The Enemy on the Left! column from the May 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard
A regular column dealing with the antics of those who call themselves socialist but in practice do nothing but harm to the cause.
If we are talking of liberation movements, I suppose that the most remarkable success story has been achieved in Africa where in the course of a comparatively few years, something like four-fifths of the coloured population of the continent has been liberated from the rule of the white imperialists. Pretty well without exception, all the countries now ruled by native governments claim to be socialist (which is about as monstrous a misuse of the term as can be imagined). In this the coloured governments differ from the white rulers who still hold sway in the southern part of the continent. But one thing is common to all the dozens of countries in the whole of the vastness that is Africa — from Cairo to the Cape there is not a solitary foot of ground where a single vestige of freedom exists. In every single state, the only place for those who differ from the government is in prison, or the grave.
Black workers and peasants in countries like Kenya and the rest suffered great hardships in the struggle to oust the white rulers. And having achieved what they were conned into thinking was liberation, all they have actually got is an iron dictatorship almost invariably far harsher than the British or French who were supplanted. As as for material conditions, it is worth noting that in the course of a campaign initiated recently by the Guardian to expose the starvation wages being paid by white employers in South Africa about which all good liberal types are so righteously indignant, there appeared one letter in the paper from some courageous type in Kenya (who may or may not have been writing under a pseudonym) which said that the wages in that country were far lower than those which were being so violently (and of course correctly) condemned in South Africa. And this despite the fact that the cost of living was higher in Kenya. Such are the fruits of liberation. And lest any reader of the Guardian should imagine that this letter might be phoney or in some way exceptional, one needs only to recall the atrocious advert by the Nigerian government which appeared in that paper (and which was quoted at length in the Socialist Standard in October 1972) which canvassed potential employers with the promise of rather cheap black labour — sixpence an hour. Needless to say, the hypocrites on the Guardian who accepted the payment for that advert, conducted no crusade against the black government of Nigeria although these wages were but a small fraction of those being paid in South Africa. The reason is simple. Black is beautiful and the trendy lefties cannot get hot under the collar at the vicious regimes which have the advantage of being fashionable — and good for circulation.
When will workers, black or white, learn that the only liberation that counts is from the thrall of capitalism?
L. E. Weidberg