About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

The South African Revolution in its International Context

1. The End of Isolation?

From its launch in 1921, the Communist Party in South Africa has committed itself to an internationalist perspective. We have always sought to understand the interconnectedness of our own struggle with socialist, working class, democratic and liberation struggles around the world. We have also seen the propagation of the values of internationalism within our country as a core Communist Party task. The SACP is, today, convinced that internationalism is more relevant than ever before.

A strategic understanding of present international forces is central to developing a clear programme for the South African transformation struggle. A failure to develop such an understanding will lead to many illusions and mistakes. Coming to terms with the place of the post-1994 South Africa within the world hasproved to be an area of considerable uncertainty, if not plain confusion. Justified pride in our successful political transition and the genuine respect it has inspired around the world have also instilled illusions about global realities, and our place within them.

In many quarters the ending of apartheid has been presented, unproblematically, as an "end to our international isolation". There is much that is mistaken in this way of presenting matters.

For most of its existence, the apartheid regime (like the minority regimes before it in South Africa) was not isolated from the world. On the contrary, it was, in its way, an integral part of a broader world system. For many decades our Party, and the wider ANC-led liberation movement, characterised minority-rule in our country as a variant of colonialism - as colonialism of a special type (CST).

By invoking the concept CST we were not just referring to the colonial origins of modern South in the phase of industrial imperialism. We were referring to the specific path of capital accumulation pursued in South Africa, which was forged, with the active hacking of British imperialism, around the colonial alignment of class forces and the national oppression of the majority. It was around this colonial alignment of class forces that South Africa was integrated into a wider imperialist system that was, at once, economic, political and military in character. As late as the 1970s, successive United States administrations pursued the deliberate strategic decision to back white minority rule in South Africa, in the context of intensifying a Cold War struggle in Southern Africa. The apartheid regime was seen as an important regional gendarme, as a component, therefore, of a broader imperialist bloc.

Partial sanctions were only imposed, reluctantly and belatedly, on the apartheid regime by the major imperialist powers following allround international popular pressure, and also a growing perception that apartheid was no longer a necessary or even viable regional political dispensation from an imperialist perspective. "These perceptions were reinforced by:

     the growing instability within South Africa, including the systemic failure of the imperialist inspired coercive-reform measures, introduced by the apartheid regime through the late 1970s and 80s;

     the weakening political and military capacity of the Soviet Union and its broader bloc in the 1980s; and

     the increasing capacity of imperialist forces to dominate Africa through the management and manipulation of the debt crisis. In the course of the 1980s, by way of harsh structural adjustment programmes, many post-independence development gains were rolled hack in progressive African countries. African economies were opened up to the predatory incursions of transnational corporations in a very real sense Africa was re-colonised, not by armies, but by financial institutions.

In short, the usefulness, for imperialism, of a white minority-based regional gendarme had diminished by the late 1980s.

South Africa is not emerging from decades of isolation. Moreover, insofar as there were partial sanctions on the apartheid regime, they were imposed at the behest of the liberation movement and with the support of active anti-apartheid solidarity movements around the world. It is patent nonsense to speak of the ending of these partial sanctions, as if "we" were now emerging from that isolation.

Failure to correctly characterise (or even vaguely remember) the recent past, produces many distortions in the way in which our present place within the international system is understood. The word "imperialism" has virtually disappeared from the vocabulary of our liberation movement, as if the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the ending of the Cold War, also resulted in the evaporation of the powers and consequences of imperialism. In fact, the global power of the most developed capitalist countries and of the major capitalist transnational corporations has grown immensely, not diminished, in the decade of the 1990s. In 1915, Lenin distinguished several defining features of imperialism the immense strengthening of a handful of capitalist corporations, extending their operations across the globe; the growing inequality within countries, and especially between different regions of the world; and the marginalisation of whole regions, even continents. In the last quarter of this century we have seen a new phase of imperialism unfolding.

