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Political training in South Africa under “lockdown”

SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS PARTY

We are born of class struggle, in the fight to demolish the capitalist system that insists on the continued exploitation of most of society by a few humans. We seek to educate, agitate, mobilise and organize the working class into our political organisation.

The working class must fulfil our historic mission: to defeat imperialism and capitalism, establish a Socialist South Africa, Africa and World, as a prelude to advancing to a truly free and classless society: to a Communist South Africa, Africa and World!”  (SRWP homepage)

It turns out that political organising and education can take place a lot more effectively than some comrades feared online, even during “lockdown” when physical gatherings of any size are impossible within the state’s arrangements for dealing with Covid-19. Some of the resources which have assisted imperialism to step up exploitation across the globe, such as computer technology and modern communications, are also tools in the hands of the workers’ movement.

At time of writing, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party of South Africa (SRWP) has just contributed to members’ political education online with two talks on Marx and the early beginnings of capitalism by SRWP Deputy General Secretary Dr. Vashna Jagarnath and a session with Vijay Prashad of Transcontinental: Institute for Social Research and Chief Editor of LeftWord Books.

Vijay Prashad’s contribution on “CoronaShock & Imperialism” on 23 April 2020 is the one I would like to discuss here. It can be viewed on the SRWP Facebook page, so I urge the reader to do that, and I will make no systematic attempt to summarise his contribution here. It contained a number of important and useful observations.

Although Vijay Prashad only makes a couple of passing references to the Corvid-19 pandemic, he does lay out succinctly an analysis and a conception of present-day imperialism. Unfortunately, very informative though this presentation is, it does not shed light on how and why, in the course of the political struggle between the working class and the bourgeoisie at an international level for more than a century now, we got to the point which society has reached today. Vijay Prashad merely lists as objective facts the changes in features such as technology, communications and banking and finance which facilitate the current form of imperialist plunder. Nor does his presentation refer to or illuminate the aims of the SRWP stated above: “our historic mission – to defeat imperialism and capitalism, establish a socialist South Africa and World”, etc.

His references to the class struggle are all about forms of it which can be contained within the framework of existing bourgeois society. These are either trade union struggles over the extraction of surplus value in the form of “unpaid labour time”, or the politics of pressure on the bourgeois state to set limits on the rapacity of the bourgeoisie, provide welfare and other essential services, and so forth. These have been historically very significant ways in which the class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat has been waged, and indeed continue to be so. However, it has always been the understanding of Marxists that the culmination of this struggle must be what is expressed in the aims of SRWP set out at the head of this article. Continue reading

Comments on some contributions to a discussion on the significance of the Coronavirus pandemic and the way forward

Comments have been requested on a number of texts (see below Ed.) which have arisen in left-wing, socialist and Marxist circles in response to the Coronavirus crisis and the background of chronic economic and environmental crisis. 

Both Cde Shaheen Khan in South Africa and the “Public Reading Rooms” comrades in the UK make a number of serious analytical points in describing the current situation. Shaheen (1) writes: The capitalist system is in deep crisis and the rule of the capitalist class on a global scale is in jeopardy”.  No Going Back describes the coronavirus crisis and the feeble economic recovery from the 2008 banking crisis as arising from “the structural limits of the entire system of social reproduction”. (This latter document also adds that “The wanton destruction of nature by capital creates the perfect conditions for the emergence and spread of pandemics”). All three documents present proposals for a fresh impulse from the socialist movement and the working class to respond to these accumulating crises.

Both Shaheen and No Going Back emphasise the international and systemic character of the crisis. “As the pandemic spreads across the globe, the global health emergency is rapidly evolving into a crisis of the entire existing world social order”, says Shaheen (1). “The pandemic is global; it cannot be stopped in one country” says No Going Back. 

This is why Shaheen (1) says: “The task in the days, weeks and months ahead is to build a conscious socialist leadership throughout the world”. (This assertion is missing for some reason in Shaheen [2]). No Going Back calls for “The convocation of a Zimmerwald conference – which united the anti-war left in 1915 – for our times, to unify all those prepared to fight for a fundamental change in society; who understand the necessity of renewing the left’s strategic and theoretical framework as well as going beyond its existing organisational forms.”

