Mandela warns of ‘anarchy’

NELSON Mandela’s opening address to the South African parliament last week should sound warning notes to all in the workers’ movement.

Adopting the standard bourgeois tactic of appealing to the ‘common good’ against the ‘anarchic minority’, he warned workers that their aspirations just could not be met. “The government literally does not have the money to meet the demands that are being advanced. Mass action of any kind will not create resources the government does not have.”

What are these demands that the state cannot afford? Living conditions have not changed for the vast majority since the ANC’s election victory last April. Millions of workers are unemployed and homeless, eking out their lives in the squalor of squatter camps, while those in work who have attempted to force up wages have been met on the streets by continued brutal acts of police suppression.

“It is important that we rid ourselves of the culture of entitlement,” Mandela declares. He is not of course referring to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the bourgeoisie and other privileged sections. He means those very workers who know they are “entitled” to just the basic means of survival - a home and a job. They must live as best as they can, through whatever means.

But Mandela does not accept they have any right to take what is necessary for survival: “Criminals are being favoured while the interests of society are being ignored,” he alleges. All he can offer the poor are the usual bourgeois platitudes: “There are signs that our economy is beginning to pick up.”

We have long warned that South African workers’ aspirations cannot be met within capitalism. And now we give another warning. Unless communists begin now to organise against the bourgeois state, whether it is fronted by black or white faces, they will once more be the first to feel the full force of repressive terror, as capitalism drifts again towards revolutionary crisis.

Jim Blackstock