Pandemonium Electronic Publications
Merida, Venezuela.© 2001 Franz J. T. Lee All Rights Reserved.
Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the Fachhochschule Darmstadt, West Germany, 1972 to 1977; Senior Lecturer in Marxist Studies at the University of Guyana, 1977 to 1979; Professor in International Politics and African Studies at the University of The Andes, Merida, Venezuela, 1979 to 1982. Currently Visiting Scholar at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Paper presented at the Marx Centenary Conference, Marx and Africa, held at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, from March 14-18, 1983.
Proletarian internationalism and international proletarianism in this paper simply mean the revolutionary theory-praxis of the working classes on a global scale. We will primarily be concerned with the following:
The concept „Revolution“
Marx’s Concept of Revolution
Marx’s Revolutioncry Theory-Praxis
Lenin and Trotsky: Enrichment of Marx’s Concept of Revolution
Proletarian Internationalism and Southern Africa.
It is pertinent to deal with the topics in Section One in great detail because misunderstanding of these has caused great confusion within the ranks of international scholars of Scientific Socialism. However, although deliberately polemical, nevertheless, the exposition attempts to encourage African Marxists to view Scientific Socialism, not as a European discovery, but as a great historic achievement of all working men and women on this planet. By no means, the analysis is all encompassing or complete, but it is only intended to arouse interest and critique of Marxism, which is still virgin land in Africa.
Section Two is only a brief reference to central problems of proletarian internationalism, which have their genesis in Marx’s momentous work, and which are our legacy to solve through revolutionary theory-praxis. For Marx the most important task of his life was to make history, that is, make revolution, in order to emancipate Man from class violence. Through class struggle, the proletariat can realise Socialism on a world scale. But, Marx even saw further, through humanisation of Nature, and naturalisation of Man, we can realise Communism dialectically moving from Necessity to Freedom. For this reason, this paper is mainly concerned about Revolution.
The historic objective of proletarian internationalism, as originally defined by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto (1848) is social revolution. Hence, firstly, let us elaborate what we understand by revolution.
Ever since the American and French Revolutions, and the English Industrial Revolution, numerous scholars have made serious scientific attempts to explain these momentous historical social changes which took place in Europe and North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. In this context we will just mention some of the original contributions in the fields of history and political sociology.
Augustin Thierry (1795 - 1856), the French historian and romanticist writer, saw national development as a struggle between two major races, the invaders and the invaded; Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot (1787 - 1874) another French historian, who, between 1829 and 1832, wrote the 6-volumed work, General History of Civilisation in Modern Europe, like Thierry, interpreted the above social revolutions as struggles of social classes. Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797 - 1877), Premier of France between 1836 and 1840, and President of the Third French Republic, 1871 - 1873, a prominent European historian of his time, like Thierry and Guizot, were among the respected scholars who had inspired Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to develop their theory of class struggle in the mid-19th century.
From the Reflection on the French Revolution of Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797) to the contemporary authors of the „systems theory“, „modernisation theory“ or „dependence theory“ there is a direct historic connection of scholars who had attempted to explain the essence and developmental laws of „social change“ or „social revolution“. These various authors, irrespective of their specific political ideology, tried to catch the manifold causes, pre-conditions, strategies, tactics and consequences of „social change“ within a sophisticated network of theoretical concepts and categories of the discipline „Social Sciences“.
Especially since the failure of the Paris Commune of 1871, numerous radical revolutionary-theoretical works appeared on a global scale. The failure of the First Russian Revolution of 1905 and the success of the Second Russian Revolution of 1917 had elevated the problematic of revolution to a central place within the field of political sociology. The various colonial revolutions of the 1960s had magnified this problem and numerous „theories of social change“ were formulated by non-Marxist scholars. Well-known is the „theory of revolution“ of Chalmers Johnson (Revolutionary Chanqe, 1966) which became the prototype of the revolutionary model for the „systems“ theory. Contemporary Marxist scholars like Ernest Mandel have criticised these „bourgeois“ models, which, in the final analysis, intend to maintain the capitalist status quo on a world scale.
Nevertheless, contemporary „official“ social science is just as helpless to explain the current social changes or revolutions, as it is hopeless to analyse wars. Yet both forces, revolutions and wars, belong to the major historic phenomena of the 20th century. Wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions are shaking the contemporary world and yet they are not yet definite subjects of ,a. specific discipline, like Political Science# at universities. They are dealt with as sub-ordinates of various „important“ subjects like „History of Political Thought“ or „Contemporary Political Systems“. Very often, studies in this direction, for example, a cause in „Revolutionary Theory-Praxis“ will be discouraged at most Western universities, in the same manner as Theology declared Natural Sciences taboo during the Middle Ages in Europe.
Concepts lie „revolution“ or „counter-revolution“ are very difficult to determine scientifically, especially when one uses the method of formal logic, Which has dominated the world since Aristotle. These phenomena have the essential characteristic of being incomplete, processual and anticipatory -_ traits which W not compatible with the norm of generally fixing concepts, giving them absolute meanings: A = A, a machine is a machine forever, no matter which changes will occur. When theory of this nature tries to explain world processes like revolutions, it again and again verifies the acute shortcomings of the idealist view of history and human life in general. Yet already at the beginning of the 19th century over 150 years ago, the German objective idealist philosopher, Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831), had discovered the dialectical method of reasoning logically, the majority of modern social science scholars, still today, separate scientific theory and scientific praxis, in the same way as Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
2.2 The genesis of the concept „revolution“
Today, especially in the so-called „Third World“, and more specifically, in Africa we have sufficient social reasons to reconsider, re-evaluate and re-define the concept of revolution. This is not an easy scientific endeavour. Revolution is the central topic of phenomena which became known to us as „socialism“ „communism“ or „Marxism-Leninism“, and these things are not very much loved in the western world. They have been painted as Draculas and Frankensteins. The bourgeois scholars of the mid-18th century, Rousseau, Voltaire ox Montesquieu, were very well acquainted with feudalism and Catholicism, the arch-enemies of capitalism in its power struggle. This is the reason why the bourgeois class was revolutionary and could be successful historically. How can capitalism fight against communism when the masses of people, .and those in important positions of social control, do not have the foggiest notion of Marxism? Also how can we eradicate historically obsolete mode of production and introduce a new one to servo the interests of humanity as a whole, when we know nothing about the contradictions and crises of capitalism?
The two so-called „classical“ revolutions, the French Revolution of 1789 and the October Revolution of 1917, both which have introduced the beginning stages of new mode of production, capitalism and socialism respectively, can only restrictively explain the root causes, social dynamics, historical latencies and tendencies of the various current social revolutions, shaking especially Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The concepts and categories won from critical analyses of modern highly developed industrialised societies cannot be applied directly to „developing’’ countries; similarly, classical Marxist concepts concerning exploitation, classes or imperialism, cannot be used to explain „Third World“ realities efficiently. This was at best demonstrated in the conflict between the „dependencia“ Marxist authors and the „Neo-Marxist“ scholars in the 1960s and 1970s. Also, the application of guerrilla warfare tactics and strategies won in Vietnam or Cuba to metropolitan revolutionary conditions had resulted in disastrous emancipatory situations. Ever since the 1960s there is a passionate international discussion, especially introduced by Herbert Marcuse, concerning the locality of the present revolutionary subject in the world emancipatory struggle. The problem is all the more serious, because, at least, over the last decades, the proletariat of highly industrialised countries, such as the Federal Republic of Germany or the United States of America, had not fulfilled its historic revolutionary task, as originally anticipated and hopefully specified by Marxian revolutionary theory - it has more to lose „than its chains“, at least, this it „believes“ Hence, what is revolution?
