SOCIALISM FROM BELOW
MARIKANA UPRISING AND MARX
The Marikana uprising demonstratedovernight the close relationship that thegovernment has with business, however this is not only the case in this countrybut right across the world. No businesspeople were shot at for not paying theproper wage; rather those that went onstrike against bad wages saw 34 of their fellow comrades killed.People who looked to our owngovernment as having a pro poor andworking class bias must really beshocked by the police actions atMarikana. People are asking how couldthis have happened, how could it be thatthe police who are controlled by thegovernment stand so clearly on the sideof bosses in the conflict.Yet we see this happening in all theconflicts that are happening across theworld.Karl Marx in his writings warned of this, he argued that the state under capitalism, no matter whether it cameout of a national liberation struggle or not is designed to ensure thecontinuation of capitalism as aneconomic system.
Dictatorship of the Majority
The only way to put an end to thisstate of affairs was for workers and their poor relatives to fight for and win acompletely different way of running acountry and the world at a large. Heargued that workers need to makerevolution and replace the existing order with "The Dictatorship of theProletariat". Until they achieved thisthey would always face the bullets of the government protecting the interestsof the bosses.Some say that this idea of Marx ledto dictatorships, they point to theSoviet Union, which might have assistedthe ANC with weapons, but back athome oppressed and exploited peopleby brute force. But the Soviet Union wasfar from the image that Marx had of socialism. For Marx the workersthrough their own council organisationshad to run society. This was not thecase in Russia, Stalin had smashed allof the democratic control from belowby 1928 and society was run by thedictatorship of the Party. A party thatnow acted in the interests of buildingcapitalism. Russia became a statecapitalist society.Marx and his collaborator Engels infact spent their live defending andfighting for democracy. They were knownby friend and foe alike as "extremedemocrats".Marx started his political life inGermany as the editor of a radicaldemocratic paper. State censorship andharassment drove him into povertystricken exile, first in France and thenin Britain.He backed national revolts againstthe Russian empire, supported thestruggle for Irish independence andpassionately defended the first workersuprising in the world, the ParisCommune of 1871.It was during the short-livedCommune that the "dictatorship of theproletariat arose". All officials wereelected and paid the same rates as thepeople they represented and all wereinstantly recallable by those whoelected them.It was infinitely more democraticthan any of today's societies. The ANCsays that it is a legitimate democraticgovernment, this is true in comparisonto apartheid rule, and we now have oneperson one vote: But we only vote everyfive years and most positions that effectour lives are not voted for, they areappointed positions.There are never votes on who controlsthe factories, or what should beproduced, how profits should be divided.The police, army and judges areunelected and unaccountable.Democracy is not there for us inmost areas of our lives; we areexcluded in all places that mightundermine our ruler's domination.Marx argued that this falsedemocracy should and could bereplaced by a socialist society in whichthe majority of the populationdemocratically decide in all importantareas of life. His "Dictatorship of theProletariat" however has nothing to dowith Stalinism.For Marx it was the machineryneeded to prevent the old bosses andpolice chiefs trying to find a way backto being in power. This layer has showntime and again that they will stop atnothing to restore their rule.Each time workers have erupted infierce struggle in the years since theParis Commune they have put Marx'swords in practice. They have started toorganise their own councils of democratic practice. The Marikanastrike committee had the seeds of along history of working class strugglein it. It was fiercely democratic in itsdiscussions, report backs and actionstaken. It paid no homage tobureaucratic positions. In this lies thefuture kernel of the capability to takepower and build a new society.
Why Revolution is Necessary
Marx became a socialist becausehe became convinced it was onlythrough workers' struggle and revolutionthat real; democracy could be achieved.Marx was particularly contemptuousof those who said society could bechanged using methods which ignoreda mass, democratic workers'movement. "The emancipation of theworking class must be achieved by theworking class itself" he insisted timeand again. Marx often told how his heroin history was Spartacus, the leader of the great slave rebellion against theRoman Empire. That struggle wasdefeated, but for Marx it symbolised thespirit of revolt from below.Marx understood that when workersare struggling they are prey to all sortsof horrible ruling class ideas likesexism, racism, tribalism, xenophobiaand homophobia. "The prevailing ideasin any epoch are the ideas of the rulingclass." But he also understood howcapitalism pushes workers to fight andhow, in struggle, they not only discover their potential power but radicallychange their ideas."Revolution is necessary, therefore,not only because the ruling classcannot be overthrown in any other way,but also because the class over-throwing it can only in a revolutionsucceed in ridding itself of all the muckof ages and become fitted to found anew society anew."
Class Struggle is the key
Marx did study and use some of thefindings of the great Philosophies andeconomists of the time, but he declared"Philosophers have interpreted theworld; the point is to change it." Marxwas not neutral; he was an unashamedpartisan of the fight by ordinary peopleto improve their lives.He insisted that the key issue in anysociety is the division into and conflictbetween classes. "Freeman and slave,patrician and plebeian, lord and serf,guild master and journeyman, (inMarikana, miner and mine owner) in aword oppressor and oppressed, stoodin constant opposition to one another,carried on an uninterrupted, now hiddennow open fight."
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