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Issue 149 - Second Quarter 1998


Forward to the SACP 10th Congress

CC Draft Programme Discssion Documents

The South African Revolution in its Internationl Context
A Socialist Approach to the Consolidation and Deepening of the NDR
Our Marxism

Forward to the SACP 10th Congress!

The 10th Congress of the SACP takes place between July 1 -5 in Johannesburg. Coming, as it does, four years after the April 1994 democratic breakthrough, and one year before the next national elections in our country, the Congress offers an important moment for strategic assessment.

What progress has been made in our national democratic revolution? What have been the areas of strategic uncertainty? What lessons can be learned? Historically, the SACP has played a major role in facilitating the strategic orientation of our broader liberation movement. Our own national situation is remains complex, and the need for strategic clear-headedness is widely felt within the liberation movement.

But it is not just the domestic strategic situation that requires careful assessment. The 1990s have been a complex decade in international history, a period of considerable uncertainty. How is the new South Africa located within global realities, and what are our responsibilities?

Through the first years of the 1990s, against the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the SACP endeavoured to chart a strategic and organisational course that refused both right-wing opportunism (quietly abandoning our legacy, our history, our socialism) and left-wing dogmatism (pretending that "nothing had gone wrong"). The SACP committed itself in its 8th and 9th Congresses to assuming responsibility for our socialist legacy, and to work for a socialist renewal within our country, and even, to the best of our abilities, internationally. The first several years of this decade saw, therefore, a considerable degree of necessary ideological fluidity in and around the SACP.

We believe that, in 1998, we are now more coherent, more self-assured about what we are and what we should be. The 10th Congress will also provide us with a forum to measure and debate this.

Against this background, this issue of the African Communist is devoted entirely to Central Committee Draft Programme Discussion Documents. These documents are drafts of elements of what will become a comprehensive SACP programme. There are, of course, many sectoral, more concrete and more programmatic elements that are also being discussed and elaborated. The draft sections included in this issue are those of a more general, strategic nature.

These documents are, at present, being debated throughout the Party, in the run-up to Congress. We publish them here to facilitate inner-Party discussion, but also to make our discussions available to a broader public. The SACP encourages the broadest debate, and we will welcome suggestions, agreements, disagreements, observations from all those, regardless of whether they are Party members or not, who wish to contribute to this exercise in collective strategic stock-taking - which is so crucial for the challenges we are now facing.

The South African Revolution in its International Context

1. The End of Isolation?

From its launch in 1921, the Communist Party in South Africa has committed itself to an internationalist perspective. We have always sought to understand the interconnectedness of our own struggle with socialist, working class, democratic and liberation struggles around the world. We have also seen the propagation of the values of internationalism within our country as a core Communist Party task. The SACP is, today, convinced that internationalism is more relevant than ever before.

A strategic understanding of present international forces is central to developing a clear programme for the South African transformation struggle. A failure to develop such an understanding will lead to many illusions and mistakes. Coming to terms with the place of the post-1994 South Africa within the world has proved to be an area of considerable uncertainty, if not plain confusion. Justified pride in our successful political transition and the genuine respect it has inspired around the world have also instilled illusions about global realities, and our place within them.

In many quarters the ending of apartheid has been presented, unproblematically, as an "end to our international isolation". There is much that is mistaken in this way of presenting matters.

For most of its existence, the apartheid regime (like the minority regimes before it in South Africa) was not isolated from the world. On the contrary, it was, in its way, an integral part of a broader world system. For many decades our Party, and the wider ANC-led liberation movement, characterised minority-rule in our country as a variant of colonialism - as colonialism of a special type (CST).

By invoking the concept CST we were not just referring to the colonial origins of modern South Africa in the phase of industrial imperialism. We were referring to the specific path of capital accumulation pursued in South Africa, which was forged, with the active backing of British imperialism, around the colonial alignment of class forces and the national oppression of the majority. It was around this colonial alignment of class forces that South Africa was integrated into a wider imperialist system that was, at once, economic, political and military in character. As late as the 1970s, successive United States administrations pursued the deliberate strategic decision to back white minority rule in South Africa, in the context of intensifying a Cold War struggle in Southern Africa. The apartheid regime was seen as an important regional gendarme, as a component, therefore, of a broader imperialist bloc.

Partial sanctions were only imposed, reluctantly and belatedly, on the apartheid regime by the major imperialist powers following all-round international popular pressure, and also a growing perception that apartheid was no longer a necessary or even viable regional political dispensation from an imperialist perspective. These perceptions were reinforced by:

  • the growing instability within South Africa, including the systemic failure of the imperialist inspired coercive-reform measures, introduced by the apartheid regime through the late 1970s and 80s;
  • the weakening political and military capacity of the Soviet Union and its broader bloc in the 1980s;
  • and the increasing capacity of imperialist forces to dominate Africa through the management and manipulation of the debt crisis. In the course of the 1980s,
  • by way of harsh structural adjustment programmes, many post-independence development gains were rolled back in progressive African countries. African economies were opened up to the predatory incursions of transnational corporations - in a very real sense Africa was re-colonised, not by armies, but by financial institutions.

In short, the usefulness, for imperialism, of a white minority-based regional gendarme had diminished by the late 1980s.

South Africa is not emerging from decades of isolation. Moreover, insofar as there were partial sanctions on the apartheid regime, they were imposed at the behest of the liberation movement and with the support of active anti-apartheid solidarity movements around the world. It is patent nonsense to speak of the ending of these partial sanctions, as if "we" were now emerging from that isolation.

Failure to correctly characterise (or even vaguely remember) the recent past, produces many distortions in the way in which our present place within the international system is understood. The word "imperialism" has virtually disappeared from the vocabulary of our liberation movement, as if the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the ending of the Cold War, also resulted in the evaporation of the powers and consequences of imperialism. In fact, the global power of the most developed capitalist countries and of the major capitalist transnational corporations has grown immensely, not diminished, in the decade of the 1990s. In 1915, Lenin distinguished several defining features of imperialism - the immense strengthening of a handful of capitalist corporations, extending their operations across the globe; the growing inequality within countries, and especially between different regions of the world; and the marginalisation of whole regions, even continents. In the last quarter of this century we have seen a new phase of imperialism unfolding.

Forgetfulness about the immediate past, and confusion about the present lead, in turn, to a na?ve understanding of how South Africa should now engage with international realities. This engagement is often presented as a simple "return" to the "family of nations", as a programme to "integrate" ourselves as fully and as rapidly as possible into a generally benign global order. The means for achieving this rapid integration are held up as a set of universal laws. There are "rules of the game", we are repeatedly told, and if we want to be an international player, then we must loyally observe these rules.

To better understand all of the above, it is important to look more closely at what is commonly, if loosely, referred to as "globalisation".

2. Globalisation

Tendencies towards the economic integration of the world have been a feature of the capitalist system from the beginning. This process was greatly intensified in the last quarter of the 19th century, with the export of vast quantities of productive capital from the industrial heartlands in Western Europe. The industrialisation of South Africa, around the mining industry was, at this time, part of this early globalising tendency.

Over the last two decades there have, however, been major quantitative and qualitative developments within this general tendency. We have been living through a new phase of imperialism. The key factors in this have been:

  • Rapid technical advances in information and communications technology, which have enabled, and in turn have been impacted upon by:
  • The vast quantitative growth and qualitative global integration of financial markets; and, above all
  • The increasing trans-nationalisation of capital, in which major capitalist corporations increasingly organise their production processes, and their concentrations of power transnationally, resulting in new power blocs, and the relative (but not absolute) reduction of power of national states, including the major imperialist states.

There have also been key political factors at work. For nearly three decades after the defeat of fascism in 1944/5, a balance of class forces prevailed, especially in the most industrialised countries, that favoured working people. These three decades saw the consolidation of the Soviet bloc of countries, major social democratic advances in the more developed capitalist countries, and a wave of decolonisation. From the early 1970s capitalist forces, partly in the face of internal capitalist difficulties, sought to restructure the conditions for renewed profitability. Since then, there has been a prolonged offensive against the welfare state in the developed capitalist countries. In the developing south, the debt crisis has been exploited to roll back the developmental gains of the post-colonial period. And, through the 1970s and 80s, increased pressure was brought to bear on the Soviet bloc, partly through an intensification of the arms race. Between 1989 - 1991 this former Soviet bloc disintegrated. This bloc had been relatively, but never entirely, de-linked from the globalised, capitalist economy. Former Soviet-aligned societies are now all, in differing degrees, more thoroughly integrated into this globalised economy. Those developing societies that turned to this bloc as a counter-weight now have fewer options.

But while the term "globalisation" might well describe certain objective realities, it is also used prescriptively. Indeed, neo-liberal ideologues like to blur the difference between description and prescription. Globalisation is presented as a process driven by irrepressible market forces and irresistible technological determinism - in this way, proponents of neo-liberalism seek to intimidate the rest of us, and block any critical analysis or independent thinking. There are simply "no alternatives" in their perception of things.

Contrary to this argument, the present global expansion of economic processes is being actively and consciously shaped by leading capitalist forces, organised through powerful political and economic institutions. In asserting this we are not indulging in a conspiracy theory. There is no conspiracy - but there is a strategy.

Moreover, despite the purported absence of alternatives, there are major disjunctures between what is claimed for globalisation (the supposed "rules of the game") and what is actually practised.

2.1 "Rules of the game" and the actual realities

Globalisation is supposedly promoting an integrated world system, encouraging outward expansion for developed countries, and export-led growth for developing countries. The facts are less straightforward. While poor, developing countries are urged (and coerced) into integrating their economies into what is supposed to be an open, competitive global economy, the last fifteen years have seen the consolidation and strengthening of some significant countervailing realities:

Managed trade - and not free trade - contrary to neo-liberal claims, world trade is not always characterised by the free flow of commodities within globally open markets. According to an UNCTAD calculation, fully two-thirds of international trade in goods and services actually takes place within the same transnational corporation, or by way of special arrangements between firms. A large proportion of international trade is, therefore, not subject to the "discipline" of free competition.

National unilateralism - powerful countries like the US continuously attempt to impose unilateral, often political agendas, upon what is supposed to be a multi-lateral, free-trade global order. An obvious example of this is the ongoing attempt of the US to punish third countries trading with Cuba. This is a blatant attempt to enforce US laws extra-territorially, in complete disregard for the many claims made by the very same US for a new, multi-lateral world trading order.

The unilateralism of exclusive clubs - in a broader context, the claims for a transparent and multi-lateral global economic dispensation are continuously contradicted by the practice of the most industrialised countries in meeting together for global strategising and decision-making within exclusive clubs - like the G7 (now G8) and the OECD. It is within the OECD, for instance, that the industrialised countries are formulating their own Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). The MAI initiative deliberately flies in the face of alternative processes under discussion in the WTO. In a similar way, the "free" global market is dominated and manipulated by:

Powerful regional economic blocs involving the most advanced capitalist countries - in particular the European Union and the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA). These regional blocs enable the most powerful economies within them (the US and German economies) to subordinate their neighbours to their own needs (countries like Mexico), and at the same time to confront wider global realities from the base of a large, often relatively protectionist, region.

Regulatory controls on capital movement, commercial and other economic operations also continue to characterise many economies. These include the economies of the most developed capitalist societies, which are, nonetheless, the most vociferous in demanding liberalisation from others. Among the more significant of the non-market protectionist measures are:

Agricultural subsidies going to farmers in developed economies, like those of the EU. The producer subsidy equivalent for European Union agricultural products is 50% compared to 15% in South Africa. These subsidised EU products compete with those from South Africa not only in the EU countries, but also in third country export markets and even in our own domestic South African market. It is this kind of reality that recently prompted the United Nation Development Programme to observe that: "in the real world, as distinct from the imaginary one inhabited by free traders, survival in agricultural markets depends less on comparative advantage than on comparative access to subsidies. Liberalising local food markets in the face of such unequal competition is not a prescription for improving efficiency, but a recipe for the destruction of livelihoods on a massive scale" (UNDP, 1997, p.86).

Protection of intellectual property originating in the developed countries, but not of industrial capacity located in the developing countries - there are many other inconsistencies in the way in which the supposedly liberalised global economic rules of the game operate. The most developed capitalist economies are waging an intense campaign to protect and control access to "intellectual property" - like technology and scientific and technical processes. Measures like the Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (known as TRIPs) are enforced with vigour against developing countries. On the other hand, there is little sympathy for developing countries seeking to protect their own domestic industrial capacity. Domestic industrial capacity has to be exposed, by way of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation, and regardless of job losses, to the cold winds of global competition.

"Free movement of all factors of production" - but not labour. An even greater inconsistency in the supposedly free-trade, global dispensation, lies in the contrast between the free movement of many financial, technical and management factors, on the one hand, and the tight controls on the movement of labour. The former factors of production tend to originate in the industrialised countries, while labour tends to be "exported" from the less developed countries. Numerous national policies restrict the movement of unskilled and semi-skilled labour from the most populous and poorest regions into the richer and more developed regions. Once more the supposedly "liberalised" and integrated global system unveils its class biased and oppressive nature - labour mobility is controlled, capital mobility is liberated.

Democracy and the "free global market" - the governments of the more developed industrialised countries and donor agencies are now increasingly linking formal multi-party democratic elections to free trade and markets, and they are insisting on "democratisation" and "good governance" as an extra conditionality for financial and technical assistance. The hypocrisy of these new conditionalities is generally very clear to the people of developing countries. They have, after all, not forgotten the recent decades in which they suffered under the imposition of pro-imperialist, military and other authoritarian regimes. Despite the hypocrisy of these measures, the SACP naturally welcomes all moves towards deepening democracy and a culture of human rights. However, we also note that:

Democratisation and good governance are often reduced to formal, multi-party arrangements, and to "technical" competency and answerability to donor nations and agencies. Answerability to the social needs of one's own population, and to one's electoral mandate is seldom seen as the core concern of democracy and good governance;

  • "Good governance" and transparency are demanded of the governments of developing countries, but seldom of the transnational and national private sector corporations that are often at the root of corruption, and are often the principal beneficiaries;
  • The multi-party democracy conditionality is enforced upon developing countries with a great deal of selectivity. It is clear that it is often not democracy as such that is the prime goal, but the removal or weakening of governments in developing countries that are perceived to be hindrances to the global interests of transnational corporations and the major imperialist powers.
  • Above all, while belated democratisation measures are being enforced upon developing countries, there is, simultaneously, the vast growth of undemocratic global power - power that is unelected and unanswerable to all but the tiniest constituencies. According to UNDP calculations, fifty of the hundred richest "economies" in the world today are actually transnational corporations (UNDP, 1996). 500 of the largest transnational corporations account for 30% of global output.
  • 2.2 Deepening inequality, oppression and instability

    Like all social and economic processes dominated by capitalism, the current phase of imperialist restructuring is highly contradictory in character. It is, partly, driven by innovative and progressive technical advances that greatly expand the potential integration and capacity of human societies. But it is also driven by the insatiable pursuit of private profit. It is marked by deepening inequality within countries, between countries, between classes, and by the exploitation and deepening of gender oppression. It often afflicts the young, and marginalises the disabled. It is accelerating the destruction of our environment, and it is associated with unpredictable and often volatile economic instability.

    Among the most significant imbalances and contradictions in this new phase are:

    Sectoral imbalances, the global casino - there has been a massive and dangerous international shift of resources and power from industrial and other productive sectors to the global financial sector, and especially to speculative stock market and currency transactions. It is estimated that the electronic "movement" of speculative currency transactions is now anything between one and two trillion US dollars daily. This volume of speculative activities completely dwarfs the international flows of more stable foreign productive investment. It is as if the parasite that lived off a functioning organism had completely overgrown and overwhelmed its productive host.

    Growing polarisation - despite the claims for vastly expanded global trade flows, the sources of and gains from such flows are still heavily biased towards the richest countries and their transnational corporations. Fully 84% of all foreign direct investment (FDI) comes from the industrialised countries. What is more, almost 60% of global FDI in 1996 was still moving between the most developed industrialised countries of North America and Europe. Fully 87% of all transnational corporations are headquartered in the US, EU and Japan. In 1996, 88% of their "foreign" assets were actually located in each other's economies.

    And absolute marginalisation - while many of the economies of East Asia, parts of Latin America, and of a restructured Eastern Europe undergoing "shock therapy"can be considered as peripheries of the imperialist core (constituted by the US, EU and Japan), other zones of the world have been more or less totally marginalised. This applies to most of Africa. The difference between peripheralisation and absolute marginalisation can be illustrated by reference to FDI flows. According to UNCTAD calculations, while only 37% of all global FDI goes to developing countries, this 37% is very unevenly spread. More than one third of it went to China alone in 1996. By contrast just over 4% (of this 37%) came to Africa - a mere $5.3 billion. The African Development Bank estimates that Africa's share of FDI going to the developing world has declined from an average 16% in the 1970s, to 10% in the 1980s, to a mere 5% by the mid-1990s. Africa's growing marginalisation is also reflected in its miniscule and declining share of total global trade - from 3% in the 1950s to barely 1% in 1995.

    Growing inequality and poverty - there has been a systematic assault on working people over this past quarter of a century. In the richest and most "successful" economy in the world, the US, the ratio between the wages of blue collar workers and top management was of the order of 1:41 in 1975. It had widened to 1:189 in 1994. On a global scale, in the 1960s the richest 20% of the world's population were 30 times better off than the poorest 20%, but by 1996 the richest 20% were 61 times better off than the poorest 20%. According to the UNDP, 3,9 billion of the world's 6.5 billion population live on less than the equivalent of R10 a day - and 70% of those are female. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of the world's population control or absorb 83% of the world's income.

    Intensifying and reproducing gender oppression - the impact on women of the current "globalisation" phase of imperialism has been particularly harsh. Neo-liberal globalisation has exploited gender inequalities, and deepened and reinforced them in several ways:

    • Women have been forced to become the shock absorbers of the rolling back of the social gains won in the post-1945 period. Over the last two and a half decades government budgets for such things as health-care, education and pensions have been slashed - whether in the context of rolling back the welfare state in Europe, or by SAPs in Africa, or by way of "shock therapy" in Eastern Europe. These measures have thrown millions of women back into the invisible realm of "private", unpaid, reproductive labour - like the care of the young, aged and sick.
    • Parallel with this has been a process of the increasing feminisation of productive labour. In the 1970s and 1980s, as globalising capital ran away from unionised work-forces in the core imperialist economies, productive capital was invested in certain developing economies, like those of South East Asia. Here environmental, health and labour market regulations were minimal, particularly in the export processing zones (EPZs). During this period, when EPZs specialised in labour intensive production, up to 80% of the workforce was female. South East Asian governments even advertised the "docility" of their female labour force. Multinational electronics corporations, in particular, relocated to these areas in pursuit of cheap, female workers. In the 1990s, as production has become more capital intensive in the South East Asian EPZs, female labour has been replaced once more by skilled male labour. Hundreds of thousands of rentrenched women workers gained nothing from globalisation except a few years of highly exploited work.
    • Globalising capital, in its offensive against workers, has also increasingly sought to make the labour market and production processes more "flexible". Particularly in the clothing and textile industries, production has been shifted increasingly out of the factory to the homes of poor people, where isolated and non-unionised workers are not covered by unemployment insurance or pension funds. Home-working, like this, and other vulnerable, "flexible" work, like casual, part-time, contract and seasonal work, is overwhelmingly borne by poorly paid female workers.

