Proposals For An International Left Platform

By the South African Communist Party

[This is a working draft prepared by the leadership of the SACP and circulated on the internet.]


1. The turn of the century marks a very important moment for left-wing forces globally. The 1990s have ended on a note quite different from that on which they began. We have travelled, in the space of a decade, from an extreme of capitalist triumphalism, occasioned by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the implosion of the old Soviet Union, to the WTO [World Trade Organisation] Seattle Round.

2. While capitalism remains, by far, the hegemonic system internationally and within our continent and country, its untrammelled domination is meeting with more and more opposition. It is an opposition that comes from those who are concerned with the profit-driven destruction of our environment, and from those who are deeply concerned about the casino "free market" values pervading every domain of our lives. It is an opposition increasingly expressed by democratic governments in the South alarmed that, in this past decade, eighty countries have become poorer than at the beginning of the 1990s, despite all the promises about the new globalisation "freeway". And it is an opposition that comes from those millions around the world who have lost the prospect of ever having a decent job. For us, the most important lesson at the end of this decade and century is that capitalism is incapable of addressing even the most basic of needs for millions of ordinary people throughout the world. Instead all indications point to worsening poverty and disease as capitalist globalisation deepens.

3. Many of these forces struggling against capitalist barbarism may not see themselves as socialists, but as the SACP we believe that we are all fundamentally in the same trench. We are convinced that the coming century will see much greater moral and political unity between all forces and individuals who hold dear the basic values of human equality, freedom, solidarity, social progress, peace and economic justice.

4. We should use this historic moment of the dawning of a new decade and century as an opportunity to take forward these struggles, including the elimination of gender and racially based inequalities. In particular, the struggle to eradicate poverty on our continent, in order to make this century truly a century of the African working people and the poor, a century of socialism.

5. We are closing this millennium with renewed signs of a revival of left-wing forces after about a decade of uncertainty in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. There is a growing message that is beginning to resurface again in the world that capitalism continues to be the biggest failure of this century. It is within this context that we assert that the future is socialism.

6. In the light of all this, the SACP is firmly of the view that the six most important challenges facing the international socialist and progressive people's movements are:

n the eradication of poverty

  • the creation of mass-based and people-driven democracies
  • the fight for affordable medicines for developing countries, focusing on HIV/AIDS drugs and the broader fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic
  • the transformation of world political and economic institutions to orientate them towards the needs and interests of developing countries
  • the cancellation of Third World debt
  • transformation of gender relations.

The eradication of poverty

1. According to a report released in June 2000 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO, World Labour Report Income Security and Social Protection in a Changing World), globalisation has led to job losses and increasing poverty for people in developing countries. The report also states the following:

  • A quarter of the world's population of 6 billion lives on less than $1 a day.
  • During the past five years the world's poor have increased by 200 million.
  • In the developing world, nearly a third of the population has no access to drinkable water.
  • More than 40% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia live in poverty, and this proportion is rising.
  • Out of the world's 150 million unemployed, no more than a quarter have some unemployment benefit.

2. In other words, poverty in the world is deepening, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and the gulf between the North and the South has become so wide that it can truly be called a crisis for humanity. In short, capitalism is no solution to the problems facing humanity.

The creation of mass-based and people-driven democracies

1. The nation-state is challenged by many realities, including the sheer size and speed of international trade, the emergence of global structures, regional economic power blocs and the reconfiguration of local power relations. The sovereign capacities of nation-states are also ideologically challenged by the dominant neo-liberal ideology. However, it is important to understand that nation-states remain powerful actors. Neo-liberalism seeks to transform the nation-state into a "lean and mean" apparatus capable of imposing austerity measures on society and capable of repressing the inevitable social upheavals that follow.

2. Critical in advancing the interests of the world's poor and working people is the construction of powerful national democratic developmental states in developing countries where popular forces are influential and leading society. Representative democracy needs to be complemented with diverse forms of popular direct and participatory democracy. National democratic developmental states must be active catalysers and key strategic coordinators of democratic and economic and social development objectives. But we also need active societies, in order to transform and empower the very states that have to carry out this developmental role. We need strong national democratic states to transform society and society to transform the state.

