Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism


1601 On War | 1602 Imperialism | 1603 Uprising | 1604 Hegemony | 1605 Violence | 1606 Military, Political | 1607 The Armed People | 1608 Anti-Imperialism | 1609 Democracy is Ours | 1610 Liberation Struggle
Note: The Communist University’s Generic Courses are first and foremost designed as a resource for people who may wish to meet regularly in study circles to learn in dialogue around suitable texts or “codifications”. The CU provides sets or series of texts for this purpose.

The Communist University Blog, and its linked e-mail distribution, functioned as the generator of new material for the Communist University’s re-edited and re-formatted versions of the CU’s original Generic Courses, which were first published nearly four years previously on the amadlandawonye Wikispace web site.

The following course on the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) is, as usual, mainly in the form of short, original writings. That is to say, they are for the most part texts that are sourced from the primary authors, and not interpretive texts from “analysts” or from academics.

Derived from the blog posts, the commentaries below are provided for continuity and as an explanation of why the particular texts were chosen, and why they were ordered in the way that they appear. Each one corresponds to one of the twelve main texts, and is numbered accordingly.

They can also serve as the equivalent of an “opening of the discussion” that one participant who had read the text would give to a study circle. It is better if you can do your own “openings” to such discussions.

There are many ways of doing an “opening” that can “kick off” the dialogue. One is to use a lot of quotations from the given text. Another is to try to find one or two strong points of controversy. Another is to attempt a summary, or a “review” of the item. Another is to state, frankly, what one does not understand in the text, and ask the comrades to assist!

Dominic Tweedie, October 2009

1601 On War


Michael Howard, translator of Clausewitz’ work and author of “Clausewitz”, opens his Introduction with a quote from one Bernard Brodie, about Clausewitz: “His is not simply the greatest, but the only great book about war;” and Howard records his own agreement with this assessment.

Howard’s book helps the reader to understand Clausewitz’ “On War” (Chapter 1, the summarising chapter, is linked below) but in one respect Howard appears to be mistaken. After describing Clausewitz’ “dialectic” (e.g. the relationship between physical and moral forces; between historical knowledge and critical judgement; between idea and manifestation; between “absolute” and “real” war; between attack and defence; and between ends and means) Howard writes: “The dialectic was not Hegelian: it led to no synthesis which itself conjured up its antithesis. Rather it was a continuous interaction between two poles, each fully comprehensible only in terms of the other.”

It would seem to be perfectly Hegelian to conceive of such a unity and struggle of opposites; and as to whether Clausewitz’s dialectic lacked a forward dynamic, or not, is something that can be settled at once by reading a few pages. Whereupon it will be found that Clausewitz is surely one of the most dynamic authors ever.

Clausewitz [Image], born in 1780, was ten years younger than Hegel, but died only two days after Hegel on 16 November 1831. Since Hegel’s was the official philosophy of Prussia, and Clausewitz was in charge of the Prussian War College in Berlin for twelve years, while Hegel was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Berlin, it is impossible to believe that Clausewitz was not familiar with Hegel’s ideas. These were the same ideas that seized the imagination of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (both of whom spent time in Berlin during the late 1830s to early 1840s) and upon which their thinking relied for the rest of their lives. Clausewitz and Marxism are not far apart; neither in their pedigree, nor in the philosophical structure of their thinking.

Much is made, in the commentaries on Antonio Gramsci’s 20th-century writings, of the contrast between wars of manoeuvre and of position. But the military breakthrough of Clausewitz’s lifetime was the French revolutionary campaign against its neighbours, including Prussia, which had rendered obsolete, already in the 1790s, the ancient military alternatives of march and siege which were the limits of Gramsci's military perception, still, in the 1930s. Although a servant of the Prussian crown, what Clausewitz described was warfare in the age of mass democracy. As one who fought against Napoleon, Clausewitz had understood Napoleon’s warfare as well as, or better than, anyone.

Clausewitz defined strategy and tactics as “the linking together of separate battle engagements into a single whole, for the final object of the war.” To define strategy in this way, as end, and tactics as means, was a profound contribution for which we in South Africa owe a debt to Clausewitz.

Equally as profound is the complex of thinking around Clausewitz’ well-known understanding of war as an extension of politics, by other means.

Not only does this mean that war is always and everywhere subordinate to politics; but it also means that war (the breakdown of negotiation and the resort to force) must, and can only, return the parties to the negotiating table. War is an interlude of brutality between negotiations.