    Cultural imperialism and fundamentalist reactions - The present process also has significant cultural outcomes, reinforcing, as it does, the global cultural hegemony of imperialist media conglomerates, and their world-view. Through the vastly expanded communications networks neo-liberal values, including the extolling of US militarism, chauvinism against women and third-world peoples, and a narrow consumerist culture, are propagated. At the local and national level, this intensified imperialist cultural hegemony often results in reactive, and sometimes reactionary, xenophobic retreats into religious and ethnic fundamentalism.

    Destruction of national sovereignty and the fragmentation of national states -These tendencies are also reinforced by the selective, enclave approach to investment by the transnational corporations in much of the developing world. Imperialist oil companies, for instance, are not interested in the all-round national development of a Nigeria. Foreign powers often foment ethnic, and other sectional movements, militias and political forces, the better to gain access to economic resources without the hindrance of sovereign national governments. The past decade of intensified globalisation has seen the dismantling of national states - from Yugoslavia to Africa.

    3. Engaging strategically with contemporary international realities

    So how, as South Africans, do we engage with these global realities? The first challenge we face is to analyse clear-headedly the main features of the present international reality. We have sought to sketch these features above.

    The second challenge we face is the strategic, moral and practical battle against TINA - the gospel of "There Is No Alternative".

    The two challenges are linked. The harsh realities of the present global situation can easily lead to one of three attitudes. On the one hand, there is the danger of despair and demoralisation. Alternately, there is the voluntaristic attempt to go it alone, to build a high wall around South Africa, and pursue our own development in splendid isolation from the world.

    In the face of these equally hopeless postures, there is another mistaken tendency, to make a virtue of necessity. Since we are part of a globalising world, so the reasoning goes, let us close our eyes, hold our noses, and smile. Like performing seals in a circus, we will earn applause (and growth and prosperity) by outdoing all our rivals in following the rules of the global game to the letter.

    South Africa has, since its formation, been an integral component of international economic realities. We cannot escape from the world, we have to engage with it, but without assuming that the precise character of global integration is pre-ordained. Our engagement with global realities needs to be intelligent, strategic and guided by a clear programmatic perspective that prioritises our own reconstruction and development objectives. But how?

    Consolidating national sovereignty - over the last two and a half decades there has been a prolonged offensive against progressive states (national democratic development states in the South, welfare states, and, of course, the states of the former Soviet bloc), but this should not be construed as an neo-liberal offensive against the state as such. Indeed, integral to the neo-liberal agenda, is the attempt to reconfigure the state, to make it an effective apparatus to manage the integration of economies into the imperialist-dominated global economy. Far from desiring weak states, the neo-liberal agenda often calls for "tough-minded" states ("lean and mean") capable of enforcing harsh conditionalities on their respective societies. In the face of this agenda, we need to strengthen the capacity of our new democratic state around its reconstruction and development agenda. This capacity is not merely a technical capacity, the new democratic state must have the will to pursue its electoral mandate. For this, it requires also to be strengthened by a strong civil society, and particularly by active working class organisations (notably trade unions). Our state needs to be strong, not despite, but because it is democratic. The strength of our democratic state must also be related to its ability to build social cohesion around a clear developmental plan, in which human development and a clear industrial policy are central.

    The importance of correct phasing - exposing one's industrial sector to international competition can, indeed, compel certain efficiencies, which, in turn, might result in lower prices for consumers. However, the mechanical application of this approach can simply wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs, and result in a situation where there are few consumers left to benefit from lower prices. The developing countries that have coped best with globalisation are those that have prioritised, over several decades, the development of their skills base and physical infrastructure. While a "free" market might promote efficiency, it does not promote the development of capacity. It is precisely the lack of effective human capacity, and the uneven nature of our physical infrastructure, that lies at the heart of South Africa's underdevelopment. The RDP vision of prioritising development, including the development of our human resources, is both morally and economically correct. The contrary, neo-liberal perspective of prioritising market-led growth first, by focusing on export-led growth, is doomed to perpetuate underdevelopment in South Africa, and it will accelerate our marginalisation internationally.

    Strengthening the southern African region - the fate of South Africa's reconstruction and development effort is inextricably linked to the development of our region. Once again, those developing countries that have done relatively well in the present international context, are those that have operated within an effective regional context. Our own region is one of the poorest in the world. Yet the Southern African region has a potential market in excess of one hundred and thirty million people. There are major natural resources within the region, and important complementarities between different countries of the region. Co-operation, and a collective regional engagement with the rest of the world make much sense. We need to sustain the numerous multi-lateral efforts presently under-way within the context of SADC. We need also to pursue the several spatial development initiatives that link the infrastructure of our region's countries together. The development of our region is also linked to the deepening of democracy. There can be no sustainable, people-centred and people-driven development in societies in which bureaucratic elites continue to dominate. Strengthening our region requires, then, also active party to party, and party to social movement relations that help to sustain solidarity efforts in the struggle for democratisation and development.

    Towards an African Renaissance - our alliance partner, the ANC, has recently adopted resolutions endorsing the perspective of an African Renaissance, invoking earlier, pan-africanist visions from the first-wave of decolonisation in the 1950s. The SACP, for its part, warmly endorses the struggle for a continental renaissance. Indeed, in our 1962 Programme, The Road To South African Freedom, the SACP devoted a full chapter to "The African Revolution". However, the struggle for an African Renaissance needs to be rooted in a scientific analysis of the challenges, and in a class conscious approach to these challenges. Simplistic arguments that the next century will automatically result in an African Renaissance "because Africa's time has come", as if there were some kind-hearted referee overseeing world history, will only result in disappointment. As South Africans we need, also, to guard against the danger of acting, in the name of a "new African Renaissance", as the witting or unwitting agents of an imperialist (and specifically US-led) reconfiguration of the subordination of our continent. Many transnational corporations see the new democratic South Africa as a potential sub-imperial ally and spring-board for their own agenda in Africa. While a small elite in South Africa may benefit from such an agenda, the majority of South Africans, not to mention the majority of the people of our continent, will remain oppressed if such were to be the character of an "African Renaissance". For the SACP the major features of an African Renaissance include:

    • a correct understanding of Africa's present marginalisation, with prime responsibility for this lying in a century and a quarter of persisting imperialst expansion and domination of our continent;
    • effective and rapid implementation of debt cancellation for the poorest countries of our continent, and of genuine debt relief for the rest;
    • a major developmental effort, to regain ground lost over the last decades under the impact of structural adjustment programmes, and to re-launch sustainable growth. This developmental effort needs to focus upon both physical infrastructure and human resource development;
    • policies that respect African social and cultural realities, without freezing these into some timeless tradition (that has, in fact, already been distorted by colonialism and imperialism);
    • the fostering of democracy, peace and human rights - but these must not be imposed in formalistic ways that have little to do with the actual realities of our continent. Democratisation must result in the genuine empowerment of the great majority of people, peasants, workers, the urban and rural poor;
    • strengthening the sovereign capacity of democratic states, and the complementary strengthening of progressive organs of civil society.

    Developing numerous multi-lateral ties - In terms of our trade, diplomatic and cultural activity, we need to ensure that we maintain a diversity of contacts and relationships, and that we avoid the dangers of over-reliance on one or another major power, or trading bloc. South African needs to foster numerous South-South and South-North connections, with progressive governments and social movements.

    Helping to strengthen progressive, or potentially progressive, multi-lateral international forums - key among these are UN agencies, like the UNDP, UNCTAD and the ILO. Obviously these forums are, by their nature, subject to diverse perspectives and pressures, but they have shown a capacity to develop alternative perspectives to those of the neo-liberal "Washington Consensus". The SACP also supports current South African government initiatives (working in partnership with many others) to restructure the United Nations and, specifically, the Security Council - to ensure that these institutions become more representative and more attuned to the challenges of our present global reality.

    Democratic South Africa must pursue a policy of active and controlled international integration. In doing this we must avoid the idea of the world as some pre-determined reality, where the choice before us is "to take-it or leave-it".

    At the same time, we must be perfectly clear. Any active and controlled international integration that embodies a respect for the interests of working class and popular forces throughout the world, must start with the reinforcement, through struggle, of their power within their national societies. In the absence of ongoing, strategic and self-conscious struggles to alter the class balance of forces on the national terrain, discussion of global alternatives will remain pious. Pleas to reason, or to some "general interest" addressed to existing powers, will never have any enduring effect. The policies that these powers are pursuing are perfectly rational and efficient from the point of view of the class interests they defend.

    4. Our Party's Internationalism

    The SACP commits itself to sustaining and deepening internationalism within our ranks, within our movement and government, and within our country as a whole. There are many programmatic tasks that flow from this commitment. They include:

    • Fostering a consistent anti-imperialist outlook.
    • Guarding against the danger that current international trends do not result in demoralisation, or in inward-looking fundamentalist or xenophobic retreats;
    • Isolating international war-mongers, and campaigning for world peace;
    • Advancing a developmental perspective for our country, our region, our continent and the world;
    • Being active in all campaigns of solidarity for peoples still suffering from foreign military occupation, or aggression, and with peoples under the yoke of anti-democratic regimes - with a priority on our own region and continent;
    • Being outspoken protagonists for the right to self-determination of all nations, in particular of our brothers and sisters in Cuba;
    • Being a consistent force within South Africa for an enlightened and developmental approach to the challenge of mass immigration into our country;
    • Constantly maintaining, advancing and deepening our party to party connections with our historical allies, other left and democratic parties and social movements.

    Communists have never run away from the globalising tendencies of capitalism. For over 150 years, since the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, communists have underlined the huge human potential, the capacity for building global solidarity that is implicit in the forces of production unleashed by capitalism. What was true in the time of Marx and Engels is even more obvious in the era of the internet and round-the-world, satellite-relayed, instant communication.

    Communists do not seek to abolish these achievements, our struggle is to transform them to foster their full social potential. It is capitalism, with its exploitative, profit-driven relations of production that constantly imprisons the very forces it unleashes. Despite all the claims to the contrary, the intensified globalisation of the last decade has placed the progressive abolition of capitalism forcefully back onto the agenda.

    A socialist approach to the consolidation and deepening of the National Democratic Revolution

    "The proletariat alone is capable of carrying the democratic revolution to the end ... the main task of the proletariat at the current historical moment is to carry the democratic revolution ... forward to the end ... any minimisation of this task inevitably results in the working class being transformed from the leader of the people's revolution into a passive participant in the revolution tailing behind the liberal bourgeoisie." (Lenin, 1907)

    At the SACP 9th Party Congress in 1995 we identified the consolidation of the national democratic revolution (NDR) as the most important task facing our Party and the national liberation movement as a whole. This strategic perspective was grounded in the new political situation - the ANC's victory in the South Africa's first democratic elections in April 1994. At the 9th Congress we characterised this event as a democratic breakthrough that qualitatively shifted the balance of forces in favour of the mass of the people and placed the NDR on a new plane.

    This breakthrough marked the political defeat of the apartheid regime, and more generally, the strategic defeat of colonialism of a special type (CST), the specific character that capitalist rule had assumed in our country. This strategic defeat opened up the possibilities for a bloc of forces, led by the ANC, to establish bridge-heads into political power. However, as much as this electoral victory advanced the goals of the NDR, it did not signal the completion of the tasks facing the national liberation movement.

    When we adopted this position, we were clear that advancing, deepening and defending the NDR would involve a protracted struggle. Apart from the relatively unfavourable international context, dominated by imperialism, our NDR is also threatened by the weight of the past in the present, by the huge backlog of poverty, unemployment and skewed development we have inherited, and by a range of minority class and other social forces within our country, determined to defend ill-begotten powers and privileges. Though strategically off-balance, for the moment, at the political level, these forces continue to possess significant power, and they are actively endeavouring to regroup. In a sense, the revolution is encumbered by the very things it seeks to overcome.

    1. The character of the NDR

    Like many third world societies emerging from authoritarian and colonial rule, South Africa's struggle to consolidate democracy, reconstruction and development has to be directed at several interrelated challenges, key among them are the national, class and gender contradictions.

    None of these contradictions can be resolved in isolation. In South Africa, the fundamental basis of CST was the national oppression of the black majority as a necessary condition for the economic exploitation of black workers. These interrelated realities underpinned the specific growth path of capitalism in our society, and have resulted in a society that is one of the most unequal on earth. Patriarchal oppression was integrated into, and vastly extended under, CST as an equally necessary component in the reproduction of this minority rule dispensation.

    The main strategic objective of the NDR, the overcoming of the legacy of centuries of colonial and decades of special colonial oppression, has to be addressed in the context of overcoming the national, class and gender contradictions in their relationship to each other. It is within this strategic framework that the deepening of the revolution should be approached by our Party.

    1.1 Class struggle in the national struggle

    In particular, we must guard against a mechanical, stageist approach to these interconnected challenges. We must reject attempts to confine the present phase of the NDR to a simple "deracialisation" of capitalism, which seeks to postpone working class struggle against capitalism to some distant "second stage".

    A simple transfer and more "equitable" sharing of some of the existing white-monopolised ownership and management powers within the framework of the present capitalist system will only scratch the surface of the legacy of racial oppression in our country. The particular colonial growth path of capitalism in South Africa involved mass land dispossession, forced labour, and the hostel system. Central to CST capitalism was the coerced and racialised reproduction of a huge reserve army of "cheap" labour (through the reserve/bantustan system, bantu education, forced removals, pass laws, the domination and destabilising of neighbouring countries, and many other features). The legacy of this capitalist growth path is still with us, in land shortages, mass unemployment, homelessness, high levels of illiteracy and low levels of skill development, huge inequalities in physical infrastructure within our country, and our region.

    This legacy will not be transformed by the mere deracialisation of the board-rooms. It is not simply the "equitable" sharing of some economic privileges to a new elite that is required. The thorough-going transformation of economic power relations has to be undertaken within the context of the NDR itself. The deracialisation of board-rooms and of the management function can only be justified if it is part and parcel of this broader transformation programme.

    Maintaining a consistent class perspective is critical in our present conjuncture. At present, in South Africa there is often considerable sensitivity (at least rhetorical) to race and gender matters - class is all too easily forgotten.

    An anti-capitalist class-struggle cannot be held over to some later stage of our transformation process. This is why the SACP has, since our 9th Congress in April 1995, advanced the slogan: "Socialism is the Future, Build it Now!"

    1.2 Gender struggle in the national and class struggle

    Likewise, overcoming gender oppression in our society cannot be delayed as if it were a "side-issue". Nor, as history has taught us, can we make the assumption that the oppression of women will simply wither away under some future socialist dispensation.

    Neither the NDR nor socialism can be consolidated unless we simultaneously and self-consciously attack gender oppression. CST and the specific capitalist growth path in our country involved the appropriation of existing patriarchal customs and traditions, and their articulation into the reproduction processes of CST capitalism.

    This articulation saw the vast exacerbation of the coercive features of pre-existing patriarchy. In particular, the brunt of the reproduction of a massive army of reserve cheap labour was borne by the unpaid (and hidden) labour and effort of millions of women. The reproductive functions often carried (at least to some extent) by society at large in other developed economies (by way of pensions, public education, health-care and housing, and municipal water and power infrastructure) has been borne, at huge personal cost, by millions of black women in our country (and in our region). It is they who have had to care for the young, the sick, the unemployed and the aged. It is they who have had to spend their lives fetching water and fuel. The legacy of this continues to impact dramatically upon the life-opportunities, resources, and general marginalisation of the women of our country and region.

    We must reaffirm our view, as the SACP, that there can be no true national liberation nor socialism without the progressive eradication of gender inequality and patriarchal practices and institutions.

    The resilience of patriarchal institutions and practices has largely, though not exclusively, been reinforced by ideologically projecting women's oppression and gender inequalities as part of "normal", "acceptable" and "long-standing" cultural traditions. The institution of chieftaincy, once a focal point for anti-colonial resistance, is a stark example of how colonial oppression and racialised capitalism can appropriate, preserve and transform "traditions", subordinating them to the purposes of national oppression and class exploitation. While "traditional" values, however distorted they may have become, need to be handled sensitively, the SACP must be prepared to speak up honestly about and deal fearlessly with the abusive character of many "traditions".

    It would be wrong to attribute patriarchal practices only to the oppressor or to dominant ruling blocs. Within the working class and the poor, these practices are prevalent and harsh. The heaviest burden of the social conditions under which the working class and the poor live falls mainly on women. Patriarchal attitudes, coupled with the general social distress and dislocation felt by the poor of our country, also results in extremely high levels of domestic violence and abuse, directed against women and children. Hence the importance of consciously combating patriarchy as a necessary component of mobilising and strengthening the working class as a political force for itself. In fact, the working class cannot be raised to the level of a political class for itself, without at the same time consciously challenging patriarchal attitudes and practices within this class.

    1.3 The national question in the class and gender struggles

    The relationship between national (or gender) oppression and class exploitation is not a relationship of "form" to "content". National and gender oppression are not merely formal, they are all too real in themselves. They have a history, they are institutionalised, and they have a relative autonomy from class exploitation. The one cannot simply be collapsed or explained by the other. Likewise, one or the other oppression will not simply wither away because another of the oppressions has been overcome.

    These three realities are, as we have been arguing above, deeply interconnected. For this reason, the SACP also believes that the struggle against these oppressions cannot be separated out into different "stages" of struggle.

    However, the SACP continues to affirm the centrality, in the present South African reality, of the national question. The legacy of racial oppression directed at blacks in general, and Africans in particular, continues to be the dominant feature of our society. It is for this reason that, as Communists, we have worked over decades with non-Communist comrades to build a powerful ANC. It is for this reason that, as South African Communists, we recognise the leading role of the ANC. It is a leading role that we seek to constantly build, as Communists.

    When we argue that the national question is central to the present South African reality we are essentially recognising the major base around which a massive social movement needs to be sustained, in order to ensure the ongoing momentum of transformation. It is no accident it was a national movement, led by the ANC, that strategically defeated the political ruling bloc in the early 1990s. It is no accident (nor is it an "unfortunate historical legacy") that the mobilised mass base of the ANC (and SACP) is overwhelmingly black in general and African in particular. A sense of black and particularly African national grievance, and of national identity and pride remain crucial motive forces for our ongoing democratic and socialist transformation struggles.