Let us begin with the current accepted notion of revolution. In the forefront of the usage of this word, one normally finds the idea of a violent upheaval. This is generally, the work of a conspiratorial terrorist group, preferably „Marxists“, „communists“ or „fascists“, who want to topple the democratic „law and order“ of the state. This group prepares and carries out revolution. This view is based on the philosophy of idealism, in which the primordial cause or substance is the idea, theory or a Supreme Being. Great ideas make history, great men, like Napoleon, Khomeiny or Castro, .lone make history, hence, great revolutionaries, like Ho Chi Minh, Mao Tse Tung, Castro or Che Guevara, make revolution. In this sense, revolution is a subjective matter, the work of individuals. Certainly individual popular leaders like Castro or Mugabe, especially in „Third World“ countries, play a decisive role in history, and in revolutions. This they cannot do in a glass cage, isolated from society and historical forces, in spite of having the greatest of revolutionary ideas.
Following further the above line of idealist thought, „communists“ and „Marxists“, acting as „terrorists“, use the poor ignorant masses of people, weapons from „communist“ countries, and „Marxist ideology“ to further their personal egoistic power-drunk interests. Revolutions can be staged as Shakespeare’s play: As you Like It. In spite of the „Mistakes of a Night“, the rest will follow, once the show, the „military coup“ has been successful. If it was a success, then future „idealist“ historians will call it a „revolution“, if not, it will become known as a „coup d’ etat“ or counterrevolution: Fundamental for this type of reasoning and argumentation is:
a) revolutionaries make revolution, and
b) political power is usurped by the new group, by violent means.
The meaning of revolution as a singular political event, with fundamental social changes within the structure of the state, developed after the „Glorious Revolution“ of 1688 in England, when William of Orange landed, causing Jacob II to flee. The flight of Jacob II was described as a miracle, the work of a Supreme Being, which had nothing to do with the endeavours of men. However of relevance to us, to note, is that the „Glorious Revolution“ occurred without the help of revolutionaries, who normally make the revolution. The legal situation of the British nobility had become unbearable, thus it called William III to re-establish the previous status quo. In reality, we could consider this as a very anti-revolutionary act. Ever since, every unique political change in a European country was called a revolution.
This old „objectivistic“ concept of revolution stand in direct contradiction to the new one which was created at ‘she eve of the French revolution. The most important contribution of the French Revolution to modern revolutionary theory, was the discovery that, an objective revolution needs subjective revolutionaries. Ironically to say, this was the political achievement of the bourgeoisie when it was still young and revolutionary. The modern representatives of this class deliberately forget this when they consider the activities of „terrorists“.
Now, let us investigate the genesis of the word „revolution“ itself. In the late Middle Ages, the word „revolution“ appeared in Europe. It was the formation of the noun from the Latin verb, revolvere, meaning to „roll back,“ for example, to explain the rotation of the moon in a circular orbit. St. Augustine used it in the sense of „reincarnation“, in his religious battle against the heathens who believed that the soul repeatedly „rolls“ through various „bodies“ until it is purified. For Dante, „revolutio“ is the changing movement of the sun, stars and planets. Thus, as late as the 15th century the concept „revolutio“ was essentially still a pre-political astronomic concept. Then came the discoveries of the natural scientists, Copernicus (1473-1543), Galilei Galileo (1564-1642) and Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727, which gave the concept a physico-political connotation. The astrologists of the 17th century believed that by means of the positions of the heavenly bodices, by the horoscope, they could prophesy the faith of the feudal princes, who asked them for advice before going to war, This pre-scientific method is still t,,- y used in our mass media to determine the behaviour patterns of wage worker. in modern capitalism. Nevertheless, since the 17th century, people believed that political events were dependent on physical phenomena. They thought that political actions were caught within the magnetic field of the powers of nature. This was clearly a revolutionary step, away from the idealist, religious notion that Providence determines human behaviour. Galileo even believed that the rotations of the earth cause accidents and chances in human life. Ever since, the prefix „re-“ did not mean only a simple repetition, but also contained the idea of destruction. Revolution now included an element new, which was beyond the reach of human arbitrariness, calculation and planning.
The word „revolution“ received its political connotation in the genesis of capitalism itself. It originated in the city-states of northern Italy, were capitalism was developing in embryonic form. Words such as „rivoltura“ „rivoluzione“ were used to describe serious social revolts or popular unrest. What these words exactly designated, can he compared with the present political understanding „f, „social turmoil“ or „turbulent events“ in domestic or foreign affairs.
3.1 Historical Background
Marx evolved his theory of revolution in the years 1840 - 1844, and it was intended to be a program for the bourgeois-democratic revolution, then overdue in Germany, Germany’s historical time-lag as compared with her Western-bourgeois neighbours (England and France), offered the German social revolution a unique historical chance, not only to make up for the „political emancipation“ that had been brought about by the Jacobinian revolution in France, but even to surpass it in a „human emancipation,“ which would go so far as to overcome the contradiction between citoyen and bourgeois.
In clarifying the question of the subject of such a revolution, Marx not only crossed the line from radical bourgeois-ideologist to theoretician of the socialist revolution, but also from utopian to scientific socialism, which alone is susceptible of signing the bridge of praxis that must of necessity link the criticism of the present with the utopia of the future, and of actuating the „alliance of thinking and suffering men“ that will liberate human society from the shackles of the bourgeois mode of production and hence, from the class system on a world scale.
Two parties are bound to find themselves in a temporary alliance prompted by the revolution, although they differ in their basic political attitude towards that revolution: a petty-bourgeois one that aims at getting it done and over with, and a proletarian one that keeps pushing it forward „until all more or less properties classes have squeezed out of authority, executive power has been wrested from them by the proletariat, and the associations of proletarians not only in one country but in all leading countries of the world are so far advanced (....) that at least the decisive forces of production will be concentrated in the hands of the proletariat“. (Marx and Engels, „Address of the Central Authority to the League“, March 1850.)
This postulation of permanency for the proletarian revolution (an idea which was later further developed by L. Trotsky in his theory of the permanent revolution), which at the time was the common political platform of the „League of Communists“ and the „Blanquists“, contains the following criteria of a socialist revolution:
3.1.1 Achievement of the hegemony of the proletariat, by means of its party or parties, in the historically retarded bourgeois revolution;
3.1.2 Establishment of a proletarian dictatorship, i.e., seizing control of executive power with a view to the expropriation and reorganisation of the means of production;
3.1.3 Internationalisation of the revolution to bring about cooperation among the proletarian-dominatad of most highly developed („dominant“) societies, in order to prevent communism from merely becoming a generalised social form of indigenos, which would invariably entail new types of inequality, the formation of new classes, and the setting up of a machinery of repression vis-a-vis the majority of the people.
3.2 Dialectics and Revolution - „Communist Manifesto“
The first period of an independent German workers’ movement, 1844-1852, was at the same time the first international workers’ movement. In the history of the „League of Communists“ nationality played no major role; solidarity was based on class interests.
