No More Oscar Jokes.

March 11, 2014

The trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend is a squalid affair being treated in a tawdry manner by meretricious people. It is, therefore, being promoted and publicised for commercial purposes by people without any concern for justice, truth of morality. These people mainly comprise the masters of the commercial media. Therefore it is advisable for the purportedly serious media to find strategies through which they can justify this atrocious behaviour and thus conceal their own fundamental contempt for their audience.

For instance, we are told that the Pistorius trial is a major test for our judiciary. How it can be more of a test for our judiciary than any other trial is difficult to fathom; apparently, however, since foreigners are watching, our judicial practice must be on its best behaviour. The judge must not talk conspicuous nonsense serving the interests of political or commercial masters, the attorneys must attempt to fulfil the requirements of the law, the support services must function as they are supposed to under the constitution.

These people saying this, therefore, want the Pistorius trial to be a charade through which the regime is attempting to fool foreigners into thinking that we have a functioning judicial system when we do not. It is rather like the USSR’s contribution to the Coronation Naval Review in 1953, to which the Soviets sent a Sverdlovsk-class cruiser which was widely complimented for the smart performance by its crewmembers — hardly surprising, since the Soviets had stripped the Soviet Navy of its officers in order to crew her! However, this was only successful because powerful people in the West wished to frighten the Western working class with the Soviet bogey and therefore it was in their interest to represent the USSR’s military as awesomely powerful. It is not in the interest of powerful people in the West to give favourable comment to the South African legal system, and therefore they will not do this simply because of the Pistorius trial.

It is, however, worth noting that this trial has not, in its first week, exactly covered the legal system in glory. The incapacity of the state in Pretoria (which is, after all, an Afrikaner heartland) to provide a competent translator from Afrikaans to English (even though these are the two most affluent ethnic groupings in South Africa and therefore those most likely to go to court over matters of commercial importance) was startling. The blundering of Pistorius’ advocate, one of the most highly-paid in the country, is also notable; he has, for instance, “accidentally” revealed the private cellphone number of a state witness, and “accidentally” failed to notice that one of the centrepieces of his cross-examination contradicted Pistorius’ pre-trial affidavit. If this is the best the South African bar has to offer, they should at least be made to wear clown-shoes under their robes.

Another, slightly less contemptible, contention, is that the Pistorius trial will show, or at least serve as a signal, that the government and people of South Africa care about the rights of women. It would, of course, be nice if the government cared about women who are not white, rich and beautiful, but supposedly to be deeply concerned to protect millionaire supermodels is a start. Actually, however, it isn’t. Sandile Memela has already rightly pointed out that if Pistorius had shot and killed a black man in his toilet, nothing like this would have happened, the trial would be over, Pistorius would have got off with a caution and would be running around happily as if human life were of no consequence at all. One might justly suspect, moreover, that almost everybody would be less enthusiastic if the victim of the shooting had been named Donna Mbongweni.

Instead of (very ineptly and hopelessly) trying to use the trial to further the agenda of South African politicians in their efforts to misrepresent South Africa in the outside world, perhaps we should ask ourselves what the trial actually reveals to us.

The issue is simple. A rich man’s son became a celebrity by becoming a track star, despite being crippled by the loss of parts of his lower legs, thus also becoming an inspirational figure to many. Being rich and popular he acquired a pretty girlfriend. Then he shot the pretty girlfriend and has gone on trial for it. So far this is anything but an attractive story, but it is hardly unsurprising that a person whose public image is largely the creation of hired agencies should turn out to be repulsive in reality; it is the task of public relations industries to make shit smell like sugar.

The basic assumption which one makes when one partner in a relationship kills the other, is that it is murder. Partners inevitably antagonise each other. All relationships undergo strains and conflicts. (When one partner has a deadly weapon, the possibility of murder during one of these conflicts goes up alarmingly.) So it is up to Pistorius’ lawyers to prove that this is not the standard situation of inter-partner conflict escalating into murder, and this is going to be a difficult thing to prove — all the more difficult when one is dealing with a man of great personal vanity and insecurity who may also have been taking performance-enhancing drugs whose side effects include promoting unpredictable outbreaks of rage.

