Irvin Jim in the US: A reply to Justice Piitso

NUMSA says working class shall never be fooled or defeated by the former ambassador to Cuba's deceit and distortion

Numsa's Response to Justice Piitso

10 February 2015

Justice Piitso has written an article under the headline "What was Irvin Jim doing in Washington DC?". It's not a genuine question because Pitso already knows the answer as appears in his article. Since Washington DC is the capital of the US and since the US is the centre of world imperialism, it is obvious to Piitso that Irvin Jim went to Washington to consort with capitalists and imperialists, and that therefore he is an "enemy of our people".

Piitso differs with Marx

It seems that Piitso does not agree with Marx here. Marx saw, and analysed the class struggle within imperialist powers. He saw the working class and its allies struggle against their own exploitation and oppression. Marx saw class. Piitso only sees nationality. To Piitso, it seems, the US is just a single, undifferentiated mass of imperialists.   

He continues this odd sort of geographical determinism when he goes on: "where does the United Front and the Movement for Socialism get its ideas from? Is it from the East or from the West? Is it from the South or from the North? Is it from the Washington DC or from Havana, Beijing or Ho Chi Minh[1]?".  He makes his view of the world clear. If you are from the US, you are a capitalist and imperialist.

Presumably that goes for Germany, UK, France, etc. The only socialists, it seems, are to be found in Cuba, China and Vietnam. How ridiculous a notion, coming from a member of the SACP and presumably a Communist. It was Marx who understood for us that it is precisely in the heart of capitalism, in the factories, that the mortal enemy of capitalism is born - the proletariat. And it was at the heart of imperialism, in England and in Germany, where the proletariat reached its most developed state.

Imperialism is alive and well in South Africa

In class terms we in Numsa have always held the Marxist- Leninist perspective that Imperialism is and remains the highest stage of Capitalism. And we don't have to look far for examples. Let's take a look closer to home: South African "White Monopoly Capital" is using the South African Capitalist State to advance the interests of imperialism on the African Continent. Retailers such as Shoprite and Pick n Pay are only the most obvious examples of a much broader expansion into Africa, using South Africa as the gateway.

Of course the South African Communist Party (SACP) and its cohorts would never reach this analysis. This is simply because they consider the South African State to be a democratic state and therefore taking responsibility for the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as a necessary political task at this conjuncture. They maintain this even if the NDR is off track to such an extent that it reproduces poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption.

So like others, Piitso lectures us about the need to understand "the significance of the balance of forces at every turn of our historical period". But in the same breath he tells us to follow the Cuban example. So what is the Cuban example? The Cuban masses executed their own home grown revolution, on the doorstep of the imperialist US and against US aggression.

The Cuban example is an example of decisive revolutionary action, not timid acquiescence to imperialist pressure. Far away from the USA, the South African Government refuses to implement the Freedom Charter for fear of what its Western fathers would say or do yet the small Cuban island, on the doorstep of the USA produces the best healthcare and education in the world for its people on the basis of a Socialist program.

Piitso gets it wrong on the Institute of Policy Studies

Piitso builds on his vision of the world in which there is nothing but capitalism and imperialism in the US. He hears that Jim is visiting the "Institute for Policy Studies" in Washington and immediately assumes that this is a think-tank of imperialism.  He says so: "the institute for the US policy studies represents the highest echelons of imperialism and neo colonialism. Within the realms of the geopolitical and ideological power relations, it represents a war room that designs the battleground against the whole of the world revolutionary movement. It is in fact the most strategic powerhouses of the global capitalism."

That's a pretty decisive characterisation. Piitso is telling the world that Irvin Jim seeks his support from "the most strategic powerhouse of global capitalism". It follows that Jim must be a counter-revolutionary, because only a counter-revolutionary would do that. And not even an unconscious counter-revolutionary. According to Piitso, Jim goes consciously and willingly to consort with a key think-tank of imperialism.

Piitso doesn't stop to think that maybe if that is what Jim was doing he would conceal his presence, instead of being publicly billed as a speaker for Pitso's "war room ....against the whole of the world revolutionary movement."

If Piitso had spent just a few minutes on Google, he would have seen that this Institute of Policy Studies was in fact founded by veterans of the US Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam war movements of the 1960s: "the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) has served as a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements for over four decades - from the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s to the peace and global justice movements of the last decade." Piitso can't see this because when he looks at the US all he sees is a cloud of imperialism and capitalism.

Similarly, when he looks at China, all he sees is a sea of socialism. Where, in this sea, does he find space for Jack Ma, for example, who is, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, "the 18th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $29.7 billion"?

Piitso completes his deceitful smear

Once Piitso has set up his political compass, he can encourage us all to ask this question: "how can a genuine revolutionary movement which claims to represent the struggle of the working class break its umbilical cord from the heartland of capitalism in the Washington DC?"

In passing, we think that this should also raise a question in Pitso's mind - why did the ANC dispatch the ANC Treasurer General Dr Zweli Mkhize to the US to meet with the Black Caucus in Congress, in this heartland of imperialism, to contest what they considered a "Numsa plot" to unseat the ANC government?

But for Piitso, the smear is complete. Irvin Jim is damned as a traitor to the working class and with him the United Front. According to Pitso, they are all agents of imperialism.

And so he peddles untruths and smears, whether out of ignorance or simple malice is not clear. The smearing of the Numsa General Secretary as some "imperialist force" not only requires Piitso to ignore the facts but it is also a departure from the fundamental application of dialectical materialism. An apology from Piitso would at least clarify that his distortion came from ignorance.

The South African and world working class shall never be fooled or defeated by such deceit and distortion. The future shall reveal whether the Pitso's of this world shall follow all and sundry who travels to the USA including leaders of COSATU, SACP and ANC.

Irvin Jim, along with all Numsa's national leadership, has a mandate from the December 2013 Numsa Special National Congress "to explore a Movement for Socialism" on the basis that;

"There is no chance of winning back the Alliance to what it was originally formed for; which was to drive a revolutionary programme for fundamental transformation of the country with the Freedom Charter as the minimum platform to transform the South African economy.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) leadership has become embedded in the state and is failing to act as the vanguard of the working class.

The chance of winning back the SACP onto the path of working class struggle for working class power is very remote.

For the struggle for socialism, the working class needs a political organisation committed in theory and practice to socialism."

We owe no one an apology for carrying out our revolutionary duty to build a Socialist Republic of South Africa.


[1] All quotations from Pitso are exactly as they were in his article, with all their original errors

Issued by Numsa Head Office, February 10 2015

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