Good Old-Fashioned Trade Unionism
The year 1842 was a very significant one for the proletariat of the British Isles. On the positive side it was the occasion of a great struggle against wage cutting and on the negative side it marked the formation of the first modern national trade union. This was the Miners' Association of Great Britain and Ireland, an organisation every bit as anti-working class as the trade unions today, which used almost identical methods to undermine the workers' struggle for their interests. This was an event of significance for the proletariat of the whole world since the trade union form (once perfected) was one which was to be exported across the globe. Unionisation was not the only important event in the "domestication" of the proletariat of Britain but it is one of the clearest examples of a general trend from the uncontrollable mobs of the 18th Century to the passivity of the modern Labour Movement.
But first let's start as we mean to go on, with mass strikes and uprisings. In mid 1842 conditions for the working class were even more desperate than usual. In some industrial towns half the population were unemployed and those "lucky" enough to be in work were often on short-time and subjected to frequent wage cuts and speed up. The first sign of a fight back was in West Bromwich in May when miners went on strike. The strike was smashed by the police and army and the workers were forced to accept a 10% wage cut but the strike had only been over a fortnight when more than 10,000 iron and coal workers struck in the Black Country. From here trouble quickly spread to North Staffordshire and by the end of July all the North Staffordshire mines were closed and industry ground to a halt across the whole of the Midlands. This was just the beginning.
In the textile towns large crowds of strikers and other proletarians roamed about emptying the factories and filling the streets. Many had sticks and did not hesitate to use force to extend the struggle. They pulled plugs from factory boilers so in Lancashire and Yorkshire the strike became known as the Plug Plot Riots. At Shelton, North Staffs., Lord Granville's pits had two furnaces blown up. They still had not been replaced two years later. At Bingley in Yorkshire strikers threatened to burn down any mill that carried on working. They meant it.
At this time the police force barely existed. In the Scottish town of Airdrie, for example, one superintendent and four constables attempted to control a mining community numbering 33,000! The total force in Staffordshire was 184 men. Rescue of prisoners was very common. On 6 August a large crowd surged through Burslem, North Staffordshire, in response to the arrest of three colliers for begging. They broke into the police station, freed the men and then smashed all the windows in the Town Hall. A few days later in the same town Thomas Powys, a magistrate and deputy lord lieutenant of the county, ordered troops to fire on a strikers demo in the market square. One was killed and many wounded. A crowd of 500 set off to burn Powys' house. Later various rich scumbags had their homes pillaged and burnt. Coalowners and magistrates were singled out for special treatment. So were the clergy - as well as most of them preaching in support of coalowners some of them actually were coalowners. God may forgive, the proletariat doesn't!
Many of the early clashes occurred because of attempts by the authorities to crack down on poaching and the stealing of vegetables, which went on on an enormous scale. In Cheshire a special mounted force was formed to ensure that information about attacks on farms was quickly sent to the army.
When the strike movement ended in September, it was a partial victory for the workers, despite the vicious repression meted out by the state - hundreds were imprisoned and sentences of over 20 years transportation were common. But employers were not able to impose the large-scale wage cuts (around 25%) which they had intended. Some workers (such as the spinners of Bolton) even won small increases. The situation was summed up well by Richard Pilling, a mill worker on trial for calling his fellow workers out on strike when the bosses announced a wage cut. In court he said "if it had not been for the late struggle, I firmly believe thousands would have starved to death".
It was clear that the workers had won this victory not through peacefully withdrawing their labour but through the traditional methods of rioting, freeing prisoners, plundering and burning the houses of the rich, theft, sabotage and undemocratically spreading strikes through going directly to other groups of workers. The numerous unions founded shortly after this time set about blatantly suppressing all of these activities in favour of legality, peaceful behaviour and, sometimes, the myth of the "General Strike" in which the workers would redress all their grievances without a shot being fired.
The Miners' Association was not the only union formed at this time. The Potters' Union was formed in 1843, so was the Cotton Spinners' Association. In 1845 the local bodies of the printing trade were united as the National Typographical Association. The tailors and shoe makers were being enrolled into national societies as were glass makers and steam engine makers. It was the most significant though, given its size (at one stage it may have had 100,000 members) and the important role played by miners in the strike/riot wave.
The trade unions, including the Miners' Association, openly opposed all forms of struggle apart from the peaceful withdrawal of labour. At one of the founding meetings of the Miners' Association at Wakefield in November 1842 every pit was asked to appoint delegates and urged to make "unity, peace, law and order" its motto. This meant accepting the logic of capitalist economics since obviously workers are less able to achieve anything by peaceful strikes when there is a surplus of labour. This doesn't mean they can't fight at all : it means they have to use different methods. The struggles of 1842 were against economic logic, taking place in the middle of a "recession" and succeeding where peaceful strike action would undoubtedly have failed. This wasn't the only way unions attempted to impose economic logic - the Miners' Association made regular appeals to employers to unite with the workers in demanding higher coal prices!
This period wasn't just critical for the development of modern unions but modern social democratic politics as well. The National Association of United Trades for the Protection of Labour, formed in 1845, even seriously debated launching a Labour Party. Fortunately this particular attack on the proletariat had to wait another half century or so.
