“DESPOT: one exercising power tyrannically : a person exercising absolute power in a brutal or oppressive way”
In a recent televised debate on expropriation without compensation between Terry Bell and Ernst Roets, Bell took the rather odd position of lumping Julius Malema and Ernst Roets in the same political camp, claiming they were both ethno-nationalists.
This struck me as very strange. After all, Malema is a garden variety Marxist, with a pedigree shared by Stalin, Chavez, Mao and Pol Pot amongst others. Now of course, I’m sure that if Bell were reading this, he would make the standard Marxist counter of “But they are not real Marxists!”
Okay, so is Malema a Marxist or not?
Well luckily for us, Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, wrote a very clear description of the features of a Marxist state:
“1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.”
As you can see, there is very little in this list of features that Malema hasn’t publicly endorsed or isn’t in EFF policy documents. Ditto for Chavez and company!
On the other hand, Ernst Roets is utterly opposed to all and every one of these state features – and for good reason. These state principles have ended in humanitarian disasters, each and every time.
Of course, Bell would try to sugarcoat it by saying real socialism is a socially-just and democratic bottom-up process. Unlike the EFF, of course! Putting aside the fact that Chavez was democratically elected by mainly working-class voters, what does Marx and Engels have to say about it?
Once again, the Communist Manifesto helps us out.
Marx and Engels are pretty clear that the forming of this state “cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property.”
Let’s be very clear here, despotism is not democracy. And it won’t end there. Here is another pearl of wisdom from Marx:
“Once the first radical attack on private property has been launched, the proletariat will find itself forced to go ever further, to concentrate increasingly in the hands of the state all capital, all agriculture, all transport, all trade.”
Stalin, Mao, etc., all took this precise route of an ever-expanding state. Unsurprisingly, this is also what Malema and his cronies are demanding.
A good question to ask is why did Terry Bell falsely try to lump Roets and Malema in the same camp?
The answer is quite simple.
I believe Bell knew that Roets would eat him alive in a debate if he took an openly Marxist stance. Instead, he firstly distanced himself from ownership of Malema’s Marxist position, and then tried to cause a distraction by labeling Roets a racist.
It didn’t work.
Although you can’t blame Bell, disavowal was a tactic that was used frequently by Marx himself. When a movement in France, driven by his philosophy went completely wrong, Marx’s reply was:
“What I know for certain is that I myself am not a Marxist!”
The bottom line is that Bell and Malema have differing views of what makes a good Marxist, yet it is that very Hegelian rabbit hole that makes them both excellent models of Marxism in action and ideology.
One has fascist tendencies and other is in denial.