FIGHT FOR COMMUNISM!
International Communist Workers Party
They shot them in the back. They shot them from helicopters. They shot them at point-blank range. Did the police massacre of 34 wildcatting platinum miners at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana, South Africa, end the wildcat? No.
Did the arrest of 270 (and torture of some) end it? No. Did charging those
270 with murder (one or two cops had been killed earlier) scare them? No. Did the call of the official National Union of Miners (NUM) to return to work have any effect? No. Did the company's threat to fire every striker? Certainly not!
Did the state-organized brutality at Marikana intimidate the rest of the working class in South Africa? Hell no! It emboldened them.
Clearly what is happening in South Africa is no ordinary strike wave. The widespread nature of the struggle, 100,000 miners at its peak, involving township dwellers, miners, industrial workers and farmworkers, speaks to the size of the discontent. The brutal state suppression speaks to the fears of the capitalists. Forged by a hundred years of racist oppression in the bowels of the earth ,these subterranean heroes of Marikana speak to the surfacing of a new mass ideology among the workers.
While they don't yet see themselves as "the gravediggers of capitalism, " neither do they see themselves as helpless victims of its economic crisis.
"THE MASSES HAVE WOKEN UP"
"The masses have woken up, "a worker at Boeing in Seattle, USA., enthused on hearing about the struggles. "Workers around the world," he went on, "are tired of bosses coming away with fortunes, while they come away with broken bones."
Workers in South Africa(both citizens and immigrants) are demonstrating to themselves and the rest of us that the working masses are in fact the engines or makers of history and not its victims.
The masses have woken up. Greek workers have staged nineteen General Strikes within the last two years. Strike waves, involving the deaths of both bosses and workers, have swept India's auto industry. Millions of workers, legal and "illegal," have battled the new capitalist exploiters in China. Even the Occupy movement was a reflection of this stirring.
The masses have woken up in response to the devastation brought about by the world-wide crisis that broke out first in the United States as a housing bubble and has since engulfed all capitalism as a crisis of overproduction.
MARIKANA--A NEW MANIFESTO
But it is in South Africa that the workers have taken this wake-up call to new heights. Because of its history, the modern South African state is the product of one of the world's fiercest, most intense battles against racism. Its major governing institutions – the African National Congress, (ANC), the National Union of Miners (NUM), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions) (COSATU)– earned their leadership credentials in the battle against apartheid. They leveraged those credentials into the political leadership of the post-apartheid state.
The overriding principle of its ideology was simple: remove racists from leadership and a capitalist state can develop both prosperity and equality. Social Justice Capitalism was possible! Because of the heroic struggle that brought it into being, the ideology of this post-apartheid government of South Africa resonated around the world. It dressed dog-eat-dog, exploitative, capitalism in anti-racist clothing.
It is the complete bankruptcy of this ideology that the wildcatting miners (together with the working masses of South Africa) have exposed.
The miners at Marikana have not written a new manifesto, but they have produced an all-important first draft. It says progressive capitalism is a lie. It says workers are the makers of history. The masses have woken up. The question is, have we, the revolutionaries?
From Athens to Shanghai to Marikana, the world's workers have made a clear statement about what is unacceptable about capitalist production but these struggles have not spontaneously developed an alternative form of production . That is the task of the ICWP, and it is an urgent task.
How do we support these life and death battles? Of course we should advertise them , but after that, what? Expressing solidarity is like applauding from the sidelines. We must join the struggles by advancing them! The South African workers have ripped the anti-racist, progressive image of capitalism to shreds. In so doing, they have handed us the opportunity to present its alternative share-and-share-alike communism.
The new graves at Marikana make the argument for communist revolution even more relevant.
If the century-long struggle in South Africa has taught us anything it is that our battle is not to reform capitalism once again. It is to replace it with communist revolution. Communism will abolish private ownership, money, profits & exploitation. It will rip away the need for racism, as well as sexism and nationalism that pit worker against worker. It will create a society where we cooperate to produce for need.