All three documents lay great stress upon the activity and consciousness of the working class. In “Our Perspectives and Tasks” Shaheen Khan states “The working class is not taking this lying down … these are the molecular processes where the class is gradually beginning to comprehend the problems arising from the social crisis. Consciousness is determined by conditions”. He then takes the thought further: “A revolutionary party bases its tactics on a calculation of the changes of mass consciousness. While the party must impress through its propaganda and agitation … the dangers of the epidemic and the need for physical distancing we must begin to take leadership of the mass protest movement that is gaining momentum. The working class on its own is fighting and breaking down the parameters of the bourgeois lockdown and we need to direct this anger in the right direction and in the right quarters”. Both of Comrade Shaheen’s documents contain sets of proposals for a programme of action to bring this about. Continue reading

A powerful manifesto and a serious appeal

As the Workers Revolutionary Party of Namibia submits the Manifesto reproduced below to voters in the 2019 National Assembly Elections, reports flood in from around the globe of movements by the masses in Iraq, Lebanon, Chile and elsewhere in direct and open opposition to poverty and exploitation and the corruption and economic mis-management of their ‘own’ venal governments acting as the local agents of imperialist powers and interests.

They follow on from the events of the “Arab Spring” earlier in the decade and the more recent echoes of these movements in Tunisia and Sudan.

These movements are impressive in their scope and energy and their ability, especially since in Iraq and Lebanon they unite sectors of the population hitherto separated by religious and ethnic affiliations. 

Powerful as they are, however, all these movements are hampered by the lack of a political programme and of a well-thought-out strategy to alleviate the suffering expressed in their simple and compelling demands. 

In a few boldly-drawn paragraphs, the Namibian WRP Manifesto sketches out the main lines of that programme and underscores the rightly central role which the working class is called upon to play within such movements, how it links to other parts of the masses and what targets it can set itself to ensure future progress.

Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International is extremely proud to submit the Manifesto to the consideration of serious socialists everywhere. Our comrades in Namibia have established significant roots among mineworkers, fishery workers, pensioners, homeowners and tenants and more

The Namibia WRP are experiencing a wave of media and other public interest in their Manifesto. They need resources to spread it far and wide. Workers International will provide whatever support it can so that they can send material, speakers and organisers the length and breadth of the country in the election campaign. Please help us:
account details:
The Correspondence Society
acc no: 20059400
sort: 60 83 01
payments from outside UK would need IBAN number:
GB93NWBK60023571418024

THE CONTEXT OF THE 2019 NATIONAL ELECTIONS

Namibia is an example of a Comprador State. In a political context the word “comprador” is used to describe an agent having control over a nation’s workforce by acting on behalf of foreign masters. In Namibia it means the Namibian government having control over the working people on behalf of foreign and capitalist masters.

Using law enforcement agencies, the care-taker regime since 1990 has systematically destroyed the legal rights and gains of the working class through legislation and corruption. At the behest and in favour of corporate business, these agencies, which include the Office of the Labour Commissioner and the Courts of Law, disregard the laws concerning the rights of workers. 

The State is destroying the nation’s infrastructure (roads, hospitals and schools) by a lack of maintenance and brazen theft. Our education system is proof thereof. The adage “education is the greatest equalizer” remains out of reach for the masses, where enrolment in private schools is reserved for children of the middle class and the children of the working class and the poor (peasants) receive sub-standard ‘location’ education.

The State’s express policy on the land issue is “no land to the poor”. The plight of those who lost their land to imperialists is not addressed by the care-taker regime. On the contrary, the state further disowned the impoverished communities by seizing their remaining snippets of land.

The judiciary is subservient to the same masters, foreign and local corporate business; banks, industries and capitalists. It destroys the rule of law.

The modus operandi of the imperialists and international corporations in conjunction with the State is to exploit the workers by means of low wages, hazardous work conditions and the blatant disregard of labour laws. This practise is common in southern Africa.

The imperialists and capitalists have a vested interest in our presidential and national assembly elections. Our elections are a farce. It is run and controlled by the Indian Army and nullified our sovereignty. Both the registration of voters and voting by the electronic machines are a mockery. Voter registrations are duplicated. Voters can cast their votes multiple times. 

