We live in a pre-revolutionary moment. A rupture may occur any moment from now, triggered by the flimsiest of triggers. The right wing and political conservatives have moved first – they are fighting for the supremacy of the streets. They are thrown into a vortex of events bigger than themselves but they are only hoping to settle their narrow differences. There is no intention to resolve the national and historical questions.
It’s the duty of the revolutionary movement to clarify great questions facing our people in a moment of great confusion during these times of nascent revolutionary development. Our country is rapidly developing into a revolutionary point, we see this from the restlessness of the youth, the unemployed, the workers and students amongst others. People want revolution, but most of the existing political parties want reform. These parties are all united in their loyalty to the capitalist constitutional dispensation which ensures white racism continues. Between the desire for revolution and the refomists solutions offered, a massive confusion has been generated. Here Black First Land First (BLF) draws from the lessons of the Russian revolutionary Lenin to help clarify what is going on and what position to take. Key to this task is to explain the working of “revisions and opportunism” as brakes on the revolutionary forward march.
The treacherous role of the pseudo-left in SA calls for brutal exposure. While casting itself as left and Marxist, Leninist, Fanonist for that matter the EFF has allied with right-wing forces like the DA. This is opportunism as Lenin says such revisionism is based on sacrificing, the “primary interests for the real or assumed advantages of the moment”. It must be asked what long term interest are there for blacks and workers in any alliance with parties of capitalism and white supremacy such as the DA? We have seen already how EFF has shown traits of revisionism when it opposed a revolutionary struggle based on the logic that all white owned land in SA is stolen land and must be returned to the black majority without payment of compensation to the land thieves as a basis for the resolution of the land question and by extension the resolution of all other questions in theories of building society along black centered socialist lines.
The pseudo left employs mass mobilization as a spectacle so as to sell the desperation of the people to the highest bidder and thus channel the power of the people on the streets for settlement within the neo liberal framework and in so doing create a democratic façade for an anti black agenda. We must expose the reactionary agenda of the pseudo-left and direct our people to genuine left movements like the BLF. To this end we must arm our people with a radical Black Consciousness Pan Afrikanist critique of these pseudo left movements that will serve as a medium to keep the genuine left on the revolutionary path and to expose the counter revolutionary role of the pseudo left.
We must expose the reactionary agenda of the pseudo-left and direct our people to genuine left movements like the BLF. To this end we must arm our people with a radical Black Consciousness Pan Afrikanist critique of these pseudo left movements that will serve as a medium to keep the genuine left on the revolutionary path and to expose the counter revolutionary role of the pseudo left.
The vacillations of SA’s left manifesting in EFF moving to the right and occupying a complimentary position to the Democratic Alliance puts a spotlight on the entire conspectus of revolution to reveal all the nooks and crannies created by revisionism and opportunism.
Lenin points out in “Marxism and Insurrection” that it was “Marx (who regarded) … insurrection specifically as an art, saying that it must be treated as an art, that you must win the first success and then proceed from success to success, never ceasing the offensive against the enemy, taking advantage of his confusion, etc., etc.?” Furthermore, “(t)o be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. That is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest.That is the third point.”
SA is clearly not ready for a revolutionary insurrection – so calls by the EFF for rupture is misleading and a trap to manage the genuine aspirations and anger of blacks for co-option into neo liberalism and neo colonialism. Lenin gives revolutionary counsel in this regard by making a distinction between revisionism and revolution and the role of dissention arising from factionalism in the ranks of the revolutionary movement.
In this regard the approach of revisionism to the strategic objective of the socialist movement is clarified sufficiently by Lenin. Lenin is castigating Bernstein for droping ideology for convience through his revisionist slogan, “(t)he movement is everything, the ultimate aim is nothing.” Lenin elaborates the elements of this revisionism, “(t)o determine its conduct from case to case, to adapt itself to the events of the day and to the chopping and changing of petty politics, to forget the primary interests of the proletariat and the basic features of the whole capitalist system, of all capitalist evolution, to sacrifice these primary interests for the real or assumed advantages of the moment—such is the policy of revisionism. And it patently follows from the very nature of this policy that it may assume an infinite variety of forms, and that every more or less “new” question, every more or less unexpected and unforeseen turn of events, even though it change the basic line of development only to an insignificant degree and only for the briefest period, will always inevitably give rise to one variety of revisionism or another”. (see V.I Lenin in “Marxism and Revisionism”).
