Revolution in South Africa! Power to the African People!

Amiri Baraka

Contributing Editor    

The struggle to destroy white supremacy and fascism in South Africa is rapidly reaching a full revolutionary explosion. A democratic, revolutionary, anti-imperialist united front, spurred, inspired, catalyzed, by the South African masses, is reaching new heights. It will not be denied, and democratic forces all over the world must support and help secure the just demand made by the black African masses for democracy and self-determination!

1985_8_RevolutionInSouthAfrica-3This can only come with the complete destruction of the social, economic, political and cultural structures that define apartheid and white supremacy. The absolute eradication of colonial domination and slavery, including a racist economic structure that allows the settler whites to be a wealthy aristocracy while most blacks are pauperized prisoners in the land of their antiquity. We mean nothing short of the total annihilation of the entire fascist white supremacist system of colonial monopoly capitalism in South Africa.

In short, the minimum program of the South African revolution must be democracy and self-determination for the African masses and the mobilization of the democratic classes throughout the country to establish a People’s Democracy!

The basic denial of even bourgeois political rights, e.g., voting, access to and participation in the mainstream social and political institutions of the society through an equitable system, and universal suffrage (one person, one vote), the recreation of the system of political structures in the country to reflect the fact that South Africa is an African country; and democracy means minimally genuine black political control of their own land and its institutions.

Economically, it means that the South African economy can no longer be dominated by foreign imperialists (especially Great Britain and the United States) and white-dominated domestic corporations whose wealth and power are based on black slavery! The economy of the country must be made democratic as well. This means the sweeping land reform and redistribution, the breaking up of the huge plantations and land to the African tiller! Industries and enterprises which are too large for private control must be state controlled. And those that are already state controlled must be made to serve, for the first time, the whole people, but now controlled by a union, a coalition, a government of all the democratic forces that helped to smash the fascist government.

But this is the key, the Black African masses by means of a democratic revolutionary united front, must unite and coordinate tactics and strategies to bring the dinosaur of apartheid-fascism down. Internationally, all anti-imperialist forces must, where possible, link their efforts and mobilize as broadly and sharply as possible, to strengthen the developing death blow. Demonstrations, political actions, rallies, programs, support for student divestment struggles, education, propaganda, pressure on local and national political institutions, which will strengthen and expand the international united front against apartheid and colonialism. This should be the work of the moment!

For instance, in local U.S. elections, we must constantly inject South Africa and help mobilize still more forces against not only the South African white supremacists but their staunch Klan and racist-minded colleagues like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and in the other capitals of the world whose leaders of big business would be bloody slavocrats. In New Jersey, Governor Kean must call for divestment and groups like the so-called Democrats for Kean must answer to the people. We wonder whether Mayor Koch will denounce Israel’s support of apartheid.) But we must understand, at the same time, that the international imperialists are going through fierce machinations to absorb, trick, coopt, delay, confuse, destroy the revolution. There are violent contradictions among the imperialists themselves, and this strengthens the revolutionary movement.

The British corporate sector raised Bishop Tutu like their classmates raised Dr. King, to take the principal focus away from more revolutionary forces. In the U.S., Malcolm X, in South Africa today to take the focus away from Nelson Mandela and the ANC and other revolutionary forces like PAC, the Black Consciousness Movement, the United Democratic Front, and South African Students Organization, Azanian Students Organization, and the various young revolutionaries who are spearheading general resistance like the boycotts, “stay-aways” and attacks on South Africans Wilson No-Goode and Clarence Pendleton. Both of them should take a good look at that new filmstrip with the traitors’ body is already aflame and enraged youth still repeatedly kicked the miserable symbol of humiliation by betrayal! The fundamental contradiction among the imperialists and local fascists is how to deal with the rising tide of African revolution. The Boers, the mainly state management sector, who still celebrate Hitler’s birthday, cannot give way, since the management of the state is their principal source of power and wealth. But the basic form of settler colony that they represent has been made antiquated and no longer useful to imperialism because national liberation struggles over the last 30 years around the world have made straight-out white domination an embarrassing and dangerous anachronism.

The main and current form of imperialist domination in the third world is of course, neocolonialism. As Amilcar Cabral said, “imperialism ruling through native agents.” The Afrikaner sector of the racist South African ruling class would be obviously replaced. The entire system of state government and structure would be reconstructed.

The British corporate sector, burned severely by the Zimbabwe experience of the white supremacy Rhodesia “mavericks” who declared independence from the British Commonwealth only to isolate themselves from the civilized world and so, felt absolutely, left with very little influence and power in the political life of Zimbabwe.