    Of course, in the decades-long history of the Communist Party in South Africa, and indeed of the ANC, these national traditions have always also been non-racial and open in character. Our nationalism has nothing to do with chauvinism, or with the sectarian denigration of other cultures, languages or traditions. Our national traditions are also dynamic and evolving. Our strategy as the SACP, for the present conjuncture, is to help organise all socialists, all democrats, all working people, black and white, into the struggle for democracy, reconstruction and development within the context of the African realities of our country, and our continent.

    2. Assessing the present conjuncture

    Part of the strategy of our opponents is to sow demoralisation about the "lack of progress" since the democratic breakthrough of April 1994. Sometimes the implied message of this campaign is racist ("blacks are incompetent"). There are also some on the left who, unwittingly perhaps, take up the same demoralisation campaign, with loose talk about the "betrayal" of the revolution. The fact that such a campaign exists should not deter the SACP from making an honest assessment of progress, or the lack of it, since April 1994. There have, undoubtedly, been hesitations and mistakes, and the medium and longer-term outcome of the transformation process is far from clear.

    2.1 Achievements

    It would be strategically and historically stupid, however, not to grasp the massive process of transformation that is under-way in our country. Without going into substantial detail, there are several broad areas that must be high-lighted:

    Political democratisation - our liberation movement has successfully steered our country into representative democracy. There has been steady, if still uneven, consolidation of national, provincial and local tier democratic structures, within the context of an innovative co-operative governance approach, that sees these three spheres are inextricably united in an overall national transformation process. The victory of the ANC in a large majority of local government elections in 1995/6 has helped to consolidate the 1994 breakthrough, and it has extended democratic participation to hundreds of localities that were racially divided in the past. We have adopted a new and extremely progressive constitution. The constitution enshrines basic democratic rights, and also, importantly, socio-economic rights. Although major transformation struggles are still under-way, generally most state institutions, including the legislatures and the criminal-justice system are starting to be more accessible and more attuned to the needs of the majority. Most importantly, the overwhelming majority of South Africans, regardless of their political affiliations, broadly accept the reality and necessity of the new political dispensation;

    Peace and stability - there has been a dramatic curtailment of political violence in our country. In the nine years immediately preceding April 1994, over 15,000 people were killed in political violence. There was an immediate cessation of political violence after April 1994 in virtually all parts of our country (with the partial exception of KwaZulu/Natal). This abrupt halt underlines the strategic nature of that violence (it was a deliberate component of the apartheid regime's strategy, including its coercive reform strategy of the 1980s, and its negotiation strategy between 1990 and 1994). The virtual cessation of this violence also underlines the incontestable legitimacy of the ANC electoral victory, and the marginalisation of those forces behind the violence. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, fully supported by the SACP and its alliance, has also contributed to fostering the political and moral conditions for sustainable peace and stability in our country. Although the truth about gross human rights abuses in the apartheid period has only emerged very partially, the patterns and obvious high-level responsibilities for these gross abuses (including systematic assassinations, disappearances, torture and dirty tricks of all kinds) have deepened the crisis of the National Party, and of many of its cadres still located in state structures.

    Socio-economic transformation. The strategic defeat of CST, marked by the April 1994 democratic breakthrough, was, essentially, a political and moral defeat. It is on the political and moral fronts that we have best been able to advance, deepen and defend our breakthrough. Predictably, on the front of social and economic transformation, change has often been harder to bring about, we are up against powerful vested interests and powers. Transformation on this front has often been either negligible or frustratingly slow. Nevertheless, there are many areas in which significant gains have been made. These include:

    Major infrastructural programmes - the most notable of which have been the mass electrification of poor households (over 2 million households in the first three years); and the provision of safe drinking water to poor communities.

    Health-care - primary health -care is increasingly available to all, and it is now free for the first time. Major struggles are being waged, led by government, against the transnational pharmaceutical companies to ensure that drugs are available and affordable.

    Land reform and land restitution - are beginning to gather momentum, and the rights of labour tenants on commercial (usually white-owned) farms have been substantially improved in law.

    The transformation of the labour market - in the face of substantial opposition from the capitalist class and the media that supports it, the ANC-led government and its alliance forces have piloted progressive legislation through the National Assembly, including, notably, the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This legislation greatly extends the empowerment of workers in the labour market, and at the point of production. Other institutions, like NEDLAC and the CCMA, also help to restrict the monopoly of management over work-place practices, and over broader economic policy issues.

    Women's emancipation - significant progress has been made in setting up the national machinery for gender equality in line with the constitutional provisions and our movement's commitment to place this high on the agenda of social transformation. Apart from other socio-economic transformation processes, noted above, which have a direct bearing on alleviating the material basis of women's oppression (like land reform, electrification and water provision programmes) the new Termination of Pregnancy Act should be singled out. In the past, tens of thousands of women died, or suffered serious injury, each year, as a result of back-street abortions. The SACP salutes the legalisation of abortion, and commits itself to playing an active role in deepening popular understanding for and support of this progressive advance.

    Educational transformation - legislative and policy measures have been taken to ensure that the education system is transformed from a racist, ethnically based system into a non-racial, non-sexist and high-quality public education system. Huge problems and inequalities persist, but the education system is slowly moving out of its apartheid crisis.

    There are numerous other areas in which there have been significant, or at the very least partial advances - from the deracialisation and more strategic targeting of pensions and other welfare grants, to the progressive transformation of the public broadcaster and the licensing of numerous community radio stations. There is not a single area of South African life, from sport to transport, that is not in some way caught up in the struggle for transformation.

    The SACP forcefully rejects the idea that "nothing has changed" in South Africa, or that "the revolution has been betrayed".

    However, the SACP is also deeply conscious of the massive crises that still afflict our society - the crisis of mass unemployment, of poverty, and of high levels of criminal violence, in particular. All of these problems have their roots in the objective legacy with which we are having to deal. Resolution of these problems is also hampered by the still active presence in our society of class and other social forces that are determined to defend their own ill-begotten powers and privileges from the past.

    2.2 Strategic shortcomings

    But the question must also be asked: Have there not been strategic, subjective short-comings on the side of our liberation movement in the period since the April 1994 breakthrough? Have we used the relatively more favourable balance of forces within our country to maximum effect?

    The SACP believes that there have been such strategic shortcomings, and that these shortcomings relate, essentially, to four broad and interrelated areas:

    Misunderstanding our location within global realities - We have already dealt at length, in the first chapter of this programme, with the strategic uncertainties and illusions that have tended to afflict our strategic approach to contemporary global, and specifically economic, realities. These strategic uncertainties are, in turn, directly related to:

    Macro-economic policy - while accepting the need to manage the economy in a sustainable way, while accepting the need for fiscal discipline (we are dealing with public resources, after all), and the need to effectively manage government debt - the SACP is convinced that government's macro-economic framework policy, GEAR, is seriously flawed in certain important respects.

    We believe that the budget deficit reduction targets are arbitrary, based as they are on macro-economic models derived from a largely unreconstructed Reserve Bank. GEAR embodies, in its core fiscal and monetary policies, a neo-liberal approach that is at variance with our reconstruction and development objectives. Much of GEAR, and indeed much of government's evolving economic policy has shifted progressively away from ANC economic policy in the first half of the 1990s, which underlined the interconnectedness of growth and development, which envisaged a major emphasis on growth led by domestic and regional infrastructural development. More and more, there has been a shift towards the assumptions of an export-led growth, based on the myth that deregulation and liberalisation, more or less on their own, will make the South African economy "globally competitive".

    Above all, macro-economic hopes are increasingly pinned upon the massive (but unpredictable) inflow of private sector investments. The role of the new democratic government is more and more centred upon creating an "investor friendly" climate, rather than on leading an economic reconstruction and development process. The economy also continues to be held hostage by a Reserve Bank implementing narrow monetarist policies, focused on very high interest rates.

    The SACP acknowledges that some progress has been achieved on the economic front. Growth, even if it is still very low growth, has been restored to the South African economy, after over a decade of negative growth. A much more progressive and transparent budgeting system has been introduced, and important work on budgetary reprioritisation is taking effect. There has been progressive (if not sufficient) reform of the tax system. Our new democratic government has been able to overcome a serious foreign currency reserve situation which we inherited, immediately on assuming office.

    However, in acknowledging all of this, the SACP believes that nearly two years of GEAR are beginning to confirm our concerns. Growth targets are not being met, the arbitrary budget deficit targets are wreaking havoc on all of the other good work we are doing in socio-economic transformation, and, above all, the small growth that has occurred has been accompanied by persistent structural unemployment, indeed there have been net job losses, with hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs in the last two years.

    Lack of consistency in building a strong, developmental state - although the official policy of government and of the alliance is that the state should play an active and developmental role in the economy, in practice this strategic standpoint is often not pursued. "Privatisation" is still often proclaimed to be official government policy and an end in itself, notwithstanding the National Framework Accord on the Restructuring of State Assets. The transformation of the public sector is often reduced to a narrow cost-cutting, budget-deficit reduction exercise. And the role of the state in the economy often amounts to little more than pleas to the private sector.

    The tendency to demobilise the mass popular movement - although the RDP and many other policy perspectives and campaign programmes, including, nominally at least, the Masakhane Campaign, recognise the need for a people-centred, but also people-driven transformation, the mass popular movement in our country has been considerably demobilised since April 1994. There have been many factors at work in this

    • The redeployment of tens of thousands of cadres from their township, sectoral and work-place structures into the new institutions of our developing democracy (legislatures, administrations, security forces, and also into private sector positions). While these redeployed comrades are not lost to struggle, nor even necessarily to their original constituencies, this major and progressive transformation process has destablised mass and community based organisations.
    • The need, on the side of mass and community based organisations to re-orient themselves, to grapple with new challenges, with greater emphasis on developmental struggles, in tandem with and not in opposition to public structures and institutions. Our mass formations have sometimes found it difficult to give fundamental strategic support to our democratic government without turning themselves into toothless "sweetheart" sectoral formations, conversely, their attempts to genuinely articulate the concerns of their sectors are often castigated as "irresponsible". Maintaining the mass mobilisational capacities of our movement (as we must), but in the new conditions of governance, has often proved difficult.
    • Confusing, demobilising signals to the mass base that "we are now in power", and "we shall deliver". This is related to tendencies to adopt narrow technicist and managerialist approaches, that are impatient with consultation and other essential elements of a developmental approach to transformation.
    • Directly related to this is the increasing marketisation of the relationship of communities to governance. There is a tendency for local government, for instance, to see communities as little more than individual household "consumers" and "clients" of services. Not only does this bureaucratise governance, but it fragments communities into individual households, and poverty becomes, not a collective concern, but an atomised household responsibility.

    These four inter-related areas of strategic uncertainty (in locating ourselves globally, macro-economic policy, the developmental state, and in how to sustain the mobilisation of our mass base) are matters of serious concern to the SACP, and indeed to many within our broader alliance. We have taken up these questions systematically within our alliance, and in public debate. We welcome the agreement that no policies are cast in stone, and that there should be ongoing intra-Alliance discussion on these and other key strategic matters.

    The SACP, for its part, commits itself to playing a constructive role in the unfolding NDR. Thousands of SACP members are active in government at all levels, and in the legislatures. The SACP, together with its alliance partners, has been prepared to assume collective responsibility for governance. Insofar as the Party expresses robust criticism, it is not from some safe, holier-than-thou, comfort zone. Nor do we level criticism in order to score points. Our critical concerns have one principal motivation only - a failure to address weaknesses in governance and in our broader alliance could pose a threat to the very deepening and consolidation of the NDR itself.

    To understand what is at stake, it is important to briefly consider the present social and class realities of our society.

    3. The social and class realities of South Africa

    South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. Income inequality is sometimes measured by the Gini co-efficient, which allows for comparisons across countries. In terms of this measurement South Africa has "among the highest income inequality in the world" ("Key Indicators of Poverty in SA"). In 1992 the World Bank calculated that 51,2% of annual income went to the richest 10% of the population (it was 8% in 1975). Less than 3,9% of income is earned by the poorest 40% of the population. Similarly, in 1995 the RDP Office reported that the poorest half of the population accounts for only 10% of consumption, while the richest 5% accounts for 40% of consumption.

    These gross inequalities in our society correspond largely (but not exclusively) to race. In 1993, 54% of Africans, 25% of coloureds, 8% of South Africans of Asian origin, and less than 0,5% of whites were calculated to be living in poverty by the World Bank.

    Nevertheless, there have also been some fairly dynamic changes within this general pattern. Over the last two decades huge disparities have begun to open up among Africans. The mean income of the lowest-earning 40% of African households declined by almost 40% between 1975 and 1991, while the richest 20% of African households (representing 5,6 million people) soared by 40%. In 1975, less than 10% of the richest 20% of households in South Africa were African, by 1991 that figure had risen to 26%.

    These very significant shifts within the majority African population of our country reflect important class dynamics, that the SACP must understand very clearly.

    In part, the shifts are the consequence of the capacity, from the second half of the 1970s through to the 1990s, of increasingly organised African workers (drawn largely from the semi-skilled ranks of the working class) to make significant wage gains. However, it would be a grave error to argue (as some do) that redistribution through effective wage negotiations, has created a "black labour aristocracy".

    Organised African workers are, typically, connected to the unorganised and to the unemployed by extended family networks. This occurs in the context of a society in which there is very little effective social wage, and in which the potentially cushioning capacity of independent peasant farming (for the unemployed, the young, sick and old) has been reduced to a minimal reality. Urbanisation levels in South Africa are as high as 50 or even 60%. In the context of all of this, the wage packet of an employed African worker is typically redistributed through an extended family network, and is made to cover high costs for items like transport (exacerbated by apartheid geography and an undeveloped public transport network).

    Much more significant in the acceleration of inequalities among the African population have been:

    • Co-oercive reform efforts to create black buffer classes in the final decade-and-a-half of apartheid. In particular, a narrow but avaricious bantustan elite was fostered in this period;
    • The rapid promotion, in the 1990s, of tens of thousands of African professionals into the ranks of middle and senior management in the public and private sectors; and the rapid rise of a small but not insignificant black bourgeoisie; and, on the other hand
    • Capitalist restructuring of the work-force over the last two decades. On the one hand, levels of employment in the formal sector have dropped drastically over this period. Unemployment has, concomitantly grown massively. Depending on the definition used for unemployment, anything between 20 and 35% of people over 15 years are unemployed. About 1,7 million people now, also, work in the so-called informal sector. Among workers employed in the formal sector there has also been growing stratification.

    All of these shifting class dynamics remain markedly racialised and gendered. While half of the South African population lives in rural areas, almost two thirds (63%) of Africans are in these areas, against a far smaller proportion of coloureds (16%), Indians (5%) and whites (9%). It is African women, more than any other group, who suffer most from unemployment (47% are estimated to be unemployed). Likewise, it is Africans generally (1,03 million) and African women in particular (772,000), who make up the majority of people (1,7 million) working in the typically low-wage or unpaid informal sector.

    While there have been some significant shifts in the 1990s in terms of the upper middle strata, the 1995 October Household Survey of the CSS still found that fewer than 4% of African males and 2% of African females were in managerial posts. The corresponding figures for Coloureds was even lower (3% of males, 1% of females).

    Interestingly, the same October 1995 survey found that approximately one third of all South African workers were unionised, with membership being highest among African male (39%) and female (36%) workers, with white female workers (17%) being the least likely to be members of unions.

    It is on the terrain of these still highly racialised and gendered, but nonetheless shifting, class and social realities, that a variety of political formations and agendas are seeking to shape the post-1994 South African reality.

    4. Threats to national democratic transformation

    In propagating the perspective:"Advance, Deepen and Defend the Democratic Breakthrough", the SACP acknowledged in 1995 that the trajectory of the transitional process was uncertain, and that our strategic goals would have to be struggled for in the face of opposition forces.

    The 1994 democratic breakthrough represented a strategic political defeat of CST, white minority rule was no longer viable. But the breakthrough did not of itself affect substantial powers and privileges accumulated in the past. Positioned powerfully within the economy, some of our state institutions (like the judiciary and security forces), and in parts of the media and other important civil society structures, are social forces from the former ruling bloc.

    These forces have, basically, three strategic options:

    • To mount an active counter-revolutionary struggle, to reverse the democratic breakthrough of 1994;
    • Or to work within the post-1994 constitutional and institutional framework (either as constitutional opposition forces, or from within the liberation movement itself), in order to block substantial change, to preserve powers and privileges from the past.
    • Or to throw in their lot wholeheartedly with the national democratic transformation effort (a choice that some have made);

    These strategic choices are, obviously, outlined here in a very schematic way. Social forces do not necessarily act with complete clarity, often there is a hedging of bets between different options, and there are interconnections between different forces pursuing different agendas.

    Bearing all of this in mind, it is still useful to seek to define from which quarter the most serious threat to our NDR is posed. It is precisely confusion in this regard that can lead to strategic differences within our national liberation movement.

    4.1 A counter-revolutionary threat?

    In a society in the midst of a far-reaching transformation process, it would be na?ve to ignore the danger of counter-revolution. This applies even more forcefully to a country (and region) like our own, emerging out of three decades of armed conflict. Apartheid, in attempting to prolong itself, developed a host of dirty tricks networks, disinformation structures, a culture of subterfuge and the abuse of state resources, the vast expansion of private security forces of all kinds, and the amassing of large quantities of weaponry. Much of this legacy is now at the heart of the violent crime problems that we confront.

    However, the SACP is convinced that the counter-revolutionary threat should not be over-stated in our present situation. Disinformation about an elaborate right-wing (and sometimes even a "left-wing") counter-revolution has been one of the ploys used by the old apartheid intelligence structures, in an attempt to extract concessions from the ANC.

    Counter-revolutionary forces currently lack any serious mass base, nor do they enjoy any significant economic backing. Neither the major imperialist powers, nor the major South African corporations, are seriously considering this option. Clearly we need to monitor and deal effectively with pockets of potential counter-revolution. Above all, we need to ensure that, through our own conduct, we do not create room for manoeuvre for these forces. This means, amongst others things:

    • Handling issues relating to culture and tradition with sensitivity, without being held hostage by these factors;
    • Showing the greatest respect, ourselves, for the new constitutional and democratic order; and, above all
    • Pressing ahead with massive reconstruction and development, in which the most marginalised areas of our society are brought into the process of transformation.

    While vigilance is certainly required, it would be a serious strategic miscalculation to project our liberation movement and our new democratic government as besieged, as threatened on all sides. A position that calls for the bureaucratic "closing of ranks" in the face of perceived "counter-revolutionary" activities on all fronts will, in the end, become self-fulfilling. Our liberation movement enjoys massive support, and extensive legitimacy nationally and internationally. We must foster with confidence the political and moral hegemony that we do, in fact, enjoy.

