Development: Urban/Rural, Local/Provincial

| 1501 Urban/Rural, Local/Provincial | 1502 The Housing Question | 1503 Local Class Alliance | 1504 La Via Campesina | | | 1505 Co-Operatives | | 1506 New Economic Policy | 1507 Development is Class Struggle | | 1508 National Plan | 1509 State & Future of Local & Provincial Government | 1510 Industrial Strategy and Rural Development

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 in 2009 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 re-edited courses were re-published on the SACP web site.

The following course on “Development: Urban/Rural, Local/Provincial” is, as usual, mainly in the form of short, original writings. That is to say, the texts are for the most part sourced from the primary authors, and are not interpretive texts from “analysts” or from academics.

Derived from the CU 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 “opening” corresponds to one of the twelve main texts, and is numbered accordingly.

They can if necessary serve as the equivalent of an “opening of the discussion” that one participant who had read the text would give to a study circle; but it is better if you can do your own “openings” to such discussions. Normally, the next week’s text for the study circle is distributed in advance, by e-mail or in hard copy. Then, any one of those who have read the text can provide a brief opening to the discussion.

There are many ways of doing an “opening” that can successfully “kick off” the dialogue in the study circle contact session. 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

1501 Urban/Rural, Local/Provincial


The Communist University has already created a set of studies on the
National Democratic Revolution (NDR) culminating with the 2009 SACP discussion document “Building working class hegemony on the terrain of a national democratic struggle”.

Politically, the NDR is a class alliance (i.e. a unity-in-action) for the extension of democracy to the outer limits of the nation, and to all conceivable mass constituencies, as a pre-requisite for any further political progress thereafter.

Kwame Nkrumah wrote: “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you”. As true as this may still be, yet the substance of people’s political concerns is of a material kind, and the consideration of Industrial Strategy, and Rural Development, as well as Local and Provincial Government, are also part of the political kingdom.

Therefore this series, called
Development: Urban/Rural, Local/Provincial will begin with two parts based on writings of Frederick Engels (see the link below for the first one, from Engels “Condition of the Working Class in England”). This is followed by some modern writings on urban/rural problems, and then a return to some of Lenin’s writings, including some from the period of the NEP (New Economic Policy). Then the series proceeds to the question of Industrial Development and large-scale planning.

It would be hard to exaggerate the historical importance of Engels’ work on the condition of the English working class. It is the founding work of town-planning, yet it was written by an office clerk in his 20s, who had no university education.

Not only did Engels objectify the industrial towns in literature, systematically, for the first time. His work also laid an empirical and intuitive basis, before Engels had fully teamed up with Karl Marx (which happened after September 1844), of the conception of the working class as the gravedigger of capitalism and as the leading class in all of humanity and in all of human history. This was at a time when the proletariat was in the most miserable circumstances, as Engels describes. Yet he saw their potential.

The CU suggests that comrades page through the linked chapter, though it is long, and read as much of it as is comfortable.

Johannesburg was established in Engels’ lifetime, not very many years after he wrote this description of the then-new “Great Towns” of Britain. Like Manchester, Johannesburg had its productive districts, its more polite commercial districts, its separate dormitory slums for workers, and its nice suburbs for the bourgeoisie and their hangers-on.

There are people still alive in Johannesburg today whose grandparents were among the city’s founding inhabitants.

It would not be too much to claim, in relation to this work of Engels, that it is where modernity begins. In this literature modern urbanism takes shape as an idea in the world. The picture is of McConnel & Company’s Mills, Manchester, in about 1820.

Mike Davis’ brilliant and celebrated essay, “Planet of Slums”, is much too long (it was later extended and published as a book) for a study circle. It is appropriate to have it here, because it begins and ends with reference to Engels’ “Condition of the Working Class in England”. Davis is trying to argue that the urbanisation that Engels described in his pioneering work, no longer applies. Davis is undoubtedly wrong in this overall argument of his, but in the process he does succeed is producing a stimulating focus on urbanism. Davis also wrote “City of Quartz”, a good class analysis of town planning in Los Angeles, California, USA, a good book if you can get it.

Also linked here, for convenience, is the new Green Paper on National Strategic Planning. 160 years later, its scope is less than that of Engels’ comprehension. This series returns to the Green Paper further on.

