From anti – Apartheid to anti – Capitalism
This year is the 30th Anniversary of June 16. It is also the 84th Anniversary of the Young Communist League. The YCL takes both occasions seriously and in the context of our growing democracy and social upliftment for youth. Our theme for both the occasions is “From anti – Apartheid to anti – capitalism”. We believe as the YCL that as the class of ’76 were confronted with Apartheid, the class of 2006 and beyond should fight against capitalist accumulation.
We see the victories accumulated by the class of ’76 being a build up, a connection, and a lesson for us. As apartheid entrenched racial division, capitalism fosters class division. It divides society on the basis of those who have and those who do not have. We draw two lessons as the YCL from all of these.
Firstly, we are inspired by the icons of the ’76 revolution who were selfless and dedicated to defeat the enemy of Apartheid. Secondly, we learn that society, no matter by what, cannot be divided on the basis of colour or race. That we are all equal, and thus, none should die because of the greed and selfishness of the other. It is these lessons and courageous acts that unites us as youth in the fight against the economic and political system of Apartheid.
Cherishing our democracy – building on the Post – Apartheid Gains
For the past 12 years, dramatic changes have been made to the lives of youth, especially the historically oppressed. These includes access to education, building an racially integrated schooling system, defeating the racial barriers of quality education and developing a common education system.
In the higher education fold, the democratic government has introduced a qualitative, integrated education system that is based on academic excellence and skills development. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has helped thousands of learners to advance academically.
There has been massive building of houses, electrification, water points, better sanitation and accessible health care. All of these were done in the backdrop of Apartheid under – development. The youth of our country have been introduced to sporting facilities and the defeat of Apartheid has ensured exposure to the International entertainment industry. Surely the commitment of the ANC headed government to change the lives of ordinary people has more and more brought fruits to the tree of liberation.
The Challenge is to do more.
Since 1994, the ANC headed government set itself various socio – economic targets. It gas made various economic and political choices. Some of those were brought positive off – spins, whilst others have been to the detriment of our democracy. The introduction of Gear – our macro-economic strategy – 10 years ago, has resulted in a liberal approach towards development. Concentration on a tight fiscal policy, uncontrollable and unaccountable targeting of inflation, reduction of tariffs and many other policies and focus led to encouragement of speculative investments, which created false growth.
Since then, more and more jobs were lost, quality service in the transport, energy, construction and telecommunications were compromised in the interest of profits. Millions of jobs were compromised, the quality of jobs (and wages) were low and more and more joined the poverty line. This further happens in a world of extreme opulence and increasing greed. Our country has become more and more divided on this basis.
Today, 70% young people have joined the unemployment que; 51% of those lives below the poverty line; only 20% of youth are furthering their studies and 55% of the prison population falls under the youth category. The challenge is to do more.
Fighting the culture of competition in our society!
As an organisation, we are worried by the excessive worship of money amongst young people. Crass materialism has become the order of the day. This has its roots in many ways, including multiple promotion of consumerism on the communication medium targeting exclusively the emerging middle class youth, and the tendency by some struggle heroes to thoughtlessly and in a vulgarised manner accumulate as much money as possible.
This tendency has also encroached itself in the movement, and has corrupted genuine youth who have become vulnerable due to unemployment and poverty. The desire to have as big a house as possible; as porch a car as possible and as much money as possible should be halted and fought against. These desires have resulted into youth resorting to crime and prostitution, whilst destroying the values of a caring and humble society, which we believe the National Democratic Revolution, should build.
This characteristics of the youth of 2006, which are not necessarily general, but predominant, are encouraged by a capitalist society built on the values of competition, and have divided our society on the basis of those who have and those who don’t; those who die because of too much food and those who do not; those who are employed and those who are not. The excessive number of youth in prison should be very embarrassing for a newly democratic dispensation.
As an economic policy, black economic empowerment has done too little to bridge this above divide. It has succeeded in only bridging the race divide, whilst further embedded the class divide. As the YCL, we will work together with the June 16, 76 detachment to ensure that we fight this excessive crass materialism. We will further work with youth in schools, universities, prisons, townships and rural areas to ensure that we restore the values of a caring and humane society, whilst fighting against the dog – eat – dog mentality.
Transforming institutions of Youth Development to serve the needs and interests of youth.