In the „Communist Manifesto“, Marx and Engels addressed the „proletariat“ in the „third person“, hence at a little distance. When they addressed the „communists“, they used the appellative for the conclusion of the „manifesto“: „Workers of the world, unite!“ The manifesto of Marx and Engels of 1848 did not address the proletarians on a world scale, it was formulated for the European proletariat.
For them, revolution had nothing to do with conspiracy, blind activism or Blanquism. It was for them an epochmaking social transformetion, which has become world historically necessary, and whose task it was to eradicate the economically based exploitative relations of the bourgeois classes. The possibility of a social revolution has first theoretically to be derived from the objective conditions of the law of accumulation of capital, then scientifically tested, only then could ideas concerning the organisation of revolution, be formulated correctly. This means that first a revolutionary theory has to be developed out of the specific conditions, then it must be tested scientifically in revolutionary praxis, by active organisation of the working classes.
Until 1847, the revolutionary theory, worked out by Marx and Engels, was attacked by the various political tendencies within the „League of Communists“. It was only on the second congress of the „League“ in 1847 that Marx triumphed and that he and Engels were asked to draft a communist manifesto, which was published in London in January 1848.
In this manifesto, Marx and Engels especially criticised the „utopian communism“ of Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen Proudhon, etc. They argued that the „systems“ of the above authors mainly were of pre-scientifice, utopian character, and that they did not comprehend the real dialectics of history as being essentially revolutionary processes of class struggles. The historic constitution of the proletariat, from a „class in itself“ to a „class for itself“, they simply understood as an invented type of „social organisation“. World history is, thus, dissolved in propaganda and the practical fulfillment of their social schemes. In this process, the theory and praxis of proletarian class struggles have no dialectical relation whatsoever. The „utopian“ communists hence did not touch the core of this historic phenomenon, that is, that in history itself theory operates and in theory conscious history is contained.
The Marxian critique of utopian unscientific socialists of various directions can be summarised as follows: Where the historic self-action of the proletariat begins, the legitimation of utopianism ends. Where the proletariat becomes a historic force, the „Icarias“ (Owen) become reactionary, because they act retardingly, hence blunting the edges of the class struggle.
The road of the „Communist Manifesto“ to Russia led across Bakunin, an adversary of Marx in the First International; in 1869 he translated it into Russian - thus it found its first historic „realisation“ in the October Revolution of 1917. The history of the „Communist Manifesto“ in a certain sense reflects the history of the European workers’ struggle. Marx and Engels had accused the „utopians“ of dogmatism, idealism, voluntarism and anarchism. But exactly such forces within the Central Committee of the League of Communists led to a split into two main factions an September 15, 1850, into a majority „Marx“ faction and a minority „Willich-Schapper“ faction. Marx and Engels accused the minority faction of „utopian thoughts“, that they anticipated the best of all worlds, but left the real world to its alienation.
3.3 The Five Major Postulates of the Marxian Revolutionary Theory.
3.3.1 Social revolutions are only possible, when a historic subject exists, whose concrete needs are so clearly articulated that revolutionary theor appears as the most adequate expression of these needs.
3.3.2 Social revolutions are „real“ and „total“ and they must have an international character.
3.3.3 As far as the German social revolution of the mid-19th century was concerned, it would only be successful, if the „bourgeoisie“, in alliance with the State, would accomplish the political revolution; this would, on the one hand, enable the continuation of concentration of capital, and, on the other hand, the pauperisation of the developing proletariat; thus the central conflict between the German forces of production and relations of production will eventually reach an acute, critical stage, creating the real historic conditions for the German proletarian social revolution.
3.3.4 Social revolutions can only take place in the face of a universal economic crisis, in which the antagonistic structure of bourgeois class society becomes crystal-clear to every conscious worker. In such a situation the two major classes of capitalist society confront each other openly. The world crisis of 1847 was for Marx and Engels the real economic base of the European „February“ and „March“ revolutions of 1848; also the period of relative economic prosperity of 1849-50 was the economic basis of the European political reaction at the beginning of the 1850s.
3.3.5 A pre-condition for social revolutions is a highly developed level of the industrial revolution. This creates a highly organised, experienced proletariat, which can revolt in a united and disciplined manner, as a „class for itself“ which is able to overcome capitalist class society.
In conclusion, this Marxist concept of revolution only has validity in highly developed capitalist industrialised societies. A prerequisite is a comprehensive theory of social development. This concept maintains that the social proletarian revolution is inevitable on a world historical scale and how, when or where social revolutions occur cannot be determined abstractly, but on the basis of specific historical, economic, political, social and cultural conditions.
Concerning the above-mentioned five Marxian postulates, generally the following can be said about Marx’s „theory of revolution“ as developed by scientific socialists ever since:
3.3.6 Marx was the first scholar who described the essence of fundamental social changes, as the result of the contradiction between the developing forces of production and obsolete relations of production. At a certain stage of development the material social forces of production contradict the existing relations of production, that is, the relations of property, within which they had developed until then. Originally developmental forms of the forces for production, these production relations now become chains of the same. The result is that an epoch of social revolution sets in.
3.3.7 A mode of production never desappears, before all its forces of production are developed. New and higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of existence, necessary for their coming into being, are not yet already present in embryonic form in the old mode of production.
3.3.8 Revolution is characterised as a process, as an epoch. Generally emancipatory violence is necessary to crack the old egg shell, in order to give birth to the new relations of production. But violence is not necessarily a since qua non for social revolution.
3.3.9 The concept of revolution as process is confronted with the concept action, with the political revolution. This political act, in the past, has practically not occurred exactly at the point, where the concentration of the new forces of production came into contradiction with the egg shell of the obsolete relations of reduction. In this sense, the october Revolution was premature and the revolution in the United States is long overdue.
3.3.10 Marx and Engels were of the opinion that the socialist revolution will take place simultaneously in all highly industrialised, „civilised“ countries, at least in England, the United States of America, France and Germany. The „uncivilised“ world will automatically be forced to accept the socialist mode of production. However, the World Revolution, which began in October 1971, has not taken the course which Marx and Engels had predicted.
3.3.11 It becomes clear that within the Marxist „theory of revolution“ there cannot be a generally valid, paradigmatic model of revolution. Also classical revolutions, do not exist.
3.3.12 A common factor of all revolutions is that the exploitative social conditions have become so unbearable for the masses of working people, that the majority of them are prepared to place their lives at stake, in revolt against the rulers, who are nut capable anymore, to solve the burning social problems.
3.3.13 The only factor which is clear, is that with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the epoch of social revolution between capitalism and socialism has set in, in other words, the process of the world revolution began.
3.3.14 This world revolution, which is reflected in the severe international crises of capitalism on global scale, has as important elements the scientific technological revolution, the rapid development of the means of production and the forces of production, and the emancipatory struggle of nations on a global scale, who have become socially conscious of the imminent dangers of capitalism to their very existence, and the survival of mankind.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Bolsheviks and left-wing German „Social Democrats“ once more ‘discovered“ the „topicality of the proletarian revolution“ that is contained in the Marxian writings of 1840-48. The First Russian Revolution of 1905 raised the problem of the character of this revolution, not only for the Russian „Social Democrats“, but also for the Second International in it entirely. Three options were developed:
4.1 The „Bolshevik“ one,
According to the Bolshevik line, Lenin’s formula for the Russian Revolution up to World War I was that of the „democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants“. His interest was mainly riveted on the classes known to be incubating the revolution, hence its most likely protagonists. 150 million landless peasants would break out of their semi-serfdom and fight for the distribution of land; 15 million urban workers would support the peasant revolt by using the strike as political weapon in the cities, with socialist objectives in mind. The result would be a revolutionary coalition between workers’ and peasants’ organisations. The Russian bourgeoisie, in consequence of the special features of Russian historical development, would be unable to play an independent political role. Thus, the bourgeois revolution, being consummated by peasants and workers would henceforth take on a proletarian character, at least in the cities, by virtue of the forms of workers-struggle adopted. Besides, the Russian Revolution would be the signal for the „purely“ proletarian revolution in Western Europe to erupt.
