29 June 2013

National Democratic Revolution, Introduction

National Democratic Revolution, Part 0

National Democratic Revolution, Introduction

The CU National Democratic Revolution (NDR) course will be serialised on the SADTU Political Education Forum in the third quarter of 2013.

The NDR is the product of a class alliance (unity-in-action) against an oppressor class. The clearest original statement of this theoretical principle was made by V I Lenin at the Second Congress of the Communist International (2CCI) in 1920, in his Report of the Commission on the National and Colonial Question. We will return to the 2CCI statement in due course.

In practice, the NDR works to extend democracy to all horizontal corners of, and to 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 that of the African National Congress, embodying 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.

The theoretical pattern of the NDR was set in 1920 by the Comintern, and immediately afterwards by the conference of “The Peoples of the East”. Before we come to this we will look at the ancient history of the nation.

Coming up to date we will 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 story is one 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 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, in the next post of this new course on the National Democratic Revolution, begin again from the beginning.

The first week’s postings of this new course will commence tomorrow, Thursday, 27 June 2013.