South Africa and the consequences of the politics of ‘race’ over class

Posted: March 14, 2015 by Admin in 'Race' and 'difference', African liberation, At the coalface, Class Matters, Economics, Limits of capitalism, Racism and anti-racism, South Africa, State capitalism, Workers history, Workers' rights, Workers' strikes

Cyril Ramaphosa, living it up on the backs of the black masses

by Phil Duncan

The latest Oxfam report on global inequality (October 2014) shows that, 20 years after ‘liberation’, South Africa is the most unequal society on earth. So unequal, in fact, that the two richest people are as wealthy as the poorest 50% of the population! Today in South Africa, reports Oxfam, a platinum miner would have to work for 93 years just to earn the average CEO’s annual bonus.

Among the super-rich is Cyril Ramaphosa, once-upon-a-time the leader of the militant black miners union. Ramaphosa was able to leverage his union experience into a profitable career as a business adviser and then expand his own businesses thanks to his long involvement in the ANC (African National Congress) and the connections that provided him with when the ANC took power in townships-11994.

The black working class, economically worse off than ever, are supposed to forget about their own interests and poverty, let alone fight for something better.  Instead they’re supposed to revel in the ‘success’ of the likes of Ramaphosa.

The ANC has been instrumental in managing South African politics to ensure that a small layer of black parasites were able to enter the wider, previously almost totally white capitalist class. What has happened in South Africa should not come as any surprise. It is the logical product of the ANC’s race-before-class politics.

In one sense, it is New Zealand’s ‘Brown Table’ writ large, with the difference that the ANC governs whereas the Maori Party, which represents the aspiring Maori capitalists, does not and never will.

However, the chief lesson of South Africa, as we have noted before, is that class politics are perfectly capable of encompassing the struggle to uproot racism, but ‘anti-racist’ politics, by their nature, are not sufficient to uproot class exploitation. Those who suffer racialised oppression the most are therefore left at the bottom of society, as long as capital continues to rule.

Below are articles we’ve run on South Africa, the struggle against apartheid, post-apartheid South Africa, and Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela and the travesty of liberation

South Africa’s non-revolution

South Africa, class and the ANC: an interview with Brian Ashley

The Marikana Massacre: lessons for class politics in New Zealand

The Marikana Massacre: a premeditated killing

South Africa: workers, unions begin to rebel against the ANC 

South Africa: the working class fights back

South African trade union federation expels biggest union for fighting for workers

  1. Admin says:

    From Patrick Bond in South Africa:

    Whether or not the Oxfam methodology is appropriate (lots of debate),
    South Africa (with 53 million residents) ranks amongst the world top 5
    in Gini Coefficient inequality, with extremist little countries (of less
    than 2 million people) nearby like Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia (and
    also Guatemala) just ahead.

    But the interesting debate about this topic underway here the past few
    weeks, is whether there is enough mitigation of inequality from the
    state social wage to bring the Gini down from 0.77 (income) to 0.59 (all
    state services), as the World Bank claimed in November. I think the
    Bank’s research is rubbish and have had a long debate with them about
    it. Let me know if you want the paper describing the exchanges, which is
    forthcoming soon in the /International Journal of Health Services /- but
    here are a few of the places I’ve laced it: