Saturday, October 04, 2014

South Africa-Elections 2014: Twenty Years of Neo-Apartheid Misery-Forge a Leninist-Trotskyist Vanguard Party!

***The Spear Of The Nation-Nelson Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom 

DVD Review

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Nandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, 2013   

No question after the black civil rights struggle here in America, headed at various points by Doctor Martin Luther King, subsided with some partial victories around voting and freeing work opportunities the axis of the international black liberation struggle shifted, shifted in American eyes, to the horrible conditions of blacks in South Africa. There under the conscious apartheid policy complete with the hated pass system of the Afrikaner government blacks were held as little more than chattel. And were expected to like it to boot. Something about the white man’s “civilizing mission” although more likely, much more likely his craving for cheap labor to work those money-filled, resource-filled mines that drove the South African economy. The situation called for black resistance, called big time for black resistance, since the white government was not interested in the least in sharing power, any power, except maybe that given to their black front men to control the masses. Enter the African National Congress (ANC), or actually the arrival through fits and starts of lawyer Nelson Mandela into the ANC and you have a leader who the world came to know as the icon of that organization. And this film, Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom based on his 1995 autobiography and which opened late in 2013 as he passed away traces the evolution of the man from a free-lancer lawyer to a serious anti-apartheid revolutionary leader.            

Of course any political liberation movement, the black civil rights movement here in America with its bookends of Doctor King calling for non-violent resistance to the oppressor for the redress of grievance and Malcolm X calling for “by any means necessary or the freedom struggle in the early days in the ANC with it non-violent resistance policy and after Sharpsville with armed resistance, has to deal with how it will conduct the struggle. Nelson Mandela (played in a very strong performance by Idris Elba) as shown graphically in the film as the repression worsened helped move the ANC from one policy to the other as the  circumstances dictated and paid the price. That price being the incarceration along with the central leadership of the ANC on desolate Robbins Island for over twenty-five year.

Now in this country we are no strangers to the plight political prisoners, particularly back in the 1960s and the heyday of the Black Panthers some who are still languishing relative obscurity in American prisons. And that has been the fate of any number of political prisoners over the years in many countries. The different in South Africa was that Nelson Mandela and the struggle for his freedom was made a continual international campaign. And in a sense as the film also shows there was no more tireless freedom fighter in her own right for Nelson’s freedom than his second wife, Winnie (played by Naomie Harris). Obviously the love story, the long term deprived of love one story, is a good cinematic hook to tell the story. Tell the story of a personally-driven struggle to get her man back at first. Then as the years passed and new generations were coming to the struggle with more in-your-face ideas about how to bring down the regime how Winnie moved politically to Nelson’s left on the need to do that (as well as growing personal estrangement). That shift in the struggle as exemplified by the Soweto uprising in the mid-1970s did not get enough attention in the film since Nelson was removed from what was going on. That too is the plight of the political prisoner isolated as new possibilities emerge and constituted a strong reason to get him out of jail-fast.

Since we all know that in the end, after all hell broke loose in the early 1990s, that South Africa shifted from white to black-centered rule and Nelson Mandela became the first black president. What is interesting in the last part of the film before he became president is the personal and organizational struggles he, Winnie, and the leadership of the ANC went through to get the white government under de Klerk to see the writing on the wall. No question Mandela was significantly to the right of Winnie (along with other younger fighters) and her “make the townships ungovernable” policy with his sense that blacks could not win a civil war against a determined army and to offer up what, in effect, was a race-neutral black- led government. He may have been right at that time but the evolution of the struggle in South Africa since then with plenty of tough times for the black population and whites still in effective control of the economy makes me wonder.                    