The world of 1848, when the Communist Manifesto was first published, was already charged up with historical potential by great preceding events, first and foremost among them the Great French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars that followed it; and also by great thinkers and writers, foremost among them GWF Hegel and Carl von Clausewitz.

This is the world into which Karl Marx entered as yet another new kind of actor. The March 1850 address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (linked) shows Marx engaged with the history of his time, among people of action, combining theory and practice. This particular document is well worth discussing separately and for its own sake.

The (linked) inaugural address to the First International in 1864 represents another new beginning. It concludes with an appeal to internationalism.

Thus it is that Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism, the topics of this set, are rooted in and united by common intellectual and historical soil.

Click on this link:

On War, Chapter 1, What is War?, 1827, Clausewitz (7916 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Address to the Communist League Central Committee, March 1850, Marx (4120 words)

International Working Mens’ Association Inaugural Address, 1864, Marx (3320 words)

1602 Imperialism


This is the second part of a series on Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism. Therefore we are not only concerned to discover Imperialism, but to see it in its particular aspect of war-mongering. [Image: Lord Kitchener, master of war and lying face of Imperialism]

In Chapter 7 of “Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism” (linked below) Lenin “sums up” in a highly compressed way as to what capitalist imperialism is. In the first paragraph, among other things, he says:

“…the monopolies, which have grown out of free competition, do not eliminate the latter, but exist above it and alongside it, and thereby give rise to a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts.”

A little later on Lenin writes: “… politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction.”

South Africa has seen Imperialism in all its aspects, but especially in war. It was the Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902 that announced Imperialism’s intentions to the world, as much as the Spanish-American War of 1898 did, or the defeat of the Khalifa Abdallahi's forces at Omdurman by the British under Kitchener in the same year. The system of state-monopoly capital and dominance of the mineral-energy complex over the South African productive economy dates from that time, and it has never been fundamentally changed. To change it will mean a new confrontation with Imperialism.

Imperialism is a system of war. Lenin pours scorn on “Kautsky's silly little fable about "peaceful" ultra-imperialism,” calling it “the reactionary attempt of a frightened philistine to hide from stern reality.”

Lenin concludes:

“The question is: what means other than war could there be under capitalism to overcome the disparity between the development of productive forces and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the division of colonies and spheres of influence for finance capital on the other?”

The age of Imperialism has been an age of war. From Lenin’s work to that of William Blum’s “Killing Hope” it is clear that Imperialism is an aggressive force which at some stage will have to be confronted. One cannot hope to be exempt from this confrontation.

In “The Nascent Trend of Imperialist Economism” (linked below), Lenin attacks “Imperialist Economism” that is against the right to self-determination and opposed to the struggle for reforms and democracy. Imperialist Economism has “the knack of persistently “sliding” from recognition of imperialism to apology for imperialism (just as the Economists of blessed memory slid from recognition of capitalism to apology for capitalism),” says Lenin.

The Imperialist Economists promoted the idea that socialism was the end-destination of the Imperialist bus-ride, and that all that was necessary was to encourage Imperialism’s progress, in the name of socialism.

In opposition to this particular brand of treacherous liquidationism, Lenin was obliged to re-state the necessity for the right of nations to self-determination (see the third linked document, below), and in due course, after the Russian Revolution, and in the second Congress of the Communist International, to pronounce the policy of National Democratic Revolution (NDR) which we in South Africa still uphold today.

Immersed as we may be in our domestic concerns, we should never forget that the NDR is as much a response to Imperialism as it is a preparation for socialism.

Click on this link:

Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7, 1916, Lenin (3696 words)

Further (optional) reading:

The Nascent Trend of Imperialist Economism, 1916, Lenin (5218 words)

The Right of Nations to Self-Determination, 1916, Lenin (14196 words)

Report on National & Colonial Question, 2CCI, 1920, Lenin (1983 words)

1603 Uprising


“To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. That is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest. That is the third point. And these three conditions for raising the question of insurrection distinguish Marxism from Blanquism.”

This wrote Lenin [Image], in “Marxism & Insurrection” (linked below), in September 1917, just before the Great October Russian Revolution.

Insurrection must rely upon the advanced class, and not upon the party. It must rely on an uprising of the people, and be timed to coincide with their maximum degree of resolution and the maximum degree of vacillation in the ranks of their enemies.

