Thursday, December 12, 2013

Leader of Black Capitalism, Nelson Mandela, Dies at 95

Reblogged from Worker Socialist, Central Organ of Worker Socialist Party of India
Rajesh Tyagi/ 8.12.2013 

The leader of black bourgeois nationalism, life time servant of capital, Nelson Mandela, is dead, leaving behind a shameful legacy of all sorts of compromises and capitulation to imperialism, alongside betrayal of the liberation struggle of toiling masses. Needless to say, that this legacy is equally shared with Mandela by bourgeois leaders of all backward and ex-colonial countries- from Nehru to Gaddafi.
Mandela’s death is being used by the ANC, to attempt to reclaim its lost credibility by chanting the history of struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa where workers and youth in the cities and towns, fought heroically against the brutal regime and its heavily armed security forces, and scores were killed or imprisoned.

Mandela and the ANC under him, however, never sought imperialism’s defeat, but rather its patronage, offering itself as nodal agency between the oppressive ruling class and the masses of black workers and oppressed.

Mandela, pressed his skills and courage to the demeaning service of capital and voluntarily accepted its servility. Behind the veil of dismantling the Apartheid regime, always stood his real-politik of defending capitalism and protecting the property and wealth of the country’s capitalist rulers and of transnational corporate investors.

Expressing their gratitude to the leader of “black capitalism”, for the invaluable service Mandela rendered to the national and international ruling elite, top imperialist leaders have sung praises for Mandela. US President Barack Obama, head of the criminal regime of world imperialism that has turned whole countries like Afghanistan and Iraq into living hell for people, has termed the ANC leader as “one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth”. George Bush, the principal mentor of modern US war machine, infamous for innumerable war crimes, including indiscriminate carpet bombings and savage torture of prisoners, has described Mandela as “one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time.” British right-wing Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron has called Mandela “a hero of our time” and ordered the flag at 10 Downing Street to be flown at half mast. Big Corporates like Bill Gates, have joined the mourning.

These heads of the US and Western Capitalism, who had remained unfazed as black youth and workers were being shot in the streets, hanged on the gallows, jailed by the thousands, tortured in police cells and tear-gassed and clubbed while protesting in schools, universities, factories and mines, are mourning the death of Mandela. The very same imperialist governments that yesterday had turned a cold shoulder to the most genuine and legitimate struggle in history, are paying homages to the leader of black capitalism.

These leaders and the governments under them, always stood in staunch defence of the big Western capitalists who have continued to make a fortune from the cheap black labour, during and after apartheid in South Africa.

Thatcher and Reagan were particular in their praise of the Pretoria regime as a loyal Western ally. President Reagan told CBS in 1981 that he supported South Africa because “it was a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals”.

Big corporate, Shell, Consolidated Goldfields, Caltex, Mobil, Honeywell, IBM, Ford, GM, Westinghouse, Pilkington, BP, Blue Circle, Cadbury Schweppes and dozens alike, have made their fortunes from extreme exploitation of black labour. While these profits continued to be minced, Western businesses and governments turned a blind eye to the oppression of black South Africans. The same governments are paying homage to the leader of black capitalism, who made it possible for them to continue the exploitation and oppression in South Africa till his death.

Death of Mandela, for us, however, is an occasion to draw a balance sheet on the role and character of the bourgeois nationalist movements, like that of ANC, all of which have become props of world capitalism, offering the countries under them as cheap labour and raw material platforms to it.

Founded in 1912, the ANC is one of the oldest of these movements, having drawn its inspiration from Indian National Congress. It has played pivotal role in the negotiated end of the apartheid regime in South Africa and for the last about two decades has been the country’s ruling party.

After coming to power, the leadership of the ANC, far from making any effort for realizing the aspirations of the workers and toilers, betrayed them and exploited their sacrifices to reinforce its own integration into the ranks of the imperialist and national capitalist rulers.