It was for this reason that the international imperialists aligned with the British corporate sector, played the “Tutu card,” to try yet to steer the South African revolution toward a newer version of the neocolonial standard. We would get the South African equivalent of Wilson No-Goode and Clarence Pendleton ruling in the name of the black masses, but with the cosmetics of the black state sector petty bourgeoisie and black bureaucratic bourgeoisie, a policy of allowing more play to black capitalism, but obviously an economy still dominated by huge British and U.S. corporations and foreign corporations in general. It would be a white imperialist dominated bourgeois dictatorship.

The U.S. has traditional ties with big British bourgeoisie, particularly the Kennedy-Morgan-Rockefeller northeastern financial groups. But Ronald Reagan represents the Sunbelt nouveaus and California aerospace billions. Their blatant rightist support of white supremacy, in South Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and their anti-black stance in the U.S. itself, leaves them caught between the British sector and U.S. Democrats on the one hand, and the more ideologically appreciated Boer government and nouveau riche apartheid-prosperous Afrikaners on the other.

Reagan’s so-called constructive engagement was open solidarity with apartheid and anti-black colonialism. He calls for economic sanctions against democratic Nicaragua, invades and conquers tiny socialist-oriented black Grenada, recognizes and supports fascist dictatorships worldwide, but refuses to impose economic sanctions on South Africa.

The so-called “emergency measures” are simply acknowlegement of what has always gone on as far as the repression of blacks and progressives in South Africa. But now, all out fascist terror has been unleashed and in a few days, over 1,100 Africans, many politically active, have been arrested. Many for certain will be murdered!

For the past year, (See “Only revolution will transform South Africa!’ UNITY, Feb. 15-28, 1985) thousands of blacks and progressives have been arrested, a great many arrested and killed. But also the various liberation movements, some with “stay aways,” strikes, boycotts, sabotage, demonstrations, assassinations, propaganda, have forced the white supremacists against the wall.

The South African economy, already ailing, having created the second largest African working class in the world (next to the U.S.), uses a great percentage of its wealth and productive forces to suppress Africa. Billions are used to fight against democracy, to segregate Africans, to set up an anti-black “security” infrastructure which drains the economy of its productivity. The white racist South Africans must also spend millions for “security” against the rest of black Africa.

Society’s productive forces (workers and industrial and technological development) are already much more developed than the social relations of production and of the apartheid segregated society. National democratic anti-imperialist revolution is the only method where the social relations of apartheid and colonial relations can be destroyed and social relations advanced and adjusted to the necessities of modern industrial, increasingly urban South Africa. The South Africa whose black population, now 23.9 million, will be almost doubled in 15 years. There are 4.9 million whites in South Africa.

What is critical, however, is that in order for this revolution to be carried to its potential, it must never ever consider consolidating a black neocolonial bourgeois “democracy.” Led by a revolutionary democratic anti-imperialist united front, South Africa must go past bourgeois democracy to a form of People’s Democracy in which all the forces and classes uniting to smash the fascist apartheid state will be involved with creating a People’s South Africa. But this front must be led by the black South African working class, in alliance with the peasantry, and the nature and goal of such a state under its control must be a broad People’s Democracy in which major institutions, industries and the economy itself is largely controlled by a popularly elected people’s government made up of all these democratic classes.

Although the black South Africans have never tasted even bourgeois democracy, by definition that means democracy under the control of the domestic bourgeoisie. The black bourgeoisie in South Africa is a marginal, politically and economically weak class who could not help but be dominated by the present rulers of South Africa (international imperialism led by the U.S. and Great Britain and domestic white fascists!).

The only form of democracy which will raise the entire structure of South African society is a People’s Democracy in which the major institutions in society are nationalized and run with state control, representing a democratic, one person one vote, electorate, and an economy no longer completely dominated by imperialism. An economy in which capitalism and even some aspects of the rich peasantry will survive, but an economy in which local black capitalism will have more fertile conditions in which to develop, and also an economy in which the prerequisites for socialism will be created.

In truth, this can only be a transitional form, and even its construction can only be the result of a much higher level of unity of all the democratic revolutionary forces inside South Africa (and internationally!).

Such a People’s Democracy would also be a form of eventual transformation into socialism. The control of the means of producing wealth would be held by the African working class in alliance with and based on a united front of African workers and peasants and progressive petty bourgeoisie.