We need an integrated youth development strategy whose main role will be to look into the following:
Fighting poverty and unemployment;
Fostering access to health care;
Redefining the role of youth in economic empowerment from individual – centredness to collectivism;
Broadening access to education;
Broadening access to land for residential and productive purposes;
We call for a Youth Ministry that will ensure that all of these take place. We further call for youth involvement and participation in developing a youth development programme. We call for broad access to the National Youth Commission and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund to enhance youth development. We further call for specific programmes to attend to problems and bottlenecks detrimental to the development of young women;
The notion that programmes such as Take a Girl Child to work; 100 Best schools and financial ability for access to basic needs are fostering a culture of elitism, and do not address economic and social imbalances that are as a result of Apartheid imbalances. The notion of elitism entrenches what the NLM sought to defeat when fighting against Apartheid. We cannot afford pockets of elitism, development and opulence in the heart of poverty and underdevelopment.
Way forward from Soweto – Intensifying the Defiance Campaign!
The critical challenge for the youth of today is to fight for a better, dignified and respectable society. There is no other kind of society better to meet these demands than socialism. In that light, in the immediate, our way forward as the YCL from SOWETO includes meeting the following demands by 2015:
Nationalisation of all land used for commercial purposes;
Nationalisation of mineral wealth for the welfare of all people;
The creation of a State Bank to finance co-operatives, Small medium
Enterprises and other developmental needs for youth;
- Basic services to all;
- Extension of child support grants to 18 years;
- Extension of school feeding schemes from pre-school to high schools;
- Free Education for all starting from pre-school to tertiary level and further education and training;
Job creation for the youth
The establishment, support and procurement towards one youth co-operative in each municipal ward by the end of the current 5 year local government term (One Ward – One Youth Co-operative)
These can only be done through the intensification of the YCL’s Defiance Campaign. We can also do more through strengthening organizations of the Progressive Youth Alliance, including the ANCYL, SASCO, COSAS, YCS, SUSA and SASPU.
II. OUR CONCEPTION OF FREEDOM AND THE ACTUALITY OF FREEDOM
You have asked me to come and speak to you about the challenges that the youth of the country face. Indeed these are enormous challenges, whether the youth are aware of these in the societal context or, in terms of how our own society shapes our thinking, in the individualistic sense. The topic presupposes that the heroic and confrontational acts of the youth before, and of those of and after 1976 ushered freedom for us. True! But only half of the promises and commitments of pre-1994 national democratic revolution have only been met. The rest remains challenges and are a resultant of the structural nature not only of apartheid social relations, but also of post-Apartheid interventions.
For centuries since Rome humanity has been debating the concept of Freedom. What is Freedom? Do we know when we are free? Is our conception of freedom based on our own individual circumstances, or does it rely on the freedom of society in its entirety? What are the basic fundamentals to ultimately conclude that we are free, both in the individual sense and in the societal sense? Do we strive for our freedom on the basis of the servitudes of others? What is freedom?
“A, an intellectual, with a good education, in possession of a modest income, with not too uncongenial friends, unable to afford a yacht, which he would like, but at least able to go to the winter sports, considers this (more or less) freedom. He would like that yacht, but still – he can write against Communism or Fascism or the existing system. Let us for the moment grant that A is free. I propose to analyse this statement more deeply in a moment, and show that it is partial. But let us for the moment grant that A enjoys liberty.
“Is B free? B is a sweated non-union shop-assistant of Hounds ditch, working seven days of the week. He knows nothing of art, science, or philosophy. He has no culture except a few absurd prejudices, his elementary school education saw to that. He believes in the superiority of the English race, the King’s wisdom and loving-kindness to his subjects, the real existence of God, the Devil, Hell, and Sin, and the wickedness of sexual intercourse unless palliated by marriage.
“His knowledge of world events is derived from the News of the World, on other days he has no time to read the papers. He believes that when he dies he will (with luck) enter into eternal bliss. At present, however, his greatest dread is that by displeasing his employer in some trifle, he may become unemployed.
“B’s trouble is plainly lack of leisure in which to cultivate freedom. C does not suffer from this. He is an unemployed middle-aged man. He is free for 24 hours a day. He is free to go anywhere – in the streets and parks, and in the museums. He is allowed to think of anything – the Einstein theory, the Frege definition of classes, or the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Regrettably enough he does none of these things.