    4.2 Constitutional opposition forces

    In the present conjuncture, our multi-party electoral dispensation is basically aligned around a national liberation movement (the ANC), enjoying overwhelming majority support from those historically oppressed by CST, and various political formations that represent (or seek to represent) classes and other social forces that benefited, or believe they benefited, from the past.

    The PAC is a minor anomaly within this general alignment. The PAC seeks to represent the same constituency as the broad ANC-led alliance, but since its formation as a break-away from the ANC in 1958, it has lacked any serious (still less consistent) politics. Since 1958 it has manoeuvred back and forth, tactically, seeking to project itself as somehow different from the ANC, while awaiting for some mass disillusionment within ANC ranks to swell its own. In short, throughout its history the only real consistency in PAC politics has been opportunism. A similar opportunism, for the moment even more vague than that of the PAC, is to be found in the newly launched UDM. More than a year after its launch, the UDM has still to announce its political programme, or even basic manifesto.

    The central dynamic of our National Assembly (and of other legislatures) is the engagement of a national liberation movement, striving to advance the momentum of transformation, with other political parties (notably the NP, IFP, FF and DP) that, in various ways, seek to slow the pace of change, and to preserve islands of pre-existing power and privilege (whether in education, residential areas, in "traditional" customs, or in the economy). These parties do, indeed, represent actual, albeit relatively small, constituencies.

    It is in the interests of the consolidation of the NDR that these various constituencies are represented within the new, non-racial democratic dispensation. The SACP is unambiguous in its support for our multi-party dispensation, and in its support of the right of a range of political formations to be represented therein.

    The ANC-led alliance should, however, not assume that constituencies are unchanging, or that they are timelessly in the pockets of this or that political formation. For a variety of reasons, significant numbers of historically oppressed people still vote for parties like the NP and IFP. Without abandoning our principled, strategic commitments, the ANC-led alliance must constantly seek to broaden its base (including its electoral base).

    The SACP believes that for as long as the realities of South African society are marked by vast disparities between a large majority who remain the victims of the legacy of the past, and a small minority with hugely disproportionate economic power, the present fundamental alignment of electoral forces should be sustained. In other words, ensuring a massive, numerical majority within the framework of a common (but broad) progressive electoral platform is essential. The SACP believes that not only should our tripartite alliance be sustained, but that (at least for the foreseeable future) the SACP should not mount a separate electoral effort, albeit within the context of an ongoing alliance. Naturally, this position is one that will be reviewed in the light of changing circumstances.

    But what threat to the NDR do the constitutional opposition parties represent? In themselves these parties are able, in certain respects, to play a blocking, obstructionist role - often relying on provincial or local level powers to do so. But they are incapable, in their own right, of developing a strategic project with any hope of redefining the social and political terrain. Part of the reason for this incapacity is their inability to sustain support in their own core constituencies on the one hand, and yet simultaneously put together a feasible appeal to a broader (usually non-racial) constituency that could mount a serious electoral challenge. By and large, all are operating on the terrain of diminishing constituencies and the partial if miniscule growth of one (the DP, for instance) is usually at the expense of another of these minority parties.

    Strategically these parties are positioned, therefore, little differently from the PAC and UDM. They are all dreaming of some cataclysmic shattering of the ANC and its alliance. For this reason, the breaking of the alliance is a central and strategic objective of these forces.

    However, constitutional opposition forces are not confined to political parties - more significant are a host of economic, cultural, sports and media institutions, often with substantial power completely disproportionate to the actual numbers they represent. Included in these opposition forces are a range of networks in strategic places, like the judiciary and the Reserve Bank which, either consciously or from habit, seek to obstruct the policies of the ANC-led government.

    It is important to understand that, whatever their sympathy for these various oppositional forces, the capitalist class in South Africa, and the major international imperialist powers, are well aware of the improbability (in any foreseeable future) that they will ever, singularly or collectively, mount a majority political project. The support for these forces from the side of big capital is muted by this strategic consideration.

    The threat posed to the NDR by these forces is not remotely insurmountable. The SACP believes that the best means to meeting the challenge posed by these forces are, in any case, in line with the general tasks confronting the NDR. We need to foster the unity of our own alliance, we need to press ahead with reconstruction and development to undercut pockets of privilege and to draw those most vulnerable into the process of democratisation. We need to ensure that institutions like the Reserve Bank and the judiciary, as well as key civil society structures - like the private media, and sports bodies - become increasingly representative and aligned to our developmental objectives.

    It is for all of the above reasons that the SACP believes that the greatest threat to the NDR comes not from without, but from within, or rather from the strategic impact upon our alliance exerted by forces fundamentally hostile to the NDR.

    4.3 Capital's attempt to transform the liberation movement and to re-define the trajectory of change

    The most serious strategic threat to the NDR is the attempt by capital to stabilise a new, "deracialised" capitalist ruling bloc, under the mantle of the ANC itself.

    Central to this strategic project is the attempt to re-define the NDR as a struggle:

    • To "modernise" the South African economy, to make it "more competitive" on the "global stage";
    • To "normalise" South Africa's political dispensation; and
    • To stabilise and surpass the present crisis within a new capitalist order in our country.

    Around this attempted re-definition of the "NDR" is a potential new ruling bloc in formation, dominated by old and emergent new fractions of the bourgeoisie.

    Within the calculations of this project, the old and emerging bourgeois factions will not (and could not) go it alone. The new bloc will seek to present its interests as those of a broader range of middle strata, especially the rapidly forming new black middle strata - professionals, private and parastatal managers, middle and senior level civil servants. "Modernising", "normalising", "globalising", "black economic empowerment" and plain self-enrichment will be among the major themes around which this bloc will attempt to consolidate itself. Socialism, more substantial transformation, and the Freedom Charter are viewed as "baggage from the past". Real issues, like gender oppression, are picked up within this project, but are then largely confined to elite concerns and resolutions, such as ensuring that a quota of women are represented within the emerging public and private sector elite.

    This project will not ignore the organised working class. It will seek to incorporate the more organised, more skilled sections of the working class as junior partners within its ruling bloc. Ironically, the very forces that castigate COSATU as an "elite", are the ones that most actively seek to transform strategic sections of this organised working class into an elite. This is the logic of the "first tier" of the proposed "two-tiered labour market" advanced by leading sections of South African capital. This is also one implication of the insistence on whole-scale privatisation - the net effect of which would be to render housing, effective transport, health-care and training accessible only to a small, relatively advantaged section of the working class. This kind of objective is the strategic purpose that these forces give to the idea of a "social accord". Of course, the powers and numerical strength of a co-opted tier of the working class will be eroded by the simultaneous extension of a more right-less, more flexible, more temporary, more casualised second-tier of workers.

    The strengths of this "modernising" version of the ND transformation process should not be underrated. They include:

    • this ideology has a spontaneous self-evidence about it, especially for the hundreds of thousands of new professionals, public and private sector junior and middle managers, and newly elected representatives in all spheres of government. These are the individuals who, at a subjective level, are the most obvious beneficiaries of the 1994 breakthrough. There has been a very sudden and generally well-deserved increase in the possibilities for professional advancement, with accompanying increases in power, privilege and authority for tens of thousands of black professionals. What makes these developments particularly significant is that these tens of thousands have constituted the core cadre base for our movement. The structural limitations of their advancement are not always apparent at present. It may only be a few years before there is a dramatic decrease in the intake and promotion of individuals into the modernising, non-racial middle strata. Those who have not yet "made it", can still dream of succeeding. But, without major transformation struggles, the majority will not "make it". It must be emphasised immediately that we are not condemning the progressive emergence of a new, non-racial, middle strata. We are not advancing a moralising, "the poorer the better" thesis. Our concern is that unless we self-consciously tackle new realities, this development will give rise to a self-satisfied and limited version of our revolution.
    • This version of ND transformation is also strengthened by the prevailing (although now less triumphalist) international hegemony of neo-liberalism.

    However, whatever advantages this version of "ND" transformation might enjoy, it also suffers from major weaknesses:

    • it is likely to prove unstable and unsustainable. In practice, it amounts to a 30%-70% solution - an attempt to overcome the present post-apartheid crisis by stabilising a new capitalist order around about 30% of the population, while the great majority remain marginal in a "flexible", "unregulated" and substantially "right-less" second tier. This majority would be overwhelmingly young, female and black - and its best hope, in this version of "ND" transformation, would be of some trickle-down from a "modernised" and "normalised" new South Africa. This path towards "ND" transformation is unjust and unworkable, and therein lies its second weakness and danger:
    • its instability might lead to a growing emphasis on law and order, discipline and sacrifice (none being wrong in themselves, but an emphasis where these qualities are expected of the poor, and not of the elite becomes a diversion from real problems and from the need for deepening and speeding transformation). As the structural (and sheer numerical) limitations on upward mobility for the previously oppressed majority become more apparent and pressures mount for "more delivery", there are dangers that the newly arrived, taking their place alongside an older white elite, will increasingly identify with top-down managerialism (in the name of professionalism), and the use of authority. They might see in the excluded 70% less the motor force for ongoing transformation, and more a threat to newly acquired privilege and power.

    The project to forge a new capitalist-dominated, non-racial ruling bloc has other contradictions that we should understand. This bloc is likely to marginalise some of the class fractions and strata that were part of the old apartheid ruling bloc. These social forces are, therefore, likely to be threatened by the deracialisation of South African society. While the more strategic white capitalists have the vision and also the manoeuvrability to foster the emergence of black capitalists and managers, this cannot be achieved without impacting upon the vested interests of elements of the white middle strata. The white capitalists might be committed to some form of (co-optive) affirmative action, but they cannot afford to lose the expertise and loyalty of a white managerial stratum. Hence the often slow progress in affirmative action in the private capitalist sector, despite an increase in number of black faces in the corporations.

    5. The ND transformation as a thorough-going revolutionary transformation under the hegemonic leadership of the workers and the poor

    The trajectory of the post-1994 South African transformation process depends upon many inter-acting factors. Viewed from a class perspective, there are two fundamentally different outcomes that are possible. The first is the scenario we have just considered - the consolidation of a new bourgeois order, based upon persisting class, race and gender inequality, but presided over by a new, non-racial ruling bloc. The alternative is a profound, national democratic process, hegemonised by the working class and poor.

    But working class leadership must not, in the first instance, be understood as the mechanical equivalent of leadership by this or that worker organisation (the SACP or COSATU, for instance). Neither trade unions nor working class parties are immune from the dangers of being co-opted into other class agendas. The working class hegemony of which we speak is one that has to be constantly elaborated and contested for within working class organisations themselves, and within the broader liberation movement.

    In the effort to build working class hegemony, within our formations and within society at large, the SACP considers the core social constituency of the Party (and of COSATU) - organised workers in the formal sector - as the crucial social force. It is this stratum of the working class that has the collective numbers, and the strategic economic location, as well as the revolutionary organisational traditions, to provide effective social weight to any progressive agenda. The SACP needs to pay special organisational and ideological attention to this critical contingent of the working class.

    But the SACP (and COSATU and the ANC) must constantly struggle to ensure that this revolutionary core of the working class, does not isolate itself into a narrow syndicalism or workerism. The battles this core working class takes up, the programmatic perspectives it advances (through our organisations) must provide leadership to and help voice the aspirations of the vast numbers of workers who are unorganised, in the informal sector, or unemployed. The organised working class must constantly deepen its organic links with the urban and rural poor.

    The organised working class must draw to its side the great majority of youth, students and professionals - who, in their majority, continue to suffer the legacy of class, race and gender oppression. For these social forces, as with the working class, change will be meaningless if it is not a thorough-going transformation of the power relations of our society.

    The organised working class must also seek to win over to its transformational perspectives key elements occupying managerial positions in both the public and private sector. Many of these are drawn historically from the ranks of our liberation movement, and many have professional and moral reasons to associate themselves with a thorough-going national democratic transformation process. There is no reason why social productivity and transformation, rather than profit maximisation, should not be the principal organising concerns of many managers.

    The organised working class must even endeavour to provide leadership to the bourgeoisie. This means, amongst other things, engaging diversely with different fractions of the bourgeoisie. The emerging black capitalist stratum must be engaged, and not only on the basis of sentiment, and appeals to black solidarity and "patriotism". The general economic dependency of this stratum on the new democratic state must be used as leverage to ensure that the investment decisions and productive activities of this black capitalist stratum enhance the reconstruction and development agenda. This, indeed, will be the real test of their "patriotism". Many of the deals engaged in by this emergent faction are also dependent on partnerships with various social funds (notably those controlled by trade unions). It is important to ensure that, in the process, it is the social agenda of the collective owners' of the funds, and not the profit agenda that becomes hegemonic.

    Organised workers and their formations must also seek to exert influence over other factions and sectors of capital. There are those sectors that are most dependent upon the growth of the domestic (or regional) market, and those that are less so. There are those sectors of capital that are most involved in productive and infrastructural development, and whose interests are not necessarily identical with other more speculative or finance-based sectors. Organised working class formations must be prepared to engage tactically with these potentially more progressive sectors and factions of capital. They must be drawn, as much as possible, into the agenda of thorough-going national democratic transformation.

    Above all, the working class must dare to become the hegemonic class force in our society. While waging a consistent class struggle to progressively abolish capitalism, the working class must not slip into a narrow oppositionist mentality. The working class, and the organisations that seek to represent it, must dare to assume power, to engage with, transform and hegemonise the state, the legislatures, and key institutions (economic, cultural, and social) of society. This is not an easy, still less an "evolutionist" struggle whose progressive outcome is guaranteed. But this is the working class struggle, within the context of an unfolding NDR, that the SACP, with its allies, must be prepared to wage.

    The organisational means for ensuring the simultaneous class-conscious organisation of workers and the broadening of their class agenda to embrace the whole of society, necessitates:

    • working class, socialist formations (the SACP and COSATU) - and, of course, an increasing strategic unity among them; as well as
    • a broad liberation movement, the ANC, and a range of mass and community-based formations; and
    • class conscious activity from within the state, as well as within broader civil society.

    Working class hegemony in all of these organisational and institutional sites cannot be taken for granted, it needs to be constantly fostered, organised and struggled for. We are engaged in a massive historical struggle to transform our society, on the terrain of an unfolding NDR, from a society based on the logic of private profit, to a society based on social need. Critical for the success of all of this are clear sectoral programmatic perspectives, which will be elaborated in the following chapters of this programme.

    Economic Transformation

    As Communists, our vision for economic transformation is shaped by our conviction that the capitalist system of production, based as it is on the private appropriation of the means of production and production for profit rather than social need, is ultimately incapable of meeting the needs of working people and the poor. Our commitment to a socialist vision, in which ownership and control of the means of production is placed in the hands of working people, remains unshakeable. At the same time, we recognise that we are presently in a stage of national democratic revolution. Our slogan "socialism is the future, build it now" enjoins us to struggle, within the constraints of what will inevitably remain for some time a capitalist society, for transformations that will both benefit working people and the poor here and now, and lay a basis for an eventual transition to a socialist society.

    Our approach to economic transformation at the present stage of our national democratic revolution is premised on our conviction that it is both feasible and necessary to struggle for changes in the powers of economic ownership and of possession favourable to working people. These concepts were developed by Marx. The powers of economic ownership refer to the powers to allocate resources to particular uses and determine how the social surplus is to be distributed i.e. relate to issues like investment and distribution of wealth and income. The powers of possession refer to the powers to organise and control actual labour processes. As socialists our goal is to increase the influence of working people and the poor at both these levels.

    1. The Historical context

    Apartheid has been identified as a system of capitalist exploitation based on national oppression. Colonial conquest and national oppression shaped a particular path of capitalist development in South Africa. Racially discriminatory laws and practices prevented people, other than those classified as white, acquiring ownership and control of the land, mineral wealth and other major means of production. Black people were also prevented from rising above subaltern positions in either state or corporate bureaucracies. At the same time, a range of racially discriminatory oppressive laws and practices were applied to compel black people to provide cheap labour power to white capital. For many decades "cheap black labour" was regarded as a natural resource, like mineral wealth or the weather. It was only towards the latter years of apartheid rule that workers' struggles compelled capital to grant even basic rights like recognition of trades unions. Training and upgrading the human resource potential of the mass of our working people has even to this day not seriously been put on the agenda of capital.

    Apartheid bequeathed to democratic South Africa an economy enmeshed in multiple crises. For over two decades prior to the demise of racist minority rule, economic growth remained consistently below population growth - meaning that on average our people were getting poorer. Structural unemployment grew in leaps and bounds, resulting in a situation where between a quarter and a third (depending on the method of calculation) of the working age population were unemployed in 1994. Patterns of income and wealth distribution were among the most unequal in the world, and there were major backlogs in all social sectors. All of this was summed up in the fact that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 1994), Human Development Report for 1994 ranked South Africa 33 places lower on its "human development index" than it would have been on its income per capita ranking. At 93rd place out of a total of 173 countries, South Africa was well below many poorer countries, including Cuba ranked 89th (21 places above its per capita income ranking).

    The consensus reached within the alliance before the 1994 elections was that in these circumstances, an integrated strategy to promote both economic growth and development was essential. These are, in fact, not identical concepts. Economic growth refers to an increase in the output of goods and services. Development refers to an improvement in the human condition in all its aspects. Economic growth does not necessarily result in development, as the experience of many countries has shown. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) explicitly rejected "trickle down" approaches, based on the view that growth should precede reconstruction and development. It argued, "Growth - the measurable increase in the output of the modern industrial economy - is commonly seen as the priority that must precede development. Development is portrayed as a marginal effort of redistribution to areas of urban and rural poverty. In this view development is a deduction from growth. The RDP breaks decisively with this approach. If growth is defined as an increase in output, then it is of course a basic goal. However, where growth occurs, how sustainable it is, how it is distributed, the degree to which it contributes to building long-term productive capacity and human resource development, and what impact it has on the environment are crucial questions when considering reconstruction and development" (RDP, 1994, p 6).

    The SACP is convinced that the integrated approach to growth and development called for in the RDP remains the only way forward. We reject all approaches suggesting that essential developmental transformations should be postponed until growth has been achieved. We are convinced that in the circumstances prevailing in our country, we will not be able to achieve sustainable growth unless it is rooted in developmental transformation that improves the lives of our people. At the same time, we acknowledge that economic growth is essential to achieve such transformations on a sustainable basis.

    The SACP thus supports an integrated developmental growth strategy in which a number of fundamental elements are simultaneously put in place. These include programmes to promote redistribution of income and wealth, address basic needs, empowerment of historically oppressed people, and promote human resource development and democratisation, including democratisation of work place decision-making. Macro-economic policy should, in our view, be designed to create a framework for the optimum achievement of these objectives.

    2. The Record since 1994

    If we examine the management of the economy by the ANC-led government in the period since the 1994 elections, it is evident that there have been a number of impressive achievements. The economic stagnation of the late apartheid period has been reversed and a measure of economic growth has been achieved. Essential labour legislation has been introduced. And there have been important achievements in social delivery, promoting human resource development and black economic empowerment.