The best way to elude this problem would surely have been to prevent the case from going on trial in the first place. If the country were truly run by rich people all working together in a sinister conspiracy to protect themselves at all costs, this is surely what would have happened. We would have been told that Ms. Steenkamp had died in a tragic accident, and presently that Mr. Pistorius was in seclusionary mourning, and then we would have heard no more unless some ill-advised journalist published some facts and got sued and then fired, after which the facts would have been suppressed. This in fact is what happens when a crime takes place, like Brett Kebble’s murder, where rich and powerful people would be endangered by the solution of the crime. Therefore, we can safely assume that the Pistorius case is not one of this kind; while Pistorius’ father is filthy rich, he himself is merely a rich man’s playboy son, and therefore not entitled to special protection. (If the father committed a similar crime the consequences might have been very different.)

So it is left to the defence lawyers, who, thus far, have not done a tremendously good job. The first problem is that Pistorius’ defence — that he thought that his girlfriend was a burglar hiding in the toilet and therefore shot the supposed intruder four times without warning, sight unseen — reflects amazingly badly on Pistorius’ character. Some commentators have declared that this is a typical white South African paranoid response which harks back to the apartheid regime, but this leaves out the fact that this was a gated residential area continually patrolled by a squad of armed security guards, and therefore ought to have been one of the safest areas in the whole country. This is not a panicky irascible old codger defending his Braamfontein or Gardens abode against encroaching darkies with his trusty handgun. If this is the way the ruling class choose to live, we must view them with a combination of pity and contempt.

The evidence also strongly suggests that Pistorius’ girlfriend was screaming before he shot her, and that all the house lights were on. This has led the defense advocate to make the widely and justifiably mocked claims that the witnesses must have confused Pistorius’ shouts with a woman’s screams, and confused the sound of Pistorius breaking down a door with a cricket bat with the sounds of a heavy-calibre pistol being discharged. Of course a lawyer must support the client up to the limit of credibility, but this seems to transcend that limit quite far and it uncomfortably reminds one that this is the lawyer who defended the conspicuous crook Brett Kebble on charges of having cheated on his income tax (which, of course, he had).

It would appear that the ruling class are protected by bodyguards of shameless liars, who are obliged to tell such lies because they have to protect the lies told by the ruling class out of their own stupidity. Anyone else planning to kill their partners would surely not make such implausible claims as Pistorius has told — and yet very similar lies were told, for instance, around the Kebble trial, and were prevalent in the legal shenanigans which surrounded the ruling class’s installation of Zuma in power. Manifestly the ruling class, knowing that they are buttressed with cash, are not at all concerned with making things credible — quite possibly they are excited at the thought that they will escape the consequences of their criminality courtesy of bribery and a rigged legal system. Though it does not seem very likely to happen in this particular case.

Of course the legal system is rigged. Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron has proclaimed it so. Everybody else knew it already, but nevertheless it is interesting that Cameron confirms it. Interesting because Cameron did not follow this up with his resignation from the Constitutional Court and from legal practice and with his going off to work in some vaguely useful sphere in order to make up for all those years devoted to serving the corrupt whims of the ruling class and trampling on the interests of the overwhelming majority.  Of course, a lawyer must be without any sense of responsibility or honesty, but then it is surely advisable not to pretend to have such a sense by criticising the inhumanly corrupt practices in which one is engaged.

But what matters for the affluent is that the corruption favours them. And, moreover, when the system is not corrupt, when it is compelled to behave in an honest fashion, then it also favours them; the trial of Pistorius will show that South African justice can be seen to be done, and therefore it will be pretended that there is anything like real justice in the country. It would perhaps be better if the trial were an obvious charade. Where William Zanzinger is handed-down a six-months sentence for murdering Hattie Carroll, then at least nobody can to point to the trial and lyingly claim that it shows that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom.

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And On We Go.

