"From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, it's beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, as boni partes familias [good heads of households]" Marx in Capital, Volume 3, chapter 46
The South African Communist Party (SACP) joins participants of the 20th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP), to express our profound fraternal best wishes to the Greek Communist Party (KKE) on the occasion marking its centenary and also on 20th edition of the International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP).
It's by no small measure to attribute this achievement to a solid party, with a commitment to principle and the ideals of a better society - socialism. We salute the leadership, the members and supporters of KKE, it's allied formations, it's youth formation KNE and the militant class-orientated trade union PAME.
We are adjoined by the theme of this 20th edition of the IMCWP to not only analyze the conjuncture, but also to reflect critically in the workings of our parties in the direction of deepening, advancing and defending the ideals for an alternative society to the rapacious system of capitalism and its variant manifestations of neoliberal financialised globalization.
These tasks are even more important in this period, as has been demonstrated by the adverse international developments recently across the global, occasioned by the deep crisis of system capitalism in its financialised manner. The inevitable boom and busts cycles are a key characteristic of capitalists economies, wherein the subsequent bust the economy shrinks, people lose their jobs, the quality of life of the people declines.
The 14th Congress of the SACP held in 2017 under the theme: 'Defend, Advance, Deepen the National Democratic Revolution: The Vanguard Role of the SACP', directed us to and confirmed our strategic posture in this period, that of a radical second phase of the National Democratic Revolution as the most direct route to a socialist South Africa. The 14th Congress also called for provision of leadership in the widest patriotic front in defense of our democracy and our country's national sovereignty. Delegates of the historic 14th Congress pledged to actively carry forward all the resolutions of congress, such as on the vanguard role in places of work, in our communities, in our places of learning, and in all other key sites of power. Our Party is of the view that we have to win our vanguard role in the trenches of struggle - through active work between and amongst the people and their formations.
SACP has noted that the defense of our democracy against large-scale looting of public resources by a parasitic political-bureaucratic stratum is the first order of the day. There are important lessons elsewhere in the world such as the development of a bureaucratic bourgeoisie in the post-Revolutionary Iran, from which we must learn in order to overcome the immediate challenges that face our revolution.
Samir Amin, who recently passed on, is instructive on this matter. In the final chapter of his recent book, Amin considers the present from the perspective of a lifetime of activism stretching back to the 1940s. The central thrust of this chapter (appropriately titled "Revolution or decadence?", provides an important reference points that help to clarify - at least in South Africa, our own situation and help to situate our reality within a wider set of global trends.
He writes, "In the periphery [the geo-political South] the socialist transition is not distinct from national liberation". Amin proceeds:" It has become clear that the latter [national liberation] is impossible under local bourgeois leadership, and thus becomes a democratic stage in the process of the uninterrupted revolution by stages led by the peasant and workers masses". Amin correctly, argues that 'a revolution cannot be advanced only with a vanguard political formation, or state power'. 'Popular forces' that are, in his words, "non-alienated" are the critical factor.
In the past period the SACP has been undertaking concrete measures, to both to tackle these challenges but also build alliances, anchored around the broad goals and ideals of the 14th Congress and previous congresses' Party Programmes, and in the process address the issue of alienation and agency of the broad masses. The SACP is unfolding a process of developing both a broad patriotic and left fronts within the terrain of the socio-economic and political challenges of our country, such as confronting corruption and rampant looting of the public resources. This has also resulted in a debate for a 'reconfiguration of the Alliance' with the African National Congress ( ANC) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). This debate is important in the post-1994 context where the ANC Alliance are in government.
Finally, we think it will be a critical mistake, if we don't reflect on the recent developments and emergence of rightwing populist charismatic strongmen personalities, such as Duterte, Trump, Bolsonaro and Salvini in Italy. Rightwing populism ascendancy today is a symptom of the failure (somewhat) of progressive politics. The roots of this predicament, some argue goes back to the 1980s. Indeed, this is a spectacular failure of neoliberalism!
The rise of rightwing politics has its origins in the decaying of the politics of amongst others, center-parties, and social democracy. These are dangerous times for democracy. In the United States Donald Trump represents the greatest threat to the American constitutional order since Richard Nixon. The hard reality is that Trump was elected by tapping a wellspring of anxieties, frustrations and legitimate grievances to which the mainstream parties have no compelling answer. This means that, for those worried about Trump and about populism, it is not enough to mobilize and protest and resistance, it is also necessary to engage in politics of persuasion that must begin by understanding the discontent that is roiling politics.
As many commentators now note, another economic downturn looms. We know that all the reforms and regulations imposed in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s failed to prevent both smaller downturns between 1941 and 2008 and then another big crash in 2008. Capitalism’s instability has, for centuries, resisted all efforts to overcome it with or without government interventions. Yet mainstream economics mostly evades an honest confrontation with the social costs of such economic instability. Worse, it evades a direct debate with the Marxian critique that links those costs to an argument that system change would be the best and most “efficient” solution.
Therefore, IMCWP must develop appropriate responses towards these set of politics in order to present our people with concrete and realistic responses to the challenges confronting our societies as a direct result of crisis of system of capitalism.
Socialism is the future - build it now!