Chapter VI Economic Development and Socialism

Image result

Image: Panorama of the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone in Pudong, Shanghai. [Source: http://english.qstheory.cn/magazine/201203/201210/t20121008_185077.htm]

The greatest conquest of the developing proletarian movement has been the discovery of grounds of support for the realisation of socialism in the economic conditionof capitalist society. As a result of this discovery, socialism was changed from an “ideal” dreamt of by humanity for thousands of years to a thing of historic necessity.

Bernstein denies the existence of the economic conditions for socialism in the society of today. On this count his reasoning has undergone an interesting evolution. At first, in the Neue Zeit, he simply contested the rapidity of the process of concentration taking place in industry. He based his position on a comparison of the occupational statistics of Germany in 1882 and 1895. In order to use these figures for his purpose, he was obliged to proceed in an entirely summary and mechanical fashion. In the most favourable case, he could not, even by demonstrating the persistence of middle-sized enterprises, weaken in any the Marxian analysis because the latter does not suppose as a condition for the realisation of socialism either a definite rate of concentration of industry – that is, a definite delay of the realisation of socialism – or, as we have already shown, the absolute disappearance of small capitals, usually described as the disappearance of the petit bourgeoisie.

In the course of the latest development of his ideas Bernstein furnishes us, in his book, a new assortment of proofs: the statistics of shareholding societies. These statistics are used in order to prove that the number of shareholders increases constantly and as a result the capitalist class does not become smaller but grows bigger. It is surprising that Bernstein has so little acquaintance with his material. And it is astonishing how poorly he utilises the existing data in his own behalf.

If he wanted to disprove the Marxian law of industrial development by referring to the condition of shareholding societies, he should have resorted to entirely different figures. Anybody who is acquainted with the history of shareholding societies in Germany knows that their average foundation capital has diminished almost constantly. Thus while before 1871 their average foundation capital reached the figure of 10.8 million marks, it was only 4.01 million marks in 1871, 3.8 million marks in 1873, less than a million from 1882 to 1887, 0.52 million in 1891 and only 0.62 million in 1892. After this date the figures oscillated around 1 million marks, falling to 1.78 in 1895 and to 1.19 in the course of the first half of 1897. (Van de Borght: Handwörterbuch der Staatsswissenschaften, 1.)

Those are surprising figures. Using them, Bernstein hoped to show the existence of a counter-Marxian tendency for retransformation of large enterprises into small ones. The obvious answer to his attempt is the following. If you are to prove anything at all by means of your statistics, you must first show that they refer to the samebranches of industry. You must not show that small enterprises really replace large ones, that they do not. Instead, they appear only where small enterprises or even artisan industry were the rule before. This, however, you cannot show to be true. The statistical passage of immense shareholding societies to middle-size and small enterprises can be explained only by referring to the fact that the system of shareholding societies continues to penetrate new branches of production. Before, only a small number of large enterprises were organised as shareholding societies. Gradually shareholding organisation has won middle-size and even small enterprises. Today we can observe shareholding societies with a capital of below 1,000 marks.

Now, what is the economic significance of the extension of the system of shareholding societies? Economically, the spread of shareholding societies stands for the growing socialisation of production under the capitalist form – socialisation not only of large but also of middle-size and small production. The extension of shareholding does not, therefore, contradict Marxist theory but on the contrary, confirms it emphatically.

What does the economic phenomenon of a shareholding society actually amount to? It represents, on the one hand, the unification of a number of small fortunes into a large capital of production. It stands, on the other hand, for the separation of production from capitalist ownership. That is, it denotes that a double victory being won over the capitalist mode of production – but still on a capitalist base.

What is the meaning, therefore, of the statistics cited by Bernstein according to which an ever-greater number of shareholders participate in capitalist enterprises? These statistics go on to demonstrate precisely the following: at present a capitalist enterprise does not correspond, as before, to a single proprietor of capital but to a number of capitalists. Consequently, the economic notion of “capitalist” no longer signifies an isolated individual. The industrial capitalist of today is a collective person composed of hundreds and even of thousands of individuals. The category “capitalist” has itself become a social category. It has become “socialised” – within the frame-work of capitalist society.

In that case, how shall we explain Bernstein’s belief that the phenomenon of share-holding societies stands for the dispersion and not the concentration of capital? Why does he see the extension of capitalist property where Marx saw its suppression?

That is a simple economic error. By “capitalist,” Bernstein does not mean a category of production but the right to property. To him, “capitalist” is not an economic unit but a fiscal unit. And “capital” is for him not a factor of production but simply a certain quantity of money. That is why in his English sewing thread trust he does not see the fusion of 12,300 persons with money into a single capitalist unit but 12,300 different capitalists. That is why the engineer Schulze whose wife’s dowry brought him a large number of share from stockholder Mueller is also a capitalist for Bernstein. That is why for Bernstein the entire world seems to swarm with capitalists.

Here too, the theoretic base of his economic error is his “popularisation” of socialism. For this is what he does. By transporting the concept of capitalism from its productive relations to property relations, and by speaking of simple individuals instead of speaking of entrepreneurs, he moves the question of socialism from the domain of production into the domain of relations of fortune – that is, from the relation between Capital and Labour to the relation between poor and rich.

In this manner we are merrily led from Marx and Engels to the author of the Evangel of the Poor Fisherman. There is this difference, however. Weitling, with the sure instinct of the proletarian, saw in the opposition between the poor and the rich, the class antagonisms in their primitive form, and wanted to make of these antagonisms a lever of the movement for socialism. Bernstein, on the other hand, locates the realisation of socialism in the possibility of making the poor rich. That is, he locates it in the attenuation of class antagonisms and therefore in the petty bourgeoisie.

True, Bernstein does not limit himself to the statistics of incomes. He furnishes statistics of economic enterprises, especially those of the following countries: Germany, France, England, Switzerland, Austria and the United States. But these statistics are not the comparative figures of different periods in each country but of each period in different countries. We are not therefore offered (with the exception of Germany where he repeats the old contrast between 1895 and 1892), a comparison of the statistics of enterprises of a given country at different epochs but the absolute figures for different countries: England in 1891, France in 1894, United States in 1890, etc.

He reaches the following conclusion: “Though it is true that large exploitation is already supreme in industry today, it nevertheless, represents, including the enterprises dependent on large exploitation, even in a country as developed in Prussia, only half of the population occupied in production.” This is also true about Germany, England, Belgium, etc.

What does he actually prove here? He proves not the existence of such or such a tendency of economic development but merely the absolute relation of forcesof different forms of enterprise, or put in other words, the absolute relations of the various classes in our society.

Now if one wants to prove in this manner the impossibility of realising socialism one’s reasoning must rest on the theory according to which the result of social efforts is decided by the relation of the numerical material forces of the elements in the struggle, that is, by the factor of violence. In other words, Bernstein, who always thunders against Blanquism [See: Louis Blanqui], himself falls into the grossest Blanquist error. There is this difference, however. To the Blanquists, who represented a socialist and revolutionary tendency, the possibility of the economic realisation of socialism appeared quite natural. On this possibility they built the chances of a violent revolution – even by a small minority. Bernstein, on the contrary, infers from the numerical insufficiency of a socialist majority, the impossibility of the economic realisation of socialism. The Social-Democracy does not, however, expect to attain its aim either as a result of the victorious violence of a minority or through the numerical superiority of a majority. It sees socialism come as a result of economic necessity – and the comprehension of that necessity – leading to the suppression of capitalism by the working masses. And this necessity manifests itself above all in the anarchy of capitalism.

What is Bernstein’s position on the decisive question of anarchy in capitalist economy? He denies only the great general crises. He does not deny partial and national crises. In other words, he refuses to see a great deal of the anarchy of capitalism; he sees only a little of it. He is – to use Marx’s illustration – like the foolish virgin who had a child “who was only very small.” But the misfortune is that in matters like economic anarchy little and much are equally bad. If Bernstein recognises the existence of a little of this anarchy, we may point out to him that by the mechanism of the market economy this bit of anarchy will be extended to unheard of proportions, to end in collapse. But if Bernstein hopes to transform gradually his bit of anarchy into order and harmony while maintaining the system of commodity production, he again falls into one of the fundamental errors of bourgeois political economy according to which the mode of exchange is independent of the mode of production.

This is not the place for a lengthy demonstration of Bernstein’s surprising confusion concerning the most elementary principles of political economy. But there is one point – to which we are led by the fundamental questions of capitalist anarchy – that must be clarified immediately.

Bernstein declares that Marx’s law of surplus value is a simple abstraction. In political economy a statement of this sort obviously constitutes an insult. But if surplus value is only a simple abstraction, if it is only a figment of the mind – then every normal citizen who has done military duty and pays his taxes on time has the same right as Karl Marx to fashion his individual absurdity, to make his own law of value. “Marx has as much right to neglect the qualities of commodities till they are no more than the incarnation of quantities of simple human labour as have the economists of the Böhm-Jevons school to make an abstraction of all the qualities of commodities outside of their utility.”

That is, to Bernstein, Marx’s social labour and Menger’s abstract utility are quite similar – pure abstractions. Bernstein forgets completely that Marx’s abstraction is not an invention. It is a discovery. It does not exist in Marx’s head but in market economy. It has not an imaginary existence, but a real social existence, so real that it can be cut, hammered, weighed and put in the form of the money. The abstract human labour discovered by Marx is, in its developed form, no other than money. That is precisely one of the greatest of Marx’s discoveries, while to all bourgeois political economists, from the first of the mercantilists to the last of the classicists, the essence of money has remained a mystic enigma.

The Boehm-Jevons abstract utility is, in fact, a conceit of the mind. Or stated more correctly, it is a representation of intellectual emptiness, a private absurdity, for which neither capitalism nor any other society can be made responsible, but only vulgar bourgeois economy itself. Hugging their brain-child, Bernstein, Böhm and Jevons, and the entire subjective fraternity, can remain twenty years or more before the mystery of money, without arriving at a solution that is different from the one reached by any cobbler, namely that money is also a “useful” thing.

Bernstein has lost all comprehension of Marx’s law of value. Anybody with a small understanding of Marxian economics can see that without the law of value, Marx’s doctrine is incomprehensible. Or to speak more concretely – for him who does not understand the nature of the commodity and its exchange the entire economy of capitalism, with all its concatenations, must of necessity remain an enigma.

What precisely was the key which enabled Marx to open the door to the secrets of capitalist phenomena and solve, as if in play, problems that were not even suspected by the greatest minds of classic bourgeois economy? It was his conception of capitalist economy as an historic phenomenon – not merely in the sense recognised in the best of cases by the classic economists, that is, when it concerns the feudal past of capitalism – but also in so far as it concerns the socialist future of the world. The secret of Marx’s theory of value, of his analysis of the problem of money, of his theory of capital, of the theory of the rate of profit and consequently of the entire existing economic system is found in the transitory character of capitalist economy, the inevitability of its collapse leading – and this is only another aspect of the same phenomenon – to socialism. It is only because Marx looked at capitalism from the socialist’s viewpoint, that is from the historic viewpoint, that he was enabled to decipher the hieroglyphics of capitalist economy. And it is precisely because he took the socialist viewpoint as a point of departure for his analysis of bourgeois society that he was in the position to give a scientific base to the socialist movement.

This is the measure by which we evaluate Bernstein’s remarks. He complains of the “dualism” found everywhere in Marx’s monumental Capital. “The work wishes to be a scientific study and prove, at the same time, a thesis that was completely elaborated a long time before the editing of the book; it is based on a schema that already contains the result to which he wants to lead. The return to the Communist Manifesto (that is the socialist goal! – R.L.), proves the existence of vestiges of utopianism in Marx’s doctrine.”

But what is Marx’s “dualism” if not the dualism of the socialist future and the capitalist present? It is the dualism of Capitalism and Labour, the dualism of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is the scientific reflection of the dualism existing in bourgeois society, the dualism of the class antagonism writhing inside the social order of capitalism.

Bernstein’s recognition of this theoretic dualism in Marx as “a survival of utopianism” is really his naïve avowal that he denies the class antagonisms in capitalism. It is his confession that socialism has become for him only a “survival of utopianism.” What is Bernstein’s “monism” – Bernstein’s unity – but the eternal unity of the capitalist regime, the unity of the former socialist who has renounced his aim and has decided to find in bourgeois society, one and immutable, the goal of human development?

Bernstein does not see in the economic structure of capitalism the development that leads to socialism. But in order to conserve his socialist program, at least in form, he is obliged to take refuge in an idealist construction placed outside of all economic development. He is obliged to transform socialism itself from a definite historical phase of social development into an abstract “principle.”

That is why the “co-operative principle” – the meagre decantation of socialism by which Bernstein wishes to garnish capitalist economy – appears as a concession made not to the socialist future of society but to Bernstein’s own socialist past.

Chapter IV Capitalism and the State

Image result

Image: State Capitalism: How It Works. [Source: https://evolvingegypt.wordpress.com/]

The second condition of the gradual realisation of socialism is according to Bernstein, the evolution of the State in society. It has become a commonplace to say that the present State is a class State. This, too, like referring to capitalist society, should not be understood in a rigorous absolute manner, but dialectically.

The State became capitalist with the political victory of the bourgeoisie. Capitalist development modifies essentially the nature of the State, widening its sphere of action, constantly imposing on it new functions (especially those affecting economic life), making more and more necessary its intervention and control in society. In this sense, capitalist development prepares little by little the future fusion of the State to society. It prepares, so to say, the return of the function of the state to society. Following this line of thought, one can speak of an evolution of the capitalist State into society, and it is undoubtedly what Marx had in mind when he referred to labour legislation as the first conscious intervention of “society” in the vital social process, a phrase upon which Bernstein leans heavily.

But on the other hand the same capitalist development realises another transformation in the nature of the State. The present State is, first of all, an organisation of the ruling class. It assumes functions favouring social developments specifically because, and in the measure that, these interests and social developments coincide, in a general fashion, with the interests of the dominant class. Labour legislation is enacted as much in the immediate interest of the capitalist class as in the interest of society in general. But this harmony endures only up to a certain point of capitalist development. When capitalist development has reached a certain level, the interests of the bourgeoisie, as a class, and the needs of economic progress begin to clash even in the capitalist sense. We believe that this phase has already begun. It shows itself in two extremely important phenomena of contemporary social life: on the one hand, the policy of tariff barriers, and on the other, militarism. These two phenomena have played an indispensable, and in that sense a progressive and revolutionary role in the history of capitalism. Without tariff protection the development of large industry would have been impossible in several countries. But now the situation is different.

At present, protection does not serve so much to develop young industry as to maintain artificially certain aged forms of production.