Since independence these farcical elections are approved by the USA, EU, AU, SADEC and the IEC as “free and fair” in the name of ‘political continuity’ to serve their interests and to ensure the unbridled exploitation of the colonies. 

Under the Comprador State, Namibia as a whole is disintegrating by the day. The prospects for the nation are a continuously lowering material and cultural standard of living. The vast resources of fish, minerals (strategic and precious), oil and gas reserves, and the most essential resource, the land of the people, are corruptly sold to foreign masters.

The State, bankrupted by rampant looting of the Treasury, is further intensifying its insolvency by turning the country into a tax haven for money launderers. Industries operating in Namibia are registered for tax purposes elsewhere, where they pay no taxes in any event. 

There is no HOPE, only DESPERATION unless the programme of the workers’ party is realised. 

PROGRAMME

The only force which can turn the economic and human wastage around is the organised working class.

The WRP as the vanguard of that organisation is participating in the 2019 National Elections for no other reason, but to throw light on the main issues wracking this nation and the Southern African working people and to propagate its proposals to achieve working class organisation to fight the scourge.

It harbours no illusions about the mockery of elections which will once more yield results contrived by the Indian State in collusion with the Namibian State. 

ISSUES

1.Plundering of natural resources

Namibia’s coastline is unguarded. This allows for unlimited exploitation of marine resources. Also, this resource is sold to imperialist countries (South Africa and Spain) by the State on behalf of individuals.

2.The land question

The majority of Namibians have no access to land. Dispossession is absolute and total. The Comprador State has gone as far as legislating the Traditional Authorities Act 25 of 2000, which prohibits communities from owning their land. The so-called traditional authorities have no authority or jurisdiction over land.

The stated policy of the regime is, “no land to the poor”.

3.Labour situation

Legislation, pervasive corruption, non-policies and dysfunctional administration and executive combine to set off unbelievable levels of unemployment with literally hundreds of youth rushing for single job openings. 

The incumbent regime is oblivious of mineral and natural reserves of priceless minerals (strategic and precious) and massive self-generating resources such as marine and other natural resources. The greatest source of life, land, is squandered away in the same manner.

The obscene squandering of all these resources for laughable bribes by national and international capital leaves the nation abused and bewildered. 

PROGRAMME

The WRP uses these elections to articulate its clarion call to the working class to organise at all levels to declare war on the destruction of the nation through the destruction of its sovereignty, its self-determination and its liberation, etc.

The programme of the WRP calls on the working class to rebuild their unions in the fishing, mining sectors and industrial and commercial fields under the guidance of the workers’ party. This rebuilding shall take place in the process of arresting the unadulterated exploitation of the country by such demands as opening the books of corporations from mines to factories, and from banks to insurance companies; a public audit of the resources exploited and taken out of this country; the cessation of the money laundering mechanism put in place by the Comprador regime; the derogation of labour rights through legislation and corruption; and, a national review of the de-education of the youth. 

The WRP programme calls on the working class to organise at all levels to optimise the utility of their resources; the optimum utilisation of these massive resources to create permanent jobs, to demand rational industrialisation demanded by the total human and technical and natural resources at its disposal.

The WRP call on the working class to treat issues affecting women, men, youth, homosexuals, etcetera as issues affecting the working class as a whole and not issues to be separated.

The working class has no interest in the designs of the black and Khoisan middle classes to step into the shoes of the white landowners by laying claim to the lands of the people. Its sole interest is to restore the collective property of the disowned communities which was collectively disowned. The WRP advise the working class and poor peasantry to call for a national land conference to discuss the restoration of legality in the country by restoration of illegally expropriated lands. (The peasants never held individual title, they held collective ownership. Both the black and white middle class baulk at the idea of a historical inquiry into the land issue in Southern Africa.)

ONLY the ORGANISED working class armed with a programme for all the working people of the NATION can take power and lead the country out of extreme backwardness and squalor in the midst of untold wealth. 

ONLY the ORGANISED working class led by a workers’ party can break the suffocation of the nation by imperialism.

