14 March 2010

National Democratic Revolution

National Democratic Revolution

“The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution”, posted on 10 March 2010 on this list, was a fitting conclusion to our “Basics” course, and a good precursor to the next full course, which is devoted to the NDR, and starts now.

A full set of links to the eight “Generic Courses” can be seen here.

The NDR is the product of a class alliance (unity-in-action) against an oppressor class. In practice the NDR works to extend democracy to all horizontal corners of, and all vertical layers within, the national territory and its population. In the cause of national democracy, it also overcomes non-class contradictions such as those of race and gender.

The NDR is always historical, in the sense of being a practical piece of work carried out in changing objective conditions, by individuals acting through the structures that they have consciously created. This series will trace the world history of the NDR from the distant past up to the present, attempting to cover the salient features, if not all the detail.

The living history of the NDR in South Africa is the African National Congress, embodying as it does the class alliance that is the functional heart of the NDR.

COSATU, and organised labour in general, are vital components in the necessary process of rendering an objectively-existing class-in-itself into a self-conscious class-for-itself. The working class leads and lends class-consciousness and a sense of purpose to the peasantry and to the petty-bourgeoisie. The working class is indispensable to the NDR.

But labour unions are not sufficient by themselves for the NDR; it also requires a party of generalising professional revolutionaries. That party is the SACP.

When we look at the entire worldwide story of the NDR, we find that the theoretical pattern was set very early, in 1920, by the Comintern and by the “Peoples of the East”.

Coming up to date we find, in parts of the ANC, that the NDR is treated as if it is complete or in stasis or that it is an end in itself.

The NDR’s is a story of the materialisation and triumph of an idea all around the world, but also of a new threat: that the NDR could be treated as a meaningless commonplace, taken for granted, or even worse, expropriated as a political weapon by the very forces that the NDR exists to oppose.

Unlike those in the ANC who want to call closure on revolution and declare a static “National Democratic State”, the communists know that history will insist on moving on, beyond NDR, towards the revolutionary end of class conflict itself, and towards the corresponding withering-away of the State.

The challenge posed by this study of the NDR is therefore to learn how to carry out the National Democratic Revolution to its utmost possible extent, and then to be able to conceive of an even greater degree of freedom: a freedom that is beyond democracy and which is more than the mere crushing of a minority by a majority, which is the essence of democracy.

As Lenin pointed out in “The State and Revolution”, written on the eve of Great October, the withering away of the state has to become a burning issue. Before we get to that point in our studies, we must begin from the beginning, which we will do in the next post of this new course on the National Democratic Revolution.