    However, it is also clear that many challenges lie ahead, and that we remain in the early stages of our national democratic revolution. Redistribution and social transformation need to proceed much more rapidly and extensively in the years ahead. Black economic empowerment has thus far benefited only a relatively small number of individuals, and has yet to touch the lives of the majority of working people and the poor. Women in particular continue to be disproportionately represented among the poorest of the poor. Employment creation remains a major challenge. Although there is some dispute about the accuracy of official statistics, it is clear that there is very little, if any, net job creation, that job losses are taking place in several sectors, and that other sectors remain vulnerable. The growth we have experienced since 1994, like that in many other parts of the world, has essentially been jobless growth.

    The SACP sees a need to consolidate and accelerate programmes of redistribution, human resource development and black economic empowerment. We need to see more rapid redistribution and social delivery. The state must ensure that human resource development, training and upgrading are given more than lip service by capital. We need not just job creation schemes, but to place the economy on a growth path in which employment creation is a key feature. Black economic empowerment must have meaning not just for a few individuals, but result in real gains for working people in both the powers of economic ownership and possession. Working people must through investments of union funds and the like begin to exercise real influence on investment decisions, in which the state must also play a central role. Initiatives like Nedlac's "Work place Challenge" must be consolidated and extended into a programme to transform work place organisation and relations in ways that empower working people in decisions at enterprise level. All of this is essential in its own right. It is also in our view the only basis on which, also to deliver sustainable economic growth.

    We are acutely aware that there is intense struggle and contestation over economic policy. The bosses, who grew rich through state intervention and patronage under apartheid, are now exerting enormous pressure on government to follow neo-liberal policies. They are being supported by an increasingly strident globally dominant ideology, known as "the Washington consensus", whose arrogant self confidence has been reinforced in the short run by the current crisis in the Asian economies.

    The SACP is not indifferent to the need to carefully assess both the domestic or global balance of forces. "Men (sic) make their own history, but not of their own free will; not under circumstances they themselves have chosen...", wrote Marx. There are many circumstances that currently appear less than propitious for the kind of redistributive programme promoted by a strong developmental state to which we aspire. At the same time, we remain convinced that there is no example anywhere of a developing economy that has brought prosperity and development to its people through adherence to free market policies. We are convinced that "circumstances" should not be seen as impermeable "constraints", but as challenges to find new and creative means to attain our essential goal of placing our economy on a development orientated growth path.

    3. South Africa's Insertion into a Globalising World Economy

    One of the major challenges facing us is how to understand and respond to the phenomenon known as "globalisation", and how in this context to optimally relate to the world economy. It is well known that our transition is taking place at a time of enormous change in the world economy. The collapse of the Soviet Union has ushered in a world that is unipolar in the systemic sense. There is no longer any alternative socialist bloc around which developing countries, or countries attempting a national democratic transition can, as they could at least to some extent in the past, structure their trade, aid and investment relations. At the same time, the capitalist world economy is being reshaped by powerful forces of globalisation and liberalisation.

    The term "globalisation" has, in our view, to be understood both as describing certain real and objective changes in the operation of global capitalism, and as an ideologically driven policy prescription. At the level of objective changes, globalisation can be identified as a process aimed at progressively integrating national commodity, capital, financial and currency markets into a single global market operating according to a universal set of rules. It is being driven by transnational corporations, multi-lateral institutions and governments of advanced industrialised countries in a context of major technological advances, particularly in the information and communications industries.

    Globalisation is a phenomenon clearly located within the imperialist stage of capitalist development, but it does represent a new phase with distinctive features that it is important to come to terms with. Broadly speaking, the changes associated with globalisation correspond to a transition international from the operation of the capitalist world economy on an to a transnational basis. In earlier phases, although countries traded with each other to a growing extent, the bulk of their economic activities remained home-centred. From the late 1960s on, however, an increasingly transnational economy has begun to emerge characterised by a system of economic activities for which state territories and state frontiers are not the basic framework, but complicating factors. It is this transition from an international to a transnational world economy that essentially defines the present phase of "globalisation". It has been facilitated by the introduction of new info- and communications- technologies that have made capital, financial and commodity flows much more rapid, but it cannot be reduced to technicist changes at this level alone. It is much more fundamentally a process of restructuring the entire modus operandi of global capitalism.

    Globalisation has transformed the way in which the dominant forces in the global economy have come to define their interests in the world outside their own home base. These are no longer focused, as they were in earlier phases, on ensuring access to cheap raw materials in the periphery plus whatever degree of access to foreign commodity markets could be obtained that was compatible with maintaining protected access to one's own home market. The current agenda of transnational capital now seeks a much broader and far reaching breaking down of barriers to the free movement of commodities and capital across national borders as well as the removal of impediments to the location of production processes in any part of the world. Globalisation has thus been accompanied by increasingly insistent demands for the removal of regulatory and other barriers in national states seen as impeding the freer movement of commodities, finance and capital, but notably not of labour, across the globe. Pressures have been exerted on national states, inter alia, through the rules of the World Trade Organisation, the conditionalities of international financial institutions (IMF and World Bank), and the impact of globalised currency and capital markets (which now react with frightening speed and determination against any country seen not to be conforming).

    Deregulation at national level has, however, been accompanied by a strengthening of regulation at global level. The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), and the subsequent establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), were important steps in this process. The Marrakesh agreement arising out of the Uruguay round negotiations introduced an extensive set of internationally enforceable rules, aimed at ensuring the implementation of tariff reductions, and other aspects of the agreement. A key feature of the process evident from Uruguay onwards has been an extension of the agenda to cover much more than regulation of trade in commodities and tariffs. Included in the Marrakesh agreement at the insistence of developed countries were Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) and Trade Related Intellectual Property measures (TRIPS). These extended international regulation to such areas as investment policy, the financial sector and patent law enforcement. The desire of the governments of advanced industrialised countries for further rounds of tariff reduction negotiations and a broadening of the WTO agenda to include matters like a Multilateral Investment Agreement has also been evident.

    The above processes can be regarded as real and objective changes in the operation of the capitalist mode of production. Globalisation is, however, also associated with a "prescription". "The prescription", has been described by the UNDP as, " to liberalise national and global markets in the belief that free flows of trade, finance and information will produce the best outcome for growth and human welfare". "All is presented", says the UNDP, "with an air of inevitability and overwhelming conviction. Not since the heyday of free trade in the 19th Century has economic theory elicited such widespread certainty" (UNDP, 1997, p 82).

    At an ideological level, then, globalisation is associated with a particular policy prescription corresponding to the interests of transnational capital. That prescription - widespread liberalisation, unilateral deregulation, privatisation and allowing market forces free rein - is variously known as "the Washington consensus" and neo-liberalism.

    The SACP is of the view that the challenge confronting us is to steer a course which, on the one hand, prudently recognises the new objective realities, and power configurations, created by globalisation, while, on the other hand, resisting pressures to cajole us into capitulating to the policy agenda of trans-national capital, or the ideology of neo-liberalism. We clearly cannot afford to ignore either the opportunities or the very real dangers created by globalisation. Nor can we act recklessly in a global context in which the balance of forces is often not favourable. At the same time, we believe we must not be lulled into a view that conformity to a policy agenda that has nowhere, ever delivered either growth or development can provide a way forward.

    Our country depends on its engagement with the world economy for around 50% of its GDP and withdrawing or isolating ourselves from the world economy is therefore an option that could only be implemented at great cost. The SACP accepts that a strategic and pro-active engagement with the world economy is essential.

    We must seize whatever opportunities globalisation holds out to ourselves and other developing countries. These arise from the fact that world trade is expanding, and that globalisation has been associated with a communications and info-tech revolution. The rapid expansion of world trade has created certain possibilities for a country like our own to boost its economic growth by increasing exports as well as, simultaneously, achieving a diversification of exports that could reduce our dependence on primary products. Both these goals are critical to achieving RDP objectives.

    At the same time, we must be aware of the harsh reality that globalisation poses threats. The process of multi-lateral tariff reduction, set on track by the Uruguay Round of GATT, means that no country can maintain protective tariffs and regulatory barriers at the levels they were in the past - unless it is prepared to cut itself off entirely from the global trading system. As protective barriers are lowered, producers oriented towards domestic markets will face increased competition from potential imports. At the same time, taking advantage of the opportunities available through engaging in export trade has become a goal of many countries. Unlike the East Asian NICs, which began their drive for export-led growth at a time when most other developing countries were following import substitution industrialisation policies, South Africa thus faces the prospect of having to attempt to realise its objectives in this regard at a time when many other countries are trying to do precisely the same. In both export and domestic markets, globalisation is thus increasing competitive pressures.

    South Africa has strengths it can build on in developing a pro-active response to globalisation. It has a significant natural resource base, is relatively developed in relation to its neighbours, has a geographic location closer than the advanced industrialised economies of "the North" to faster growing economies of Asia and Latin America, has human resource potential and is undergoing a political transition that is strongly supported and much admired by many key players globally.

    We also have clear weaknesses and vulnerabilities that need to be identified and overcome. Much of the inherited productive economy, the manufacturing sector in particular, is relatively uncompetitive. Years of isolation under apartheid, and policies of import substitution industrialisation have left much of the manufacturing sector, in particular, vulnerable to foreign competition.

    These actual or potential weaknesses are exacerbated by the unevenness of contemporary globalisation. While tariff barriers are being lowered across the world, this is happening in a highly unbalanced and selective manner. Advanced industrialised countries continue to maintain relatively high tariff and non-tariff barriers in sectors where developing countries are currently most competitive, such as agricultural products, clothing and textiles and steel products. South Africa has a level of development that leads it to be seen as a potential competitor, at least in some sectors, to developed countries. Fears about the impact of our products in sectors where we are currently competitive, e.g. processed agricultural products, clearly exist in influential circles in developed countries. The experience since 1994 has indicated that we are unlikely to receive much more than we already have by way of preferential non-reciprocal access to major developed country markets. Any further benefits in terms of access to such markets are likely to require that we grant reciprocal favourable access to our own market through the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements.

    Our view is that a strategy to respond to globalisation requires that a number of elements be put in place simultaneously. First, there is a need for a clear trade strategy aimed at identifying countries and regions where we can most beneficially increase our trade, and build alliances. The SACP generally supports the government's declared policy of giving priority in developing trade and economic partnership relations to the Southern African region, other parts of Africa as well as the regions of the Indian Ocean rim and Latin America. We support both a re-orientation of our trading relations towards the South, and the promotion of equitable and mutually beneficial development integration with other SADC countries. Such moves are, in our view, both beneficial in their own right and must become a means of strengthening the capacity of developing countries to engage more effectively in the shaping of global economic relations.

    Second, globalisation has made imperative the implementation of industrial and sectoral strategies. Concrete policy driven measures are needed both to respond to the competitive challenge posed by the lowering of tariff barriers and to counter the polarising and marginalising tendencies of market liberalisation. In a context where globalisation has been accompanied by a widening of inequalities within countries and where jobless growth has become a global norm, active policies to promote employment, including by focusing on services, basic needs and other non-tradable sectors, human resource development and basic needs provision are all essential.

    Finally, globalisation challenges us to actively engage in a wider trade diplomacy. A process which is continuing to reproduce a division of the world into "winning" and "losing" nations, particularly in circumstances where several of our neighbouring states and a large part of the continent of Africa seem doomed to remain "losing" nations, cannot be one that South Africa can simply be indifferent to. We need to recognise that globalisation and liberalisation have created an imperative to, on the one hand, struggle to find new ways to protect the integrity of domestic policy formulation and sovereignty, while, on the other, actively engaging in the international arena both to maximise opportunities within existing norms and structures, and become an active force seeking to bring about changes in the global environment that will benefit our own country, Africa and the South in general.

    Among the issues we need to be campaigning around are:

    • the uneven and unequal nature of tariff reform and liberalisation and the imperative for developing countries to receive greater real access to the markets of major trading blocs, including in sectors where they are currently competitive
    • the polarisation inherent in the globalisation process and the necessity for greater recognition to be given to the special needs of developing countries
    • the need for regulation of currency and capital markets to reduce the impact of speculative movements.

    4. Macro-Economic Policy

    Macro-economic policy is generally understood as policy in relation to the major "macro" variables: the state budget, particularly the size of the budget deficit, the money supply and the rate of inflation and the balance of payments and exchange rate regime. As indicated above, our basic approach to macro-economic policy is to see the management of the macro-economy as an instrument of a broader development-orientated growth strategy.

    The SACP accepts that achieving and maintaining macro-economic stability is an important policy objective. The experience of many developing countries has shown that progressive and redistributive policies that have ignored macro-economic constraints have often proved unsustainable. All too often attempts to promote redistribution without maintaining a degree of macro-economic stability have come unstuck with too many countries following such paths finding themselves subsequently in the clutches of IMF-imposed structural adjustment programmes, where the first casualty has been the very redistributive programmes initiated in the first place. The danger, in a context of unregulated, globalising currency markets, of fuelling speculative movements against one's currency by injudicious macro-economic policies, also cannot be ignored

    At the same time, we believe that there is no evidence to support a view that by adopting macro-economic policies and targets that are fashionable according to the canons of neo-liberalism, and maintaining these at all costs, we will appeal to foreign investors or appease speculators. As the Presidential Commission to Investigate Labour Market Policy observed, "...comparisons among nations indicate that the factors which foster high levels of domestic and international investment, especially direct investment, have surprisingly little to do with the size of the public sector, tax concessions, the trade balance or rate of inflation. Rather it is the absence of high levels of social polarisation, extreme inequality, and the social tensions occasioned by these, and the presence of adequate human resources and growing aggregate demand which appear to drive the investment process" (Presidential Commission, 1996, p 26).

    Macro-economic policy targets should not, in our view, always have priority over other policy objectives. There are often real choices and trade-offs to be made between maintaining macro-economic targets and meeting social objectives. The growth implications of a particular macro-economic policy stance are also important. For example, it is clear that curtailing state expenditure can have contractionary effect on the economy as well as holding back delivery programmes. Similarly, maintaining high interest rates may reduce inflation but will certainly hold back many small enterprises. The SACP believes that these choices and trade-offs need to be clearly identified, and that they should not always be resolved in favour of maintaining macro-economic targets. We need to recognise that there is a social, as well as a budget, deficit. The budget deficit needs to be maintained within sustainable limits. Improved financial management is clearly also essential to achieve effective delivery. But the impact of budget deficit reduction targets on the social deficit needs also to be evaluated. Macro-economic policy also has gender implications. Women are disproportionately represented among the poorest of the poor, and are particularly affected by budgetary and other macro-economic policy decisions. The SACP supports the efforts of groups like the Women's Budget Initiative to assess the gender implications of budgetary policy.

    Our overall approach to macro-economic policy can be summarised as follows:

    • First, we believe that macro-economic policy, like all other areas of policy, should be formulated through inclusive, consultative processes. We are, likewise, of the view that macro-economic policies and targets should be subject to periodic review, in which the social and economic consequences as well as costs and benefits of continuing to adhere to set targets should be assessed in the context of economic and social conditions.
    • Second, macro-economic policy must be a subordinate element within a broader development orientated growth strategy. Where there are choices and trade-offs to be made, these should be clearly identified and not always resolved in favour of adherence to macro targets.
    • Third, there must be a willingness to attack macro-constraints in innovative and creative ways, that acknowledge the need to transform historical ownership patterns and promote redistribution. For example, a number of proposals have been made to reduce the public debt burden by reforming public sector pension funds, and seeking relief from "odious" apartheid debt. These must be seriously examined and not simply dismissed out of hand.
    • Fourth, we believe that we must avoid exposing ourselves unnecessarily to the vagaries of speculative movements in global markets. In this respect, and in the light of the Asian crisis, we believe there is a need to review the policy of progressively removing exchange controls, and devise an approach which takes account of the vulnerability of even fundamentally sound economies to the vagaries of speculative pressures.

    5. Tariff and Industrial Policy

    Tariff reduction is by now an established global phenomenon. As indicated above, it is inherent in the process of global integration known as globalisation. Tariff reduction is, however, proceeding highly unevenly and selectively.

    While the ideology of neo-liberalism holds that maximum liberalisation of tariff and regulatory regimes is as good for the party undertaking such measures as it is for potential entrants into a newly liberalised domestic market, this simply does not inform the practice of the major trading blocs, all of whom continue to defend and protect important vested interests. Developing countries have thus found themselves pressured into significantly "opening up" their national economies and substantially reducing real levels of protection, only to encounter continuing real protection, taking various forms, in advanced industrialised countries.

    According to the UNDP, non-tariff barriers in at least 20 industrialised countries became more rather than less restrictive in the decade 1982-1992. By 1992, these "global market restrictions and unequal partnership" were costing developing countries about $ 500 billion by 1992 - an amount equivalent to around 20% of their combined GNP and more than six times their total expenditure on development priorities, such as basic education, primary health care, safe water and the elimination of malnutrition (UNDP, 1992, 6).

    Although the implementation of the Marrakesh agreement is leading to the removal of some of these non-tariff barriers (while converting others into tariffs), its effects too are highly uneven. A study by the OECD has suggested that the major beneficiaries of the Uruguay round will be North America and Europe and that Africa, including South Africa, will be net losers at least in the short and medium term (see Third World Economics, 1-15/11/1993).

    In agriculture, textiles, steel products and other sectors in which developing countries currently enjoy competitive advantages, non-tariff barriers and subsidies in developed countries and regions, many of which were condoned as a price that had to be paid in order to secure the Marrakesh agreement, have resulted in a playing field that is far from level. For example, the producer subsidy equivalent for European Union agricultural products is 50% compared to 15% in South Africa. These subsidised EU products compete with those from South Africa and other developing countries not only in the EU market, but also in third country export markets and even the domestic South African market. According to the UNDP advanced industrialised countries spent $ 182 billion on agricultural subsidies in 1995. Since "no effective disciplines on export subsidisation were agreed to in the Uruguay Round..."

    The SACP believes that in such a context we need to adopt a cautious and prudent approach to tariff reform. We accept that in the current global context protectionism of the sort applied in previous years in South Africa is no longer an option. We acknowledge, too, that a minimalist approach to tariff reform can engender a false sense of complacency. At the same time, we are convinced that there is no evidence to support a view that there are major benefits to be gained by being seen to be more free trade than the norm. Trade negotiations with major trading blocs need to be approached, in our view, with a perspective which recognises that they will involve hard nosed bargaining in which our negotiating partners will act in defence of powerful vested interests. Any trade agreement with major trading blocs that involves us having to make tariff reductions beyond those required of us by the Uruguay Round agreement must, we believe, result in a clear net benefit for us in terms of additional preferential market access. We must also be willing to defend our own vulnerable sectors against competition from subsidised products by making effective use of countervailing and safeguard measures. In international forums we must press for greater real access by developing countries to markets of the major trading blocs, including in sectors where they are currently competitive. We must also demand greater recognition in multi-lateral or bilateral trade negotiations for the principle of asymmetry, in which the less powerful economy has more time to implement less onerous tariff reductions than the stronger.

