Political Perspectives Hello loseyourname (and anyone else interested), I've copied your last entry in the 'Great Tragedies' thread as per my response there so we can continue this discussion: What you write here is very true, loseyourname. I must admit that if I had not grown up in the particular society I grew up in, and had not studied when and where I did, I may have never experienced the explanatory power of the Marxist perspective and may have been convinced by other paradigms. The thing was, though, that the politics of South Africa were very confusing (especially to a very innocent young person who had had no idea what was going on). At first, I tried to understand what was happening using a ‘race’ analysis: ie, that the political system of apartheid was a result of white people’s racism. But it didn’t take much thought to figure out that this couldn’t be the case – I mean, not everyone was racist, and many 'white' people totally disagreed with the racist laws of the land. Another confusing thing was that there were 'black' people working for the state as well – for example, as policemen. Now why would they do that if the system could be understood in terms of race? Did they really agree with the racist laws which were, after all, against their own interests too? I mean, were they racist against themselves? It was a real puzzle: terrible things were being done to innocent people in the name of ‘justice’ and ‘decency’ and ‘law and order’, and as a student of politics it was my task to analyse and understand the situation, so I could no longer ignore it. That’s how most people got by back then – they just ignored politics and pretended not to see any of the awful things that were happening (the killing of school children, the detentions without trial, assassinations of political activists, and general extreme exploitation and deprivation on numerous fronts). In any case, I no longer had the luxury of ignoring the situation; I had to find a way of making sense of it all, and Marxism certainly provided the analytical tools for doing this in a much clearer way than anything as ill-defined as ‘racism’ or 'tribalism' could. If one looked at the historical and economic reasons for what was happening, it started making sense. The more I learned about Marxism, the more it explained. I honestly cannot use concepts like Huntington’s ‘the clash of civilizations’ to make sense of the world. To me those are strategies used by the powerful to obscure the real reasons for the conflicts that have occurred historically and that are occurring now. The colonial slogan, ‘Divide and rule’ says it all: if you divide communities by religion, race, culture, sex, etc, then you can control them because they will not join together to address the real issues in their lives. This is what was consciously done to the working class in South Africa: it was deliberately divided along racist lines so that white workers would not join with black workers in working towards changing an unjust system. I cannot possibly summarise all the detailed study I have done on this issue over the years, but the evidence is there for you to read about if you are interested. I would say that Marx’s prediction that increasing disparities in wealth would occur (the increasing concentration of immense wealth in the hands of the few and the relegation of the many to miserable lives of poverty) has come true, and is continuing to come more and more true as we speak. You say not – but show me your evidence? The thing is, millions of people live on $1 or $2 per day – I would call this poverty. And a small group of people are making immense profits (ie, wealth is being increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands – one cannot argue about the power of the large corporations, many of which are wealthier than entire nations – I can look up figures if you want me to). I would not classify Cuba as a Marxist state (actually, as I’ve said before, I think it is confusing to use the word ‘Marxist’ to describe a political system; it would be less confusing to use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ as these are systems of government while Marxism is a theoretical perspective). Castro’s party did not represent socialist ideals – Castro was actually a nationalist. The distinction between nationalist and socialist political parties and ideas is important, but again, it would take a lot of time to explore this issue in depth. One thing I found out when analysing South African politics that may be illuminating regarding this issue was that the ANC was not a socialist party, but actually nationalist, and the implications of this were incredibly significant as this explains why the miserable social and economic conditions of the bulk of the population have not changed since the ANC came to power. Instead there are now a number of ‘black’ faces amongst the rich (and please excuse my use of the words ‘black’ and ‘white’, but there is no other way of discussing the politics I am talking about here). You are correct, loseyourname: people do not align themselves along class lines. Marxist theory itself explains why this should be the case: the prevailing ideology is the ideology of the ruling class. Powerful groups work really hard to deflect attention from any analysis in terms of class (to deflect even any thought of economic classes), and because of the power of institutions they control (such as the mass media and the formal education system), they are largely successful. What I am saying is that people are actively encouraged to think in terms of religious, cultural, and ethnic divisions rather than to think about the things that really matter: the real economic implications underlying all political and social policies.