Lenin wrote “Guerrilla Warfare” (also linked below) 11 years earlier, just after the first Russian Revolution of 1905. Almost immediately in this work, Lenin plants his experienced revolutionary feet on solid revolutionary ground, thus:

“Marxism differs from all primitive forms of socialism by not binding the movement to any one particular form of struggle. It recognizes the most varied forms of struggle; and it does not "concoct" them, but only generalizes, organizes, gives conscious expression to those forms of struggle of the revolutionary classes which arise of themselves in the course of the movement. Absolutely hostile to all abstract formulas and to all doctrinaire recipes, Marxism demands an attentive attitude to the mass struggle in progress, which, as the movement develops, as the class consciousness of the masses grows, as economic and political crisis become acute, continually gives rise to new and more varied methods of defense and attack. Marxism, therefore, positively does not reject any form of struggle. Under no circumstances does Marxism confine itself to the forms of struggle possible and in existence at the given moment only, recognizing as it does that new forms of struggle, unknown to the participants of the given period, inevitably arise as the given social situation changes. In this respect Marxism learns, if we may so express it, from mass practice, and makes no claim whatever to teach the masses forms of struggle invented by ‘systematisers’ in the seclusion of their studies.”

Later in the same work, in which he defends the Latvian comrades who have taken up some forms of armed struggle, Lenin says:

“… such an objection would be a purely bourgeois-liberal and not a Marxist objection, because a Marxist cannot regards Civil War, or guerrilla warfare, which is one of its forms, as abnormal and demoralizing in general. A Marxist bases himself on the class struggle, and not social peace. In certain periods of acute economic and political crisis the class struggle ripens into a direct Civil War, i.e., into an armed struggle between two sections of the people. In such periods a Marxist is obliged to take the stand of Civil War. Any moral condemnation of Civil War would be absolutely impermissible from the standpoint of Marxism.”

The third linked item is from the earlier, pre-revolutionary period, where Lenin is denouncing the “Revolutionary Adventurism” of the “Socialist Revolutionaries”, and in particular, denouncing terrorism.

Click on this link:

Marxism & Insurrection, 1917, Lenin (2101 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Guerrilla Warfare, 1906, Lenin (3917 words)

Revolutionary Adventurism, 1902, Lenin (8645 words)

1604 Hegemony


On 19 September 2009 a review by Devan Pillay in the Johannesburg “Weekender”, of a collection of interviews published by Vishwas Satgar and Langa Zita, included the following sentence:

“The thinking of the late Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci featured prominently then, and formed the basis of an undogmatic, more flexible approach to Marxist thinking, which placed democratic practice at the centre of both the organisation and mobilisation for change, as well as the conduct of parties once in power.”

This review was posted to the “DEBATE” e-mail forum and it gave rise to more than 50 e-mail responses from several countries, including more contributions from Devan Pillay. The larger part of this debate was concerned with the question of whether Antonio Gramsci was a different kind of communist from his contemporaries, V I Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, with an “undogmatic, more flexible approach”; or whether, on the other hand, this is a mythical view of Gramsci, dishonestly propagated by anti-communists and liquidationists and renegades of various kinds including the former “Eurocommunists”.

This debate about Gramsci [Image] concluded with a complete victory of those who held that Gramsci was indeed an orthodox communist, and was not in the least bit opposed to Lenin, in particular. It showed conclusively that all the material published in recent decades to the effect that Gramsci was a soft kind of communist, or even that Gramsci had a theory of revolution that could succeed without any rudeness or unpleasantness of the Lenin kind, is all spurious and fraudulent.

Several full articles were quoted and posted. Two of them are linked below. Here is a (shortened) quotation from Perry Anderson’s article of 1976:

“The term ‘hegemony’ is frequently believed to be an entirely novel coinage—in effect, [Gramsci’s] own invention. Nothing reveals the lack of ordinary scholarship from which Gramsci’s legacy has suffered more than this widespread illusion. For in fact the notion of hegemony had a long prior history. The term gegemoniya (hegemony) was one of the most central political slogans in the Russian Social-Democratic movement, from the late 1890s to 1917.

“In a letter to Struve in 1901, demarcating social-democratic from liberal perspectives in Russia, Axelrod now stated as an axiom: ‘By virtue of the historical position of our proletariat, Russian Social-Democracy can acquire hegemony (gegemoniya) in the struggle against absolutism.’ [19] The younger generation of Marxist theorists adopted the concept immediately.