“He quarrels with his wife, who calls him a good-for-nothing waster, and with his children, who because of the means test have to pay his rent, and with his former friends, because they can enjoy pleasures he cannot afford. Fortunately he is free to remove himself from existence, and this one afternoon, when his wife is out and there is plenty of money in the gas-meter, he will do.
The key question that confronts us is whether B and C are free. We may from the onset argue that they are not. Others may argue that yes they are, as long as they can realise their potential, if they reach the cleverness and intellect of A, if we open up opportunities such that we “raise them to the level of A”.
Recently, there has been an accepted definition of the South African economy as dual, or more crudely and ingenuously, as two economies. Proceeding from these analysis, we then conclude that the structural problems of capitalism can be resolved through raising the level of those in the second economy to that of the first. That there are opportunities in a capitalist economy to realise an economic equilibrium. We are at fault.
The capitalist economy inherently reproduces an unequal, exploitative society. As Caudwell proceeds:
“There is, however, one vital difference. Bourgeois social relations, generating the liberty of the bourgeois and the non-liberty of the proletarian, depend on the existence of both freedom and unfreedom for their continuance. The bourgeois would not enjoy his idleness without the labour of the worker, nor the worker remain in a bourgeois relationship without the coercive guidance and leadership of the bourgeois. Thus the liberty of the few is, in bourgeois social relations, built on the unfreedom of the many.”
Yes A is free! The only way of realising the freedom of B and C is to ensure that the Freedom of A is not wholly dependent on their unfreedom. The only way to end perpetual and circular poverty and chronic unemployment is to on the other hand end crass materialism and rampant capitalist accumulation. Apartheid was not merely a race issue; it was also a class and gender issue. The idea that the end of Apartheid was in essence the realisation of freedom for all is wrong in the extreme.
The main challenge that the youth of the country face post Apartheid remains capitalist social relations. The students of today are the petit bourgeoisie or middle class of tomorrow. How you see freedom today is how it will be reflected in your way of life tomorrow. What kind of tomorrow do we want? We of course want a luxurious and reasonable middle-class life which we can throw our kids into. We of course want a life with access to a yatch and hopefully make a trip to space at least once. But do we want a life threatened by the unemployed and impoverished masses.
Many critics of socialism have mocked and scorned Marxism – Leninism as glorification of poverty (and against capitalist accumulation), what we say is we glorify wealth accumulation for all, and are against poverty suffered by many. Those who throw this scorn towards socialist relations are obviously enjoying the luxuries of capitalist social relations. Those who threw these scorns are obviously those who ride on the back of the working class for their wealth accumulation. Some of these, the worst of them all, are those who are aspiring to exploit the working class so as, as Claudwell puts it, they can have utter idleness.
I say fellow young men and women; we cannot go on and talk about freedom ultimate, when unemployment is rife, when the challenges of poverty are rife, when education comes at a price, when the right to life is accompanied by the ability to buy that right. So, ask me what the revolution against Apartheid could not achieve and I will tell you it is the defeat of capitalist social relations
Historically the main objective and analysis of apartheid social relations had been its rooted ness in capitalist relations. That capitalism in South Africa took the form of racial oppression and segregation. We have always believed, as underscored in the SACP’ s Colonialism of a Special Type and the ANC’s Green book and 1970 Strategy and Tactics, that:
“We debated the more long-term aims of our national democratic revolution, and the extent to which the ANC, as a national movement, should tie itself to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and publicly commit itself to the socialist option. The issue was posed as follows: “In the light of the need to attract the broadest range of social forces amongst the oppressed to the national democratic liberation, a direct or indirect commitment at this stage to a continuing revolution which would lead to a socialist order may unduly narrow this line-up of social forces.
“It was also argued that the ANC is not a party, and its direct or open commitment to socialist ideology may undermine its basic character as a broad national movement. –“It should be emphasised that no member of the Commission had any doubts about the ultimate need to continue our revolution towards a socialist order; the issue was posed only in relation to the tactical considerations of the present stage of our struggle.”