Click on this link:

Condition of the Working Class in England, Chapter 2, Great Towns, 1845, Engels (20411 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Planet of Slums, 2004, Mike Davis (11522 words)

Green Paper on National Strategic Planning, 2009 (3799 words)

1502 The Housing Question


Thanks to his book “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, Frederick Engels is among many other things considered to be the father of modern town planning. Therefore one might approach his book “The Housing Question” expecting answers to that same housing question. One might hope for instructions about what to build. One might expect sermons about “delivery”, or even model house-plans. Instead, one finds severe polemic about very fundamental issues of class struggle.

This is a good opportunity to examine what polemic is. Engels’ opponent Mulberger had complained that Engels had been blunt to the point of rudeness. Engels concedes little more than sarcasm:

“I am not going to quarrel with friend Mulberger about the ‘tone’ of my criticism. When one has been so long in the movement as I have, one develops a fairly thick skin against attacks, and therefore one easily presumes also the existence of the same in others. In order to compensate Mulberger I shall try this time to bring my ‘tone’ into the right relation to the sensitiveness of his epidermis.”

But later, admitting that he had misrepresented Mulberger on a particular (quite small) point, Engels lambastes himself as “irresponsible”.

“This time Mulberger is really right. I overlooked the passage in question. It was irresponsible of me to overlook it…”

The rules of polemic are roughly this: It is in writing. It is always against a named individual. It is direct and frank and cares very little for bourgeois squeamishness; on the other hand, it pays the utmost respect to the meaning of the opponent’s words. Opponents in polemic never misrepresent each other. Everything else is permissible.

Development is class struggle

After his preliminaries, Engels goes straight into a long paragraph that contains a summary of theory and practice, vanguard and mass, from the 1840s up until his point of writing, just after the fall of the Paris Commune. The paragraph includes “the necessity of the political action of the proletariat and of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the transitional stage to the abolition of classes and with them of the state.”

This is the communist manifesto all over again. So why does Engels “go to town” to this extent? Is it not merely “housing” we are talking about? Is it not housing something that everybody needs? Classless, surely? A win-win situation? Motherhood and apple-pie?

Engels says: NO!

What we can read in Mulberger, through Engels’ eyes, is the petty-bourgeois (and full bourgeois) greed for this Housing Question as a means of reproducing petty-bourgeois consciousness, and this is just exactly how the post-1994 South African Government ended up dealing with the housing question. Yes, there should be lots of houses, it said in effect, but they must be petty-bourgeois-style houses, both in type, and in ownership.


The argument about housing is an argument about the reproduction of capitalism. It is an argument about the continuation of the ascendancy of bourgeois values over those of the working-class. For the bourgeoisie, the creation of a dwelling is an opportunity to invest that house with peasant-like values of individuality, and with petty-bourgeois ideas of “entrepreneurship”, and to regulate and control the people.

Everything that happened in “housing” in South Africa post-1994 is pre-figured in Mulberger’s banal prescriptions. Any critique of housing in South Africa now will therefore have to follow the example of Engels if it is to be of any use at all. Please, comrades, read the first pages and the last paragraphs of this document, if not all of it.

The history of all hitherto-existing societies has been a history of class struggle. The coming “development” period of South African history will also be a period of class struggle. We may not necessarily win every specific struggle. What this text of Engels says is: let us never fool ourselves. Win or lose, we are in a class struggle and there is no neutral ground, least of all on the question of housing and land development. There is much more to be studied here, but the key is political. In the next part, we will look at this matter through the eyes of some contemporary writers.

Lenin’s Petty Bourgeois and Proletarian Socialism is given here as an extension to the reading of Engels on the relation between these two classes, and an example of the antipathy of both these writers towards “reactionary petty-bourgeois utopia”.

Shack, Abahlali BaseMjondolo; RDP House, David Goldblatt (“Miriam Mazibuko watering the garden of her new RDP house, Extension 8, Far East Bank, Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, 12 September 2006. It has one room. For lack of space, her four children live with her parents-in-law.”)]