“Lenin could without further ado refer in a letter written to Plekhanov to ‘the famous “hegemony” of Social-Democracy’ and call for a political newspaper as the sole effective means of preparing a ‘real hegemony’ of the working class in Russia. [21] In the event, the emphasis pioneered by Plekhanov and Axelrod on the vocation of the working class to adopt an ‘all-national’ approach to politics and to fight for the liberation of every oppressed class and group in society was to be developed, with a wholly new scope and eloquence, by Lenin in What is to be Done? in 1902—a text read and approved in advance by Plekhanov, Axelrod and Potresov, which ended precisely with an urgent plea for the formation of the revolutionary newspaper that was to be Iskra.”

What Perry Anderson and Trent Brown (also linked) demonstrate is that “hegemony”, far from being an alternative to the working class ascendancy otherwise referred to as the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, is in fact exactly the same idea, and was understood as such without any reservations at all, by Antonio Gramsci in all his works.

All of this turns out to be useful in assessing the first discussion document prepared by the SACP for the Special National Congress to be held in December, 2009, and particularly the following section, taken from the last page of the document.

“… it is important that as communists we are clear that working class HEGEMONY doesn’t mean working class exclusivity (still less party chauvinism). Working class hegemony means the ability of the working class to provide a consistent strategic leadership (politically, economically, socially, organisationally, morally – even culturally) to the widest range of social forces – in particular, to the wider working class itself, to the broader mass of urban and rural poor, to a wide range of middle strata, and in South African conditions, to many sectors of non-monopoly capital. Where it is not possible to win over individuals on the narrow basis of class interest, it can still be possible to win influence on the basis of intellectual and moral integrity (compare, for instance, our consistent ability, particularly as the Party, to mobilise over many decades a small minority of whites during the struggle against white minority rule).”

While we may note that the discussion document never mentions Gramsci, yet clearly the above passage is the product of the same general debate, and could tend to perpetuate the same false dichotomy about “hegemony” that has in the past tried to falsify Gramsci’s legacy and attempted to recruit Gramsci posthumously to the liquidationist Eurocommunist cause.

The passage also conflates (as does the entire discussion document) the National Democratic Revolution (which is a class alliance for the democratisation of the nation) with the revolution for working-class hegemony, which is likely to require a different set of alliances, ranged against a different set of opponents.

The document manages to do this by using, of all things, the example of the small fraction of the former white oppressor minority who had gone over to the revolutionary side. Not that this group of individuals is without honour or significance, but surely we cannot hang our whole revolutionary theory upon this relatively tiny number of people?

It is difficult not to read this passage as anything other than the Achilles heel of the entire document. In it we find the attempt to conflate the NDR with the direct struggle for socialism, as well as the fatal theoretical weakness of this shortcut type of thinking.

In “Petty-Bourgeois and Proletarian Socialism” (1905), Lenin wrote:

“Can a class-conscious worker forget the democratic struggle for the sake of the socialist struggle, or forget the latter for the sake of the former? No, a class-conscious worker calls himself a Social-Democrat for the reason that he understands the relation between the two struggles. He knows that there is no other road to socialism save the road through democracy, through political liberty. He therefore strives to achieve democratism completely and consistently in order to attain the ultimate goal - socialism. Why are the conditions for the democratic struggle not the same as those for the socialist struggle? Because the workers will certainly have different allies in each of those two struggles. The democratic struggle is waged by the workers together with a section of the bourgeoisie, especially the petty bourgeoisie. On the other hand, the socialist struggle is waged by the workers against the whole of the bourgeoisie. The struggle against the bureaucrat and the landlord can and must be waged together with all the peasants, even the well-to-do and the middle peasants. On the other hand, it is only together with the rural proletariat that the struggle against the bourgeoisie, and therefore against the well-to-do peasants too, can be properly waged.”

Why are we taking it for granted that the present Alliance will serve us for all future purposes? If Lenin is correct, then we will be making a trap for ourselves if we do that.

Joe Slovo wrote (in the SA Working Class and the NDR, 1988):

“There is, however, both a distinction and a continuity between the national democratic and socialist revolutions; they can neither be completely telescoped nor completely compartmentalised. The vulgar Marxists are unable to understand this. They claim that our immediate emphasis on the objectives of the national democratic revolution implies that we are unnecessarily postponing or even abandoning the socialist revolution, as if the two revolutions have no connection with one another.”

The first 2009 discussion document “telescopes” the two revolutions into one and thereby fails to focus on either of them.

Click on this link:

The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci, 1976, Perry Anderson (36070 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Gramsci and Hegemony, 2009, Trent Brown (3949 words)

Building Hegemony on National Democratic Terrain, 2009, SACP (13222 words)

1605 Violence


The Communist Manifesto of 1848 ends: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKERS OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”

Earlier, it says: “the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat.”