4.2 The „Menshevik“ one,
Briefly, according to the Menshevik theory, the task of the revolution was restricted to toppling the tsarist regime and establishing a bourgeois-democratic republic, in the framework of which Russian capitalism would then freely expand, while Russian „social democracy“ would by means of its opposition and powerful organisation protect the Russian workers from the worst forms of capitalist exploitation. In the opinion of the Mensheviks, a socialist revolution would not be feasible in Russia, given its historical uneven development, since a highly developed capitalism would be the necessary pre-condition for any such revolution.
4.3 The „Trotskyist“ one,
Trotsky went a step even further then Lenin. He predicted in 1905/06 that the coalition assumed by Lenin would of necessity quickly be followed by the hegemony of the urban proletariat, since in view of the inherent weakness of the Russian bourgeoisie, the class of peasants, having a pettybourgeois attitude, would be incapable of organising itself politically, hence, this peasantry would be bound to come under the leadership of the proletariat. Once the urban workers had seized political control, they would have not option but to put collectivism on the agenda. This would bring the proletariat into conflict with the peasantry. Trotsky thus concluded: Without support of the Russion proletarian revolution from Western Europe, it would not be able to hold its own in backward Russia; the fate of the Russian Workers’ revolution would be decided by the success of the revolutionary struggles on an international scale, otherwise the Russian revolution would degenerate.
During the time of World War I (1914-18), Lenin drew closer to Trotsky’s position. Upon his return from exile, in his famous „April Theses“, he propagated the second proletarian-socialist revolution. The events of 1917 in Russia fully confirmed Trotsky’s prognosis made in 1905.
The Bolshevik seizure of power in October/November 1917 was doubtless informed by the expectation that the socialist revolution would not fail to spread internationally within a short time, as evidenced by the party manifestoes and debated of both the first Comintern congresses and the party congresses of the „Russian Communist Party“ (RCP), as well as the writings of the various Bolshevik revolutionary leaders.
The factional struggles within the RCP and the Third International from 1923 to 1929 basically centered upon the question as to how the first isolated „workers’ state“ should „correctly“ conduct its internal and external policies in the interest of both the Russian and international proletariat. In what was a clear breach of the Bolshevik tradition of 1917-1923, Stalin, after Lenin’s death, in 1924 inaugurated a new version of a nationally restricted communism - this became known as „revisionism”, against which Lenin had already warned and even fought against.
The need for throwing into gear the lagging process of industrialisation in Russia was not in itself a matter for factional dispute. The problem arose about the ways and means to be adopted in its implementation, this being the essence of the economic controversy between Preobrashenski and Bucharin.
The Third International had been created as an instrument for spreading the socialist revolution. The question open for debate among the factions was that of the policy of alliances in highly „developed“ as well as „underdeveloped“ countries. It would seem that Stalin comparatively early considered the chance of spreading the internntional proletarian revolution quite minimal (see his letter of August 1923 to Zinoviev on „The Chances of the Communist Revolution in Germany“, in which he counselled „soft-pedalling“).
In China (1925-1927), as later in Spain (1931-1939), the Stalinist faction, through the mechanism of the Comintern, enforced its own conception, predicated on the necessity of fostering a revolutionary phase which initially was to be bourgeois-nationalist in outlook. This meant that the Communist Parties of both countries were not supposed to pursue an independent communist policy but to restrict themselves by lending „critical support“ to the national revolutinary movement (to the Koumintang or the Popular Front, respectively) unless they were impelled to enter into alliances with those organisations, calling for the total abandonment of their own political principles.
Stalin thus elevated the old formula of the „democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants“ (Lenin), to which he had subscribed as editor of the Bolshevik organ, Pravda, as late as in Spring 1917, to the status of a programme for the Comintern. This resulted in defeats for the workers’ struggles and for parties representing them.
Just as Bolshevism and Menshevism had confronted each other at the beginning of the 20th century, now since 1924, Stalinism and Trotskyism emerged as the communist enemy-brothers of the late „Twenties“ and of the “Thirties“. In autumn 1924, Stalin, in total opposition to the whole Marxist revolutionary tradition, in defining his domestic policy, proclaimed the thesis of the possibility of achieving „socialism in a single country“ - Russia: He stated that even if no further socialist revolutions were forthcoming, Russia would be able to achieve socialism, and eventually communism, under its own revolutionary steam. Stalin thus made a national communist virtue out of an imposed autarchic necessity. Trotsky attacked this thesis, and called it as early as 1928 a „theory of empty promises“, an „opiate of the people“.
Ever since, both on the theoretical level and in their practical organisational approach, these two factions, Stalinism and Trotskyism, have confronted one another, in both „developed“ and „developing“ countries. This split in international communism is reflected across the globe; it has caused serious damage to the revolutionary struggles everywhere. Today we are experiencing new versions of this ideological conflict in the various theoretical positions of „Nee-Stalinism“ and „Neo-Trotskyism“. Added to these new „Marxist“ „isms“ came into existence, for example, „Maoism“ „Castroism“ „Nkrumaism“, etc.
Nevertheless, in contradiction to Stalin, Trotsky had the following theoretical position, after 1924: The question of revolutionary objectives and of the social classes likely to achieve them was posed; Trotsky was convinced that there is not a single country in the „developing“ world in which the „national bourgeoisie“ is susceptible of even solving the problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution; consequently the achievement of revolutionary aims in „underdeveloped“ countries has to be entrusted to the Peasantry under a proletarian leadership. Later, this theory was confirmed in the Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions. As far as the Soviet Union was concerned, Trotsky called for the Second „October Revolution“, to sweep away Stalinism. Also in the „First World“ he called for the Second „French Revolution“ to complete the socialist revolution. In his „theory of the permanent revolution“, he developed the dynamics of the world revolution, as expressed in the dialectical relations of these three historical revolutionary developments.
In contradistinction and contradiction to other social revolutions of previous epochs, the proletarian revolution of the 20th and 21st centuries has four distinct features, which determine its specific historical character but also circumscribe the immense difficulties for its realisation.
6.1 The proletarian revolution, which commenced in 1917, is the first social revolution in history, which is being accomplished nationally and internationally by the poorest and lowest classes of society, which constitute a huge revolutionry force, but which are excluded from the enjoyment of the massive accumulated wealth of production on a world scale.
6.2 It is the first social revolution in history, which has as revolutionary aim a consciously planned transformation of the existing old mode of production, capitalism, into a new one, socialism, and eventually, COMMUNISM. Until now, social revolutions were „made“, to a large extent, blindly by the social revolutionary classes, without a clear revolutionary theory, or guiding revolutionary praxis.