Click on this link:

The Housing Question, 1872, Part Three, Frederick Engels (9957 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Petty-bourgeois and Proletarian Socialism, 1905, Lenin (3415 words)

1503 Local Class Alliance


The politics of class alliance at national level are well understood and well executed in South Africa in terms of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) policy developed during the last nine decades, which led to the democratic breakthrough of 1994. The NDR remains the dominant framework of South African politics, having been refreshed at Polokwane in 2007. At national level, the interests of the working class continue to be well articulated through the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the trade union movement whose largest centre is COSATU.

The petty bourgeoisie, on the other hand, has no dedicated political expression at national level, and nor has the peasantry. They are compelled to rely on others. This is in spite of the large size of these segments of the population in South Africa. It is a consequence of the “sack-of-potatoes” nature of both of these two classes, the rural petty-bourgeoisie who are the peasants, and the urban peasants, who are the petty-bourgeois.

Both classes are made up of individualists, who aspire to live autonomously, with everything of their own. The working class must represent the interests of these (mostly very poor) sections of the population at national level, while the established bourgeoisie would wish to exploit them as political foot-soldiers for capitalism, and also to exploit them directly, in the predatory way that the big bourgeoisie likes to feed off the small bourgeoisie, which Rosa Luxemburg described so well in Chapter 2 of “
Reform or Revolution?” (linked below).

At local level, the situation is reversed. In South Africa, the organised working class has hardly any formal presence at, in particular, electoral ward level. Here the petty-bourgeois individualists are working on home ground and at the same scale as their own business operations. COSATU Locals and Socialist Forums are in the shade, if they exist at all. The SACP generates cadres, and organises and assists the masses, including the ANC, in many different ways, but it does not stand candidates in elections.

In terms of theory, too, there is very little that would serve as ideological guidance to the working class, locally, whereas the petty-bourgeoisie has an abundance of material and history to rely on, some of which is linked below. The town is the birthplace of the bourgeoisie and the natural territory of the petty-bourgeoisie, and the municipality is the “executive committee” of the local bourgeoisie. Not only is it their instrument, but it is their regenerator, whose job it is to reproduce bourgeois relations at local level and to bring forth new generations of bourgeois-minded councillors and bureaucrats.

In the past, one effective working-class tactic was to confront this concentration of local bourgeois strength with an organised workers’ democratic power. In Russia, this took the form of the “soviet”. The first one, as
Vladimir Shubin relates, was set up in the textile manufacturing centre of Ivanovo in 1905. Another tactic, problematic though it has been, is the setting up of producer and consumer co-operatives. This series will have to develop both of these perspectives in due course.

In this part, our CU job is to review some of the debate in the literature of petty-bourgeois development. Let it be understood that it is not the aim of the working-class to drive any other class to early extinction. In the spirit of the same “
18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” wherein Karl Marx described the peasantry, though sympathetically, as a “sack of potatoes”, because they could not unite, the working class must lead the weaker classes and make provision for them in terms that will satisfy them. For the classic peasantry, this meant giving them land and a market for their produce. For the petty bourgeoisie, it is the freedom to do business, and the guarantee, against the predatory monopolists, of a market. We, as the proletariat, also need these classes as allies against the monopoly bourgeoisie. Therefore, as partisans of the working class, we should read these works with a serious interest.

Housing by People (click this link for an MS-Word download, which includes diagrams that do not come through on the web page), by John Charlewood Turner, is a discussion of housing, from a partly-idealised but well-educated point of view, of where decisive power should lie, who should act, and how these responsibilities should be divided up. It can serve us as a small link to the great, beautiful and necessary field of study called urbanism, of which very little emerges into the general public realm. Urbanism is a site of ideological struggle. It is also a labyrinth, in which it is easy to get lost.

“Barking dogs and building bridges” is Lauren Royston’s subtle and patient destruction of the simplistic bourgeois platitudes of Hernando de Soto. Glen Mills’ 2006 Business Day article “Thinking out of the matchbox” briefly summarises the general situation in South African housing, which has not changed in the mean time. There is still no public discussion of design, except at the “Top billing” level of snobbery and eclecticism, or at the level of the most banal, hopeless utilitarianism, in the press. [Click the links below]

How will things change? The communists must strive to reproduce, in every locality, the same well-expressed and solid class alliance which has up to now underpinned the NDR at the national level. This means providing for both the petty-bourgeoisie/peasantry, and the working class. Both must be able to see a clear way forward, in alliance with each other, at local level, where, at present, it is working-class organisation that is lacking.

