Major Split in African National Congress: South African Unions Announce New Struggle for Socialism

(By Liberation News)

Since 1994, South Africa has been governed by the African National Congress, which has maintained its “Tripartite Alliance” with the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

At the end of December 2013, shortly after Nelson Mandela’s passing, this alliance experienced its most significant split in 20 years. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa unanimously passed in a Special Congress a resolution to stop supporting the ruling African National Congress in the 2014 elections. Instead, the union would explore the creation of a mass revolutionary socialist workers party, and has called for the large and powerful national labor federation, COSATU, to follow suit and assert its independence from the ruling ANC.

The metalworkers’ union — which goes by the acronym NUMSA — is not the first group to break its alliance with the ANC in the name of advancing working-class interests. The social movement-oriented Democratic Left Front was formed in 2011. The Workers and Socialist Party, which grew in the wake of the police massacre of striking miners at Marikana, was formed in 2012. The populist Economic Freedom Fighters, led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was formed in 2013. Other breakaway unions and social movement organizations have split from the ANC-led Alliance in recent years.

What makes the NUMSA split so significant is that the union is the largest in the country — representing 338,000 workers — with a long and militant history. It has long been led by avowed communists. Continue reading

Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: Looking Back at Tiananmen Square

(By Mick Kelly, Freedom Road Socialist Organization)

PDF copy available here

We are publishing the paper, Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party written 20 years ago during the 1989 turmoil in China. Authored by Mick Kelly, a leading member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, this paper was produced in the context of a major two-line debate in our organization on socialism and China.

We are publishing it now, because with the 20th anniversary of the events at Tiananmen Square upon us, there are already attempts underway to attack socialism, the Chinese revolution, and those that defend it. We do not see this paper as a definitive statement of our organization on the many political movements and great debates that occurred in China since 1949. Rather we think the paper stands as a rigorous effort to use Marxism to understand the near defeat of the Chinese revolution that took place some 20 years ago.

In Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party, Mick Kelly does a good job of explaining the origins, development, and reactionary reality of the Chinese student movement, as well as its relationship to Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1980s. The paper supports Marxism-Leninism and the Chinese revolution while investigating and evaluating the problems faced and errors made by the CCP. The paper is provocative reading for Marxists because it challenges both social-democratic and ultra-left views regarding socialism and continuing the class struggle within socialist countries.

The author defends the leading party’s attempts to develop a modern socialist society, the need to combat revisionism within the party and society, and to beat back counter-revolution and the restoration of capitalism. On the down side the paper was overly hopeful about the outcome of the struggle against revisionism and capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe, and underestimated the growth of the capitalist sector of the Chinese economy in the years to come.

Many issues raised in Continuing the Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party were settled in the early 1990s. For example, some western leftists back then held that the overthrow of existing socialism would lead to a new improved socialism. Those who held this view were soon proved wrong by the counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe and the USSR, where restored capitalism led to mass unemployment, societal decay and wars that continue to this day. As the U.S. ruling class celebrated this, many of the counter-revolutionary Chinese students, hyped as heroes by U.S. corporate media, were able to escape justice, reappearing to make their fortunes in the west. These pro-imperialist reactionaries praised the armed attacks on the People’s Liberation Army and openly expressed their dreams of bringing capitalism to China.

We hope that those interested in revolutionary change today can learn something from this paper. We are now in a situation where Marxism-Leninism is gaining strength and popularity around the world and the socialist countries are modernizing. Proletarian revolutionaries in many countries can make advances while the U.S. economic crisis deepens. Our hope is this paper will help to further the understanding of why supporting socialism and China is important to everyone who is fighting imperialism and to everyone who wants a better way of life.

– Freedom Road Socialist Organization, 2009


Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

The recent events in China – the fighting in Beijing, the emergence of a mass “pro-democracy” movement and the decision by the leadership of the Communist Party of China to come down hard on counter-revolution – have caused more than a little debate and dismay among revolutionaries in this country. Many U.S. activists saw the Chinese student movement as a force fighting for the empowerment of the people and a renewal of socialism. Others have come to the conclusion that only “social fascists” would have made use of military force to suppress it.

This paper puts forward a number of views that are controversial. It argues that while the Chinese Party has made its share of mistakes, it nevertheless deserves the support of progressive and revolutionary-minded people. It also attempts to dispel some of the myths which have been propagated by the western media. Continue reading

Reflections on Amiri Baraka

(By David Hungerford)

Newark, NJ – He was a poet, playwright and political activist. He was my mentor and guide for almost a quarter of a century.

He was of a literary generation with James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and others who were intensely aware and confrontational of the injustices of U.S. society. Early on he was associated with the ‘beat’ writers, like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He went in other directions but maintained a friendship with Ginsberg until the end of the latter’s life. His best known play is Dutchman. It was made into a film with Shirley Knight and Al Freeman, Jr.

When I was in college, at a social gathering that was part of an arts festival, somebody passed by in the crowd. I recognized him as LeRoi Jones, a poet whose picture I had seen in Time magazine. He was the first famous person I had ever seen up close so it stuck in my memory. But that was that.

