Long and winding road to freedom
Fight for a changed SA means setbacks have to be tolerated, writes John Lamola
THE view of the state as an instrument of coercion and the vanguard of the interests of the propertied class is a key tenet of classical Marxism.
This would of necessity wither away when a classless society is achieved in communism.
In 1918, when faced with the ironic reality of the force of this theory as the head of state, Lenin formulated a rationalisation that has since proved useful, and is relevant to the challenges South Africa faces today as it struggles to evolve into a democratic and egalitarian society.
Lenin formulated a new concept of time as applied to revolutionary processes.
Dealing with the reality of the contradiction of the need for a coercive state within the context of the struggle for the achievement of socialism, he taught that the withering of the state is a protracted process.
He thus introduced a new concept of time that held that typically, political transformation takes longer than expected.
Accordingly, the citizens of the Soviet Union had to be patient while enduring the discomforts of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the transitional phase to communism.
This concept of the “protracted nature” of the workings of revolutionary processes found its way into the approach to the resistance of apartheid in the ANC’s seminal strategies and tactics of the 1960s.
Successive strategy and tactics tracts cautioned comrades at the forefront of armed struggle in exile, prison and in the mass democratic movement that, given the sophisticated nature of the enemy the ANC was arraigned against, ours was by character a protracted struggle.
As a protracted struggle, it required patience, hard work, discipline and stubborn hope.
Poignantly, when Nelson Mandela’s banned speeches where published underground in 1986, the
As a protracted struggle, it required patience and hope
title of the book became No Easy Walk to Freedom.
With the achievement of the 1994 electoral victory and the overwhelming euphoria that accompanied this moment, the ANC omitted to caution the expectant masses that the new phase of the continuing struggle – that is, the dismantling of apartheid and the creation of a prosperous South Africa – will also be a protracted process.
The failure to entrench this concept of time in the post-apartheid mass consciousness is at the root of the current rebellious impatience by the poor and working class.
Instead of the message that the road to a changed South Africa will be a long one, requiring hard work and the toleration of setbacks, the ANC came to power in 1994 with billboards promising jobs and housing for all.
The historically black oppressed need a political consciousness that realises that there are no quick
We cannot afford to remain a depressed and cynical people
fixes to the miserable plight that colonialism and apartheid have bequeathed them.
This requirement also applies to critics outside the ANC who opportunistically express a varying range of frustration at the pace and quality of social transformation since 1994.
The dominant narrative is, and should remain, that we have in the ANC a government that is enjoined by its history and character to be attentive to the cries of the poor.
This narrative should not be drowned by impatient subtexts on the setbacks that are encountered along the long walk to freedom.
We cannot afford to remain an overly self-critical, depressed, cynical and paralysed people.
Our road to economic freedom will “last longer than expected ”, which is how the Oxford Dictionary defines the word “protracted ”.
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