[Graphic: Ebenezer Howard’s “Three Magnets”, from “Garden Cities of To-morrow”, 1902]

Click on this link:

Housing by People, C1, C6, Who Decides?, John Turner (7901 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Barking dogs, building bridges, Lauren Royston (5469 words)

Thinking out of the matchbox, Glen Mills, Business Day (1199 words)

Reform or Revolution?, Chapters 2, 7, 9 & 10, Luxemburg (10250 words)

1504 La Via Campesina


In this part the main item is from a farmer called Rob Sacco. It is a letter from the bundu in reply to an e-mail that was printed by a friend and carried up to Sacco in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe.

Sacco is a defender of the people’s history of Zimbabwe as he sees it. He seems suspicious of nearly everyone else, but he is articulate and serious and obviously a practical person. He writes of “development by marginal adjustment”, which sounds right, for peasants.

La Via Campesina means “the way of the peasant”.

While taking a swipe at the SACP for being “workerist” (which is certainly a bad mistake, but how would he know?) Sacco lays out his assessment:

“…the transfer of 10 million hectares plus of the best land from a post-colonial class perpetually externalizing wealth, to the mass of an African peasant class, and to an African petty bourgeoisie, generating indigenous wealth from the ground up, constitutes a genuine revolution.”

Sacco is not shy to defend the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie. This is something the Communist University needs for our current purposes. We need an advocate for the interests of the other masses, the ones that the working class needs as allies, so as to form an overwhelming popular majority, together.

If we are to be allies, we must be capable of understanding peasants and petty bourgeois in their own terms, and we must be able to learn from them.

Sacco has a sense of place and a pride in his ability to bring forth nourishment for people from the land, by work and by skill and by knowledge and experience.

There is a lot of personal history in this piece, and a lot of political history of structures and institutions, and even a cat that breaks a bottle of whisky. This is all quite typical of the peasant approach to life, which is always as much of a narrative as it is a collective.

In contrast, Karl Marx’s short advice to Cde Applegarth is analytic and categorical. Likewise with Lenin’s 1920 speech to adult educators, which is also about the relationship between proletarians and peasants. These two are linked below, as additional reading.

The picture is of farmers in Mozambique.

Click on this link:

Peasant Revolution in Zimbabwe, Rob Sacco, 2005, reply to Bond (12877 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Abolition of Landed Property, 1869, Marx (1060 words)

Speech, Adult Educationalists, 3rd All-Russian Conference, 1920, Lenin (2115 words)

1505 Co-Operatives


This series, “Development: Urban/Rural, Local/Provincial”, began with Engels’ “Condition of the working-class in England” and “Housing Question” and followed that with some urban and rural theoretical material of a mainly petty-bourgeois and peasant nature.

Then we said we would return to some of Lenin’s writings. We will do so in two parts. One (today) will take the question of Co-operatives, before and after the proletarian revolution. The other will look at the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy (NEP), which was a broader dispensation, covering the entirety of relations with peasantry and petty-bourgeoisie, whether organised as co-ops, or not; followed by some newer material on development, and underdevelopment.

After that we will consider material on large-scale planning.

The classic literature on co-operatives divides into two parts, characterised first by Marx’s, Engels’ and Lenin’s disdain for co-ops under the bourgeois dictatorship, and second by Lenin’s embracing of co-ops as the sufficient and necessary means, under proletarian rule, of uniting the town and the country and effecting a transition, for the proletarian and non-proletarian masses together, into socialism.

This poses theoretical problems for South Africans. We cannot just ignore what the classics say about co-ops under capitalism, and not because they are “classics”, but because the arguments are strong. We also cannot pretend that ours is not still a bourgeois state. Yet we appear to need the opportunity that co-ops provide, of socialising fragmented and incomplete individual efforts, or in other words of organising the unorganised peasantry, petty-bourgeoisie, and more generally, those whom capitalism has failed to employ.

The main item today is Lenin’s “On Co-operation”, a short but very rich and extraordinary document written in January 1923, almost exactly a year before Great Lenin died. Before coming to it, let us first look at some of what Karl Marx said about co-operatives, 48 years previously, in “The Critique of the Gotha Programme”. Most of it is scathing. The best Marx can manage to say is:

“That the workers desire to establish the conditions for co-operative production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale, in their own country, only means that they are working to revolutionize the present conditions of production, and it has nothing in common with the foundation of co-operative societies with state aid. But as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois.”

