The Struggle Betrayed

This is the text of an open letter to the National Executive Committee of the ANC, signed by Struggle hero and veteran WALLY SEROTE on behalf of the organisation’s veterans and stalwarts. The letter was sent to the Secretary-General of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, with a request that it be given to all members of the National Executive Committee who will be meeting on Friday 25 May 2017. – The Daily Maverick

Theodore Roethke



Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.


Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.


How terrible the need for God.


What is madness but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance?


I have gone into the waste lonely places


I have come to a still, but not a deep center,

A point outside the glittering current;

My eyes stare at the bottom of a river,
At the irregular stones, iridescent sandgrains,
My mind moves in more than one place,
In a country half-land, half-water.
I am renewed by death, thought of my death,
The dry scent of a dying garden in September,
The wind fanning the ash of a low fire.
What I love is near at hand,
Always, in earth and air.


Reason? That dreary shed, that hutch for grubby schoolboys.


I learned not to fear infinity, The far field, the windy cliffs of forever, The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow, The wheel turning away from itself, The sprawl of the wave, The on-coming water.


In the kingdom of bang and blab.


Be sure that whatever you are is you.

– Theodore Roethke

“The same feeling of not belonging, of futility, wherever I go: I pretend interest in what matters nothing to me, I bestir myself mechanically or out of charity, without ever being caught up, without ever being somewhere. What attracts me is elsewhere, and I don’t know where that elsewhere is.”

Emil M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

“How important can it be that I suffer and think? My presence in this world will disturb a few tranquil lives and will unsettle the unconscious and pleasant naiveté of others. Although I feel that my tragedy is the greatest in history—greater than the fall of empires—I am nevertheless aware of my total insignificance. I am absolutely persuaded that I am nothing in this universe; yet I feel that mine is the only real existence.”

Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair


“True liberation is not that pseudo-independence in which ministers having a limited responsibility hobnob with an economy dominated by the colonial past. Liberation is the total destruction of the colonial system.”

“For Fanon, revolution was part of the process of the regeneration of man and society, of self-liberation and rebirth. Only through revolution could a suppressed people undo the effects of
colonisation. As a psychiatrist, Fanon was particularly interested in the psychological effects which revolution would have on the colonised man. For true liberation to occur, he asserted, independence must be taken, not merely granted; it must be the work of the oppressed themselves. It was through the actual struggle that liberation would come, restoring integrity and pride, as well as the past and the future. ‘True liberation is not that pseudo-independence in which ministers having a limited responsibility hobnob with an economy dominated by the colonial past. Liberation is the total destruction of the colonial system.’ The oppressed must bring all their resources into play because the struggle is at once total and absolute. The African revolution, and the larger liberation struggle of colonial
people everywhere, is the fundamental characteristic of the advance of
history in this century, according to Cabral. Such a revolution means
the transformation of life in the direction of progress which, in turn,
means national independence, eliminating all foreign domination, and
carefully selecting friends and watching enemies to ensure progress. ‘The national liberation of a people is the regaining of the historical personality of that people, its return to history through the destruction of the imperialist domination to which it was subjected.’ A people must free the process of development of the national productive forces. Thus the struggle is not only against colonialism, but against neo-colonialism as well.”

Fanon and Cabral: A Contrast in Theories of Revolution for Africa
Author(s): Robert Blackey

See also: Richard Pithouse:


The blogger “intlibecosoc” (Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism) comments that,

“(For Herbert Marcuse)… modern psychology functions to emphasize social control and adjustment of individuals to extant social conditions rather than social change aimed at overturning the very institutions that perpetuate human alienation, madness, and oppression: colonialism, racism, capitalism, and the State, to name a few examples. Mainstream psychology can thus at best serve as little more than a “bandaging operation” to contain the unassimilated.—Read More:

“After European colonialism came internal colonialism. Its as if Veblen’s hierarchy and socially stratified pecking order as base impulse will repeat the template by transforming itself within new contexts, replicating the dynamic in spite of what hoary socialist rhetoric may declare. Independence is not enough, Fanon warns: after the liberation of the territory must come the socialist revolution.”