From the angle of capitalist development, that is, from the point of view of world economy, it matters little whether Germany exports more merchandise into England or England exports more merchandise into Germany. From the viewpoint of this development it may be said that the blackamoor has done his work and it is time for him to go his way. Given the condition of reciprocal dependence in which the various branches of industry find themselves, a protectionist tariff on any commodity necessarily results in raising the cost of production of other commodities inside the country. It therefore impedes industrial development. But this is not so from the viewpoint of the interests of the capitalist class. While industry does not need tariff barriers for its development, the entrepreneurs need tariffs to protect their markets. This signifies that at present tariffs no longer serve as a means of protecting a developing capitalist section against a more advanced section. They are now the arm used by one national group of capitalists against another group. Furthermore, tariffs are no longer necessary as an instrument of protection for industry in its movement to create and conquer the home market. They are now indispensable means for the cartelisation of industry, that is, means used in the struggle of capitalist producers against consuming society in the aggregate. What brings out in an emphatic manner the specific character of contemporary customs policies is the fact that today not industry, but agriculture plays the predominant role in the making of tariffs. The policy of customs protection has become a tool for converting and expressing the feudal interests in capitalist form.

The same change has taken place in militarism. If we consider history as it was – not as it could have been or should have been – we must agree that war has been an indispensable feature of capitalist development. The United States, Germany, Italy, the Balkan States, Poland, all owe the condition or the rise of their capitalist development to wars, whether resulting in victory or defeat. As long as there were countries marked by internal political division or economic isolation which had to be destroyed, militarism played a revolutionary role, considered from the viewpoint of capitalism. But at present the situation is different. If world politics have become the stage of menacing conflicts, it is not so much a question of the opening of new countries to capitalism. It is a question of already existing European antagonisms, which, transported into other lands, have exploded there. The armed opponents we see today in Europe and on other continents do not range themselves as capitalist countries on one side and backward countries on the other. They are States pushed to war especially as a result of their similarly advanced capitalist development. In view of this, an explosion is certain to be fatal to this development, in the sense that it must provoke an extremely profound disturbance and transformation of economic life in all countries.

However, the matter appears entirely different when considered from the standpoint of the capitalist class. For the latter militarism has become indispensable. First, as a means of struggle for the defence of “national” interests in competition against other “national” groups. Second, as a method of placement for financial and industrial capital. Third, as an instrument of class domination over the labouring population inside the country. In themselves, these interests have nothing in common with the development of the capitalist mode of production. What demonstrates best the specific character of present day militarism is the fact that it develops generally in all countries as an effect, so to speak, of its own internal, mechanical, motive power, a phenomenon that was completely unknown several decades ago. We recognise this in the fatal character of the impending explosion which is inevitable in spite of the complete impending explosion which is inevitable in spite of the complete indecisiveness of the objectives and motives of the conflict. From a motor of capitalist development militarism has changed into a capitalist malady.

In the clash between capitalist development and the interest of the dominant class, the State takes a position alongside of the latter. Its policy, like that of the bourgeoisie, comes into conflict with social development. It thus loses more and more of its character as a representative of the whole of society and is transformed, at the same rate into a pure class state. Or, to speak more exactly, these two qualities distinguish themselves more from each other and find themselves in a contradictory relation in the very nature of the State. This contradiction becomes progressively sharper. For on one hand, we have the growth of the functions of a general interest on the part of the State, its intervention in social life, its “control” over society. But on the other hand, its class character obliges the State to move the pivot of its activity and its means of coercion more and more into domains which are useful only to the class character of the bourgeoisie and have for society as a whole only a negative importance, as in the case of militarism and tariff and colonial policies. Moreover, the “social control” exercised by this State is at the same time penetrated with and dominated by its class character (see how labour legislation is applied in all countries).

The extension of democracy, which Bernstein sees as a means of realising socialism by degrees, does not contradict but, on the contrary, corresponds perfectly to the transformation realised in the nature of the State.

Konrad Schmidt declares that the conquest of a social-democratic majority in Parliament leads directly to the gradual “socialisation” of society. Now, the democratic forms of political life are without a question a phenomenon expressing clearly the evolution of the State in society. They constitute, to that extent, a move toward a socialist transformation. But the conflict within the capitalist State, described above, manifests itself even more emphatically in modern parliamentarism. Indeed, in accordance with its form, parliamentarism serves to express, within the organisation of the State, the interests of the whole society. But what parliamentarism expresses here is capitalist society, that is to say, a society in which capitalist interests predominate. In this society, the representative institutions, democratic in form, are in content the instruments of the interests of the ruling class. This manifests itself in a tangible fashion in the fact that as soon as democracy shows the tendency to negate its class character and become transformed into an instrument of the real interests of the population, the democratic forms are sacrificed by the bourgeoisie, and by its State representatives. That is why the idea of the conquest of a parliamentary reformist majority is a calculation which, entirely in the spirit of bourgeois liberalism, pre-occupies itself only with one side – the formal side – of democracy, but does not take into account the other side, its real content. All in all, parliamentarism is not a directly socialist element impregnating gradually the whole capitalist society. It is, on the contrary, a specific form of the bourgeois class State, helping to ripen and develop the existing antagonisms of capitalism.

In the light of the history of the objective development of the State, Bernstein’s and Konrad Schmidt’s belief that increased “social control” results in the direct introduction of socialism is transformed into a formula that finds itself from day to day in greater contradiction with reality.

The theory of the gradual introduction of socialism proposes progressive reform of capitalist property and the capitalist State in the direction of socialism. But in consequence of the objective laws of existing society, one and the other develop in a precisely opposite direction. The process of production is increasingly socialised, and State intervention, the control of the State over the process of production, is extended. But at the same time, private property becomes more and more the form of open capitalist exploitation of the labour of others, and State control is penetrated with the exclusive interests of the ruling class. The State, that is to say the politicalorganisation of capitalism, and the property relations, that is to say the juridical organisation of capitalism, become more capitalist and not more socialist, opposing to the theory of the progressive introduction of socialism two insurmountable difficulties.

Fourier’s scheme of changing, by means of a system of phalansteries, the water of all the seas into tasty lemonade was surely a fantastic idea. But Bernstein, proposing to change the sea of capitalist bitterness into a sea of socialist sweetness, by progressively pouring into it bottles of social reformist lemonade, presents an idea that is merely more insipid but no less fantastic.

The production relations of capitalist society approach more and more the production relations of socialist society. But on the other hand, its political and juridical relations established between capitalist society and socialist society a steadily rising wall. This wall is not overthrown, but is on the contrary strengthened and consolidated by the development of social reforms and the course of democracy. Only the hammer blow of revolution, that is to day, the conquest of political power by the proletariat can break down this wall.

Chapter III The Realisation of Socialism through Social Reforms

Image result

Image: Social Democratics in Canada. [Source: http://socialiststandardmyspace.blogspot.co.za/2013_12_30_archive.html]

Bernstein rejects the “theory of collapse” as an historic road toward socialism. Now what is the way to a socialist society that is proposed by his “theory of adaptation to capitalism”? Bernstein answers this question only by allusion. Konrad Schmidt, however, attempts to deal with this detail in the manner of Bernstein. According to him, “the trade union struggle for hours and wages and the political struggle for reforms will lead to a progressively more extensive control over the conditions of production,” and “as the rights of the capitalist proprietor will be diminished through legislation, he will be reduced in time to the role of a simple administrator.” “The capitalist will see his property lose more and more value to himself” till finally “the direction and administration of exploitation will be taken from him entirely” and “collective exploitation” instituted.

Therefore trade unions, social reforms and, adds Bernstein, the political democratisation of the State are the means of the progressive realisation of socialism.

But the fact is that the principal function of trade unions (and this was best explained by Bernstein himself in Neue Zeit in 1891) consists in providing the workers with a means of realising the capitalist law of wages, that is to say, the sale of their labour power at current market prices. Trade unions enable the proletariat to utilise at each instant, the conjuncture of the market. But these conjunctures – (1) the labour demand determined by the state of production, (2) the labour supply created by the proletarianisation of the middle strata of society and the natural reproduction of the working classes, and (3) the momentary degree of productivity of labour – these remain outside of the sphere of influence of the trade unions. Trade unions cannot suppress the law of wages. Under the most favourable circumstances, the best they can do is to impose on capitalist exploitation the “normal” limit of the moment. They have not, however, the power to suppress exploitation itself, not even gradually.

Schmidt, it is true, sees the present trade union movement in a “feeble initial stage.” He hopes that “in the future” the “trade union movement will exercise a progressively increased influence over the regulation of production.” But by the regulation of production we can only understand two things: intervention in the technical domain of the process of production and fixing the scale of production itself. What is the nature of the influence exercised by trade unions in these two departments? It is clear that in the technique of production, the interest of the capitalist agrees, up to a certain point, with the progress and development of capitalist economy. It is his own interest that pushes him to make technical improvements. But the isolated worker finds himself in a decidedly different position. Each technical transformation contradicts his interests. It aggravates his helpless situation by depreciating the value of his labour power and rendering his work more intense, more monotonous and more difficult.

Insofar as trade unions can intervene in the technical department of production, they can only oppose technical innovation. But here they do not act in the interest of the entire working class and its emancipation, which accords rather with technical progress and, therefore, with the interest of the isolated capitalist. They act here in a reactionary direction. And in fact, we find efforts on the part of workers to intervene in the technical part of production not in the future, where Schmidt looks for it, but in the past of the trade union movement. Such efforts characterised the old phase of English trade unionism (up to 1860), when the British organisations were still tied to medieval “corporative” vestiges and found inspiration in the outworn principle of “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labour,” as expressed by Webb in his History of Trade Unionism.

On the other hand, the effort of the labour unions to fix the scale of production and the prices of commodities is a recent phenomenon. Only recently have we witnessed such attempts – and again in England. In their nature and tendencies, these efforts resemble those dealt with above. What does the active participation of trade unions in fixing the scale and cost of production amount to? It amounts to a cartel of the workers and entrepreneurs in a common stand against the consumer and especially rival entrepreneurs. In no way is the effect of this any different from that of ordinary employers’ associations. Basically we no longer have here a struggle between Labour and Capital, but the solidarity of Capital and Labour against the total consumers. Considered for its social worth, it is seen to be a reactionary move that cannot be a stage in the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat, because it connotes the very opposite of the class struggle. Considered from the angle of practical application, it is found to be a utopia which, as shown by a rapid examination, cannot be extended to the large branches of industry producing for the world market.

So that the scope of trade unions is limited essentially to a struggle for an increase of wages and the reduction of labour time, that is to say, to efforts at regulating capitalist exploitation as they are made necessary by the momentary situation of the old world market. But labour unions can in no way influence the process of production itself. Moreover, trade union development moves – contrary to what is asserted by Konrad Schmidt – in the direction of a complete detachment of the labour market from any immediate relation to the rest of the market.

That is shown by the fact that even attempts to relate labour contracts to the general situation of production by means of a system of sliding wage scales have been outmoded with historic development. The British labour unions are moving farther and farther away from such efforts.

Even within the effective boundaries of its activity the trade union movement cannot spread in the unlimited way claimed for it by the theory of adaptation. On the contrary, if we examine the large factors of social development, we see that we are not moving toward an epoch marked by a victorious development of trade unions, but rather toward a time when the hardships of labour unions will increase. Once industrial development has attained its highest possible pint and capitalism has entered its descending phase on the world market, the trade union struggle will become doubly difficult. In the first place, the objective conjuncture of the market will be less favourable to the sellers of labour power, because the demand for labour power will increase at a slower rate and labour supply more rapidly than at present. In the second place, the capitalists themselves, in order to make up for losses suffered on the world market, will make even greater efforts than at present to reduce the part of the total product going to the workers (in the form of wages). The reduction of wages is, as pointed out by Marx, one of the principal means of retarding the fall of profit. The situation in England already offers us a picture of the beginning of the second stage of trade union development. Trade union action is reduced of necessity to the simple defence of already realised gains, and even that is becoming more and more difficult. Such is the general trend of things in our society. The counterpart of this tendency should be the development of the political side of the class struggle.

Konrad Schmidt commits the same error of historic perspective when he deals with social reforms. He expects that social reforms, like trade union organisations, will “dictate to the capitalists the only conditions under which they will be able to employ labour power.” Seeing reform in this light, Bernstein calls labour legislation a piece of “social control,” and as such, a piece of socialism. Similarly, Konrad Schmidt always uses the term “social control” when he refers to labour protection laws. Once he has thus happily transformed the State into society, he confidently adds: “That is to say, the rising working class.” As a result of this trick of substitution, the innocent labour laws enacted by the German Federal Council are transformed into transitory socialist measures supposedly enacted by the German proletariat.

The mystification is obvious. We know that the present State is not “society” representing the “rising working class.” It is itself the representative of capitalist society. It is a class state. Therefore its reform measures are not an application of “social control,” that is, the control of society working freely in its own labour process. They are forms of control applied by the class organisation of Capital to the production of Capital. The so-called social reforms are enacted in the interests of Capital. Yes, Bernstein and Konrad Schmidt see at present only “feeble beginnings” of this control. They hope to see a long succession of reforms in the future, all favouring the working class. But here they commit a mistake similar to their belief in the unlimited development of the trade union movement.

A basic condition for the theory of the gradual realisation of socialism through social reforms is a certain objective development of capitalist property and of the State. Konrad Schmidt says that the capitalist proprietor tends to lose his special rights with historic development, and is reduced to the role of a simple administrator. He thinks that the expropriation of the means of production cannot possibly be effected as a single historic act. He therefore resorts to the theory of expropriation by stages. With this in mind, he divides the right to property into (1) the right of “sovereignty” (ownership) – which he attributes to a thing called “society” and which he wants to extend – and (2) its opposite, the simple right of use, held by the capitalist, but which is supposedly being reduced in the hands of the capitalists to the mere administration of their enterprises.

This interpretation is either a simple play on words, and in that case the theory of gradual expropriation has no real basis, or it is a true picture of judicial development, in which case, as we shall see, the theory of gradual expropriation is entirely false.

The division of the right of property into several component rights, an arrangement serving Konrad Schmidt as a shelter wherein he may construct his theory of “expropriation by stages,” characterised feudal society, founded on natural economy. In feudalism, the total product was shared among the social classes of the time on the basis of the personal relations existing between the feudal lord and his serfs or tenants. The decomposition of property into several partial rights reflected the manner of distribution of the social wealth of that period. With the passage to the production of commodities and the dissolution of all personal bonds among the participants in the process of production, the relation between men and things (that is to say, private property) became reciprocally stronger. Since the division is no longer made on the basis of personal relations but through exchange, the different rights to a share in the social wealth are no longer measured as fragments of property rights having a common interest. They are measured according to the values brought by each on the market.

The first change introduced into juridical relations with the advance of commodity production in the medieval city communes, was the development of absolute private property. The latter appeared in the very midst of the feudal juridical relations. This development has progressed at a rapid pace in capitalist production. The more the process of production is socialised, the more the process of distribution (division of wealth) rests on exchange. And the more private property becomes inviolable and closed, the more capitalist property becomes transformed from the right to the product of one’s own labour to the simple right to appropriate somebody else’s labour. As long as the capitalist himself manages his own factory, distribution is still, up to a certain point, tied to his personal participation in the process of production. But as the personal management on the part of the capitalist becomes superfluous – which is the case in the share-holding societies today – the property of capital, so far as its right to share in the distribution (division of wealth) is concerned, becomes separated from any personal relation with production. It now appears in its purest form. The capitalist right to property reaches its most complete development in capital held in the shape of shares and industrial credit.