6.3 Like previous social revolutions, the proletarian revelution emerged from the internal class struggles and class contradictions of the existing mode of production, but contrary to the others, it cannot stop at a certain culmination point, it cannot afford an incomplete social transformation, it is directed towards a total change of all human relations, a conscious, systematic and radical change of the existing order on a world scale over a long period of time, which could last centuries. Furthermore the acquisition of social power of the proletariat, on a world scale is not the end, but the beginning of real history, the beginning of its social transforming actions, among others, the abolition of the contradiction between capital and labour, the state, commodity production, of all classes, including the proletariat itself, racism and sexual oppression.
6.4 Already indicated above, the proletarian revolution is the first social revolution in history which is essentially international, not limited to an island, state, region or bloc of countries. This is an absolutely necessary sine qua non for its historic success. Surely, it begins nationally, yet its victory will never he secure, unless it is successfully accomplished on a global scale. It is a world process, a world revolution. Hence, it cannot be a uniform social struggle but must correspond to the principles of unequal and combined historical development.
Lenin, living in the period of monopoly capitalism, was in a better position than Marx and Engels to assess the importance of the above factors for revolutionary theory and praxis. Cognisant of these, Lenin further developed Marxism by extending its application to central problems of the social superstructure, that is, of the state, ideology, class consciousness and the party.
Generally it can be said, that Lenin, Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg - and in limited form also Lukacs and Gramsci - have formulated the subjective factor of Marxism, which was only implicitly worked out by Marx and Engels. This factor is mainly elaborated in Lenin’s theories of organisation and the party.
7.1 Bourgeois Ideology
Marx and Engels had stated concerning classes and ideology the following: „The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it“. (Marx and Engels, The German Ideology (1846), pp. 39f., see below).
Concerning the eradication of „ideology“, they said: This whole semblance, that the rule of a certain class is only the rule of certain ideas, comes to a natural end, of course, as soon as society ceases at last to be organised in the form of class rule, that is to say, as soon as it is no longer necessary to represent a particular interest as general or ‘the general interests’ as ruling“. (ibid. p. 41)
In order to understand Lenin’s considerations, it is important to understand these Marxian thoughts in the context of capitalist rule. The bourgeoisie nationally and internationally controls the ideological production, that is, mass media, schools, universities and churches, and use these in its own class interests to perpetuate its existence. As long as the bourgeoisie was young revolutionary and relatively stable, for example, in the 18th and 19th centuries, its ideology fundamentally influenced the working classes. In the first phase of the workers’ struggles, especially until 1848 in Western Europe, much later in other regions, the proletariat as a „class in itself“ still used the ideals, for example, liberty, equality and fraternity, and the ideology of the bourgeoisie. But as the class struggles intensified on a global scale, especially in the 20th century, bourgeois class rule became unstable and shaky, thus an ideological revolutionary process of the proletariat becoming a „class for itself“ set in. The workers more and more become conscious of their own class interests, their own historic mission. As a subjective reflection of the objective class struggle a controversy between bourgeois ideology and proletarian class consciousness, expressed in revolutionary theory develops. Here again, note that something like „proletarian ideology“ or „Marxist ideology“ is scientifically alien to scientific socialism. There are only concepts of „bourgeois ideology“, sometimes used by „Marxists“.
With his theory of organisation, Lenin tries to explain the inner dialectics of this process of achieving political class consciousness, as it develops within the concrete class consciousness, are it develops within the concrete class struggle of the proletariat.
7.2 Theory of Organisation
Lenin’s theory works with three operative catogories: the working class (working masses); the proletarian vanguard (that part of the workers which is already class conscious) and the revolutionary organisation (the Marxist Party).
7.2.1 The Working Class
Marx and Engels had developed an objective and a subjective „class“ concept. The subjective class concept, which was mainly developed by the young Marx in the Communist Manifesto (together with Engels) and in his works of 1850-52, denotes that the working class, with a minimum of selfconsciousness could develop by itself, within she class struggle, to a „class for itself“. Hence, a workers’ party would not necessarily play a decisive role.
However, Marx and Engels later, after 1852, formulated an objective class concept, which signifies mainly the „class in itself“ that is, a social group which is determined by its specific objective political consciousness. This objective concept is fundamental for Lenin’s theory of organisation (see his book, What is to be done?). Similarily, it is of significance to understand the works of the „left“ opposition within the German Social Democracy, under Engels, Bebel and Kautsky.
7.2.2 The Proletarian Vanguard.
Lenin stresses that only because the proletarian class exists objectively in a revolutionary position, it can carry out a rovolutionary class struggle. Furthermore, only in connection with this class struggle, the concept of a revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat has a scientific meaning. Outside this historic combination, objective proletarian class and concrete class struggle, revolutionary activity can only constitute a „party core“, but not a proletarian party. Hence, there cannot be a self-proclaimed „vanguard party“. A real revolutionary proletarian party can only win the historic right of a proletarian vanguard within the actual class struggle.
7.2.3 Revolutionary Organisation
The constitution of the proletariat as an objective category is itself a historic process. The working classes emerged from various social groups, which brought with them different forms of self - or political - consciousness. The workers on the frontier of the class struggle, the revolutionary vanguard, will be the most advanced consciously. The category of revolutionary party, has its analytic basis the postulate that socialism is a science which cannot be acquired or mastered collectively, but can only be comprehended individually. Only in this way scientific socialism can be distributed in its totality throughout society.
We should remember, concerning this aspect, that in the mid-19th century, scientific socialism claimed to be the dialectical „blossoming“ and the „selfabolishment“ of at least three major classical social sciences: German philosophy, English national economy and French political science. Such a scientific assimilation has as prerequisites a thorough grasp of materialist dialectics, historical materialism, Marxist economic theory, the history of modern social revolutions and of the contemporary working class movements. Surely, a semi-educated factory worker, over-flowing with bourgeois ideology and illusions, is unable to learn and grasp the above scientific facts in their historic totality. Thus, Lenin argued that only through individual selection of the most experienced working groups of the proletariat can class consciousness and socialist ideas and praxis be eventually distributed socially. Because of the fact that class consciousness is inicially acquired individually, members of other social groups, for example, intellectuals, can directly participate in the proletarian class struggle, provided that they further and protect working class interests. Against this background, Lenin developed his theory of the party.
7.3 Proletarian Class Struggle and Proletarian Class Consciousness
From the above, according to Lenin, it follows that the dialectical unity (as a process) of proletarian masses, proletarian vanguard and revolutionary party, is determined by the transformation of the elementary proletarian class struggle into the revolutionary class struggle, into the proletarian revolution itself, and, by the effects of this historic transformation on the class consciousness of the working masses.
As we have already stated before, for millennia, class struggles has been waged, without that the revolutionary classes had known consciously what exactly were their historic mission. Furthermore, working class struggles occurred long before there ever existed a socialist movement, scientific socialism or the „Communist Manifesto“. Such struggles included methods like strikes, „go-slows“, violent protests, demonstrations or even trade unions in embryo. These were direct products of workers, actions against oppressive ruling class conditions, and can be classified as elementary forms of proletarian class struggle.
Also, only experience gained from action can produce social consciousness and reproduce it. Great masses of people can only change their social consciousness through mass actions. However, the majority of workers is only active during the struggle itself. Thereafter, they return to „private life“, that is, to the struggle for survival under capitalist alienation. Certain progressive small groups of workers - the proletarian vanguard - behave differently. After the workers’ battle, they continue the struggle actively on other fronts. The driving force behind this vanguard is less theory but mainly the actual experience, the praxis of class struggle.
