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Date: Thu, 2 Nov 1995 07:25:27 -0500
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From: PNEWS <odin@shadow.net>
Subject: Socialism is the Future - SACP

/* Written by crossroads in igc:crossroads */
/* ---------- "Socialism is the Future - SACP" ---------- */
The following article is from the October issue of CrossRoads magazine.
For more information on subscribing to CrossRoads, email crossroad-info@igc.apc.org

Socialism Is the Future: Build It Now!

From the South African Communist Party (SACP)
2 November 1995

Beneath a red banner that proclaimed "Advance, Deepen & Defend the Democratic Breakthrough!", close to 600 elected delegates (representing a total membership of 75,000) descended on Johannesburg April 6-9 this year to take part in the South African Communist Party's 9th Congress. Despite the tragic death of Joe Slovo, the intrepid former party chair, the SACP gathered under auspicious conditions, not the least of which was the electoral triumph last year of the ANC-alliance and a policy framework illustrated by the fairly coherent Reconstruction & Development Program (RDP).

According to the SACP, the most important achievement of this Congress was "the consolidation of our Party's internal strategic unity." This is a major feat since there were a number of inner party tensions caused by differences concerning the consequences of the collapse of the socialist world and the electoral route to democratizing South Africa when the SACP's Eighth Congress met four years ago.

The 9th Congress adopted the " Strategy and Tactics Document," with a sense of unifying agreement. We reprint here most of the third section, "Socialism Is the Future, Build It Now." -Frances M. Beal

We use the slogan "Socialism Is the Future, Build it Now" to assert our deep conviction that socialism is the only just, rational and sustainable future for the people of our country and humanity at large; and that this future has to be struggled for here and now.

As an SACP we are struggling, here and now, for transformations that are both feasible and realizable, and which lay the basis for a future socialist transformation. This distinguishes the SACP from the "far left." For "far left" formations, no significant advances can be made until socialism is achieved. Within such a perspective, socialism becomes a wholly utopian construct, the positive mirror image of all the ills of the present. This outlook serves only to marginalize socialism. The SACP played a leading role in the elaboration of the RDP. But there are certain areas within the RDP, which relate to our longer-term socialist perspective, that require elaboration here. In particular, the SACP stresses four key areas of the RDP: the RDP as essentially a program of internal redistribution; and restructuring, the need for effective coordination and coherence of the RDP; and its people-centered character.

The redistribution of resources in our country is a core component of the RDP. The RDP is "a worthy set of ideals, but where will the resources come from?" Those who pose this question are themselves usually sitting on the resources. The struggle for redistribution includes: a struggle around government budgeting, ensuring much greater (and more effective) social spending as opposed to, for instance, military spending; and redirecting service provision to the historically oppressed; a reformed tax system; land reform; increasing trade union bargaining power; ensuring that state assets are not stripped and sold to the big corporations. Core state assets need to be democratized and socialized, not privatized.


To carry through redistribution two key areas of struggle need to be waged:

Rolling Back the Market: Health-care, education, housing, the environment, culture and information should not primarily be commodities. The SACP is committed to struggle against the market which seeks to turn everything into a commodity. We must struggle for the decommodification of increasing spheres of our society. A beginning has been made with free medical treatment for children under six and pregnant women.

Transforming the Market: Decommodification of key areas of our society does not mean abolishing the market altogether, but rather the rolling back of its empire. Insofar as markets continue to be an important regulator of distribution, we must also engage with them. Markets are not some "neutral" reality, and there is no such thing as a "free market." Present markets reflect the accumulated power of capital. We need to intervene with collective social power on the market to challenge and transform the power relations at play within it.

However, we must avoid confining ourselves to the area of redistribution (whether through market or non-market means). Capital in South Africa would like to confine the RDP largely to marginal redistribution, to charitable special projects, to a trickle-down dependent on some hoped for market-driven growth occurring elsewhere in the economy.

The restructuring of production is a second core component of the RDP. The South African economic crisis is not merely based on a failure to distribute wealth and opportunities equitably. The present crisis is also based on a major structural crisis of the productive system. The economic growth path envisaged by the RDP is not only demand-led (that is, based on broadening the market), but it is also fundamentally about reorienting investments into productive (as opposed to speculative) activity, laying greater emphasis on: production to meet social needs; democratization and deracialization of management practices; an ever broadening area of co-determination, that transforms the existing hierarchical prerogatives of management; a labor intensive rather than a capital intensive emphasis; higher levels of productivity through much greater emphasis on human resource development and life-long possibilities for training and education; overcoming massive regional disparities in infrastructure and industrialization; addressing the present marginalization and disempowerment of women workers.

The new democratic government has to play a leading role in ensuring effective coordination and coherence in the RDP. Without this the RDP will not succeed. This implies an effective public sector, especially in areas that are critical to the major focus of the RDP: urban and rural infrastructural development. While we need to struggle for the transformation and democratization of existing public corporations, we must ensure that key public utilities like ESKOM, TRANSNET, TELKOM, the POST OFFICE and the SABC are not privatized, or run-down. Leaving the provision of electricity or information to market forces will perpetuate the inequalities that currently exist, and will undermine the central thrust of the RDP.

While safeguarding the Reserve Bank against partisan manipulation (by all forces including the private sector), we must ensure that its policies and interventions are brought more effectively under democratic scrutiny and control, and into line with RDP objectives.


At the end of the day, the most profound feature of the RDP is its focus on social needs. The RDP explicitly undertakes to measure its own success or failure in terms of its capacity to meet the basic needs of our people. Macro- economic concerns like the growth rate, the inflation rate, or our international competitiveness are all subordinated to this critical objective.

In basing itself on this perspective, in seeking to prioritize social needs over private profits, the RDP has the capacity to lay the foundation for a decisive breakthrough towards socialism in our country. But this will not happen automatically. The RDP will not succeed unless we increasingly mobilize and actively involve the great majority of South Africans. In this regard, too, the RDP, with its concept of a people-driven process, has a profoundly socialist orientation. Neither national liberation nor socialism are events that are delivered to the people. They are, rather, ongoing processes of popular and working class self emancipation.

Socialism Is the Future, Build it Now!

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