Published on Pambazuka News, by Neville Alexander, May 20, 2010.
There are few thinking South Africans today who would be prepared to say that they are happy with how things have turned out’ since the fall of apartheid, writes Neville Alexander.
Most South Africans, certainly most oppressed and exploited South Africans, feel that they have been, if not betrayed, then certainly misled.
In a speech given at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on 13 May 2010, Alexander looks at what ordinary citizens can do to find their way back, through discussion and practical action, to a vision of a different South Africa that will enable them to put behind them the barbaric and vulgar universe in which they are forced to try to survive with dignity … //
Enter the National Democratic Revolution, i.e., the smoke and mirrors of the so-called Left in the Congress Alliance. Let me say it very clearly: The new South Africa has brought about fundamental changes in the form of rule and in the institutional furniture of the capitalist state. The realm of freedom has been expanded beyond anything that most people imagined in the 1960s, and millions of people have been lifted out of abject pauperism to some level of human dignity. The struggle has not been in vain in any sense of the term. But, the struggle continues. After 1994, and especially after 1996, it is no longer a struggle for national liberation. It is a class struggle ‘pure and simple’ or, in good South African English: Finish en klaar. The inverted commas are necessary because one cannot discard overnight the birthmarks that are imprinted on the new body politic by the old order. Social inequality continues to be reproduced objectively largely as racial inequality in spite of the continued growth of the ‘black’ middle class. Racial prejudice, inequalities justified on alleged cultural, linguistic, ethnic or nationality differences, all the things that defaced colonial-apartheid South Africa, persist even if in attenuated forms. They will require decades, perhaps centuries, to become completely irrelevant … //
Viewed from a different angle, the question we are confronted with is whether the revolutionary Left cadres will be able to find the requisite solution to the organisational question so that the debilitating and paralysing fragmentation that has marginalised them can be overcome before this passionate resistance of the workers is transformed into the kind of passive resistance we associate with most other post-colonial African states or the nightmare scenario of race war and ethnic cleansing that we saw in Kenya not so long ago, finally overwhelms us.
The strategic and tactical implications of this proposition are numerous and radical; among other things, we shall have to find practical answers to old questions in a new context, questions such as: What kind of party or organisation should be created out of the confluence of all our political tendencies and traditions in order for the socialist alternative to be firmly rooted within this evolving social base? What are the core issues around which a programme of transitional demands and an action plan can be formulated in a democratic process?
How can such a programme be connected to and informed by the essential task of rebuilding our communities and our neighbourhoods on the basis of cooperativist and collectivist values of ubuntu, of sharing and caring? How do we align ourselves politically with COSATU and with the other union federations or with individual unions? How do we work with the rest of the African working class, especially in southern Africa? What position do we take with regards to the World Social Forum? How do we relate to other left-wing international formations without getting encoiled in the sectarian knots or getting sidetracked and lost in the maze of largely irrelevant apologetics that constitutes the stuff of the debates among these sects?
There are, as we speak, a few serious national initiatives underway, all of which are posing these and other relevant questions from slightly different perspectives. I think I have spoken, and speak, in the spirit of Strini Moodley and his comrades when I express the hope that we will find unity in action even as we try to find new ways of seeing the struggle for another world and another South Africa.
(full huge long text and Notes 1 – 11).