So that Konrad Schmidt’s historic schema, tracing the transformation of the capitalist “from a proprietor to a simple administrator,” belies the real historic development. In historic reality, on the contrary, the capitalist tends to change from a proprietor and administrator to a simple proprietor. What happens here to Konrad Schmidt, happened to Goethe:

What is, he sees as in a dream.
What no longer is, becomes for him reality.

Just as Schmidt’s historic schema travels, economically, backwards from a modern share-holding society to an artisan’s shop, so, juridically, he wishes to lead back the capitalist world into the old feudal shell of the Middle Ages.

Also from this point of view, “social control” appears in reality under a different aspect than seen by Konrad Schmidt. What functions today as “social control” – labour legislation, the control of industrial organisations through share holding, etc. – has absolutely nothing to do with his “supreme ownership.” Far from being, as Schmidt believes, a reduction of capitalist ownership, his “social control,” is, on the contrary, a protection of such ownership. Or, expressed from the economic viewpoint, it is not a threat to capitalist exploitation, but simply the regulation of exploitation. When Bernstein asks if there is more or less of socialism in a labour protective law, we can assure him that, in the best of labour protective laws, there is no more “socialism” than in a municipal ordinance regulating the cleaning of streets or the lighting of street lamps.

Chapter I The Opportunist Method

Image result

Image: Defending the Russian Revolution. [Source: http://litci.org/en/in-defense-of-the-russian-revolution/]

If it is true that theories are only the images of the phenomena of the exterior world in the human consciousness, it must be added, concerning Eduard Bernstein’s system, that theories are sometimes inverted images. Think of a theory of instituting socialism by means of social reforms in the face of the complete stagnation of the reform movement in Germany. Think of a theory of trade union control. Consider the theory of winning a majority in Parliament, after the revision of the constitution of Saxony and in view of the most recent attempts against universal suffrage. However, the pivotal point of Bernstein’s system is not located in his conception of the practical tasks of the Social-Democracy. It is found in his stand on the course of the objective development of capitalist society, which, in turn is closely bound to his conception of the practical tasks of the Social-Democracy.

According to Bernstein, a general decline of capitalism seems to be increasingly improbable because, on the one hand, capitalism shows a greater capacity of adaptation, and, on the other hand, capitalist production becomes more and more varied.

The capacity of capitalism to adapt itself, says Bernstein, is manifested first in the disappearance of general crises, resulting from the development of the credit system, employers’ organisations, wider means of communication and informational services. It shows itself secondly, in the tenacity of the middle classes, which hails from the growing differentiation of the branches of production and the elevation of vast layers of the proletariat to the level of the middle class. It is furthermore proved, argues Bernstein, by the amelioration of the economic and political situation of the proletariat as a result of its trade union activity.

From this theoretic stand is derived the following general conclusion about the practical work of the Social-Democracy. The latter must not direct its daily activity toward the conquest of political power, but toward the betterment of the condition of the working class, within the existing order. It must not expect to institute socialism as a result of a political and social crisis, but should build socialism by means of the progressive extension of social control and the gradual application of the principle of co-operation.

Bernstein himself sees nothing new in his theories. On the contrary, he believes them to be in agreement with certain declarations of Marx and Engels. Nevertheless, it seems to us that it is difficult to deny that they are in formal contradiction with the conceptions of scientific socialism.

If Bernstein’s revisionism merely consisted in affirming that the march of capitalist development is slower than was thought before, he would merely be presenting an argument for adjourning the conquest of power by the proletariat, on which everybody agreed up to now. Its only consequence would be a slowing up of the pace of the struggle.

But that is not the case. What Bernstein questions is not the rapidity of the development of capitalist society, but the march of the development itself and, consequently, the very possibility of a change to socialism.

Socialist theory up to now declared that the point of departure for a transformation to socialism would be a general and catastrophic crisis. We must distinguish in this outlook two things: the fundamental idea and its exterior form.

The fundamental idea consists of the affirmation that capitalism, as a result of its own inner contradictions, moves toward a point when it will be unbalanced, when it will simply become impossible. There were good reasons for conceiving that juncture in the form of a catastrophic general commercial crisis. But that is of secondary importance when the fundamental idea is considered.

The scientific basis of socialism rests, as is well known, on three principal results of capitalist development. First, on the growing anarchy of capitalist economy, leading inevitably to its ruin. Second, on the progressive socialisation of the process of production, which creates the germs of the future social order. And third, on the increased organisation and consciousness of the proletarian class, which constitutes the active factor in the coming revolution.

Bernstein pulls away from the first of the three fundamental supports of scientific socialism. He says that capitalist development does not lead to a general economic collapse.

He does not merely reject a certain form of the collapse. He rejects the very possibility of collapse. He says textually: “One could claim that by collapse of the present society is meant something else than a general commercial crisis, worse than all others, that is a complete collapse of the capitalist system brought about as a result of its own contradictions.” And to this he replies: “With the growing development of society a complete and almost general collapse of the present system of production becomes more and more improbable, because capitalist development increases on the one hand the capacity of adaptation and, on the other – that is at the same time, the differentiation of industry.” (Neue Zeit, 1897-98, vol.18, pg.555)

But then the question arises: Why and how, in that case, can we attain the final goal? According to scientific socialism, the historic necessity of the socialist revolution manifests itself above all in the growing anarchy of capitalism, which drives the system into an impasse. But if one admits with Bernstein that capitalist development does not move in the direction of its own ruin, then socialism ceases to be objectively necessary. There remain the other two mainstays of the scientific explanation of socialism, which are also said to be consequences of capitalism itself: the socialisation of the process of production and the growing consciousness of the proletariat. It is these two matters that Bernstein has in mind when he says: “The suppression of the theory of collapse does not in any way deprive socialist doctrine of the power of persuasion. For, examined closely, what are all factors enumerated by us that make for the suppression or the modification of the former crises? Nothing else, in fact, than the conditions, or even in party the germs, of the socialisation of production and exchange.” (Ibid., pg.554)

Very little reflection is needed to understand that here too we face a false conclusion. Where lies the importance of all the phenomena that are said by Bernstein to be the means of capitalist adaptation – cartels, the credit system, the development of means of communication, the amelioration of the situation of the working class, etc.? Obviously, in that they suppress or, at least, attenuate the internal contradictions of capitalist economy, and stop the development or the aggravation of these contradictions. Thus the suppression of crises can only mean the suppression of the antagonism between production and exchange on the capitalist base. The amelioration of the situation of the working class, or the penetration of certain fractions of the class into middle layers, can only mean the attenuation of the antagonism between Capital and Labour. But if the mention factors suppress the capitalist contradictions and consequently save the system from ruin, if they enable capitalism to maintain itself – and that is why Bernstein calls them “means of adaptation” – how can cartels, the credit system, trade unions, etc., be at the same time “the conditions and even, in part, the germs” of socialism? Obviously only in the sense that they express most clearly the social character of production.

But by presenting it in its capitalist form, the same factors render superfluous, inversely, in the same measure, the transformation of this socialised production into socialist production. That is why they can be the germs or conditions of a socialist order only in a theoretic sense and not in an historic sense. They are phenomena which, in the light of our conception of socialism, we know to be related to socialism but which, in fact, not only do not lead to a socialist revolution but render it, on the contrary, superfluous.

There remains one force making for socialism – the class consciousness of the proletariat. But it, too, is in the given case no the simple intellectual reflection of the growing contradictions of capitalism and its approaching decline. It is now no more than an ideal whose force of persuasion rests only on the perfection attributed to it.

We have here, in brief, the explanation of the socialist programme by means of “pure reason.” We have here, to use simpler language, an idealist explanation of socialism. The objective necessity of socialism, the explanation of socialism as the result of the material development of society, falls to the ground.

Revisionist theory thus places itself in a dilemma. Either the socialist transformation is, as was admitted up to now, the consequence of the internal contradictions of capitalism, and with the growth of capitalism will develop its inner contradictions, resulting inevitably, at some point, in its collapse, (in that case the “means of adaptation” are ineffective and the theory of collapse is correct); or the “means of adaptation” will really stop the collapse of the capitalist system and thereby enable capitalism to maintain itself by suppressing its own contradictions. In that case socialism ceases to be an historic necessity. It then becomes anything you want to call it, but it is no longer the result of the material development of society.

The dilemma leads to another. Either revisionism is correct in its position on the course of capitalist development, and therefore the socialist transformation of society is only a utopia, or socialism is not a utopia, and the theory of “means of adaptation” is false. There is the question in a nutshell.

Unity of the ANC and of our Alliance, the best tribute to Comrade Fidel Castro

Image result

 

By Comrade Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

Friday 25 November 2016 will go down in human history as the day the world lost one of its greatest leaders. The leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, former President of Cuba and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, passed away on that day, at the age of 90. Comrade Fidel, as he was fondly addressed in Cuba, belonged to the rarest breed of finest revolutionaries. He made an invaluable contribution in the struggle for the emancipation of humanity. The bourgeoisie hated him, precisely because he firmly fought for an end to their exploitative and oppressive capitalist and imperialist system. This prize is the fate of a true revolutionary – a true revolutionary cannot be liked by the exploiters of the working class, the oppressors of the people, counter-revolutionaries, reactionaries and charlatans. Comrade Fidel was a communist par excellence. To the end he fought for the overthrow of foreign domination, capitalism and imperialism.

Image result

 The SACP dips its red flag in honour of Comrade Fidel – A communist till the end!

 The South African Communist Party dips the red flag to mourn this gallant revolutionary, undoubtedly one of the greatest revolutionaries human society has ever produced. In particular, Comrade Fidel supported many national liberation struggles, including the all-important struggle to realise and defend Cuba’s national sovereignty and that of other nations. Comrade Fidel understood that a progressive struggle to safeguard national sovereignty is a strong antidote to imperialist expansionist ambitions, and yet it is another important platform to forge principled internationalist solidarity.

 It was with deep sorrow to receive the sad news that Comrade Fidel passed away. At the same time Comrade Fidel’s passing away must start a process of celebrating his life and role in the struggle to serve humanity. Indeed the Cuban Revolution has not been of the Cuban people alone, but has inspired millions in Latin America, Africa and the world over. It is for this reason that Cuba has for decades enjoyed worldwide solidarity against the illegal economic blockade imposed by the United States.

 The SACP forged strong links with the Communist Party of Cuba during Comrade Fidel’s leadership. Many SACP cadres studied and trained in Cuba during the darkest day, apartheid repression. These fraternal relations were strengthened and continued to this day. Even when Cuba was going through one of the most trying times, the difficulties brought by the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Cuba never shirked from its internationalist commitments. My first visit to Cuba was during this time. I vividly recall the electricity cuts and food rationing, amongst others, but through the leadership of Comrade Fidel and the Communist Party of Cuba the country managed to get out of that situation whilst continuing to send its doctors to many parts of the world.

Image result for Fidel, a fighter for social and economic justice

 Fidel, a fighter for social and economic justice – A vanguard in the struggle for socialism:

 Comrade Fidel will be remembered for the success of the Cuban Revolution in lifting the quality of life of the people with meagre resources that have, for over half-a-century, been heartlessly squeezed under imperialist onslaught and pressure directed mainly but not exclusively from the United States (U.S). 

For example, Cuba outdoes the U.S. in education areas such as government spending on education as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product in which area Cuba is ranked 1st and the U.S 39th; children out of school – primary, per 1000; pupil to teacher ratio – secondary school; college and university gender parity index; college and university share of total education spending. In Cuba, healthcare is universal. In the U.S it is not. Cuba has a high ranking life expectancy rate at birth, by far surpassing many countries. These are some of the fruits of the relentless struggle that was led by Comrade Fidel to overthrow the dictatorship of the U.S-backed Fulgencio Batista. 

Before then, the labour of the people of Cuba, their basic resources and wealth, were exploited by and to the benefit mainly of U.S imperialist capital. Only an elitist group and its patronage networks both created as a buffer between the exploited majority and the exploiters wallowed in the crumbs that fell from the tables of imperialist economic control. This was to become the base of counter-revolutionary elements against the Cuban Revolution, against the Cuban people.

Image result

 For the liberation and independence of the African continent – a principled, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist vanguard cadre:

 Comrade Fidel will be remembered also for offering unconditional international solidarity support to the struggles of the peoples of the world. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban volunteers worked under his brilliant leadership and fought in 17 countries in our African continental independence struggles. 

Cuba’s support in our continent did not end there. It continues to this day. During the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, Cuba, a small island, had the largest contingent of healthcare workers to combat the deadly contagion. None of the so-called developing countries, which by the way amassed that status by under-developing our continent, Latin America and others, could match Cuba’s role in this regard. 

In our own country South Africa, Comrade Fidel will best be remembered by all democratic and peace loving people for his deployment, from 1976 to 1988, of 60 000 Cuban troops in Angola to fight alongside the People’s Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola. It was this solidarity effort that stopped and, at the historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, pushed back and defeated apartheid South Africa’s Western-backed forces. The apartheid regime’s defence force was thereafter forced also to withdraw from Namibia. These two historic events directly led to the independence of Namibia on 21 March 1990 and laid a strong foundation for the realisation of our own April 1994 Democratic Breakthrough. 

Cuba’s support to our national democratic revolution did not end there. The Cuban Revolution continues to support our struggle for democratic transformation and development. As part of this support, South Africa is proudly a beneficiary of many Cuban doctors who are looking after the healthcare needs of our people, including in remote rural areas where there are either few or no South African doctors. Cuba is host to 3 000 South African student doctors, twice the number of doctors who graduate in South Africa every year. 

Selfless, not even a discrete particle of soil, not even a cent to Cuba: An important distinguishing feature initiated by Comrade Fidel in Cuba’s international solidarity work!

 Everywhere Cuba offered support – it never took away anything, not even a discrete particle of soil, not even a cent, except the remains of their casualties where any occurred, such as in Angola during the defeat of the forces of apartheid South Africa. Compare this to the looting of our continental resources by the under-developers, colonisers and imperialists, the U.S and its European allies! 

Yet they, especially the U.S spoke ill of Comrade Fidel and even labelled him a dictator. How could a dictator be overwhelmingly so much loved and defended in his own country and revered by millions of the oppressed and the exploited across the world? The U.S is the actual dictator and for that matter an imperialist regime! 

Image result

Fidel, a fierce defender of Cuban independence and its chosen socialist path!

 Image result

In spite of their large amounts of efforts in fabricating volumes of propaganda smearing Comrade Fidel by misinformation, the successive U.S imperialist regimes actually recognised that he did not fight as a lone man in the struggle. He inspired workers, peasants, students and other strata to fight against economic exploitation and imperialist domination, and to forge ahead with socialist construction and defence of the Cuban Revolution. The misinformation by the U.S and its allies did not succeed to turn the people and pit them against Comrade Fidel and the Communist Party of Cuba. Only a minority, as it would happen in many cases, either bought into that propaganda or were bought to propagate it.