March 11, 2014

Rollback! Or should it be Containment? Brave little secretly-CIA-funded organisations promoting Freedom in Occupied Europe! Why should we allow some country to have the wrong kind of government just because they voted for it? Straits crisis! Enemy tanks rolling through the streets of an unhappy victim of the Enemy! Duck and Cover!

In reality the Cold War was so unutterably convenient for Western imperialism that it never really went away after the Soviet Union jacked it in and folded up like a rotten orange. Still, those of us who do not live in the mentally-enslaved economic labour camp called the Free World are possibly a bit startled at its sudden return fully-grown, full of fight and full of 99 44/100 % bullshit. How did we get here? Well, did we expect someone to hold up a sign saying KINDLY REMAIN SEATED ACT II WILL COMMENCE SHORTLY, or something?

What happened in the Ukraine was and is quite unsurprising, but is also — well — a bit disturbing.

The Ukraine had been a Russian satellite since the days of Peter the Great — that’s over 300 years back for you innumerates — and had been part of Russia since Catherine. But in 1917 the German invaders proclaimed it independent (backing the nationalists, who were happier to be ruled by Germans than by Moscow) and since then everyone with plenty of money from the Pripet Marshes to the Black Sea dreamed of using that money to establish independence from the ghastly Bolsheviks and become really filthy rich.

It didn’t help that Stalin decided to make an example of the Ukraine and starve out its wealthy peasants with genocidal consequences. As a result the Ukrainians welcomed the Nazis in with open arms, which made it much easier for the Nazis to starve out the remaining wealthy peasants with genocidal consequences. Many of them didn’t mind because the Nazis were at least murdering the filthy Yids, and therefore when the logic of history brought the Soviet Army rolling back across the black-soil belt, with the blue-tabbed NKVD executioners following them to sort out the traitors, many Ukrainians became partisans against the Soviet government in support of the Nazis. They were successful enough that the CIA was still sending them arms as late as 1953.

All this festered until 1991, when the Communist Party disintegrated and Boris Yeltsin took over the USSR in a coup. In order to sustain his popularity and ensure that the Americans paid his vodka bill, Yeltsin agreed to simply break up the USSR altogether, splitting the country up along lines which in most cases were as arbitrary as the colonial lines drawn in Africa, but which had previously hardly mattered because by the 1970s it was a lot easier to get from Russia to the Ukraine than from South Africa to Mozambique. But by 1992 there was a well-policed national border in the way, and a lot of Russians were on the wrong side of it, and the best way for demagogic, corrupt Ukrainian politicians to hold on to power in Kiev was to promote hatred of Russians.

One thing which Yeltsin had done when he sold out the Russians of the Ukraine (incidentally, people talk about “ethnic Russians” versus “ethnic Ukrainians” but this is bullshit; Russians and Ukrainians are of the same ethnicity, they just talk slightly different languages — like the difference between Bavarian and Hanoverian) was to secure a naval base at Sebastopol. This is the only big naval base in the Black Sea, the only sea on the Russian border which is ice-free all the year round (although easily denied access to the world-ocean if you blockade the Dardanelles or the Bosphorus). Though it seems silly to outsiders, access to world trade is important to Russia, and while Yeltsin was allowed to sell out independence, democracy and the Russian economy, if he’d sold out Sebastopol he’d have been lynched.

The Americans and the Russians have waged a tug-of-war with the Ukraine as the rope. The Russians have the much stronger tug-of-war team, but every once in a while the Americans send in goon squads to beat them up, ensuring that they win the match. That’s what happened in 2004, when George W Bush’s “Orange Revolution” kicked out the Russian-backed corrupt gangsters from Kiev and replaced them with American-backed corrupt gangsters. The latter mob, who will be familiar to anyone who’s been seriously involved in Eastern European prostitute-trafficking, ruled the roost until late last year. The Russians were obviously not happy — they’d have preferred their own crooks in charge — but since the Ukraine runs on gas power and the Russians control the whole of Ukraine’s supply of gas, the Russians had other things to worry about.