Nearly 20 years after the end of Apartheid, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. Grotesque levels of exploitation and poverty afflict most of the population, with just over 50 percent living below the official poverty line. Officially, unemployment stands at 25 percent of the workforce, but the real figure is far higher. South Africa has the largest population infected with HIV/AIDS in the world, with up to 6.4 million people, or 12 percent of total population, including 450,000 children affected. Official data shows that only 28 percent of those infected are able to afford and receive medical aid. Life expectancy is 58 years, among the lowest in the world.

So-called“free market reforms” have assured that those at the top, including the old white elite and the new black leaders of ANC and its Trade Unions, have accumulated immense wealth. A tiny minority that now includes a layer of ANC, ex-Stalinist, and trade union leaders, has amassed enormous personal wealth. The country now has the highest number of Trillionaires among all African states, with 14 individuals now in this category, up from two a decade earlier. Those sitting at the top of the capitalist pyramid, like Cyril Ramaphosa, the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers and secretary general of the ANC, having worth USD 275 million alone, have become the sole beneficiaries of the policy of “Black Economic Empowerment” inaugurated and supervised by the ANC.

The African historian Achille Mbembe has rightly described the ANC as a party “consumed by corruption and greed, brutal internecine battles for power and a deadly combination of predatory instincts and intellectual vacuity.”

Right from the beginning of his political career in 1943, when he joined the ANC, Mandela remained a hostile opponent of Marxism. He was opposed to program of any independent organisation of the working class, and instead advocated the idea of subordinating the working class to national bourgeois and its party, ANC. Mandela was instrumental in opposing the mass strike by working class of Johannesburg, in 1950, by organising strike breakers and through physical violence. As successful strike demonstrated the political strength of working class, Mandela retreated under compulsion.

Later, after doubly assuring himself of political impotence and incapacity of Stalinists, ANC under Mandela developed close ties with Stalinist SACP. In their turn, the South African Stalinists, following the Menshevik “two stage” theory of Stalin, argued that South Africa, like other backward countries, will have to first pass through a period of “democratic” capitalist development, under the leadership of the national bourgeoisie, before it could rise up to struggle for socialism. This was exactly in line with bourgeois program of ANC. Neither Mandela nor the ANC, nor even the SACP ever placed socialism on the agenda in South Africa. Socialism, for the SACP, at best, was something that awaited South Africa several decades after the supposed “first stage” of the revolution- the national democratic revolution, was completed.

Having close proximity with Stalinists in South Africa, Mandela consciously rejected the program of Fourth International under Trotsky, that unambiguously proposed ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ as a pre-condition for any genuine revolution in South Africa, including its national liberation. Narrating his encounter with the South African Trotskyist Isaac Tabata, in 1948, Mandela, the leader of black bourgeois and by then an ally of Stalinists, told his biographer Anthony Samson, “It was difficult for me to cope with his arguments. I didn’t want to continue arguing with the fellow because he was demolishing me just like that”.

The ANC leader utilised the Stalinists as a means to subordinate the South African working class to the bourgeois nationalist platform of ANC and its capitalist program. The ANC’s Freedom Charter, adopted in 1956, was drafted by a member of the CP, Rusty Bernstein. Warding off any misconception on that count in advance, Mandela clarified in one of his article, that the Charter was “by no means a blue-print for a socialist state”.Referring to the call for the nationalisation of the banks, gold mines and land, in the Charter, Mandela reaffirmed his commitment to the national and international bourgeois that these measures would be capitalist in character:“The breaking up and democratisation of these monopolies will open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous non-European bourgeois class. For the first time in the history of this country the non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own, in their own name and right, mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before.”

The social and economic disaster, so evident now in South Africa, is no less than an indictment of Mandela’s role in preserving capitalist rule and of his program of nurturing a “non-European bourgeoisie.” Stalinist SACP through its own demagogy about revolution and class struggle and its alliance with ANC, made it possible for the ANC to fool the masses of workers and toilers and to draw support for its bourgeois regime.