Prior to the above he remarks (about the Gotha Programme):

“Vulgar socialism (and from it in turn a section of the democrats) has taken over from the bourgeois economists the consideration and treatment of distribution as independent of the mode of production and hence the presentation of socialism as turning principally on distribution. After the real relation has long been made clear, why retrogress again?”

The co-operation that is patronised by the state, and also state distribution (i.e. what we now call “delivery”) is only “vulgar socialism”, says Marx.

Lenin, writing in post-revolutionary conditions, briefly acknowledges the criticism that had been heaped upon co-ops under the bourgeois dictatorship: “There is a lot of fantasy in the dreams of the old co-operators. Often they are ridiculously fantastic,” says Lenin. Following which he proceeds to place an extremely high value on co-operatives, as almost the most important component of the advance to full socialism.

We can note that in this article, Lenin anticipates at least one or two decades of further life of the New Economic Policy (NEP). What actually happened was that within about four years after Lenin’s death the NEP had been reversed and the policy of the Soviet Union had become one of large-scale five-year plans, only. The centralisation of the economy, started under Lenin as a complement to the NEP, had in effect become treated as an either/or mutually exclusive alternative to it.

Is this a necessary contradiction? Surely, communists will continue to seek and find ways both of popular organisation, and of planning at the national level, at the same time.

This whole article of Lenin’s on co-operation ranges more widely than simply on co-ops as such. Particularly interesting are the concluding paragraphs of Part 2 of the document, where Lenin refers to a “cultural revolution”. In the penultimate paragraph of Part1, Lenin had written:

“By ability to be a trader I mean the ability to be a cultured trader. Let those Russians, or peasants, who imagine that since they trade they are good traders, get that well into their heads. This does not follow that all. They do trade, but that is far from being cultured traders. They now trade in an Asiatic manner, but to be a good trader one must trade in the European manner. They are a whole epoch behind in that.”

The difference that Lenin refers to as between “Asiatic” and “European” trading is the difference between production for sale without having secured a market, and on the other hand, production for a known market, or for a previously-identified demand.

The third linked item today is a short article of Professor Michael Morris published in 1996 in the Business Day, which debunked a number of misconceptions about so-called “entrepreneurship”. Morris wrote, among other things, that:
“The entrepreneurial individual recognises a trend, a possibility, an unmet demand. He or she comes up with a concept for capitalising on the trend or demand and does so while the window of opportunity is open.”

This is precisely the same point as Lenin is making. Lenin knew that the setting up of producer co-operatives without attention to their markets would be a disastrous waste.

The Chinese delegation that visited South Africa in 2009 said that the Chinese peasants are guaranteed a market by the state, at the same price that private buyers are prepared to pay.

South Africa will also have to pay attention to the question of the market for peasant, petty-bourgeois, and co-operative production, and also to the subjective, exhortative, educational contribution, which is so clear in Lenin’s approach and which he explicitly recommends. Even if it may not always be a matter of the state setting up co-ops (which could degenerate into inefficient state-run small enterprises), yet it is always going to be a matter of educating, organising, and mobilising.

Click on this link:

On Co-operation, Lenin (2611 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx (8317 words)

Dismissing Myths and Misunderstandings of Entrepreneurship, Morris (1170 words)

1506 New Economic Policy


To read Lenin’s writings and speeches on the “New Economic Policy” (NEP) is to discover a process of comprehensive unpacking, and assessment, of factors and variables that are quite similar to those in play in South Africa at the present time. The NEP followed after the “War Communism” that had been in effect during the Civil War in Russia after the Great October Revolution of 1917. [Picture: Lenin in Red Square, Moscow, 25 May 1919]

The NEP was not a substitute for industrial development. Early in our main document, “The Tax in Kind” (1921) (linked below), Lenin emphasises:

“Socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science. It is inconceivable without planned state organisation which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard in production and distribution... At the same time socialism is inconceivable unless the proletariat is the ruler of the state.” - The Tax in Kind

Later, he sums up:

“The tax in kind is a transition from War Communism to a regular socialist exchange of products. The extreme ruin rendered more acute by the crop failure in 1920 has made this transition urgently necessary owing to the fact that it was impossible to restore large-scale industry rapidly. Hence, the first thing to do is to improve the condition of the peasants. The means are the tax in kind, the development of exchange between agriculture and industry, and the development of small industry. Exchange is freedom of trade; it is capitalism.” - The Tax in Kind

The whole document is worth reading and re-reading. Note that the actual “tax in kind” is not particularly prominent in the text.

