Why we need a revolutionary working class party

Comrades, we greet you in the name of the struggle for Socialism. Many workers are asking themselves if they should continue to support the ANC or if the time has come to look for an alternative. When examining what a party stands for it is important to look behind what a party says and what its documents claim. It is vital to look at the class interests being served. This is a call to working class fighters everywhere to engage in a serious debate on the ANC, from a working class perspective. This will help clarify the way forward that the working class locally and internationally are so desperately seeking.

Which class interests does the ANC represent?

The fundamental question when considering an approach to a party is to interrogate which class interests does it represent.

From a political or economic or social angle we can see that the ANC represents not only local monopoly capitalist interests but also that of imperialism. There are many examples to show this but we limit ourselves to a few:

  • The GEAR economic policy has given the monopoly capitalists their biggest and longest boom ever in the history of South Africa (while the mass poverty of the working class persists and deepens);
  • The SA government has chaired various commissions of the imperialist organ, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and has promoted the policies of imperialism through the AU, Nepad, the Pan African parliament, in Africa (through political, economic and military means);
  • The SA military with the Botswana military put down an uprising in Lesotho, while at the same time protecting the investments of the World Bank (the dam project);
  • The SA government has actively promoted the interests of imperialism at the WTO (for example, the accelerated decrease of tariffs far faster than the imperialist masters initially required);
  • The taking up of a seat on the UN Security Council in 2007, becoming a direct party to imperialist domination of the working classes of the world;
  • The continued sale of weapons to the USA and Britain, in the face of mass opposition to the Iraqi invasion.
  • Regarding gay relations from the perspective of ‘gay marriages’ is a capitalist perspective. This is consistent with bourgeois relations around property laws such as inheritance, which is another mechanism to entrench the wealth of the capitalist class. Relations from a working class perspective, have more to do with class perspective and values as a basis. Sexual orientation is secondary and cannot be a determining factor in relations, nor an obstacle to it. (This point is but a tentative view on the subject).

What are the consequences of ANC policies?

In South Africa as well as in Africa there has been an increase in unemployment, and increase in social disintegration while the enrichment of a section of the black middle class and of the capitalist classes has been accelerated. The UN ‘Development’ report of 2003 indicates a greater inequality developing. Under these conditions the working classes in Africa are condemned to permanent  mass unemployment, greater homelessness, declining life expectancies, greater exploitation.

ANC policies, using the ‘legitimacy’ of bourgeois democracy, assist in shifting the crisis of world capitalism increasingly onto the shoulders of the working class.

Any hope for the working class in this “Age of Hope for capitalism”?

The question comes down to this:

Can capitalism be reformed (position of Azapo, Wosa, Sopa, etc) or is the only way to Socialism via violent revolution led by the working class?

Reformism amounts to extending the life of capitalism while also prolonging the misery of the working class.

An advance to Socialism can only be via the expropriation and socialization of the means of production (the factories, the farms, the mines, the banks, etc) under the leadership of the dictatorship of the proletariat (the working class organized as the ruling class). The capitalist class will not give up their current dictatorship. The entire state apparatus is an instrument of violence to ensure the continued bourgeois dictatorship. The bloody history of the Paris Commune in 1871 shows that the working class cannot lay its hands on the existing state structures and use them for its own purposes. The past twelve years in SA is confirmation of this. The old structures need to be smashed and in its place the rule of the working class established. This rule is based on the armed working class masses, and implies the disbanding of a specialist army, the police and other organs of the capitalist state. This means that a violent working class revolution is the only path to Socialism.

The interests of the capitalist class and the working class are irreconcilable. Capitalists exist by their position of exploiting the working class. An advance for the working class means an attack on the positions of the capitalist class, whether directly or indirectly. An ‘Age of Hope’ cannot be hope for the capitalists and for the working class at the same time. This is the same blurring of class interests that Stalinism and reformism promotes among the working class. It is an extension of concepts such as the Freedom Charter’s “the people shall govern”, knowing full well that both capitalists and the working class are part of the people. To have a state where both the capitalists and the working class governs is a contradiction. The state serves the dominant class.  Before 1994, the state served the interests of monopoly capital and indeed, continues to do so. 

Lenin, in his “State and Revolution”, written in September 1917, in the heat of the battle against the ‘democratic’ government of the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, wrote: ‘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.’

This is consistent with Lenin’s April thesis (1917), where he put forward the position to his party that the only way to achieve the full democratic programme, was through the working class taking power through the Soviets (Workers Councils). Applied to South Africa, these principles mean that the achievement of work for all, houses for all, etc, can only be through the working class taking power.

The need for international working class revolution

For Marxists this is not where the story ends. The interconnection of monopoly capital on a world scale, even greater than in the times of Lenin and Trotsky, compels us to realize that the working class taking power in South Africa, on its own, in isolation of workers taking power in the imperialist centres, is a recipe for disaster.

At the third anniversary of the October revolution Lenin confirmed: “ We always staked our play upon an international revolution and this was unconditionally right….We always emphasized the fact that in one country it is impossible to accomplish such a work as a socialist revolution.”

And in February 1921, Lenin declared at the Congress of the textile workers: “ We have always and repeatedly pointed out to the workers that the underlying chief task and basic condition of our victory is the propagation of the revolution at least to several of the more advanced countries.”

The defeat of imperialist forces in Lebanon, their ongoing challenge in Iraq, the existence of left-posing regimes (Chavez and Morales) implementing Keynesian economic policies (policies that increase social spending so that capitalism is not overthrown), all show that imperialism is on the defensive internationally. What is missing is a revolutionary International to lead working class forces to victory.

The need for a vanguard party

In opposition to opening up the ranks to opportunism Lenin proposed the building of a vanguard party. Lenin (once more from State and Revolution): ‘By educating a workers’ party, Marxism educates the vanguard of the proletariat, capable of assuming power and of leading the whole people to Socialism, of directing and organising the new order, of being the teacher, guide and leader of all the toiling and exploited in the task of building up their social life without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie.’

If follows that the setting up of a revolutionary International is a prerequisite to a successful struggle for Socialism.

What the confusion created by the Freedom Charter shows, is that absolute clarity on the programme of the new vanguard Marxist party is essential and indeed is the first step towards the setting up of a revolutionary working class party in SA, and beyond. We challenge the militants and revolutionary groups from every corner of the globe, to engage in a process of discussions with the WIVL over the programme that will form the basis for a revolutionary working class party.

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