    Tariff reform - meaning reduction and/or removal of tariffs - whether undertaken in response to international obligations or our own initiatives must, moreover, be accompanied, and indeed preferably preceded, by the implementation of active industrial and sectoral development policies. Every successful example of industrialisation has, we believe, been based on an active industrial policy.

    Industrial and sectoral development policies should, in our view, aim both to produce a strategy, and coordinate and mobilise resources for a sector to restructure itself on a new sustainable basis. Successful industrial policies necessarily require a degree of targeting, or selection, of priority sectors. The experience of countries that have had relatively successful industrial strategies, shows that it is often necessary to target sectors for support that are not currently favoured by "the market". While expanding our manufactured exports is a key policy objective, industrial policy should not, in our view, one sidedly target sectors with export potential to the exclusion of sectors producing basic needs goods or sectors with high employment potential. We need an holistic approach in which a basic-needs, redistribution and demand-led component to industrial growth and development is accorded sufficient priority. Sectoral policies are also urgently needed for non-tradable, service industries, which often have the highest employment creation potential in the short term.

    Industrial and sectoral policies must involve the state making available concrete and tangible support. The SACP, in general, agrees that direct subsidies to capital are inappropriate, and favours more focused and effective measures that promote transformation and change. We believe that we must be willing to accept that, in some cases at least, the role of the state must go beyond facilitation and support. State leadership, involving pressuring and cajoling capital, as well as taking active steps to transform ownership patterns is also essential.

    A major objective of industrial and sectoral policies must be to promote Human Resource Development (HRD) and to take further initiatives like Nedlac's Workplace Challenge. Although there appears to be consensus that the only basis on which we can confront the challenges facing us is by raising the skills and capacity of our people, capital has shown that on its own it is largely unwilling to do more than pay lip service. We therefore support proposals to impose a levy on employers to support state run training programmes.

    We are also convinced that the challenges of globalisation require a major shift towards more inclusive and participatory forms of workplace organisation and decision-making. Firms and industries relying on traditional authoritarian management styles are often finding themselves losing out to firms and industries employing new styles of organisation and management which are more participatory and empowering of workers. Many of the examples of "world class manufacturing" from Japan and elsewhere remain, of course, constrained by capitalist relations of production, but they do involve a degree of self-organisation and joint decision-making by workers that goes far beyond norms prevailing in South Africa. As communists we welcome and encourage initiatives seeking to introduce more participatory and empowering forms of workplace organisation - initiatives we would eventually seek to take beyond the limits imposed by capitalist production relations.

    6. Job Creation and Black Economic Empowerment

    As indicated earlier, one of the major challenges facing us at the present phase of our national democratic revolution is to drastically reduce unemployment. Although there is some dispute about the accuracy of official employment statistics, it is clear that current levels of unemployment are among the highest in the world, that job creation is not taking place at a pace fast enough to absorb the large number of new job seekers, and that job losses are already occurring and/or threatened in many sectors. The economic growth achieved since 1994 has been generally recognised as jobless growth.

    Jobless growth, it should be noted, is not a phenomenon unique to South Africa. It is occurring across the world. One of the ironies and contradictions of the present phase is that we are being pressured to adapt to globally competitive norms in order to provide a sustainable basis for job creation. Yet the very norms around which we are being pressured to restructure are themselves job shedding.

    The answer to this challenge given by our class adversaries is "labour market flexibility"; understood as widespread exemption from labour legislation and a general reduction of labour standards. It is suggested, by the neo-liberals, that the main reason why employment creation is not proceeding more rapidly is because labour laws such as the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act, while benefiting those in employment, have created disincentives to employers to take on more labour. Government and the alliance are accused of pandering to the demands of organised workers to the detriment of the unemployed.

    The SACP rejects with contempt suggestions that by extending basic rights to workers in employment, workers are responsible for creating unemployment. Unemployment in South Africa is a product of the particular path of capitalist development embarked on during the apartheid period, which is proving to be unsustainable under the changing global and national circumstances.

    The SACP sees the solution to the unemployment crisis as lying not, particularly, in specific schemes, but as being linked to the broader growth path. As indicated earlier, we believe that it is imperative to place the economy firmly on a development orientated growth path. While the promotion of manufactured exports is an important objective, and while the competitive pressures of the global economy cannot be ignored, this requires more than simply acting to raise competitiveness and promoting sectors with export potential. Policy must also seek to promote basic needs producing sectors and non-tradable service industries, which we suggested above have higher employment creating potential - at least in the short run. Central to placing our economy on a development orientated growth path is the empowerment of working people and the unemployed. Engaging in a race for the bottom over labour conditions with countries with unacceptably low labour standards is no solution. Rather, we must act more effectively to promote an all round improvement in the human resource potential of our people through training programmes, and transforming workplace relations in ways that unleash the creative potential of working people. In sectors where lay-offs are inevitable, retraining and re-skilling must be accepted as an obligation of capital.

    The promotion of Small, Medium and Micro-Enterprises (SMMEs) and black economic empowerment must also be pursued with greater determination. While it is a mistake to see SMMEs as the salvation to the unemployment crisis in the absence of other transformations, it is clear that small-scale trade and petty commodity production provide a livelihood to many of our people. Problems that confront the SMME sector, like high interest rates and lack of access to financial resources and other services, must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

    The SACP supports black economic empowerment as an essential component of national democratic transformation. As a party of the working class we are concerned to see that the benefits of this reach beyond a few individuals and that black economic empowerment means something significant for working people and the poor. One of the challenges facing the party and the unions will be to influence the ongoing process.

    In this regard, the SACP is convinced that more attention needs to be paid to the promotion of cooperative and collective ventures. Shortly before his death in 1923, Lenin came to regard the promotion of cooperatives as one of the most important tasks in building socialism in the Soviet Union. He saw cooperatives as a particularly appropriate form of collective organisation in a context where market relations dominated (as was the case in the Soviet Union during the period of the New Economic Policy, and as is the case in South Africa at the present phase of our national democratic transformation). In his essay, "On Cooperation", Lenin saw cooperatives as a potential vehicle to "learn to build socialism in practice" in a way that could appeal to poor peasants and other small producers. He also called for cooperatives to "...be politically so organised that [they] will not only generally and always enjoy certain privileges, but that these privileges should be of a purely material nature (a favourable bank rate etc). The cooperatives must be granted state loans that are greater, if only by a little, than the loans we grant to private enterprises, even to heavy industry etc" .

    The SACP is convinced that there is enormous potential in South Africa for cooperative and other collective, community based ventures. These would have enormous benefits in their own right. They would enable many of the most marginalised in our society, including rural women and people involved in small scale, survivalist activities to combine resources and create a basis for the more effective channelling of resources. As a party committed to a socialist vision, we would also see such activities as having the potential to provide a practical learning experience that could be built on in a broader socialist transformation. The SACP thus calls for black economic empowerment programmes and funds to create space for the development of cooperative and other collective ventures. We call too for such ventures to be given a degree of practical support and preference in state support programmes.

    7. The Role of the State in the Economy

    As Marxists we recognise that no perspective on the role of the state in the economy can be developed in the abstract, without reference to the mode of production, stage in the development of our struggle, the balance of forces etc. Our views on the role of the state in different phases of the struggle may thus differ significantly.

    Defining the role of the state in the economy is, of course, also a matter of major ideological contestation. The globally hegemonic ideology of neo-liberalism holds not only that the state's role in the economy should be limited, but that it should perform a much narrower range of tasks and functions than most capitalist welfare or developmental states performed in the past. Initial versions of this ideology focused on "rolling back" the state, advocating de-regulation and privatisation, and arguing that "the private sector" was inherently more efficient and capable of carrying out tasks historically performed even in capitalist societies by the state. Later versions have come to acknowledge that there is, indeed, an important role for the state in the economy, but see this as largely being to create an environment conducive to capital accumulation. De-regulation and privatisation continue to be strongly emphasised in relation to the provision of social services, labour market policy etc, but states are pushed to play an active role in enforcement of property rights, macro-economic management and tariff liberalisation.

    This ideology has informed the dismantling of previously existing socialist systems in Russia and Eastern Europe, the welfare state in most countries of Western Europe (including Scandinavia) and the adoption of structural adjustment programmes in many countries of "the South". It is held that these policies are the optimum, and indeed only, route to achieving growth and development in a fiercely competitive globalising world economy.

    Such a view, however, ignores the experience of those capitalist countries in East Asia that have achieved a significant degree of economic growth. A study on "highly performing East Asian economies" commissioned by the World Bank, after a sharp debate with Japan over support to developing countries for industrial policy state interventions, was forced to concede that "...in some instances, government interventions resulted in higher and more equal growth than otherwise would have occurred" (World Bank, "The East Asian Miracle", 1994, p6). Of course, this can be of no more than general significance. Simply emulating and copying what exists (or existed) in countries that often had little democracy, repressive labour laws etc cannot be the way forward for South Africa. What the East Asian experience does highlight, however, is that those countries that have achieved a degree of success in promoting economic growth have deviated significantly from the neo-liberal model. Indeed, there is no example of a developing country achieving high growth, let alone improving human development, on the basis of a minimalist state.

    The SACP's overall perspective on the role of the state at the present phase of our national democratic revolution is informed by the following considerations:

    • the capitalist market is inherently polarising - "market forces" produce winners and losers, and tend to marginalise the poor.
    • the globalising world economy, into which we are becoming increasingly integrated, is characterised by acute unevenness, imbalances and inequities. The dominant forces that have structured the emerging international rules based trading system are transnational corporations and the governments of advanced industrialised capitalist countries.
    • The RDP goals will not be achieved without an active role of the state and popular mobilisation.
      Arising from this, the SACP's vision can be summed up as a developmental state orientated towards working people and the poor. Such a state's role could be identified as including at least the following:
    • The provision of essential social services - health, education, welfare. Experience across the world has shown that profit-seeking institutions will simply not provide such services to the poor. The SACP would want to see such services increasingly provided as basic rights on the basis of need, rather than income, in accordance with its vision of decommodification. It would also want the list of such services to be progressively increased, to include as soon as possible, for example, the provision of basic housing to low income people.
    • The creation of conditions to achieve development orientated growth, through an integrated programme based on the four pillars of the RDP - basic needs provision, human resource development, building the economy, and democratisation and participation. The RDP base document recognised that the state had a key role to play in each of the various areas. Among those that remain of key significance are - raising the skills and capacity of our workforce through skills upgrading and training, an active industrial policy which identifies sectors and clusters to be promoted and defended, infrastructural development and an active labour market policy that rejects a global "race to the bottom" and recognises that South Africa needs to respond to the challenges of the global economy by raising the overall level of skill and productivity of our working people.
    • The promotion of redistribution. Without active policy intervention, "market forces" will neither achieve a more equal distribution of income and wealth, nor empower historically oppressed people. In this regard, it is noteworthy that programmes of land reform and affirmative action accompanied, and were an integral part of, growth strategies of many Asian countries.
    • Responding to market failure. Market forces often produce outcomes contrary to developmental goals and objectives. Unemployment and jobless growth are examples of this in our own country. Active state intervention to counter such trends has been recognised as essential in many, even capitalist countries.

    None of the above indicates precisely what combination of public and private ownership, or what relationship between the state and non-state (private sector) in particular projects or programmes, ought to be striven for. The democratic government inherited from the apartheid order a state system not geared towards promoting development, and indeed dysfunctional in this regard, and holding a range of assets with little relevance to the tasks of reconstruction and development. Restructuring the state and its assets is a legitimate, and indeed necessary, task. Restructuring of state assets, however, needs to be seen as a term referring holistically to at least the following:

    • reorganising and transforming state departments and entities;
    • developing new capacity to meet the new challenges;
    • establishing new entities and/or acquiring new state assets in strategic sectors, such as housing,
      where private capital and the market clearly will not respond adequately;
    • disposing of historically acquired assets that no longer meet current policy objectives.

    The SACP will continue to press for the concept "restructuring of state assets" to be seen in this way and not become debased, as our adversaries would like, into merely the local euphemism for privatisation. While we are not opposed either to the disposal of assets that no longer meet current needs, or to strategic partnerships that can be shown to bring concrete benefits, international experience has shown that the privatisation of major state services results generally in higher prices and a curtailment of services to poorer consumers. We are also convinced that there are areas, like the provision of low cost housing, where attempts to woo capital have produced limited results. In such cases, we support active consideration being given to the creation of new state enterprises.

    Our Marxism

    1. Origins

    The SACP has, historically, described its ideological position as Marxist-Leninist.

    In describing ourselves in this way we have been:

    • Locating ourselves as a revolutionary party with its historical roots in the Communist International, an international movement which came into existence in 1919, inspired by, and in the direct aftermath of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Allegiance to the Communist International (also referred to as the Third International) marked a self-conscious break with what has turned out to be the other major tradition of socialism in the 20th century - social democracy. The Communist Party in South Africa, when it launched in 1921, saw itself as part of an international revolutionary movement, in contrast to the more reformist perspectives and programmes of the social democractic/labour party current.
    • Indeed, the founding cores of many Third International parties came from the left of social democratic parties affiliated to the Second International. South Africa was no exception, some of the leading personalities in the launch of the CPSA in 1921 had broken from the SA Labour Party in 1915. The immediate cause of these left platforms was the support given by the right-wing of the social democratic parties to the war-effort of their respective national bourgeoisies in the intra-imperialist First World War (1914-1918). The left, by contrast, called for working class unity across national frontiers. In this context, another core principle of the Third International parties (including the CPSA) was proletarian internationalism.
    • The third, self-defining feature of the Communist Parties of the Third International was their commitment to building disciplined, vanguard parties, made up of revolutionary cadres, unified around a relatively clear, ideological programme. In other words, the Communist Parties, including the CPSA, saw themselves as ideological parties, distinct from broader, ideologically more loose, movement-like parties, which were often typical of the earlier social democratic/labour parties. To maintain the ideological and organisational cohesion of these new Communist Parties, democratic centralism was applied, this meant that while debate and participation by rank-and-file members was encouraged, once programmatic decisions had been taken, disciplined adherence was required. In theory, at least, factions and platforms within the Party were not allowed.

    These were the founding, corner-stone principles of the CPSA, and it was these principles that, in the decade and a half after its launch in 1921 came to be described as "Marxist-Leninist". The SACP continues to believe in the fundamental validity of each of these founding principles. But, of course, we have also always believed in the necessity of a continuous interaction between theory and practice. Not surprisingly, the collective understanding we bring to the concepts of "revolution", "internationalism" and "vanguard party" have developed enormously in the light of our own South African experience, as well as international revolutionary practice through the course of this 20th century.

    2. A Party of revolution

    When the CPSA was launched in 1921, it believed that a world socialist revolution was on the agenda. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution was a trumpet call to a world-wide workers' insurrection. The revolution would move rapidly from Russia to the industrial heartland of Europe, and from there it would impact upon the world, including South Africa.

    The CPSA comrades were not alone in these hopes, they were very characteristic of the early years of the Communist International. The First World War, so it was believed, demonstrated the terminal crisis of capitalism. As if to confirm this perspective, the end of the war was to be followed by a decade and a half of chronic crisis in the most advanced capitalist countries - marked by mass unemployment, soaring inflation, political instability and the Great Depression.

    Moreover, in the first years following the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, there were to be insurrectionary struggles by workers, some of which were partially successful, at least for a short period - in northern Italy, in Hungary, in parts of Germany. But these struggles were contained, and then crushed. Even in South Africa, less than a year after the launch of the CPSA, white workers on the Rand launched an armed struggle against the Chamber of Mines and the Smuts government - the 1922 Rand Revolt. The Rand Revolt was smashed by the Smuts government, deploying the army and even airforce bombers. But this revolt, although partially and loosely inspired by the Bolsheviks, was essentially about white mine-workers seeking to preserve their racially privileged status in the face of the mine-bosses's cost-cutting strategies.

    By the mid and late 1920s, it was apparent that the hoped-for, world-wide Red Revolution, was not around the corner. Only in the Soviet Union workers' power remained relatively intact. The bourgeoisies of countries in which workers had come closest to seizing power turned to the counter-revolution - in Hungary, in Spain, in Italy, in Germany, in Austria - it was not a Red Revolution, but a khaki counter-revolution of fascism and nazism that prevailed.

    What had gone wrong? In Moscow, in the Communist International headquarters, the Bulgarian revolutionary, George Dmitrov argued that the newly-formed Communist Parties had isolated themselves from the broader worker and popular movements of their countries. They had failed to build united fronts (with the social democratic and other labour forces), still less broader popular fronts, and had conducted themselves in far too sectarian a manner. They had left space wide open for fascism, which had, in many countries, through a combination of terror and demagogy, succeeded in mobilising popular forces.

    In Italy, Antonio Gramsci (significantly a prisoner in a fascist jail at the time) also grappled, in a vast (and sometimes complex) set of prison writings, with the defeat of the left. Like Dmitrov, he believed that the working class parties had isolated themselves, they had failed to develop a "hegemonic" project, capable of leading the broadest range of popular social forces. Gramsci also argued that in the more developed capitalist countries (like Italy and Germany), communists had seriously under-rated the resilience and depth of the capitalist state. Unlike the crisis-ridden, backward, semi-feudal Tsarist state of Russia in 1917, the repressive apparatuses of modern capitalist states were surrounded by vast protective trenches - media, cultural, educational, economic institutions of all kinds. A direct "frontal assault" on the modern capitalist state was unlikely to succeed, unless it had been preceded by a long "war of position" for working class hegemony, across the length and breadth of society. Gramsci was, in effect, beginning to question the simple revolution/reform dichotomy, the war of position for hegemony was going to have to be a struggle for revolutionary-reforms.

    The Communist Party in South Africa was not to be directly influenced by the writings of Gramsci or Dmitrov until very much later (in the 1970s and 80s). But the CPSA was also compelled to make its own reassessment of what it meant to be a party of revolution, in a world in which the Red Revolution appeared to have receded.

    3. A Party of Internationalism

    The founding members of the CPSA were white workers and revolutionary intellectuals who brought a variety of modern socialist traditions to South Africa, mainly from Britain and Eastern Europe. From the outset, however, the CPSA's commitment to "internationalism" was understood to mean that it was a Party that sought to represent and organise "all workers". The slogan "Workers of the World Unite", was understood to mean, in South African conditions, the need for the unity of black and white workers. It was this message that the CPSA attempted to propagate (without great success) in the course of the 1922 Rand Revolt.