Workers Vanguard No. 1052

19 September 2014
South Africa-Elections 2014: Twenty Years of Neo-Apartheid Misery-Forge a Leninist-Trotskyist Vanguard Party!
The following article originally appeared in Spartacist South Africa No. 11 (Winter 2014). In June, the bitterly fought mineworkers strike referred to below won a substantial wage increase (see “Victory for South African Platinum Miners,” WV No. 1049, 11 July). The prior month, the bourgeois-nationalist African National Congress (ANC) had won the elections, in no small part due to the political support of the reformist South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
The SACP leaders have long justified their alliance and interpenetration with the ANC as an application of the Menshevik/Stalinist schema of “two-stage revolution”: the “national democratic revolution” now and socialism in the sweet by-and-by. As the article below notes, “The ‘national democratic programme’ of political alliance with bourgeois-nationalist forces has never laid the basis for socialism; it has always subordinated the working class to the class enemy and laid the basis for reaction. This is the lesson to be learned from the long history of bloody defeats for the working class.” The massacre of striking South African platinum miners at Marikana in 2012 is just the latest example of how the actual “second stage” is the bourgeois nationalists’ slaughtering of workers.
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The May general elections brought to mind Karl Marx’s observation that the essence of bourgeois democracy is for the oppressed to decide every few years “which particular representative of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament” (V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution). The ANC tops wasted no time making clear that they would use their victory at the polls to kick the workers and oppressed even harder in the teeth. Jacob Zuma declared the party’s 62 percent majority a “green light” to push ahead with the neo-liberal attacks outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP), while secretary general Gwede Mantashe and other ANC leaders promptly convened a press conference to solemnly vow that they would “quickly restore investor confidence” (Business Day, 12 May).
Just a few days later, police reinforcements rolled into the platinum belt and the army was put on standby, in an effort to squash the mineworkers strike being led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). Despite all the bourgeois hype about “twenty years of freedom,” “the South African miracle,” etc., the platinum strike—where the mineworkers are fighting a literally life-and-death struggle for a living wage of R12,500 [$1,143 per month]—is a reminder of how little has changed. The apartheid system of rigid, legally enforced white minority rule may be gone, but South Africa remains a racist hellhole where the vast majority of blacks remain at the bottom, brutally oppressed and exploited for the benefit of the filthy rich capitalist rulers, who are still mainly white.
One difference is that now the ANC and its Tripartite Alliance partners from the SACP and COSATU bureaucracies have taken over as the enforcers of racist capitalist rule. Their bloodiest crime to date in this role was the August 2012 massacre of 34 black mineworkers in Marikana, who were on strike against the London-listed platinum giant Lonmin. At the time, there was a lot of hypocritical hand-wringing from the bourgeois media, government ministers, preachers and the like. To placate public outrage over the killings and refurbish the image of the bloody bourgeois state, President Jacob Zuma appointed the Farlam Commission of Inquiry to hold public hearings investigating the causes that led to the Marikana massacre. But now the blood has dried, and even the most minimal, lying pretext of state “accountability” is being discarded. A few weeks after the May 2014 elections, the government announced that it was changing the commission’s “terms of reference”…to remove any investigation into its own responsibility!
At the same time, more details have emerged of the direct involvement of all levels of the executive of the bourgeois state in preparing the Marikana massacre, as well as their collusion with the Lonmin bosses. One report gives further details of the role played by former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leader Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a member of the Lonmin board of directors at the time. In e-mails to Lonmin’s chief commercial officer, Albert Jamieson, Ramaphosa reported on 15 August 2012 about the appeals he had made to mining minister Susan Shabangu and police minister Nathi Mthethwa for government intervention against the wildcat strike. One outcome was that a meeting of Zuma’s cabinet was held the same day, where Ramaphosa had urged Shabangu to brief the president and “get [Mthethwa] to act in a more pointed way” (“Deja Vu and Dirty Tricks at Lonmin,” 25 May, Less than 24 hours later, the Lonmin strikers were gunned down in cold blood by Zuma’s and Mthethwa’s cop thugs. Several months later, Ramaphosa was rewarded by the bourgeois ANC when he was elected deputy president of the party at its December 2012 congress in Mangaung; after the 2014 elections, he was also made deputy president of the country.
Such is the role of the executive of the capitalist state, which, as Marx and Engels pointed out over 160 years ago, “is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (Communist Manifesto, 1848). This is never going to be changed through elections or parliament. It will take a thoroughgoing socialist revolution, smashing the repressive machinery of the capitalist state and replacing it with the dictatorship of the proletariat, to get a government that will represent the interests of the working class and the vast majority who are today oppressed—a black-centred workers government.
We Trotskyists of Spartacist/South Africa, section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), oppose running as candidates for executive offices of the capitalist state (president, mayor, etc.) as a matter of principle. Participating in elections to parliament, on the other hand, can serve as a platform for putting forward a revolutionary programme and helping the working class to overcome illusions in bourgeois democracy. However, in the recent elections there was no basis for even the most critical electoral support to any of the parties running, as none of them even remotely represented the interests of the working class. This continues our principled stance of never giving an ounce of political support to the ANC or the Tripartite Alliance, including in the 1994 elections, when the International Communist League declared:
“A vote for the ANC—including its Communist Party members and affiliated trade-union leaders of COSATU—is a vote to perpetuate the racist oppression and superexploitation of the black, coloured (mixed-race) and Indian toilers in a different political form. The workers and all the oppressed must be mobilized independently of the capitalist masters.”
— “South Africa Elections: ANC’s Deal with Apartheid Bosses,” WV No. 598, 15 April 1994
No Choice for Workers, Oppressed
There was not much surprising about the outcome of this year’s elections. While the ANC’s share of the vote continued to decline (as did the overall voter turnout), they still won the kind of majority that bourgeois ruling parties in most countries only dream about. Despite the massive anger at the base of society over the failure to deliver the “better life for all” that was promised in 1994 and the atrocities, scandals, corruption and contempt the Tripartite Alliance tops display for the poor, much of the black majority still feels a strong identification with the “party of liberation,” at least when it comes time to vote. There are also still widespread illusions in bourgeois electoralism, as a result of centuries of white minority rule and black disenfranchisement. And there does not appear to be a viable alternative to the ANC.
The lack of an alternative for the oppressed was starkly revealed by the decision of the shack-dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) to support the neo-liberal, racist Democratic Alliance (DA) in this year’s elections. AbM justified this by arguing that it would somehow serve to protect its members from the ANC and the government, which has viciously repressed them, including killing landless activists during protests. The idea that politically supporting the DA is an answer to this repression is truly perverse and a sign of desperation. For years now, the DA has carried out some of the most vicious, racist repression of the black and coloured poor—squatters, panhandlers, farmworkers, striking municipal workers—as the ruling party in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Despite trying to polish its image and woo petty-bourgeois black voters, it is still obvious to most that the DA stands for white privilege (as does the ANC, in fact; the ANC is simply more effective at disguising this fact with nationalism). The DA was unable to gain more than 6% of the votes from black people, even while increasing its overall total to more than 20%.
The opposition party much more likely to attract the support of the oppressed, including sections of the working class, is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which got a little more than 6% of the national vote. According to one report, the ANC’s vote in Rustenburg municipality, where many platinum miners and their families live, fell from almost 75% in 2009 to 57% in 2014. The EFF was the main beneficiary, getting 20% of the vote (“Is the EFF the Calm Before a Real Leftist Storm?”, Mail & Guardian online, 16 May). There are real illusions in the bourgeois-populist EFF, and particularly its “commander in chief” Julius Malema, among mineworkers. The EFF has tried to present itself as the “friend” of the striking mineworkers, including holding its launch as a party in Marikana and recently making two donations, of R50,000 each, to the AMCU strike fund. The leadership of the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU), to which AMCU is affiliated, has helped promote these illusions, endorsing the EFF along with the Pan Africanist Congress in the elections.
But the EFF’s posture as a “friend” of the workers, like its occasional use of “Marxist-Leninist” verbiage, is totally phony. While seeking to profit from the legitimate anger of black workers through populist demagogy, the EFF is a bourgeois formation both in terms of its programme and social composition. It is fundamentally hostile to the workers movement.