Forgetfulness about the immediate past, and confusion about the present lead, in turn, to a naive understanding of how South Africa should now engage with international realities. This engagement is often presented as a simple "return" to the "family of nations", as a programme to "integrate" ourselves as fully and as rapidly as possible into a generally benign global order. The means for achieving this rapid integration are held up as a set of universal laws. '['here are "rules of the game", we are repeatedly told, and if we want to be an international player, then we must loyally observe these rules.

To better understand all of the above, it is important to look more closely at what is commonly, ifloosely, referred to as "globalisation".

2. Globalisation

Tendencies towards the economic integration of the world have been a feature of the capitalist system from the beginning. This process was greatly intensified in the last quarter of the 19th century, with the export of vast quantities of productive capital from the industrial heartlands in Western Europe. The industrialisation of South Africa, around the mining industry was, at this time, part of this early globalising tendency.

Over the last two decades there have, however, been major quantitative and qualitative developments within this general tendency. We have been living through a new phase of imperialism. The key factors in this have been:

     Rapid technical advances in information and communications technology, which have enabled, and in turn have been impacted upon by:

     The vast quantitative growth and qualitative global integration of financial markets; and, above all

     The increasing transnationalisation of capital, in which major capitalist corporations increasingly organise their production processes, and their concentrations of power transnationally, resulting in new power blocs, and the relative (but not absolute) reduction of power of national states, including the major imperialist states.

There have also been key political factors at work. For nearly three decades after the defeat of fascism in 1944/5, a balance of class forces prevailed, especially in the most industrialised countries, that favoured working people. These three decades saw the consolidation of the Soviet bloc of countries, major social democratic advances in the more developed capitalist countries, and a wave of decolonisation. From the early 1970s capitalist forces, partly in the face of internal capitalist difficulties, sought to restructure the conditions for renewed profitability. Since then, there has been a prolonged offensive against the welfare state in the developed capitalist countries. In the developing south, the debt crisis has been exploited to roll back the developmental gains of the post-colonial period. And, through the 1970s and 80s, increased pressure was brought to bear on the Soviet bloc, partly through an intensification of the arms race. Between 1989 - 1991 this former Soviet bloc disintegrated. This bloc had been relatively, but never entirely, de-linked from the globalised, capitalist economy. Former Soviet-aligned societies are now all, in differing degrees, more thoroughly integrated into this globalised economy. Those developing societies that turned to this bloc as a counter-weight now have fewer options.

But while the term "globalisation" might well describe certain objective realities, it is also used prescriptively. Indeed, neo-liberal ideologues like to blur the difference between description and prescription. Globalisation is presented as a process driven by irrepressible market forces and irresistible technological determinism - in this way, proponents of neo-liberalism seek to intimidate the rest of us, and block any critical analysis or independent thinking. There are simply "no alternatives" in their perception of things.

Contrary to this argument, the present global expansion of economic processes is being actively and consciously shaped by leading capitalist forces, organised through powerful political and economic institutions. in asserting this we are not indulging in a conspiracy theory. There is no conspiracy - but there is a strategy.

Moreover, despite the purported absence of alternatives, there are major disjunctures between what is claimed for globalisation (the supposed "rules of the game") and what is actually practised.

2.1 "Rules of the game" and the actual realities

Globalisation is supposedly promoting an integrated world system, encouraging outward expansion for developed countries, and export-led growth for developing countries. The facts are less straightforward. While poor, developing countries are urged (and coerced) into integrating their economies into what is supposed to be an open, competitive global economy, the last fifteen years have seen the consolidation and strengthening of some significant countervailing realities:

     Managed trade - and not free trade - contrary to neo-liberal claims, world trade is not always characterised by the free flow of commodities within globally open markets. According to an UNCTAD calculation, fully two-thirds of international trade in goods and services actually takes place within the same transnational corporation, or by way of special arrangements between firms. A large proportion of international trade is, therefore, not subject to the "discipline" of free competition.