Image result

 A resilient, highly trained and well-experienced strategic and tactical fighter:   

 Comrade Fidel not only survived many assassination plots. Each time he emerged more than ever resolute as an immensely popular and revered leader in the worldwide anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, movement for liberation and universal human emancipation. For example he survived over 638 assassination attempts directed mainly by U.S imperialism with its sky high military spending, more than that of any nation on earth and in many cases by far surpassing spending on the social needs of many countries of the world: Yet the U.S, under its imperialist dictatorship of the world and its policy regime of neoliberalism, demanded and in many cases succeeded to force oppressed nations to cut social spending. 

According to a 351-page report of the U.S’s own Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activitiesentitled “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign leaders”, “United States leaders, including most Members of Congress, called for vigorous action to stem the Communist infection in this hemisphere”. According to the report, it was policy to “get rid of Castro”. The U.S Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Richard Helms is quoted in the report saying the pressure “intensified during the period of Operation MONGOOSE and continued through much of 1963”. Operation Mongoose was a covert operation of the CIA developed during the first year of U.S President John F. Kennedy’s administration. Helms is further quoted in the report as saying as the pressure “to get rid of Castro” increased, “obviously the extent of the means that one thought were available … increased too”. 

The U.S intensified its propaganda of misinformation about Comrade Fidel   as the pressure to get rid of him intensified. Uncritical consumers of U.S propaganda, including in South Africa, simply regurgitated the fabrications. For those who do not see the bigger picture, the position adopted by the U.S. was only against Fidel as an individual leader. The reality, on the contrary, is that this system of antagonism went beyond the person of Comrade Fidel, Cuba and the Western Hemisphere – which the U.S regarded as its own backyard for exploitation and domination. 

The sin committed by the Cuban people under the leadership of Fidel was to fight for national independence and control of their country’s resources, labour and its proceeds. 

Image result

The hostility by the U.S was wider, to this day it continues to apply to the rest of humanity, especially those of us who stand on the side of democratic national sovereignty and control of our own resources, labour and its proceeds. This is why the U.S labelled as terrorists, our own leaders such as Comrade Nelson Mandela and many others. The U.S. maintained this classification well beyond our 1994 democratic breakthrough. 

The Cuban Revolution, since its victory on 1 January 1959 has experienced relentless counter-revolutionary, including terrorist, attacks. The U.S-backed Bay of Pigs invasion was defeated in April 1961. This was a CIA sponsored attempted military coup to overthrow Cde Fidel and defeat the Cuban Revolution. 

One of the brutal terrorist attacks against Cuba was made on 6 October 1976 when Cubana de Aviación Flight 455 from Barbados to Jamaica was bombed, killing all 73 people on board the Douglas DC-8 aircraft. 

Image result for Cubana de Aviación Flight 455

The U.S imperialist aggression against Cuba was multifaceted. It involved an economic warfare including the now more than half-a-century illegal economic blockade of Cuba and the occupation of the Guantanamo Bay – which the U.S has since been using as its centre of human rights atrocities. 

The real cost of the illegal U.S economic blockade on Cuba is yet to be conclusively calculated – including all the economic and social consequences of the atrocious pushback against Cuban national development. 

Image result

In memory of Fidel we will deepen our solidarity with Cuba!

 On behalf of the SACP I want to reiterate our Party’s just call to the U.S to lift its illegal economic blockade of Cuba unconditionally. The SACP also calls for the U.S to evacuate and handover Guantanamo Bay to the Cubans, as it is part of Cuba.

Related image

 To Donald Trump, the man who stands to become the next president of the U.S:

 The SACP says, Sir, there is still time, before your inauguration, to discard what we would call your Trumpishness – that is, your recklessly harsh and often racist utterances and uncaring attitude towards the circumstances of others especially against Cuba, Mexicans, women, Muslims, and Africans and Diaspora.

Image result

 As the SACP, we will stand with Cuba in support of its just struggles and choices to pursue the humane – socialist – path of development.

 The SACP also takes this opportunity to salute the people of Cuba for their courage and resoluteness in defence of their motherland. We also salute the workers and poor of the world and all progressive movements and parties for having stood firm in solidarity with the Cuban revolution. The best way to preserve the memory of Comrade Fidel is to intensify this solidarity: Always, until all forms of aggression against Cuba and its people are defeated.

 In our country, we will honour the memory of Comrade Fidel by intensifying our struggle for socialism under our strategic and programmatic slogan:

 Socialism is the future, build it now!

 Image result

This means intensifying the immediate struggle to drive a second, more radical phase of our democratic transition. It means intensifying the fight against monopoly capital, corporate capture and the parasitic bourgeoisie, and relentlessly fighting corruption wherever it occurs. It means building a broad popular front of working class and the people to strengthen our movement and realise the goals of our revolution. 

 One of Cde Fidel’s early successes that had a lasting impact on the course of the Cuban revolution was the merger between the earlier Cuban Communist Party, the Partido Socialista Popular (PSP) with the July 26 movement founded by Comrade Fidel in 1953. This merger led to the formation of the current Partido Communista de Cuba (PCC) – the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965, with Comrade Fidel as its founding First Secretary. It has been the unity of the Communist Party of Cuba that has guaranteed the success and advances of the Cuban Revolution.

 Unity, the best tribute!

 The unity of the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban movement must be a lesson for us as the national liberation movement in South Africa as we bid farewell to Comrade Fidel. It is only united movements that are able to make decisive revolutionary advances. Divided movements can only lead to serious setbacks and even defeat of the revolution. The ANC in particular and the Alliance as a whole need to take this lesson to heart, especially during this period when our revolution, as well as the unity of the movement, is seriously at stake.

 Let us not only honour Comrade Fidel through speeches and written articles, but let us honour him by acting to unite ourselves and set aside any factionalist interests that can only lead to the destruction of our movement.

Image result

 Adios Comrade Fidel: On a personal note 

I cannot resist ending this tribute by mentioning some of the instances where I had had the privilege to listen to and meet with Comrade Fidel personally. 

In the 1990s I had the privilege of being delegated by the SACP to Cuba. Sometime in the mid-1990s I represented the SACP at the Latin American Left platform called the São Paulo Forum, attended by many leaders from left political parties and movements. Comrade Fidel addressed the Forum, which was held at the Havana Convention Centre. I remember very well in his off the cuff remarks Comrade Fidel admonishing the Sandinista leader Comrade Daniel Ortega who was in attendance that he was worried Ortega was too relaxed and the imperialists were going to kill him as they feared the Sandinistas might return to power. Indeed the Sandinistas came back with Ortega as President of Nicaragua.

 In one of my other visits to Cuba I had an opportunity to listen again to Cde Fidel addressing a gathering at the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana. He spoke for five hours without a speech, which became his trademark! But I only had an occasion to personally interact with Comrade Fidel on his visits to South Africa. He had a state visit in 1998 and had the pleasure to be amongst the Members of Parliament who listened to him on that occasion.

 I was also amongst the comrades who accompanied him to tour Robben Island. I remember the shock on his face when he saw Comrade Mandela’s prison cell, asking the same question most people ask when they see that cell, as to how such a tall person as Madiba could fit into such a small size of a cell. When Madiba and Fidel met again in September 2001 in Madiba’s house at Houghton in Johannesburg, I remember very well Comrade Fidel asking Madiba this same question. I could see the sense of shock when looking into that cell, but I was at the same time sensing some relief on his part that because of, amongst others, the victory of the Cuban and Angolan forces in Cuito Cuanavale, Robben Island was no longer a prison but a museum symbolising the victory of progressive forces over the forces of evil!

 I was truly honoured for Comrade Madiba to invite me to the meeting of September 2001, mentioned above. This was a private meeting between Madiba and Fidel at his Houghton home as Comrade Fidel had attended an international gathering in South Africa. On inviting me over the phone, Comrade Madiba joked that he was not feeling safe to meet a leading Cuban Communist on his own, so I  better join him so that in case of danger his own fellow Communist could protect him. Were this true I do not know how I was going to do that because I noticed that day that both these tall men were of the same height! Where would I have fitted in that equation!? But on arriving at Madiba’s house he changed the story and said to me and Fidel that he invited me because he wanted to show Comrade Fidel that it was not only Cuba that had Communists but South Africa too!  I really enjoyed that conversation between these two giants which lasted for over an hour!

 I remember they also exchanged their respective experiences about prison, although Comrade Fidel quickly requested Madiba to speak more about that subject as he had more experience since he spent 27 years in prison! Castro said his story of prison had faded comrade to that of Madiba as he had only spent 2 years in Batista’s prison between 1953 and 1955!

 A humble person indeed!

 To El Comandante, our dearest Comrade Fidel we say: ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!  Always, until victory! 

Image result

Source:

Umsebenzi Online, Volume 15, No. 44, 1 December 2016

Image Sources:

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/12/americas/cuba-fidel-castro-at-90-after-assassination-plots/

[2] http://www.rdm.co.za/politics/2015/09/04/sacp-takes-aim-at-the-premier-league

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/world/americas/fidel-castro-dies.html?_r=0

[4] http://qz.com/846337/cuban-leader-fidel-castro-was-a-liberation-icon-in-africa-and-remained-committed-to-the-continent/

[5] http://www.caribflame.com/2016/08/cuba-celebrates-fidel-castros-90th-birthday/

[6] http://cubaninsider.blogspot.co.za/2015_08_01_archive.html

[7] http://www.cpcml.ca/Tmlw2015/W45031.HTM

[8] https://global.britannica.com/biography/Fidel-Castro

[9] https://youthandeldersja.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/death-in-the-sky-air-cubana-455-bombing-excerpt-from-the-novel-stir-it-up/

[10] http://cubasolidarity.blogspot.co.za/2012/05/may-day-in-havana.html

[11] http://lopezdoriga.com/internacional/empresa-de-trump-hizo-negocios-ilegales-con-fidel-castro/

[12] http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-09-22-sacp-we-will-huff-and-we-will-puff-and-well-blow-the-eff-down/#.WEf1nbJ97IU

[13] https://mobile.twitter.com/sacp1921/status/744485022275612672

[14] http://www.cadenagramonte.cu/english/show/articles/25842:unity-of-youths-and-veterans-best-way-to-honor-fidel-castro

[15] https://swordattheready.wordpress.com/tag/chris-kyle/

[16] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/319006/obituary-fidel-castro-made-revolutionary-mark

Has Socialism Failed?

Image result

South African Communist Party
Joe Slovo 1989

1. Introduction

Socialism is undoubtedly in the throes of a crisis greater than at any time since 1917. The last half of 1989 saw the dramatic collapse of most of the communist party governments of Eastern Europe. Their downfall was brought about through massive upsurges which had the support not only of the majority of the working class but also a large slice of the membership of the ruling parties themselves. These were popular revolts against unpopular regimes; if socialists are unable to come to terms with this reality, the future of socialism is indeed bleak.

The mounting chronicle of crimes and distortions in the history of existing socialism, its economic failures and the divide which developed between socialism and democracy, have raised doubts in the minds of many former supporters of the socialist cause as to whether socialism can work at all. Indeed, we must expect that, for a time, many in the affected countries will be easy targets for those aiming to achieve a reversion to capitalism, including an embrace of its external policies.(1)

Shock-waves of very necessary self-examination have also been triggered off among communists both inside and outside the socialist world. For our part, we firmly believe in the future of socialism; and we do not dismiss its whole past as an unmitigated failure.(2) Socialism certainly produced a Stalin and a Ceaucescu, but it also produced a Lenin and a Gorbachev. Despite the distortions at the top, the nobility of socialism’s basic objectives inspired millions upon millions to devote themselves selflessly to building it on the ground. And, no one can doubt that if humanity is today poised to enter an unprecedented era of peace and civilised international relations, it is in the first place due to the efforts of the socialist world.

But it is more vital than ever to subject the past of existing socialism to an unsparing critique in order to draw the necessary lessons. To do so openly is an assertion of justified confidence in the future of socialism and its inherent moral superiority. And we should not allow ourselves to be inhibited merely because an exposure of failures will inevitably provide ammunition to the traditional enemies of socialism: our silence will, in any case, present them with even more powerful ammunition.

Image result

2. Ideological Responses

The ideological responses to the crisis of existing socialism by constituents of what was previously known as the International Communist and Workers’ movement (and among our own members) is still so varied and tentative that it is early days to attempt a neat categorisation. But at the risk of over-simplification, we identify a number of broad tendencies against which we must guard:

  1. Finding excuses for Stalinism;
  2. Attributing the crisis to the pace of perestroika;
  3. Acting as if we have declared a moratorium on socialist criticism of capitalism and imperialism and, worst of all,
  4. Concluding that socialist theory made the distortions inevitable.

A. Sticking to Stalinism

The term ‘Stalinism’ is used to denote the bureaucratic-authoritarian style of leadership (of parties both in and out of power) which denuded the party and the practice of socialism of most of its democratic content and concentrated power in the hands of a tiny, self-perpetuating elite.

While the mould for Stalinism was cast under Stalin’s leadership it is not suggested that he bears sole responsibility for its negative practices. The essential content of Stalinism — socialism without democracy — was retained even after Stalin in the Soviet Union (until Gorbachev’s intervention), albeit without some of the terror, brutality and judicial distortions associated with Stalin himself.

Among a diminishing minority there is still a reluctance to look squarely in the mirror of history and to concede that the socialism it reflects has, on balance, been so distorted that an appeal to its positive achievements (and of course there have been many) sounds hollow and very much like special pleading. It is surely now obvious that if the socialist world stands in tatters at this historic moment it is due to the Stalinist distortions.

We should have little patience with the plea in mitigation that, in the circumstances, the Stalinist excesses (such as forced collectivisation) brought about some positive economic achievements. Statistics showing high growth rates during Stalin’s time prove only that methods of primitive accumulation can stimulate purely quantitative growth in the early stages of capitalism or socialism — but at what human cost? In any case, more and more evidence is emerging daily that, in the long run, the excesses inhibited the economic potential of socialism.

Another familiar plea in mitigation is that the mobilising effect of the Stalin cult helped save socialism from military defeat. It is, however, now becoming clear that the virtual destruction of the command personnel of the Red Army, the lack of effective preparation against Hitler’s onslaught and Stalin’s dictatorial and damaging interventions in the conduct of the war could have cost the Soviet Union its victory.

Vigilance is clearly needed against the pre-perestroika styles of work and thinking which infected virtually every party (including ours) and moulded its members for so many decades. It is not enough merely to engage in the self-pitying cry: ‘we were misled’; we should rather ask why so many communists allowed themselves to become so blinded for so long. And, more importantly, why they behaved like Stalinists towards those of their comrades who raised even the slightest doubt about the ‘purity’ of Stalin’s brand of socialism.

In the socialist world there are still outposts which unashamedly mourn the retreat from Stalinism and use its dogmas to ‘justify’ undemocratic and tyrannical practices. It is clearly a matter of time before popular revulsion leads to a transformation. In general, those who still defend the Stalinist model — even in a qualified way — are a dying breed; at the ideological level they will undoubtedly be left behind and they need not detain us here.

B. Blaming Gorbachev

Most communists, of course, concede that a great deal ‘went wrong’ and needs to be corrected. Some, however, fear that the corrective methods are so hasty and extreme that, in the end, they may do more harm than good. The enemies of socialism, so it is argued, are being given new powerful weapons with which to destroy socialism and to return to capitalism. The pace of Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost are, either directly or indirectly, blamed for the ‘collapse’ of communist political hegemony in countries like Poland, Hungary, GDR and Czechoslovakia.

