By: Justice Piitso
The unforgivable sin you committed before the altar of our nation was your determination to challenge the power of the bourgeoisie.
Receive my profound gratitude and best wishes of many many glorious years to come. Indeed one is inspired by your unwavering dedication to the revolutionary cause of our struggle for the total emancipation of our people.
My decision to write this letter to you comes amidst the growing momentum by the enemy of our revolution to isolate you from our people. As a result, I have decided to break the rubicon of this common culture, by commencing this comradely conversation with you, when it has become unfashionable to do so.
The daunting efforts by the enemy of our revolution to isolate you, is fostered precisely because one of its primary strategies, is to mount all sorts of conspiracy theories, in order to obliterate the sons and daughters of our revolution, from the revolution itself. The unforgivable sin you have committed before the altar, was your determination to challenge the power of the bourgeoisie.
Nevertheless, an outstanding political commissar of your caliber, is the first to appreciate that the primary strategy and tactic of the enemy of the revolution, is to isolate the best from ourselves. It is always in the best interest of the enemy to weaken any revolutionary movement from within.
If you ask me today as to where is the enemy of our revolution, whether it is from within or outside the Movement, I will say, without any contradictions, that the enemy of our revolution is dominant from within. The insurmountable challenges faced by our Movement is a testimony to the unprecedented role of the enemy, to destroy our revolution from within.
You will agree with me that the revolution, is for those who are determined to be free, those who understand that even great thunderstorms will not make the lively tales of the forest go silent. A revolution is for those who appreciate the fact that the deep valleys of the mountain forest, is the centre stage of the theatre of our struggle.
The true reality is that our national democratic revolution, is fatigued by the intellectual orthodox of the status quo. The terrain of our intellectualism is dominated by forces perpetuating neo-liberal fundamentalism and praise singers of the Apartheid neocolonial regime.
The rising ferment of neo-liberalism and right wing fundamentalism, is undermining the very fiber of organic intellectualism, which over the years of our struggle for freedom, constituted the backbone of our revolutionary movement.
This phenomenon is increasingly consolidating the hold of the forces of enlightenment over the ownership of the economy, and much more, at the expense of the so called, the barbarians at the gate, which are historically the toilers and the downtrodden, the African people in particular and the black people in general.
The most important question with far reaching political consequences, on the theory of the South African revolution, is the central question, on the theory of the state capture. The conceptualization of the ongoing commission of investigation, as a commission on state capture, is a deliberate and complete distortion, of the true facts of the history of our struggle, against imperialism and colonialism.
It is for this reason, that as a country and people, we need a national dialogue, to extrapolate the true meaning and understanding of this important theoretical question on state capture. As it is, the calling of the ongoing commission of investigation, as a commission on state capture, remains to be an abstract formulation, with tremendous political impact, on the nature and character, of the history of our national liberation struggle.
We cannot allow the architects of falsehood, who in my view, are deliberately distorting the true history of the struggle of our people, to elevate the alleged criminal activities by the Gupta family, into the capture of the South African state. The correct theoretical conceptualization of state capture, is to begin with the basic foundational stone, of the underlying racial dominance, of the base and the superstructure, of the South African society.
In other words, we need a thorough appraisal of the history of the development of the South African society, its pattern of ownership and productive relations, and the influence of the dominant forces over the value system of our society. The undisputed truth is that our economy, has been captured over the years, by forces of monopoly capital and Apartheid colonial regime, which today is demonstrated, by the class and the racial character of our society.
It is therefore my strong view, that it will be in the best interest of the future of our country, for the presiding officer of the ongoing commission on the so called state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Andrew Zondo, brings confidence to the people of our country, by convening a national dialogue, about the very same theoretical question, which has far reaching implications, on the future struggle of the people of our country.
I am deeply worried, that at this important conjuncture of our transition, towards the building of a national democratic society, that the caricature of the law of our country, may be used, as an expression of the interests of the dominant forces of Apartheid neo- colonialism, and a means to justify it. The strategic objective of our struggle, must be about using the law of our country, as an instrument for the liberation, of the overwhelming majority of our people, from the bondage of the legacy of imperialism and colonial oppression and exploitation.
