We in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front will shed no tears for the killing of the racist Eugene Terre’Blanche. Why should revolutionary workers lament the death of a thug who lived in nostalgia for the days when his emulation of Hitler and (empty) threats of war shook the whole country, and who never ceased to exploit and terrorise the black workers on a farm that should rightly be managed by those who work it to meet the needs of all and not be the property of any one single person?
Nor can we join with the capitalist newspapers who link the Terre’Blanche killing to “heightened racial tension in South Africa”, nor with the politicians of the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People who attribute the killing to the ANC’s Julius Malema and the “kill the boer” song. Not that we have any wish to defend Malema, any more than any other opportunistic capitalist politician of any party. Whether – like so many others – he is deliberately seeking to shift blame onto “the whites” so black workers won’t challenge his own crookery, or whether he is simply trying to identify himself with “the struggle” in his latest attempt at self-glorification by fake radicalism, Malema’s goal in singing this song is clearly self-advancement, and not any fight against racism or any other form of oppression. After all, even if we leave aside the broader capitalist programme of the ANC government and focus only on the question of white farmers, surely the main goal must be, not to kill them, but to redistribute “their” land to those who work it, or are prepared to work it. And here Malema’s government has been all talk and no action: even the pitiful target of 30 percent land redistribution is nowhere near being met. Just one example of the government’s true loyalties: the interests of the ruling class come first.
But in any case, there is no cause for either Malema’s antics or Terre’Blanche’s death to lead to any kind of conflict between black and white, unless the propagandists of the ruling class take the lead in bringing this about. Only the ruling class will gain if exploited black workers direct their justified anger against whites in general, rather than against the bosses and their weapon, the state; only the ruling class will gain if exploited white workers allow racist fears to divert them away from their true enemy. This is what ruling class politicians and media will never say: they may warn against racial tension, but they would rather have black and white workers at each other’s throats than uniting against their rulers, against their true enemy.
This does not mean that we can ignore race and racism, which have been behind so much bloodshed and exploitation in South Africa and worldwide. Terre’Blanche’s racism led him to acts of violence both on “his” farm and throughout South Africa, and the black workers who were the targets of this violence had every right to defend themselves. We have little doubt that Terre’Blanche’s racist violence did much to bring about his death.
As our comrade Michael Schmidt has pointed out (in his article Death and the Mielieboer), it is easy for black nationalists and other politicians to target white workers as being the primary culprits behind racism. Indeed, thugs such as Terre’Blanche – and the white right in general – gained much support from white workers from the 1980s, as the National Party and white capital turned away from offering limited privileges to white workers and moved towards a deal with the black bourgeois nationalists of the ANC. But no form of nationalism, white or black, is an answer to the tricks of the ruling class: nationalism can serve only to divide the workers.
The attack on Terre’Blanche isn’t just about racism either. If the media reports are correct that Terre’Blanche was killed by two workers on his farm in a dispute over wages, then the killing was first and foremost an act of class war, a response to exploitation. No doubt his racism led him to exploit and terrorise his employees all the more harshly, but race is not the cause of the clash between workers and bosses. The cause of this clash is the capitalist system, the system of wage slavery, the fact of exploitation itself. There is no sign that the killers needed Julius Malema’s inflammatory statements to tell them to do what they did.
But we cannot say that every act of self-defence against oppression is correct or wise. We do not know with any certainty who killed Terre’Blanche or why. Perhaps the killers’ own lives were at stake; but perhaps it was an excessive action by isolated individuals. If this was so, it was surely foolish, and danger may follow. The AWB can no longer terrorise the whole of South Africa, but its remnants remain heavily armed, and can keep up a reign of terror in some areas. If Terre’Blanche’s cronies seek revenge for his death, the lives of black workers on his territory (and perhaps elsewhere) could be at stake; all should be prepared. Isolated individual actions are not an answer to racism or capitalism. The answer is mass organisation. The path to taking the land back is not killing individual farmers, but mass grassroots movements of workers, peasants and rural poor. Movements that are organised to reclaim the land, put it under the self-management of those who work it and use it to meet the needs of all. When all the workers and poor of the Ventersdorp region and other AWB strongholds are joined in struggle, in solidarity with workers, peasants and poor throughout southern Africa and the world, the AWB reign of terror will finally come to an end. And when all the workers, peasants and poor of the world, black and white, are freely united in struggle against capitalism and the state – and against racism, sexism and all other forms of oppression – the days of exploitation will truly be numbered. We cannot afford to be diverted into racial tension, or blame games among politicians, or media scare-mongering, or presidential calls for a false calm that hides true tyranny. Only by knowing our true interests, by standing by our true friends and rejecting our true enemies, can we the workers of the world hope to achieve our freedom.
The Land to those who Work it!
Away with Racism!
Forward to Revolutionary Workers’ Unity!
Issued by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front