Lenin showed that the collective action of progressive workers is very hard to achieve. Through past experience they know that ephemeral actions do not lead to their goal of liberation. Also, they have no illusions about the strength of the bourgeoisie. Hence, he stressed that these progressive workers have to be assimilated with the revolutionary cores of workers in order to establish a revolutionary proletarian class party.
Also, the „ripening“ process of a potentially revolutionary situation articulates itself in the continual corresponding actions of the broad working masses with those of the progressive workers. A revolutionary situation, that is, the possibility to conquer social power, exists when the assimilation of the proletarian revolutionary vanguard and mass actions is achieved, and, when at the same time, the political consciousness of the vanguard has become revolutionary consciousness.
The transformation of the elementary class struggle into the proletarian revolution, thus, has important quantitative and qualitative pre-conditions: a very large number of progressive workers is necessary, but also very clearly formulated revolutionary objectives - a definite transitional socialist programme. Hence, only when all the above-mentioned factors are successfully dialectically united with each other, according to Lenin, is a successful proletarian revolution possible.
As already explained, the originators of the theory of permanent social revolution were Marx and Engels. It is in the nature of matter to undergo permanent dialectical change. This truth, the classical scientific socialists had applied to historic processes and society in general.
After the split of the Russian Social Democratic Revolutionary Party (RSDRP) around 1903/04 into two opposing factions, the „Party of Reform“ (Mensheviks) and the „Party of Revolution“ (Bolsheviks), the concept „revolution“ again won topicality within „Social-Democratic“ debates. According to the Menshevist interpretation, propagated mainly by Plechanov and Martynov, between 1905 and 1917, Russia was facing a „classical“ bourgeois-democratic revolution. Czarism (feudalism) would be abolished by a Democratic Republic, hence, allowing liberal capitalism to develop freely. The liberal bourgeoisie, which then existed only in embryonic form, should lead this social revolution, being supported by the progressive workers, under the leadership of the Russian Social Democracy.
Until 1917, Lenin, leading the Bolsheviks, saw the decisive revolutionary potential in the huge Russian Peasantry, assisted by the proletariat. In case of victory, the political result would be a „democratic dictatorship of the peasantry and proletariat“, but as basically peasant revolution. Thus the Bolsheviks differed from the Menshevists concerning the historic subject of revolution. In 1904, during this conflict situation, Trotsky left for Munich, where he lived in the house of Parvus-Helphand, a German Social Democrat. Already in 1892, Pravus was of the opinion that the Russian Revolution could not be headed by the bourgeoisie. In 1904, he published a series or articles, under the heading, „War and Revolution“, in the Iskra, in which he developed his own theory of the Russian Revolution.
According to Parvus, the world process of capitalist development necessarily leads to revolutionary overturn in Russia, this political change must be extended to all capitalist countries. The Russian revolution will shake the political foundations of the capitalist world, hence, the Russian proletariat will have the historic chance of becoming the vanguard of international socialist revolution. These political ideas, Trotsky discussed with Parvus; they eventually led to the formulation of Trotsky’s own theory of the permanent revolution in 1905. Trotsky published a booklet, „Before January 9“. Parvus made a contribution, „Vorwärts“, in which he wrote: „Only the workers can complete the revolutionary transformation in Russia. The Russian revolutionary provisional government will be a ‘workers’ democracy“ (31.1.1905). Contrary to Lenin, who hoped up to 1917, for a coalition government of the Peasant Party and social Democracy, Parvus wanted a Social Democratic majority government. However, it would not be able to introduce socialist measures.
Trotsky went further than Parvus, he made the prognosis, that once the proletariat has achieved political power, due to the internal logic of the revolutionary situation, it would be forced to introduce socialist measures for survival. The proletariat will have no other alternative but to continue the social revolution. This idea of „permanent revolution“ now for the first time broke through the „dogmas“ of the Russian Orthodox-Marxism. (See: „Results and Perspectives“ (1906), a chapter of his book Our Revolution).
Although Social Democrats like Lenin, Luxemburg, Parvus, Mehring and Kautsky, basically, until 1917, saw the Russian Revolution as a „proletarian revolution, assisted by the peasantry, with bourgeois objectives“, nevertheless all of them have used the concept „permanent revolution“ in their works, ever since 1906.
Now, what is the essence of the theory of the permanent revolution as developed in Trotsky’s works like, „Results and Perspectives“ (1906), „The Permanent Revolution“ (1930), „The Revolution Betrayed“ (1935), etc?
The Russian social revolution, which would abolish feudalism and introduce socialism, will be carried by the millions of peasants and the city workers. The peasantry would not be able to organise itself politically and nationally, due to the specific Russian historic conditions and the huge territory. Due to the enormous number of peasants, it will basically be a peasant revolution, but it necessitates a proletarian leadership, drawn from the 5 million factory workers (this figure was probably much higher). The peasantry, mainly the soldiers, would form a coalition with the progressive workers; together as a revolutionary force, they will be able to achieve the objectives of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, for example taking over political power, due to the absence of a developed liberal bourgeoisie. If the peasantry led by the proletariat, can conquer and retain political power, then the social content of the bourgeois-democratic revolution will change. The proletarian hegemony would lead to the transformation of the bourgeois, into the proletarian socialist revolution. This workers’ government out of necessity would have to introduce industrialisation by socialist measures; also, collectivism in agriculture, which would lead to conflicts with the peasantry.
Concerning the permanence of the Russian Revolution within the context of world revolution, that is, proletarian internationalism, Trotsky stated in his book, The Permanent Revolution, that the international economic situation in its totality was in 1930 objectively beyond doubt „ripe“ for the „dictatorship of the proletariat“, for proletarian political power, even before it becomes „ripe“ for self-construction of socialism, that is, for introduction of deep going socialisation processes, for achieve proletarian political power does not pre-supposes a „ripeness“ of the national economy for socialisation, but on the ability of the proletariat to take over the leadership of the national democratic revolution in the various semi-colonial or colonial countries, and the capability as „dictatorship“ to complete this revolution.
The fate of such „dictatorships of the proletariat“ on a global scale will not be decided nationally, by constructing „socialism in one country“, but rather, even including those of „advanced industrialized societies“, on the tempo and expansion of the world revolution. Only on an international scale the unequal and combined development, caused historically by discrepancies in economy and politics, can be resolved dialectically, ushering in the socialist mode of production on a global scale. Thus, Trotsky (and Lenin) were convinced, that if the socialist revolution does not spread to Western Europe and elsewhere within a very short time, necessarily the Russian Revolution would degenerate, losing thus its own socialist objectives, into a bureaucratic regime. To avoid „dictatorship of the party“ (bureaucracy), already in 1906, Trotsky demanded that a triumphant workers’ movement in Russia should immediately after victory be transformed into a process of „political self-determination of the proletariat“. Otherwise, the revolutionary party would commit a historical error. Thus, to „internationalise“ the Russian Revolution, the Third Communist International was founded in 1919. In this context, Lenin and Trotsky already included the coming „colonial revolutions“ of Africa, Asia and South America.
