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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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1. Communism - Vital Force of our Times

Communism - MarxismLeninism - is the dynamic social and political force of our times. Already, under the leading banner of the Marxist parties, onethird of mankind has chosen the road to socialism. Already, in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, the gradual transition has begun to Communism, the highest form of human society. The world over millions of men and women, inspired by the Parties of Communism, are struggling for peace, socialism, democracy and national independence.

Karl Marx, the great 19th Century thinker and revolutionary who, together with his comrade Frederick Engels, was the founder of the modern Communist movement, laid bare the basic laws which determine change in the universe and in human society. The Marxist world outlook, dialectical materialism, enables us to understand the laws of change. It enables us to understand the world as it really is - and how to change it. All progress and development comes through inner conflict and contradictions: the conflict between what is new and struggling to be born, and what is outworn and dying. Like everything in nature, human society develops from lower to higher stages, according to the development of the productive forces at each stage. Feudalism is a higher stage than slavery. Capitalism is still higher, and Socialism and Communism the highest of all. Social progress has always come about through class struggles; struggles between slaves and slaveowners, between feudal lords and their serfs, and today between the two main classes of society, the capitalists and the working class.

Marx analysed the capitalist system of production. He exposed how it rests on the basis of the exploitation of man by man. All value comes from labour. Because they own the means of production, the capitalists hold the whiphand over the workers. They do not own them, as a slaveowner owned his slaves. They pay them wages. But the wages are not equal to the real value produced by the worker. The worker works only part of the day to earn his wages. The rest is free labour for the boss. This is surplus value, out of which the capitalists make their profit and accumulate wealth. Because of their great economic power and wealth, the owners of the means of production dominate in every capitalist country. They run parliament and the press; their ideas prevail in educational and religious institutions. The laws are made to suit their interests. The State, the army, the police and the courts, defend, in the first place, their property. However democratic it may appear on the surface, every capitalist state is in reality a dictatorship of the capitalist class.

The genius of Vladimir Lenin, recognised leader of the workers and oppressed people of all countries, threw a bright light on the further development of 20th Century capitalism into its highest and last stage - Imperialism. As capitalism develops, more and more the control of wealth passes to fewer and fewer hands. Big firms eat up small ones. Huge monopolies grow, both national and international, and a few giant firms dominate whole branches of the national economy. Banks and other financial institutions buy shares in industrial concerns, and the "kings of industry" acquire controlling interests in the banks. So the two kinds of monopoly capital, financial and industrial, merge with one another. The imperialists export capital to the sources of raw material and cheap labour, to the countries which are less developed economically. Economic penetration is followed by political domination. A handful of WestEuropean powers, Japan and the United States of America, seeking higher profits, dominated the whole of Africa, Asia and Latin America, mercilessly looted their natural resources and exploited their people. The colonial system of imperialism did incalculable damage to these peoples. It held back and stifled their independent economic, political, social and cultural development. In extreme cases it resulted in the wholesale massacre and nearextermination of indigenous peoples. Imperialism produced disgusting and utterly false theories and practices of socalled "superior" and "inferior" races, which culminated in Hitler's Germany and Verwoerd's South Africa.

Imperialism breeds war, on a scale and of a frightfulness previously unknown in human history. Following the "scramble for Africa" towards the end of the 19th Century, the entire world was partitioned between the imperialist powers. Powerful new capitalist states arose, and demanded their "right" to own colonies. But all the colonial territories had already been grabbed by the older imperialists. The desperate conflict between the rival imperialists for the repartition of the world, erupted in the terrible world war of 191418, which shook the foundations of imperialism and exposed its true nature to the masses.

Capitalism, in its time, was a progressive social system. With all its defects it represented an advance over feudalism, higher production, greater liberties. But, in the world of today, capitalism is no longer progressive. Modem production is a great and complicated process, arising from a highly organised society. But the means of production remain in private hands, and the fruits are appropriated by the few. This deep contradiction between social production and private appropriation leads to great conflicts in society: between the masses of the people and the group of monopoly capitalists who control their destinies, between rival capitalist countries, between colonial peoples seeking national freedom and their imperialist masters, between the working class as a whole and the capitalist class. These conflicts cannot be resolved within the framework of the capitalist system. They are leading to the breakdown of that system. Symptoms of this breakdown are the everrecurring crises of overproduction; the turning of the ruling classes towards fascism; the gigantic expenditure on armaments; the ceaseless drive towards aggression and war.