The EFF calls to expropriate the white-owned land and nationalise the mines, banks and other large enterprises—calls that clearly resonate with workers and the poor. But a few months before the elections, Malema and other EFF leaders met with representatives of American, British and South African investors in Alexandra township to specifically reassure them about these demands. As Malema explained after the meeting: “Our elections manifesto came up and we told them that we are not talking about wholesale takeover but 60% of ownership more or less. We are uncompromising on state ownership and participation. The percentages we are prepared to discuss when we reach the appropriate point” (, 4 March). This would simply mean that the bourgeois state becomes a partner in directly exploiting the workers.
The EFF’s perspective is to emulate capitalist regimes like those in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, where they see “state-aided industrialisation,” supported by tariffs and other measures to protect national industry, as key parts of developing a national bourgeoisie with some degree of independence from imperialism. Whether or not there is any chance of replicating such capitalist economic policies in South Africa, it is a fundamentally anti-working-class agenda. To take just one of these “models,” the capitalist regime in South Korea is known for regularly and viciously attacking the trade unions and leftists. This is the domestic counterpart to its counterrevolutionary alliance with U.S. imperialism against the North Korean deformed workers state. As for “nationalisation” and “state-aided industrialisation,” in December 2013 the Seoul regime pulled out all the stops to smash the longest rail strike in the country’s history, which 8,700 workers had launched to stop a move towards privatisation of the state-owned company KORAIL (see “Defend South Korean Rail Union!” WV No. 1037, 10 January).
Counterposed to bourgeois “nationalisation” schemes, we fight for a black-centred workers government that will expropriate the mines, banks and industry without compensation. Seizing the mine shafts, machinery and mountains of finance capital that the mining bosses have heaped up through more than a century of superexploitation of mainly black labour will be a necessary step in liberation from neo-apartheid capitalist oppression. The fact that most of this capital—not to mention the owners of the biggest mining companies—is now in London, New York and other banking centres, underscores the need to link this struggle to the fight for workers power in the imperialist countries. The populist nationalism pushed by the EFF is an obstacle to this revolutionary internationalist perspective.
Grumbles of Discontent from the Bourgeoisie
The ANC and Tripartite Alliance tops have performed invaluable services for the Randlords and their imperialist big brothers by achieving some relative stability for South African capitalism in the 1990s, ramming through the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, and many other things. But although the ANC continues to enjoy the backing of the key sections of the bourgeoisie (and most likely a large majority of the capitalists’ political donations, which are kept secret), the racist rulers still find plenty to complain about.
A pre-election editorial by The Economist is representative of these complaints. While acknowledging all the ANC has done for the white rulers—especially the “miraculously smooth” transition from apartheid to neo-apartheid—this mouthpiece of imperialist finance capital complains that not enough has been done to push through “tricky reforms” (code for attacks on labour, such as making it easier for bosses to hire and fire workers, cracking down harder on strikes, etc.) and that pervasive corruption is undermining the government’s legitimacy and cutting into capitalist profits. Since they know that their ideal ruling party, the DA, is not a realistic alternative until it can make some inroads with black voters, their hope in conclusion is that the ANC “reinvents itself or splits” (“Time to Ditch Mandela’s Party,” The Economist, 3 May).
At bottom, the bourgeois complaints are not simply, or even primarily, about issues of economic policy. More worrying to the capitalist rulers are the rising levels of social unrest, especially some of the highest levels of strike activity seen in decades in mining and other key sectors of the economy. With the world economy still in a downturn, South Africa appears to be entering a recession after negative growth in the first quarter of 2014. Calls for “decisive action” to break the AMCU-led platinum strike (the longest strike in the history of the country) were growing louder by the day, as well as more generally calls to “discipline” the unions.
For 20 years, the Tripartite Alliance nationalist popular front has been the key mechanism for administering neo-apartheid capitalism. As representatives of the Alliance, the reformist leaders of the largest working-class organisations—the SACP and COSATU—act to discipline their working-class base on behalf of the bourgeoisie, and in return the reformist bureaucracy benefitted materially from a cosy relationship with the government and bosses. But increasingly, the governing needs of the bourgeoisie are shifting in favour of outright repression rather than co-optation of the trade unions. Especially since the 2012 wave of wildcat strikes in the mines and the collapse of NUM in the platinum belt, key representatives of the bourgeoisie are doubtful of the reformist tops’ continued ability to rein in worker militancy, and believe the time has come for the state to take a more confrontational approach with the unions.
Some bourgeois commentators see the impetus for such a shift coming from the split that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is threatening to lead from the Tripartite Alliance. For example, Peter Attard Montalto of the Japanese financial group Nomura dismissed what he called the “Sandton consensus”—the view that the ANC would respond to such a split with more “left” populism. Instead, Montalto argues, “There is a higher probability of the rump of the ANC left after a workers’ party emerges moving further to the right, securing capital and ownership in a more traditional free-market sense, liberalising labour laws in recognition that its past job creation efforts were unsuccessful. You could potentially have a more investor-friendly ANC going into 2019” (Mail & Guardian online, 9 May).
Whether the various scenarios churned out by the bourgeois think tanks turn out to be more or less accurate, one thing is clear: the bourgeoisie is getting ready for a turbulent period ahead. It is urgently necessary for the working class to prepare for this, which is primarily a political question that requires drawing the lessons from the past betrayals at the hands of the Tripartite Alliance as well as the history of the international class struggle. Chief among these lessons is the need for the complete political and organisational independence of the working class from all bourgeois forces. The looming possibility of a NUMSA-led split from the Tripartite Alliance sharply poses the question of working class independence versus “new” popular-front betrayals.
The “NUMSA Moment”: Recycling Popular Frontism
In December 2013, a NUMSA special congress decided to withdraw support for the ANC in the elections, and also to call on COSATU to leave the Tripartite Alliance. After the elections, the NUMSA central committee re-affirmed that it would take the lead in establishing a “United Front” as an alternative to the Alliance, and look into establishing a “Movement for Socialism” as some kind of political party to take the place of the SACP. These moves have enraged the ANC tops and their close allies in the COSATU bureaucracy on the one hand, while at the same time raising the hopes of a lot of worker militants at the base of COSATU.
Ending the Alliance with the ANC would certainly be a necessary and important step toward working-class independence. But on its own, simply leaving the Alliance is not enough as it merely raises the question of what will replace it. And while there are certainly hopes among the NUMSA base for a militant workers party, the programme of the leadership is directly counterposed to a class-struggle perspective and committed to perpetuating the same treacherous, class-collaborationist policies of the past under different labels.
The NUMSA tops are very clear that they don’t reject collaboration with bourgeois parties and participation in bourgeois government coalitions as a matter of principle (indeed, while withdrawing support from the ANC in this year’s elections, they stopped short of opposing a vote to this bourgeois party on the basis of class principles). What they are calling a “United Front” is in fact a call for a new popular front—an alliance of working class organisations with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces on the basis of a common programme that is inevitably bourgeois. In NUMSA’s case, the new “United Front” is to be modeled on the United Democratic Front (UDF) of the 1980s and based centrally on the Freedom Charter. The NUMSA bureaucrats have made it clear that they are open to discussions with Malema’s EFF, including assuring that these bourgeois-populist demagogues would be invited to participate in a “Socialism Conference” they are planning.
The Freedom Charter is a bourgeois-populist programme premised on maintaining capitalism and seeking merely to make possible “the development of a prosperous Non-European bourgeois class” (“In Our Lifetime” by Nelson Mandela, 1956). The UDF was the popular front of the 1980s through which the militant, pro-socialist black working-class base of COSATU and the SACP were shackled to bourgeois nationalism and subordinated to the ANC. The outcome of this popular front—which the NUMSA tops hope to re-create—is precisely the neo-apartheid capitalist system we have today, a cruel betrayal of the black masses’ aspirations for freedom.
The NUMSA tops’ class collaboration was also seen in their use of the bourgeois courts against their COSATU rivals to get Zwelinzima Vavi reinstated as COSATU general secretary. This unprincipled maneuvering further encourages direct intervention by the bourgeois state and bourgeois parties, which can only help to further the trade unions’ subordination to the capitalist exploiters. Immediately after Vavi’s re-instatement, this opening was used by the ANC, which sent in a task team headed by Cyril Ramaphosa to force the warring factions to toe the line and call a truce for the elections. As part of this deal, Vavi went out on the campaign trail on May Day to herd the workers as voting cattle for the ANC.