It is clear that what Lenin is doing is ordering priorities and synthesising all of the factors that were in play. There is no crude dichotomy here that would cancel out the small-scale producers in favour of the large ones. On the contrary, the “development of exchange” between small and large is seen by Lenin as the “means”, both to improve the condition of the peasants, and to restore large-scale industry rapidly.

In the Soviet Union, a false dichotomy did subsequently develop between the small and the large, and it may have weakened that country and helped to set it up for the collapse that occurred. In China, on the contrary, the most scrupulous attention was paid to those peasants and petty-bourgeois who formed the (once-overwhelming and still-existing) majority of the population; but not at the expense of large-scale industrial planning and development. China has survived, and prospered.

Are these things separate? Are they contradictory? Or are they one? There is in fact no choice. We must have it all: both large and small. We must also recognise the inter-relationship between the small-scale enterprises, that can activate large masses of our people, and the large-scale enterprises, that need the same people as providers of goods and services, and as a market. Industrial Strategy and Rural Development must be a unity.

The second linked item, the short speech to the Moscow Soviet in 1922, gives more of the background and history of the NEP. The third, on the Role and Function of Trade Unions under the NEP, speaks unequivocally of “the duty of the trade unions to protect the interests of the working people”, but it needs careful reading to the end, so that the crucial component of the working class is not altogether left out of the calculation between large and small business. Historically, it is the formation and the growth of the proletariat that will be determinant, because class struggle is the motor of history, and because the proletariat is the gravedigger of capitalism.

Click on this link:

The Tax in Kind, Lenin (14724 words)

Further (optional) reading :

Plenary Session Of Moscow Soviet, Speech re NEP, Lenin (3513 words)

Role and Functions of the TUs under NEP, Lenin (4353 words)

1507 Development is Class Struggle


David Moore’s (linked) article, “The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development” appeared in the now-defunct Johannesburg newspaper “ThisDay” in 2004, as an “op-ed” feature. At the time, at the height of the Mbeki Presidency, it was remarkable in the mainstream South African media for being frank about the class struggle. Most of such material one would read at that time, in the depths of the 1996 Class Project years, was of the one-eyed “Development Studies” variety.

Moore only has to say how dull and derivative all this other material had been, to win the case unarguably. The dispute between “neo-liberal GEARs and social-welfarist RDPs” is a sterile one, he says. Like a new broom, Moore swept away the “happy synergistic tales”, while reminding people of “capitalism’s brutal genesis” and also its saving grace, the “vibrantly emerging working classes.”

So as not to forget that the National Democratic Revolution, and also the contested concept of “Development”, arose from the anti-colonial and then anti-neo-colonial struggles, it is worth reading some of the late
Walter Rodney’s [Image] words. Linked below is Chapter 6 from Rodney’s 1973 book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, written while Rodney was a lecturer at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The first paragraph corresponds nicely with Moore’s article, denying

“that ‘after all there must be two sides to a thing'. The argument suggests that, on the one hand, there was exploitation and oppression, but, on the other hand, colonial governments did much for the benefit of Africans and they developed Africa. It is our contention that this is completely false. Colonialism had only one hand - it was a one-armed bandit.”

There is too much reading here for a normal CU study group (but Moore’s newspaper article is suitably short and pointed). Part of the reason for including it is that this series, together with the material from the NDR series, and the State and Revolution series, were conceived of altogether in 2009 as a virtual “SACP Special Congress Reader”.

Colin Leys’ book, researched in Kenya and published 2-3 years after Rodney’s, is remarkable (like Engels’ early work) for being written in the right place at the right time, by a man who was able to see what he was looking at and describe it properly. What he saw was not only post-colonial class formation, but also the beginning of the “neo-liberal” and “Washington Consensus” policies that have cursed us ever since, but now, at last, appear to be on their way out. See the linked item below.