Our jurisprudence must not find itself wanting, in the words of philosopher Karl Marx, when he said: “It will be impossible, given the economic, intellectual and moral birthmarks of the old capitalist order from whose womb socialist society emerged, to go beyond the narrow horizon of the bourgeois right, meaning, formal legal equality that invariably masks social inequality. Law can never stand higher than the economic order and cultural development of society conditioned by it”.
We must therefore, not use the noble principles of our democratic breakthrough, of building a rainbow nation, to mask the fundamental question of the necessity of our struggle, for radical socio-economic transformation. The jurisprudence of our country, must therefore be the arena, for the acceleration of our law, as an instrument for the building of our new-born society, out of the womb of the Apartheid colonial regime, and therefore beyond the narrow horizons of the racial domination, of our economic base and the superstructure.
Karl Marx substantiates this eloquently, when he states that the narrow horizon of the bourgeois law, could only be overcomed in the higher phase of society in which reproductive forces have increased with the all-round development of the individual, and when the fountain of co-operative wealth flows more abundantly. This will be a society organised according to the principle of: ”From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.
Our law must be a true expression of the historical path of our new developing society and therefore, we need to guard against any possibility of our jurisprudence, becoming the expression of the underlying economic realities. Our democracy will be in danger, amidst the growing perceptions that our legal system, may be at the cross roads, of defending the existing productive relations of the South African society.
In the preface to the contribution to a critique of the political economy, Karl Marx, refers to the social relations of production, as the economic structure of society, the real foundation on which rises a legal and political superstructure. He identified property relations as a legal expression for social relations of production.
In the origin of the family, private property and the state, Frederick Engels says that historically the state arises at the point when society had developed the forces of production to the extent that it had become entangled in insoluble class contradictions.
He states that in order that these antagonisms, classes with contending interests, might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it becomes necessary to have power – seemingly standing above society – that would alleviate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of order and this power, arising out of society, but placing itself above it, and alienating itself more and more from it, as the state.
He says that a distinguishing feature is the establishment of public power, which no longer directly coincides with the population arising itself as an armed force. This special public power is necessary, because a self- reacting armed organisation of the population has become impossible due to the split into classes. This public power arising in every state, consists not merely of armed men but also of material adjuncts, prisons, and institutions of coercion of all kinds, of which gentile society knows nothing.
He says that law is a system of social relations which corresponds to the interests of the ruling class, and which protects the ruling class by means of its organised force, in other words, the state.
Engels further states that: “Law can influence the economic and social development of society. The various elements of the superstructure, such as culture, including juridical forms, would exercise their influence over the coarse of the historical struggle and in many ways determine their forms in particular.”
It is in this context that Lenin says that under communism, it follow that not only does bourgeois law remain for a certain time but so does the bourgeoisie state, without the bourgeoisie.
I am elucidating this political argument to you, against the theoretical background that law is a superstructure, and that in reality it only translates the interests of those who hold the reins of command in any given society, at any given historical juncture. Against the background that law is just an instrument in the service of those who exercise their hegemony in society, because they have the instruments of production within their control.
I am raising this argument against the theoretical view that law, is about the relationship between the economic base, consisting of social relations of production and other aspects of the material social reality, and the superstructure, of which the legal system is certainly a part of. Therefore we need to guard against the possibility of the dominant ideas in our society, using the ‘caricature’ of our law, as an instrument, to protect the interest of those who have over centuries of our struggle captured the South African state.
I also refer my argument to the seminal work of the State and the Revolution, by our erstwhile revolutionary and leader of the oppressed people of the world, Vladimir Lenin, when he says the following about the constitutional state as a bourgeois democratic state:
“A democratic republic is the best possible political shell of capitalism, and therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions in the bourgeois democratic state can shake it. It builds capitalism into the foundations of the state, into the very rules within which it operates.
