Wednesday, December 17, 2008

From our companion blog , Socialism Or Your Money Back

South Africa has a new political party called Congress of the People. But given that " is expected to adopt many of the policies pursued by the ANC government under Mbeki", COPE, as it is otherwise known, is perhaps best not described as 'new' but rather an ANC re-tread.

Whether therefore voters in the next election choose one congress or the other is moot. One can hope that the garlic & vinegar days of HIV/AIDS treatment are over and the new government will not be tempted to follow Zuma's example of HIV prevention (taking a shower after unprotected sex with an infected woman) as an excuse for abandoning effective but costly treatment with antiretrovirals. A recent study by Harvard researchers estimated that the ANC are responsible for the premature deaths of 365,000 people earlier this decade.

But is there any reason to think that that there will be no more billion $ arms deals ('dodgy' or otherwise), a reduction in the hundreds of thousands of homeless people, less xenophobia, better sanitation, etc? No. The horrors of apartheid have passed, but economically South Africa is still one of the most unequal countries in the world. Almost all the land, mines and industry remain in the same (mostly white) hands. Almost half the population lives below subsistence level. Unemployment is widespread; children scavenge on dumps and landfill sites from sunrise to sunset seven days a week. Life expectancy is falling (a drop of 13 years since 1990) as AIDS, drug-resistant TB and other diseases spread.

Little wonder then anti-aparthied activist Rassool Snyman felt compelled to state:

"They never freed us. They only took the chain from around our neck and put it on our ankles."

Zuma said recently that the ANC would be in power until Christ's second coming. In reality, this is probably a desire for a electoral system such as that in Turkmenistan where the turnout reached 93.87% in the election for 288 candidates, all of whom support the policies of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Whatever, if Mosiuoa Lekota of COPE is to be believed "Public servants now talk in whispers when they discuss COPE. They report that they risk their jobs if they are seen to befriend us. Tales of spying on each other, as under apartheid, on who attends COPE meetings, abound" and "Songs threatening or encouraging the hatred of and the killing of COPE leaders have been composed and are sung at meetings,".

True liberation for the workers of South Africa and across the world will not take place before they act consciously and democratically (i.e. without leaders) to shed the chains of wage slavery.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ninety years after the Bolshevik revolution the influence of that event on Marxist political doctrine has virtually waned. The two words socialism and communism have a chequered history. The word communism can be traced to Karl Marx and Engels who used it broadly in their Communist Manifesto, because of the discredit that utopian fantasy had impinged upon the term socialism. Lenin revived the term communism after the collapse of the Second International. He inconsistently amplified the theoretical dictums of Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme in order to create his celebrated dogma of two stages of post-revolutionary society—with full communism as the second or final phase.

The WSM disassociates itself from many things which the Labour movement have called socialism. The WSM has always been familiar with the distinctions made and the lines of division drawn by the Communist Parties. So we must look to see what sort of disagreement that marked the pre-War Socialist movement and then contrast them with the great delusion that followed the dawn of the Bolshevik revolution. The divisions within socialism that were to make impact and dated back to a central ambiguity of Marx's own political thought. Marx had favoured recourse to political action by socialists as against the anarchists, mutualists, co-operatives and utopian strains in socialism.
But what is apparent is the fact that from Marxism may be deduced contradictory and incompatible policies, that one may find in it almost as one selects a minimum or maximum programme. That explained the great success of Marxism as the ideological dogma from which are derived all revolutionary trappings from Marx's death onwards. When Bernstein revealed the two contrasting elements in Marxism, the one utopian and the other conspiratorial, Kautsky replied that Marx had reconciled these two contraries in a higher unity. Disagreement about socialist policies—revolution or parliamentarian—raged for a quarter of a century before 1919 with the general drift in Europe towards parliamentarianism.

Briefly Lenin answered that the socialist revolution was to be advanced neither by a party wedded to parliamentary or conspiratorial force, but by a new party controlled by dedicated revolutionaries. This new party was expected to practise discipline of a sort the socialist parties had never seen nor for that matter military forces, since the iron chain of command was to extend beyond national borders to a central international command. The "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" seems to be a purely Russian product, different from Blanquist and Jacobin traditions. The professional revolutionary has proved to be a striking literary success in the West—but this his material political influence there is short lived. But it is when he becomes a terrorist when his impact is felt.

Better few but better!
The Leninist conception of political purity as it was put into practice both within the Russian Communist Party and abroad was original. It put loyalty to a changing party line above the traditional socialist loyalty to a class. The notion of ideological purity was nothing new to socialists at the time.. Marx and Engels conceived political purity as a duty to keep a political point of view alive at a time of reflux —when there was no revolutionary opportunity.