In the countries mentioned, despite the advantage of over 40 years of a monopoly of education, the media, etc., the parties in power could not find a significant section of the class they claimed to represent (or, for that matter, even a majority of their own membership) to defend them or their version of socialism. To blame perestroika and glasnost for the ailments of socialism is like blaming the diagnosis and the prescription for the illness. Indeed, the only way to ensure the future of socialism is to grasp the nettle with the political courage of a Gorbachev. When things go badly wrong (whether it be in a movement or a country) it is inevitable that some who have ulterior motives jump on to the bandwagon. When a gap develops between the leadership and the led, it always provides openings for real enemies. But to deal with the gap in terms only of enemy conspiracies is an ancient and discredited device. Equally, to fail to tackle mistakes or crimes merely because their exposure will give comfort to our adversaries is both short-sighted and counter-productive.

In any case, a number of additional questions still go begging:

Firstly, have we the right to conclude that the enemies of a discredited party leadership are the same as the enemies of socialism? If the type of socialism which the people have experienced has been rubbished in their eyes and they begin to question it, are they necessarily questioning socialism or are they rejecting its perversion?

Secondly, what doctrine of pre-Stalinism and pre-Mao Marxism gives a communist party (or any other party for that matter) the moral or political right to impose its hegemony or to maintain it in the face of popular rejection?

Thirdly, who has appointed us to impose and defend at all costs our version of socialism even if the overwhelming majority have become disillusioned with it?

In general, it is our view that the fact that the processes of perestroika and glasnost came too slowly, too little and too late in Eastern Europe did more than anything else to endanger the socialist perspective there. It is through these processes — and they must be implemented with all possible speed — that socialism has any hope of showing its essentially human face. When socialism as a world system comes into its own again — as it undoubtedly will — the ‘Gorbachev revolution’ will have played a seminal role.

C. Abandoning the Ideological Contest

We are impressed with the contribution which crusading pro-perestroika journals (such as Moscow News and New Times) are making to the renovation of socialism. At the same time, we must not overlook the alarming tendency among many media partisans of perestroika to focus so exclusively on the blemishes of the socialist experience that the socialist critique of capitalism and imperialism finds little, if any, place.

In keeping with this excessive defensiveness, there is a tendency to underplay some of the most graphic pointers to the superior moral potential of socialist civilisation. For instance, it is a sad commentary on earlier socialist history that the Soviet people are now moved to erect monuments to the victims of the Stalin period. But the capitalist world is planning no monuments to those of its citizens ravaged by its cruelties nor to millions of victims of its colonial terror.

The transformations which have occurred in Poland, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria are revolutionary in scope. With the exception of Romania, is there another example in human history in which those in power have responded to the inevitable with such a civilised and pacific resignation?

We should remember De Gaulle’s military response in 1968 when ten million workers and students filled the streets of Paris. It is not difficult to forecast how Bush or Thatcher would deal with millions in their streets supported by general strikes demanding the overthrow of their system of rule.

Some Soviet journals have become so exclusively focused on self-criticism that the social inequalities within capitalism and the continuing plunder by international capital of the resources of the developing world through neo-colonial manipulation, unequal trade and the debt burden, receive little emphasis. Middle class elements, including many journalists within socialist societies, seem mesmerised by pure technocracy; the glitter of Western consumerism, and the quality of up-market goods, appear to overshadow the quality of life for society as a whole.(4) There is less visible than at any time a critique of imperialism’s continuing human rights violations and its gross interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states through surrogates and direct aggression, and its continuing support for banditry and racist and military dictatorships.

The gloss which is put in some of these journals on social and political conditions inside the capitalist West itself has been described by Jonathan Steele in the British Guardian as little less than ‘grotesque’. In some contributions capitalism is prettified in the same generalised and unscholarly way as it used to be condemned, i.e. without researched statistics and with dogma taking the place of information. The borderline between socialism and what is called welfare capitalism is increasingly blurred.

In contrast to all this, whatever else may be happening in international relations, the ideological offensive by the representatives of capitalism against socialism is certainly at full blast. The Western media gloat repeatedly with headlines such as ‘Communism — R.I.P.’. Professor Robert Heilbroner, a luminary of the New York New School, has already raised his champagne glass with a victory toast for capitalism. Asserting that the Soviet Union, China and Eastern Europe have proved that capitalism organises the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism, he goes on to proclaim:

‘Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over; capitalism has won … the great question now seems how rapid will be the transformation of socialism into capitalism, and not the other way around.'(5)

Just in case more is needed to fulfil this prediction, some of capitalism’s most powerful representatives are there to give history a helping hand. Reagan’s final boast for his eight years in office was that he saw to it that not one more inch of territory in the world ‘went communist’. Bush takes up the baton with: ‘We can now move from containment to bring the socialist countries into the community of free nations’. The Guardian (2/6/89, United Kingdom) reports a multi-million pound initiative, endorsed by British ministers, to encourage change in Eastern Europe. And so on.

In the face of all this, it is no exaggeration to claim that, for the moment, the socialist critique of capitalism and the drive to win the hearts and minds of humanity for socialism have been virtually abandoned. The unprecedented offensive by capitalist ideologues against socialism has indeed been met by a unilateral ideological disarmament.

To the extent that this has come about through the need to concentrate on putting our own house in order it is, at least, understandable. But, in many cases, there is an inability to distinguish between socialism in general and the incorrect methods which were used to translate it on the ground. This has led to an unjustified flirtation with certain economic and political values of capitalism.

The perversion of democracy in the socialist experience is falsely contrasted to its practice in the capitalist West as if the latter gives adequate scope for the fulfilment of democratic ideals. The economic ravages caused by excessive centralisation and commandism under socialism seem also to have pushed into the background the basic socialist critique of capitalism that a society cannot be democratic which is ruled by profit and social inequality and in which power over the most vital areas of life is outside public control.

D: Losing Faith in the Socialist Objective

Some communists have been completely overwhelmed by the soiled image of socialism which they see in the mirror of history. They conclude that it reflects not only what was (and in the case of some countries, what still is), but, in addition, what inevitably had to be in the attempts to build a socialist society as understood by the founding fathers of socialist doctrine.

If, indeed, what happened in the socialist world had to happen because of some or all of our theoretical starting points, if the Stalin-type perversion is unavoidable, then there is no more to be said; we must clearly either seek an alternative to socialism or throw overboard, or at least qualify, some of its postulates.(6)

We believe, however, that the theory of Marxism, in all its essential respects, remains valid and provides an indispensable theoretical guide to achieve a society free of all forms of exploitation of person by person. The major weaknesses which have emerged in the practice of socialism are the results of distortions and misapplications. They do not flow naturally from the basic concepts of Marxism whose core is essentially humane and democratic and which project a social order with an economic potential vastly superior to that of capitalism.

Image result

3. Marxist Theory Under Fire

Let us touch on some of the concepts which have come under fire in the post-perestroika polemics:

  • Marxism maintains that the class struggle is the motor of human history.(7) Some commentators in the socialist media are showing a temptation to jettison this theory merely because Stalin and the bureaucracy around him distorted it to rationalise tyrannical practices. But it remains valid both as an explanation of past social transformations and as a guide to the strategy and tactics of the struggle to win a socialist order; a struggle in which the working class plays the dominant role.
  • The economic stagnation of socialism and its poor technological performance as compared to the capitalist world sector cannot be attributed to the ineffectiveness of socialist relations of production but rather to their distortion. Socialist relations of production provide the most effective framework for maximising humanity’s productive capacity and using its products in the interests of the whole society.
  • Marxist ethical doctrine sees no conflict between the contention that all morality is class-related and the assertion that working class values are concerned, above all, with the supremacy of human values.(8) The separation of these inter-dependent concepts (in later theory and practice) provided the context in which crimes against the people were rationalised in the name of the class. We continue to assert that it is only in a non-exploitative, communist, classless society that human values will find their ultimate expression and be freed of all class-related morality. In the meanwhile the socialist transition has the potential of progressively asserting the values of the whole people over those of classes.
  • The great divide which developed between socialism and political democracy should not be treated as flowing naturally from key aspects of socialist doctrine. This approach is fuelled by the sullied human rights record and the barrack-room collectivism of some of the experiences of existing socialism. We believe that Marxism clearly projects a system anchored in deep-seated political democracy and the rights of the individual which can only be truly attained when society as a whole assumes control and direction of all its riches and resources.
  • The crucial connection between socialism and internationalism and the importance of world working-class solidarity should not be underplayed as a result of the distortions which were experienced. These included excessive centralisation in the era of the Comintern, subordination of legitimate national aspirations to a distorted concept of ‘internationalism’, national rivalries between and within socialist states (including examples of armed confrontation). Working class internationalism remains one of the most liberating concepts in Marxism and needs to find effective expression in the new world conditions.

In summary, we believe that Marxism is a social science whose fundamental postulates and basic insights into the historical processes remain a powerful (because accurate) theoretical weapon. But this is not to say that every word of Marx, Engels and Lenin must be taken as gospel; they were not infallible and they were not always correct in their projections.

Lenin, for example, believed that capitalism was about to collapse worldwide in the post-October period.

It was a belief based on the incorrect premise that, as a system, capitalism was in an irreversible crisis and that capitalist relations of production constituted an obstacle to the further all-round development of the forces of production.

This was combined with a belief in the imminence of global socialist transformation, which undoubtedly infected much of the earlier thinking about the perspectives of socialist construction in the Soviet Union.

Also, it could well be argued that the classical description of bourgeois democracy(9) was an over-simplification and tended to underestimate the historic achievements of working class struggle in imposing and defending aspects of a real democratic culture on the capitalist state; a culture which should not disappear but rather needs to be expanded under true socialism.

But we emphasise again that the fundamental distortions which emerged in the practice of existing socialism cannot be traced to the essential tenets of Marxist revolutionary science. If we are looking for culprits, we must look at ourselves and not at the founders of Marxism.

The Fault Lies with us, not with Socialism

In some cases, the deformations experienced by existing socialist states were the results of bureaucratic distortions which were rationalised at the ideological level by a mechanical and out-of-context invocation of Marxist dogma. In other cases they were the results of a genuinely-motivated but tragic misapplication of socialist theory in new realities which were not foreseen by the founders of Marxism.

The fact that socialist power was first won in the most backward outpost of European capitalism, without a democratic political tradition, played no small part in the way it was shaped. To this must be added the years of isolation, economic siege and armed intervention which, in the immediate post-October period, led to the virtual decimation of the Soviet Union’s relatively small working class. In the course of time the party leadership was transformed into a command post with an overbearing centralism and very little democracy, even in relation to its own membership.

Most of the other socialist countries emerged 30 years later in the shadow of the cold war. Some of them owed a great deal to Soviet power for their very creation and survival, and the majority, for a great part of their history, followed the Stalinist economic and political model. Communists outside the socialist world and revolutionaries engaged in anti-colonial movements were the beneficiaries of generous aid and consistent acts of internationalist solidarity. They correctly saw in Soviet power a bulwark against their enemies and either did not believe, or did not want to believe, the way in which aspects of socialism were being debased.

All this helps to explain, but in no way to justify, the awful grip which Stalinism came to exercise in every sector of the socialist world and over the whole international communist movement. It was a grip which, if loosened by either parties (e.g. Yugoslavia) or individuals within parties, usually led to isolation and excommunication.

We make no attempt here to answer the complex question of why so many millions of genuine socialists and revolutionaries became such blind worshippers in the temple of the cult of the personality. Suffice it to say that the strength of this conformism lay, partly, in an ideological conviction that those whom history had appointed as the custodians of humankind’s communist future seemed to be building on foundations prepared by the founding fathers of Marxism. And there was not enough in classical Marxist theory about the nature of the transition period to provide a detailed guide to the future.

This under-developed state of classical Marxist theory in relation to the form and structure of future socialist society lent itself easily to the elaboration of dogma which could claim general ‘legitimacy’ from a selection of quotes from the masters. But the founders of Marxism ‘never invented specific forms and mechanisms for the development of the new society. They elaborated its socialist ideal … they provided the historically transient character of capitalism and the historical need for transition to a new stage of social development. As for the structure of the future society to replace capitalism, they discussed it in the most general terms and mostly from the point of view of fundamental principles’ (my emphasis).(10)

In particular, let us consider two issues:

  1. socialism and democracy, and the related question
  2. social and economic alienation under socialism.

Image result

4. Socialism and Democracy

Marxist ideology saw the future state as ‘a direct democracy in which the task of governing would not be the preserve of a state bureaucracy’ and as ‘an association in which the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all’.(11) How did it happen that, in the name of this most humane and liberating ideology, the bureaucracy became so all-powerful and the individual was so suffocated?

To find, at least, the beginnings of an answer we need to look at four related areas:

  1. The thesis of the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ which was used as the theoretical rationalisation for unbridled authoritarianism.
  2. The steady erosion of people’s power both at the level of government and mass social organisations.
  3. The perversion of the concept of the party as a vanguard of the working class, and
  4. Whether, at the end of the day, socialist democracy can find real expression in a single-party state.

A. Dictatorship of the Proletariat

The concept of the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ was dealt with rather thinly by Marx as ‘a transition to a classless society’ without much further definition.(12) For his part Engels, drawing on Marx’s analysis of the Paris Commune, claimed that it indeed ‘was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat’.(13) The Paris Commune of 1871 was an exceptional social experience which brought into being a kind of workers’ city-state (by no means socialist-led) in which, for a brief moment, most functions of the state (both legislative and executive) were directly exercised by a popular democratic assembly.

The concept of the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ was elaborated by Lenin in State and Revolution in the very heat of the revolutionary transformation in 1917. Lenin quoted Engels approvingly when he said that ‘the proletariat needs the state, not in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist’ (Engels, Letter to Bebel). In the meanwhile, in contrast to capitalist democracy which is ‘curtailed, wretched, false … for the rich, for the minority … the dictatorship of the proletariat, the period of transition to communism, will, for the first time, create democracy … for the majority … along with the necessary suppression of the exploiters, of the minority.'(14)

Lenin envisaged that working-class power would be based on the kind of democracy of the Commune, but he did not address, in any detail, the nature of established socialist civil society, including fundamental questions such as the relationship between the party, state, people’s elected representatives, social organisations, etc. Understandably, the dominant preoccupation at the time was with the seizure of power, its protection in the face of the expected counter-revolutionary assault, the creation of ‘democracy for the majority’ and the ‘suppression of the minority of exploiters’.

Rosa Luxemburg said, in a polemic with Lenin:

‘Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party — however numerous they may be — is not freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently … its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege.'(15)

These words may not have been appropriate as policy (which is what Luxemburg argued for) in the special conditions of the phase immediately after the seizure of power in October 1917. Without a limitation on democracy there was no way the revolution could have defended itself in the civil war and the direct intervention by the whole of the capitalist world. But Luxemburg’s concept of freedom is surely incontrovertible once a society has achieved stability.