     National unilateralism - powerful countries like the US continuously attempt to impose unilateral, often political agendas, upon what is supposed to be a multi-lateral, free-trade global order. An obvious example of this is the ongoing attempt of the US to punish third countries trading with Cuba. This is a blatant attempt to enforce US laws extra-territorially, in complete disregard for the many claims made by the very same US for a new, multi-lateral world trading order.

     The unilateralism of exclusive clubs - in a broader context, the claims for a transparent and multi-lateral global economic dispensation are continuously contradicted by the practice of the most industrialised countries in meeting together for global strategising and decision-making within exclusive clubs like the G7 (now G8) and the OECD. It is within the OECD, for instance, that the industrialised countries are formulating their own Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). The MAI initiative deliberately flies in the face of alternative processes under discussion in the WTO. In a similar way, the "free" global market is dominated and manipulated by:

     Powerful regional economic blocs involving the most advanced capitalist countries in particular the European Union and the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA). These regional blocs enable the most powerful economies within them (the US and German economies) to subordinate their neighbours to their own needs (countries like Mexico), and at the same time to confront wider global realities from the base of a large, often relatively protectionist, region.

     Regulatory controls on capital movement, commercial and other economic operations also continue to characterise many economies. These include the economies of the most developed capitalist societies, which are, nonetheless, the most vociferous in demanding liberalisation from others. Among the more significant of the non-market protectionist measures are:

     Agricultural subsidies going to farmers in developed economies, like those of the EU. The producer subsidy equivalent for European Union agricultural products is 50% compared to 15% in South Africa. These subsidised EU products compete with those from South Africa not only in the EU countries, but also in third country export markets and even in our own domestic South African market. It is this kind of reality that recently prompted the United Nation Development Programme to observe that: "in the real world, as distinct from the imaginary one inhabited by fee traders, survival in agricultural markets depends less on comparative advantage than on comparative access to subsidies. Liberalising local food markets in the face of such unequal competition is not a prescription for improving efficiency, but a recipe for the destruction of livelihoods on a massive scale" (UNDP, 1997, p.86).

     Protection of intellectual property originating in the developed countries, but not of industrial capacity located in the developing countries there are many other inconsistencies in the way in which the supposedly liberalised global economic rules of the game operate. The most developed capitalist economies are waging an intense campaign to protect and control access to "intellectual property" like technology and scientific and technical processes. Measures like the Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (known as TRII's) are enforced with vigour against developing countries. On the other hand, there is little sympathy for developing countries seeking to protect their own domestic industrial capacity. Domestic industrial capacity has to be exposed, by way of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation, and regardless of job losses, to the cold winds of global competition.

     "Free movement of all factors of production" but not labour. An even greater inconsistency in the supposedly free-trade, global dispensation, lies in the contrast between the free movement of many financial, technical and management factors, on the one hand, and the tight controls on the movement of labour. The former factors of production tend to originate in the industrialised countries, while labour tends to he "exported" from the less developed countries. Numerous national policies restrict the movement of unskilled and semi-skilled labour from the most populous and poorest regions into the richer and more developed regions. Once more the supposedly "liberalised" and integrated global system unveils its class biased and oppressive nature labour mobility is controlled, capital mobility is liberated.

     Democracy and the "free global market" the governments of the more developed industrialised countries and donor agencies are now increasingly linking formal multi-party democratic elections to free trade and markets, and they are insisting on "democratisation" and "good governance" as an extra conditionality for financial and technical assistance. The hypocrisy of these new conditionalities is generally very clear to the people of developing countries. They have, after all, not forgotten the recent decades in which they suffered under the imposition of pro-imperialist, military and other authoritarian regimes. Despite the hypocrisy of these measures, the SACP naturally welcomes all moves towards deepening democracy and a culture of human rights. However, we also note that:

     Democratisation and good governance are often reduced to formal, multi-party arrangements, and to "technical" competency and answerability to donor nations and agencies. Answerability to the social needs of one's own population, and to one's electoral mandate is seldom seen as the core concern of democracy and good governance;

     "Good governance" and transparency are demanded of the governments of developing countries, but seldom of the transnational and national private sector corporations that are often at the root of corruption, and are often the principal beneficiaries;

     The multi-party democracy conditionality is enforced upon developing countries with a great deal of selectivity. It is clear that it is often not democracy as such that is the prime goal, but the removal or weakening of governments in developing countries that are perceived to be hindrances to the global interests of transnational corporations and the major imperialist powers.

