Statement from the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party in South Africa.
7 June 2020
SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE IN THE US AGAINST THE RACIST THUGGERY OF THE CAPITALIST STATE!
The cause of the mass uprising in the United States against the brutal execution of George Floyd is the cause of the international working class. We, as the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party, join the clarion call being made by the revolutionary peoples’ camp in the United States in their cries for ‘Justice for Floyd!’.
On Tuesday, some 60,000 people joined Floyd’s family in demonstrations in Texas. Some 10,000 people gathered outside the White House on Wednesday night in protest, breaking the curfew imposed on 42 cities. Over 2,000 demonstrations have mobilized across the US with protests outside the US manifesting by the day.
The American rebellion has inspired people around the world. People protesting in France raised the name of Adama Traore who was killed 4 years ago while in police custody. Murals, posters and artworks of Floyd could be seen on the streets within days from Minneapolis to Gaza on the occupied West Bank.
The rebellion underway in the US is a popular rebellion, a multi-racial black led rebellion against racism. Attempts to undermine its popular legitimacy by claiming that “outside agitators” are behind the rebellion draw on a long history of American racism that denies the agency of poor and working-class black people. It mirrors the racist claim here in South Africa that every popular struggle is driven by the “third force.” This links to the long history of cheap propaganda of imperialists powers across the world. Imperialism has constantly sought to pull the wool over the eyes of the struggling masses and put them to sleep. But they have awakened and they are using this cheap tactic of “outside agitator” to demobilize all of us. We must resist.
Protestors have been met with outright police attacks that have not only injured thousands but also led to more than 10,000 arrests and the deaths of several protestors. A severe, militarized response has ensued, called for by President Donald Trump, showing the deep, structural disregard the white supremacist, capitalist state has for human life.
We condemn the racist and violent leadership of Donald Trump, whose backward, xenophobic, and misogynist actions have only stimulated a continuance of abuse and killing and maiming of black Americans in broad daylight. Trump’s continued inflammatory comments only worsen the situation, most recently demonstrated when, drawing on the long history of American racism, he tweeted, “When looting starts, shooting starts. He says this on the back of having killed thousands of Americans by failing and rejecting all health protocols that were advanced by the WHO. He has caused what can be only be defined as a deliberate genocide, if this was done in Africa, our leaders would have to appear before the International Criminal Court, why is he spared?
ARMED AGENTS OF CAPITAL FROM THE CAPE IN South Africa TO MINNEAPOLIS IN THE UNITED STATES
We remain convinced in the urgency of the struggle against the global apparatus of racist, capitalist dehumanisation. As the working class in South Africa, we have been victims of and know too well the very same logic of capitalism that reproduces racist violence. All capitalism is racial capitalism and depends on the dehumanization of a portion of the proletariat to divide the working class and legitimate exploitation. This dehumanization is always backed up with violence.
In South Africa, a country that depends on the labour of a majority black population, racism is still alive and well. We too have a highly militarised state in order to best protect the interests of capital and their partners in the political elite. It is characterised by a bloated private security sector, villainous policing and incarceration institutions with horrific conditions. The private security industry in South Africa is among the largest in the world, with over 9,000 registered companies, 450,000 registered active private security guards and a further 1.5 million qualified (but inactive) guards; many times, the available personnel of the combined South African police and army.
During the brutal apartheid era many of our leaders such as Vuyisile Mini, Sipho Hashe, Siphiwo Calatha, Solomon Mahlangu, Matthew Goniwe, Steve Biko, Chris Hani and many others were executed by the hand of this police state. In most instances their families remain economically marginalized, dispossessed and landless.
Most recently, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate confirmed that at least 12 people have been murdered by the armed forces during the Covid-19 national lockdown including Elma Robyn Montsumi, Ntando Elias Sigasa, Collins Khosa, Sibusiso Amos, Petrus Miggels and Adane Emmanuel. It is a sad but unsurprising reality that while the President was quick to deploy more than 70,000 soldiers to police our communities from the start of lockdown in March to 27 May, he was only able to pay 9 people the R350 special social grant meant for 15 million people.
This is a clear indication that the capitalist government in South Africa prefers to manage mass immiseration with colonial forms of policing than the provision of even the most basic forms of welfare. Brute force is the go-to response to manage the social conflicts that arise from the unequal, unjust, capitalist organisation of society. From the Marikana massacre in 2012 to the 2013 shooting of 17-year-old Abahlali baseMjondolo member Nqobile Nzuza while protesting, to the deployment of the military in the Cape Flats last year, it is clear that the ANC relates to impoverished and working class majority with colonial forms of policing. The watching of George Floyd losing his life in the full view of the public, reminded us of the naked brutality of the capitalist state when it massacred in cold blood the workers of Marikana, whose only crime was to reject the super-exploitation in the mining sector and demanding a living wage.
The situation is also bleak in many other countries. From the assassination of Kenyan activists, such as Yassin Moyo, to the political imprisonment of the likes of Sahrawi human rights defender Mahfouda Lefkir we see the brutality of the current world order in stark relief. From the arbitrary detention of hundreds of migrants at South Africa’s notorious Lindela detention centre for migrants to the senseless police killing of autistic Palestinian Iyad Hallaq the armed apparatus of the state in a capitalist world knows only the language of oppression and serves only the interest of an elite group who wish to defend their private property by whatever means necessary and to dominate and exploit us for their private gain.