Perhaps the Hungarian professor George Lukacs is a better guide to Lenin’s opinions when he says: "The enrichment that Marxism owes to Lenin consists simply in the more meaningful linking up of isolated actions with the general destiny. The revolutionary destiny of the working class."
He adds that the linking up means "Treating each particular day problem in concrete connection with the historico-social totality. Considering it as a component in the emancipation of the proletariat".

The cumbersome language of the Hungarian philosopher conceals indeed the kernel of Lenin’s supposed science. Each even is part of a process that is not yet complete but of which Lenin knows the end.
Communism’s failure to develop new thinking on social and economic matters to replace the specifically socialist ideas it sacrificed to securing state power was part of the general euthanasia of socialist theory after the death of Lenin and Trotsky, the imprisonment of Gramsci and the first recantation of Lukacs.

Basic to any understanding of "Communism" is an acquaintance with Marxism, the basic ideology from which Communist theory as it exists today has developed. Anyone with even an elementary understanding of Marxism must wince at the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of that doctrine so prevalent in our national life, in the speeches and writings of politicians, academicians, journalists and others who should know better—but too often they don’t, The vast volume of polemical anti-Marxist writings in the Western world is implicit evidence of the importance of Marxist ideas and of the urgency with which many seek to refute them.

Marxism as the doctrine espoused by the Soviet Union has been looked upon with fear and loathing. In Africa, Asia and Latin America Marxist ideas still play a major role in shaping the views of the intellectual elites from which are drawn the leaders and policy makers of today and tomorrow. If Marx and Engels had been merely conventional academic philosophers and theoreticians their ideas must have been of interest to the historians of ideas. Their achievement was rather to formulate a philosophical system that provided justification and ammunition for all who were dissatisfied with bourgeois society. Their doctrines have the power to move men to action and the Bolshevik revolution is a good testament to the great force of ideas.

Marxism is a philosophy: it is not merely a theory of economics or sociology or history. The key to this philosophy is the concept of dialectical materialism. Marxist economy theory is essentially the application of dialectical materialism to different areas of human experience and activity. And it was this philosophical claim to the discovery of the laws of history that caused Marx and Engels to label their economic doctrine "Scientific Socialism" as against the "Utopian Socialism" of other nineteenth-century thinkers. History has already shown that no amount of refutation on purely logical or factual bases is capable of destroying Marxism’s influence. The reason is that Marxism has now become an effective weapon against Western political and economic domination in Africa and Latin America.

The dilemma of economic growth and greenhouse emissions is at the centre of attention of modern orthodox economics. It must be granted that Marx and Engels early realised this problem. As usually the future is hidden from us by an impenetrable veil—but it is obvious that the workers and peasants may achieve a lot if only they can organise themselves into a formidable political party that is democratically organised.

The Socialist Party is an organisation of equals. There is no leader and there are no followers,. We advocate socialism on an international basis—without regard to race or tribe (nationality).

A letter from Zimbabwe

An e-mail received that describes the problems and difficulties many face in Zimbabwe

Dear Comrade,
I write you after our so-called rerun presidential election. My friend, politics happens to be a dirty game in Zimbabwe. After the harmonised election of 29th March everybody, even the outside world, had a full hope that Zimbabwe is now free. Alas, the Mugabe regime turned the normal situation upside down.

Truly speaking, three-quarters of Zimbabweans voted for the MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirai against Mugabe of ZANU PF. But this was like pouring petrol on a fire. The regime government delayed the counting of votes and started beating up the mass. They call it operation "wquhotera papi", whom did you vote for? Whoever voted for MDC is now an enemy of ZANU PF. Presiding officers were arrested. Some DCs arrested too, said they contributed to the losing of ZANU PF. MDC polling agencies were arrested, killed and beaten up. MDC is being said is the party backed by our former British colonialists.

Comrade, houses were burnt and pulled down. My friend, Zimbabwe is not a free state or never will be free if ZANU PF while is still existing. There is no other political party other than ZANU PF and there is no other president other than Robert Mugabe. No freedom of association in this country. No democracy, no freedom. Mugabe is a diehard. Conquering Mugabe is like trapping an elephant with a spider’s web. Thabo Mbeki is just playing tricks. SADCC is nothing. OAU is nothing. What I discovered is that most African leaders are dictators. Once they are in power they are in power for ever. They don’t want to say it publicly that they need a one party state, but that’s the very situation in Zimbabwe and some African states.

Whoever obtained his independence through the bullet shall be removed from power by the bullet too. In Zimbabwe talks, talks, talks are nothing. Now they are saying let’s go round the table. Outside where ZANU PF militia, war vets, youths will be busy killing and beating others. That’s why the MDC pulled out from the election, again, he didn’t turn up for the negotiations between ZANU PF, MDC-T and MDC-M, which was called recently by Thabo Mbeki. British and Americans they are stupid. Rather sanctions doesn’t work in Zimbabwe. They are increasing our suffering. What I discovered Britain and America have got some interests in Zimbabwe but on account of the political situation in this country, they are enjoying nothing. Sanctioning Zimbabwe is not the way of calming down the political atmosphere in this country. Britain should not remove the present government by the bullet. We are hearing all this nonsense who is Britain in Zimbabwe they want to worsen the situation. The crisis in Zimbabwe needs the attention of SADCC and OAU and Zimbabwe, they must talk gently with this man Mugabe. If he refused they should have to leave him behind. Because forcing him will lead to an outbreak of war. Mugabe is not a mere President, he is the commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwean defence forces , mind you.

MDC cannot mobilise the army, but Mugabe can do so. What I have seen is first and foremost the constitution of this country must be revised. If Mbeki wants to be a good mediator he must help us to have a new fresh constitution then after that talks, talks. When people went to vote they were no MDC agencies in some centres. Most people were assisted to vote. This whole nonsense is caused by the Constitution. Constitution first they go to polls here and things will be alright. We don’t need war in this country. Thank you comrade for your attention.

Comrade G, Nembudzia, Zimbabwe. 12 July.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

he who pays the piper calls the tune

The new ANC government in South Africa agreed to spend a controversial £1.6bn buying fleets of Hawk and Gripen warplanes. Critics said the country, beset by unemployment and HIV/Aids, could not afford it. The Hawks, rejected by the military, cost twice as much as Italian equivalents. But the then South African defence minister Joe Modise and a key official, Chippy Shaik, insisted on the purchase.

Leaked evidence from South African police and the British Serious Fraud Office quotes a BAE agent recommending "financially incentivising" politicians.

A lengthy affidavit from the SFO in London accuses BAE of "covert" behaviour and of withholding information. SFO principal investigator Gary Murphy says in the affidavit, sworn on October 9: "I believe that BAE have sought to conceal from the SFO the involvement of [Joe Modise aide] Fana Hlongwane." BAE is also alleged to have drawn up an untruthful "line" about Hlongwane for its press office in 2003. A seized document says that if asked if BAE had ever had any relationship with Hlongwane, it was to say: "No, never - we knew him only as a member of the minister's entourage." It is alleged that in fact, the company was paying him millions of pounds, through a variety of secret routes.

In all , More than £100m was secretly paid by the arms company BAE to sell warplanes to South Africa according to the Guardian

colonialist canada

Canada is now a superpower in the African mining sector. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada , only the Republic of South Africa, with over 35% of assets and investments, is just ahead of Canada in the African mining industry. But with South Africa’s assets concentrated on its own territory, Canada dominates the rest of the continent. In 2001, Canadian companies have operations in 35 countries . 91% of Canadian investments were concentrated in eight countries, with the order of countries’ importance being the following: South Africa (25.6%), DR Congo (17.8%), Madagascar (13.8%), Zambia (9.9%), Tanzania (9.5%), Ghana (6.5%), Burkina Faso (4.7%) and Mauritania (3%).
Africa represented 11% of Canada’s US$25.8 billion in cumulative mining assets in 2001, a proportion which had risen to 17% of the total $85.9 billion in the same assets by 2007.

Canadian diplomacy is very much at the service of business interests . In this regard, the country at times pursues objectives seemingly at odds with its development agenda, some examples of which include:

-In 1996, the Canadian High Commissioner in Tanzania intervened on several occasions to influence revisions to mining legislation as a means of promoting Canadian business interests. And, specifically, in order to counter the legal claims of local miners questioning the legitimacy of the mining company Sutton and designs on Bulyanhulu deposits
- In June 2008, the staff of the very same High Commission energetically intervened in Tanzanian parliamentary affairs to ensure that the country’s politicians rejected the conclusions of the Presidential Mining Sector Review Committee on revisions of the mining sector. The Committee had recommended a greater proportion of profits generated by higher prices be kept for the country itself
- In 2004, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations had criticised a part of a report produced by the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in the DR Congo, in which nine Canadian companies were accused of violating OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) guidelines during the country’s protracted war.

Canada’s image as a moderate country and disinterested development partner in Africa is now thoroughly outdated.

Friday, December 05, 2008

“School has no value any more.”

“Most families can no longer afford to worry about whether their child does well in school,” a woman in the north-central town of Séguéla told IRIN. “Most now send their children to the fields or to sell in the market just to make a bit of money for food - especially the girls.” She added that since state teachers fled in the 2002 rebellion and schools fell apart, the education infrastructure has not recovered.

Slightly under half of Côte d’Ivoire’s 20 million people are now below the poverty threshold, living on less than about US$1.25 per day - up from 38.4 percent in 2000 and the highest in 20 years, according to results released by the national statistics institute .

70 percent of Ivoirians have difficulty eating adequately and 68 percent cannot afford proper treatment when ill.

