Mandela vs the Working Class
If you thought Nelson Mandela was a great heroic leader of the oppressed masses of South Africa who, now risen like Christ after 27 years in the underworld and poised to lead said masses, if not to life everlasting, at least to freedom in the here and now, you might be a little puzzled.
Surely that can’t be right. Mandela condemning the schools boycott and ‘ordering’ students back to school. Mandela supporting the use of South African state forces to suppress riots. Mandela and de Klerk singing each others praises. Etc. etc. What’s going on?
If you were surprised by all this, it’s because you didn’t realise what the ANC was all about. The ANC has always been a capitalist organisation.
The working class in South Africa is probably the strongest on the continent, and has been increasingly showing this strength in the last few years.
There have been major strikes by both coal and gold miners, in the hospitals and on the railways. This in addition to the resistance in the squatter camps, the rent strikes and school boycotts. All of these struggles are a shining example to workers everywhere and show that the workers in South Africa are among the most advanced in the world in combativity. However, they face a serious threat from the ANC.
The ANC is one of many similar groups around the world, such as the PLO, IRA, SWAPO, Sandinistas, etc. who claim to be fighting against oppression and for, usually, ‘national liberation’. All of these organisations are simply the latter-day equivalents of the nationalist, bourgeois democratic movements of the historical period following the French Revolution. At that time the emerging capitalist powers needed an ideology which would bind the whole population to the ruling class. They found it in the idea of the ‘nation’ – a unity of both rulers and ruled, oppressors and oppressed, capitalists and workers who, because they lived in the same area of land and spoke the same language, supposedly were a single unit with a single interest.
It has worked well for the capitalists. The ideology of nationalism has always meant that the working class has accepted the aims and interests of its exploiters, the capitalist class, as though they were its own. It is perhaps the biggest con in history.
Today, capitalism is dominant throughout the world, but there are always conflicts between rival capitalist powers large and small, both between countries and between different factions within a single country. The weaker capitalist factions make use of the same old lies about democracy and ‘national liberation’, usually coupled with the left-wing capitalist policy of Nationalisation, i.e., direct state control – thus the rhetoric of these groups like the ANC, PLO, etc.
When they come to power the result is always the same. They get on with the business of running capitalism and exploiting the working class.
When the MPLA, Frelimo, Zanu, Sandinistas, etc. came to power the masses discovered the same thing they did after the French Revolution
– plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (the more it changes. the more it stays the same.
When the ANC comes to power it will be exactly the same, only they’re being a bit more obvious about it than most. This is because of the dovetailing of interests between them and the Nationalist Party at this moment in history.
The growing world economic crisis has hit South Africa badly – especially since the greater part of the international capitalist class has mounted the campaign of sanctions (this latter because they can see the writing on the wall for the Apartheid regime, and they want to get in the good books of the non-racial regime whose accession to power is only a matter of time anyway). The more intelligent and forward looking faction of the white bourgeoisie, represented mainly by the Nationalist Party, realises that a non-racial capitalism is necessary – and as this is also the aim of the ANC, hence the increasingly pally relationship.
For the working class, in South Africa as elsewhere no form of capitalism, whatever fancy phrases it uses, will change the relationship between exploiters and exploited – it will just be an exchange of one lot of exploiters for another.
The working class must not allow itself to be conned by the ANC’s version of capitalism. Our class can only free itself by abolishing wage-labour itself and taking the means of production – the factories, mines, land, etc. – into its own hands, running them collectively for the collective needs of society. This is the basis of what we call Communism. In contrast to the widespread use of the term Communism to mean state capitalism, as in the Eastern Bloc, we mean a classless society without national boundaries, without inequalities or oppressions, where money, markets and commodity production have been abolished and replaced by production for need, with free access for all.
It will be the first genuinely free society in history. To achieve this genuine liberation, the working class must fight resolutely against all factions of capitalism. The ANC is just one more gang of capitalists confronting us.
DOWN WITH DE KLERK DOWN WITH MANDELA
FORWARD TO COMMUNIST REVOLUTION