3. Central in this would be defending and extending the public sector as the major vehicle for addressing the needs of the poor. Privatisation and liberalisation of economies are only serving to deepen unemployment and poverty worldwide. Therefore the struggle for the retention and development of publicly controlled resources is another key left-wing platform for international solidarity today. We cannot allow meeting the basic needs of the working people and the poor to be subjected to the vicissitudes of the global casino economy.

4. Building strong, democratic and mass based national democratic states is important for the building of people's power and the eventual transition to socialism.

The fight for affordable medicines for developing countries, focusing on HIV/AIDS drugs and the broader fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic

1. Many curable and preventable diseases (such as malaria, TB, diarrhoea, polio etc.) have led to the premature deaths of millions across the world, with more than 10 million people dying from AIDS alone.

2. Access to treatment is essential in order to save and improve the lives of citizens of developing countries. People in poor countries cannot gain access to life-saving medications because of their prices. Denying people access to affordable medicines in order to protect profits or intellectual property rights is tantamount to genocide.

3. All people should have a right to access to treatments in addition to health care, employment, education, clean water, adequate nutrition including vitamins and mineral supplements, and housing.

4. In the worst affected countries of the world, AIDS and other diseases will massively increase inequality and poverty, widening the gap between rich nations and poor nations, men and women, as well as rich and poor. Access to treatment is essential to promote social and economic development for all.

5. Most medical research has focused on the industrialised rich countries. The medical needs of children and women across the world have largely been ignored. Treatment and care needs of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean have been neglected. Research priorities for prevention, treatment, care and support must reflect the needs of those who carry the heaviest burden.

Marxist-Leninist renewal

1. Whilst the above represent a broad action-based left platform, the SACP, as a Marxist-Leninist party, also emphasises an open Marxist-Leninist socialist renewal. Whilst breaking away from dogma and excesses committed in the name of Marxism-Leninism, we must dynamically and critically go back to Marxism-Leninism, studying, learning, developing the method, analysis and revolutionary spirit of Marxism-Leninism and reaffirming the essence and correctness of our rich and diverse theoretical legacy. This also means assessing ourselves in terms of the experiences and lessons of the last 150 years.

International action

1. Change and development are urgent and it cannot be business as usual. This poses anew the old challenge of the left forces in the world, the mobilisation of the working people and the poor to challenge capitalism in both its national and globalised forms, principally the North-South wealth gap.

2. We want real and concrete internationalism. Therefore the key to achieving this must be common action. And international collaboration of the workers and oppressed must be gradually and democratically harnessed towards our common goal of socialism.

3. Therefore we call upon socialist forces in the world to consider the following as concrete expressions of the points made above:

  • Support the Communist Party of Nepal hosted Conference on Socialism in the 21st Century planned for November 2000.
  • Continue with our support and solidarity for Cuba against US imperialism and the Cuban World Solidarity Conference to be held in November 2000.
  • Making every World AIDS Day a day of international action for access to affordable drugs, in conjunction with the growing international campaign for access to affordable drugs.
  • The formation of regional and international poverty forums with the participation of all forces concerned with poverty.
  • Use International Women's Day to highlight the struggle for transformation of gender relations and target countries, institutions and governments which perpetuate gender oppression.
  • Targeting every meeting of the IMF, WTO, the World Economic Forum and World Bank for public action and propaganda.
  • Tracking and targeting the activities of multinationals detrimental to the environment and interests of developing countries.
  • Tracking, monitoring, targeting of and action against privatisation.

Principles of international solidarity and socialist renewal

1. With the previous century's experience of communist internationals, it is important that international socialist work and unity should not confined to the limits of having "one centre".

2. Socialist internationalism today must allow for varied and diverse relationships between communist, socialist, workers and other left parties and movements.

3. Socialist internationalism today must also avoid interference in internal affairs of each other's parties and must be based on constructive and objective engagement even when there are differences on perspectives, strategies and tactics.

4. Emergence of a new international, which is desirable, should evolve over time based on actual experiences and the above principles.