In South Africa (SA), the misery of the working class has taken a violent turn. During July and August, the working class there held militant demonstrations against the profit system run by the capitalist African National Congress (ANC) government. Soldiers, municipal and chemical workers, miners and workers in the townships participated. As one worker stated, “The ANC turned their backs on us.”
The workers were demanding pay increases and basic services — housing, electricity and water. To maintain their fascist law and order against the workers’ anger, the ANC ordered out the police who used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas. (The Mail Guardian, a SA daily newspaper.)
As the capitalist crisis hits worldwide, the profit system is becoming more unstable daily. The working class in SA is facing huge cut-backs in their daily living standards. Over 40% of the working class lives below the poverty level. (The Economist, 7/25) One in four is now jobless while the cost of food and fuel have skyrocketed. In the shanty towns around the big cities, people are cold and hungry. Millions of workers live in leaky shacks without electricity or running water.
The reformist ANC and its allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party have no solutions for the working class. All represent the bosses’ profit system.
So now we see that the abolition of the apartheid system in 1994 did not free black workers from capitalist exploitation. That system was a totally divisive capitalist-run society in which a politically dominant white minority ruled to maintain the intensely exploitative profit system. Millions of workers worldwide supported the struggle against apartheid. Thousands of black workers were jailed and many were killed. Thus, the end of apartheid gave birth to a black SA leadership.
The ANC represents local and international bosses. The SA economy is important to the capitalist world because it is particularly rich in mineral resources and is one of the world’s leading raw material exporters. This includes gold, diamonds, platinum, chromium, manganese, uranium, iron ore and coal.
During the 1960s’ U.S. civil rights movement, rebellious black workers rocked every major city. However, this did not end racism and super-exploitation of black workers. The movement eliminated some forms of legal segregation, but clearly did not end racism or segregation. The idea that racism could be defeated without overthrowing the capitalist system ended up giving rise to black bosses and politicians.
Today, these politicians are performing a tremendously valuable service for the capitalist class. They divert black, Latin and white workers into the polling booths instead of fighting back.
The Progressive Labor Party led many militant demonstrations on university campuses and at work-places against the apartheid system and segregation. But PLP also put forward the abolition of capitalism and fought for workers’ power and communism.
Today, the world is entering another historic period of economic crisis, war and fascism, all stemming from the internal insoluble contradictions of capitalism. Therefore, building the PLP-led international communist movement is essential for workers’ power.