Starting in the 1960s, the ANC, in alliance with the Stalinist South African Communist Party, employed the rhetoric of revolution and class struggle, but Mandela’s perspective of empowering and enriching an aspiring black bourgeoisie remained at the helm of its program.

Before being sentenced to life by the court in Rivonia Trial in 1964, rejecting allegations of him being a communist, Mandela, told the court during his trial, “The realisation of the Freedom Charter would open up fresh fields for a prosperous African population of all classes, including the middle class. The ANC has never at any period of its history advocated a revolutionary change in the economic structure of the country, nor has it, to the best of my recollection, ever condemned capitalist society.”

When the uprisings in Sharpville, Soweto and the other black townships disrupted the apartheid state, making impossible for it to hold further, the white ruling elite, led by the Anglo-American Corporation, engaged black bourgeois leaders in negotiations for a peaceful end to apartheid and a formal transfer of power to black bourgeois, with the aim of quelling the revolutionary challenge from workers and toilers and preserving their wealth and property from wrath of the revolution.

During mid-1980s, engulfed in a wave of mass strikes and revolts by workers and youth across South Africa’s cities and towns, the government, first imposed martial law in 1985, but failed. Alarmed at the revolutionary threat, in a bid to suppress the insurrectionary struggles being waged by working class and black youth, the government, opened up dialogue with Mandela finding in him the best hope for diffusion of the revolutionary situation. Mandela was courted by the leading corporate executives from jail.

The talks, led to a negotiated settlement between ANC and the government that took off with Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990.

In August 1990 Mandela ordered the cessation of armed struggle, that signified its further willingness to accommodate with imperialism. Young ANC supporters condemned the shameful move as a sell-out and surrender, scores of them, angry at beheading the armed struggle, at a time when the government was unleashing death squads against militants across the country. They confronted Mandela with placards “Mandela, give us arms” and “You are acting like a sheep while the people are dying”.

The conditions negotiated by Mandela were, however, entirely consistent with his long-standing politics. He had always supported private enterprise and a bourgeois parliamentary set-up, with only rider that black bourgeois is not excluded from participating in them.

Implicit in the settlement, was an assurance from ANC that the property, wealth, and commercial interests of both the white elite and international finance capital would be protected. The negotiations, even included a secret commitment by ANC, as Anthony Samson explained,“to reduce the deficit, keep the high interest rates and to keep the economy open for international investments”. In return, access to an IMF loan of $850 million, was promised, if required.

Late 1993, came the capitulation by the ANC to the Constitution dictated by the imperialists, that secured property rights and extraordinary dominance of banks giving the central bank, and the South African Reserve Bank, complete insulation from impending political change, coupled with a pledge to prepay the apartheid debt of $25 billion, which ANC had been demanding to write off for decades, This capitulation loomed heavily on the back of toiling masses of South Africa.

The multi-party elections that followed in 1994, resulted in the ANC taking to power with a clear sweep of 62 percent of the total vote. Mandela continued to head the government for the next five years, until 1999.

Repelling all genuine aspirations of the toiling masses for a change in their living conditions, as the government under Mandela took to power, Mandela declared, “We must rid ourselves of (the culture of entitlement that leads to) the expectation that the government must promptly deliver, whatever it is, that we demand”. On the contrary, Mandela warned the workers, to tighten their belts” and get ready to accept low wages so that investment would flow.

As Mandela took over Presidency of South Africa, exchange controls were relaxed to great extent, permitting the foreign investors to invest and take away the proceeds, more freely than ever. Mandela got so much popular among billionaire investors, that when he left office in 1999, big investors relisted from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to London, New York, and Australia creating a situation of ‘capital flight’ on Johannesburg stock exchange.

Seeking to attract investments, while competing with other low wage countries on African continent and outside, the ANC regime under Mandela, had continued to push the real wages lower and lower since then, sinking them to the lowest during the recent global capitalist crisis. This in turn, has triggered enormous social tensions.