He was born in Newark, New Jersey, where he lived all his life, as Everett Leroy Jones. He changed his name to LeRoi – “the king.” Later still he changed LeRoi to “Amiri,” which means pretty much the same thing in Swahili. Thus, Amiri Baraka – “Prince Blessedness.”

He came of age with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and early 1960s and became a crucial force in its transformation into the Black power movement of the middle and later 1960s. The same period saw the defeat of the aggressive and wrongful U.S. wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The world’s largest country was led by Mao Zedong with an impact that is scarcely imaginable today. Africa was a hotbed of national liberation movements, giving rise to outstanding leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Robert Sobukwe, Sekou Toure and Nelson Mandela, among many others.

The status quo of U.S. society was on the defensive as at no other point in living memory. Amiri Baraka was ideally suited to the times, gregarious, energetic, mercurial, uncompromising, insightful, in the middle of everything, fighting all the time—un poet mo’ dit, perhaps. When it came to who was hooked up to who and how and why he could practically see through walls. His activities of the time were too many to mention completely.

He was a key organizer of the 1967 Newark Black Power Conference that laid out a comprehensive political and economic agenda for the advancement of Black people. He founded the Congress of African People (CAP), a nationwide alliance of forces in the Black liberation movement. He also founded and led the associated Committed for a Unified Newark (CFUN) to define and implement a program of community-based economic development. Continue reading

Cooperatives: A Cure for Capitalism?

(By Zolten Zigedy)

Co-ops — cooperative economic enterprises — have been embraced by significant groups of people at different times and places. Their attraction precedes the heyday of industrial capitalism by offering a means to consolidate small producers and take advantage of economies of scale, shared risk, and common gain.

At the advent of the industrial era, cooperatives were one of many competing solutions offered to ameliorate the plight of the emerging proletariat. Social engineers like Robert Owen experimented with cooperative enterprises and communities.

In the era of mass socialist parties and socialist construction, cooperatives were considered as intermediate steps to make the transition from feudal agrarian production towards socialist relations of production.

Under the capitalist mode of production, co-ops have filled both employment and consumption niches deferred by large scale capitalist production. Economic activities offering insufficient profitability or growth have become targets for cooperative enterprise.

In theory, cooperatives may offer advantages to both workers and consumers. Workers are thought to benefit because the profits that are expropriated by non-workers in the capitalist mode of production are shared by the workforce in a cooperative enterprise (less the present and anticipated operating expenses and investments, of course).

Many argue as well that the working conditions are necessarily improved since workplace decisions are arrived at democratically absent the lash associated with the profit-mania of alienated ownership (though little attention is paid to the consequences for productivity and competitiveness against capitalist enterprises).

Consumers are said to benefit when they collectively appropriate the retail functions normally assumed by privately owned, profit-driven outlets. Benefit comes, on this view, by purchasing from wholesale suppliers, collectively meeting the labor requirements of distribution, and enjoying the cost-savings from avoiding a product markup (little attention is paid to limitations on participation dictated by class, race, or gender; the wholesale quantity discounts enjoyed by capitalist chains are also conveniently overlooked).

A case can also be made for the cooperator’s dedication to quality, safety, and health- promotion. Continue reading

Ukraine: the Untold Story

Toilers’ Struggle is publishing this article because of its informative exposure of the fascist, extreme right forces involved in the pro-EU integration protests in Ukraine. However, it should be noted that the claim that the Communist Party of Ukraine “supports” the Yanukovich government is misplaced and, in fact, a gross inaccuracy or misunderstanding. 

(By Brian Denny)

Ukraine’s refusal to sign an EU association agreement, the ensuing protests and the attempt to oust the government in a failed no-confidence vote all have their origins in a grand geopolitical battle being waged between Germany and Russia.

Germany is using the European Union to bring pressure to bear to integrate Ukraine into Berlin’s political and economic sphere. However Germany’s expansion project was brought to a halt at the EU’s eastern partnership summit in Vilnius.

Only two countries, Georgia and Moldova, signed EU association agreements, while Belarus and Armenia preferred to join the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia.  Moscow had brought its own pressure to bear on Kiev, including trade sanctions and other threats in order to keep Ukraine out of Berlin’s new drive to the east.

Yet Germany has continued its efforts to break Ukraine out of the Russian sphere and the German media now speaks of the “battle for the Ukraine” and a “new iron curtain” to be vanquished in the east.  The EU has also warned Ukraine that it faces a financial blockade if it continues to refuse to sign.

Berlin’s puppet EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton even blasted Ukraine for not “becoming a predictable and reliable interlocutor for international markets.”  The IMF has already suspended a credit line worth $15 billion in 2011 because Ukraine refused to stop subsidising household gas bills.

The EU treaty would also allow European monopolies to grab Ukraine’s crucial energy markets.

German companies are already supplying the country with natural gas via pipelines through Poland and Hungary and via Slovakian pipelines by next year, breaking Ukraine’s dependence on Russian gas.  German foreign policy group, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), openly discusses how association agreements must be implemented under “supervision” and calls for “stringent and very painful social adjustment measures.”