The trouble was, however, that the boss of the Ukraine did a foolish thing. He jailed a businesswoman who had American connections. Suddenly, the people of the Ukraine rose up in all the majesty of an oppressed mass struggling to be free, and demanded that billionaires be allowed to make gigantic profits from sweetheart petrochemical deals with Russia without fear of being sent to jail. If this sounds tipsy, it is; it was our old friend the Tea Party, the masses demanding a better deal for the classes, but with the tea made in a samovar instead of a pot. (This doesn’t mean that the jailed businesswoman was any more corrupt than the party boss, of course.)

At this point, you would expect the boss of the Ukraine to get all nervous. The Yanks were against him, and they’d installed him in the first place. He had two options; go with the Yanks, release the businesswoman, and get thrown out, or go with Moscow and alienate his right-wing corporate support-base, but stay in power (maybe). Being gutless he chose to do neither. Then Europe offered him a sweet bailout to escape from his immediate economic worries (the Ukraine is bankrupt) in exchange for much bigger economic worries later (and the Europeans have a habit of failing to fulfil their own obligations in deals while insisting that you fulfil your own obligations to the letter and beyond). The “opposition” in Kiev, a bunch of bought-and-paid-for corporate hacks and spook front people, welcomed this with glee and pretended that it was the overture to full European Community membership (which it wasn’t). The Ukrainian President got a phone call from Moscow telling him that it wasn’t a good idea (which was perfectly true, although Vlad “Impaler” Putin has his own private definition of the word “good”)

Apart from Sebastopol there was another reason for Russia to be edgy about Western activities in the Ukraine, and this was NATO. When Gorbachev pulled out of Eastern Europe it was on the understanding that Eastern Europe wouldn’t join NATO. Then Eastern Europe joined NATO and there was nothing the Ukrainians could do about it except quietly tell Byelorussia and the Ukraine that joining NATO would be a Very Bad Idea. One of George Bush’s spectacular projects was abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the USSR (the Russians have the quaint idea that treaties should be held to, but the Americans have this “unsigning” policy they bring out whenever convenient, and anyway the USSR no longer exists) and deploying anti-ballistic missiles in Poland, allegedly to defend Europe against Iran (which has no missile that can reach Europe).

The deployment didn’t happen, but the Obama administration is even more keen on ABMs and wants to deploy them as far forward against Russia — oops, Iran, sorry — as possible, preferably on the Ukrainian border. The Russians don’t like that, partly out of pride, partly out of grand strategy. They really don’t want NATO’s tanks on their front lawn. They see NATO as a weapon aimed at them (and who the hell else could it be aimed at — Somalia?). And so they’re distrustful of the Americans and the Western Europeans for the rather shallow reason that they’ve broken every promise they ever made, and they are nervous about the Americans deploying strategic weapons on their borders. Hey, aren’t these Russians mean and paranoid! It’s not as if the Americans would get all uptight if the Russians were to, say, deploy strategic weapons to Cuba. Oh, wait . . .

So when the People marched in support of Western big business, NATO and America’s right to stick its nuclear dick wherever it wishes, Moscow got antsy. The boss in Kiev, with his usual acumen, hid under the bed and waited for everything to be over. Unfortunately, the People began to stop showing up after a while — who the hell really cares about corrupt businesspeople and gigantic loans which those businesspeople will pocket and then make the rest of the public pay for? So the people backing the People had to up the ante a little, and enter the Ukrainian fascist movement, stage right, with thugs in steel helmets and carrying rifles suddenly showing up and taking pot-shots at the local cops. That made up for any shortage of mass membership, since the cops showed a certain reluctance to face rifle fire. Call in the army! But unfortunately the Americans fund the Ukrainian army and they were able to persuade them to “remain independent” (that is, side with the businesspeople and the fascists). The Boss of Kiev came out from under his bed, filled a few suitcases with banknotes and scuttled off across the Russian border. Another triumph for democracy!