On the one hand, the masses have woken up. On the other, the crisis in capitalist production that has gripped the world shows no sign of being resolved yet. As a result there will be many more Marikanas… in all corners of the globe. Opportunities to organize for communist revolution will come thick and fast.
It's our job to seize them. Then the international working class will be not just the "grave diggers" of capitalism, but the builders of a brand new communist world in its place!
By the end of World War II, revolution was in the air. In China, Vietnam and Malaysia there were communist insurrections, calling for socialism as a democratic, state-run, capitalism.
In South Africa that unrest led to the alliance of the African National Congress (the ANC) and the South African Communist Party. Instead of socialism, it called for "One Man, One Vote." In a country of 25 million black Africans and only 5 million whites, the white rulers and their imperialist partners saw this as a death sentence.
They instituted "apartheid." It separated whites, black Africans, "mixed-race" and Asians. Black Africans were crowded into "homelands," just 12% of the land. To get jobs in the factories in the white areas, black Africans had to apply for "passbooks."
"One Man, One Vote" vs. Apartheid
Mounting anger against apartheid was met with state violence which came to a head in 1960 when cops killed sixty-nine unarmed protesters at Sharpeville. The state then banned all opposition movements and arrested thousands. Yet this iron fist couldn't kill the resistance.
In the 1960s, new insurrectionary movements swept the world, along with economic crisis, as capitalism ended its long post-war boom. This upsurge reached South Africa in widespread spontaneous strikes by black industrial workers. For the first time, the racist state machinery was forced to make concessions to black Africans. The masses had tasted victory.
In 1976 high school students in Soweto, a black township, went on strike against repressive school reforms. They staged a massive peaceful demonstration but were met with a hail of bullets from the police. The struggle quickly spread beyond Soweto to involve every township in South Africa. Between 1980 and 1985 there were continuous boycotts supported by millions of students.
"No More Heroes" vs. Apartheid
Students and parents organized stay-aways, rent strikes, boycotts and marches. The state answered with repression and murder. The youth turned their comrades' funerals into demonstrations against fascism. The state then recruited the black middle classes into local township governments which tried to raise rents and utility rates and build a new police force.
The youth led the community to burn the local government buildings, to kill police and informers and throw mayors out of office. In 1985, hundreds of black officials resigned and fled to special centers for safety.
With the "stay-away," students prevented their parents from commuting to the factories in the white areas of South Africa. These became general strikes involving the whole community, although they were only directed against racism and apartheid, not the capitalist state.
In 1984, stay-aways hit the country's industrial heartland. The mass struggle reverberated in Wall Street and London. The South African state responded by sending over 7,000 troops to conduct house-to-house searches. The state—the protector of capitalism—was losing its grip, but the worker-student alliance was developing selfconfidence. It advanced a significant slogan, "No More Heroes": the working class doesn't need saviors: it needs collectivity.
"No Compromise" vs. Apartheid
Thousands of youth calling themselves the Young Comrades championed the slogan "Long live the spirit of no compromise." They had set up their own "civic associations" in the townships and their own "people's courts" to try petty criminals, enforce boycotts and condemn informers. They would accept no compromise with racism or the system of apartheid. Their achievements were inspirational; their limitations fatal. They fought apartheid (the effects of this misery); they needed to fight capitalism (the cause of it).
Attempting to stem the revolutionary tide, imperialists like Barclay's Bank and Consolidated Goldfields mining company set up secret negotiations between ANC leaders and the South African government. The ANC agreed to drop demands for nationalization of the farms and mines, if the government would agree to end the legal structure of apartheid.
"Everything is Negotiable" = ANC
In 1990, ANC leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison. An international media campaign presented him as "the greatest hero of the twentieth century." His job was to win the masses to replace the line of "no more compromises" with the ANC line that "everything is negotiable!" The ANC agreed to elections in 1994,and became the party that administers capitalism.
