“Theory of the national question is more about national oppression within a given society with intention to emerge with a programme that will facilitate both national and class struggles to build a nation with specific material conditions…
The National Democratic Revolution remains the best scientific project to address the legacy of the national question in South Africa. The past 25 years has laid a foundation and framework that serve as a pillar to create a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous, united and democratic country.”
By Seitebaleng Dikole
Marxism remains the best and important doctrine to define society, its institutions and people’s relations within a context of classes, class antagonism as well as class struggle. This was not done through metaphysical framework but through body of knowledge obtained and critically tested in practicality.
Theory of the national question is more about national oppression within a given society with intention to emerge with a programme that will facilitate both national and class struggles to build a nation with specific material conditions. The liberation movement characterized our oppression within the framework of what is known as Colonialism of a Special Type (CST). Success has been made to dismantle key features of CST, since the ascendance of the ANC into power.
The capitalist conceptualisation of class, nation and state has been reckless and escapes realities. This is because the system is more interested in profit maximisation and exploitation, instead of highest form of human civilisation. The 21st century ushered clear responsibilities of the state as champion of the interests and antagonism of different large social groups within a class existing society. The bourgeoisie in our country are tirelessly fighting to roll back the gains made by our people in achieving a better life.
State became central in solidifying relations of classes within a nation. This is done because it becomes a powerful tool that champions interests of various large social groups that seek to determine a nation. A nation will fulfil its historical mission and dreams by relying on the state; by total takeover of state power from the oppressive class. Equally relations of classes with the state always reveal the level of unfairness and imbalances of ownership of means of production. Therefore the states become a court of battles by classes to manifest their interests across society.
One of the achievements made by ascendancy of ANC into power was attainment of constitutional democracy in general and the establishment of a democratic state that seeks to champion development of a South African nation.
Concepts such as “developmental state” developed with the intention to say that the state will exist above class rule. The concept of developmental state carries neoliberal principles which serve as a redeemer of the capitalist crisis.
In a letter Frederick Engel wrote to Augustus Bebel he indicates that there was no state previously and that it emerged at a particular point in time when society was entangled into insoluble contradictions of class, hitherto it became an instrument of class rule.
This enabled the World Socialist System during the days of Soviet Union to establish the state on behalf of the working masses. The state also serves as a bastion for nation building and building of an egalitarian society. It is only under socialism (as it has appended in history) wherein a nation can be build, promoted and defended solely within the interests of humanity[i].The bourgeoisie are always quick to demobilize people by characterising the state as an instrument that is superfluous. This they do whilst at the same time exerting hegemony for dominance in the state to purport class relations towards their egotistic and selfish interests.
The capitalists regard the state as an instrument that is superfluous. This they do whilst at the same time exerting hegemony for dominance in the state to purport class relations towards their egotistic and selfish interests. This is very rife in our country and they continue to belittle policies that seek to uplift living standards of our people in championship of super exploitation.
Post-Soviet Union and the end of Cold War has put capitalist system into a continuous trajectory of failures with regard to defending humanity as well as building nations as well as their relations to human civilisation.
We advance the argument that the interaction between classes, state and nation is not class neutral as the capitalist will want to mislead us. Hitherto class antagonism becomes a yardstick to determine class rule. Arguably if a class is been organised skilfully and consciously through a revolutionary theory, it can become a catalyst for progressive development for attainment of an egalitarian society
It was Lenin (the indomitable fighter for purity of Marxism) who made a profound and scientific definition of classes. This is what he had to say in relation to class: “classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated by law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and their mode of acquiring it”.
The bourgeoisie always want to escape this formula by giving the liberal conceptualisation which does not rise above class influence and class struggle. The state is open to interests of various classes that seek to use the state for their own different class interest. That is precisely the reason why the state becomes active role player in class struggle. Determined leadership should fight for the developmental state to be more biased towards working class as the NDR suggests. Any minimisation to this particular tasks will make regression in addressing the national question, and the resolutions on unity and renewal of the ANC give an impetus for that to happen
The nation states claim to be a genuine representative of a given nation within a given period. It claims to be a champion of modern civilisation with interests of developing human beings and making history. In real terms this is contrary. Different countries (even under developed) have been used as pliable instruments by imperialist forces to launch their aggression to other state within the context of what Marx called a cosmopolitan character of capitalism that seeks to settle and nestle everywhere. Institutions such as parliament and cabinets in various respective countries always succumb to the pressure of market aggression and they repress the interests of people.
South African democracy has ushered a new model of the democratic states that seeks to facilitate interaction between a new nation and class. The democratic state becomes central in building a non-racial, on-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. Clearly the conceptualisation is the historical mission of the liberation movement in purport to build a nation within the context of the National Democratic Revolution.
For the past twenty five (25) years the model couldn’t pass without facing challenges from two contending classes i.e. capitalists and working class. The democratic breakthrough in the revolution always creates favourable conditions for classes to fight for erection of new superstructure in their own ways for the sake of trajectory of their own needs. Reality of the matter is that like in any part of the globe, capitalism reproduces itself within a capitalist society and the state is inherently a bourgeois state.