The emergence of a mixed economic and political order with both capitalism and nationalized state-controlled industries and markets must also be the soil upon which the conditions for future socialism are carefully created and the institutions and social relations as well. But even though South Africa has the second largest black working class in the world, most black South Africans, most blacks in the world, are still on the land. So that the break up of large plantations, the development of a more advanced peasantry under the leadership of the working class, so that South Africa which is highly developed as far as the white industrialized sector, can move past the backwardness of its segregated colonial-feudal relations among black peasants. Imperialism, colonialism, white supremacy (apartheid) and feudalism are the main enemies of this stage of the South African revolution. The South African revolution is part of the proletarian socialist revolution, not bourgeois democratic (the dictatorship of the old type).

Since the black masses have not even generally been allowed the bourgeois “democratic” republic, a genuinely liberated South Africa under the political control of black working class in alliance with the peasantry and urban middle classes and all other progressive people, is a new form of this state, a people’s or new democracy (as Mao Zedong called it) which will allow the whole society to develop, raise the level of the black peasantry, allow for the development of black capitalism, put control of the state in the hands of the black working class based on a revolutionary democratic united front, opposing imperialism, that is, international capitalism, and imposing a dictatorship over the imperialists, white supremacists, traitors, and the reactionaries, while clearing the way for the development of a socialist society.

Critical to this process is the leadership and control and direction of the present anti-imperialist, anti-apartheid united front. Leadership of such a front must be in the hands of the black South African working class. A new South African society must be dominated jointly by a united front of all the revolutionary classes in South Africa, but under the leadership of the black South African working class.

Almost all of the major organizations participating in the South African revolution are themselves smaller forms of the united front (ANC, PAC, BCM, ASO, SASO, UDF and others). That is none of them is a Marxist-Leninist party of the new type. They are combinations of different classes, forms of mass organization. They are aligned with and represent various class forces. Unless the black proletariat is in the lead of the South African revolution (in alliance with the peasantry and progressive petty bourgeoisie) the revolution cannot fight its way to People’s Democracy, but will become a quickly shabby new version of the standard cosmetically “black” controlled neocolonialist, imperialist and domestic bourgeois dictatorship. Revolutionary working class leadership will fight for People’s Democracy, with joint political control of the new state by all the revolutionary classes, led by the black working class, and the nationalization of all the imperialist enterprises and capitalists, and the distribution of the land among the landless peasants, although private capitalist enterprise and even some rich peasants will remain in this transitional state.

Bishop Tutu is now mentioned by Botha as a possible negotiator for the black masses. It should be obvious that Tutu alone in this dialogue with the Afrikaners would be only one sector of the South African bourgeoisie talking to another, the inclusion of one sector’s black representative — a major breakthrough (for whom?). Tutu is a bishop in the Anglican church — the Church of England. He would be representative of an essentially comprador black English sector-connected bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie.

Tutu’s recent action has been to threaten the black masses with “walking out” on the revolution if they continued their incorrect tactics of killing black traitors. But eliminating these traitors is the surest path to open revolution. Tutu knows to beat the British and even some of the more realistic Boers, that these vanishing traitor negroes would be the infrastructure for a black neocolonial South Africa. We say, Kwaheri traitors! You will be famous in hell!

Tutu’s inclusion in the national democratic anti-imperialist anti-apartheid united front now making revolution in South Africa should be dependent on his practice in helping to make the revolution. Just as Mao Zedong made a united front with Chiang Kai-shek against Japanese imperialism, it was because Chiang was an American comprador, not a Japanese comprador, as well as representing certain elements of the Chinese national bourgeoisie. Tutu on the one hand is a British comprador, and they have now apparently decided to support black attacks on the current Afrikaner apartheid state system, so they (and Tutu) will haltingly sanction the revolution only to the extent that blatant apartheid and the monolithic white supremacist state mechanism is cosmetically “negroized” (made a neocolonial model). But black compradors of the Boers are being blown and burned away like pests, and this is as it should be.

Obviously Tutu and other elements of the present front will oppose the nationalization and state control of the large British and U.S. corporations. This is why control of the revolutionary national democratic front now objectively destroying apartheid must be in the hands of the workers and peasants of South Africa. Otherwise the revolution will be betrayed and still another black neocolonial state almost wholly dominated by international capitalists will result.

But too many people have suffered and died. There are too many martyrs, mostly black but also of other nationalities of progressive and revolutionary people. There has been too much blood, of African people’s blood spilled to allow the revolution to be betrayed. Only a national democratic anti-imperialist anti-apartheid united front led by the African working class, based on an alliance with the peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie, aligned with all the other progressive forces nationally and internationally, can carry the revolution forward to People’s Democracy, which is the transitional form on the way to socialism.

Death to apartheid!

Power to the African people!