South Africa is not Russia

by The Editor

ARTICLE: Wilmot James has written an article on Blade Nzimande and the SACP for the City Press, which I have republished in full here. It is a pertinent follow-up to the article I wrote about Jeremy Cronin a week or so ago and asks important questions about some of the more dubious positions the SACP has adopted in the past. City Press notes that the SACP failed to meet the deadline to respond to Wilmot.

South Africa is not Russia

By: Dr. Wilmot James

17 June 2012

The architect of the path to South Africa’s socialist revolution – and South Africa’s destruction – is the educated revolutionary Dr. Blade Nzimande, Secretary-General of the South African Communist Party and Higher Education & Training Minister in the Zuma Cabinet.

Nzimande brings fear to my heart. The party he leads has had some noteworthy moments in its history (President Nelson Mandela rightly pointed out that some members of the Communist Party were the first to treat black people as equals, unafraid of the social ostracism that was certain to follow), but a great many things about the comrades go unmentioned, including:

• The fact that the banner raised during the 1922 Rand Rebellion that Jan Smuts so viciously repressed read ‘workers of the world, unite and fight for a white South Africa’;

• The fact that, following on Joseph Stalin’s treatise on the right of nations to self-determination, the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) was the first to support a Black Republic, a Bantustan in the image of the many ‘stans’ created in the Soviet Union to accommodate minorities. The Comintern wanted to impose the same solution in the USA and came up with wild idea to herd African-Americans into Black Republic consisting of the southern states;

• Following on Stalin’s perverse dictate that evolutionary biology and Mendelian genetics were wrong because they were politically incorrect (based on the advice of his amateur agronomist Trofim Lysenko), the SACP branded the founder of its youth league and famous botanist Eddie Roux, author of the influential book Time Longer Than Rope and Sydney Bunting’s biographer, as a right-wing counter-revolutionary. Roux had the courage of conviction to stand up for the truth of his science;

• That when the purges and show trials of Bolshevik friends and foes alike took place on an ever-expanding scale, the comrades turned a blind eye – and when all was revealed during Gorbachev’s glasnost by that extraordinary organization called Memorial in Moscow – that about 20 million individuals passed through the infamous Gulags – the comrades had nothing to say for themselves;

• That when Stalin concluded the Non-Aggression Treaty with Hitler, the comrades say yay, and when he changed sides after Hitler broke his word and joined the Allies, the comrades said yay again;

• That when the Warsaw Pact countries led by the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 to stop Dubcek’s Prague Spring the comrades shed not a tear for 108 individuals killed and 500 wounded in the crushing of an uprising of a people yearning for nothing more than their liberation and freedom.

There is more but this is sufficient a sample that allows me to observe that the South African Communist Party (SACP) has been one of the more sickeningly obsequious, slavishly obedient and unprincipled instrument of the motherland’s misguided internationalism, now run in the post cold-war period by someone – Dr. Nzimande – who regards our Constitution as a bourgeois nice-to-have and of no real consequence other than an irritation to someone who believes in the selective use of the hard power of what Leninists call excitative terror.

There is something truly obscene about a Minister of higher education and training leading a march on an art gallery and calling for the destruction of a work of art he does not like. Of course, this same Minister is firmly in favour of gagging the press, having called for a media tribunal to act as an inquisition against journalists whose ideas he didn’t like. This same Minister has the nerve to tell university departments to offer courses on the so-called developmental state because it is the politically correct thing to do, much like Stalin set back world-class Soviet biology by telling the science community what to teach and research. But why stop there? Why does Nzimande have his shock troops march against universities he doesn’t like and burn their libraries?

Nzimande describes us not as a party with which he disagrees. He sees us as the ‘enemy’. He says he faces a ‘neo-liberal onslaught’. He speaks like a warrior. He declares class warfare. Is this mere bluster though? The SACP is a small and unelected party. Nzimande needs an unbreakable thread with COSATU and especially its more militant affiliates like the South African Democratic Trade Union (SADTU), whose members already act as commissars in the provinces – and are especially powerful in the weakly governed ones such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

To succeed Nzimande needs to get a grip on the state instruments of intelligence and organized violence. Perhaps that is why he has aspirations for becoming Deputy President, for Jacob Zuma’s power is precisely his hold over intelligence, the police and the defense force. Nzimande’s power is able to get the masses out on the street in acts of intimidation that can easily turn into what ‘excitative terror’.

For those who know Russian history, it is important to remember that the Russian Revolution was made not under Tsarist rule, but under Alexander Kerensky’s weak and incoherent government as Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government after Tsarism collapsed. We are not Russia and, as much as Nzimande wishes that his’ rather than Zuma’s face was painted by Brett Murray on the picture of Lenin in legendary pose, he is no Vladimir Ilyich either. Still, this is a reckless and dangerous man who has little qualms about destroying what remains of the Mandela legacy by leading his so-called vanguard party into a socialist revolution.

It is Karl Marx who wrote in the brilliant 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1952) that ‘Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.’ Time will tell whether Nzimande will be farcical but indications are suggestive. At Polokwane there arose the warrior class of the tri-partite alliance speaking the language of war. This is not what the nation needs. The nation needs a party of activists speaking the language of justice, reconciliation and job-creating economic growth, neither as tragedy nor farce, but as hope, civility and progress.

Dr. Wilmot James is an MP and DA federal chairperson. An edited version this article first appeared in the City Press Newspaper.

To follow Inside Politics by e-mail simply go to the bottom of the page and fill in your address. When you confirm it, you will receive an e-mail the moment any new post is loaded to the site.