Not really. It turns out that nobody is going to bail out the Ukraine. The current government is therefore engaged in doing what it is told — namely, proposing to slash salaries, reduce what remains of social services and generally turn the Ukraine into Greece-Beyond-The-Bosphorus, which is not quite what the Pan-Slavs had in mind. It’s going to make them unpopular even with the western Ukrainians; what the Russians in the Ukraine are going to think about that doesn’t really bear consideration. However, the Russians aren’t going to get much consideration, because in order to rally the western Ukrainians, one of the first things the new Kiev junta did was repeal a law guaranteeing Russians the right to be educated in their language and use their language in the courts. We don’ need no steenking Russkis!

The Russians in the Ukraine are therefore unhappy, but they have nobody to help them, except in the Crimea where the Russian naval base was entitled to deploy about 30 000 troops. Understandably, the Russians in the Crimea (overwhelmingly the majority) felt in a strong position. They took control of the territory. Maybe they did so with Russian help; they certainly did so with Russian approval and the Russians made military demonstrations in the region to support them. Efforts by the Kiev government to take back the government buildings and military bases seized by the Crimeans failed and the Russian government meanwhile condemned the Kiev government for its anti-Russian stance.

So we have a standoff. Kiev can’t invade the Crimea and enforce its will, because that would mean war with Russia. It would be logical for the Kiev government to moderate its anti-Russian stance, but unfortunately it consists almost entirely of parties whose whole rationale is to hate Russians, and its policies are such that it badly needs a nationalistic distraction. Of course, if the Kiev government simply guaranteed the Russian government’s rights in the Crimea and then called on the locals to negotiate with Kiev, perhaps with Russians observing, then a deal might be reached. This could probably be organised under the counter, even as the Kiev government banged its empty anti-Russian drum.

Unfortunately, the Americans are already there, and they are, as is their habit, opposed to anything which smacks of diplomacy. They want to get everything, preferably through force. But they have no force and the government they are backing is technically illegitimate, unpopular with a minority of Ukrainians, and likely to become unpopular with just about everybody. However, they control the Kiev government and can get it to do whatever they want, and this has nothing to do with the interests of either the Kiev government or the Ukraine.

So they are accusing the Russians of aggression, because the Russians have followed the terms of their agreement with the Ukraine. Nobody outside America and her satellite countries takes this seriously for a moment. Obviously the Chinese don’t like precedents which might affect Outer Mongolia and Tibet, such as the idea that the Crimea should have independence or autonomy, but they’ve had to live with such precedents before, as in South Sudan and Kosovo (where secession imposed by armed might supported by foreigners was cheered to the echo by the Americans). Basically, nobody whom the Americans aren’t paying gives a stuff about the Crimea. Probably not even the Ukrainians give very much. It’s a wholly manufactured crisis intended to give the American media the excuse for whomping up a new Cold War with Russia (and with most of the rest of the world, but naturally the Americans pretend otherwise).

It all makes perfect sense from the American paranoid sociopathic perspective. For the rest of us, we should just stand behind Putin (unpleasant as he may be, he hasn’t once put a foot wrong in this crisis) and hope that the Americans will eventually see reason and allow the crisis to wind down. But we should also remember that ultimately, the Americans are not going to stop doing this until their horrible regime implodes.


Is Sectarianism Undermining The EFF?

March 11, 2014

Sectarianism is a term of which the left is extremely fond. It means that a small group is defining themselves as those who are right (as opposed to the rest of us who are wrong). Therefore this small group, because they are right, have a moral duty to impose their opinions by any means necessary on the rest of us. Obviously, people who are wrong cannot be allowed to mislead the people! This makes the small group necessarily destructive in its behaviour even if its policies are indeed right and even if the policies of others are indeed flawed.

The problem becomes acute when there are several such groupings, all of whom insist that they alone are right. The problem is exaggerated when all these groupings have, or at least profess, the same policies and situational analysis. This is the primary reason why left-wing organisations tend to dissolve into multiple factions hurling rocks at each other while shouting slogans which nobody outside the organisations can understand. It accounts for the widespread ridicule which the far left faces (the cleverest of which is the famous “People’s Front of Judea” sequence from the film The Life Of Brian).