Their maneuvering on behalf of Vavi may very well have backfired for the NUMSA tops. Once he was back in office and hopeful of renewed offers of influence within the ANC, Vavi decided he no longer needed their backing or that of the other eight COSATU affiliates that took his case to court, and announced that he would not support their new court case to force COSATU president S’dumo Dlamini to call a special congress. This was after he had rejected NUMSA’s call that he refrain from campaigning for the ANC. According to some reports, Vavi also spurned appeals from NUMSA to become the leader of the new “workers party” they hope to launch.
Besides assisting the bourgeoisie and its courts to keep the unions under their thumb, all this unprincipled maneuvering only serves to demoralise those sections of the working class that are looking for alternatives to the Alliance, and breed cynicism. What’s needed instead is a principled political fight to cohere a class-struggle opposition to the sellout tops in both factions of the COSATU bureaucracy. A key demand for this struggle is the complete independence of the trade unions from the bourgeois state.
The various groups that make up the pseudo-socialist left are all tailing the NUMSA bureaucracy. With varying degrees of criticism, they all hail the “NUMSA Moment”—the name coined for the NUMSA tops’ efforts to create a “new” popular front on the basis of the Freedom Charter and launch a reformist workers party to replace the SACP. This is not surprising, since most of these pseudo-socialist groups had previously supported the ANC and Tripartite Alliance as long as they were still relatively popular. After turning away from open support for the Alliance in recent years, they turned to forming various “movements” on the basis of lowest-common-denominator politics. What all of these lash-ups inevitably had in common was the aim to pressurise the bourgeois Tripartite Alliance government.
A good example is the Democratic Socialist Movement, section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, which last year launched the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) as a supposed step toward a “mass” (reformist) workers party—and above all to contest the 2014 elections. In their year-long election campaign, WASP made a series of desperate attempts to chase after “the masses” through opportunist, unprincipled maneuvers. First they approached Malema’s EFF for an election bloc; then they pleaded pathetically for the NUMSA tops to “lead us,” including supporting their use of the bourgeois courts; they tried to curry favour with dissident AMCU shop stewards by holding a strikebreaking press conference to counsel against the strike on the eve of the strike; finally, they announced Moses Mayekiso—a former NUMSA leader, who more recently tried (apparently unsuccessfully) to make a career as a bourgeois politician with the right-wing ANC split COPE—as their presidential candidate. In the end, all these opportunist crimes didn’t pay too well: WASP managed only about 8,300 votes, or 0.05% of the total, in the national elections.
Programme for Black Proletarian Power
With key sections of the working class questioning their continued political loyalty to the ANC and the Tripartite Alliance, and the ongoing militant class struggles in the mines, there are important openings for the forging of a revolutionary vanguard party. But this outcome is not guaranteed, and trade-union militancy alone will not be enough. To prevent that militancy from being channeled into another dead end of class collaboration or bourgeois populism, the decisive question is programme. The working class needs a programme that reflects its independent class interests and leading, revolutionary role. Not just a programme to struggle for better wages and working conditions from the capitalists, but a programme to seize power from the capitalists and run the economy in the interests of the majority.
The NUMSA tops’ programme is clear: they hope for a return to the days of the Congress Alliance before the end of apartheid, to the ANC of Mandela and Tambo and the SACP of Chris Hani and Joe Slovo. These are some of the key architects of the neo-apartheid order, including Slovo’s “sunset clauses” for continuing white privileges [after 1994]. At the core of NUMSA’s “new” proposals today is a desire to return to the supposedly “revolutionary” programme of Stalinist “two-stage revolution,” which in South Africa has always gone by the name “national democratic revolution.” This was spelled out explicitly in a recent statement by NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim: “Our call for a United Front of the working class and a Movement for Socialism is precisely a defence of the national democratic programme, the Freedom Charter, which remains the only programme that is capable of laying the basis for socialist transformation of South African society” (, 20 May).
The “national democratic programme” of political alliance with bourgeois-nationalist forces has never laid the basis for socialism; it has always subordinated the working class to the class enemy and laid the basis for reaction. This is the lesson to be learned from the long history of bloody defeats for the working class. From the slaughter of tens of thousands of communists and workers in Shanghai in 1927 at the hands of former “ally” Chiang Kai-shek, to the Marikana massacre in 2012—the “second stage” is always the bourgeois nationalists turning on and slaughtering workers and communists once they have used them to climb to power.
South Africa today is living proof that national liberation and the other gains that were promised to the masses by the “national democratic revolution” cannot be achieved within a capitalist framework. They can only be achieved through the dictatorship of the proletariat, which will inescapably place on the order of the day not only democratic but also socialist tasks, and will at the same time provide a mighty impulse to the international socialist revolution. To prevail against imperialist hostility and open the way for an all-sided economic and social development in Southern Africa and the rest of the continent, requires the extension of the revolution to the imperialist centres and establishment of an international, planned socialist economy. This is the essence of Leon Trotsky’s perspective of permanent revolution, which was powerfully confirmed by the 1917 Russian October Revolution.
The SACP leaders are rightly reviled by many militant workers today—including members of the SACP itself—for their craven support to the ANC tops and Zuma in particular. But it is not enough to simply reject the SACP tops’ current policies. It is crucial for advanced workers to also learn to consciously reject the SACP’s reformist programme (including what is today peddled by Irvin Jim and the NUMSA bureaucracy) in favour of the genuine communism practiced by the Bolshevik Party under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky—the revolutionary internationalist programme that was trampled underfoot by the Stalinists and replaced by its opposite. Conditions in South Africa today are crying out for the formation of a party of the Bolshevik type—an uncompromising party based on the independence of the working class from the bourgeoisie, fighting for proletarian leadership of the toiling masses, and acting as a revolutionary tribune of the people to oppose every manifestation of capitalist oppression.
This is the kind of party that Spartacist/South Africa is trying to build. We have consistently opposed, on principle, any political support to the ANC or any other bourgeois parties and from the beginning denounced the post-1994 neo-apartheid system, administered by the Tripartite Alliance government, as a betrayal of the struggle for black freedom. Today, it is necessary to assimilate the lessons of these bitter betrayals as a necessary part of the work of building the revolutionary vanguard party needed to get rid of this racist system of capitalist exploitation. Toward that end, we raise the following:
1. Break with the bourgeois Tripartite Alliance! For political independence of the proletariat from all bourgeois parties—ANC, EFF, PAC, AZAPO, DA, Agang, etc.
2. No reliance on the state that massacred the Marikana strikers. Cops and security guards out of the unions! The capitalist courts have no place in disputes of the workers movement. Labour must clean its own house!
3. Down with labour brokers! The unions must fight for full, permanent jobs for all contract and temporary workers and for equal pay for equal work. Organise the unorganised!
4. For integrated, multiethnic defence guards based on the trade unions to fight against anti-immigrant attacks and defend working-class communities against vigilantism. Labour must fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and oppose deportations.
5. Down with the Traditional Courts Bill and all special powers and privileges of the chieftancy! These are particularly oppressive to black women, who are triply oppressed under neo-apartheid. For access to free, safe abortion and birth control on demand, as part of free, high-quality health care for all. Oppose oppressive, backward traditional practices like polygamy, lobola [bride price] and ukuthwala [marriage by capture].
6. For a massive public works programme, at union wages and conditions, to maintain and expand roads, build hospitals, schools, housing, etc. For free, quality health care for all! For free education, open admissions, and a state-paid living stipend through to the university level! Smash “e-tolls” [road tolls]—for free, safe, mass public transport!
7. For a 30-hour workweek with no loss in pay to distribute the available jobs among all who need work and combat unemployment at the expense of the capitalists. For massive wage increases to close the apartheid wage gap, and a sliding scale of wages to keep pace with the skyrocketing costs of living. For a class-struggle leadership in the unions!
8. New October Revolutions—not the Freedom Charter—are the only way forward to national liberation of the black majority. For a black-centred workers government, part of a socialist federation of Southern Africa, that fights for international workers rule and an international planned socialist economy. Expropriate the bourgeoisie—from Jo’burg, to London, to Wall Street!
9. Forge a Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard party as a section of a reforged Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution.
Desperately Seeking Revolutionary Intellectuals-Then, And Now