    From the outset the CPSA was committed to non-racialism, not just as a long-term goal for society, but as a reality to be practised within the Party itself. In 1924, long before "affirmative action" was in vogue as a term, the CPSA congress resolved that the Party should "Africanise" itself. This was not just a well-meaning, but empty, resolution. By 1928 the CPSA had 1 750 members, of whom 1 600 were black. More importantly, the Party took practical steps to ensure that African working-class cadres were developed. The Party, in the mid-1920s, pioneered literacy classes, and political education night schools. Very soon, a number of outstanding African comrades, including Albert Nzula (the Party's first African general secretary), Josie Mpama, Johannes Nkosi, Edwin Motsuenyane and Moses Kotane assumed leadership positions within the Party.

    From 1924, then, the Party had begun to Africanise itself in terms of its membership and leadership (making it a pioneer, and for most of the next seven decades, the only non-racial political party in terms of membership in South Africa). But the Party's strategic perspective was not yet "Africanised". In 1928/29, partly as the result of an internal debate, and principally as a result of a Communist International resolution, the CPSA changed its strategic perspective to a national liberation struggle in alliance with the still relatively undeveloped ANC. The CPSA began to advance the slogan of majority rule, calling for a Black Republic. The struggle for socialism, the Party now began to argue, was a struggle that had to be waged in the broader context of a national liberation struggle against a form of colonial oppression.

    The exact nature of the relationship between the socialist and national liberation struggles was not necessarily clearly elaborated. At times, the national struggle was described as the "form" or "appearance" of the struggle, and the socialist class struggle was the "content" or "essence". At other times, the respective demands of the two struggles were presented as a "minimum" and a "maximum" programme. But, in time, the most common version of the relationship between the struggles was to be the "two-stage thesis" - first there would be a national democratic revolution, and a subsequent socialist stage would follow.

    While the left in Europe was revising its hopes of any short-term socialist revolution, and revisiting its strategic assumptions, here in South Africa the Party was also developing, in theory and practice, its own approach to broad, popular front politics. South African communists were no longer readying themselves for an imminent socialist assault on the bourgeois state in our country. In the South African case, the CPSA increasingly located its practice within the context of national liberation formations - foremost among them, the ANC.

    In moving strategically in this direction, the South African party was, in many ways, exploring an important dimension of Lenin's legacy. Better than many European Marxists, Lenin had understood the profound inter-connection between working class socialist struggles in the developed capitalist countries and the national struggles of colonially oppressed peoples. Lenin was critical of those Marxists who dismissed all nationalism as inherently reactionary, he argued that the nationalism of oppressor nations and that of oppressed peoples were different realities.

    For the CPSA, in its first decades, "internationalism" meant two important things - non-racialism, and the location of the South African struggle within the context of an African anti-colonial, anti-imperialist struggle. The current ANC call for an African Renaissance should be located within this longstanding tradition, pioneered, in part, by the CPSA.

    But "internationalism" for the Communist Party in South Africa also meant defence of the Soviet Union (and later the Soviet bloc). In the context of unceasing capitalist hostility and destabilisation efforts directed against the first workers' state by imperialist powers, the CPSA's basic position was correct. Later, it was the Soviet Union and its bloc in the key decades of the 1960s and 70s, when our liberation movement had suffered a serious strategic defeat, that offered unquestioning support to our own struggle. South African revolutionaries will never forget this critical role.

    However, the degree to which the inevitable twists and turns in the politics of the Soviet state impacted upon our own South African programmes is a subject of debate. To what extent were our own domestic politics affected, for better or worse, by these factors? SACP cadres need to engage in this debate with open minds.

    More seriously, we need to note that our own fundamentally correct solidarity with the Soviet Union, often lacked serious balance or nuance. We failed to appreciate, until very late, the horrendous levels of criminal abuse that occurred during the Stalin years, and we failed to be critical of the bureaucratic distortions in the post-Stalin period. We also failed to appreciate, until very late in the day, the levels of internal crisis in the former Soviet Union and Soviet bloc.

    Our tardiness in these respects has meant that, in the midst of the otherwise very challenging decade of the 1990s, the SACP has had to devote considerable energies and time to collectively debating and developing a consistent socialist understanding of these questions. The challenge to rescue socialism from the events of 1989-91, and to renew socialist confidence and optimism remains an important priority of the SACP. We believe that the SACP's internal (but open) debate, and our refusal to give in to opportunism of the right (quietly abandoning socialism and our own history), or dogmatism of the left (pretending nothing serious had happened) has helped us to lay an important foundation to press forward.

    4. A Vanguard Party

    In its first years, the CPSA saw itself as a tight-knit vanguard Party that would lead a workers' insurrection in South Africa, in response to the deepening world crisis of capitalism. In its early years, the Party did not neglect mass work, and indeed many of its key cadres were leading members in the labour movement. There was, however, a tendency for the Party to set up its own union and national liberation front structures. While these played a pioneering role, they were often somewhat inorganic.

    The 1928/9 strategic shift to a national liberation perspective began to force the Party to think more profoundly about mass work, and about working with non-communists in building existing formations, like the ANC and ICU (the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union). This naturally began to pose questions about how a vanguard party works, and indeed, if the Party would be leading the "first stage" of the struggle.

    Unfortunately, the fruitful potential in this strategic shift was not immediately to impact fully on the tactics, organisational practices and theory of the Party. The strategic shift coincided with a period of heightened internal factionalism. This factionalism was partly imported from the Communist International, where Stalinism was deepening its grip in a series of bloody factional battles. The distant echo of these was felt in the CPSA, often brought by Communist International representatives sent to South Africa. But the dangers of a dogmatic vanguardism also became evident in this period. Ideological debates within the Party were turned into factional battles for bureaucratic control. Leading Party pioneers, among them SP Bunting, were unjustly expelled. Many other members left in disillusion.

    It was only in the middle of the 1930s that the CPSA began to recover from this unfortunate period. The recovery was helped by the change in Communist International strategies towards popular front strategies, and the CPSA was able to fuse the popular front approach with its own strategic commitment to a national liberation struggle. But the recovery was, especially, the consequence of the new generation of African communists, grouped around Moses Kotane, who insisted on a Party that was more rooted in its practice and theory in the realities of South Africa itself. In his famous "Cradock Letter" of 1934, Kotane wrote to the CPSA's Johannesburg District Party Committee:

    "the Party is beyond the realm of realities, we are simply theoretical and our theory is less connected with practice. If one investigates the general ideology of our Party members (especially the whites), if sincere, he will not fail to see that they subordinate South Africa in the interests of Europe, in fact, ideologically they are not S Africans...they are 'revolutionaries' and 'Bolsheviks', their hobbies are 'the German situation and the comintern, Stalin and Trotsky' and 'the errors of various communist parties'. (...) The CPSA must pay special attention to S Africa, study the conditions of this country and concretise the demands of the toiling masses from first hand information, that we must speak the language of the toiling masses and must know their demands. That while it must not lose its international allegiance, the Party must be Bolshevised, become South African not only theoretically, but in reality..."

    In the 1940s the CPSA emerged as a powerful political force, possibly more influential than the ANC in this period. Its night-school and political education work continued. Communists were active in the trade unions and other mass formations. The Party also had a significant ideological influence on South African life through the work of Party journalists in mass-circulation newspapers.

    The first piece of legislative political repression enacted by the National Party, after its election in 1948, was the banning of the Communist Party in 1950. In 1953, the Party re-launched clandestinely as the SACP. In the conditions of illegality, the meaning attached to being a vanguard Party acquired new siginificance.

    Members were carefully recruited after a period of close probation. Democratic centralism was meticulously enforced, and the "need to know" principle applied, members only knew as much as was required for their operations, at the relevant level of their involvement. In developing these approaches the SACP was able to draw on the considerable international Communist experience, especially the war-time resistance experience of persecuted Communist parties that had bravely played a vanguard role in the anti-fascist struggle.

    When, in 1960 the ANC was banned, and in 1961 when the armed struggle was launched, nearly a decade of clandestine SACP experience was to be vital for the survival of the broader movement. Nevertheless, the liberation movement as a whole badly miscalculated the strength and ruthlessness of the apartheid regime, and by the mid-1960s the liberation movement had suffered a serious strategic defeat.

    In exile, in prison, and in the underground, the SACP vanguard strengths were to play an absolutely major role in ensuring the survival, regrouping and eventual victory of the ANC-led liberation movement. The discipline, the ideological seriousness and political education traditions, the internationalism and longer-term vision of the Party were decisive factors in ensuring the survival of the national liberation movement.

    The SACP's 1962 programme, The Road to South African Freedom, was an especially valuable programmatic perspective that was to play a key role within the entire liberation movement for the next two and a half decades. It was here that the concept of "colonialism of a special type" (CST) received its first sustained and collective elaboration. The programme sought to locate the South African struggle within the context of a broader continental process ("The African Revolution" was the title of an entire chapter). The African decolonisation process was under-way, and the struggles of Africa's people's confronted a clear choice - a neo-colonial stagnation, or the consolidation and deepening of national democratic transformation.

    The SACP played a major role in the survival of the ANC, but there were other crucial factors as well, including the outstanding leadership contribution made by senior ANC comrades, among them OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.

    The ANC emerged, in 1990, from prison, from exile and from the underground, more unified and with more prestige and legitimacy than it had ever enjoyed. The period of illegality (30 years) was long, and the dispersal of the ANC across the globe had been extreme. Exile, prison, the underground, military camps - none of these are easy realities to survive (as the factionalised histories of many other movements forced into these circumstances testify). The SACP played a decisive vanguard role in fostering the unity and morale of the ANC in this period, and we are proud of this achievement.

    The major influence of the SACP upon the ANC in the decades of the 1960s and 70s was augmented by the unstinting solidarity of the Soviet Union, and by the world-wide advance of communist and communist-aligned liberation movements - China, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and later Mozambique and Angola. At the Morogoro Conference in 1969, in its "Strategy and Tactics" document, the ANC noted that the South African national liberation struggle was

    "happening in a new kind of world - a world which is no longer monopolised by the imperialist world system; a system in which the existence of the powerful socialist system and a significant sector of newly liberated areas has altered the balance of forces ..."

    The Morogoro Conference characterised the global conjuncture as one marked by the "transition from capitalism to socialism".

    These perspectives are evidence of the extent to which SACP thinking was influencing the ANC at the time. But it is also a reminder of how, in this period, the main line of historical advance appeared to be moving. This perception was not just a view within communist and progressive circles, many leading imperialist ideologues spoke in alarm of a ripple of "falling dominoes", as one Third World country after another appeared to be moving into the socialist camp. The Party's influence was naturally boosted by the mood of the times.

    Ironically, these decades of heightened SACP influence and prestige within the liberation movement coincided with a relatively low Party profile, with minimal independent SACP organisation, and, perhaps, a neglect of developing independent socialist thinking. It is easy to understand the factors at work. In the aftermath of the liberation movement's strategic defeat in the mid-1960s, communists worked tirelessly and selflessly to rebuild the ANC, MK and to foster a broad, international anti-apartheid movement. This practical emphasis was, undoubtedly, correct, but it had its own down-side, since it took energies away from the SACP in its own right.

    As far as developing socialist thinking and programmatic perspectives, there was a considerable reliance on Soviet political education (which was generously provided), but this also meant that there was not a dynamic indigenous development of socialist thinking within the Party at this time. Tendencies towards "two stageism" possibly also gave reasons to delay any profound elaboration of socialist perspectives. However, within the country, on campuses and in the re-emerging trade union movement there was a significant and dynamic flowering of left-wing thinking, influenced by an international resurgence of progressive ideologies after 1968. Of course, this flowering of left-thinking (notably influenced by new left marxisms, and by Black Power Afro-American writers) was not without its own illusions, distortions, and confusions - but, for its part, the SACP was not always effective or even helpfully located in the midst of these progressive developments.

    From 1985, however, there was a renewed effort from within the Party to build more dynamic SACP underground structures within the country, with a particular emphasis on interacting with the trade union movement. There was also an intensification of ideological debate, and the SACP through its organs (The African Communist and the resurrected Umsebenzi) began now to reflect and impact more dynamically upon left debate and theory in our country.

    All of this constitutes some of the collective heritage that South African communists have brought into the challenging and complex 1990s.

    5. Revisiting Marxism-Leninism in the 1990s

    In February 1990, the SACP was unbanned after 40 years of illegality. In nearly 70 years of unbroken struggle, the SACP was at the height of its popularity. Opinion polls within South Africa suggested that, after Nelson Mandela, leading communists like Chris Hani and Joe Slovo were amongst the most popular political figures in our country. Paradoxically, this domestic popularity for the Party and its key leaders coincided in time with the most serious international crisis for the broad Communist movement, and its legacy. Economic stagnation, an inability to sustain the Cold War arms race, unwieldy bureaucratism, and general popular dissatisfaction led to the rapid demise of the old Soviet bloc, and of the Soviet Union itself.

    Cadres within the recently unbanned SACP were faced with three possible options in these circumstances -

    • to quietly allow membership to lapse (a choice taken in mid-1990 by a siginificant percentage of the leadership that had been elected at the 7th Congress the year before);
    • to pretend that "nothing was wrong", and to cruise along on our struggle-era popularity and credentials; or
    • to assume responsibility, as the SACP, for our legacy, for its strengths and weaknesses, and through discussion and debate, to work for the renewal of the socialist project within our country and, indeed, internationally.

    The leadership core around Slovo and Hani, and the SACP's 8th and 9th Congresses (in 1991 and 1995) decisively chose this last option. This was not the easiest option, but it has been endorsed by tens of thousands of SACP members. At the time of its unbanning, the SACP's membership was a few thousand strong, much of it in exile. By 1998, membership had multiplied, with some 80,000 signed up members, of whom around 14,000 constitute an activist core.

    But to build the SACP as a relevant force for our times has required an ongoing collective renewal of our Marxist perspectives. We believe that, in 1998, we have now moved sufficiently along the path of this process to be able to enumerate, with a sense of collective unity, some of the key ideological features of this renewal. These features can be directly related to the key themes we have been using throughout this brief overview of the Party's evolving ideological positions - revolution, internationalism and the vanguard.

    5.1 Revolution and reform

    The split in the international socialist movement in 1915 established the two major currents of socialism in this century - the communist and the social democratic. The communist current defined itself, at first, as a movement directed strategically at the proletarian seizure of bourgeois state power.

    In practice this vision of the transition to socialism never materialised, at least not precisely in the form envisaged. In the first place, as we have argued above, the revolution in the "West", in the years immediately following 1917, did not take place. If anything, in the decades after 1917, the revolution happened in the "East", and then, later, in the "South". From China, to Cuba, to Vietnam and Mozambique, it was largely peasant armies (often supported by worker struggles), in the context of national liberation movements, that waged successful armed struggles. These struggles were guided by leadership cores, and in some cases by a Communist Party, drawing on the communist tradition. They were not, really, proletarian insurrections in the mould of 1917.

    After the defeat of Nazism in Europe in 1944, a series of East European states joined the Soviet bloc. Although there had been important left forces in most of these countries, the decisive factor here (with the important exception of Yugoslavia) was the role of the Soviet Red Army in the defeat of nazism throughout the region. However, the sense that socialism had been externally imposed in these countries was to be a crucial factor in the demise of this bloc in the 1989-91 period.

    Looking back over the seventy year history of this Soviet-inspired project to build socialism, it is clear that it was only really successful (and partially at that) in underdeveloped societies, most emerging from colonial or neo-colonial oppression. The socialist path was, in many respects, a partial de-linking (sometimes actively chosen, often imposed) from the imperialist system. This de-linking created space for underdeveloped societies to make significant developmental gains, to advance a national and democratic project, and (in countries like Cuba, for instance) to make genuine and major advances in socialising the economy and society in general. The sheer size of the Soviet Union, its vast physical resources and massive internal market, and later the similar assets of the Peoples Republic of China, allowed this partial de-linking to be sustained for some decades. The existence of a socialist bloc (not without its own many internal contradictions), in turn, allowed smaller and otherwise isolated societies (like Cuba) to pursue similar paths of development.

    We believe that the era of "socialism in one bloc" is over, and perhaps was never a longer term sustainable strategy. While partial and active de-linking from the global imperialist system is still absolutely essential, a project of socialist isolationism, of "fortress socialism", will only end in imprisoning the very people on behalf of whom the socialism is supposed to be consolidated. In the remaining societies of what we once called "actually existing socialism", societies in which important elements of socialism remain intact, (like Cuba, the PRC, and Vietnam, for instance), there are clearly major debates and uncertainties. But all progressive forces in these countries accept the necessity of engaging with the capitalist system. Socialist gains have to be defended and taken forward on the terrain of a capitalist dominated world, and not in some "other world", some "other time zone", behind a "wall".

    But it is not just the defence of socialism that requires an active engagement on the terrain of capitalism itself. In societies like South Africa socialism will have to be built in a country, a region and a world dominated by capitalism.

    This basic statement compels us to revisit any simplistic opposition of "revolution" and "reform". In a sense, as we have been arguing above, the communist movement has been revisiting this simple opposition since the late 1920s - but the time has come to now do this more consciously, and explicitly.

    The 1915 split between communist and social democratic parties, and the subsequent history of this split, established an often very crude set of contrasts. Communists were supposedly revolutionary insurrectionists, social democrats were pursuing "the parliamentary road". The vast historical struggle for a socialist transformation was often reduced to a debate on how best the "decisive break-through" should be made (insurrection or elections?), an "event" became the key defining feature of different socialist currents. Of course, this is a very crude interpretation of the politics and programmes of actual communist and social democratic parties, but we still hear voices arguing as if there were two simplistic and contrasting options.

    The struggle for socialism is a vast, historical struggle to shift the balance of class forces towards working people and other popular forces. This struggle has not been, and will not be, a simple evolutionary development, guaranteed by history. Taking place on the terrain of a world dominated by capitalism, it is marked by unevenness, by moments of stagnation, by advances, ruptures, by reverses, and, no doubt, by decisive moments. To understand this struggle as a simple contrast between revolution and reform is not helpful.

    Revolutions that seize commanding heights, and which install new ruling elites that force-march their societies into "modernisation" and "development", using managerialist techniques that are little different (and sometimes much harsher) than those in capitalist production, are bound to fail the socialist project. Seizing commanding heights, transferring power, without transforming the nature and institutionalisation of power, will not advance socialism in any sustainable way.

    Struggles to reform power relations, including capitalist production relations, are not mere "dress rehearsals" for the "real thing" that will come sooner or later (a seizure of power). Intensive structural reforms must precede and must follow any decisive democratic or, indeed, socialist break-through. Such a break-through may come through armed insurrection, negotiation, elections, sustained mass pressure, as the relatively successful outcome of a civil war, or a war of national liberation, or, as in the case of South Africa's breakthrough in 1994, a partial combination of all of the above.