There is a further problem with sectarianism. If you believe that your policy is correct, and that all others are wrong, you will be very reluctant to work with anyone else. Actions which others undertake must be opposed, because if you supported them you would be helping to strengthen an organisation with the wrong policy, and remaining neutral is not an option, so therefore you will work to undermine them.

During the 1980s there were several organisations in Cape Town, mostly holdovers from Neville Alexander’s “National Forum” which had swiftly disintegrated due to sectarianism, which functioned like this. They never took an initiative of their own, but instead, whenever the UDF called for a boycott, or the MDM for a stayaway, or COSATU for a strike, these organisations would appear in press-conference or pamphlet form to call on the public not to support these actions. Very often the pamphlets issued by these people were indistinguishable from fake pamphlets issued by the secret police for the same purpose. These organisations had decided to postpone all anti-apartheid action until they had succeeded in destroying the only effective anti-apartheid movement. (This kind of tendency is wickedly caricatured in the figure of “Gus” in Richard Rive’s Emergency.)The fact that sometimes their criticisms of the anti-apartheid movement had some validity does not excuse the fact that they spent their labours working to protect and defend apartheid.

What concerns me is that the same sort of thing seems to be happening at the moment. I don’t know what is going on within the EFF, whether it has any democratic structures or whether it has grassroots support. People actually seem afraid to talk about it; the DA enjoys far more open support in the african community at Fort Hare than the EFF does. However, it’s pretty obvious that the EFF, whatever its faults are, is the only party proposing to contest the elections which has a policy challenging the ANC-DA neoliberal consensus and which has any prospect of gaining representation. As such, the left should support it, and yet to put it mildly the organised left’s response is tepid. (Obviously that means the left outside the officially Charterist movement, which has ceased to be left in any sense of the word; the EFF is actually Charterist but has been formally excommunicated by Pope Gwede the Infallible.)

The primary EFF policy challenging the status quo is the proposal to nationalise the mining and financial industry. This is a nineteenth-century policy; the concept of “seizing the commanding heights of the economy” dates back to the Fabian movement and was originally written into the British Labour Party Constitution by Sydney Webb. (It was deleted by Tony Blair.) It is not, of course, socialist, but it does entail severely weakening the power of local and transnational capital, and therefore of imperialism, to determine the policies of the government; it is therefore a necessary precondition for socialism to be introduced, and therefore all socialists should support it.

What has actually happened, however, is that the EFF (in its former incarnation as the old ANC Youth League) put this forward in 2007, and the left sat on its hands. The leftists within COSATU, terrified of the SACP (which opposed the formulation on preposterously specious grounds) did not speak out. The Trotskyites outside the Charterist movement shouted, ineffectually, along with the SACP. However, once the inevitable purge had destroyed the ANCYL and expelled its leadership, some of these factions, notably NUMSA within COSATU and the “Workers’ and Socialists’ Party” (WASP) within the Trotskyite movement, suddenly took over the ANCYL formulation lock, stock and barrel, as if they had always been in favour of it. In reality, they had been afraid to support anything which would antagonise the ruling class, until a sufficient constituency for this policy had been built up by the ANCYL. It wasn’t about expressing the right policy at all; it was about trying to seize the constituency which the ANCYL had built up.

But then the EFF was formed, and the constituency appears (if we may believe the corporate pollsters) to have gone over to it — which is hardly surprising, since a) they invented the policy appealing to that constituency, and b) they are the only force which has consistently fought for it and made sacrifices for it. Meanwhile, NUMSA suddenly finds itself under direct attack from its own parent organisation COSATU, probably as a direct result of adopting these policies (but also as a result of challenging the organisation’s leadership in support of a more sympathetic leader, Zwelenzima Vavi, who has been purged).