Retreating from the program of ANC, for nationalisation of banks and mines, shamefaced Mandela told his interviewer that “nationalisation is not on the agenda of Reconstruction and Development. Two years later, even this weak reformist ‘Reconstruction and Development’ Program, was substituted with a crude neoliberal “Growth, Employment and Redistribution”program, drawn straight from the World Bank recipe book.

The wealthy citizens of Sandton, a virtually all-white posh suburb of Johannesburg, erected a statue in Mandela’s honour at their local shopping centre.

Toiling masses however are left in lurch, battling for access to basic necessities -water and electricity, decent housing, clinics for better medical care, and better schools, recreational facilities, and even garbage disposal.

Oblivious to the woes of workers and toilers, Mandela remained friendly with billionaires in SA. Even the Guardian,that termed Mandela as great democratic leader, was forced to recognize in its obituary, Mandela’s “attachment to the glamour of the very rich.” The newspaper writes: “Money was dazzling. Once freed, he holidayed at the Irish businessman Sir Tony O’Reilly’s Caribbean island and gave the go-ahead for his takeover of South Africa’s biggest newspaper group, in anticipation of his‘magic money’ providing black empowerment in the media. He allowed the casino king, Sol Kerzner, to host the wedding of his daughter Zinzi. He borrowed rich men’s houses and flew around South Africa in their aircrafts.”

Since coming to power of ANC, a new black bourgeoisie started to emerge quickly, under rampant cronyism, while ANC leaders continued to move into mansions in posh “golf and country estates”. Disparities between white and black have since paved way to more widened inequalities between black rich and poor. George Soros , a Hungarian-American business magnate and investor, proudly claimed before Davos Economic Forum in 2001, “South Africa is in the hands of international capital.”

Much trumpeted and promised wealth redistribution, remained the worst casualty of pro-investor and pro-corporate policies of ANC regime, comparable only with Brazil and Namibia, and the inequality has continued to rise in huge proportions under Mandela. Today, South Africa tops on the list of richest men in the world, as also on the list of poorest in the world. After two decades of ANC rule, South Africa is home to extreme poverty, illiteracy, inequality, diseases and depravity.

As workers revolted against the degraded living conditions, no different from the apartheid state, the government under ANC, flanked on the left by the Stalinist SACP, did not hesitate from organising mass murder of workers at Lonmin platinum mines on August 16 last year. The brutal repression of Marikana strikers that finds its echo in Soweto and Sharpville mayhem committed by the white racist state, had left 34 dead and dozens wounded.

In 1935, Leon Trotsky, in a letter to his followers in South Africa, warned of “the inability of the ANC to achieve the realization of even its own demands because of its superficial, conciliatory policy.”

This warning stands vindicated. The ANC’s trajectory, like that of all the other bourgeois nationalist and national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East- Indian National Congress to ANC and from Sandinistas to the PLO- has upheld the fundamental perspective advanced by Trotsky in his theory of Permanent Revolution.

Trotsky’s perspective propounded that the bourgeoisie in the oppressed countries, tied to imperialism and fearful of the working class, is organically incapable of carrying out the struggle for democracy and an end to imperialist domination. Those tasks can be realized only by the working class, leading the oppressed masses, seizing power into its own hands and going over to a socialist revolution as part of the struggle of the international working class to put an end to capitalism on a global scale.

Notwithstanding all criminal misdeeds of Mandela, for which, the ANC and its Stalinist and trade union allies are deeply hated by the working class, the death of Mandela, coincides with ever mounting social and political tensions in South Africa, having their roots in most genuine aspirations of toiling masses, touching their zenith. Driven by the general crisis of world capitalism, there are growing indications of a resurgence of the class struggle in South Africa. Since Marikana massacre, South African workers stand in direct conflict with the ANC government, the big business, global banks and corporations that it represents.

These spiralling social tensions are bound to result in volcanic eruption of revolt of working and toiling masses in South Africa, sooner than later. Our task is to arm the South African proletariat with a program of socialist revolution and integrate its struggle for liberation from the yoke of capitalism with that of the international proletariat for complete wiping out of capitalism from the face of the earth.

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