Capitalism is obsolete. It is giving way to the new and higher social order of socialism and communism. Socialism puts an end to the contradictions of capitalism by abolishing private ownership of the main means of production and placing them under public ownership. It replaces the dictatorship of the capitalists with that of the workers, thus for the first time ensuring genuine democracy for the masses. It overcomes the class and national conflicts inherent in capitalism by abolishing the exploiting classes and the exploitation of man by man; by guaranteeing equality and national rights to all peoples. Socialism aims to meet the growing material and cultural needs of the people by overall planning, by steadily developing and improving social production. It develops socialist consciousness and labour enthusiasm among the working people by applying the principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work." The great development of the productive forces under socialism, and in the rise in the socialist consciousness of the masses, enables the gradual development towards a still higher stage of human society: communism. Communism is a classless social system, with one form of public ownership of the means of production. All members of communist society will enjoy full social equality. The allround development of the people, accompanied by the growth of the productive forces sufficient to ensure abundance of goods, enables the principle to be applied: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Under communism - a highly organised society of free, sociallyconscious people enjoying public selfgovernment - labour will cease to be a burden. Everyone will recognise that to work for the benefit of the people is a necessity willingly performed as life's first need.

A new era in human history opened with he great October Socialist Revolution of 1915 when, led by the Communist Party, and inspired by the great teachings of Marx and Lenin, the workers and peasants of Russia and the former Tsarist Empire overthrew capitalist class rule and established, over a vast territory, the dictatorship of the proletariat The heroic victories of the Soviet workers and peasants against counterrevolutions and foreign intervention, their triumph over famines and backwardness, their great achievements in the building of socialism, inspired millions of working people in many parts of the world. Powerful Communist Parties arose in many countries. In the areas of the greatest population, the colonies of imperialism it Asia, Africa and Latin America, the October Revolution aroused hundreds of millions to fight for national liberation.

Following the historic victory of the Soviet Union in the second world war and the defeat of fascism on an international scale, the people's cause made a further leap ahead. Led by the Communist Party, the great Chinese nation of 750 million put an end to domination by imperialism and its agents and took the road to socialism. In a number of European and Asian countries the people rose against capitalist and landlord rule and laid the basis for socialism. These countries have joined the Soviet Union in the socialist camp, comprising no less than one third of the human race bound together by firm fraternal and equal relations among themselves, advancing the people's living standards by leaps and bound, and providing a powerful safeguard for peace, national liberation, democracy and progress for all the peoples of the world.

The colonial system of imperialism is crumbling. The peoples of practically the whole Continent of Asia have within an astonishingly short space of time liberated themselves from direct colonial rule. The tide of national liberation has advanced with equally dramatic swiftness throughout the continent of Africa and the great majority of our fellowAfricans today enjoy formal political independence. The inspiring example of Cuba has called forth a great wave throughout Latin America of resistance to the economic enslavement by United States imperialism. Determined to win a place of equality in the world, and to overcome the evil heritage of imperialism, the peoples of the colonial and formerly colonial countries arc conducting vigorous and mounting struggles against imperialism and its agents in their midst. They fight against feudalism and other forms of local reaction. They are striving to build states of national democracy, which will move forward from formal independence and break all imperialist financial, economic, political and military entanglements. They seek rapidly to put an end to the chaos and economic backwardness which imperialism has left behind it. They aim to overcome the crippling lack of equipment, communications, and trained and skilled personnel; and to conquer illiteracy, mass poverty, disease and ignorance. They aim to catch up with the most advanced countries in industrial and agricultural development, in living standards and conditions, in educational, cultural and scientific achievement. Only thus can true equality, independence and democracy be established for the hundreds of millions of people in the former colonies of imperialism.

More and more the masses of people in Africa and other formerly colonial countries are coming to understand that capitalist forms of production, based on private ownership, can never enable them to accomplish this gigantic task. Led by the small, but growing, working class, in close alliance with the masses of rural people, they are striving to achieve noncapitalist forms of development, leading towards socialism. They are demanding a vast process of agrarian reform, enabling the African, Asian and Latin American farmer, for the first time in history, to have sufficient land at his disposal for a decent life. To place the control of their countries firmly in the hands of the people, they are fighting for genuine democracy, guaranteeing freedom of speech, of the press and organisation, and enabling masses of workers and peasants to play a full part in public life. The newly independent countries no longer constitute a reliable reserve of imperialism. They are moving more and more out of the sphere of influence of imperialism, and becoming a powerful factor for peace, against imperialist war.