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Several years ago, I guess about three years now, in the aftermath of the demise of the Occupy movement with the shutting down of its campsites across the country (and the world) I wrote a short piece centered on the need for revolutionary intellectuals to take their rightful place on the left, on the people’s side, and to stop sitting on the academic sidelines (or wherever they were hiding out). One of the reasons for that piece was that in the aftermath of the demise of the Occupy movement a certain stock-taking was in order. A stock-taking at first centered on those young radical and revolutionaries that I ran into in the various campsites and on the flash mob marches who were disoriented and discouraged when their utopian dreams went up in smoke without a murmur of regret from the masses. Now a few years later it is apparent that they have, mostly, moved back to the traditional political ways of operating or have not quite finished licking their wounds.

Although I initially addressed my remarks to the activists still busy I also had in mind those intellectuals who had a radical streak but who then hovered on the sidelines and were not sure what to make of the whole experiment although some things seemed very positive like the initial camp comradery. In short, those who would come by on Sunday and take a lot of photographs and write a couple of lines but held back. Now in 2014 it is clear as day that the old economic order (capitalism if you were not quite sure what to name it) that we were fitfully protesting against (especially the banks who led the way downhill) has survived another threat to its dominance. The old political order, the way of doing political business now clearly being defended by one Barack Obama with might and main is still intact. The needs of working people although now widely discussed (the increasing gap between the rich, really the very rich, and the poor, endlessly lamented and then forgotten, the student debt death trap, and the lingering sense that most of us will never get very far ahead in this wicked old world especially compared to previous generations) have not been ameliorated. All of this calls for intellectuals with any activist spark to come forth and help analyze and plan how the masses are to survive, how a new social order can be brought forth. Nobody said, or says, that it will be easy but this is the plea. I have reposted the original piece with some editing to bring it up to date.          


No, this is not a Personals section ad, although it qualifies as a Help Wanted ad in a sense. On a number of occasions over past several years, in reviewing books especially those by James P. Cannon, a founding member of the American Communist Party and the founder of the Socialist Workers Party in America, I have mentioned that building off of the work of the classical Marxists, including that of Marx and Engels themselves, and later that of Lenin and Trotsky the critical problem before the international working class in the early part of the 20th century was the question of creating a revolutionary leadership to lead imminent uprisings. Armed with Lenin’s work on the theory of the imperialist nature of the epoch and the party question and Trotsky’s on the questions of permanent revolution and revolutionary timing the tasks for revolutionaries were more than adequately defined. A century later with some tweaking, unfortunately, those same theories and the same need for organization are still on the agenda although, as Trotsky once said, the conditions are overripe for the overthrow of capitalism as it has long ago outlived its progressive character in leading humankind forward.   

The conclusion that I originally drew from that observation was that the revolutionary socialist movement was not as desperately in need of theoreticians and intellectuals as previously (although having them, and plenty of them, especially those who can write, is always a good thing). It needed leaders steeped in those theories and with a capacity to lead revolutions. We needed a few good day-to-day practical leaders, guys like Cannon, like Debs from the old Socialist Party, like Ruthenberg from the early Communist Party, to lead the fight for state power.

In that regard I have always held up, for the early part of the 20th century, the name Karl Liebknecht the martyred German Communist co-leader (along with Rosa Luxemburg) of the aborted Spartacist uprising of 1919 as such an example. He led the anti-war movement in Germany by refusing to vote for the Kaiser’s war budgets, found himself in jail as a result, but also had tremendous authority among the left-wing German workers when that mattered. In contrast the subsequent leadership of the German Communists in the 1920’s Paul Levi, Henrich Brandler and Ernest Thaelmann did not meet those qualifications. For later periods I have, as mentioned previously, held up the name James P. Cannon, founder of the American Socialist Workers Party (to name only the organization that he was most closely associated with), as a model. Not so Communist Party leaders like William Z. Foster and Earl Browder (to speak nothing of Gus Hall from our generation) or Max Shachtman in his later years after he broke with Cannon and the SWP. That basically carries us to somewhere around the middle of the 20th century. Since I have spent a fair amount of time lately going back to try to draw the lessons of our movement I have also had occasion to think, or rather to rethink my original argument on the need for revolutionary intellectuals. I find that position stands in need of some amendment now.

Let’s be clear here about our needs. The traditional Marxist idea that in order to break the logjam impeding humankind’s development the international working class must rule is still on the historic agenda. The Leninist notions that, since the early part of the 20th century, we have been in the imperialist era and that a ‘hard’ cadre revolutionary party is necessary to lead the struggle to take state power are also in play. Moreover, the Trotskyist understanding that in countries of belated development the working class is the only agency objectively capable of leading those societies to the tasks traditionally associated with the bourgeois revolution continues to hold true. That said, rather than some tweaking, we are seriously in need of revolutionary intellectuals who can bring these understandings into the 21st century.

It is almost a political truism that each generation will find its own ways to cope with the political tasks that confront it. The international working class movement is no exception in that regard. Moreover, although the general outlines of Marxist theory mentioned above hold true such tasks as the updating of the theory of imperialism to take into account the qualitative leap in its globalization is necessary (as is, as an adjunct to that, the significance of the gigantic increases in the size of the ‘third world’ proletariat). Also in need of freshening up is work on the contours of revolutionary political organization in the age of high speed communications, the increased weight that non-working class specific questions play in world politics (the national question which if anything has had a dramatic uptick since the demise of the Soviet Union), religion (the almost universal trend for the extremes of religious expression to rear their ugly heads which needs to be combated), special racial and gender oppressions, and various other tasks that earlier generations had taken for granted or had not needed to consider. All this moreover has to be done in a political environment that sees Marxism, communism, even garden variety reform socialism as failed experiments. To address all the foregoing issues is where my call for a new crop of revolutionary intellectuals comes from.