Class suicide by the working people
History has taught us that ascendancy of many revolutionary movements into power managed (regrettably) to turn most advanced revolutionaries into political accumulators in government. This happens through co-option by capital in purport to sustain their selfish interests of class accumulation, and its dominance in the developing world.
Working class leaders from revolutionary formations ended up being in echelons of power and become shop stewards of super exploitation in different forms. It always becomes difficult for organisations to take firm and resolute actions against state officials and capital because leaders who are in contact with capital always polarised discussions and develop high level of arrogance. The process of renewal in this regard becomes necessary with a clear framework of systematic political education of all members.
This must go hand in hand with establishment of tough criteria for one to assume position of responsibilities. Marxist axiom that says emancipation of the working class should be the work of the working class remains relevant as ever in order to avoid working class demobilisation. Therefore it will be the work of the working people themselves to work out a plan (within the context of legality) of organizing and mobilising against capitalist system.
Attitude of Parties and Social movements towards nation building.
Many political parties do exist without a tangible programme of addressing imbalances of the past or committing themselves to the programme of nation building. The parliamentary systems give them impetus of material benefits and to speak from uniformed position that seeks to authorise their existence. Since the dawn of democracy the political parties are there to see the death and the burial of the ANC.
Nothing or next to nothing has emerged in their mission to fight national oppression and pursue nation building. It is going to be difficult for political parties to understand their rightful position in fighting for emancipation of our people. Parliament can be utilised correctly by the ANC on its processes of renewal, unity, as well as the social compact. The ANC has made meaningful impact in parliament as an institution to take control and promulgate laws that are intended to remove the legacy of the past.
Therefore there should be accountability that is much improved in the level of legislature, executive and the judiciary. Reality of the matter is that institutions of power must be recognised and be fully utilised for nation building
Capitalism and the National Question
According to Karl Marx the historical role that was played by capitalism was when it overthrew the feudal system, transforming peasants into a proletariat as well as development of productive forces. The systemic methods of oppression developed by capitalism have made consciousness of men and women to rise in conflict with material conditions and wage a struggle against the system.
The capitalist system is arrogantly promoting environmental degradations, human rights violation, women oppression as well as various forms of racism. Instead of accounting to this heinous crime, it resorted to violence and intimidation of nations and movements at the global platforms. This could not succeed without powerful resistance by popular movements, CBOs and NGOs globally.
It is quite important to strengthen the role of NGOs and CBOs solely to deepen mutual relations with the state in order to address national question in the country. This can’t happen without a clear political framework and monitoring on mass works by these formations, because counterrevolution is also using them to oust government in different parts of the world. Mobilisation of classes, social strata should always be a principle that guides leadership that is entrusted with responsibility to champion the National Democratic Revolution. . We are raising this because the current epoch doesn’t require intervention of capitalism in addressing national oppression from the past.
Gains made by the National Democratic Revolution
Reality of the matter is that radical and profound changes were made in the last years of assuming political power by the ANC. These were made under difficult material conditions that were determined by both internal and external factors. The entire movement continuously believed that the gains must be deepened, advanced, as well as defended.
State Capture emerged as a counter revolutionary weapon that has worked tirelessly to roll back the gains made through replacement of capitalist profit maximisation. What is emerging out of commissions of enquiries within the state must be used as precedence in determining radical shift within the ANC and to reinforce participation of society in bringing changes. The work of the integrity commission needs to be defended at all times precisely because reinforce ANC values within democratic society
The current state of affairs gives ANC more power to renew its commitment to address grievances of the past. Central to that is mobilisation of all social forces behind the sole mission of addressing the national question.
The mandate that ANC got from the national election must be utilised in a way that seeks to speed up service delivery, uniting people, land expropriation, as well as fighting greed and corruption. Twin tasks for the entire movement is to roll back state capture, promote values and principles of democracy (without necessarily becoming a pliable instrument of the market) and lead society within the context of people becoming their own liberators.
The success of the South African model of development will become realisable only if we have a strong ANC, through iron hand discipline on its cadres, modernised communication with the South African nation and capability to discipline capital as well as treat sovereign states on an equal basis.
All comrades in the movement are expected to keep in mind their historic mission, remain modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and maintain a style of plain living and hard struggle. Cadres are expected to be eager to make changes and innovations and guard against rigid thinking and stagnation. The movement should unswervingly forge ahead along the path of the National Democratic Revolution and work very hard to unite people of all ethnic groups.
The National Democratic Revolution remains the best scientific project to address the legacy of the national question in South Africa. The past 25 years has laid a foundation and framework that serve as a pillar to create a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous, united and democratic country.
Capitalist class will continuously fail to demystify the role of the state. What is vital is for the masses to be central in promotion of accountable and transparent governance. Leaders must be held accountable and be exposed for corrupt activities. Social movements must continue to intensify their fight against oppression and violation of human rights. In this regard people must become their own liberators by making sure that they determine their own destiny.
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