Thursday, May 17, 2007

YL Leftwards

The ANC Youth League indicating Left
The recent statements and pronouncements by the African National Congress Youth League (ANC YL) should be given the consideration they deserve in the youth movement. At formation, the Youth League was the first to accept Colonialism of a Special Type characterisation of South African colonial oppression, and essentially recognised the reality that in South Africa, national oppression, patriarchy and class exploitation are inseparable. This was characteristic of the Youth League, which influenced and played a central role in the Defiance Campaign, which indisputably invigorated the ANC into a revolutionary National Liberation Movement.

Post Defiance Campaign, the ANC Youth League was characterised by robust and concerted mass campaigns and ideological dispositions, which were predominantly Left orientated. With the emergence of democracy, the ANC Youth League militancy was somewhat shelved, whilst its outlook was associated with the emergent, yet predominant bourgeois philosophising of poverty, inequality and poverty in South Africa, clad in the seize the opportunities of democracy rhetoric. The Youth League was silent on critical policy and ideological issues in the ANC and the broader Mass Democratic Movement, and lamentably rushed in defence of the neo-liberal Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) adopted by government in 1996, as workers raised fists against privatisation.

Notable however, are recent pronouncements of the ANC Youth League on vital ideological questions, which the ANC had somewhat abandoned or rhetorically flashed to hide the strategic shift characteristic of the ANC post the democratic breakthrough. The ANC Youth 2007 May Day statement correctly characterised the alliance and emphasised inter alia, “the evolution of apartheid capitalism dialectically unified the struggling masses of our people, hence the alliance amongst the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the workers movement, the latter now represented by COSATU. The alliance was therefore not a marriage of idealism but was born out of the realities that faced our people, that they were oppressed as a race and as a class”.

Post 1994, the class perspective had in the ANC been submerged under the rhetoric of national unity, deracialisation, building a modern economy, resolving the national grievance. Largely, this was placed in contradiction to the resolution of the class contradiction, which is historically understood as the primary contradiction to be resolved by realisation of the Freedom Charter assertions. This historical assessment was made quite buoyantly in the ANC Strategy & Tactics, adopted by the first National Consultative Conference in Tanzania, 1969, “In our country - more than in any other part of the oppressed world - it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole. It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy”.

Summarising its observations on the 2007 ANC Draft Strategy and Tactics, due for adoption /rejection in the 52nd National Congress, the Youth League notes “The present draft does not make a clear analysis of the evolution of the strategy and tactics with regards to the role of the ANC, and as such it makes fundamental distortions, through omission, on the ideological disposition of the ANC. The document is very quiet about the role of monopoly capital which has always been characterized as the enemy of the revolution”. The very correct assertion by the Youth League that monopoly capital should still be viewed as the liberation movements’ strategic enemy is not very far from the observation in COSATU House (SACP, COSATU and the YCL) that a new class consensus of the elite had emerged, seeking to restore capitalist profitability and consolidation of the capitalist system, whilst in the first ten years of democracy, the biggest beneficiary of our democracy has been white monopoly capital—our strategic enemy.

With certain levels of ideological inconsistencies, the overtures and observations of the ANC Youth League should really be appreciated and consolidated by all revolutionary movements in the alliance and the ANC in particular in ensuring that the strategic vision and role of the ANC is not permanently bourgeoisified and governmentalised. Possibilities of ossifying the bourgeoisification and governmentalisation of the ANC are very high, and this is reflected, amongst others, in the propositions made in the 2005 National General Council and some of the Policy discussions documents for the 52nd National Congress. Progressive forces should unite to recapture the ANC from elements, which seek to distort its historical mission, that of liberation of Africans in particular and blacks in general through resolution of the class, national and gender contradictions.

Floyd Shivambu


Anonymous said...

I am not sure whether I`ll pass as being "well-informed" enoughy to can engage with your eminently revolutionary self.I must further confess that I am a regular visitor to your blog and was a bit disappointed that like all of us you were not regularly posting.
Coming to the matter at hand about the perceived leftwards swing of the youth league.It is unfortunate that this comes as a suprise and that you conclude with a call to capture the ANC from some bourgeoisie who have it in some captivity.
Cde Floyd your wide reading of Marxist classics and your involvement in youth/student politics should have opened your eyes that the ANC is a multi-class project in which the bourgeoisie hold sway.The same applies to your YL,WL and SANCO.
The Youth League`s leftist rhetoric,under the current circumstances,is no more than an abberation which will soon come to pass.The tragedy of this is that it is an indictment against those fo us who profess a communist agenda.We have done way little work to entrench working class conciousness within the South African society.

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu said...

Marirong... Thanks for your perspective. You’re correct that the ANC is a multi-class organisation. To me, multi-class does not speak to ideological outlook, nor direction of the organisation, it is a descriptive analysis of its composition, i.e, its constituent parts. In Marxist science, we could say that the ANC is a bi-class organisation, with the two main classes and various strata contesting its direction. Inherently, a bi-class-multi-strata organisation will be contested politically, ideologically and operationally. For most of the years post 1940s (formation of the Youth League), the ANC has been predominated by working class ideology, and directed the struggles of the black majority and Africans in particular towards the resolution of the class, national and gender contradictions. In CODESA, and post political liberation, a leading cadre ANC has capitulated to the globally dominant neo-liberal agenda, thus shedding off the class character of the national struggle. This process and various others amount to what I think is bourgeoisification of the ANC and misdirecting it from what it intended to achieve, hence the call to recapture it. The ANC remains multi-class, yet such is not its ideological telescope, which is presently bourgeois, and operationally bureaucratic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your informative responses to the issues I raised.I will continue to visit your blog and engage you on some of your views.
Keep well Cde.

Anonymous said...

there ANC has always been a multiclass organisation from inception and i think ideological orientation of the ANC especially during the struggle shifted towards the left hence the strategic alliance with the workers organisation and the party.the anc shall forever be contested and i think the influence that the party had over the ANC has been minimal as those who are the rulling class in society today have hijacked it and that blame cannot be put on the ANC as we all no that science does not allow vaccum.if the working class does not impose their hegemony in the ANC in terms of policy,debates etc then those opposed to their agenda will utilise the opportunity.
the other problem is that i think the party cannot solely focus in the ANC and loose focus in terms of the main political responsibility which is to create conscious within the society in order to advance the agenda which i think most people would subscribe to given the current status quo. The role of the YCL is of outmost importance in the achievement of the 1962 programme o fthe party.the ancyl also is a contested structure that existe in society.the current ideological hegemony might not be left on the basis that a strata of its caliber has proven to be inconsistence given the issue of leadership which place a central role to this course.the question is rather has the anc fully succumbed to the global agenda pursued by many? or what wil be the role of the party to ensure that the ideological direction of the anc is imformed by material conditions in south africa not by the capitalism.lastly the question is will the YL be consistant in their cause for the attainment of the NDR which has been conceptualised differently of late?
still grappling with issues!!!
lets engage the thought not the origin of the thought