Let us then disdain to conceal the communist intention, and conviction, that when it comes to the expropriation of the expropriators, the working class will not ask permission.

The proletarian revolution will be an act of force, with no appeal, and in that sense it is bound to be a violent revolution, which does not mean that bloodshed is necessary. Blood need not be shed. But the revolution will make its own laws. Otherwise, it would not be a revolution.

The bourgeoisie is a violent class. It acquired its position by bloody violence and it maintains its position by constant application of physical violence and bloodshed.

In spite of all protestations to the contrary, the bourgeoisie is not afraid of physical confrontation. It is well prepared for violence. What the bourgeoisie fears is the other violence, that of unilateral expropriation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The bourgeoisie fears the violence that takes, not blood, but property.

In the previous parts of this series, we have read Clausewitz, Marx and Lenin on the political/military nature of violence. In this part we will take an essay of Christopher Caudwell [The painting of Caudwell reproduced above is by Caoimhghin O Croidheain] so as to establish the moral and/or philosophical basis of Pacifism and Violence, if any such can be found.

Christopher Caudwell (1907 – 1937) wrote some extraordinary communist literature that was only published after he was killed while fighting the fascists in the Spanish Civil War.

Much of it was published under the famous title: “Studies in a Dying Culture”. Three of the essays can be found in the Caudwell section of the Marxists Internet Archive, including his essay on Liberty, which contains the statement: “I am a communist because I believe in freedom!” Another, more recent Caudwell collection was published under the title “The Concept of Freedom”.

Another source of Caudwell material (including the image above) is Helena Sheehan’s web site, where Helena has made a Caudwell centenary page that is very moving, and will tell you many reasons why Christopher Caudwell is remembered with such passion even now, so long after his death.

In “Pacifism and Violence” Caudwell asks almost at once: “Are we Marxists then simply using labels indiscriminately when we class as characteristically bourgeois, both militancy and pacifism, meekness and violence? No, we are not doing so, if we can show that we call bourgeois not all war and not all pacifism but only certain types of violence, and only certain types of non-violence; and if, further, we can show how the one fundamental bourgeois position generates both these apparently opposed viewpoints.”

What do you say when you are confronted with a follower of M K Gandhi, or a Quaker? This text can assist you. This text will help bring the essence of the question into the dialogue. This text will show you why it is that communists are not pacifists, although we struggle for peace, and why the bourgeoisie can never be peaceful, even when they call themselves pacifists.

Click on this link:

Pacifism and Violence, 1938, Christopher Caudwell (7989 words)

1606 Military, Political


Presuming that we have by now established that we are not pacifists but are revolutionaries, who intend, by all means necessary, to assist the working class to expropriate the expropriator bourgeois class; then why can we not move with speed, and without any restraint, towards an armed overthrow of the oppressors?

The late William “Bill” Pomeroy started his essay “On the Time for Armed Struggle” (linked below) from exactly this point of departure, as follows:

“Because of the decisive results that can follow from an armed smashing of the main instruments of power held by a ruling class or a foreign oppressor, some of those who acquire a revolutionary outlook are eager to move to the stage of armed struggle; and their concept of it as the highest form of revolutionary struggle causes them to cast discredit upon other forms as 'less advanced', as amounting to collaboration with or capitulation to the class enemy.”


“Too often the aura of glory associated with taking up arms has obscured hard prosaic truths and realities in the interplay of forces in a period of sharp struggle.”

And later:

“The experiences of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines offer an interesting example of the complex, varied and fluctuating processes that may occur in a liberation struggle.”

Pomeroy writes that “analysis and understanding of the revolutionary experiences of others is indispensable”. He proceeds to offer his own rich and extraordinary experience as a military combatant and revolutionary. His main lesson is that the military must never think that it can cease to be subordinate to the political.

In the second linked item, Le Duan’s very short, very powerful “Political & Military in Revolutionary War”, Le Duan says, confirming Pomeroy:

“… the close combination of political and military struggle constitutes the basic form of revolutionary violence in South Vietnam”

The third linked item is the 1980 clandestine SACP publication “How to Master Secret Work”. It is too long to be used for discussion in its entirety, but it makes a point that we need here, which is that there is no virtue in being illegal. The communists do not volunteer for that position. The nature of secret work is really that it is a systematic struggle against banning and persecution. As much as it is secret, yet its purpose is the re-expansion of communication and the re-legalisation of the Party. Its purpose is the renaissance of the organisation politically. In the case of the SACP, within ten years of the publication of this document, it was unbanned and declared fully legal again, as it has been ever since, and up to today.

