Date: Thu, 5 Jan 95 21:00:51 GMT
By Ron Press, 5 January 1995
I fully accept that there is a dialectical connection between the need for unity and for diversity. The old slogan of Mao, let many flowers bloom.
The problem is to create an organisational system for this unity in diversity without ending up with cotton wool.
For a number of years I was on the NEC of The South African Congress of Trade Unions. There was an unwritten rule that we never took a vote on any issue. We talked it out. This had its difficulties not the least of which was that the conclusions we came t o were not necessarily correct, nor necessarily accepted by all. Some times it was a result of exhaustion. However culture of "If there is a problem, discuss it." was very good.
In South Africa today we are still riding on this culture of discussion. If there is a problem bring together all possible organisations and groups who have an interest in solving the problem and discuss. Discuss not the political differences but the pro blem.
There was a women's forum. Its purpose was to outline a charter of women's rights. This was before the elections but after the un-banning of political organisations. In this forum were whites, blacks, ANC, IFP, Nats, and so on. Many were fierce political enemies. For example the ANC and IFP were almost at war with hundreds of murders. Yet they met, discussed and produced a charter.
In the UK there was recently an upsurge of racism and the election to a local authority of a fascist. This gave rise to the re-invigoration of the anti-fascist groups. The groups failed to get together and still compete and quarrel. A frustrating waste of resources.
There must also be better structures for these discussions to take place in. The British trade unions have their TUC. A unity maintained over generations.
The British governmental system is that the majority party runs things and the opposition opposes. Even if there is a serious problem they do not seek a solution but seek political profit.
The Government of National Unity in South Africa is unique in this respect. With the ANC having a very large majority the opposition still has a vice president and ministers in the government. Very difficult for the purpose of government but if the proble m is serious enough there can be agreement to look for an agreed solution.
When the environmental crisis become serious enough, when the third world gets its act together and demands solutions to its poverty, then perhaps the problem will be overwhelming and the necessity for discussion and problem solving will become paramount.
This does not deny the class struggle. In South Africa the class struggle continues as it has for generations. It seems to me, It has changed from one of armed overthrow of the capitalist class by the working class to some thing far more complex and subtl e.
For Marxists this means we must, without throwing the baby out with the bath water, analyse how the unity against the present system based on capitalist exploitation can be re structured. This restructuring will lay the basis for a new system or form of socialism which will be based on an agreed, discussed form of the redistribution of wealth both material and intellectual.
One of the problems is that those directly engaged in the struggle of the people for life itself are far too busy to stand back and write it down for others to see.