Franz Fanon: the counter-revolution within the revolution

Reading the report “The Betrayal of the Promise –  the silent coup” (see my previous post) it struck me how accurately Franz Fanon understood the pathologies of the postcolony. It is as if in some crystal ball he had seen not only the collapse of apartheid but well beyond this to the capture of the South African state by a mafia elite ruled by a corrupt, criminal president 1(my emphasis in red type):

“Fanon’s third theme is the betrayal of the masses by the native middle-class, which replaces the colonial power only to caricature it. The corruption of the nationalist bourgeoisie was something he had observed at first hand as roving ambassador for the FLN, Algeria, in black Africa. The bourgeois caste, he says, annexes for its own profit the wealth of the country. “To them, nationalization quite simply means the transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period.” –

Nigel Gibson writes in Is Fanon Relevant? Translations, the postcolonial imagination and the second stage of total liberation (my emphasis in red type):

“The issue of reading Fanon today, then, is perhaps not about finding the moment of relevance in Fanon’s text that corresponds with the world, but in searching for the moments where Fanon’s text and the world do not correspond, and asking how Fanon, the revolutionary, would think and act in this period of retrogression. The issue is not so much about decentering Fanon but decentering the world. But even if the book is out of place, or perhaps moreover out of joint with the world, the point is to find, in a Fanonian sense, the truth in social movements of lower and deeper segments of humanity.

Certainly, the fact that contemporary globalization is considered by many a new form of colonialism, the fact that the Manicheanism of the cold war has been replaced by the Manicheanism of the ‘war on terror’, gives credibility to Fanon’s analysis of colonial Manicheanism as a global phenomenon. But Fanon’s continued ‘relevance’ is not simply articulated in the Manichean statements of a Bush and a Bin Laden. Rather we should begin from the most critical of Fanon’s insights into the postcolonial period and his critique of the nationalist bourgeoisie and the postcolonial petit bourgeoisie.

One place that Fanon’s analysis has taken on a new life is in post-apartheid South Africa where it has been deemed directly applicable. In fact, it seems that the ‘reality’ of neoliberal post-apartheid South Africa has simply been following Fanon’s text. But rather than an ontological optimism based on the revolutionary potential of the peasantry or an ontological pessimism based on the ‘betrayal’ of the nationalist middle class, the Fanonian dialectic not only details the counter-revolution within the revolution but also a new consciousness. As he writes of the intolerable poverty into which the people stagnate, Fanon adds that ‘the masses . . . are never convinced that their lives have changed, despite the festivities and the flags.’ Indeed, they ‘slowly become aware of the unspeakable treason of their leaders.’ This awareness is becoming apparent in South Africa where new social movements among the poor have emerged, directly criticizing the ‘failures’ of the leaders and government. The depth of ‘Fanonian’ critique articulated, for example, in the shack dwellers movements, by those who have absolutely nothing, whose lives are a daily state of emergency and, in the most Fanonian sense, represent the truth of bread and land, judging wealth not only by indoor plumbing, taps and toilets but also human dignity. As S’bu Zikode, one of the leaders of Abahli baseMjondolo (literally people who live in shacks), sees the history of South African liberation: ‘the first Nelson Mandela was Jesus Christ. The second was Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The third Mandela was the poor people of the world.’


Malaika wa Azania (The Sunday Independent) wrote in his essay, “A revolution’s dreams betrayed”:

“As far back as 1998, then-deputy president Mbeki made a prophetic statement, asserting that our country was “faced with the danger of mounting rage”, emphasising that unless this mounting rage was responded to seriously, our people’s dream of liberation and genuine racial integration would be terminated by a dangerous explosion. No truer sentiments have been expressed.

“There is no respite from oppression and even exploitation for the poor. In retaliating against economic bondage and an apathetic government, our people use violence, the only tool at their disposal.

What we are witnessing in this country is … the ramifications of a revolution betrayed by an economic growth path that has kept the majority in economic bondage and a government that has turned its back on principle.

We are seeing the effects of the triumph of the worst elements of decay: corruption, cronyism, nepotism, maladministration and looting.

We are experiencing the effects of a government that has done little to avert what Mbeki aptly described as a “mounting rage”

Further reading:

Challenging Hegemony: Social Movements and the Quest for a New
Humanism in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2006), p.1