As the Republican and Democratic Party convention circuses play out in the U.S., the recent massacre in South Africa (see page 8) shows the electoral system’s utter antagonism to the working class. On August 16, black and white police officers of the “freely elected” ANC (African National Congress) government shot dead 34 black miners striking at the Marikana platinum mine. “In the majority of cases, the bullet exited the body through the chest, suggesting the men were shot in the back while running away” (Independent, London, 8/30/12). To make matters worse, ANC regime prosecutors have charged 270 survivors of the massacre with murder, even though cops did the shooting. This has been withdrawn “provisonally” due to mass outrage.
The workers died because the politicians commanding the cops serve capitalists. No politician can successfully run for office without financial and media support from one faction of bosses or another. South Africa’s first “democratic elections” in 1994 ended apartheid (legalized segregation and oppression of black people) but ushered in exploitation with a new face. The ANC, like Obama, presides over the same racist profit system which existed in the period before black presidents in South Africa and the U.S.
At the polls, the openly racist, pro-apartheid Dutch-rooted Afrikaner wing of South African bosses lost its once supreme authority. ANC leader Nelson Mandela — who supported capitalism — gained the presidency with both a groundswell of first-time black voters and the backing of the ultra-rich Oppenheimer family. The latter owned the lion’s share of the country’s gold, diamond and platinum mines and had opposed apartheid while promoting black labor unions. Oppenheimer wanted to end nation-wide rebellion and a worldwide boycott to obtain labor peace and foreign investment. The liberal Oppenheimer clan had strong ties to British and U.S. banks, with one of its firms sporting the name Anglo-American.
Capitalist, ANC Alliance Pulled the Trigger
“Mandela and [family patriarch Harry] Oppenheimer became close before Mandela’s presidency and would grow even closer: After Mandela’s election, Oppenheimer frequently hosted him at his luxurious estate. Mandela was also known to bring De Beers [an Oppenheimer-owned diamond company] representatives on foreign trips” (New Republic, 12/18/07). Under Mandela and his successors, South Africa’s state apparatus (including the police) became integrated but now took orders from liberal U.S.- and British-backed mine barons instead of the Afrikaners.
It was this alliance of politicians and corporations, inseparable from the profit system, that pulled the triggers in Marikana. Workers at the mine, owned by British-based Lonmin, had joined the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which opposed the ANC. They were demanding, along with wage hikes, nationalization of the industry. But early last year, “Anglo-American Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Carroll said nationalization of mining assets in South Africa, which has the world’s largest mineral reserves, would be ‘the road to ruin’” (Bloomberg News, 2/8/11).
Oppenheimer-founded Anglo demanded a full inquiry from current president Jacob Zuma. He heads the ANC, which has consistently enjoyed the false legitimacy of 60-plus percent majorities at the polls. Guess what happened? In less than a year, “a study commissioned by the ruling African National Congress recommended against the policy, saying nationalization would be an ‘economic disaster’” (Bloomberg, 2/7/12).
However, nationalization is just another type of bosses’ tool to deceive workers into believing that a different set of profit-making bosses can serve workers’ needs.
Big Oil/Wall Street Control Both Parties
Back in the U.S., the factions for whom racist capitalist butchers Obama and Romney toil make South African bosses look tame. The Big Oil/Wall Street imperialists steering Obama need to control the Middle East’s oil and gas supply routes and are gearing up for a likely clash with China over them. One U.S. drone strike for the benefit of Exxon Mobil and JP Morgan matches the Marikana body count. Obama’s Libya adventure, against Chinese and Russian influence, wiped out a thousand times more working-class lives.
Romney’s official foreign policy literature puts him in the same “World War III with China” camp as Obama. But billionaire pro-Israel fanatic Sheldon Adelson tops the GOP’s donor list, to the tune of a $100 million campaign pledge. If Adelson’s camp prevails and Romney becomes commander-in-chief, a U.S. or Israeli (or joint) strike against Iran could be accelerated.
Voting A Death-Trap for Workers
For workers from the U.S. to South Africa and across the globe, voting is worse than futile. It legitimizes capitalists’ killing of our sisters and brothers with a stamp of popular approval. The only route to effective change lies in building towards destroying the profit system and replacing it with true workers’ rule, when the international working class holds state power under one party.
That can only be achieved when Progressive Labor Party members win workers and youth in the shops, schools, military and all the other capitalist-led mass organizations to join the PLP.
This will create a mass party capable of smashing the bosses’ state with communist revolution.