On the leading role of the ANC
We''ve had examples of radical youth, and quite a few radical workers
too have come to us and said "We''re not joining the ANC, we''re
waiting for the Party to come out", and we''ve told them on that
basis there''s no place for them in the Party because they''ll have to
be reeducated politically. And it''s not because we want to have a presence
in the ANC, it''s because we believe and must continue to be, to strengthen
the most important national force.
On the armed struggle
In 1961 history left us with no option but to engage in armed action
as a necessary part of the political struggle. It was a moment in which
(to use Lenin''s words) "untimely inaction would have been worse
than untimel action". We could not refuse to fight. We had to
learn how to do so. And, in many respects, we had to learn on the ground,
in the hard school of revolutionary practice.
It is my contention that there is a major convergence between the
ethical content of Marxism and all that is best in the world''s religions.
But it must also be conceded that in the name of both Marxism and religion
great damage has been done to the human condition. Both ideologies
have produced martyrs in the cause of liberation and tyrants in the
cause of oppression. Let us (socialists and believers) stop concentrating
exclusively on the debate about whether there is or is not a paradise
in heaven. Let us work together to build a paradise on earth. As for
myself, if I eventually find a paradise in heaven, I will regard it
as a bonus.
On the apartheid''s regime disinformation campaign
For the past decade and a half they have been saying that I am a KGB
colonel. I must the most unsuccessful spy in the world in 15 years
I haven''t had a promotion!
The working class and the national democratic struggle
If we pose the question by asking only whether our struggle is a national
struggle or class struggle, we will inevitably get a wrong answer.
The right question is: what is the relationship between these two categories?
A failure to understand the class content of the national struggle
and the national content of the class struggle inb existing conditions
can hold back the advance of both the democratic and socialist transformations
which we seek.
Has socialism failed?
For our part, we firmly believe in the future of socialism; nor do
we dismiss its whole past as an unmitigated failure... But it is more
vital than ever to subject the past of existing socialism to an unsparing
critique in order to draw the necessary lessons. To do so openly is
an assertion of justified confidence in the future of socialism and
its inherent moral superiority. And we should not allow ourselves to
be inhibited merely because an exposure of failures will inevitably
provide ammunition to the traditional enemies of socialism: our silence
will, in any case, present them with an even more powerful ammunition.
Has capitalism succeeded?
The wretched of this earth make up over 90% of humanity. They live
either in capitalist or capitalist oriented societies. For them, if
socialism is not the answer, there is no answer at all.
On his return to SA from 27 years in exile
As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted...
The starting point for developing a framework within which to approach
some larger questions in the negotiating process is to answer the question:
why are we negotiating? We are negotiating because towards the end
of the 80s we concluded that, as a result of this escalating crisis,
the apartheid power bloc was no longer able to continue ruling in the
old way and was genuinely seeking some break with the past. At the
same time, we were clearly not dealing with a defeated enemy and an
early revolutionary seizure of power by the liberation movement could
not be realistically posed.
...For the past three years, we politicians have all had our say.
It is time now for the people to have their day. For the past three
years we politicians have spoken to each other, at each other and past
each other. We have been in bilaterals and multilaterals. But beyond
the walls of the World Trade Centre there is growing impatgience with
...The negotiated package that was finally signed on the night of
November 17-18 1993 at Kempton Park was a famous victory. It represents
both the culmination of decades of struggle and the starting-point
of a new struggle. The critical question now is implementation...
On certain English liberals
Bashing the Afrikaner is a popular pastime among certain English liberals,
and it gets my goat. It stems from a combination of English jingoism
and an attempt to evade collective white guilt for our racist inheritance
by piling it all onto Afrikaners. It also creates a smokescreen over
the real roots of racism by giving pride of place to the ethnic factor
rather than to economic exploitation. Mealy-mouthed shedding of responsibility
and blaming it all on the Boers is, at best, ahistorical and, at worst,
a form of racism. If any one group is to blame for the modern foundations
of apartheid, it is the non-Afrikaner upper strata which dominated
the seat of power for more than 75 years before 1948. I am not arguing
for "one randlord, one bullet", but we must get our history
The SACP''s secret weapon
Commentators continue to be puzzled by the staying power of the SACP
in a world in which socialist parties are in decline. It is time to
divulge one of the lesser known secrets of our public relations success.
No, we have no contract with Saatchi and Saatchi who are already working
for the NP. We rely on the firm of De Klerk and Botha, whose public
relations work for our Party is unsolicited, unintended and free. Every
time this old firm launches a salvo against us, our popularity rating
among blacks taks a further leap.
On multi-party democracy
The single party state, except at rare moments in history, is a recipe
for tyranny. What we''ve learnt from the Soviet experience and from
the African experience is that the concept of the Party as a vanguard
which has the right to rule by virtue of calling itself something and
which is entrenched in the constitution as a permanent godfather of
society, is a disaster.
The challenges of the new SA
It is our task to give millions of South Africans an essential piece
of dignity in their lives - the dignity that comes from having a solid
roof over your head, running water and other services in an established
As far as I am concerned, what I did, I did without any regrets. I
decided long ago in my life that there is only one target and that
target is to remove the racist regime and obtain power for the people.
Joe Slovo''s favourite poem:
In Praise of Communism, by Bertolt Brecht
anyone can understand it.
You''re not an exploiter,
so you can grasp it.
It''s a good thing for you,
find out more about it.
The stupid call it stupid
and the squalid call it
It is against squalor and
The exploiters call it a crime
but we know:
it is the end of crime.
It is not madness, but
the end of madness.
It is not the riddle
but the solution.
It is the simplest thing
so hard to achieve.