     Above all, while belated democratisation measures are being enforced upon developing countries, there is, simultaneously, the vast growth of undemocratic global power power that is unelected and unanswerable to all but the tiniest constituencies. According to UNDP calculations, fifty of the hundred richest "economics" in the world today are actually transnational corporations (UNDP, 1996). 500 of the largest transnational corporations account for 30% of global output.

2.2 Deepening inequality, oppression and instability

Like all social and economic processes dominated by capitalism, the current phase of imperialist restructuring is highly contradictory in character. It is, partly, driven by innovative and progressive technical advances that greatly expand the potential integration and capacity of human societies. But it is also driven by the insatiable pursuit of private profit. It is marked by deepening inequality within countries, between countries, between classes, and by the exploitation and deepening of gender oppression. It often afflicts the young, and marginalises the disabled. It is accelerating the destruction of our environment, and it is associated with unpredictable and often volatile economic instability.

Among the most significant imbalances and contradictions in this new phase are:

     Sectoral imbalances, the global casino there has been a massive and dangerous international shift of resources and power from industrial and other productive sectors to the global financial sector, and especially to speculative stock market and currency transactions. It is estimated that the electronic "movement" of speculative currency transactions is now anything between one and two trillion US dollars daily. This volume of speculative activities completely dwarfs the international flows of more stable foreign productive investment. It is as if the parasite that lived off a functioning organism had completely overgrown and overwhelmed its productive host.

     Growing polarisation - despite the claims for vastly expanded global trade flows, the sources of and gains from such flows are still heavily biased towards the richest countries and their transnational corporations. Fully 84% of all foreign direct investment (FDI) comes from the industrialised countries. What is more, almost 60% of global FDI in 1996 was still moving between the most developed industrialised countries of North America and Europe. Fully 87% of all transnational corporations are headquartered in the US, EU and Japan. In 1996, 88% of their "foreign" assets were actually located in each other's economies.

     And absolute marginalisation - while many of the economics of East Asia, parts of Latin America, and of a restructured Eastern Europe undergoing "shock therapy" can he considered as peripheries of the imperialist core (constituted by the US, EU and Japan), other zones of the world have been more or less totally marginalised. This applies to most of Africa. The difference between peripheralisation and absolute marginalisation can be illustrated by reference to FDI flows. According to UNC('AD calculations, while only 37% of all global FDI goes to developing countries, this 37% is very unevenly spread. More than one third of it went to China alone in 1996. By contrast just over 4% (of this 37%) came to Africa - a mere $5.3 billion. The African Development Bank estimates that Africa's share of FIJI going to the developing world has declined from an average 16% in the 1970s, to 10% in the 1980s, to a mere 5% by the mid-1990s. Africa's growing marginalisation is also reflected in its miniscule and declining share of total global trade - from 3% in the 1950s to barely 1% in 1995.

     Growing inequality and poverty - there has been a systematic assault on working people over this past quarter of a century. In the richest and most "successful" economy in the world, the US, the ratio between the wages of blue collar workers and top management was of the order of 1:41 in 1975. It had widened to 1:189 in 1994. On a global scale, in the 1960s the richest 20% of the world's population were 30 times better off than the poorest 20%, but by 1996 the richest 20% were 61 times better off than the poorest 20%. According to the UNDP, 3,9 billion of the world's 6.5 billion population live on less than the equivalent of RIO a day - and 70% of those are female. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of the world's population control or absorb 83% of the world's income.