Lenin clearly assumed that whatever repression may be necessary in the immediate aftermath of the revolution would be relatively mild and short-lived. The state and its traditional instruments of force would begin to ‘wither away’ almost as soon as socialist power had been won and the process of widening and deepening democracy would begin. Lenin was referring to the transitional socialist state (and not to the future communist society) when he emphasised that there would be an extension of ‘democracy to such an overwhelming majority of the population that the need for a special machine of suppression will begin to disappear … it is no longer a state in the proper sense of the word (because) the suppression of the minority of exploiters … is easy, simple’, entailing relatively little bloodshed, and hardly needing a machine or a special apparatus other than ‘the simple organisation of the armed people (such as the Soviets) …'(16)

We know that all this is a far cry from what happened in the decades which followed. The whole process was put in reverse. The complete ‘suppression of the exploiters’ was followed by the strengthening of the instruments of state suppression and the narrowing of democracy for the majority of the population, including the working class.

The anti-Leninist theory advanced (in the name of Lenin) to ‘justify’ this process was that the class struggle becomes more rather than less intense with the entrenchment of socialism. In some respects this became a self-fulfilling prophecy; a retreat from democratic norms intensified social contradictions which, in turn, became the excuse for an intensification of the ‘class struggle’.

One of the key rationalisations for this thesis was the undoubted threat, even after the end of the civil war, posed by imperialism and fascism to the very survival of the Soviet Union and the continuing Western conspiracies to prevent the spread of socialist power after 1945. But events have demonstrated that if the survival of the Soviet Union was at risk from the fascist onslaught it was, among other reasons, also the result of damage wrought to the whole Soviet social fabric (including its army) by the authoritarian bureaucracy. And if Western ‘conspiracies’ have succeeded in threatening the very survival of socialism in places like Eastern Europe, it is the narrowing rather than the extension of democracy which has played into their hands.

The term ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ reflected the historical truth that in class-divided social formations state power is ultimately exercised by, and in the interests of, the class which owns and controls the means of production. It is in this sense that capitalist formations were described as a ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’ whose rule would be replaced by a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ during the socialist transition period. In the latter case power would, however, be exercised in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people and should lead to an ever-expanding genuine democracy — both political and economic.(17).

On reflection, the choice of the word ‘dictatorship’ to describe this type of society certainly opens the way to ambiguities and distortions.

The abandonment of the term by most communist parties, including ours, does not, in all cases, imply a rejection of the historical validity of its essential content. But, the way the term came to be abused bore little resemblance to Lenin’s original concept. It was progressively denuded of its intrinsic democratic content and came to signify, in practice, a dictatorship of a party bureaucracy. For Lenin the repressive aspect of the concept had impending relevance in relation to the need for the revolution to defend itself against counter-revolutionary terror in the immediate post-revolution period.(18) He was defending, against the utopianism of the anarchists, the limited retention of repressive apparatus.

But, unfortunately, practices justified by the exigencies of the earlier phases became a permanent feature of the new society. As time went on the gap between socialism and democracy widened; the nature and role of the social institutions (such as the Soviets, the party and mass organisations) which had previously given substance to popular power and socialist democracy, were steadily eroded.

B. Elected Bodies and Mass Organisations

The steady erosion of the powers and representative character of elected institutions led to the alienation of a considerable portion of society from political life. The electorate had no effective right to choose its representatives. Gone were the days when the party had to engage in a political contest to win a majority in the Soviets. The legislative organs did not, in any case, have genuine control over legislation; by their nature they could only act as rubber stamps for decisions which had already been taken by party structures. The executive and judicial organs were, for all practical purposes, under the direct control of the party bureaucracy. In practice the majority of the people had very few levers with which to determine the course of economic or social life.

Democracy in the mass organisations was also more formal than real. The enormous membership figures told us very little about the extent to which the individual trade unionist, youth or woman was able to participate in the control or direction of their respective organisations. At the end of the day these organisations were turned into transmission belts for decisions taken elsewhere and the individual members were little more than cogs of the vast bureaucratic machine.

The trade union movement became an adjunct of the state and party. Workers had no meaningful role in determining the composition of the top leadership which was, in substance, answerable to the party apparatus. For all practical purposes the right to strike did not exist. The extremely thin dividing line between management and the trade union collective on the factory floor detracted from the real autonomy of trade unions. Apart from certain welfare functions, they tended, more and more, to act like Western-style production councils, but without the advantage of having to answer for their role to an independent trade union under the democratic control of its membership.

Much of the above applied to the women’s and youth organisations. Instead of being guided by the aspirations and interests of their constituencies, they were turned into support bases for the ongoing dictates of the state and party apparatus.(19)

The Party

In the immediate aftermath of the October revolution, the Bolshevik party shared power with other political and social tendencies, including Mensheviks and a section of the left Social Revolutionaries. In the elections for the constituent assembly in 1918, the Bolsheviks received less than a third of the popular vote.(20)

There may be moments in the life of a revolution which justify a postponement of full democratic processes. And we do not address the question of whether the Bolsheviks were justified in taking a monopoly of state power during the extraordinary period of both internal and external assault on the gains of the revolution. Suffice it to say that the single-party state and the guiding and leading role of the party subsequently became permanent features of socialist rule and were entrenched in the constitutions of most socialist states.(21) Henceforth the parties were ‘vanguards’ by law and not necessarily by virtue of social endorsement.

This was accompanied by negative transformations within the party itself. Under the guise of ‘democratic centralism’ inner-party democracy was almost completely suffocated by centralism. All effective power was concentrated in the hands of a Political Bureau or, in some cases, a single, all-powerful personality. The control of this ‘leadership’ by the party as a whole was purely formal. In most cases the composition of the highest organ — the congress which finalised policy and elected the leadership — was manipulated from the top. The Central Committee (elected by variations of a ‘list’ system emanating from the top) had only the most tenuous jurisdiction over the Political Bureau. Within this latter body a change of leaders resembled a palace coup rather than a democratic process; invariably the changes were later unanimously endorsed.

The invigorating impact of the contest of ideas in Marxist culture was stifled. In practice, the basic party unit was there to explain, defend, exhort and support policies in whose formulation they rarely participated. The concept of consensus effectively stifled dissent and promoted the completely unnatural appearance of unanimity on everything. Fundamental differences were either suppressed or silenced by the self-imposed discipline of so-called democratic centralism. In these conditions the democratic development of party policy became a virtual impossibility.

D. The Single-Party State

Hegel coined the profound aphorism that truth is usually born as a heresy and dies as a superstition. With no real right to dissent by citizens or even by the mass of the party membership, truth became more and more inhibited by deadening dogma; a sort of catechism took the place of creative thought. And, within the confines of a single-party state, the alternative to active conformism was either silence or the risk of punishment as ‘an enemy of the people’. Is this suppression of the right to dissent inherent in the single-party state? Gorbachev recently made the point that:

‘Developing the independent activities of the masses and prompting democratisation of all spheres of life under a one-party system is a noble but very difficult mission for the party. And a great deal will depend on how we deal with it’.(22)

Gorbachev’s thought has special relevance to many parts of our own continent where the one-party system abounds. It straddles both capitalist and socialist-oriented countries and in most of them it is used to prevent, among other things, the democratic organisation of the working people either politically or in trade unions.

This is not to say that all one-party states in our continent have in fact turned out to be authoritarian; indeed some of them are headed by the most humane leaders ho passionately believe in democratic processes. Nor can we discuss the role they have played in preventing tribal, ethnic and regional fragmentation, combatting externally inspired banditry, and correcting some of the grave distortions we inherited from the colonial period.

In relation to the socialist perspective, it is sometimes forgotten that the concept of the single-party state is nowhere to be found in classical Marxist theory. And we have had sufficient experience of one-party rule in various parts of the world to perhaps conclude that the ‘mission’ to promote real democracy under a one-party system is not just difficult but, in the long run, impossible.

But, in any case, where a single-party state is in place and there is not even democracy and accountability within the party, it becomes a short-cut to a political tyranny over the whole of society. And at different points in time this is what happened in most socialist states.

The resulting sense of political alienation of the great majority of the people was not the only negative feature of existing socialism. Of equal importance was the failure to overcome the sense of economic alienation inherited from the capitalist past.

Related image

5. Socialist Economic Alienation

The concept of alienation expressed ‘the objective transformation of the activity of man and of its results into an independent force, dominating him and inimical to him …'(23) Alienation has its origins in class-dominated society based on private property. Under capitalism, in the course of the production process, the worker himself ‘always produces objective wealth, in the form of capital, an alien power that dominates and exploits him’.(24) Thus, the exploited classes objectively create and recreate the conditions of their own domination and exploitation. Consciousness of this fuels the class struggle against capitalist relations of production.

The aim of communism is to achieve the complete mastery and control over social forces which humanity itself has generated but which, under capitalism, have become objectified as alien power which is seen to stand above society and exercises mastery over it. Communism, according to Marx, involves the creation of a society in which ‘socialised humanity, the associated producers, regulate their interchange with nature rationally, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by some blind power’.(25)

The relevance of all this for our discussion is that only genuine socialist relations of production can begin the process which will lead to the de-alienation of society as a whole and generate the formation of a new ‘socialist person’. The process of de-alienation — whose completion must await the stage of communism — cannot be advanced by education and ideology alone; conditions must be created which lead progressively to real participation and control by each individual (as part of ‘socialised humanity’) over social life in all its aspects.

The destruction of the political and economic power of capital are merely first steps in the direction of de-alienation. The transfer of legal ownership of productive property from private capital to the state does not, on its own, create fully socialist relations of production, nor does it always significantly change the work-life of the producer. The power to control the producers’ work-life and to dispose of the products of labour is now in the hands of a ‘committee’ rather than a board of directors. And if the ‘committee’ separates itself from the producers by a bureaucratic wall without democratic accountability, its role is perceived no differently from that of the board of directors. It remains a force over which the producer has no real control and which (despite the absence of economic exploitation of the capitalist variety) dominates him as an alien power.

State property itself has to be transformed into social property. This involves reorganising social life as a whole so that the producers, at least as a collective, have a real say not only in the production of social wealth but also in its disposal. In the words of Gorbachev, what is required is ‘not only formal but also real socialisation and the real turning of the working people into the masters of all socialised production’.(26)

De-alienation requires that the separation between social wealth creation and social wealth appropriation and distribution is ended and society as a whole is in control of all three processes. A degree of self-management (at the level of individual enterprises) is only one ingredient in the process of de-alienation; conditions must be created making possible full popular control over all society’s institutions of power not just as a ‘constitutional right’ but as a reality.

Alienation in Existing Socialism

The unavoidable inheritance from the past and the most serious distortions of socialist norms in most of the socialist countries combined to perpetuate alienation, albeit in a new form. Private ownership of the main means of production was replaced by state ownership. Private capital, as an alien power, no longer dominated or exploited the producer. But without real socialisation the key condition for de-alienation continued to be absent.

The immediate producers were given very little real control or participation in economic life beyond their own personal physical and/or mental exertions. In general, the over-centralised and commandist economies of the socialist world helped to entrench a form of ‘socialist’ alienation. At the purely economic level this form of alienation often turned out to be the worst of both worlds.

Under capitalism economic compulsion sanctified by the rule of capital (threatened unemployment, etc.) plays an important role in providing the ‘incentive’ for rising productivity despite alienation by(4) workers from the products of their labour. Capitalist economic levers based on the sanctity of private property are, at the end of the day, not over-concerned with the problems of alienation and more easily provide the incentive (in relation to the workers) that ‘he who does not work, neither shall he eat’.

Under socialism guaranteed employment and the amount of remuneration did not always depend upon quality, productivity or efficiency, opening the way to parasitism at the point of production. Reward based on the socialist maxim of ‘to each according to his contribution’ can obviously play a part in increasing productivity. But for socialist society as a whole to really come into its own requires an incentive based on the producer’s real participation in the mechanisms of social control over the products of his/her labour; a feeling that the means of production and its products are his or hers as part of society. This incentive was too often absent and stood in the way of the process of de-alienation.

Episodes of direct compulsion against producers, such as the forced collectivisation of the early 1930’s and the extensive use of convict labour as a direct state and party exercise, made things worse. Like all forms of primitive accumulation, these episodes created a most profound sense of alienation whose negative consequences are still being felt. Pure exhortation and political ‘mobilisation’ did not, in the long run, prevent the onset of stagnation. Alienation, albeit in a different form, continued and inhibited the full potential of socialist economic advance.

There were, of course, other negative factors which require more extensive examination than is possible here. These include policies based on what has been called the ‘big bang theory of socialism’ which ignored the historical fact that many of the ingredients of social systems which succeed one another — and this includes the change from capitalism to socialism — cannot be separated by a Chinese Wall.

The economy of a country the day after the workers take over is exactly the same was it was the day before, and it cannot be transformed merely by proclamation. The neglect of this truism resulted, now and then, in a primitive egalitarianism which reached lunatic proportions under the Pol Pot regime, the absence of cost-accounting, a dismissive attitude to commodity production and the law of value during the transition period, the premature abandonment of any role for market forces, a doctrinaire approach to the question of collectivisation, etc.

But rectification of these areas alone would not establish the material and moral superiority of socialism as a way of life for humanity. Only the creation of real socialist relations of production will give birth to the socialist man and woman whose active participation in all the social processes will ensure that socialism reaches its full potential and moves towards a classless communist society. Under existing socialism alienation has persisted because of a less than full control and participation by the people in these processes.

In short, the way forward is through thorough-going democratic socialism; a way which can only be charted by a party which wins its support through democratic persuasion and ideological contest and not, as has too often happened up to now, by a claim of right.

Image result

6. A Look at Ourselves

The commandist and bureaucratic approaches which took root during Stalin’s time affected communist parties throughout the world, including our own. We cannot disclaim our share of the responsibility for the spread of the personality cult and a mechanical embrace of Soviet domestic and foreign policies, some of which discredited the cause of socialism. We kept silent for too long after the 1956 Khruschev revelations.

It would, of course, be naive to imagine that a movement can, at a stroke, shed all the mental baggage it has carried from the past. And our 7th Congress emphasised the need for on-going vigilance. It noted some isolated reversions to the past, including attempts to engage in intrigue and factional activity in fraternal organisations, sectarian attitudes towards some non-party colleagues, and sloganised dismissals of views which do not completely accord with ours.

The implications for socialism of the Stalinist distortions have not yet been evenly understood throughout our ranks. We need to continue the search for a better balance between advancing party policy as a collective and the toleration of on-going debate and even constructive dissent. We do not pretend that our party’s changing postures in the direction of democratic socialism are the results only of our own independent evolution. Our shift undoubtedly owes a prime debt to the process of perestroika and glasnost which was so courageously unleashed under Gorbachev’s inspiration. Closer to home, the democratic spirit which dominated in the re-emerged trade union movement from the early 1970’s onwards, also made its impact.

But we can legitimately claim that in certain fundamental respects our indigenous revolutionary practice long ago ceased to be guided by Stalinist concepts. This is the case particularly in relation to the way the party performed its role as a working class vanguard, its relations with fraternal organisations and representatives of other social forces and, above all, its approach to the question of democracy in the post-apartheid state and in a future socialist South Africa.