Once it has been established, political parties, institutions and people can come and go, but they will all be limited by the constitutional rules of the democratic republic. The state is the best possible political shell for capitalism”.
You will without doubt concur with me, that imperialism has no nickname, it remains to be imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. It is a socio-economic phenomenon, which has a great influence in reshaping the development of our human society.
Lenin saw the possibilities of the following outcomes of the revolution, during the transition of the Russian society from the period of Tsardom, to the period of the new socialist society. He gave a thorough analysis of the possibilities of the balance of forces, to determine the outcomes of the revolutionary struggle of the working class, at that particular period of the development of the Russian society.
He firstly foresaw that the revolution would either end in a decisive victory over the tsardom, meaning the overthrow of the tsarist regime, and the establishment of a democratic republic, or it may end in a compromised deal between the Tsar and the bourgeoisie, at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the people, in some sort of a curtailed constitution or the caricature of a constitution.
He conceded that the proletariat was interested in the better outcome of the two, that is, in a decisive victory over tsardom. But he argued that such an outcome, was possible only if the proletariat, succeeded in becoming the undisputed leader and guide of the revolution.
Secondly he was of the firm view that the outcome of the revolution, depends on whether the working class would play the part of a subsidiary to the bourgeoisie, a subsidiary that is powerful in the force of its onslaught against the autocracy, but impotent politically, or whether it would play the part of leader of the revolution by the people. He was convinced that the proletariat had every possibility of escaping the fate of a subsidiary to the bourgeoisie, and of actually becoming the leader of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.
He says the possibility of the proletariat becoming the leader of the bourgeoisie democratic revolution arises from the following:
First, the proletariat, being by virtue of its very position, the most advanced, and the only consistently revolutionary class, and therefore is for that very reason called upon to play the leading part in the general democratic revolutionary movement in Russia.
Secondly, the proletariat has its own political party, which is independent of the bourgeoisie, and which enables the proletariat to weld itself “into a united and independent political force”.
Thirdly, the proletariat is more interested than the bourgeoisie in a decisive victory of the revolution, in view of which, “in a certain sense the bourgeois revolution is more advantageous to the proletariat than to the bourgeoisie.”
He was of the strong view that it is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie, to rely on certain remnants of the past against the proletariat, for instance, on the monarchy, the standing army, etc . It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie, if the bourgeois revolution does not too resolutely sweep away all the remnants of the past, but leaves some of them, i.e., if this revolution is not fully consistent, if it is not complete, and if it is not determined and relentless.
Therefore a greater advantage to the bourgeoisie, if the necessary changes in the direction of bourgeois democracy take place more slowly, more gradually, more cautiously, less resolutely, by means of reforms and not by means of revolution. If these changes develop as little as possible, the independent revolutionary activity, initiative and energy of the common people, i.e., the peasantry and especially the workers, for otherwise it will be easier for the workers.
On the other hand, it is more advantageous for the working class if the necessary changes in the direction of bourgeois democracy take place by way of revolution and not by way, of reform; for the way of reform is the way of delay, of procrastination, of the painfully slow decomposition of the putrid parts of the national organism. It is the proletariat and the peasantry that suffer first of all, and most of all, from their putrefaction.
Lenin therefore stated that the revolutionary way is the way of quick amputation, which is the least painful to the proletariat, the way of the direct removal of the decomposing parts, the way of fewest concessions to and least consideration for the monarchy and the disgusting, vile, rotten and contaminating institutions which go with it.
According to him, in order to convert the possibility of the proletarian leadership of the revolution into a reality, in order that the proletariat might actually become the leader, the guiding force of the bourgeois revolution, the following conditions are needed for the success of the revolution:
First, it was necessary for the proletariat to have an ally who was interested in a decisive victory over tsardom and who might be disposed to accept the leadership of the proletariat . This was dictated by the very idea of leadership, for a leader ceases to be a leader if there is nobody to lead, a guide ceases to be a guide if there is nobody to guide.
Secondly, it was necessary that the class, which was fighting the proletariat for the leadership of the revolution and striving to become its sole leader, should be forced out of the arena of leadership and isolated. This too was dictated by the very idea of leadership, which precluded the possibility of there being two leaders of the revolution.