     Intensifying and reproducing gender oppression - the impact on women of the current "globalisation" phase of imperialism has been particularly harsh. Neo-liberal globalisation has exploited gender inequalities, and deepened and reinforced them in several ways:

     Women have been forced to become the shock absorbers of the rolling back of the social gains won in the post-1945 period. Over the last two and a half decades government budgets for such things as health-care, education and pensions have been slashed whether in the context of rolling back the welfare state in Europe, or by SAPs in Africa, or by way of "shock therapy" in Eastern Europe. These measures have thrown millions of women back into the invisible realm of "private", unpaid, reproductive labour like the care of the young, aged and sick.

     Parallel with this has been a process of the increasing feminisation of productive labour. In the 1970s and 1980s, as globalising capital ran away from unionised work-forces in the core imperialist economies, productive capital was invested in certain developing economies, like those of South East Asia. Here environmental, health and labour market regulations were minimal, particularly in the export processing zones (EPZs). During this period, when EPZs specialised in labour intensive production, up to 80% of the workforce was female. South East Asian governments even advertised the "docility" of their female labour force. Multinational electronics corporations, in particular, relocated to these areas in pursuit of cheap, female workers. In the 1990s, as production has become more capital intensive in the South East Asian EPZs, female labour has been replaced once more by skilled male labour. Hundreds of thousands of rentrenched women workers gained nothing from globalisation except a few years of highly exploited work.

     Globalising capital, in its offensive against workers, has also increasingly sought to make the labour market and production processes more "flexible". Particularly in the clothing and textile industries, production has been shifted increasingly out of the factory to the homes of poor people, where isolated and non-unionised workers are not covered by unemployment insurance or pension funds. Home-working, like this, and other vulnerable, "flexible" work, like casual, part-time, contract and seasonal work, is overwhelmingly borne by poorly paid female workers.

     Cultural imperialism and fundamentalist reactions The present process also has significant cultural outcomes, reinforcing, as it does, the global cultural hegemony of imperialist media conglomerates, and their world-view. Through the vastly expanded communications networks neo-liberal values, including the extolling of US militarism, chauvinism against women and third-world peoples, and a narrow consumerist culture, are propagated. At the local and national level, this intensified imperialist cultural hegemony often results in reactive, and sometimes reactionary, xenophobic retreats into religious and ethnic fundamentalism.

     Destruction of national sovereignty and the fragmentation of national states - These tendencies are also reinforced by the selective, enclave approach to investment by the transnational corporations in much of the developing world. Imperialist oil companies, for instance, are not interested in the all-round national development of a Nigeria. Foreign powers often foment ethnic, and other sectional movements, militias and political forces, the better to gain access to economic resources without the hindrance of sovereign national governments. The past decade of intensified globalisation has seen the dismantling of national states from Yugoslavia to Africa.

3. Engaging strategically with contemporary international realities

So how, as South Africans, do we engage with these global realities? The first challenge we face is to analyse clear-headedly the main features of the present international reality. We have sought to sketch these features above.

The second challenge we face is the strategic, moral and practical battle against TINA the gospel of "There Is No Alternative".

The two challenges are linked. The harsh realities of the present global situation can easily lead to one of three attitudes. on the one hand, there is the danger of despair and demoralisation. Alternately, there is the voluntaristic attempt to go it alone, to build a high wall around South Africa, and pursue our own development in splendid isolation from the world.

In the face of these equally hopeless postures, there is another mistaken tendency, to make a virtue of necessity. Since we are part of a globalising world, so the reasoning goes. let us close our eyes, hold ournoses, and smile. Like performing seals in a circus, we will earn applause (and growth and prosperity) by outdoing all our rivals in following the rules of the global game to the letter.

South Africa has, since its formation, been an integral component of international economic realities. We cannot escape from the world, we have to engage with it, but without assuming that the precise character of global integration is pre-ordained. Our engagement with global realities needs to be intelligent, strategic and guided by a clear programmatic perspective that prioritises our own reconstruction and development objectives. But how?

