Should socialists vote EFF?
In the absence of a clearly defined socialist alternative to the ANC, militants activists are asking themselves whether we should be arguing for a vote for the EFF. For those of us who believe elections present an important moment in political debate across society abstaining from taking sides is to abdicate from our responsibility.
In needs to be noted that in a few locales there are community based organisations are standing for wards and in some instances as PR candidates. The Democratic Left Front and the UF are supporting organisations that are democratically controlled have shown the local capacity to stand and most importantly have a respectable record of socialist struggle.
In most instances such organizations have ensured their candidates can be recalled by their constituency if they fail to represent them in a principled manner. OKM in Johannesburg and BUM in Bloemfontein are two shining examples that we urge comrades to vote for.
Our wider approach to the elections needs to be determined by an objective assessment of whether we have defeated black oppression and exploitation, the legacy of apartheid. And how this conclusion in turns affects class and black consciousness. Let us now turn to the former.
ANC delivered a better life for the few
We now stand opposed to the ANC because significant sections of our society have seen that liberal democracy and capitalist growth is only capable of delivering a better life for the few. This does not mean nothing has changed. We now have our own democratically-elected government with a number of important freedoms, limited social services and a large expansion of minimal support for the most needy through social grants.
The ANC has abandoned the path of a thorough going redistribution of wealth and instead settled for an accommodation with racial capitalism. This has meant a policy direction to enhance capitalist profitability at the expense of the majority of black South Africans, widening socioeconomic inequality in favour of white households.
The ANC’s policies of fiscal discipline and BEE consolidated class interests inside the ruling party. A new black elite that owe their wealth to ANC connections together with those who are benefiting from links to local and foreign corporations now have the ANC firmly under their control.
Post apartheid society can be best described as a neo-liberal democracy that has failed to deal with the legacy of racial oppression. It has failed miserably to improve the lives of the majority of the oppressed who are also the exploited.
The struggle for national liberation must continue
Many people intend to vote for the EFF because it promises to resume the attack on racial inequality which the ANC has abandoned. Those who support and intend to vote the EFF in most part do so because they believe the struggle for genuine national liberation must continue.
Those of us committed to the non- Stalinist socialist project supported the ANC before 1994 insofar as they were fighting racial oppression and opposing imperialism, but without believing that the ANC would lead a fight for socialism, nor that they would be consistent in fighting racism and the legacy of apartheid. We believed then as we believe now socialism can only take root in a context of thorough going fight against racism and imperialism.
The underlying structure of South Africa’s political economy remains intact. The same few companies control most of the economy. The most oppressive features of the new South Africa remain the indignity of poverty and the tyranny of the marketplace. Without a thorough shake up of the economy, the geographic and social inequalities of the past remain racialised.
Racist ideas persist and flourish because black empowerment has been a trickle for few. Successful black people must integrate into a majority white culture when they move into the middle classes, instead of white people being forced to integrate with the majority as a result of socio-economic equalization, and where any working person sees more white faces looking up the hierarchies and more black faces looking down.
The EFF have the right diagnosis of the problem
The EFF have correctly identified that the problem is with the existing system of capitalism. They believe that with nationalisation of certain sections of the economy we can generate the tax base to meet everyone’s needs and foster real equality amongst black and white people.
In essence the EFF are fighting for the introduction of a social democracy therefore remains an essential part of our historic attempt to overcome the legacy of colonialism and racial capitalism.
In essence the position amounts to the belief that the apartheid political economy can be reformed into a social democracy by using the levers of the state to force capital to come to the table.
It is only when and if this attempt to fails will South Africans look elsewhere for ideas. So it is not a question of whether social democracy is feasible in South Africa or not but rather that class consciousness can only develop through working people using varied forms of struggle to test the limits of capitalism.
Testing the limits of the system
Socialists who hold that real social emancipation can only be brought about by workers fighting in their in their own name cannot stand aside from struggles that test the limits of the system in this manner. People from across all classes see the need for building social and racial equality at the expense of capitalist imperatives.
This national democratic struggle is therefore not necessarily a fight for socialism. In short the EFF and other radical black nationalists are anti capitalist we support them in this struggle but need to consistently point out that on its own is not enough.
Corporations should be squeezed
We standby those who believe that capital, particularly locally owned corporations should be squeezed to come up with considerably more than at present. But we fundamentally question whether this can bring about a socialist society or will it hold out the prospect of ushering in racial equality.
Some socialists will argue no to supporting the EFF, because they are essentially left reformists who believe the real problem is bad leadership of the National Democratic Revolution. That they too will sell out our historic aspirations and point to the EFF meetings with big capital and the establishment in UK and the increasingly moderate tone of their economic policy. We cannot and should not rule out this distinct possibility and the potential of the fight against local capital to become a genuine mass struggle that will develop its own logic and direction beyond that set for it by radical black nationalists.
Socialists are duty bound to stand with those fighting all forms of inequality. Only through standing side by side with those engaged in social and economic struggles that hold out the promise meaningful reform will be militants be willing to listen ideas that can advance the struggle beyond the prescriptions set by reformist nationalist leaderships
The socialist tradition beginning with Lenin critically informs us that racial oppression and exploitation are deeply connected and that the working poor are the only social force that can lead the fight for real social change. That moreover it is only when people for themselves begin to feel their own collective power will we they see the unbreakable connection between the two phenomenon of oppression and exploitation can the prospect of socialism from below become a reality.
Racial oppression and exploitation are deeply connected
Furthermore it is only when mass struggles erupt that are clearly anti capitalist in nature will large sections of the people begin to adopt revolutionary ideas, that they are their own liberators. That they can run society through their own organs of power in their own interests. For these ideas to take root they have to be transmitted by committed socialist cadre that have been steeled in mass struggles.
We therefore base our decision to Vote EFF that many of the best militant activists inside our workplace and communities see the EFF as promising change that we desperately need. That fundamental social change can only be brought about through a socialist programme that seeks a change in the ownership of the means of the production.
For us such demands can only be won through mass political and economic struggles. It is only at such moments can revolutionary socialist ideas begin to take root among working people in their tens of thousands. Our immediate challenge is to build a critical mass of committed socialist activists that are constantly reflecting our on body of theory and relating this to our activity inside peoples organ’s of power.
It is only through the constant interplay between theory and practice can we build the organisation required to lead the fight against national oppression and the wider capitalist system.