But what went wrong? In Pitfalls of National Consciousness, Franz fanon argues that:
“The people who for years on end have seen this leader and heard him speak, who from a distance in a kind of dream have followed his contests with the colonial power, spontaneously put their trust in this patriot. Before independence, the leader generally embodies the aspirations of the people for indepen¬dence, political liberty and national dignity.
“But as soon as independence is declared, far from embodying in concrete form the needs of the people in what touches bread, land and the restoration of the country to the sacred hands of the people, the leader will reveal his inner purpose: to become the general president of that company of profiteers impatient for their returns which constitutes the national bourgeoisie.”
II. BREAKING WITH APARTHEID FORM OF POWER
The process of breaking away with the formal institutions of Apartheid rule is nearing its completion, but the process of breaking away with the form of power Apartheid exerted on the South African populace is deepening by day. From time to time we learn lessons about institutional reforms, replacement of white individuals by black individuals, reorientation of missions of various public and private institutions, but the crux of the matter remains the breaking away with the form of power within which Apartheid exerted its rule on the general populace.
Mahmood Mamdani, in his polemical study of post-colonial States, “asserts that there was a significant break with the formal institutions of indirect rule, but there was no such break with the form of its power. An institution such as chiefship may be abolished, only to be replaced by another with similar powers.
“The ideological text may change from the customary to the revolutionary – and so may political practice – but, in spite of real differences, there remains a continuity in administrative power and tech¬nique: radical experiences have not only reproduced, but also reinforced fused power, administrative justice and extra-economic coercion, all in the name of development.”
The recent scandal within the SABC are eminent of our break with the institutional forms of colonial or “indirect rule” on the basis o newly established ethics, principle and ideological orientation but the retention of old style forms of management and forms of power.
The role of parliament, the executive, the army, the police and the judiciary in a racially transforming society have more or less become an exercise of racial substitution rather than contextual change.
What the National Liberation Movement always contested was not mere white minority rule, which was the “form” of government, but also the content, which was apartheid social, political and economic relations. The NLM has at all times understood that change in our context will further include imbuing into institutions of government inclusivity, transparency, social mobilisation, transformation, total overhauling of the institutional forms and context of Apartheid rule and finally, popular forms of government.
The contestation of Apartheid form of rule by the June 16 detachment, an exercise which some of them died for, was not for the removal of a Squires, a van Wyk and a Malan to be replaced by Ngoepe, Mandela and Zuma with the retention of their job description.
In one of my favourite literary and historical text by Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, he charges that:
“;They had to content themselves with adding the limiting proviso of a six months’ residence in the constituency. The old organization of the administration, the municipal system, the judicial system, the army, etc., continued to exist inviolate, or, where the constitution changed them, the change concerned the table of contents, not the contents; the name, not the subject matter.
“The inevitable general staff of the liberties of 1848, personal liberty, liberty of the press, of speech, of association, of assembly, of education and religion, etc., received a constitutional uniform which made them invulnerable. For each of these liberties is proclaimed as the absolute right of the French citoyen, but always with the marginal note that it is unlimited so far as it is not limited by the “equal rights of others and the public safety” or by “laws” which are intended to mediate just this harmony of the individual liberties with one another and with the public safety.”
It may be an exaggeration that the main changes in our negotiated constitution is the table of contents, but we need to look into the extent of the impact in the social lives of ordinary people before and after Apartheid. How many a times have we read this in our constitution? Does this not constitute the acknowledgement that our society is unequal? That the rights enjoyed by all of us in text form, can actually be the rights taken from us in reality. The recent SATAWU strike is one demonstration that our right to petition, for instance, can be limited to the will of the appointed administrators and the willingness of the deployed police forces not to shoot at the strikers.
I can catalogue the challenges that the youth of the country faces; unemployment, poverty, HIV/AIDS, Drug Abuse, Transactional Sexual relationships, prostitution, crime, etc. the only ay for us to ensure that we end these, is through collective effort, the realisation that, as Caudwell puts it, freedom is the consciousness of necessity, and that causality and freedom are interlinked concepts. In closing: “Man, the individual, cannot do what he wants alone. He is unfree alone. Therefore he attains freedom by co-operation with his fellows.”
Demands on the SABC furore: Immediate transformational agenda, even if it means the resignation of some individuals especially in the news editorial.
On the Scorpions: Frivolous