The greatest threat to the aspirations and the future of the peoples of all countries lies in the aggressive plans of international imperialism against socialism and national independence. Should the imperialists succeed in triggering off a nuclear world conflict it would destroy a great part of humanity and man's greatest achievements. Imperialism has not changed its character. Mobilised and organised by the leaders of world reaction, the United States monopoly capitalists, the imperialists are intensifying the armaments race and the cold war, they commit continuous fresh acts of intervention and aggression, attempting to check and reverse the world tide towards national independence and socialism. They threaten the world with nuclear destruction. But because of the tremendous strength, economic, social and military, of the Socialist countries, attracting the powerful support of hundreds of millions of people in the newly liberated and the capitalist countries, the power of the imperialists to impose colonialism, or to start wars, has been checked; their wings have been clipped.

Powerful peace movements, embracing millions of people of varying political beliefs, have grown up in many countries. The forces of national liberation and of the labour movement everywhere are insistently demanding an end to the cold war and the observance of the principles of peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems. All these forces are rallying to demand universal and complete disarmament. This crucial policy, advanced by the Soviet Union, crystallises the longings of our generation for peace and security, for life itself. Universal disarmament would lift a crushing burden of taxes from the shoulders of the people. It would make available the huge resources and quantities of manpower now diverted to arms production for useful production to raise the people's living standards. It would greatly assist the cause of national liberation by striking the weapons from the hands of the colonialists. It would free the world from the nightmare of nuclear war. Unity of all the forces demanding peace is capable of enforcing this demand. Even though imperialism still rules in powerful countries, such as the United States, the countries of Western Europe and Japan, and even though the war danger is still acute, the possibility already exists of achieving universal disarmament and eliminating war, providing the people struggle resolutely to assert their will for peace.

It is no longer the imperialists, but the international working class and its proudest creation, the world socialist system, which determine the main characteristics and trends of our times. We live in an epoch of struggle between two opposing social systems, an epoch of socialist and national liberation revolutions, of the breakdown of imperialism and the abolition of the colonial system. it is an epoch of the transition of more and more peoples to the socialist path and the triumph of socialism and communism on a worldwide scale. These vast changes in the world spell the doom of capitalism and imperialism. The victory of socialism and communism will ensure the eradication of all types of exploitation and oppression, a future of peace, friendship, wellbeing, and unlimited advance for all peoples of the earth. Idlers and parasites will no longer exist, for "he who does not work, neither shall he eat." Selfishness, ignorance, superstition and other evils of the acquisitive society will disappear. Mankind will enter upon a greater freedom, in terms of the principles of Communism.

But this great change will not come about of its own accord, or by persuading the capitalist ruling classes that change is reasonable and desirable. No ruling class in history ever bowed itself gracefully off the stage. The defeat of capitalism and the transition to socialism can only come about through struggles of the masses of the people, headed by the most advanced, resolute and revolutionary class, the working class. In their fight against exploitation and capitalist class domination, the weapon of the working class is organisation. The workers organise trade unions to fight for higher wages, better conditions and shorter working hours. They build mass political organisations to oppose and protest against the injustices of capitalist class rule. Answering Marx's great call: "Workers of all countries, unite!" the workers of each county strengthen brotherly ties between themselves and those of other countries beyond their borders, on a regional, continental and international basis.

Due to differences of history and national tradition, which the Communist Parties take into account, the precise path to socialism will differ from one country to another. But international experiences show that certain basic laws apply to all countries. Headed by the MarxistLeninist Party and in alliance with most of the peasants and other working people, the working class must destroy the state of dictatorship of the capitalists, and replace it with the dictatorship of the working class, offering the widest democracy to the great majority of the people. Attempts at counterrevolution by the reactionary classes and groups must be suppressed. Private ownership of the main means of production must be abolished, and public ownership must be established in its place. The land must be in the hands of those who till it, and agriculture gradually transformed on a socialist basis. The national economy must be planned, to raise the people's living standards and build socialism and communism. Capitalist influence must be rooted out in the fields of ideology and culture, and a new type of intellectual must be trained, devoted to the welfare of the people' and to socialism. All forms of racial and national discrimination and oppression must be wiped out, complete equality of rights and opportunities and brotherly friendship must be an unvarying principle governing all relations between people of different national groups. The achievements of socialism must be defended against enemies inside and outside the country. Working class internationalism - close ties between the workers of all lands - is essential for the building of socialism in any country.

The highest form of working class organisation is the MarxistLeninist Party, the most advanced, conscious and determined section of the class. This Party, the Communist Party, is a voluntary association of the best, most militant and devoted fighters for the cause of the workers, peasants and all oppressed people. All Party members enjoy equal rights irrespective of race or nationality. All members pledge themselves to maintain the highest standards of discipline, political training, loyalty and courage. Led by the Party, the working class aims, not merely at reforms of the capitalist system, but at the revolutionary overthrow of the system itself and its replacement by socialism.

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.