Since the mid- 20th century we have had no lack of practical revolutionary leaders of one sort or another - one thinks of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and even Mao in his less rabid moments. We have witnessed any number of national liberation struggles, a few attempts at political revolution against Stalinism, a few military victories against imperialism, notably the Vietnamese struggle. But mainly this has been an epoch of defeats for the international working class. Moreover, we have not even come close to developing theoretical leaders of the statue of Lenin or Trotsky.

As a case in point, recently I made some commentary about the theory of student power in the 1960’s and its eventual refutation by the May 1968 General Strike lead by the working class in France. One of the leading lights for the idea that students were the “new” working class or a “new” vanguard was one Ernest Mandel. Mandel held himself out to be an orthodox Marxist (and Trotskyist, to boot) but that did not stop him from, periodically, perhaps daily, changing the focus of his work away from the idea of the centrality of the working class in social struggle an idea that goes back to the days of Marx himself.

And Mandel, a brilliant well-spoken erudite scholar probably was not the worst of the lot. The problem is that he was the problem with his impressionistic theories based on, frankly, opportunistic impulses. Another example, from that same period, was the idea of Professor Regis Debray (in the service of Fidel at the time ) that guerrilla foci out in the hills were the way forward ( a codification of the experience of the Cuban Revolution for which many subjective revolutionary paid dearly with their lives). Or the anti-Marxist Maoist notion that the countryside would defeat the cities that flamed the imagination of many Western radicals in the late 1960s. I could go on with more examples but they only lead to one conclusion- we are, among other things, in a theoretical trough. The late Mandel’s students from the 1960s have long gone on to academia and the professions (and not an inconsiderable few in governmental harness-how the righteous have fallen). Debray’s guerilla foci have long ago buried their dead and gone back to the cities. The “cities” of the world now including to a great extent China had broken the third world countryside. This, my friends, is why today I have my Help Wanted sign out. Any takers?

As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues... Some Remembrances-The First Small Anti-War Cries- The Zimmerwald Manifesto      

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

The events leading up to World War I from the massive military armament of almost all the capitalist and imperialist parties in Europe and elsewhere in order to stake their claims to their unimpeded share of the world’s resources to the supposedly eternal pledges not honored by most of the Social-Democrats and other militant leftist formations representing the historic interest of the international working-class to stop those parties in their tracks at the approach of war were decisive for 20th century history. Also decisive although shrouded in obscurity early in the war in exile was the soon to be towering figure of one Vladimir Lenin (a necessary nom de guerre in hell broth days of the Czar’s Okhrana ready to send one and all to the Siberian frosts and that moniker business not a bad idea in today’s NSA-driven frenzy to know all, to peep at all), leader of the small Russian Bolshevik Party ( a Social-Democratic Party in name anyway adhering to the Second International although not for long), architect of the theory of the “vanguard party” building off of many revolutionary experience in Russia and Europe in the 19th century), and author of an important, important to the future communist world perspective, study on the tendencies of world imperialism, the ending of the age of progressive capitalism, and the hard fact that it was a drag on the possibilities of human progress and needed to be replaced by the establishment of the socialist order. But that is the wave of the future as the sinkhole trenches of Europe are already a death trap for the flower of the European youth.   

The ability to inflict industrial-sized slaughter and mayhem on a massive scale first portended toward the end of the American Civil War once the Northern industrial might tipped the scales their way almost could not be avoided in the early 20th century once the armaments race got serious, and the technology seemed to grow exponentially with each new turn in the war machine. The land war, the war carried out by the “grunts,” by the “cannon fodder” of many nations was only the tip of the iceberg and probably except for the increased cannon-power and rapidity of the machine-guns would be carried out by the norms of the last war. However the race for naval supremacy, or the race to take a big kink out of British supremacy, went on unimpeded as Germany tried to break-out into the Atlantic world and even Japan, Jesus, Japan tried to gain a big hold in the Asia seas.

The deeply disturbing submarine warfare wreaking havoc on commerce on the seas, the use of armed aircraft and other such technological innovations of war only added to the frenzy. We can hundred years ahead, look back and see where talk of “stabs in the back” by the losers and ultimately an armistice rather than decisive victory on the blood-drenched fields of Europe would lead to more blood-letting but it was not clear, or nobody was talking about it much, or, better, doing much about calling a halt before they began among all those “civilized” nations who went into the abyss in July of 1914. Sadly the list of those who would not do anything, anything concrete, besides paper manifestos issued at international conferences, included the great bulk of the official European labor movement which in theory was committed to stopping the madness.

A few voices, voices like Karl Liebknecht (who against the party majority bloc voting scheme finally voted against the Kaiser’s war budget, went to the streets to get rousing anti-war speeches listened to in the workers’ districts, lost his parliamentary immunity and wound up honorably in the Kaiser’s  prisons) and Rosa Luxemburg ( the rose of the revolution also honorably prison bound) in Germany, Lenin and Trotsky in Russia (both exiled at the outbreak of war and just in time), some anti-war anarchists like Monette in France and here in America Big Bill Haywood (who eventually would controversially flee to Russia to avoid jail for his opposition to American entry into war) and the stalwart Eugene V. Debs (who also went to jail, “club fed” and ran for president in 1920 out of his jail cell),  were raised and one hundred years later those voices have a place of honor in this space.

Those voices, many of them in exile, or in the deportations centers, were being clamped down as well as the various imperialist governments began closing their doors to political refugees when they were committed to clapping down on their own anti-war citizens. As we have seen in our own times, most recently in America in the period before the “shock and awe” of the decimation of Iraq in 2002 and early 2003 the government, most governments, are able to build a war frenzy out of whole cloth. At those times, and in my lifetime the period after 9/11 when we tried in vain to stop the Afghan war in its tracks is illustrative, to be a vocal anti-warrior is a dicey business. A time to keep your head down a little, to speak softly and wait for the fever to subside and to be ready to begin the anti-war fight another day. So imagine in 1914 when every nationality in Europe felt its prerogatives threatened how the fevered masses, including the beguiled working-classes bred on peace talk without substance, would not listen to the calls against the slaughter. Yes, one hundred years later is not too long or too late to honor those ardent anti-war voices as the mass mobilizations began in the countdown to war, began four years of bloody trenches and death.                   

Over the next period as we continue the long night of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and beyond I will under this headline post various documents, manifestos and cultural expressions from that time in order to give a sense of what the lead up to that war looked like, the struggle against its outbreak before, the forlorn struggle during and the massive struggles after it in order to create a newer world out of the shambles of the battlefields.     