The picture shows William and Celia Pomeroy laying a wreath at the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow. William Pomeroy passed away on January 12 2009 and Celia Pomeroy passed away on 22 August 2009.

Click on this link:

On the Time for Armed Struggle, 1974, Pomeroy (6800 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Political & Military in Revolutionary War, 1967, Le Duan (864 words)

How to Master Secret Work, 1980, SACP (13929 words)

1607 The Armed People


The practical alternative to the State that appeared in Paris in the beginning of 1871 was more than simply the right of recall, and the whole people collectively in power and in perpetual session. It was also the reappearance of the Armed People in a new kind of societal framework. So-called Primitive Communism is an Armed People. Here, in the Paris Commune, was an Armed People in advanced productive circumstances.

The security forces - army and police - that had existed before the Paris Commune had been paid to support the bourgeois State and to guarantee the State’s survival by suppressing, whenever necessary, the working class. These forces were disbanded and not replaced. With hardly any exceptions, all “separations of powers” were abolished in the Paris Commune, leaving only one power: The Armed People.

In Chile, in the time of the Popular Unity government that fell on 11 September 1973, instead of an Armed People, a virtue was made of disarmament, and a “Peaceful Path” was worshipped as the new political Golden Calf.

Volodia Teitelboim in the first document linked below, gives a brief description, as one of those who was involved, of the Popular Unity government and its disastrous end at the hands of the fascists who used the national army to overthrow it. It was a shocking reminder of the purpose of the “special bodies of armed men”.

Teitelboim calls for “A Reappraisal of the Issue of the Army,” meaning a return to the view of the Paris Commune, which is mentioned in the first line. This document of Teitelboim’s is sufficient as the basis for a very good and necessary discussion.

The second linked document is the ANC’s original Strategy and Tactics document of 1969. This document unashamedly embraces armed struggle, and not any starry “Peaceful Path”.

Like the Chilean Popular Unity government, ours is a multiclass government underpinned by a class alliance for common goals. It is a unity-in-action, otherwise called a popular front.

Why have we survived after 15 years, while the Chileans did not survive after 1,000 days?

The answer could be that we are not pacifists. Or, the answer could be that our crisis has not arrived yet. Or, that we have passed at least one crisis (e.g. in mid-2008, resolved by the recall of President Mbeki and the resignation of various ministers including Terror Lekota and Mluleki George), which may not yet be the last.

South Africans were in this case in advance of the historic crisis that manifested in Chile. Four years prior to the Pinochet coup in Chile overthrew the Popular Unity government led by Salvador Allende, the Morogoro Conference of the ANC had laid down the necessity for the armed defence of the revolution.

There is no sense of apology for revolutionary armed struggle in the Morogoro S&T. Far from it.

Picture: There are very few photographs of freedom fighters in formation or in action to be found on the Internet, whether of MK or any of any other liberation army; but there are many photographs of freedom fighters in captivity. Full justice has not yet been done. Alive or dead, the rebels are still rebels. We are still singing the Internationale, composed at the Paris Commune. The picture is of a statue of Dedan Kimathi under the blue sky of Kenya. AMANDLA!

Click on this link:

1,000 Days of Popular Unity Rule in Chile, 1977, Teitelboim (5157 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Strategy & Tactics, Morogoro, 1969, ANC (5882 words)

1608 Anti-Imperialism


Exactly how the anti-Imperialist struggle will resolve itself in South Africa, Southern Africa, and Africa in general, is something unpredictable at the tactical level. The question of armed defence of revolutionary change cannot be ruled out, and we have examined this question.

This part of the present series, referenced to the “Beyond Vietnam” speech (linked below) of the late Rev Martin Luther King Junior, is to point to the subjective political factor in the anti-Imperialist struggle.

Nowadays it has become commonplace to refer to “international solidarity” as if it is both a narrow idea, and a universal one. But this concept that we have received and then stripped of its particularity, does actually have a tremendous history whose meaning is not fully conveyed by a formula-phrase called “international solidarity”.

The anti-Imperialist struggle and the democratic struggle can and should be one. It is not a matter of charity of the rich to the poor. It is also not solely a matter of good-hearted and exceptional individuals, but there have indeed been such individuals, and will be again.

What Martin Luther King describes, and justifies, is: “why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church - the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate - leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.”