“The state is creating thieves, prostitutes and liars,” said a would-be university student in Séguéla “When a person has absolutely nothing to eat and no money, what do you want them to do?”

A continent of cheap labour and little regulation

This article reports that a "uranium rush" seems to be under way, based on the assumption that nuclear power might fill the world's current energy gaps in Namibia . Namibia's uranium oxide is exported in its raw form and enriched in countries with uranium converters such as France, the US, Canada and China.For almost 30 years, Roessing was the only uranium company in the country.A second uranium mine, Langer Heinrich, became operational in 2007 and 40 exclusive prospecting licenses and 12 mining licenses had already been issued by September 2008.

Exposure to even relatively low levels of radiation over a long period can be extremely harmful to the health of workers and communities living around uranium mines.Several workers who spent long years working at uranium mines developed serious health problems.Cancerous strains are commonplace as workers are exposed to dust and radon gas daily and thus develop diseases such as TB and lung cancer.Although mining companies usually deny any responsibility and refuse to compensate workers, there is increasing evidence of a link between uranium mining and workers' health problems.

Uranium mining uses an enormous amount of water.
In a recent article in The Namibian, the writer pointed out that the proposed uranium mine by the Canadian company Forsys Metal, would use 1 million litres of water each day.Situated on the Valencia farm in the Erongo region, the mine would consume in only three months the amount of water that the current users in the area would consume in 36 years.Given that all existing and envisaged uranium mines are in the Namib desert, one needs to ask if it is wise to spend Namibia's most scarce resource - water - on mining operations that may only bring short-term benefits.

Besides using huge amounts of water, uranium mining also leaves large craters as it relies on open-pit operations.Once mining activities cease, the huge holes remain.Furthermore, radioactive dust particles may be blown over many kilometres.

It is telling that Canadian and Australian mining companies seem to spearhead the new rush for Africa's uranium. Despite high quality uranium deposits in their own countries, they are focusing on Africa's uranium resources, with Niger, Malawi, Tanzania and Namibia the main targets. There seems to be only one explanation for this paradox: labour costs are higher, and environmental restrictions are more stringent in Australia and Canada.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Zambia's Presidential Election

Zambia—(30 October)
After a gruelling and breathtaking fight the MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda won presidential elections by 35,000 votes again the Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata. Indeed, many people expected Sata was going to win given the massive votes he received in urban areas. Sata has cried foul and blamed foreign observers and the MMD government for rigging the elections. The PF is now the strongest opposition political party in Zambia.
There is no need for a conspiracy theory when assessing the results of the 30 October election otherwise than through examining the existing fundamental ethnic and tribal loyalties. Tribalism remains to determine the popularity of political parties in Zambia in the sense that every political leader is strongly supported in his tribal homeland. This became very evident even during their presidential election especially when we look at the care [????] the UPND leader Hakainde Ichilema. The UPND accumulated 100% votes in Southern Province where from its leader Ichilema originates.
Ethnic and tribal loyalties in Zambia are elastic in the sense that political parties may easily manipulate the peasants in rural enclaves through bribery in order to win their votes. The ruling MMD has been doing this ever since it came into power in 1991. Indeed, most people in rural areas are illiterate and politically ignorant in terms of non-existence of news media and absence of well-informed middle-class elites. The only information people in rural areas receive is from the volatile government infrastructure. It has now come to pass that the MMD has lost the previous political following among the majority and politically vocal Bemba-speaking tribal homeland. More or less the MMD is now a political Cinderella in the sense that it does not have a distinctive ethnic and tribal following—the voting patterns that emerged from the 30 October election emphasise this fact.
Thus we may infer that the supposed votes received by the MMD President Rupiah Banda were mostly determined by the economic politicise of the late President Levy Mwanawasa (economic development took place in rural areas).
The October Presidential election was characterised by insults and political defections. Both the previous presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Fredrick Chiluba rallied behind the MMD vice-President Banda. The need to preserve the existing capitalist economic framework was uppermost in most people’s minds—a change in political leadership was going to reverse economic development.
But the workers and university students in urban areas strongly voted for the PF leader Michael Sata. It is the case that economic growth achieved through massive foreign investment and a stable financial balance of exchange has failed to translate itself in terms of free education and employment. Indeed, social poverty and poor salaries and working conditions are on the increase in urban areas. PF leader Sata is now a political force to be reckoned with today and tomorrow.
The ordinary Zambian voter stands to gain nothing from the results of the October election in the sense that income and wealth patterns will remain where they have always remained. The increase in mealie meal prices and the decline in copper prices help to dispel any hopes for a bright future for ordinary Zambians. Indeed, socialism is a political franchise invested in every working-class person to dislodge capitalism from the face of the earth. We in the WSM deeply respect and cherish our political franchise to vote—we cannot misuse it through voting for a political idiot. We can only use it to vote for a classless, moneyless and stateless society—SOCIALISM.