POLICE REPRESSION: A GLOBAL, HISTORIC HAND OF CAPITALISM
We live in a world where, in order to champion the super exploitation of blacks and Africans across the globe, colonialism and imperialism have been the order of the day. Racism, sexism and religion have been used to further divide and rule us. As they exist today in all capitalist nations, the police and armed forces act as the forceful hounds who guard the interests of the property owners, the mining moguls, big industry and the government lackies.
We should not forget that in America the roots of the police lie in the slave patrols used to hunt down escaped slaves. In Africa, the racist policing system came in with the moment of colonialism, marked by events such as when the imperialist forces met in Berlin in 1884 to divide and partition the continent among themselves creating fake borders, responsible for setting Africa back for centuries. The US-led imperialism that unfolded decades later takes its mandate from those plunderers. This has been obvious in the US-led suppression and sabotage of visionary revolutionaries such as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara and Amilcar Cabral.
We in Africa have seen some of the worst consequences that arose when the policing systems that developed from colonialism were not ripped out at the root come independence. In this neo-colonial era, the traitorous heads of African states continue to use members of our class against us, and the police and armed forces become a violent buffer zone between the rich minority and the poor majority.
In the last century, the US, as the figurehead of global imperialism, has led in the development of state militarism and armed economic looting of all nations. This is most recently seen in their vicious attacks on Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. It is the huge US military that has played the most pivotal role in escalating violent control and repression. No other nation has a comparable disproportionate investment in their armed forces domestic and abroad (with over 800 foreign military bases and at least 34 in Africa). The large presence of the US Africa Command on the continent has worsened the situation of warfare and economic instability.
ONLY AN END TO CAPITALISM CAN PROMISE A FUTURE FREE OF RACISM AND ALL DISCRIMINATION
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many country’s economies had been driven into ruin by the predatory capitalist system led by the US: our own country’s economy has been plunged into a junk status like many other countries in Latin America who are victims of IMF, World Bank, and Rating Agencies. The backwardness and inferiority of capitalism has been made crystal clear by its inability to confront the coronavirus and save lives. The collective intelligence of the world has been forced to bow to the needs of profit, and actively disregard the survival of humanity. Capitalism as a system is a hopeless one, which can only survive through the violent super exploitation of the working class across the globe. As masters of greed, hatred and theft, it continues to destroy humanity and the planet.
We must be upfront: our goal is to defeat imperialist capitalism (as a system that breeds racism, and all social ills) and advance a system that has the well-being of all human beings at its core. At this stage of human development, there is no reason to have people dying of hunger and poverty when we have the resources and technology to feed all peoples everywhere. It is the property relations and organisation of capitalism that disallow the majority to benefit from the wealth they create. Only when the indigenous, black, brown, migrant and African people of the world equally own and control the economy with their white counterparts will there be a quantum leap forward and a structural change in power relations.
We call for this revolution because the populations who continually risk being killed by simply living, by breathing, are the ones who sustain the world. We say NO! to the minority owning 90% of the economy. Black Americans and other oppressed peoples are the majority of the essential workers. As the ones who generate all value and produce all the things that allow humanity to survive, we must have an equitable share in the control of our economies. We say YES to a system that will make this a reality, where the masses have ownership and control of the means of production and their socialization. We call this Socialism.
We call on all freedom loving nations of the world to take a very simple, fundamental stand: that of extending our human solidarity with black Americans whose class position renders them victims both of Covid-19 (evident in the disproportionate levels of infection and deaths rates) and racism.
We must all continue to declare war against capitalism which breeds inequality and all social ills. We must denounce the chauvinist, backward primitive police of the empire and armed agents of a murderous ruling class led by a champion of violence and discrimination, President Donald Trump. The warning we want to give to our revolutionary comrades in the United State and the world: a bible in the hands of Trump is a bible in the hands of a devil.
We must struggle to defeat the militarized state of the world. Now is the time to expose how the US is based on an economy of looting and war mongering. The civilian genocide of black Americans is connected to the mass killings of African people who stand in the way of its corporate interests. The technologies used in imperialist wars abroad are brought to oppress the black working class at home.
Once more, we must advocate for the fundamental building blocks of revolution and socialism: We call for the nationalization of the national healthcare systems, so that never again can we be undermined by any virus due to the neglect of a group of greedy individuals whose drive for the maximization of profits makes the mass of humanity expendable. We must continue to demand that strategic sectors of the economy must be in the publics’ hands such as energy, steel, oils and petrochemicals, roads and rail networks, telecoms, all minerals and mines. We must also demand that all over the world quality education must be free and compulsory.
We are in solidarity with those leading organisations who are fighting to organise our class into a class aware of its common interest, capable of wielding itself into a powerful political force against capitalism. Locating the pulse of police impunity in the character of capitalist society, organisations such as the Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL) continue to work to advance the most revolutionary line and practices.
There can be “No Justice!” until land is restored to the people and until the working class of all creeds impose it’s hegemony over the state. There can be “No Peace!” until we build economies run by those who built them and based on the well-being of all humankind. The struggles in the US are our struggles. Their victories are our victories too.
Issued by Irvin Jim
Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party