In other words, MLK at the meeting of the “Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam” in 1967, was preaching the intrinsic, organic unity of the struggle of the common people everywhere. It is not an artificial altruism but it is a unity of purpose, in concerted action against the single enemy: monopoly capitalist Imperialism.

And further than the literal message, there is also the extraordinary power and style of MLK’s oration. We forget too easily, comrades, this factor of art. Lenin spoke of “insurrection as an art”. It is an art that goes beyond the military, and encompasses all of our activities. Therefore when reading such a piece, one should regard it as a source of learning of the art of advocacy, which is part of the art of leadership, essential to the art of insurrection.

The second linked document is included here because of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s correct and insistent concern with the continuing threat to Africa (now materialising again militarily as “Africom”) posed by Imperialism in its last stage of neo-colonialism.

Nkrumah believed that Africa must unite, for the sole reason that if it did not unite, then it would not have sufficient strength to resist the Imperialists - and so it has turned out.

The third linked document opens up the double question of who backs the communists, and if the communists are not backed, then what happens to the others? Attention has to be paid to the question of self-defence for the political movement.

Finally, to underline the ruthlessness of the Imperialist enemy, “the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War”. This statement is taken from the last linked item.

The two worst-ever terrorist attacks, by far, were perpetrated by the USA, for the most cynical and mendacious reasons.

Picture: Rev. Martin Luther King, Junior, at the White House, Washington DC, USA

Click on this link:

Beyond Vietnam, Time to Break Silence, 1967, King (6687 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Neo-Colonialism, Last of Imperialism, 1965, Nkrumah (10643 words)

First They Came For The Communists, Niemoeller (1873 words)

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Worst Ever Terror Attacks, Dixon (813 words)

1609 Democracy is Ours


This part is the penultimate (second last) in the present series on Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism. It is designed to invite comrades to reflect upon the place of the anti-Imperialist struggle within the entirety of world history.

This is why Issa Shivji’s address on The Struggle for Democracy & Culture (linked below) is used. It explicitly and correctly claims, on behalf of the national-liberation and anti-colonial struggle, that this struggle carries, for the time being, the banner of progress for the whole world. For a long time past, and into the future, until such time as the struggle for socialism itself becomes once again the principal one, the National Democratic Revolutions taken together constitute the main vehicle for human progress, bearing and rescuing all that is noble and fine in humanity.

The bourgeoisie is a thieving class and it will steal the clothes of the revolutionaries without any hesitation if it sees the smallest, or the most temporary, advantage in doing so. The Imperialist bourgeoisie wishes to reverse the appearance of its shameful past and of its hopeless future. It wishes to claim the moral superiority that the liberation movement has, and steal it.

Issa Shivji shows very clearly how the monstrous fraud is attempted. The constant droning about “good governance” is the extreme of hypocrisy, coming as it does from the worst oppressors in history – the force that has taken oppression to the ends of the earth – Imperialism. Read Shivji: he tells it well. But also note the hypocritical machinations of our present South African anti-communists, including but not limited to, the DA. If you did not know better, you could believe from what you read that it was liberal whites who liberated South Africa from the old regime.


The struggle for democracy is ours, not theirs. The struggle for freedom is ours. We are the humanists now. We, the liberationists, are the bearers of human history and we have been for many decades past. The 20th Century was the liberation century, the anti-Imperial century. That was when we overtook the others in politics, in morality, and in philosophy - but we were only starting. In the 21st Century we will finish the job.

Mahmood Mamdani’s “Citizen and Subject” (linked below) maps the relations of four class-based powers in the anti-Imperial struggles in Africa: Bourgeois, Proletarians, Imperialists and “Traditional Leaders”. The (national) Bourgeois and the Proletarians are the modernisers and the democrats, who are compelled by necessity to combine together to fight for the democracy that forms the nation. The Imperialists make a marriage of convenience with the most retrogressive social power that they can find – tribalism – in a pact to hold Africa where it was under colonialism: partly rich, but mostly dirt poor.

We say that capitalism has failed, and that Imperialism has failed. In South Africa, capitalist Imperialism arrived more than 100 years ago, and it never delivered to the people at any time. It started bad and it got no better. Now it has come from a boom from which we somehow failed to benefit, to a recession that will last for years. What’s new? These excuses have been there all along. Maybe it is truer to say that Imperialism didn’t fail: it only lied. It was never going to deliver, and it never will.