In a memorandum to the central committee of the Comintern of 5.8.1919, Trotsky wrote about the possibility that „the future revolutionary road to Paris and London, could lead over Kabul, Calcutta and Bombay“ - this deviation over the so-called „Third World“ actually took place in the 20th century. Hence the „colonial revolution“ became an intrinsic part of the „world revolution“, of the „permanent revolution“.
In 1920, at the Second Congress of the Comintern a resolution was passed calling the industrial proletariat of „advanced°“ countries and the peasantry of „backward“ countries, together to fight against world imperialism. Lenin’s famous „Theses on the National and Colonial Questions“ (written in June, 1920, for the above congress, but only discussed in 1926, after his death) paved the road for the historic connection between the Russian Revolution and the „colonial revolutions“. A year before, he stated that, „without the working masses of all subjugated colonial nations, and in the first place the Oriental nations, the proletarian revolution cannot be triumphant“. (See his lecture to the 2nd Congress of Oriental Communist Nations of 22.11.1919).
In 1926/27, Trotsky interpreted the Chinese events as „permanent revolution“. But the Comintern, led by Stalin and Bucharin, demanded a coalition between the Chinese Communist party and the Kuomintang. This political adventure ended with the massacre of ten thousands of Chinese workers by Chiang-Kai-Shek in April 1927, thus, postponing the Chinese Revolution for another two decades.
Generally, we could say that Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution is essentially applicable to „Third World“ countries. However, we must note that the political precondition of the Russian Revolution, on which this theory was developed - existence of an active revolutionary proletariat and an experienced, well-organised socialist party - are not necessarily indispensable for all „Third World“ social revolutions. In the Chinese Revolution, the industrial proletariat was „replaced“ by other historic factors; in the Cuban Revolution, similarly, the socialist party. Hence the „combined development“ of „backward“ countries in future will have more revolutionary surprises in store, simply because there is no „classic“ social revolution. Thus, we do not have a „classic“ revolutionary theory, universally or individually applicable. Applying the principles of scientific socialism, we have to derive a specific revolutionary theory from specific social reality. In spite of the fact that revolutionry theory and revolutionary praxis are intimately dialectically linked up, nevertheless, as Lenin correctly stated: without revolutionary theory, there will be no proletarian revolution in any country. This in the same sense, as Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky and Ernst Bloch stated: No Socialism, without Democracy, no Democracy, without Socialism.
On a world scale the international proletariat has today three major strategic tasks. The first one concerns us in the so-called „Third World” of which Africa is a significant part. This sector of the permanent world revolution, in the sense of Marxism, due to its historic dimension vis-a-vis the international division of labour and the „unequal exchange“ of values on the world market, has the historic task to overthrow feudal, colonial, neocolonial and bourgeois-capitalist relations, that is, by comprising State power and establishing Socialist property relations.
In the workers’ states, where socialism - as a mode of production, distinctly different from capitalism, without commodity production, private property of the means of production, without the major part of surplus value being used for the arms’ race, without classes and „races“, etc. - has not yet been realised, the proletarian struggle continues to establish nationally and internationally world socialism.
In imperialist countries, in a „classical“ sense, as expounded by Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky, Mandel, etc., the proletarian struggle continues against capitalist exploitation.
These three sectors, combined dialectically in a world revolutionary process, encompasses what we understand by proletarian internationalism today. The problem is only especially concerning Africa, how is the underlying solidarity and unity of the world proletariat asserted through this historic process. In each sector, the toiling workers, whose livelihood depend on commodity production, who are wage-earners, who produce exchange values and surplus values, who use money to buy their basic necessities, etc., have to seize political power or maintain it, by establishing true socialist democracies, genuine proletarian states. In the case of Africa, and South Africa, obviously in relation to the above features of „toiling workers“, the proletariat, as a historical phenomenon, as a fluid category, surely cannot be understood anymore in the sense of the Communist Manifesto of 1848 - Marx would have been the first scholar today, on the basis of new historic realities, to redefine and actualise this concept. To be able to do this, is part of the quintessence of Marxism, whose subject matter is a matter in flux, obeying the universal laws of dialectics. Apart from the specific tasks of the proletariat in each individual country or region, these are dialectically oriented towards the global tasks of the world revolution, the creation of a classless society and socialism.
Once we have established that we are part and parcel of the world proletariat, there is no more a problem to understand that the international proletariat has common class interests, which immediately cut across bourgeois nationalism archaic „ethnic“ squabbles, degrading „race“ vendettas. No matter where a proletarian struggles, whether in New York, Moscow, Peking, London, Caracas, Accra or Cape Town, it can never be contrary to the interests of proletarian internationalism, if it is, he has to check seriously his strategy on the basis of scientific socialist principles. Because, for sure, there is something wrong in theory-praxis with his „African“, „Arab“, “co-operative”, „democratic“ or „revolutionary“ socialism.
Finally, as a result of dialectics, the actual world process of revolution does not advance continuously and simultaneously on all fronts, in other words, the Marxist law of uneven and combined development operates, and for this very reasons, it is of ultraimportance to unify and combine the African workers, and to develop a common revolutionary theory-praxis on the basis of proletarian internationalism and international proletarianism.
In this section we will be more concerned with South Africa, although the South African Revolution encompasses the whole of Southern Africa, simply because the key of total emancipation in the region lies within the present Republic of South Africa. To this area, very early already Scientific Socialism had bean introduced, and the level of consciousness of the current South African proletariat exactly reflects this long historic process of revolutionary theory-praxis.
In 1907, two years after the failure of the First Russian Revolution, „White“ middle class members in South Africa, immigrated British trade unionists, but also some socialists from Eastern Europe, founded the South African Labour Party (SALP). Concerning „race“ relations, due to an overwhelming liberal and „white“-working class oriented policy, the SALP was basically reactionary and conservative. At the time of the First World War, in September 1914, many leaders of the „left“ wing, led by S.P. Bunting, opposed the SALP’s position of South Africa’s entrance into the war. Thus they were expelled from the party, and founded the „International Socialist League“ (ISL). On July 21, 1921, finally, the „South African Communist Party“ (SACP) was formed, and in the same year, the ISL joined it. Hence while Lenin was still alive, South Africa had a communist party, which became a member of the Comintern. So long dates back the history of South African international proletarianism. (For further information see: Franz J.T. Lee, Südafrika am Vorabend der Revolution, Second Edition 1976, ISP-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, PP. 78-123).
By 1927, the SACP had three African (Black) executive members - Makabeni, Khaile and Thibedi and it had all possible chances to become the proletarian vanguard party of all South African workers. However, with the split in international communism, after Lenin’s death, especially due to Stalin’s rise in power, and Trotsky being ostracised, proletarian internationalism and workers’ solidarity and unity were seriously affected in South Africa.