Barclay's Bank, Consolidated Goldfields, and their US counterparts from the apartheid era are still the major capitalists in South Africa. Chinese imperialists are now in the mix; black billionaires are now necessary to preserve imperialism. The former head of the NUM and ANC vice-president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for example, is now on the Board of Directors of Lonmin Mining Company, the very company the miners of Marikana were on strike against. Like Ramaphosa, other "everything is negotiable" exleaders are making millions off of the grueling poverty-imposed work of black South Africans… but the masses are now moving.
As capitalist crisis and miners' strikes threaten the profits of Anglo American Platinum, they have threatened to close mines and lay off thousands of workers in South Africa. "Independent" union leaders there have called for nationalizing the mines. "We cannot let these foreign investors do as they please with our mineral resources," they cry. ICWP comrades in Mexico respond:
As workers in Mexico have learned, the nationalization of natural resources under capitalism only serves the interests of the national capitalists. In 1938 in Mexico, President Lázaro Cárdenas nationalized some US-owned industries, giving a bigger share of the profits to the Mexican bosses. Nationalization was supported by the communist movement, which wrongly believed that it would pave the road for the emancipation of the working class. The national capitalists took advantage of this fatal error to mobilize the masses to strengthen their dictatorship over the working class. There are no "progressive" capitalists! They are all exploiters. When the Mexican oil industry was nationalized in 1938 as a way to crush a strike of oil workers, this was not revolutionary. The oil companies were compensated by public funds and donations from workers, benefitting the Mexican capitalist state and the functionaries who have administered PEMEX ever since. The worst thing about nationalization--and nationalism itself--is that it created ideological confusion which is still an obstacle to the development of workers' communist class consciousness. From Mexico to South Africa, our line of mobilizing the masses directly for communism must make explicit our opposition to the trap of nationalism. When striking South African workers at Sishen mine recently seized the means of production (bulldozers), it showed the potential of the industrial working class. The only way to make it "our oil" or "our mine" is with a communist revolution. Then, with no capitalists and no profits, we'll share all the resources for the well-being of the international working class. Then it will be "our world!"
Like the workers in South Africa, the masses in El Salvador are in motion against the horrors of capitalism and its poverty and repression. But that's not all they have in common. Like the masses in South Africa, those who rule on behalf of the banks and international capital are those who were the "heroes" of the fight against the government in the 1970s and 1980s. In South Africa it's the ANC. In El Salvador, it's the fmln, the electoral legacy of the Faribundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) formed by four different guerrilla groups, together with the Communist Party of El Salvador (CPS), which led the armed struggle. As in South Africa, these "heroic leaders" started talking about socialism, then changed it to national liberation, and after years of armed struggle ended up signing a Peace Accord and creating a Truth Commission to cover up the crimes of capitalism.
Today these "leaders" are in the government, and are also part of the new bosses' class. The entire current leadership of the FMLN and ex members of the CPS are part of Boards of Directors of huge corporations such as Alba Petroleum and Alba Transports, and include the Vice-President, the President of the Supreme Court of the Legislative Assembly and the Supreme Court and many other offices. The unions, like ANDES June 21, the teachers' union, which once mobilized the masses in the struggles, now serve to quiet these struggles. These capitalist leaders once led thousands of industrial and agricultural workers, teachers and students in great struggles for a supposedly "better" world. But what happened? In South Africa as in El Salvador, are they simply traitors and sellouts? Of course they're traitors, but it wasn't their love for a fistful of dollars that made them sell out. It was their political line of reforming capitalism. They believed that ordinary workers can't run society--that we need instead experts and capitalists and investments from Wall Street, London, or Beijing. We're not doomed to endlessly repeat these errors. The same opportunity to mobilize the masses for communism that the Marikana miners have bought for us echoes in El Salvador and around the world. The hundreds of thousands of fallen comrades in El Salvador, like those in Marikana, cry out to us to reject these traitors, and more importantly their ideology of national liberation and of socialism, which has sabotaged the struggle of the international working class. Our struggle must be for communism.