     Consolidating national sovereignty over the last two and a half decades there has been a prolonged offensive against progressive states (national democratic development states in the South, welfare states, and, of course, the states of the former Soviet bloc), but this should not be construed as an neo-liberal offensive against the state as such. Indeed, integral to the neoliberal agenda, is the attempt to reconfigure the state, to make it an effective apparatus to manage the integration of economies into the imperialist-dominated global economy. Far from desiring weak states, the neo-liberal agenda often calls for "tough-minded" states ("lean and mean") capable of enforcing harsh conditionalities on their respective societies. In the face of this agenda, we need to strengthen the capacity of our new democratic state around its reconstruction and development agenda. This capacity is not merely a technical capacity, the new democratic state must have the will to pursue its electoral mandate. For this, it requires also to be strengthened by a strong civil society, and particularly by active working class organisations (notably trade unions). Our state needs to be strong, not despite, but because it is democratic. The strength of our democratic state must also be related to its ability to build social cohesion around a clear developmental plan, in which human development and a clear industrial policy are central.

     The importance of correct phasing exposing one's industrial sector to international competition can, indeed, compel certain efficiencies, which, in turn, might result in lower prices for consumers. However, the mechanical application of this approach can simply wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs, and result in a situation where there are few consumers left to benefit from lower prices. The developing countries that have coped best with globalisation are those that have prioritised, over several decades, the development of their skills base and physical infrastructure. While a "free" market might promote efficiency, it does not promote the development of capacity. It is precisely the lack of effective human capacity, and the uneven nature of our physical infrastructure, that lies at the heart of South Africa's underdevelopment. The RDP vision of prioritising development, including the development of our human resources, is both morally and economically correct. The contrary, neo-liheral perspective of prioritising market-led growth first, by focusing on export-led growth, is doomed to perpetuate underdevelopment in South Africa, and it will accelerate our marginalisation internationally.

     Strengthening the southern African region the fate of South Africa's reconstruction and development effort is inextricably linked to the development of our region. Once again, those developing countries that have done relatively well in the present international context, are those that have operated within an effective regional context. Our own region is one of the poorest in the world. Yet the Southern African region has a potential market in excess of one hundred and thirty million people. There are major natural resources within the region, and important complementarities between different countries of the region. Co-operation, and a collective regional engagement with the rest of the world make much sense. We need to sustain the numerous multi-lateral efforts presently under-way within the context of SADC. We need also to pursue the several spatial development initiatives that link the infrastructure of our region's countries together. The development of our region is also linked to the deepening of democracy. There can be no sustainable, people-centred and people-driven development in societies in which bureaucratic elites continue to dominate. Strengthening our region requires, then, also active party to party, and party to social movement relations that help to sustain solidarity efforts in the struggle for democratisation and development.

     Towards an African Renaissance our alliance partner, the ANC, has recently adopted resolutions endorsing the perspective of an African Renaissance, invoking earlier, pan-africanist visions from the first-wave of decolonisation in the 1950s. The SACP, for its part, warmly endorses the struggle for a continental renaissance. Indeed, in our 1962 Programme, The Road To South African Freedom, the SACP devoted a full chapter to "The African Revolution". However, the struggle for an African Renaissance needs to be rooted in a scientific analysis of the challenges, and in a class conscious approach to these challenges. Simplistic arguments that the next century will automatically result in an African Renaissance "because Africa's time has come", as if there were some kind-hearted referee overseeing world history, will only result in disappointment. As South Africans we need, also, to guard against the clanger of acting, in the name of a "new African Renaissance", as the witting or unwitting agents of an imperialist (and specifically US-led) reconfiguration of the subordination of our continent. Many transnational corporations see the new democratic South Africa as a potential sub-imperial ally and spring-hoard for their own agenda in Africa. While a small elite in South Africa may benefit from such an agenda, the majority of South Africans, not to mention the majority of the people of our continent, will remain oppressed if such were to be the character of an "African Renaissance". For the SACP the major features of an African Renaissance include:

     a correct understanding of Africa's present marginalisation, with prime responsibility for this lying in a century and a quarter of persisting imperialst expansion and domination of our continent;