WORKERS REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (WRP)

TO REBUILD THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL

A political party duly registered in terms of the electoral laws of the Republic of Namibia

4479 Dodge Avenue, Khomasdal  P.O. Box 3349 Windhoek

Tel: 061-260647

ericabeukes@yahoo.co.uk

jacobusjosob@ymail.com

Algeria: Release all the political prisoners immediately!

Workers international has endorsed this demand and urges it’s widespread support

Algeria: Release all the political prisoners immediately!

(Hadj Ghermoul,Hadj Brahim AoufLouisa Hanoune and many others)

Since 22 February, millions of Algerians have been demonstrating to demand democracy and sovereignty – a chanting “Regime, Out Now!”

The Algerian regime has responded by unleashing repression against political activists, lawyers, young people and trade unionists.

 In particular, the regime has targeted the following (listed in the order that they were arrested):

  • Hadj Ghermoul, a young activist of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights and a member of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed, who in February was sentenced to six months in prison without parole for holding a sign that read, “No to a Fifth Term!” (for former President Bouteflika).

  • Kameleddine Fekhar, a human rights activist campaigning in defence of the democratic rights of the Mozabite population of the Algerian province of Ghardaïa and a member of the FFS (Socialist Forces Front),was arrested in Ghardaïa in March. On 28 May, Dr Kameleddine Fekhar died in prison after a 56-day hunger strike. Despite his deteriorating health and the many protests demanding his release, the authorities allowed the situation to worsen.

  • Hadj Brahim Aouf,a teacher from Ghardaïa who was arrested along with Dr Fekhar, who is also on a hunger strike and whose life is in danger.

  • Louisa Hanoune, General Secretary of the Workers Party (PT), who was arrested on 9 May and charged with “conspiracy against the State authority and the military authority.”

Many other activists also have been arrested and imprisoned.

We, the undersigned, express our solidarity with the Algerian people and call for the immediate release of all political prisoners!

Endorsement Coupon

NAME

POSITION (for ID purposes only)

UNION/ORGANISATION

The challenge that SRWP launch poses to sectarian propagandists:

Show Us What You’ve Got!

Bob Archer replies on behalf of WIRFI to The Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party: A major distraction, by John Appolis.
(available in pamphlet form)

The forthcoming Launch Congress of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party in South Africa throws down a significant challenge to intellectual Marxists.

Here is an embryo party which assembled over 1,000 activists in a pre-launch congress in December 2018, proclaims that its aim is to lead the fight of the working class against the bourgeoisie and their political allies, and proudly inscribes on its banner adherence to the revolutionary thought of Marx and Lenin.

To show they mean what they say, the forces in the leadership of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which initiated this work, have spent 5 years systematically preparing the ground to launch this party.

It was the state-sponsored murder of striking miners at Marikana in July 2012 which dramatically laid bare the reality of society and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Up to that point the alliance of South African Communist Party (SACP), African National Congress (ANC) and Confederation of South African Trades Unions (Cosatu) had justified and dominated a liberation (in the early 1990s) which has worked less and less for the benefit of the South African masses and more and more in the interests of a small group of black bourgeois and global capital. Continue reading

WIRFI Message at Miroslav Vodslon’s funeral, Berlin, December 2018

Mirek was a comrade in the truest sense of the word; a fighter side by side with us for a socialist future for the human race.

He was a convinced and profoundly thoughtful Marxist. His theoretical stature towered above that of others because he was highly intelligent, very thorough and took Marxism very seriously indeed. He was never satisfied with superficial or half-baked formulations of it.

Mirek also possessed a wry, dry and self-deprecating sense of humour which showed deep appreciation of the contradictions that arise in life and which moreover enabled him to reveal defects in another person’s reasoning without massaging his own ego. This is something that we will especially miss.

Mirek came into contact with us UK Trotskyists as a militant of the Group of Opposition and Continuity of the Fourth International (GOCQI), in the late 1980s. Having just dealt with an abusive leadership in the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, we were looking for contacts with activists around the world who had gone through experiences parallel to ours and who had similar ideas to ours about the way ahead.