The Party as a Vanguard and Inner-Party Democracy

We have always believed (and we continue to do so) that it is indispensable for the working class to have an independent political instrument which safeguards its role in the democratic revolution and which leads it towards an eventual classless society. But such leadership must be won rather than imposed. Our claim to represent the historic aspirations of the workers does not give us an absolute right to lead them or to exercise control over society as a whole in their name.

Our new programme asserts that a communist party does not earn the title of vanguard merely by proclaiming it. Nor does its claim to be the upholder of Marxism give it a monopoly of political wisdom or a natural right to exclusive control of the struggle. We can only earn our place as a vanguard force by superior efforts of leadership and devotion to the cause of liberation and socialism. And we can only win adherence to our ideology by demonstrating its superiority as a theoretical guide to revolutionary practice.

This approach to the vanguard concept has not, as we know, always been adhered to in world revolutionary practice and in an earlier period we too were infected by the distortion. But, in our case, the shift which has taken place in our conception of ‘vanguard’ is by no means a post-Gorbachev phenomenon. The wording on this question in our new programme is taken almost verbatim from our Central Committee’s 1970 report on organisation.

The 1970 document reiterated the need to safeguard, both in the letter and the spirit, the independence of the political expressions of other social forces whether economic or national. It rejected the old purist and domineering concept that all those who do not agree with the party are necessarily enemies of the working class. And it saw no conflict between our understanding of the concept of vanguard and the acceptance of the African National Congress as the head of the liberation alliance.

Despite the inevitable limitations which illegality imposed on our inner-party democratic processes, the principles of accountability and electivity of all higher organs were substantially adhered to. Seven underground Congresses of our party have been held since 1953. The delegates to Congress from the lower organs were elected without lists from above and always constituted a majority. The incoming Central Committees were elected by a secret ballot without any form of direct or indirect ‘guidance’ to the delegates. In other words, the Leninist concept of democratic centralism has not been abused to entrench authoritarian leadership practices.

Our structures, down to the lowest units, have been increasingly encouraged to assess and question leadership pronouncements in a critical spirit and the views of the membership are invariably canvassed before finalising basic policy documents. Our 7th Congress, which adopted our new programme, The Path to Power, was a model of democratic consultation and spirited debate. Special procedures designed to exclude suspected enemy agents as delegates to Congress limited complete free choice. But, in practice, these limitations affected a negligible percentage. Overall, despite the security risks involved in the clandestine conditions, the will of our membership finds democratic expression. This spirit of democracy also informs our relationship with fraternal political forces and our approach to the political framework of a post-liberation South Africa.

Relations with Fraternal Organisations

As we have already noted, one of the most serious casualties in the divide which developed between democracy and socialism was in the one-sided relationship between the ruling parties and the mass organisations. In order to prevent such a distortion in a post-apartheid South Africa we have, for example, set out in our draft Workers’ Charter that:

‘Trade unions and their federation shall be completely independent and answerable only to the decisions of their members or affiliates, democratically arrived at. No political party, state organ or enterprise, whether public, private or mixed, shall directly or indirectly interfere with such independence.’

The substance of this approach is reflected in the way our party has in fact conducted itself for most of its underground existence.

Our 1970 extended Central Committee meeting reiterated the guidelines which inform our relations with fraternal organisations and other social forces. Special emphasis was once again given to the need to safeguard, both in the letter and in the spirit, the independence of the political expressions of other social forces, whether economic or national.

We do not regard the trade unions or the national movement as mere conduits for our policies. Nor do we attempt to advance our policy positions through intrigue or manipulation. Our relationship with these organisations is based on complete respect for their independence, integrity and inner-democracy. In so far as our influence is felt, it is the result of open submissions of policy positions and the impact of individual communists who win respect as among the most loyal, the most devoted and ideologically clear members of these organisations.

Old habits die hard and among the most pernicious of these is the purist concept that all those who do not agree with the party are necessarily enemies of socialism. This leads to a substitution of name-calling and jargon for healthy debate with non-party activists. As already mentioned, our 7th Congress noted some isolated reversions along these lines and resolved to combat such tendencies. But, in general, the long-established and appreciable move away from old-style commandism and sectarianism has won for our party the admiration and support of a growing number of non-communist revolutionary activists in the broad workers’ and national movement. We also consider it appropriate to canvass the views of such activists in the formulation of certain aspects of our policy. For example, we submitted our preliminary conception of the contents of a Workers’ Charter for critical discussion not only in our own ranks but throughout the national and trade union movements.

Democracy and the Future

Our party’s programme holds firmly to a post-apartheid state which will guarantee all citizens the basic rights and freedoms of organisation, speech, thought, press, movement, residence, conscience and religion; full trade union rights for all workers including the right to strike, and one person one vote in free and democratic elections. These freedoms constitute the very essence of our national liberation and socialist objectives and they clearly imply political pluralism.

Both for these historical reasons and because experience has shown that an institutionalised one-party state has a strong propensity for authoritarianism, we remain protagonists of multi-party post-apartheid democracy both in the national democratic and socialist phases, is desirable.

We believe that post-apartheid state power must clearly vest in the elected representatives of the people and not, directly or indirectly, in the administrative command of a party. The relationship which evolves between political parties and state structures must not, in any way, undermine the sovereignty of elected bodies.

We also believe that if there is real democracy in the post-apartheid state, the way will be open for a peaceful progression towards our ultimate objective — a socialist South Africa. This approach is consistent with the Marxist view — not always adhered to in practice — that the working class must win the majority to its side: as long as no violence is used against the people there is no other road to power.(27)

It follows that, in truly democratic conditions, it is perfectly legitimate and desirable for a party claiming to be the political instrument of the working class to attempt to lead its constituency in democratic contest for political power against other parties and groups representing other social forces. And if it wins, it must be constitutionally required, from time to time, to go back to the people for a renewed mandate. The alternative to this is self-perpetuating power with all its implications for corruption and dictatorship.

Image result

Conclusion

We dare not underestimate the damage that has been wrought to the cause of socialism by the distortions we have touched upon. We, however, continue to have complete faith that socialism represents the most rational, just and democratic way for human beings to relate to one another.

  • Humankind can never attain real freedom until a society has been built in which no person has the freedom to exploit another person.
  • The bulk of humanity’s resources will never be used for the good of humanity until they are in public ownership and under democratic control.
  • The ultimate aim of socialism to eliminate all class inequalities occupies a prime place in the body of civilised ethics even before Marx.
  • The all-round development of the individual and the creation of opportunities for every person to express his or her talents to the full can only find ultimate expression in a society which dedicates itself to people rather than profit.

The opponents of socialism are very vocal about what they call the failure of socialism in Africa.(28) But they say little, if anything, about Africa’s real failure; the failures of capitalism. Over 90 percent of our continent’s people live out their wretched and repressed lives in stagnating and declining capitalist-oriented economies. International capital, to whom most of these countries are mortgaged, virtually regards cheap bread, free education and full employment as economic crimes. Western outcries against violations of human rights are muted when they occur in countries with a capitalist orientation.

The way forward for the whole of humanity lies within a socialist framework guided by genuine socialist humanitarianism and not within a capitalist system which entrenches economic and social inequalities as a way of life. Socialism can undoubtedly be made to work without the negative practices which have distorted many of its key objectives.

But mere faith in the future of socialism is not enough. The lessons of past failures have to be learnt. Above all, we have to ensure that its fundamental tenet — socialist democracy — occupies a rightful place in all future practice.

Image result

Footnotes


1. It is, for example, sad to record that among the early foreign policy initiatives of the new government in Hungary was to play host to South Africa’s foreign minister. By doing this it has, without even the diplomatic niceties of consulting with the representatives of the repressed and dominated majority, moved away from one of the most humanitarian aspects of the policies of the socialist world, i.e. to be in the vanguard of those who shun apartheid.

2. Among other things, statistics recently published in The Economist (UK) show that in the Soviet Union — after only 70 years of socialist endeavour in what was one of the most backward countries in the capitalist world — there are more graduate engineers than in the US, more graduate research scientists than in Japan and more medical doctors per head than in Western Europe. It also produces more steel, fuel and energy than any other country (The World in the 1990s; Economist publication). How many capitalist countries can match the achievements of most of the socialist world in the provision of social security, child care, the ending of cultural backwardness, and so on? There is certainly no country in the world which can beat Cuba’s record in the sphere of health care.

3. Marx used the term ‘primitive accumulation’ to describe the original process of capitalist accumulation which, he maintained, was not the result of abstinence but rather of acts (including brigandage) such as the expropriation of the peasantry as happened during the British Enclosures (Capital Volume 1, Part VII). Preobrazhensky in The New Economics (1926) talked about ‘primitive socialist accumulation’ involving the expropriation of resources from the better-off classes to generate capital for socialist industrial development. Here, the term is used to describe the arbitrary measures taken against the Soviet peasantry to forcibly ‘enclose’ them into collectives.

4. Socialism, as a transition phase to communism, is not based on full egalitarianism. But clearly the socialist maxim ‘to each according to his contribution’ is not applied absolutely in a socialist society which devotes a large slice of its resources to social services, subsidising basic necessities, and implementing the human right of guaranteed employment. The middle strata in socialist society are inevitably worse off than their counterparts in the West. Access to the flesh-pots of consumer goods (which the West produces for the upper crust in almost mind-bending variations) is more restricted when society tries to use its surplus to achieve a more just distribution of wealth.

5. The New Yorker, January 23, 1989.

6. In the recent period a number of European and African political parties have ‘officially’ abandoned Marxism-Leninism as a theoretical guide. In the case of FRELIMO, the decision appears to be the result of second thoughts on what may, in the circumstances, have been a premature transformation of the movement into a communist vanguard. But in the case of some Western parties the decision seems to be a response (with undoubted electoral implications) to the distortions of the socialist experience rather than a reasoned conclusion that Marxism is not a viable tool in the socialist endeavour. A leading Soviet academic (reported in Work in Progress No.48, July 1987, p.7) has predicted that South Africa has no chance of becoming socialist for a century.

7. This must be understood as providing the immediate explanation of the way major social change manifests itself in a situation in which the relations of production have become obstacles to the development of productive forces.

8. This type of formulation is preferred to the one occasionally used by Gorbachev that there are certain universal human values which take priority over class values. This latter formulation tends to detract from the inter-dependence of working class and human morality. It also perhaps goes too far in separating morality from its class connection, even though it is clear that the assertion of certain values can be in the mutual interests of otherwise contending classes.

9. See Lenin, State and Revolution, Selected Works pp 203-4.

10. M. Gorbachev in Pravda November 26th, 1989.

11. Marx, Capital, Volume 1, p.716, Penguin Books Edition.

12. AP Ogurtsov, Soviet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

13. Capital, Volume 3, Chapter 48.

14. Pravda, September 30, 1989.

15. Marx: Civil War in France

16. Communist Manifesto

17. Letter to J. Wademeyer, see also ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’, Selected Works, p.331

18. Introduction to Civil War in France

19. Selected Works, Volume Two, pp 302-3

20. The Russian Revolution, p.79 14

21. Selected Works, Volume Two, pp 303-4 15

22. It is instructive to note how Western anti-Marxists and liberals understood and even welcomed the imposition of the most blatant dictatorial methods to deal with the counter-revolutionaries in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of the Ceaucescu regime.

23. A stark illustration of this is the failure of any of the women’s organisations in the socialist countries to mount agitation against the continuing inequalities between men and women in key social and political sectors. It is utterly inconceivable that the women’s organisations could have failed to notice the continuing male-oriented structure of the family and the overwhelming male domination (more so than even in the capitalist West) of all structures of political power.

24. The total number of votes cast was 36.26 million. Of the major parties, the Social Revolutionaries received 20.9 million, the Bolsheviks 9.02 million, the Cadets 1.8 million, the Mensheviks 0.6 million and the rest was shared between 20 other parties.

25. Some of the socialist countries were ruled by a front but in substance the allies of the communist parties had little, if any, power or effective autonomy.

26. Pravda November 26, 1989 18

27. Lenin, Selected Works, Volume 2, p36.

28. They conveniently ignore the fact that most of the countries which tried to create conditions for the building of socialism faced unending civil war, aggression and externally-inspired banditry; a situation in which it is hardly possible to build any kind of stable social formation — capitalist or socialist.

Image result

Source:

https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/slovo/1989/socialism-failed.htm

Image Source:

[1] http://sbffranktalk.blogspot.co.za/2014/05/friday-featurethe-life-of-joe-slovo.html

[2] http://quoteaddicts.com/tags/democratic-socialism/20

[3] http://firstslovo.blogspot.co.za/2013/06/photographs-of-joe-slovo.html

[4] http://firstslovo.blogspot.co.za/2013/06/photographs-of-joe-slovo.html

[5] http://www.sahistory.org.za/image/joe-slovo-and-oliver-tambo-second-anc-national-consultative-conference-kabwe-zambia-june-1985

[6] http://www.africamediaonline.com/search/previewpage/753_31

[7] http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=2671

[8] http://socialist-courier.blogspot.co.za/2015/04/socialism-is-future-future-is-ours.html

Unity of the ANC and of our Alliance, the best tribute to Comrade Fidel Castro

http://www.sacp.org.za/pubs/umsebenzi/images/umsebenzi_hand.gif

By Comrade Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

Friday 25 November 2016 will go down in human history as the day the world lost one of its greatest leaders. The leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, former President of Cuba and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, passed away on that day, at the age of 90. Comrade Fidel, as he was fondly addressed in Cuba, belonged to the rarest breed of finest revolutionaries. He made an invaluable contribution in the struggle for the emancipation of humanity. The bourgeoisie hated him, precisely because he firmly fought for an end to their exploitative and oppressive capitalist and imperialist system. This prize is the fate of a true revolutionary – a true revolutionary cannot be liked by the exploiters of the working class, the oppressors of the people, counter-revolutionaries, reactionaries and charlatans. Comrade Fidel was a communist par excellence. To the end he fought for the overthrow of foreign domination, capitalism and imperialism.

 

The SACP dips its red flag in honour of Comrade Fidel – A communist till the end!

The South African Communist Party dips the red flag to mourn this gallant revolutionary, undoubtedly one of the greatest revolutionaries human society has ever produced. In particular, Comrade Fidel supported many national liberation struggles, including the all-important struggle to realise and defend Cuba’s national sovereignty and that of other nations. Comrade Fidel understood that a progressive struggle to safeguard national sovereignty is a strong antidote to imperialist expansionist ambitions, and yet it is another important platform to forge principled internationalist solidarity.

It was with deep sorrow to receive the sad news that Comrade Fidel passed away. At the same time Comrade Fidel’s passing away must start a process of celebrating his life and role in the struggle to serve humanity. Indeed the Cuban Revolution has not been of the Cuban people alone, but has inspired millions in Latin America, Africa and the world over. It is for this reason that Cuba has for decades enjoyed worldwide solidarity against the illegal economic blockade imposed by the United States.