It was not, however, NUMSA, but WASP which first approached the EFF. It appears that they offered some kind of cooperation, rather in the way that Agang offered some kind of cooperation with the DA. (They were, after all, pursuing the same constituency, sometimes directly competing, as in WASP’s and the EFF’s attempts to mobilise in the platinum mining belt.) Unlike the DA, the EFF felt free to reject the overture; they did not need WASP and certainly did not view WASP as any kind of supportive force, but instead suggested that WASP disband and join the EFF. This is not really sectarian; they were not denouncing or repudiating WASP, simply noting that WASP was tiny and ineffectual.

However, WASP seems to have taken this as an affront. NUMSA, meanwhile, rejected the EFF’s overtures. This was also reasonable, but what was more surprising (given NUMSA’s weak position and the essential identity of their policies with the EFF’s) was that NUMSA went on to denounce the EFF in terms not very different from the SACP’s or the white bourgeois media’s. This was a sectarian act, for it ignored objective reality in favour of the interests of the leadership of the movement camouflaged with spurious political justifications.

More recently it has turned out that while NUMSA was unwilling to collaborate with the EFF, their political education sessions draw heavily on Trotskyite academics from the University of Johannesburg (which is the heartland of WASP, and if these academics are not actually members of WASP they are certainly its allies). The purpose of these academics in their educational policies was not to help NUMSA understand its policy of setting up a “Workers’ Party” (which is actually a problematic policy) or even to help NUMSA pursue such a policy (how could they, when these academics have no experience of such activities?). Instead, the goal of these academics was to fuel NUMSA’s hostility to the ANC and COSATU, and to discourage NUMSA from aligning itself with the EFF. Neither of these goals has much to do with the interests of the South African organised working class, but it has everything to do with furthering the agendas of South African Trotskyism. And yet NUMSA shop stewards seem to have lapped this up, even when the bizarre spectacle of an office-bound bourgeois intellectual lecturing workers about the significance of service delivery protests manifested itself.

So what seems to be happening is that NUMSA is being schooled in sectarianism. It is of course true that if and when NUMSA is expelled from COSATU, it will be in a position to set up a “Workers’ Party” which might be in competition with the EFF. However, such a party would not simply be a parliamentary party (which is what the EFF is at the moment) but in theory ought to be a wider movement. It would not necessarily be in direct competition with the EFF, except perhaps in election time, whereas both NUMSA and the EFF are at one in comparison with their opponents, which are the neoliberal intelligentsia, the tycoons of finance and the agents of international capitalist imperialism. Therefore there ought to be a way in which the two could cooperate without having to be allies. Indeed, the EFF has ostentatiously refrained from attacking NUMSA or WASP in response to their attacks on it. This might seem surprising given how virulently the ANCYL attacked its opponents within the ANC when it was attacked there. However, it seems that the EFF is prepared to see NUMSA and WASP as competitors rather than enemies.

It might be possible for this to be worked out by all. In a recent issue of Amandla, one of the Western Cape ultra-leftists acknowledged that the EFF was not fascistic and could perhaps be seen as progressive — thus breaking with the spurious SACP rhetoric which has been all too widely imitated on the left. If so, then the EFF either ought to be supported, or at least ought not to be opposed. However, WASP is not willing to do this — perhaps because its leaders are personally offended at being treated like members of an insignificant bourgeois clique — and NUMSA is not willing to do this — perhaps because its leaders feel that they, and not the EFF, have the right to reap the rewards of the work which the EFF has been doing, on the grounds that they were there first, even if they did not have the guts to speak their minds until the EFF had prepared the ground for years.

At the moment this does not matter. NUMSA is not going to get its Workers’ Party together within the next year. WASP was not going to amount to anything, and its hostility means no more than the lukewarm sympathy of the “Democratic Left Front” might mean. The field is open for the EFF in parliamentary terms. However, in the future, all this squabbling will probably amount to something; it may be used against the EFF once it is a serious opposition party (the pseudo-leftist Maverick journalist Hlongwane has already denounced the EFF as insufficiently radical, showing how the right wing knows how to play ultra-leftists like an ocarina). It will either be used to split the EFF, or to discourage workers and socialists from supporting the EFF and thus ensuring that the left wing does not amount to anything in terms of political power. That’s a prospect to be worried about.