Comrades like Balazs Nagy, Miroslav, Radoslav Pavlovic and Janos Borovi had paid the price of resisting Stalinist rule in their home countries. They had been forced to leave behind families and comrades and go into exile or face death or imprisonment. Based on their own experiences and difficulties in the Trotskyist movement, they joined with the insurgent Workers Revolutionary Party members and contacts in Namibia, South Africa and Latin America to set up the Workers’ International to Rebuild the Fourth International in 1990.

The GOCQI, including Mirek, quickly showed their theoretical mettle, contributing powerfully to the theoretical publications which prepared for the new foundation. Continue reading

Why we must rebuild the Fourth International by Mirek Vodslon 14/09/15

Table of Contents:

1. The question posed
2. Productive forces and modes of production
3. Capitalism and democracy
4. The red flag and the hammer
5. The sickle
6. The number four: the International
7. The Manifesto
8. The first and the second Internationals

9. The failure of the Second International
10. Russian Revolution and Bolshevism
11. Third International
12. Stalinist bureaucracy
13. Left opposition and Fourth International
14. The fate of the Fourth International
15. The defeat of 1989-1991
16. Turn to new workers parties
17. The International that must be built
18. References to literature mentioned


1. The question posed

The Namibian working class – all the active elements in it – is now creating its own party. This party will represent workers and other exploited people in the parliament and soon also in the local authorities. This is already an important step. It will make workers more confident to fight for their demands.

Several movements of working class resistance against capitalist exploitation now converge under the banner of the Workers Revolutionary Party in order to fight together and achieve important partial improvements.

For instance, banks in cahoots with SWAPO officials have stolen the pensions of former press-ganged SWATF recruits and of miners who worked for the now bankrupt TCL corporation. The thieves must be forced to give back what they stole and be punished! The Southern Peoples have long been oppressed. Their legitimate demands which will enable a real development for them must be satisfied. These are just two examples, but there are many. In fact every oppressed section of society has legitimate demands and for each one there is only one party with which they can hope to achieve their satisfaction: the WRP.

However, a lasting improvement of the material situation of the working class requires a fundamental change in the whole society. All the groups and individuals who are now becoming part of the WRP have already understood that. And they expect the WRP as their party to arm itself with a programme that will allow them to achieve such a fundamental change. Continue reading

May Day Message from the WRP Namibia

 

The WRP Political Committee greets the workers of Namibia, Southern Africa, Africa and the world on this 1st day of May, Workers’ Day, which symbolizes the bloody struggle for workers’ rights over many, many decades. These rights included the right to organize and belong to unions, the 45 hour week, the right to withhold labour etc.

For Namibians this struggle culminated in the labour rights contained in the 1992 Labour Act.

Since 1992 however, these rights were rapidly eroded in rogue courts, new legislation drafted by corporate business and passed by the new regime, parading as the great liberator.

The Marikana Massacre on 16 August 2012 exploded the Southern African myths of the ‘liberation movements’ defending and furthering the rights of the working people.

NUMSA, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa, formalized the concrete fact that the regimes like SWAPO and the ANC were agents of the capitalists against the working class. They stated, “that unless the working class organises itself as a class for itself it will remain unrepresented and forever toil behind the bourgeoisie”. Continue reading

From the Archive: The Way Forward in North Africa and the Middle East

Theses by Balazs Nagy,  January 2011

Workers International To Rebuild the Fourth International

Biased, fragmentary and very incomplete as the media reports are, some things are clear:

1. These movements are desperately short of revolutionary leadership. The long years of ruthess dictatorship have strangled even the more or less petty-bourgeois parties. There is no sign even of any bourgeois leadership independent of the ruling authorities, apart from groups and individuals tied to the dictators whom the workers have thrown out.

2. We offer the following considerations to Tunisian, Egyptian Libyan and other groups in Europe and by any means available to people in the countries affected. Workers in those countries are in a real state of confusion, not knowing what to do or how to do it. In general what they want is real democracy.

3. Indeed, that is not a bad place to start. But before thinking about what to do and how to do it, first a few words about the general situation. There is no doubt that this is a revolution, or rather several revolutions. Now, a revolution is a whole process, more or less long, and we are just at the start. Continue reading