The SACP forged strong links with the Communist Party of Cuba during Comrade Fidel’s leadership. Many SACP cadres studied and trained in Cuba during the darkest day, apartheid repression. These fraternal relations were strengthened and continued to this day. Even when Cuba was going through one of the most trying times, the difficulties brought by the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Cuba never shirked from its internationalist commitments. My first visit to Cuba was during this time. I vividly recall the electricity cuts and food rationing, amongst others, but through the leadership of Comrade Fidel and the Communist Party of Cuba the country managed to get out of that situation whilst continuing to send its doctors to many parts of the world.

 

Fidel, a fighter for social and economic justice – A vanguard in the struggle for socialism:

Comrade Fidel will be remembered for the success of the Cuban Revolution in lifting the quality of life of the people with meagre resources that have, for over half-a-century, been heartlessly squeezed under imperialist onslaught and pressure directed mainly but not exclusively from the United States (U.S).

For example, Cuba outdoes the U.S. in education areas such as government spending on education as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product in which area Cuba is ranked 1st and the U.S 39th; children out of school – primary, per 1000; pupil to teacher ratio – secondary school; college and university gender parity index; college and university share of total education spending. In Cuba, healthcare is universal. In the U.S it is not. Cuba has a high ranking life expectancy rate at birth, by far surpassing many countries. These are some of the fruits of the relentless struggle that was led by Comrade Fidel to overthrow the dictatorship of the U.S-backed Fulgencio Batista.

Before then, the labour of the people of Cuba, their basic resources and wealth, were exploited by and to the benefit mainly of U.S imperialist capital. Only an elitist group and its patronage networks both created as a buffer between the exploited majority and the exploiters wallowed in the crumbs that fell from the tables of imperialist economic control. This was to become the base of counter-revolutionary elements against the Cuban Revolution, against the Cuban people.

 

For the liberation and independence of the African continent – a principled, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist vanguard cadre:

Comrade Fidel will be remembered also for offering unconditional international solidarity support to the struggles of the peoples of the world. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban volunteers worked under his brilliant leadership and fought in 17 countries in our African continental independence struggles.

Cuba’s support in our continent did not end there. It continues to this day. During the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, Cuba, a small island, had the largest contingent of healthcare workers to combat the deadly contagion. None of the so-called developing countries, which by the way amassed that status by under-developing our continent, Latin America and others, could match Cuba’s role in this regard.

In our own country South Africa, Comrade Fidel will best be remembered by all democratic and peace loving people for his deployment, from 1976 to 1988, of 60 000 Cuban troops in Angola to fight alongside the People’s Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola. It was this solidarity effort that stopped and, at the historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, pushed back and defeated apartheid South Africa’s Western-backed forces. The apartheid regime’s defence force was thereafter forced also to withdraw from Namibia. These two historic events directly led to the independence of Namibia on 21 March 1990 and laid a strong foundation for the realisation of our own April 1994 Democratic Breakthrough.

Cuba’s support to our national democratic revolution did not end there. The Cuban Revolution continues to support our struggle for democratic transformation and development. As part of this support, South Africa is proudly a beneficiary of many Cuban doctors who are looking after the healthcare needs of our people, including in remote rural areas where there are either few or no South African doctors. Cuba is host to 3 000 South African student doctors, twice the number of doctors who graduate in South Africa every year.

 

Selfless, not even a discrete particle of soil, not even a cent to Cuba: An important distinguishing feature initiated by Comrade Fidel in Cuba’s international solidarity work!

Everywhere Cuba offered support – it never took away anything, not even a discrete particle of soil, not even a cent, except the remains of their casualties where any occurred, such as in Angola during the defeat of the forces of apartheid South Africa. Compare this to the looting of our continental resources by the under-developers, colonisers and imperialists, the U.S and its European allies!

Yet they, especially the U.S spoke ill of Comrade Fidel and even labelled him a dictator. How could a dictator be overwhelmingly so much loved and defended in his own country and revered by millions of the oppressed and the exploited across the world? The U.S is the actual dictator and for that matter an imperialist regime!

 

Fidel, a fierce defender of Cuban independence and its chosen socialist path!

In spite of their large amounts of efforts in fabricating volumes of propaganda smearing Comrade Fidel by misinformation, the successive U.S imperialist regimes actually recognised that he did not fight as a lone man in the struggle. He inspired workers, peasants, students and other strata to fight against economic exploitation and imperialist domination, and to forge ahead with socialist construction and defence of the Cuban Revolution. The misinformation by the U.S and its allies did not succeed to turn the people and pit them against Comrade Fidel and the Communist Party of Cuba. Only a minority, as it would happen in many cases, either bought into that propaganda or were bought to propagate it.

 

A resilient, highly trained and well-experienced strategic and tactical fighter:   

Comrade Fidel not only survived many assassination plots. Each time he emerged more than ever resolute as an immensely popular and revered leader in the worldwide anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, movement for liberation and universal human emancipation. For example he survived over 638 assassination attempts directed mainly by U.S imperialism with its sky high military spending, more than that of any nation on earth and in many cases by far surpassing spending on the social needs of many countries of the world: Yet the U.S, under its imperialist dictatorship of the world and its policy regime of neoliberalism,demanded and in many cases succeeded to force oppressed nations to cut social spending.

According to a 351-page report of the U.S’s own Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activitiesentitled “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign leaders”, “United States leaders, including most Members of Congress, called for vigorous action to stem the Communist infection in this hemisphere”. According to the report, it was policy to “get rid of Castro”. The U.S Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Richard Helms is quoted in the report saying the pressure “intensified during the period of Operation MONGOOSE and continued through much of 1963”. Operation Mongoose was a covert operation of the CIA developed during the first year of U.S President John F. Kennedy’s administration. Helms is further quoted in the report as saying as the pressure “to get rid of Castro” increased, “obviously the extent of the means that one thought were available … increased too”.

The U.S intensified its propaganda of misinformation about Comrade Fidel   as the pressure to get rid of him intensified. Uncritical consumers of U.S propaganda, including in South Africa, simply regurgitated the fabrications. For those who do not see the bigger picture, the position adopted by the U.S. was only against Fidel as an individual leader. The reality, on the contrary, is that this system of antagonism went beyond the person of Comrade Fidel, Cuba and the Western Hemisphere – which the U.S regarded as its own backyard for exploitation and domination.

The sin committed by the Cuban people under the leadership of Fidel was to fight for national independence and control of their country’s resources, labour and its proceeds.

The hostility by the U.S was wider, to this day it continues to apply to the rest of humanity, especially those of us who stand on the side of democratic national sovereignty and control of our own resources, labour and its proceeds. This is why the U.S labelled as terrorists, our own leaders such as Comrade Nelson Mandela and many others. The U.S. maintained this classification well beyond our 1994 democratic breakthrough.

The Cuban Revolution, since its victory on 1 January 1959 has experienced relentless counter-revolutionary, including terrorist, attacks. The U.S-backed Bay of Pigs invasion was defeated in April 1961. This was a CIA sponsored attempted military coup to overthrow Cde Fidel and defeat the Cuban Revolution.

One of the brutal terrorist attacks against Cuba was made on 6 October 1976 when Cubana de Aviación Flight 455 from Barbados to Jamaica was bombed, killing all 73 people on board the Douglas DC-8 aircraft.

The U.S imperialist aggression against Cuba was multifaceted. It involved an economic warfare including the now more than half-a-century illegal economic blockade of Cuba and the occupation of the Guantanamo Bay – which the U.S has since been using as its centre of human rights atrocities.

The real cost of the illegal U.S economic blockade on Cuba is yet to be conclusively calculated – including all the economic and social consequences of the atrocious pushback against Cuban national development.

 

In memory of Fidel we will deepen our solidarity with Cuba!

On behalf of the SACP I want to reiterate our Party’s just call to the U.S to lift its illegal economic blockade of Cuba unconditionally. The SACP also calls for the U.S to evacuate and handover Guantanamo Bay to the Cubans, as it is part of Cuba.

 

To Donald Trump, the man who stands to become the next president of the U.S:

The SACP says, Sir, there is still time, before your inauguration, to discard what we would call your Trumpishness – that is, your recklessly harsh and often racist utterances and uncaring attitude towards the circumstances of others especially against Cuba, Mexicans, women, Muslims, and Africans and Diaspora.

 

As the SACP, we will stand with Cuba in support of its just struggles and choices to pursue the humane – socialist – path of development.

The SACP also takes this opportunity to salute the people of Cuba for their courage and resoluteness in defence of their motherland. We also salute the workers and poor of the world and all progressive movements and parties for having stood firm in solidarity with the Cuban revolution. The best way to preserve the memory of Comrade Fidel is to intensify this solidarity: Always, until all forms of aggression against Cuba and its people are defeated.

In our country, we will honour the memory of Comrade Fidel by intensifying our struggle for socialism under our strategic and programmatic slogan:

 

Socialism is the future, build it now!

This means intensifying the immediate struggle to drive a second, more radical phase of our democratic transition. It means intensifying the fight against monopoly capital, corporate capture and the parasitic bourgeoisie, and relentlessly fighting corruption wherever it occurs. It means building a broad popular front of working class and the people to strengthen our movement and realise the goals of our revolution.

One of Cde Fidel’s early successes that had a lasting impact on the course of the Cuban revolution was the merger between the earlier Cuban Communist Party, the Partido Socialista Popular (PSP) with the July 26 movement founded by Comrade Fidel in 1953. This merger led to the formation of the current Partido Communista de Cuba (PCC) – the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965, with Comrade Fidel as its founding First Secretary. It has been the unity of the Communist Party of Cuba that has guaranteed the success and advances of the Cuban Revolution.

 

Unity, the best tribute!

The unity of the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban movement must be a lesson for us as the national liberation movement in South Africa as we bid farewell to Comrade Fidel. It is only united movements that are able to make decisive revolutionary advances. Divided movements can only lead to serious setbacks and even defeat of the revolution. The ANC in particular and the Alliance as a whole need to take this lesson to heart, especially during this period when our revolution, as well as the unity of the movement, is seriously at stake.

Let us not only honour Comrade Fidel through speeches and written articles, but let us honour him by acting to unite ourselves and set aside any factionalist interests that can only lead to the destruction of our movement.

 

Adios Comrade Fidel: On a personal note

I cannot resist ending this tribute by mentioning some of the instances where I had had the privilege to listen to and meet with Comrade Fidel personally.

In the 1990s I had the privilege of being delegated by the SACP to Cuba. Sometime in the mid-1990s I represented the SACP at the Latin American Left platform called the São Paulo Forum, attended by many leaders from left political parties and movements. Comrade Fidel addressed the Forum, which was held at the Havana Convention Centre. I remember very well in his off the cuff remarks Comrade Fidel admonishing the Sandinista leader Comrade Daniel Ortega who was in attendance that he was worried Ortega was too relaxed and the imperialists were going to kill him as they feared the Sandinistas might return to power. Indeed the Sandinistas came back with Ortega as President of Nicaragua.

In one of my other visits to Cuba I had an opportunity to listen again to Cde Fidel addressing a gathering at the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana. He spoke for five hours without a speech, which became his trademark! But I only had an occasion to personally interact with Comrade Fidel on his visits to South Africa. He had a state visit in 1998 and had the pleasure to be amongst the Members of Parliament who listened to him on that occasion.

I was also amongst the comrades who accompanied him to tour Robben Island. I remember the shock on his face when he saw Comrade Mandela’s prison cell, asking the same question most people ask when they see that cell, as to how such a tall person as Madiba could fit into such a small size of a cell. When Madiba and Fidel met again in September 2001 in Madiba’s house at Houghton in Johannesburg, I remember very well Comrade Fidel asking Madiba this same question. I could see the sense of shock when looking into that cell, but I was at the same time sensing some relief on his part that because of, amongst others, the victory of the Cuban and Angolan forces in Cuito Cuanavale, Robben Island was no longer a prison but a museum symbolising the victory of progressive forces over the forces of evil!

I was truly honoured for Comrade Madiba to invite me to the meeting of September 2001, mentioned above. This was a private meeting between Madiba and Fidel at his Houghton home as Comrade Fidel had attended an international gathering in South Africa. On inviting me over the phone, Comrade Madiba joked that he was not feeling safe to meet a leading Cuban Communist on his own, so I  better join him so that in case of danger his own fellow Communist could protect him. Were this true I do not know how I was going to do that because I noticed that day that both these tall men were of the same height! Where would I have fitted in that equation!? But on arriving at Madiba’s house he changed the story and said to me and Fidel that he invited me because he wanted to show Comrade Fidel that it was not only Cuba that had Communists but South Africa too!  I really enjoyed that conversation between these two giants which lasted for over an hour!

I remember they also exchanged their respective experiences about prison, although Comrade Fidel quickly requested Madiba to speak more about that subject as he had more experience since he spent 27 years in prison! Castro said his story of prison had faded comrade to that of Madiba as he had only spent 2 years in Batista’s prison between 1953 and 1955!

 

A humble person indeed!

 

To El Comandante, our dearest Comrade Fidel we say: ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!  Always, until victory!

Source: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/umsebenzi-online/18K4hh0l5_g

On the Meaning of the Death of Fidel Castro

What should be the left’s reaction to the death of Castro? It should be to forget Castro as soon as possible. Castro was without doubt a fascinating personality. Certainly he was an example of the grand heroic leftist stand and leftist revolution. And yes Cuba was a small country resisting a global superpower. The question though, is has Cuba produced anything new in the last thirty years in terms of creating a new model of social practice, economic practice, cultural practice or political democratic practice? The reality is that Cuba has been stagnating for a long time now, and it is one of the most depressing features of Castro’s rule – the revolution happened, but the people were left waiting (and indeed are still waiting): once the revolution occurred, the country was left waiting for something beyond that revolution: namely the reconstruction of socio-economic systems and the development of newer ways of creating efficiency in the economy, creating new cultural or social activity. The heroic greatness of the Cuban people is that they have remained faithful to the revolution, indeed any suffering they have experienced has been for the memory of revolution. Why should we now forget Castro? Because that very reverence for Castro and the Cuban revolution has prevented the ideals of that revolution from being furthered. The legitimization of the Cuban revolution is – paradoxically – the very thing that has prevented further gains of the left. Cuba has always been seen by the left has a ‘socialist paradise’ ignoring the very real fact that this reverence that we, on the left, feel has also prevented us from furthering the discussion that we need to have with regard to rethinking leftist forms of socio-economic organization. The lesson here is that the true test of a revolution is not that the revolution occurs, but the true test is – metaphorically – “what happens the next day”? So what is next for Cuba? Will the strengthening of American-Cuban relations lead to a “middle way” that we now see emerging in China? Will Cuba embrace western liberalism? Either of these would lead Cuba on a dangerous trajectory, and would undoubtedly lead to a catastrophe. But there is a another danger, and that is the danger that a Trump presidency will lead to a hardening of American-Cuban relations, as will empower and embolden hardliners in the Cuban government, who will then resist the need for change in Cuba, the need to move past the stagnation. In a certain way, the dilemma of Cuba is the dilemma of the left internationally: namely that the left has been effective in mobilizing great numbers of people, but have been plagued with an inability to propose new socio-economic systems – revolutionary mobilization conceals a social stasis.