This led to the foundation of factional organisations in Sourth Africa, alongside with the SACP, which allied itself with the Comintern, directed by Stalin and Bucharin. The „Trotskyists“ were expelled from the SACP, and they founded organisations like the „Lenin Club“, „Spartacus Club“, the „Workers’ Party of South Africa“, etc. (See: ibid., pp. 71-76) In 1934, the „Lenin Club“ went so far as to demand a „Fourth International”, and four years before Trotsky founded on in Switzerland, South Africa already had its „Fourth International Organisation of South Africa“ (FIOSA). A severe ideological struggle was set loose in South Africa, a life-and-death struggle of „Trotskyism versus Stalinism“. This led to two „united fronts“ in South Africa by the 1950s: the „Unity Movement of South Africa“ (UMSA), led by Isaac B. Tabata, and the „Congress of the People“ of Albert John Luthuli, and later led by Nelson Mandela and others. Towards the end of the 1960’s due to a new split, the Sino-Soviet conflict, even „Maoism“ entered the South African scene, and now „African Nationalism“ versus „Pan-Africanism“ (led by Robert Sobukwe) shook up the foundations of workers’ unity in South Africa. It was only after the Sharpeville Massacre, when the South African struggle entered a qualitative new development, that with the Soweto Massacre „Black Power“ transcended these ideological and „racial“ boundaries, and ushered in a new epoch of true international proletarianism, within the framework of guerilla struggle and socialist revolutionary praxis.
At last, the South African liberation struggle reached a „mature“ scientific socialist age, moving from the „race struggle“ to the „class struggle“. (For further reading, see: Ernest Harsch, South Africa: White Rule, Black Revolt, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1980, pp. 179-238; No Sizwe, One Azania, One Nation, Zed Press, 1979, pp. 42-61; Steve Biko, Black Consciousness in South Africa edited by Mr. Arnold, Vintage Books, New York, 1979.) Against this perspective the present guerilla struggle of the „African National Congress of South Africa“ (ANC) has to be seen. As everything changes, and South African history changes, so the ANC’s theoretical position and practical policy has changed from 1912 till today. Whether the ANC will be the vanguard of international proletarianism in future, depends on whether it succeeds to unite dialectically revolutionary theory with concrete revolutionary praxis in South Africa, and these within the context of world permanent revolution as elaborated before.
The South African Revolution is part of the social revolution against neocolonialism, capitalism and imperialism in Sourthern Africa. Hence, the victories of the proletariat in neighbouring countries, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, etc. have directly affected and encouraged the emancipation struggle in South Africa itself. Similarly, the level of proletarian struggle in South Africa, where a modern big proletariat exists, will surely affect, raise the level of political consciousness, and determine the forms of class struggle in the rest of Southern Africa, and beyond this region. The present conflict situation in Namibia-Angola reflects very clearly the dimensions of proletarian internationalism. It is a brilliant example of imperialist international „solidarity“ against the „world revolution“, and proletarian internationalism in action.
However, what is at stake, in the first place, is the African Revolution, The Republic of South Africa, armed to its teeth by imperialist NATO, is in reality part of a secret SATO, and probably in the field of nuclear war has an essential role to play. (See: Franz J.T.Lee, „South Africa’s Nuclear Build-up“, in: Review of international Affairs, Belgrade, 5.11.1980.) The political and economic interests of world imperialism in Southern Africa are well known, and to lose that region could make the currant „world recession“ and „oil crisis“ look like a „lovers’ quarrel“, when compared to what might thereafter happen in the international division of labour and the world market. The Cuban and Soviet material and human support for Africa in this region are in accordance with what we have previously determined as the dynamics and dialectics of world revolution. But, at the same time, the actions of the followers of Nkomo or Savimbi, and many others, have demonstrated to us, that the machinations of capitalism, ahartheidend neo-colonialism know no colour, its agents are like „Big Brother“ of George Orwell in our midst, with „blood and filth, spilling out from every pore of them, from head to foot“ (Marx).
Thus, on a continental scale, proletarianism must be guided by class struggle principles, as elaborated before in Section One. Without a principled struggle, „enemies“ of apartheid could trade wheat with South Africa, and oil sheiks could be „directors“ of companies which huerue Black surplus value from the sweat and blood of exploited South Africans. Foreign policy is an extension of national policies, and if a state is not anti-capitalist, how can a foreign policy be anti-apartheid, which breeds on capitalist exploitation? Unless, of course, we mix up proletarian internationalism with Black Nationalism with ideological phenomena of the superstructure. Racism has the same genesis as capitalism.
Unless we are only formal logicians, in which case „democracy“ will mean the same for Aristotle as for Chief Buthelezi, and „ideology“ will mean the same for Lenin and Che Guevara’s great grandchilfen, it is quite obvious that in an international context we have to re-evaluate, re-consider and reformulate all our concepts and categories concerning African proletarian internationalism but on the basis of Scienctific Socialism. Precisely this Marx did, when he studied Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Saint Simon, Robert Owen, Kent and Hegel. Unless this is achieved, Scientific Socialism in revolutionary theory and praxis will remain alien to the African toiling masses, and we will be busy asking such ahistorical questions; Was Marx a „racist“? Concerning the latter, how many Africans, born and bred in capitalism, from the cradle to the grave, including the „revolutionaries“, who inherited the praxis of class struggle from Marx, are really not „racist“? If history is the search for Freedom and Truth, and „racism“ and capitalism is a twin, then the above question shows how Man is a historical product, within the limits and limitations of his time, and the necessity of transcending these in theory-praxis.
Unless the Non-Aligned Movement, the OAU, OPEC, ECOWAS, etc. do not reflect international proletarianism, the class interests of the international proletariat they will forever be utilised in the interest of the international bourgeoisie, which is multicoloured, with a disrespect for „race“ feelings. The latter has only one major interest: the permanent accruing of surplus value on an international scale. The former can only counter this with permanent proletarian revolution on a global scale.
Finally, only in this way Man can solve its minor contradiction, class antagonism, class violence. The objective of socialism is to annihilate this contradiction caused by it is the ideological reflection of the international division of labour, of the „unequal exchange“ of values (economic resources). Hence, who says not to „racism“ and apartheid, and does not in the same breath unequivocably negate capitalism, cannot be serious about socialist revolution, not even to mention proletarian internationalism. The above, inter alia, are fundamental issues within the continental dimension of proletarianism.
Marx took many decades to study the laws of motion of capitalism, specifically competitive liberal capitalism, and Lenin, with Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism made an invaluable contribution, to elaborate the laws of motion of capitalism within monopoly capitalism at the beginning of this century. Until Mandel’s Late Capitalism, very little had been done, to bring Marx’s Capital up to date. In honour of Nkrumah’s Neocolonialism, the last Stage of Imperialism, and many other valuable works of political economy, written by „Third World“ authors, Contemporary Capital, especially the African section, has not yet been written. In any case, we would need many jumbo jets to transport this work between Cape Town and Cairo, should it have the same quality of Marx’s Capital.
The relevance of the above for the African Revolution within the context of World Revolution, Lenin had underlined when he stated: without revolutionary theory, no revolution. And he did not say: ideology, in spite of the earlier confusion about „socialist“ or „proletarian“ ideology. The corruption of the best, is always the worst corruption, thus precision of Marxist scientific concepts in our time becomes very necessary. The same applies to everyday concepts like „socialism“, „democracy“, and “Proletariat“ and „revolution“, the division of intellectual and manual labour, and intensified by the international division of labour. However, there is a major contradiction, which is often forgotten within the political heat and revolutionary dust of the class struggle, the contradiction between Nature Society. Already the „young“ Marx stressed the necessity of the naturalisation of Man and the humanisation of Nature, if we do not achieve this, which will be the main objective of the mode of production of communism, then we will never make the dialectical jump, the qualitative transcendence, from the „reign of necessity“ to the „reign of freedom“, in which homo sapiens can become the god in reality, who had for so many of thousands of years been a most sacred human fantasy and utopian dream.