I join the MEL in condoling the passing away of Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, who has been a world revered symbol of the fight against injustice and the fight against the trampling of human rights in the form of apartheid South Africa. Such symbols are necessary at various stages of human history since the lives of such persons bring into sharp focus and into context the content of struggles of a given era. As it happens, apartheid has disappeared from South Africa, but the conditions that prevail in the most technologically advanced country in the vast continent of Africa remain abysmal for much of the population. What has taken place in South Africa has been the passage of the sovereign power from the hands of the white exploiting minority to a larger colour blind minority, and indeed the grip of capitalism and imperialism remains stronger than ever before in that country. Thus, as one assesses the situation, the passing of a hero such as Mandela gives one a chance to contemplate what the content of the struggle in South Africa and elsewhere is on this day. In the two decades that have passed since the collapse of apartheid, South Africa itself has reoriented its economy to itself emerge as a contender for a place on the table of imperial powers, as evidenced by its membership in the BRICS club. The event also presents an opportunity to contemplate the issues of what constitutes human rights in the present age: one must ask why even in prosperous countries bulk of the populations live in sub-human degrading conditions of chronic poverty, illiteracy, hunger and destitution. One must ask why economics are oriented to loot countries of their natural resources, with brutal exploitation of the population with all the profits accruing only for giant multi-national corporations and board room executives and shareholders. One must also ask why struggles do not reach their logical conclusions and how such aborted struggles lead to disasters on an unimaginable scale. One should also highlight the importance of the theoretical backbone of struggles and bring into the centre-stage the historical content of working class struggles, and class struggle as the basis of political theory. Thus the work of Nelson Mandela and his contemporaries remains incomplete and the best way to honour them is to carry that work forward. This will truly be the historical mission of the international working class and their vanguard parties in this age.
S. Nair, Kochi