International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald


Source: The Bolsheviks and War, by Sam Marcy ;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

Proletarians of Europe!
The war has lasted more than a year. Millions of corpses cover the battlefields. Millions of human beings have been crippled for the rest of their lives. Europe is like a gigantic human slaughterhouse. All civilization, created by the labor of many generations, is doomed to destruction. The most savage barbarism is today celebrating its triumph over all that hitherto constituted the pride of humanity.
Irrespective of the truth as to the direct responsibility for the outbreak of the war, one thing is certain. The war which has produced this chaos is the outcome of imperialism, of the attempt on the part of the capitalist classes of each nation, to foster their greed for profit by the exploitation of human labor and of the natural treasures of the entire globe.
Economically backward or politically weak nations are thereby subjugated by the Great Powers who, in this war, are seeking to remake the world map with blood and iron in accord with their exploiting interests. Thus entire nations and countries, like Belgium, Poland, the Balkan states, and Armenia are threatened with the fate of being torn asunder, annexed as a whole or in part as booty in the game of compensations.
In the course of the war, its driving forces are revealed in all their vileness. Shred after shred falls the veil with which the meaning of this world catastrophe was hidden from the consciousness of the peoples. The capitalists of all countries who are coining the red gold of war-profits out of the blood shed by the people, assert that the war is for defense of the fatherland, for democracy, and the liberation of oppressed nations! They lie. In actual reality, they are burying the freedom of their own people together with the independence of the other nations in the places of devastation.
New fetters, new chains, new burdens are arising, and it is the proletariat of all countries, of the victorious as well as of the conquered countries, that will have to bear them. Improvement in welfare was proclaimed at the outbreak of the war – want and privation, unemployment and high prices, undernourishment and epidemics are the actual results. The burdens of war will consume the best energies of the peoples for decades, endanger the achievements of social reform, and hinder every step forward. Cultural devastation, economic decline, political reaction these are the blessings of this horrible conflict of nations. Thus the war reveals the naked figure of modern capitalism which has become irreconcilable, not only with the interests of the laboring masses, not only with the requirements of historical development, but also with the elementary conditions of human intercourse.
The ruling powers of capitalist society who held the fate of the nations in their hands, the monarchic as well as the republican governments, the secret diplomacy, the mighty business organizations, the bourgeois parties, the capitalist press, the Church – all these bear the full weight of responsibility for this war which arose out of the social order fostering them and protected by them, and which is being waged for their interests.
Exploited, disfranchised, scorned, they called you brothers and comrades at the outbreak of the war when you were to be led to the slaughter, to death. And now that militarism has crippled you, mutilated you, degraded and annihilated you, the rulers demand that you surrender your interests, your aims, your ideals – in a word, servile subordination to civil peace. They rob you of the possibility of expressing your views, your feelings, your pains; they prohibit you from raising your demands and defending them. The press gagged, political rights and liberties trod upon – this is the way the military dictatorship rules today with an iron hand.
This situation which threatens the entire future of Europe and of humanity cannot and must not be confronted by us any longer without action. The Socialist proletariat has waged a struggle against militarism for decades. With growing concern, its representatives at their national and international congresses occupied themselves with the ever more menacing danger of war growing out of imperialism. At Stuttgart, at Copenhagen, at Basel, the international Socialist congresses have indicated the course which the proletariat must follow.
Since the beginning of the war, Socialist parties and labor organizations of various countries that helped to determine this course have disregarded the obligations following from this. Their representatives have called upon the working class to give up the class struggle, the only possible and effective method of proletarian emancipation. They have granted credits to the ruling classes for waging the war; they have placed themselves at the disposal of the governments for the most diverse services; through their press and their messengers, they have tried to win the neutrals for the government policies of their countries; they have delivered up to their governments Socialist Ministers as hostages for the preservation of civil peace, and thereby they have assumed the responsibility before the working class, before its present and its future, for this war, for its aims and its methods. And just as the individual parties, so the highest of the appointed representative bodies of the Socialists of all countries, the International Socialist Bureau, has failed them.
These facts are equally responsible for the fact that the international working class which did not succumb to the national panic of the first war period, or which freed itself from it, has still, in the second year of the slaughter of peoples, found no ways and means of taking up an energetic struggle for peace simultaneously in all countries.
In this unbearable situation, we, the representatives of the Socialist parties, trade unions and their minorities, we Germans, French, Italians, Russians, Poles, Letts, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch, and Swiss, we who stand, not on the ground of national solidarity with the exploiting class, but on the ground of the international solidarity of the proletariat and of the class struggle, have assembled to retie the torn threads of international relations and to call upon the working class to recover itself and to fight for peace.
This struggle is the struggle for freedom, for the reconciliation of peoples, for Socialism. It is necessary to take up this struggle for peace, for a peace without annexations or war indemnities. Such a peace, however, is only possible if every thought of violating the rights and liberties of nations is condemned. Neither the occupation of entire countries nor of separate parts of countries must lead to their violent annexation. No annexation, whether open or concealed, and no forcible economic attachment made still more unbearable by political disfranchisement. The right of self-determination of nations must be the indestructible principle in the system of national relationships of peoples.
Since the outbreak of the war, you have placed your energy, your courage, your endurance at the service of the ruling classes. Now you must stand up for your own cause, for the sacred aims of Socialism, for the emancipation of the oppressed nations as well as of the enslaved classes, by means of the irreconcilable proletarian class struggle.
It is the task and the duty of the Socialists of the belligerent countries to take up this struggle with full force; it is the task and the duty of the Socialists of the neutral states to support their brothers in this struggle against bloody barbarism with every effective means. Never in world history was there a more urgent, a more sublime task, the fulfillment of which should be our common labor. No sacrifice is too great, no burden too heavy in order to achieve this goal: peace among the peoples.
Working men and working women! Mothers and fathers! Widows and orphans! Wounded and crippled! We call to all of you who are suffering from the war and because of the war: Beyond all borders, beyond the reeking battlefields, beyond the devastated cities and villages –
Proletarians of all countries, unite!
Zimmerwald, September 1915.
In the name of the International Socialist Conference:
For the German delegation: Georg Ledebour, Adolf Hoffmann.
For the French delegation: A. Bourderon, A. Merrheim.
For the Italian delegation: G.E. Modigliani, Constantino Lazzari.
For the Russian delegation: N. Lenin, Paul Axelrod, M. Bobrov.
For the Polish delegation: St. Lapinski, A. Warski, Cz. Hanecki.
For the Inter-Balkan Socialist Federation: In the name of the Rumanian delegation: C. Rakovsky; In the name of the Bulgarian delegation: Wassil Kolarov.
For the Swedish and Norwegian delegation: Z. Hoglund, Ture Nerman.
For the Dutch delegation: H. Roland-Holst.
For the Swiss delegation: Robert Grimm, Charles Naine.
International Socialist Commission at Berne,
Bulletin No. 1, p. 2,
September 21, 1915.
The Latest From The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) Website- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops, Mercenaries, Contractors, Etc. From Afghanistan!  Hands Off Syria! No New War In Iraq- Stop The Bombings-Stop The Arms Shipments To The Kurds And Shia-Stay Out Of The Civil War! No Intervention In Ukraine! Defend The Palestinians! No U.S. Aid To Israel! No One Penny, Not One Person For Obama’s War Machine!