     effective and rapid implementation of debt cancellation for the poorest countries of our continent, and of genuine debt relief for the rest;

     a major developmental effort, to regain ground lost over the last decades under the impact of structural adjustment programmes, and to relaunch sustainable growth. This developmental effort needs to focus upon both physical infrastructure and human resource development;

     policies that respect African social and cultural realities, without freezing these into some timeless tradition (that has, in fact, already been distorted by colonialism and imperialism);

     the fostering of democracy, peace and human rights but these must not be imposed in formalistic ways that have little to do with the actual realities of our continent. Democratisation must result in the genuine empowerment of the great majority of people, peasants, workers, the urban and rural poor;

     strengthening the sovereign capacity of democratic states, and the complementary strengthening of progressive organs of civil society.

     Developing numerous multi-lateral ties - In terms of our trade, diplomatic and cultural activity, we need to ensure that we maintain a diversity of contacts and relationships, and that we avoid the dangers of over-reliance on one or another major power, or trading bloc. South African needs to foster numerous South-South and South-North connections, with progressive governments and social movements.

     Helping to strengthen progressive, or potentially progressive, multi-lateral international forums - key among these are UN agencies, like the UNDP, UNCTAD and the ILO. Obviously these forums are, by their nature, subject to diverse perspectives and pressures, but they have shown a capacity to develop alternative perspectives to those of the neoliberal "Washington Consensus". The SACP also supports current South African government initiatives (working in partnership with many others) to restructure the United Nations and, specifically, the Security Council to ensure that these institutions become more representative and more attuned to the challenges of our present global reality.

Democratic South Africa must pursue a policy of active and controlled international integration. In doing this we must avoid the idea of the world as some pre-determined reality, where the choice before us is "to take-it or leave-it".

At the same time, we must be perfectly clear. Any active and controlled international integration that embodies a respect for the interests of working class and popularforces throughout the world, must start with the reinforcement, through struggle, of their power within their national societies. In the absence of ongoing, strategic and self-conscious struggles to alter the class balance of forces on the national terrain, discussion of global alternatives will remain pious. Pleas to reason, or to some "general interest" addressed to existing powers, will never have any enduring effect. The policies that these powers are pursuing are perfectly rational and efficient from the point of view of the class interests they defend.

4. Our Party's Internationalism

The SACP commits itself to sustaining and deepening internationalism within our ranks, within our movement and government, and within our country as a whole. There are many programmatic tasks that flow from this commitment. They include:

     Fostering a consistent anti-imperialist outlook.

     Guarding against the danger that current international trends do not result in demoralisation, or in inward-looking fundamentalist or xenophobic retreats;

     Isolating international war-mongers, and campaigning for world peace;

     Advancing a developmental perspective for our country, our region, our continent and the world;

     Being active in all campaigns of solidarity for peoples still suffering from foreign military occupation, or aggression, and with peoples under the yoke of anti-democratic regimes with a priority on our own region and continent;

     Being outspoken protagonists for the right to self-determination of all nations, in particular of our brothers and sisters in Cuba;

     Being a consistent force within South Africa for an enlightened and developmental approach to the challenge of mass immigration into our country;

     Constantly maintaining, advancing and deepening our party to party connections with our historical allies, other left and democratic parties and social movements.

Communists have never run away from the globalising tendencies of capitalism. For over 150 years, since the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, communists haveunderlined the huge human potential, the capacity for building global solidarity that is implicit in the forces of production unleashed by capitalism. What was true in the time of Marx and Engels is even more obvious in the era of the internet and round-the-world, satelliterelayed, instant communication.

Communists do not seek to abolish these achievements, our struggle is to transform them to foster their full social potential. It is capitalism, with its exploitative, profit-driven relations of production that constantly imprisons the very forces it unleashes. Despite all the claims to the contrary, the intensified globalisation of the last decade has placed the progressive abolition of capitalism forcefully back onto the agenda.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.