To understand what that means look at the strict bailout requirements being inflicted on eurozone inmates Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and other member states.

In the long run the DGAP foresees integrating even Russia into the EU treaty system of unbridled corporate dictatorship under the hegemony of Berlin, opening up German companies to economic expansion all the way to the Pacific.

So Ukraine’s refusal to sign the EU’s association agreement has spoiled some very big Teutonic imperialist plans. Continue reading

On Juche and Marxism-Leninism: A Question of Scientific Socialism and Revolutionary Praxis (Part 1)

Introduction

When the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 and the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the reactionaries and bourgeois ideologues of the world celebrated the “final triumph of capitalism” and the “end of history.” Socialism was deemed a catastrophic failure, and Marxism-Leninism was declared to be outmoded, irrelevant, and a false prophecy. As the Eastern Bloc states seemed to tumble one after another in domino fashion, and as Boris Yeltsin boldly and shamelessly crowned the victory of the counter-revolution on top of a tank in Moscow, many communists found themselves speechlessly dismayed in the midst of such a breathtaking and confounding whirlwind of events. Numerous people who had, just several years before, confidently christened themselves as Marxist-Leninists, fell victim to demoralization, confusion, and capitulation. Riddled with trepidation and burdened with the immense weight of imperialism’s victory in the Cold War, the international communist movement experienced one of the deepest fractures in its history as it witnessed many of its yesterday battle-hardened soldiers become today’s disillusioned social-democrats and traitorous informants.

Some Marxist-Leninists, however, resisted the overwhelming wave of subjectivism and surrender entailed in the demise of the Soviet Union and have made an objective, dialectically-materialist assessment of the experiences of socialism in the 20th century and the global situation today, have committed themselves and their organizations to ideological rectification, and have rejuvenated their capacity and resolve in waging a principled struggle. These communists have reaffirmed the profound reality that not only does scientific socialism as an ideology still exist as long as exploited and oppressed classes do, but actually existing material manifestations of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat still cling to life in several countries. The words of the former leader of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, Enver Hoxha, ring clear and prescient today:

“Nevertheless, Marxism-Leninism has not disappeared, it is living and flourishing as an ideology and a reality, materialized in the socialist social system constructed according to its teachings. Exemplifying this… [are] the Marxist-Leninist parties, and those millions and millions of workers and peasants who are fighting every day for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, for democracy and national liberation. No force, no torture, no intrigue, no deception can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men” (Enver Hoxha, Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism).

With the guns of imperialism aimed at their heads all the while, five countries nonetheless uphold the banners of socialism and incarnations of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the 21st century. The Republic of Cuba, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are the surviving remnants of the socialist bloc which once comprised nearly a billion people of the Earth’s population. These countries, all facing unique and varying problems in their respective paths of socialist construction, are fundamentally united in their struggle to survive and build socialism in a world dominated by history’s most immense and ferocious imperialist superpower, the United States of America. These five countries serve as visible reminders of the fact that the struggle for socialism is unceasing and vibrant despite the serious setbacks resulting from the destruction of the Soviet Union, and that no single counter-revolution can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of those struggling for liberation from the rule of capital and imperialism.

Of all of these actually existing socialist countries, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea undeniably deserves special attention. The unlimited and relentless demonization of the socialist north of Korea by the imperialist media and its historians, compounded with a general lack of education among Marxist-Leninists has diverted communists’ attention from one of the most impressive, rich, and unique experiences of socialism in the history of the international communist movement, and above all one carried out in only half of a country. An embarrassing number of Marxist-Leninists are unfamiliar with the merits, successes, and challenges of socialism in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and thus are unconsciously tarnishing the scientific nature of Marxism-Leninism as an ideology of emancipation built on and derived from the lessons of concrete experiences of revolutionary transformation. If we are to be real communists worthy of the name and the rank in the army of the proletarian revolution, we must remain committed to, as Mao and the Chinese communists have said, seeking truth from facts and making practice the sole criterion of truth. Applying this to examining the DPRK, it is an unavoidable sensibility that ignoring the rich and instructive practices of socialism in Korea, and the theoretical advancements and consolidation resulting thereof, represents a harmful departure from this basic axiom of scientific socialism. Continue reading

Towards a Concrete Analysis of the DPRK

(By Zak Drabczyk)

The issue of describing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is one which has concerned all matter of political organizations for quite sometime; a topic which the non-Communist left and wide array of would-be political economists have greatly pursued. Here we hope to investigate the class character of the DPRK with a great deal of empirical objectivity atomized in a comprehensive dialectical analysis. While there is plenty of room for thoughtful criticism and discussion surrounding the many facets that which compose ‘North Korea’, the point of the following is not to make such remarks; discerning the material relationships which compound the class dictatorship of the DPRK deserves a methodology which minimizes the ‘cultural skepticism’ which so often parallels such attempts.

All of history can be summed to a struggle between classes. The history of Korea, in specific the Northern region which was liberated from the Japanese following WWII, is no different. Understanding this history is fundamental to contextualizing the political economy of the DPRK today. Continue reading