Click below for link to the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) website for more information about various anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist actions around the country.

Markin comment:

A while back, maybe last year as things seemed to be winding down in the Middle East, or at least the American presence was scheduled to decrease in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and before Ukraine, Syria, Gaza and a number of other flash points erupted I mentioned that every once in a while it is necessary, if for no other reason than to proclaim from the public square that we are alive, and fighting, to show “the colors,” our anti-war colors. I also mentioned at the time that while endless marches are not going to end any war the imperialist decide to provoke the street opposition to the war in what appeared then to be the fading American presence in Afghanistan or whatever else the Obama/Kerry cabal has lined up for the military to do in the Middle East, Ukraine or the China seas as well as protests against other imperialist adventures had been under the radar of late.

Lately there has been a small uptick in street protest over the Zionist massacre in Gaza (a situation now in “cease-fire” mode but who knows how long that will last) and the threat of yet a third American war in Iraq with the increasing bombing campaign and escalating troop levels. Although not nearly enough. As I mentioned at that earlier time it is time, way beyond time, for anti-warriors, even his liberal backers, to get back where we belong on the streets in the struggle against Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama’s seemingly endless wars. And his surreptitious “Drone strategy” to "sanitize" war when he is not very publicly busy revving up the bombers and fighter jets in Iraq, Syria and wherever else he feels needs the soft touch of American “shock and awe, part two.”

The UNAC for a while now, particularly since the collapse of the mass peace movement that hit the streets for a few minutes before the second Iraq war in 2003, appears to be the umbrella clearing house these days for many anti-war, anti-Drone, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist actions. Not all the demands of this coalition are ones that I would raise but the key ones of late are enough to take to the streets. More than enough to whet the appetite of even the most jaded anti-warrior.

Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops, Mercenaries, Contractors, Etc. From Afghanistan! Hands Off Syria! No New War In Iraq- Stop The Bombings-Stop The Arms Shipments To The Kurds And Shia-Stay Out Of The Civil War! No Intervention In Ukraine! Defend The Palestinians! No U.S. Aid To Israel! Not One Penny, Not One Person For Obama’s War Machine! | 781-285-8622 | BostonUNAC(S)

As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Poet’s Corner  


Thou warden of the western gate, above Manhattan Bay,
The fogs of doubt that hid thy face are driven clean away:
Thine eyes at last look far and clear, thou liftest high thy hand
To spread the light of liberty world-wide for every land.

No more thou dreamest of a peace reserved alone for thee,
While friends are fighting for thy cause beyond the guardian sea:
The battle that they wage is thine; thou fallest if they fall;
The swollen flood of Prussian pride will sweep unchecked o'er all.

O cruel is the conquer-lust in Hohenzollern brains:
The paths they plot to gain their goal are dark with shameful stains:
No faith they keep, no law revere, no god but naked Might;--
They are the foemen of mankind. Up, Liberty, and smite!

Britain, and France, and Italy, and Russia newly born,
Have waited for thee in the night. Oh, come as comes the morn.
Serene and strong and full of faith, America, arise,
With steady hope and mighty help to join thy brave Allies.

O dearest country of my heart, home of the high desire,
Make clean thy soul for sacrifice on Freedom's altar-fire:
For thou must suffer, thou must fight, until the warlords cease,
And all the peoples lift their heads in liberty and peace.

_Henry van Dyke_

_April 10, 1917_

The Latest From The Rag Blog-A Voice Of The Old New Left   

Click below to link to The Rag Blog

Peter Paul Markin comment:

When we were young, meaning those of us who were militant leftist baby-boomers from the days that I now call the “Generation Of ‘68,” we would chuckle/gasp/shriek in horror when some Old Leftists tried to tell us a few of the ABCs of radical politics.(1968 being a watershed year for lots of things from Tet in Vietnam bringing home the reality of the lost war to the American bourgeois political upheavals that led to Chicago hell in the summer and the May events in Paris which showed the limits that a student-based vision of the "newer world" we sought.)

Those scorned old leftists, mainly old Stalinist Communist Party hangers-on who survived the 1950s red scare or moribund Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party members who survived the red scare and the Stalinists had come of political age in the 1930s and 1940s had nothing to tell us. Yes, we young stalwart in-your-face- rebels were going to re-invent the world we had not made and we needed no old fogies to put a damper on our efforts. See we were going to re-invent that world without the hurts and sorrows accumulated from millennia of previous struggles to push the rock up the hill of human progress.

Well, we fell significantly short of that aim, had that Promethean rock come speeding down over our heads the minute the American government felt the least bit threatened. (Chicago 1968, Kent State 1970 and for me personally May Day 1971 when we without anywhere near adequate forces or much of a strategy were going to shut down the government if it did not shut down the war stand as signposts to those failures.) Today I am still not sure whether in retrospect those scorned Old Leftists of old had anything going but all I know is we are now cast in somewhat the same light. We are now the Old New Leftists.

Problem is that unlike our 1960s generation, warts and all, there is no sizable younger crowd of young stalwart in-your-face-rebels to thumb their noses up at us. And there should be. That has not stopped many old radicals, many who have not succumbed to old age and hubris, from trying to be heard. And the place they have congregated, for better or worse, at least from what I can see is at this site.          

So I find this The Rag Blog website very useful to monitor for the latest in what is happening with past tense radical activists and activities. Anybody, with some kind of name, and who is still around from the 1960s has found a home here. The remembrances and recollections are helpful for today’s activists. Strangely the politics are almost non-existent, as least any that  would help today, except to kind of retroactively “bless” those old-time New Left politics that did nothing (well, almost nothing) but get us on the losing end of the class (and cultural) wars of the  last forty plus years. Still this is a must read blog for today’s young left-wing militants.

A Markin disclaimer:
I place some material in this space which I believe may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. One of the worst aspects of the old New Left back in the 1970s as many turned to Marxism after about fifty other theories did not work out (mainly centered on some student-based movements that were somehow to bring down the beast without a struggle for state power) was replicating the worst of the old Old Left and freezing out political debate with other opponents on the Left to try to clarify the pressing issues of the day. That freezing out , more times than I care to mention including my own behavior a few times, included physical exclusion and intimidation. I have since come to believe that the fight around programs and politics is what makes us different, and more interesting. The mix of ideas, personalities and programs, will sort themselves out in the furnace of the revolution as they have done in the past. 
Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these various blogs and other networking media. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read on.