Pictures: Eduardo Mondlane; Frantz Fanon

Click on this link

The Struggle for Democracy & Culture, 2003, Shivji (5035 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Citizen & Subject, Chapter 8, 1996, Mamdani (7236 words)

1610 Liberation Struggle


In political education, our method is to remove ourselves in place and time. We go to the “classics” and to authors of the intermediate period, and we study other places, in the past or in the present.

All of these provide us with examples. The examples provide us with a theoretical and practical “sandpit” that gives us a “codification” or in other words a basis upon which we may have a dialogue.

Dialogue is where political education happens. Anything that can provide an occasion for political dialogue is good for education.

Our own history can be used, but what do we find? When looking for history of our liberation struggle, and the history of the armed struggle in particular, we find very little. The materials about the culminating struggle in Angola assembled below will have to suffice for now. They can also serve as a small contribution towards recognising the Cuban and Soviet comrades who fought faithfully and often fell for us, until victory came.

Vladimir Shubin has written and published two books in English: “ANC: A View from Moscow” and “The Hot 'Cold War’: The USSR in Southern Africa”. These books are presently available from bookshops in South Africa, or they can be ordered via the Internet.

But there is nothing to be found on the Internet like an article or a chapter of Shubin’s that we can use for the Communist University. Suffice it to say that the Soviet record of events does not correspond in every respect with the Cuban record, and this contrast would force the readers or students to make judgements of their own, as to what was really the critical path that led to the final political result, which was victory in Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Let us hope to find a suitable Soviet or Russian article, soon.

Fidel Castro has written a lot. Linked below, as our main item, is the speech made on 2 December 2005, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first Cuban expeditionary force to Angola, which became what Chester Crocker called an “unprecedented projection of power”.

Piero Gleijeses has written a lot. The second item is an article of his containing this memorable passage:

“While Castro’s troops advanced toward Namibia, Cubans, Angolans, South Africans, and Americans were sparring at the negotiating table. For the South Africans and Americans the burning question was: Would the Cuban troops stop at the border? It was to answer this question that President Ronald Reagan’s Assistant Secretary for Africa, Chester Crocker, sought Risquet. "My question is the following," he told him: "Does Cuba intend to halt the advance of its troops at the border between Namibia and Angola?" Risquet replied, "I have no answer to give you. I can’t give you a Meprobamato [a well-known Cuban tranquillizer] – not to you or to the South Africans. ... I have not said whether or not our troops will stop. ... Listen to me, I am not threatening. If I told you that they will not stop, it would be a threat. If I told you that they will stop, I would be giving you a Meprobamato, a Tylenol, and I want neither to threaten you nor to reassure you ... What I have said is that the only way to guarantee [that our troops stop at the border] would be to reach an agreement [on the independence of Namibia]." [15] On August 25, Crocker cabled Secretary of State George Shultz: "Reading the Cubans is yet another art form. They are prepared for both war and peace ... We witness considerable tactical finesse and genuinely creative moves at the table. This occurs against the backdrop of Castro’s grandiose bluster and his army’s unprecedented projection of power on the ground." [16]”

Jorge Risquet Valdés Saldaña, fighter, negotiator, and currently member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, has written (downloadable, in Spanish) “El Segundo frente del Che en el Congo” (ISBN 959-210-412-3, Casa Editorial Abril, 2006) – the history of the Patrice Lumumba Battalion, in which Risquet served. The picture above is of the same Jorge Risquet, a great and brave hero, also famous for his friendliness and joie-de-vivre.

William Blum has written a chapter in his great book “Killing Hope”, but somehow misses Cuito Cuanavale, the negotiations, Namibian independence and the democratic breakthrough in South Africa. Blum has done a lot to expose the history of US atrocities around the world, but his work also shows the limitations of Western sources, even the relatively friendly ones. This essay on Angola is cast as a “great powers poker game”, and not as what it really was, namely an anti-Imperialist liberation struggle. There is no substitute for original revolutionary sources; this is the Communist University way.

This part concludes the new edition of the Communist University Generic Course on Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism. Please click here for temporary access all the documents of the course, as MS-Word downloads.

This course and the previous one on Development will be on the SACP web site soon. The last in the current programme of review of the CU Generic Courses, now in the preliminary stages of construction, is Philosophy, Religion, and Revolution.

Click on this link:

Thirty years after Angola and 49 after Granma, Fidel Castro (4108 words)

Further (optional) reading:

The Massacre of Cassinga [and after] Piero Gleijeses (2243 words)

Angola, a Great Powers Poker Game, William Blum (5303 words)