Since there is no real socialism that has taken root in SA the ideological content of the revisionism that exists in SA is the “revisionism from the right” that comes from what is described above and draws inter alia from all the vacillations characteristic of the petty bourgeois culture in a revolutionary context.
All the great socialist revolutions – the October Russian Revolution, the Chinese Proletarian and Cultural Revolutions, the Cuban Revolution, the Burkanabe’ Revolution and indeed the other revolutions of Latin America and the Caribbean – give testimony to the fact that the petty-bourgeois cultural world-outlook consistently tempers all arenas of anguish in a pre revolutionary situation. This, we have learnt via revolutionary legacy, will be the case right up to achieving revolution. It is wishful thinking and erroneous to suggest that the people could be totally revolutionized before the people themselves go through a revolution. Lenin again in “Marxism and Revisionism” elaborates this aspect as follows:
“What we now frequently experience only in the domain of ideology, … what now crops up in practice only over individual side issues of the labour movement, as tactical differences with the revisionists and splits on this basis—is bound to be experienced by the working class on an incomparably larger scale when the proletarian revolution will sharpen all disputed issues, will focus all differences on points which are of the most immediate importance in determining the conduct of the masses, and will make it necessary in the heat of the fight to distinguish enemies from friends, and to cast out bad allies in order to deal decisive blows at the enemy.”
In a review of “Chapter Four of “Left Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder” Thomas Riggins refers to Lenin’s elaboration of the factionalism within the Party as follows: Lenin speaks of the efforts of the Bolsheviks to combat desention within the ranks of the proletarian movement; desenters operated within the movement and under the guise of working in the best interests of attaining socialism; Lenin refers to the factions within the movement which reflected those who were anti the Bolshevik line and who sided with the reactionary forces; Lenin pointed out that the main enemy was “opportunism” which was a reactionary political culture that sought to relegate the real interests of the workers to the periphery so as to further temporary policies in order to achieve some gains that benefit the moment but which effectively destroyed the ultimate interests of the workers; there was a clear distinction between “opportunism” and revolutionary “compromise”; those retreats and compromises that were historically necessary were not in furtherance of opportunism – it was instead the attitude that translated as co-option and capitulation into the bourgeois agenda which had anti working class outcomes that was furthering opportunism; opportunism finds expression in “Petty Bourgeois Revolutionism” – a kind of admixture of anarchism and pseudo revolutionary rhetoric; Lenin suggested “several fundamental rules” to be employed to differentiate between principled and unprincipled compromises; a compromise involving the promotion of internationalism and the rejection of the “defense of country” (which was effectively in furtherance of the imperialist world war) was cited by Lenin as a principled compromise; a compromise entailing the support of the revolutionary uprisings of the workers and peasants wherever they arise to destroy the bourgeois and feudal governments was regarded as a further principled compromise by Lenin; to engage in compromise that furthers the “defense of country” in the imperialist world war was opportunism and unprincipled action, and; forming a coalition with the national bourgeoisie so as to defeat foreign countries and thus become complicit “in imperialist banditry” is opportunism and unprincipled compromise. (See Thomas Riggins in “Lenin on Anarchism and Opportunism”, a review of “Chapter Four of ‘Left’ Wing Communism An Infantile Disorder”)
The BIG question for us in the context of SA reality is how to adapt Lenin’s views in a pre revolutionary situation and within a context that puts the black liberation project at the core of our national and international efforts so as to bring about the complete destruction of the current Capitalist Imperialist, White Supremacist world order and outlook and replace it with a Black centered Socialist one? A follow up consideration is the role of the revolutionary vanguard movement of the people in each affected country to lead the people to freedom. In SA BLF was conceived for precisely this reason – to lead the people to freedom!
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF THE BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST MOVEMENT
12 February 2016
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