    By contrast, reform for reform's sake is also not a viable socialist strategy. Reforms that are unstrategic, that lack a transformational agenda, that serve to legitimise and entrench capitalism (or gender or race oppression), and which transform working class and popular forces into grateful spectators are, bluntly, unacceptably "reformist".

    5.2 A mass-driven transformation process

    There is another powerful struggle tradition within our country that has influenced our Party, and to which, in turn, our Party has made an important contribution. It is also a tradition that challenges notions of a simple opposition between reform and revolution. The tradition was born, partly, out of the defiance strategies pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi here in South Africa in the early part of the century, and then applied on a vast scale in the Indian national liberation struggle.

    Soon after Indian independence, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, later to become SACP general secretary, visited Gandhi in India, reflecting a personal admiration but also an understanding that important lessons were to be garnered from the Indian struggle.

    In 1946 the Transvaal and Natal Indian Congresses revived Gandhi's passive resistance strategies here in South Africa, leading defiance struggles against the Ghetto Act. The inspiring example of these campaigns had, in turn, a direct impact upon the revival of the ANC in the early 1950s, notably with the 1952 Defiance Campaign, which marked the beginning of a mass-line within the ANC and its broader Congress Movement. The traditions of the Defiance Campaign were carried forward in the 1950s and early 60s, in consumer boycotts, bus boycotts, pass burnings, the boycott (and destruction) of municipal beer-halls, and mass national political stay-aways.

    The significance of these strategies needs to be located, in part, within the context of a struggle against colonial (or special colonial) rule. In the first place, many of these actions seek to embarrass and render unworkable the exclusion and simultaneous inferior inclusion of nationally oppressed peoples, by way of mass defiance of colonial regulations that deprive the nationally oppressed of basic citizenship rights. In the second place, these actions often depend for their success on using the very exclusion of racially oppressed peoples (into ghettoes, townships, bush colleges and gutter education schools, and rural reserves) as a weapon to boycott their inferior inclusion as workers (the stay-at-home), as consumers (the boycott of potatoes, or tobacco, or white shops), as students (class boycotts), and as commuters (bus boycotts).

    More generally, these strategies are also based on the experience of many progressive anti-colonial struggles, in which independence has been won, not as a result of the revolutionary defeat of the colonial power's metropolitan state apparatus, but more by rendering continued colonial rule too costly. This escalation of cost to the metropolitan power has been the product of diverse factors - including wasting armed struggles in distant places, mass defiance, or a revolution (precipitated in large measure by distant liberation struggles) in the metropolitan power centre itself (as in Portugal in April 1974). Characteristically in the 20th century, progressive national liberation struggles have won independence through protracted struggle that has culminated, not in an insurrectionary overthrow, but in negotiations.

    In South Africa, in the late 1970s and 1980s, the mass defiance strategy was revived, in circumstances which highlight one other important feature of this tradition. Colonial (and in our case, special colonial) rule relies on a variety of subordinate state apparatuses to administer and control colonial subjects. There was considerable racist inventiveness in South Africa over the 20th century in the elaboration of these subordinate apparatuses - the reinvention of chieftaincy, "independent" bantustans, black local authorities and, towards the end, there was even a "tri-racial parliament".

    It is often said by the cynical that the ANC-led liberation movement failed to overthrow the apartheid regime. This is true, of course, but the cynics fail to appreciate that the democratic breakthrough of 1994 was won, primarily, because of the strategic political defeat of apartheid. At the heart of this strategic defeat was the fact that millions of South Africans had rendered the subordinate state apparatuses (bantustans, the tricameral parliament, the black local authorities, inferior education) illegitimate and unworkable. Cynics also scoff at the slogan of "ungovernability" or bewail that it is the cause of present woes. In fact, ungovernability was a profoundly correct strategy of the anti-apartheid struggle, and it was directed at defying the special colonial apparatuses that oppressed the majority.

    In the period 1990-1994, the traditions of mass mobilisation and the defiance of illegitimate authority were a critical factor in transforming the balance of forces in the negotiations process.

    A simplistic dichotomy between revolution and reform would be unable to classify these mass traditions, let alone clarify them. As the SACP, we draw on this long tradition within our country to affirm our belief that the struggle for a socialist transition is not about a simple choice of reform or revolution, but a challenge to combine reform and revolution in a sustained mass-based transformational struggle.

    For the SACP, the challenge in the present is to sustain a struggle for "revolutionary-reforms" - these are reforms that are not isolated improvements, but which attack the core of capitalist (race and gender) power, which have a transformational capacity, which use the new possibilities of state and legislative power, which build up organisational mass momentum, keeping the capitalist ruling bloc off-balance, and increasingly empower working class and popular forces as their own emancipators.

    Revisiting the reform-revolution opposition also compels a review of what we now understand by internationalism.

    5.3 Internationalism in the new millennium

    The Communist International critique of social democracy was certainly not without foundation. Social democratic leaderships that sided with their respective bourgeoisies in the First World War were often, objectively, seeking to protect privileges that had been possible in the context of a colonial and imperialist division of global power and spoils. They often represented the interests of a "labour aristocracy". The evolution of the Labour Party in South Africa illustrates this reality in an extreme form - born from the white working class labour movement, the party aligned itself with the racist National Party in the 1920s, in defence of "civilised standards" for white workers, and then disappeared altogether, with its project swallowed up in apartheid white welfarism.

    As we have noted in the first chapter of this programme, in the post-1945 period, important gains were scored by the working class in many developed economies, under the political leadership of social democratic parties. In the left of these parties, the vision of a more substantial socialist transformation was advanced, but, generally, the gains won improved the conditions of working people, but failed to progressively weaken capitalism. With the change in global economic conditions in the early 1970s, because class realities had not been substantially transformed, there was a resurgent capitalist offensive in these societies against welfare gains, and against organised working class forces.

    In the developed countries, these processes have led to a variety of tendencies within the old social democratic formations - on the one hand, a narrowing focus on elections, a continued drift towards the centre, and attempts to weaken the social weight of organised labour on the electoral party machinery. This centre-wards trend is not going unchallenged, however, in these societies. Struggles to defend welfare gains, trade union rights, and to advance innovative strategies, like the demand for a 35-hour working week, are being taken up actively.

    In the conditions of growing globalisation, working class and other progressive forces in these societies are also more inclined to work in solidarity with progressive forces in the South. The major imperialist corporations operate transnationally, it is no longer possible for German workers, for instance, to defend their gains in Volkswagen plants, independently of close solidarity with workers in Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Old Cold War divisions have abated, especially in the international labour movement. These are realities of strategic re-definition and realignment in which our ally COSATU is playing an important international role. But they also have implications for the SACP and ANC.

    The changing realities of capitalism, especially in the most developed capitalist economies, have also produced the social conditions in which a wide range of new, generally progressive, social movements have emerged - international solidarity, anti-racist and human rights groups of all kinds, ecological movements, peace movements and gender rights groups. Many of these groups played an outstanding role in the international anti-apartheid struggle. Partly born out of this practical experience, the SACP's own understanding of "internationalism" and of "internationalist work" has developed considerably. The need for, and the possibilities of wide-ranging, multi-lateral international relations with a broad network of formations, many of which are not self-declared communist or socialist forces, is obvious.

    5.4 A vanguard Party for the present and the future

    The question of the character of the Party confronted the SACP directly and quite dramatically in the 1990s, and the issue was debated extensively at our 8th and 9th Congresses. Emerging out of 40 years of illegality, with a small, tightly-knit cadreship, we were suddenly presented with new organisational challenges and possibilities.

    It was clear to the Party that the organisational priority, once more, was not the building of the SACP, but of the ANC - to ensure that it was massive, rooted among the popular masses organisationally, and that it developed progressive policies and a capacity to negotiate effectively, win elections and govern. Once more, leading Party cadres, at all levels, devoted themselves (along with many non-communists) to this critical organisational priority.

    But what of the Party itself? What organisational form, in the first place, should it assume? Many comrades argued that the Party should retain a tight, "vanguard" character, that there should be careful selectivity in recruitment, that the Party should seek to be well organised and ideologically advanced, influential through the clarity and quality of its cadres, rather than through the size of its membership. Given the strategic organisational priority of rebuilding the ANC, given the limitation of resources in the Party, and given our own decades of underground discipline, there was much that was attractive in this position.

    However, there were also obvious problems. The first half of the 1990s were, necessarily, a period of considerable ideological fluidity in and around the Party, and a significant number of comrades from the central committee elected in 1989 had allowed their membership to lapse. If membership were to be based on a closely supervised period of probation, who was to do the supervising? And around what stabilised ideological framework was this probation to be conducted? In the fluidity of the period, the danger that probation and tight recruiting would become factionalised was obvious.

    What is more, in the early 1990s there was an overwhelming demand for Party membership from tens of thousands of comrades. Many were seasoned revolutionaries from the trade union movement, from the mass democratic movement and from the underground ANC - they had been unable to connect effectively with our clandestine structures in the preceding decades, but many had conducted pro-SACP work in their organisations notwithstanding. They were ready, willing and perfectly capable of making a major contribution to rebuilding the SACP and advancing the socialist project.

    At the 1991 8th Congress, the SACP resolved to build itself as a "mass vanguard" party. For those who like metaphysical elegance this may have seemed like a contradiction in terms, but it was, broadly, the correct decision. The Congress distinguished the role of the Party (which was to remain that of a socialist vanguard within the context of a broader liberation movement), and the organisational character of the Party (which was now to be more mass-based). This resolution pointed the Party in the right direction. The Party benefited enormously from the influx of thousands of outstanding new cadres, and generally the Party succeeded in welding together the different streams of our movement (exile, underground, mass democratic movement and prison) than our alliance partner, the ANC. Being an effective and developed communist cadre was now seen less as an entry requirement, and more as something that, collectively, the Party should help you to become. This general orientation was correct, which is not to say that the SACP has yet adequately stabilised effective organisational structures.

    The precise organisational role, and therefore the size of Party we are seeking to build remain the subject of debate in our Party, but we have, in the course of this decade built a substantial Party organisation, and accumulated real organisational experience that has moved us beyond the parameters of the debates of the early 1990s.

    6. Taking theory seriously

    One matter on which we are collectively clear is that a key aspect of the SACP's vanguard role lies in the domain of ideological work - of taking theory seriously, of ensuring continuous political education and strategic debate within our Party and in our broader movement, of engaging the broader public debate with consistent anti-capitalist, socialist perspectives. In this respect, we are obviously building on long Party traditions in South Africa - the traditions of night-schools, of cadre development, of independent Party publications, and of progressive journalism.

    Theory, we have always affirmed is not dogma, it needs to continuously inform and be informed by collective, organised revolutionary practice. In the course of the 1990s, the SACP has begun to broaden its Marxism in several significant ways, in particular we should high-light:

    6.1 The limitations of "productivism" - a blindness to gender oppression

    Marxism developed on the foundations (and as a critique) of classical bourgeois economics. In its heyday, before capitalism was dominated by a parasitic financial sector, bourgeois economics focused upon production and, therefore, on labour. It was this focus that was central to Marxism as well. The focus was not wrong, but it led to a tendency to down-play the critical reproductive side of economies, and societies at large.

    This theoretical tendency was reinforced by the sociology of communist and socialist parties, emerging as they often did from the largely blue-collar, male, labour movements of the turn of the century.

    The focus on production obscured the central economic and social role played by "non-economic" activity in the reproduction of society - the rearing of children, caring for the sick and elderly, house-hold management, and shopping. Much of this work is borne by women, and the failure to adequately account for it has led to an historical blindness around gender oppression in many socialist and communist formations. Insofar as programmatic solutions were offered for overcoming gender oppression, they tended themselves to be "productivist" solutions: by drawing women into productive, waged-labour they would be liberated from the prison of their homes. In practice, while women have been partially liberated by being wage-earners in their own right, they have also typically had to carry a double burden - formal waged labour during the day, and informal, unpaid reproductive labour before and after that.

    The SACP believes that a key task in taking forward, developing and renewing the socialist project requires a much greater theoretical and practical attention to reproductive labour, and it is here that much of the intersection between class and gender oppression is to be found.

    6.2 Neglect of environmental sustainability

    "Productivist" exaggerations have also led to a neglect of environmental sustainability. In former socialist countries, like the Soviet Union, the construction of socialism was often conceptualised in very technocratic and managerialist terms, as a forced-march into modernisation. Socialism was about "catching up" with the West in terms of physical outputs (tons of steel, coal or wheat, kilojoules of electricity). Scant attention was paid to environmental sustainability (another key dimension of the reproduction of economies and societies).

    The critique of an exaggerated "productivism" needs also to be carried forward, in theory and practice, by the SACP on the front of struggle for a safe, people-friendly and sustainable environment.

    6.3 What is theory?

    When we write or speak about our practical experience as the SACP we are proud of referring to our own indigenous experience. But when we speak about theory, our reference points tend to be the "classics" of socialism - Marx, Engels and Lenin. There is no doubt about the outstanding contribution each of these have made to socialism - but is communist theory something only associated with outstanding (usually male) revolutionaries from Europe whose "Collected Works" fill a library shelf? In celebrating, in reading and debating Marx, Engels and Lenin, have we contributed, unwittingly, to a particular image of what being a communist means?

    In the struggle for the renewal of the socialist project, the SACP must expose its membership and the broader mass movement to the widest range of progressive writings and theory - including to those who were often suppressed because they were considered "dissident" - Bukharin, Trostky, Rosa Luxemburg.

    We need, also, to acknowledge our indebtedness to a wide range of Third World revolutionary theorists - among them Ho Chi Minh, Le Duan, Mao Tse Tung, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Fidel Castro, and many more.

    We need to understand and popularise the contribution made by outstanding African revolutionaries - like Amilcar Cabral and Agostino Neto - and theorists like Samir Amin. Moreover, we need to understand the contribution made to our own Party's theory and practice by many African revolutionaries, who were not necessarily from within the traditions of Marxism-Leninism - Julius Nyerere, Frantz Fanon, and many others. Our movement and our Party have also been influenced by generations of revolutionary and progressive Afro-Americans.

    Above all, we need to broaden our understanding of revolutionary theory so that we have a much better grasp of the contribution made to the SACP's ideological positions by thousands of South Africans - from the early revolutionary pioneers, David Ivon Jones, SP Bunting, Albert Nzula, Eddie Roux, through Moses Kotane, JB Marks, Jack and Ray Simons, Govan Mbeki, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer, Alex La Guma, MP Naicker, Mick Harmel to Duma Nokwe, Ruth First and Joe Slovo, Comrade Mzala, Matthew Goniwe and Chris Hani. Some have left us with fairly extensive theoretical writings, often published in other MK names, or in the shape of collective documents, or in training manuals. Others, like Hani, made their theoretical contribution in hundreds of unrecorded speeches. The SACP also needs to appreciate the degree to which our theoretical positions have been influenced by many generations of outstanding, non-communist revolutionaries in our broader liberation movement - among them OR Tambo

    In seeking to do justice to our SACP theoretical legacy, we have to move even beyond this. In a society like our own, where there are extremely high levels of illiteracy, in which there are now eleven different official languages, and in which, on the other hand, there are powerful traditions of oral culture (speech-making, funeral orations, song, poetry, and just plain umrabulo) it is critical that we do not over-privilege one form of theorising (in a book, written in a global language like English) and marginalise knowledge, theory, debate and learning that happen in other ways.

    If we broaden our understanding of theory, debate and learning, we will better be able to appreciate how a shack-dwelling activist like Dora Tamana pioneered in the 1950s a socialist co-operative movement for child-care and food distribution, guided by her own township experiences and inspired by a brief visit to the Soviet Union. Tamana made a major contribution to our collective understanding, but you will not find it in any book written by her. Yet she recounted this experience in many forums, and helped to inspire the relaunching of mass democratic movement structures in the 1980s.

    We are advancing these views not in opposition to formal learning, or to denigrate the importance of books and publications, still less because we espouse some demagogic anti-theoretical stance. The SACP takes theory very seriously, it is precisely because we do so, that we find it important to elaborate our understanding of what theory is.

    The SACP is not ashamed to call itself Marxist-Leninist, but then we are also Moses Kotaneists and Dora Tamanists.

    6.4 Breaking with dogma

    Linked to all of the above is the need to break out of the bureaucratic grip of dogma. The institutionalisation of socialism in the Soviet Union in the Stalin years established a tradition of Marxism-Leninism that sought to be all-embracing, total. Marxism-Leninism became a "science" of everything, from agronomy to class struggle, from art theory and psychology to the "universal laws of motion". The actual Marx and Lenin had struggled fiercely against "metaphysics" and "speculative philosophy", and yet this is what often came to be enshrined as Marxism-Leninism.

    If Marxism-Leninism was to be all-embracing, then it followed that theories, sciences, aesthetic approaches, ethical and world-views that differed from those that were formally endorsed were necessarily "antagonistic" and "reactionary". This had many dire and negative consequences.

    One obvious area was in the relationship between communism and religion. Instead of approaching the social reality of religious belief with an historical, class and dialectical understanding, communists tended to approach religion metaphysically - it was seen mechanically and dogmatically as a "rival" belief system to be defeated at all costs. In practice, in the SACP, there have always been comrades of religious persuasion (including many religious ministers), but their involvement has tended to be seen as an anomaly. The truth, however, is that these comrades were attracted to our Party not despite their religious beliefs - but because of them. And it is because of their religious views that many were, and are, outstanding communists. Sadly, many thousands of other South Africans have been attracted by the moral and political message of communism, only to feel excluded by the "atheism" of our Party.

    The SACP reaffirms its commitment to the right of anyone to hold (or not to hold) religious beliefs. The SACP is not defined by being either a Party of atheists or believers. This is a matter of principle, and not opportunism. Our class approach to reality (a bias towards the poor), our struggle for a society based on social need and not on private profit, our condemnation of selfishness, and personal greed, and our refusal to give way to demoralisation (in other words, our espousing of hope) are closer to the core values of all of the world's major religions than the ethos of globalisation, imperialism and the Johannesburg Stock Market. Dogmatic errors from the side of Marxists, and the class abuse of institutionalised religion by many reactionary forces, have historically contributed to a dichotomy between socialists and believers that should never have happened.

    In struggling, as communists, against the strangle-hold of dogma, we are reaffirming that our theory is dynamic, living and engaged with collective practice. The renewal of the socialist project requires an understanding that there is no single way of "being a communist". There are a thousand ways of being a communist, and some of those ways would not even admit to the name "communist".

    150 years ago, Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, called on communists not to see themselves as a breed apart, as a sect removed from society, and especially not from the broader working class movement as a whole. Communists, they declared:

    "have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement. The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: (1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. (2) In the various stages of the development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole."

    As South African communists, members of a Party that has been in the midst of working class and popular struggles stretching over three-quarters of a century, we draw strength from this vision of the role of communists. It is a vision that we believe has been exemplified, developed and enriched in our own struggle traditions.