Socialist Party/Democratic Socialist Movement: After Nelson Mandela – continue the struggle for freedom and equality

This blog post contains articles from the Socialist Party of England and Wales and the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) in South Africa (linked by the CWI). After the African National Congress (ANC) ordered police to shoot strikers at the Marikana mine, ending in 34 dead, the DSM set up the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), alongside the Marikana strike committee and other workers fighting job cuts, repression and privatisation. Read on for details.

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“If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.” Nelson Mandela, 1994

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Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, editor of The Socialist (newspaper of the Socialist Party of England and Wales)

The worldwide tsunami of responses to Mandela‘s death reflects the almost universal disgust at the system of apartheid and at racism.

It also shows the degree to which the mass movement in South Africa, of which Mandela is the most famous activist, continues to be an inspiration to millions of people.

In 1994 queues at the polling booths in the first election under conditions of full suffrage were the proof that brutal systems can be overthrown.

The singing, dancing crowds at the football stadium for Mandela’s memorial service celebrate that victory.

But their determined booing of current corrupt South African President Jacob Zuma shows that long speeches in praise of Mandela will not cut across the deep-seated unpopularity that besets Zuma and the other ‘dignitaries’ that turned up. Tory axe-man Osborne had to endure similar jeering at the London Paralympics.

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My obituary of Nelson Mandela (edited), still big wealth gap, ANC ordered Marikana massacre, new party (WASP)

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I posted an item on this blog entitled Nelson Mandela obituary, state of ANC today (supporting Marikana massacre) and new Workers and Socialist Party on Monday, but subsequently improved it quite considerably before submitting it to the Weekly Worker newspaper, on which it appeared today entitled “Wealth gap” on the letters page. I include below my obituary as edited firstly by me and secondly by editors of that newspaper.

[I will post the entire letter that I submitted to that paper as a comment, since the Communist Party of Great Britain (PCC) that produces the Weekly Worker does edit my letters (usually quite considerably), not just due to reasons of space but due to their particular political agenda – most noticeably in opposing proportional representation under socialism (although I have won them round to supporting PR under capitalism with several letters over the years on that subject). It is an aside that I included at the end of the letter, but an important aside if a mass revolutionary movement in South Africa is not going to repeat the dreadful mistake of the Bolsheviks in Russia of implementing “the dictatorship of the proletariat” (power only in the hands of the working class). If majority support cannot be achieved for a socialist society then the revolution would not last anyway and it is much better to run society in the interests of “the 99%” rather than disenfranchising the middle class. Amandla!]

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Nelson Mandela was a very inspirational and courageous figure. He suffered so much in jail on Robben Island, enduring decades of hard labour, but refused to be broken by the evil apartheid regime. He did so much to force the regime to introduce democracy in South Africa.

The regime didn’t concede defeat out of the goodness of their hearts – it cannot be denied (whatever the mainstream media will say) that it was due to the actions of ordinary (mainly working class) people in South Africa and their allies around the world.

Obvious factors were the extremely courageous actions of black youths in Sharpeville and Soweto, brutally massacred by the regime, and the effect those massacres had on mobilising international opinion into boycotting South African goods and companies like Barclays Bank, which were propping up apartheid.

Less obvious, except perhaps to people in South Africa itself, was black, white and ‘coloured’ workers uniting in trade unions, with perhaps the possibility of general strikes (via ‘dual power’) leading to socialist revolution, forcing the regime to release Mandela and end apartheid. Their prime motive was to preserve capitalism and their own wealth, and so far that has been successful.

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Nelson Mandela obituary, state of ANC today (ordering Marikana massacre) and new Workers and Socialist Party

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Nelson Mandela was a very inspirational and courageous figure. He suffered so much in jail on Robben Island, enduring decades of hard labour, but refused to be broken by the evil apartheid regime. He did so much to force the regime to introduce democracy in South Africa. The regime didn’t concede defeat out of their goodness of their hearts – it was largely due to black, white and “coloured” workers uniting in trade unions (with the possibility of general strikes leading to socialist revolution) and of course international sanctions that played big roles. Their prime motive was to preserve capitalism and their own wealth, and so far that has been successful.

It should not be forgotten that Margaret Thatcher called Nelson Mandela, when he was languishing in jail, a “terrorist”. One report on British TV said that in an opinion poll within South Africa, 9 out of 10 white people said the same thing about him. The racist mainstream media in that country didn’t want to acknowledge that he was actually a lawyer (perhaps they didn’t want the idea that black people could be intelligent enough to qualify in that field!)

Unfortunately, for many of the poor masses in South Africa, little has changed since apartheid (there are still shanty towns) and disillusionment in the African National Congress (ANC) is rampant – particularly after their support for the massacre of 44 striking Marikana miners last year. The ANC is mired in corruption and big business still runs the country, albeit with some black bosses rather than them all being white as in the apartheid era.

We had a minute’s silence for Nelson Mandela and for others fighting (or had fought) injustice around the world at an anti-fracking protest (in Barton Moss, Irlam, Salford, Greater Manchester) yesterday. Whereas some of our political views may differ, we quite often (at least) recognise when someone with quite different views is an ally in our fight against mutual enemies.

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