrate the Marikana massacre. This is not the role of a vacillating capitalist but of a conscious counter-revolutionary. Thus we can see, similarly, every black capitalist has developed through loans from imperialism, they are tied hand and foot to them.
The so-called truce and mediation by the ANC, spearheaded by capitalist Ramaphosa, should be rejected. This is just another attempt to wage war, not only on the Numsa members but the entire working class. To ask Numsa to reverse its SNC resolutions is an attack on the working class. This is another ultimatum to Numsa to comply with the ANC-SACP bureaucracy in Cosatu or be expelled.
Numsa should prepare an action plan in support of the striking mineworkers and towards nationalization of the mines as per their SNC resolutions; fundamental is also to take a stand on the limitation of the Farlam Commission which now will not allow Ramaphosa and Zuma to be called to account for the Marikana Massacre; at the same time, Numsa should prepare the ground for regional and a national conference of the left, to develop a Workers’ Charter, the basis for a new revolutionary working class party; side by side with this goes the calling of regional and national workers summits as the new party cannot develop in isolation of the current struggles of the masses, it needs to win that support in mass action.
Workers International Vanguard Party 1.6.2014