THE NATURE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVOLUTION
By Shaheen Khan
Shaheen Khan is a South African socialist, part of the Political Platform, who have recently split from the South African RMG (Revolutionary Marxist Group.) She is the chief co-ordinator of Bolshevik Study Circles, and an active supporter of the Workers and Socialist party (WASP ). You can read more about the split in the RMG and South African politics here:
To The Political Platform Splitting From The RMG
On the Differences in the Revolutionary Marxist Group
Democratic Counter-revolution in South Africa
Shaheen Khan will be speaking at the Socialist Fight public meeting: “The way forward for the revolution in South Africa” 22nd March 2014. Click here for details.
The most important issue which every committed militant in South Africa has to come to grips with is the question of the nature of the South African revolution. It is a question which, in the present phase of the struggle, has thrown up a multitude of different and often sharply divided opinion – opinions, which, it is said, stand in the way of, the realisation of the necessity of unity. However, when sifted through, this multitude reduces itself to two diametrically opposed positions – positions which we say, demand clarification if the basis upon which unity is to be achieve is to be made clear. Here we repeat the words of Lenin writing in a situation not too dissimilar to ours: “Before uniting, and in order to unite, we must first decisively and definitely draw a line of separation. Otherwise our union would be merely a fiction covering up the present confusion and preventing its radical removal.”
Let us draw these lines of separation. The two opposing positions ultimately reduce to this:
The struggle for national liberation and political democracy is the most immediate task. To this end all the oppressed must unite around their common lack of democratic rights. Some who hold this position declare that after democracy has been achieved, then the struggle for socialism can begin.
The struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat is the most immediate task. To this end all the oppressed must be united under the leadership of the working class and against the bourgeoisie. It is the dictatorship of the proletariat which will solve the question of democracy and open the road to socialism.
It is against the backdrop of these two positions that all debate regarding ‘the people’, ‘the workers’ and ‘unity’ must be seen. Moreover, it must be remembered that political positions, strategies and programmes are not just the expression of individual opinions, but are ultimately the manifestation of the interests of different classes or strata. What follows is that revolutionary commitment does not consist solely of the “sincerity” of the individual. Our struggle demands a scientific understanding of the forces which go to make up our society and how the interests of various classes express themselves in the slogans and programmes of organisations. The two positions outlined above are manifestations of precisely such different class positions. The former is the position of the radical section of the oppressed petit-bourgeoisie, who finds under the conditions of South African capitalism that their universal instability as a class is compounded by their lack of democratic rights. The latter is the position adopted by all Marxists struggling to prepare a vanguard party to lead the working class in its historic role as the vehicle for smashing capitalism and replacing it with socialism. Click here for full article.