The propensity of irreconcilable contradictions within the South African society is so immense and there for any honest ordinary eye to see. It is evident that the counter-revolutionary offensive has become more complex and broader than we can imagine.
There seems to be a concerted effort by the beneficiaries of the apartheid regime, not to honour the noble principles and the values of our negotiated transition process, which in the eyes of the people of the world, was the best political settlement ever in the history of humanity. Reconciliation is not only about embracing one another as a so-called rainbow nation, but true reconciliation is about sharing the wealth and economic means of production of our country.
Therefore, it must not be, that the remnants of the apartheid colonial state, and other forces of neo-colonialism, want to use the caricature of our constitution, the sun-set clauses, to delay the acceleration of our struggle for radical socio-economic transformation. It must be clear, that it is not only about the Bill of Rights that is enshrined in our Constitution, but it must also be how to revisit the compromises entered into during the negotiations period.
These compromises were never meant to be cast in stone, and to be considered as sacrosanct and permanent. They were simply imperfect compromises meant to bridge a particular historical juncture, they were always meant to be revisited, and anyone who tries to create a different impression , cannot stand the test of time.
The question is, what are those compromises, why were they entered into, are they permanent, or what has to be done. In answering this question, which is necessarily about the economic base of our country, we must at all cost, guard against the possibility of the architects of this theoretical falsehood, abusing their dominant influence on our base and the superstructure, to distort attention from the fundamental question of our struggle, which is the liberation of the black peoples in general, and the Africans in particular.
I am writing you this letter, fully supporting your public views on this very same theoretical notion of state capture, and further, your call for the extension of the scope of reference of the Commission, in order to find the long lasting solution, to the challenges confronting the people of our country, arising out of the centuries old colonial oppression and exploitation.
Surely, the vast majority of the people are not in control of the economy, which is of cause, concentrated in the hands of few transnational companies, families which are white and male dominated, and few individuals. We need to embark on an honest and robust audit process entailing the extent of the ownership of these cartels over the different sectors of our economy and how the accumulation regime captured our state over the years to achieve this.
It cannot be that our jurisprudence is equally perceived to be part of the increasing and subtle onslaught to undermine the efforts of our democratic government to allow for more participation of black people into the mainstream of our economy. Why is it only the business of black people accused of corruption and maladministration?.
There should also be an equal commitment to unearth corruption on both the public and private sector. Is it true that the enemy of our revolution has become a watchdog of corruption over our democratic state precisely of the fact its strategic focus is to empower the overwhelming black majority?
Our democratic project of building a non racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous society cannot be a butcher house of black executive and excellence. Where there is corruption, there must be a corruptor and corruptee.
Historical facts are a living testimony, that there is no battle so titanic, as a battle to change to the dominant ideas in society. It is not easy, it is the most difficult one, it needs those determined to volunteer themselves, for the freedom and dignity, of all humanity.
Your biggest sin was to transcend the struggle of our people into the epoch of the second phase of our transition for radical-socio economic transition. The enemy of the revolution, will forever hate you for, having transcended our political struggle, into the new concrete realties, of the new phase of our economic struggle.
Therefore it is true that your biggest sin before the altar of our nation, is your determination to challenge the power of the bourgeoisie. Generations to come will salute your heroism, and indeed your exemplary leadership, which will indeed, leave an indelible mark, in the struggle for the development of human society.
All what I may proudly say to you, is that a revolution has no short memories, and without any doubt, that the future will confer you the most remarkable, for the noble ideas you stand for. Your leadership role as the true ambassador of our struggle, for the radical transformation of our society, is what will define your rightful place, in the history of nations.
Again, I wish you well in all your endeavors and revolutionary commitment to make the world a better place for all. Whatever a revolutionary does on a daily basis, writes his own history.
*Justice Piitso is former SA Ambassador to Cuba. He is currently the Chief of Staff in the office of the ANC Secretary General. He writes in his personal capacity.