In 2017, I penned a piece titled; Is the Left losing an ideological debate? In this piece, In observed that the consciousness of the masses in South Africa is not properly laid out for the attainment of socialism. Given the current discourse, as well as political developments in the country and the world, I now argue that the readiness of South Africans to accept socialism as a noble economic system is at its lowest currently. If a Leftist or socialist political party were to govern South Africa currently, it would be kicked away by the masses at the first attempt of introducing Leftist programmes.
Below I will attempt to interrogate some of the reasons for the Left to have lost an ideological battle to the neo-liberal and imperialist agenda;
1. Literal abandonment of the National Democratic Revolution by the ANC-SACP-Alliance
- In addition to holding political and policy stances which are often confrontational to each organization, the leadership of the Alliance partner have also forgotten the insistence of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). If one searches for the speeches of leaders of the Alliance partners, it is not easy to come across narration around the NDR, or any leftist agenda.
- The abandonment of the NDR has left the Alliance without a political programme which will unite them, and set them in direct confrontation with a common enemy. This political dizziness has often found some leaders of the Alliance sharing platforms with mouthpieces of the enemy of the NDR; white monopoly capital.
2. Failure in canvassing of society behind socialism
- In 2017, I again enquired through an opinion piece; Has the SACP given up on the pursuit for socialism? In this piece, I observed the historical mandate of the South African Communist Party (SACP), which was formed in the early 1920’s with the goal to establish a “socialist South Africa”, amongst others.
- I further observed as follows; “the Party has failed to ensure that working class and Marxist thoughts reach every shop floor and every street in South Africa. Instead, Party has become a pseudo-NGO that picks on every prevailing issue without providing Marxist analysis, interpretation and response”.
- In another article titled; “Cosatu, Saftu, SACP and the battle for socialism”, I argued; “The two most important historical events that, in my view, only stand to stall the path towards socialism are; 1) expulsion of NUMSA; and 2) the formation of an alternative worker federation, SAFTU. In addition to these historic events, the gradual loss of hegemony on the shop floor by unions affiliated to Cosatu presents a serious challenge to the Left, and to any prospect to crush capitalism”.
- We are reminded of Lenin when he spoke of use of pamphlets, spewing socialist and Anti-capitalists propaganda, could be used by progressive movements as a tool to agitate the workers and the masses to revolt against their own exploitation by capital.
3. Agenda of the progressive parties determined by the Rightist formations and the West
- Following the abandonment of the NDR as well as proven failure to agitate the masses for a socialist revolution, the Alliance is likely to pick slogans fed to it by the powerful propaganda machinery of capital. In the case of South Africa, white monopoly capital seems to drive the political direction of our movement and society.
- The rhetoric that if you arrest the Gupta family, or send them back to India, or close them out of business, you will reach economic freedom is not the struggle of the working class. It is rather an agenda of white monopoly capitalists, whose interests are threatened by fellow capitalist. The working class do not stand to benefit in a war between capitalists because, no matter which one wins the battle, capital will continue with exploitation.
- The narrative that corruption is an inherent problem of black politicians, or the ANC, and that without the ANC or some black politicians, corruption will die, is nonsensical. Corruption is a by-product of capitalism. Every capitalist state thrives on corruption. Whilst those who are guilty must indeed be punished, the broader war of the revolutionary movement must not be limited to that, it must be the total overhaul of the economic system.
The myth that there is some “heaven on earth” in a capitalist society, which misleads our people that at some point, capitalists will gain beautiful hearts, and stop being greedy, exploitative and evil is just that; a myth. Capitalism is by itself an evil system. There is no capitalist nation which is not captured by capital. The only way to deal with state capture, is to ensure that the state is captured by the working class and the poor. In a socialist society, this is possible!
Makhele is an African Socialist and an ANC member in Mangaung, Free State. He writes in his personal capacity.