The fourth linked item is a more deliberately scholarly essay by David Moore, also from 2004. It rehearses parts of the factual background of capitalist colonialism and reviews some of the works of then-fashionable theorists, who now, only five years later, seem curiously out-of-date in a way that Walter Rodney, for example, or Lenin, will never be.

No doubt David Moore contributed to the demise of the theories that he described and criticised, thereby doing a good service to us all.

Click on this link:

The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development, Moore (1137 words)

Further (optional) reading:

Colonialism as a System for Underdeveloping Africa, Walter Rodney (34211 words)

Contradictions of Neo-Colonialism, Leys (8510 words)

The Second Age of the Third World, Moore (12938 words)

1508 National Plan


The Green Paper on National Strategic Planning (linked below) is a discussion document, but its release was followed by complaints. COSATU’s General Secretary lambasted it. NEHAWU lambasted it. NEHAWU wrote that:

“It is a known fact that the need for a high level planning and the planning commission and other modalities towards the establishment of the developmental state were agreed upon at the Alliance summit in October 2008.

“NEHAWU therefore believes that it is only proper that the Green Paper should be considered in the impending Alliance summit and that this should take place prior to further processes in parliament and government.”

The Green Paper’s greatest merit is that it makes a strong case for regular central planning on three “time horizons”: 1-year Programmes of Action, 5-year Medium Term “Frameworks” corresponding to a maximum term of office between elections; and Long-Term, plus/minus 15-year, “Visions”.

It makes this case in common-sense or bourgeois-bureaucratic terms, but given that limitation, it does not compromise with neo-liberalism. With this Green Paper, the necessity for planning has become orthodoxy in South Africa.

The Green Paper is not itself a plan. It commits the Minister to produce the first national plan within a year from now. It lays down the process by which the planning will be done – centrally, of course, but transparently, and not secretly or pre-emptively.

The major de-merit of the Green Paper from a communist point of view is shown by its frequent mention of something resembling an imaginary table of weaknesses and problems. In this list you find women, children, the disabled and the old, and those with low “social status”- meaning the working class. Race, gender and lack of education are mentioned, but never “class”, or the “working class”. Instead, where race is mentioned you get more (balancing?) remarks about low “social status”, as if being working class is a disability or a disease that needs to be palliated, treated or cured.

The class struggle may be the engine of history, the Green Paper seems to imply, but it can’t be considered in plans. The plans imagined in the Green Paper will be curative courses of treatment for ills. If this remains unchanged, the strategic plans produced by the process described are bound to fall far short of what is necessary.

The historical measure of change and of progress is the rate of class formation. The basis of Chinese revolutionary planning success in the last sixty years, for example, has been their constant attention to class formation. (Even their few, now-long-past failures were a consequence of the same, correct, focus).

None of the goods, whether public or private, that the planning process is designed to maximise will be secure unless there is a steady and eventually overwhelming growth of the working class. By treating the working class as a “social status” problem, the Green Paper has the whole matter upside down, and will fail, if it does not get corrected.

Without any positive class orientation, the planning process as outlined in the Green Paper will default back to conservative bourgeois utilitarianism. The determination towards planning that the Green Paper represents is a great leap forward, but it will come to nothing if the planning process is not infused with revolutionary class-consciousness. This is a job for the communists, and we must get to work on it.

There is a great deal inside the Green Paper about protocol and government etiquette. Whether these things are really crucial will become apparent, provided transparency is observed, and will be capable of correction.

Also linked is an Economic Policy planning document for South Africa by Xoli Dlabantu (linked).

The graphic is the symbol of the former German Democratic Republic, a good friend to South Africa, founded 60 years before the release of the SA Government Green Paper on National Strategic Planning.

Click on this link:

SA Government Green Paper on National Strategic Planning (14354 words)

Further (optional) reading:

National Integrated Development Strategy, Xoli Dlabantu (3799 words)

1509 State & Future of Local & Provincial Government

This space is reserved for an opening to the Discussion Document for the 2009 SACP Special National Congress.

1510 Industrial Strategy and Rural Development

This is reserved for an opening to the Discussion Document for the 2009 SACP Special National Congress.