The theory of 2 stages of revolution and the NDR is a myth
Wednesday 4 October 2006 by Trevor
Over the years many Marxists have criticised the SACP’s 2-stage theory of revolution. But today history itself is exposing the falsity of this theory. In this article the Socialist Group, a left revolutionary group affiliated to the APF, criticises this perspective with a view towards preventing its rebirth and rehash. The NDR must be exposed and buried as a false theory once and for all. If not, all the promising developments of today, such as the strike wave and the increasing class contradictions inside the ANC-SACP-COSATU, will come to nought. Enjoy.
The SACP is being forced to move into a discussion about state power. Some parts of the SACP are saying that the time has come for them to contest for state power. Why are they being forced to consider the question of state power? Why is there so much turmoil amongst their own youth on this question? Why are they forced to consider to stand against the ANC. They say that same ANC is the guardian and the leader of the national democratic revolution? The SACP must state the truth - and go where the truth takes them
According to their stages theory, it is time to contest for state power when the national democratic revolution has run its course. Is that what they are saying? Is that why they are forced now to consider the question? That the national democratic revolution has run its course? Is it because they think it is now time for the second phase? Is it because they think we have achieved the demands of the Freedom Charter so the question of what next is one the agenda? Of course not. The answer to each of those questions is NO. They are forced to consider state power because state power in the hands of a boss’s party can not serve the interests and can not serve the needs of the working class. State power in the hands of a boss’s party can only and does only serve the needs and interests of the boss’s class. They are forced to consider this question because the working class is living the truth of what happens when a boss’s party is in charge of government. That government attacks workers. It makes workers pay for the crisis of capitalism. It protects profits. It can make little social democratic gestures for some if the economy is growing - and start clawing them back and telling everyone to tighten their belts at the first sign of problems.
But what then does this mean for the SACP and its stages theory? It tells us that the stages theory is based on a myth - the myth that a progressive bourgeoisie can deliver to the working class. And it is based on a second myth: that a bosses party can take things forward in many ways, then somehow, it will hand over to a communist party to build socialism. The SACP used to tell us that there would be two stages. Now that we are in stage one, they are starting to tell us that there will be many many stages in stage one. The reality of working class life is telling something else. And more and more people inside the SACP are starting to tell their leaders the same thing. To those comrades we say: “follow the truth that you can see with your own eyes. Listen to the truth that you can hear with your own words”. When they hit the myths of the two stage theory - then we are urging them to break through the myths and move forward in the workers struggle.
“Cde Blade Nzimande says that you are not fools. He says that you know that there is a limit to what capitalism can offer. Yes there is a limit to what it can offer. But be sure of this. It does not offer a little each day so that life gets better a little each day and then hand over to communists to take things forward. It protects profits each day - and if that means that things can get a little better for some, that is fine. If it means that things have to get a little worse for many - that is fine also. If it means that there have to be attacks against many, then that is exactly what will happen. It will attack the working class, not offer something more every day. It protects power each day. It does not watch and help the working clasds to get stronger each day so that it can take its own power. It attacks the working class each day to make sure that power is secure in the hands of the ruling class and its government. There is not a step by step process of taking ownership from the bosses in the hands of the state. There is a step by step process of taking even the state and placing it into the hands of the bosses. Privatisation - direct and clear, indirect and camouflaged. This step by step process is step by step protecting capitalism. It protects ownership. That is the first and last and only real law of rights in the constitution: the bosses have the right to own the wealth -even the wealth that they stole.
The SACP wants us to believe that you can strengthen the working class at the same time as you strengthen the capitalist class. According to them, you can strengthen the working class through the ‘developmental state’ while at the same time strengthening the capitalist class by increasing their source of power - profits and private ownership. We do not believe that. We think it is wrong. It is not just wrong. It is tying the hands of the working class behind their backs in the struggle against the capitalists. It is committing workers to ensuring exactly the thing that gives power to capitalists and means attacks against workers - profits for bosses.
The myths of the national democratic revolution and the stages theory are myths of the classless state. They are myths based on the nonsense that the capitalist class can be in power while exploitation is systematically ended. They are based on the nonsense that the capitalist class can be in power and watch or allow or assist the working class to build its power for the next stage. Now the SACP leadership is facing the fact that these myths are exploding. They are facing the fact that the capitalist class in power and in government does not need them as the working class is demobilized and weakened. Instead of an honest assessment of this reality - we are seeing the reconstruction of the same myth of the classless state. Now it is the developmental state. And two more myths are being built around it. The first is that everything was going to be fine with the RDP. So we must just return there. The second is that everything is going to be fine with Zuma. So we must just make sure he is President.
In the place of myths
We need the truth of working class life. Nothing is going to be fine while the capitalists have the wealth. The capitalists are never going to increase their wealth and watch while the working class gets stronger. There is never going to be a step by step movement forward and then oneday, a handover to the capitalists. Every extra cent of profits for the bosses is going to make it harder for the working class to take power against them. Every form of collaboration in making ‘our’ capitalists richer is going to weaken the working class in struggling against them. There is going to be no end ever to the first stage while the capitalists increase their power. The RDP was never about the class struggle and the working class contesting for power. It was always about varying forms of class collaboration which left wealth in the hands of the bosses and left profits in their hands. Zuma the President would be like Zuma the Vice President. He would support the protection of private property like he did when he was vice president. He would support privatization, like he did when he was vice president. He would support the laws which make most strikes illegal, like he did when he was Vice President.
It is good for the SACP to move to the question of contesting for state power. It must be honest about why this is happening. It must be honest about what this says about the myths of the stages theory. It will not help if it replaces the myths with new ones.
The Young Communist League must not repeat the mistakes of its political elders. The new millenium must be an era of socialist revolution and socialism, not a repitition of past mistakes.
The article is partly a challenge to SACP militants and their response and views on this matter are most welcome. It is important to note that we share the same class enemy with the SACP despite our political differences. We all want socialism.