The Coming Revolution by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
Since the organisations decision to launch as political party at its “What is to be Done” founding assembly in July 2013, impressive gains have been made. Its electoral success saw the EFF gain over 1,1mill votes, 25 seats in parliament and status as the official opposition in two provinces.
It would appear that with the EFF at the helm of present left discontent against the ANC that things are going to be shaken up. Their recently published book “The coming Revolution” lays out the historical roots of the EFF and places its vision for the future in the struggle for socialism guided by the theories of Marx, Lenin & Fanon.
Most certainly if the letter of the programs listed in the EFF manifesto are realised, South Africa will be a better place to live in, however it would not be a socialist society and the EFF will be faced with exactly the same problem that the ANC faces as frustration against them builds up due to the lack of a revolutionary transformation of society to defeat the legacy of apartheid.
The ANC did have wonderful ideas for a post-apartheid South Africa, but in their case because they did not lead a struggle to defeat capitalism, they suffer the consequences. Capitalism blunts, distorts and subsequently changes ones programs and ideals to the goal of ensuring that it continues as an economic system, this time round happily under black bourgeois rule.
The ANC have won the battle for political power for an emerging black ruling class but not yet economic power against their old rivals, the white ruling class in the country. They are patient in achieving the latter as they realise that if they upset the apple cart of the economy with nationalisations and land confiscations as a tool to improve their economic power they may be left with an economy in tatters.
The ANC ruling clique goes along with an approach of gradual disenfranchisement of white economic power and seek to fit into the existing division of the world of competing nation states and use the latest economic tool neo- liberalism to build their competitiveness in the market place.
To EFF seek to go past the ANC with a radical program to defeat white economic power and for a socialist transformation of South Africa. To achieve this, they will have to go further along the path of breaking from their past formative political tradition in ANC. The majority of the leadership come out of Congress tradition and with this comes the influence of nationalism and alongside it the framing by the SACP communist party of what socialism is.
with a radical program to defeat white economic power and for a socialist transformation of South Africa. To achieve this, they will have to go further along the path of breaking from their past formative political tradition in ANC. The majority of the leadership come out of Congress tradition and with this comes the influence of nationalism and alongside it the framing by the SACP communist party of what socialism is.
For the EFF, the path to socialism is to be travelled along an electoral and developmental path. Their roadmap is to “Win political power through mobilising and organizing all the people of South Africa to vote for the EFF”. “Control the state through electoral politics in order to transform it for the benefit of the people”. ”Gain control of the economy in order to transform it to benefit all South Africans”. “the EFF plans to use political power to realize economic justice”.
Their developmental state approach is steeped in the vinegar of the Stalinism, the politics of the SACP. At times they look to China as a model. Although the Chinese revolution led by Mao Tse-Tung did achieve national independence from imperialism, its present economic “miracle” comes from one place only, extreme exploitation of Chinese workers alongside a dictatorial ruling party, hardly a model for us here in south Africa to copy.
The achilles heel for the EFF to achieve its desire for a radically different South Africa is its approach to change from above. Although the EFF talks about the participation of the working class and its poor relatives in the coming revolution, it does not place building their confidence to take power in their own name at the center of their strategy. Rather it is about the EFF coming to power and changing society on behalf the black working class and their poor relatives.
When Lenin argued for deputies to go into the Duma (a parliament under the Tsar) it was to expose its contradictions and was in no sense a strategy to change society. For Lenin the central strategy of change was revolution not parliament. He did not send his best activists to parliament; rather they were reserved for building struggle on the ground.
Marx cemented the working class at the center of socialism, “Between capitalist and communist society lies a period of revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”.
For Engels socialism is when “The proletariat seizes state power and to begin with, transforms the means of production into state property” and for Lenin in 1917 socialism was “all power to the Soviets”.
Parliament represents an extremely narrow form of democracy in which we can vote once in four years. The real decision makers that effect our lives are immune from even the mildest democratic accountability these include” military general staffs, top ranks of the special forces, police chiefs, secret services, top bureaucrats in government departments, central bankers and judges”.
The EFF will have to leap past their present understanding of Marxism to its revolutionary tradition if they are going to be able to achieve their desire of the defeat of white capital and alongside it the emerging black capitalists who are eager to take their place at the helm of exploiting the black working class in this country.