It was also an important time for the state reform of working conditions, that is; for planned preemptive concessions to the working class designed to buy social peace in the long term. This was the year of The Midlands Mining Commission Report and the First Report of the Commission on Children and Young Persons - this was the first official exposé of the widespread employment of children (often sent down the mines at the age of four or five) and the appalling conditions under which they worked. There was renewed parliamentary agitation for the ten-hour day for women and juveniles in the cotton industry. This was led by Tory philanthropists such as Lord Ashley (later Lord Shaftesbury) and finally became law in 1847. In 1848, when many bourgeois commentators thought that Britain was on the brink of revolution, the Secretary of State wrote to Lord Ashley saying "I shall declare without hesitation ... that the passing of the Ten-Hours Bill has kept these vast counties at peace during this eventful period". In 1864 Gladstone declared in the House of Commons that the law had been beneficial "both in mitigating human suffering and in attaching important classes of the community to Parliament and the Government". At first sight it may appear that this "movement" had very little connection with what was actually happening within the working class but in fact there were numerous links between trade unionism and philanthropic reformers. The Miners' Association passed many resolutions praising Lord Shaftesbury's work and continually plied him with data. He once replied to them, saying he was "only an instrument, and possessed little power unless the working classes stood at his back".
Most of those involved in setting up and running the unions in this period, particularly the Miners' Association, would have described themselves as "Chartists". This meant they supported the "six points of the People's Charter" on the reform of parliament. These were: adult male suffrage, no property qualification, annual parliaments, equal constituencies, salaries for MP's and the secret ballot. This was first formulated for a specifically working class audience in 1836 by the London Workingmen's Association, a small society largely formed on the suggestion of the rich radical MP, Francis Place. Their program was hardly original - 58 years previously one Major Cartwright had introduced a Bill in the Commons containing the same six points.
As can be imagined, Chartism was a very broad church indeed, encompassing everyone from those who thought that adult male suffrage would somehow enable the country to be run a bit better to those, such as James Bronterre O'Brien, who honestly believed that it would lead to the abolition of private property. Numerous progressive historians have written that it was a "revolutionary demand" - in "the context of the times", of course. We won't waste time trying to refute this absurd idea except to ask a rhetorical question: how come the famous Chartist leader Feargus O'Connor was actually elected to parliament in 1847 by the middle class electors of Nottingham, and with a comfortable majority? It is often described as the "first working class organisation". It would be more accurate to describe it as a middle class movement dedicated to recuperating working class struggle. The intention of Chartism was always to divert working class anger into demands for an extension of the franchise. In 1848 when the working class urban centres of much of Britain were engulfed in strikes and riots their response was... a massive petition to parliament, though they couldn't quite make up their minds whether to appeal to the Cabinet or directly to the Queen.
As might be expected of a movement with such conservative aims its main activities consisted of organising petitions to parliament (with millions of signatures) and mass peaceful demos and rallies (hundreds of thousands of people). The fact that it was possible to assemble this many proles peacefully shows how much the working class had been tamed by the 1830's. This had not gone unnoticed by Francis Place: "Look even to Lancashire" he wrote a month after the vicious pig massacre of a pro-democracy demo at "Peterloo" (St. Peter's Fields near Manchester) in 1819:
"'Lancashire brute' was the common and appropriate appellation. Until very lately it would have been dangerous to have assembled 500 of them on any occasion. Bakers and butchers would at the least have been plundered. Now 100,000 people may be collected together and no riot ensue, and why?... The people have an object, the pursuit of which gives them importance in their own eyes, elevates them in their own opinion, and thus it is that the very individuals who would have been the leaders of the riots are the keepers of the peace."
There were, however, those who believed in achieving the goals of the Charter by insurrectionary means. These were known as "physical force" Chartists, as opposed to "moral force" Chartists. Sometimes they were as good as their appellation. One night in November 1838, for example, several thousand workers marched into Newport intending to free the imprisoned Chartist leader Vincent. They were led by Frost who had just been sacked from his post as a magistrate and was the chairman of a Chartist Convention which had just dissolved. They were attacked by troops and special constables and ten workers were killed. Violent rhetoric was also very common. The famous Chartist "extremist" Julian Harney once advised his audience to carry "a musket in one hand and a petition in the other" - an early example of "the armalite and the ballot box"! This was, after all, an age in which the state had very little legitimacy and the idea of taking up arms was very widespread amongst the working class. Harney wrote of the winter of 1838-9:
"In small villages lying out from Newcastle the exhortation to arms was being taken quite literally... a strong tradition of owner-paternalism had been replaced by an extremely class-conscious Chartism, and fowling pieces, small cannon, stoneware grenades, pikes and 'craa's feet or caltrops - four-spiked irons which could be strewn in a road to disable cavalry horses - were being turned out in quantities. It was localities like this which, on hearing rumours that troops would be present at the great meeting in Newcastle on Christmas Day, sent couriers to find out if they were to bring arms with them."
The Insurrectionary Tradition
"The Levelution is begun,
So I'll go home and get my gun,
And shoot the Duke of Wellington"
- an 1820's street song from Belper, Derbyshire
Since the 18th Century there had been an almost unbroken tradition of organised violent resistance to capital. The 19th Century was ushered in with a rash of riots across England against high food prices caused by Britain's war with France. Much of the rioting seems to have been organised in advance with handbills being distributed. One, from London in September 1800, said: "How long will ye quietly and cowardly suffer yourselves to be imposed upon, and half-starved by a set of mercenary slaves and Government hirelings?... We are the sovereignty, rise then from your lethargy. Be at the Corn market on Monday". Six days of rioting at the Corn Market followed. Another called upon "Tradesmen, Artizans, Journeymen, Labourers &c." to meet on Kennington Common. The meeting was prevented only by the use of troops.
For the first two decades of the century rural Ireland was swept by one revolt after another. Secret societies - Threshers, Caravats, Shanavests, Carders - used various forms of violence to defend tenant rights, to force down rent and prices, resist tithe payment and drive out landlords. In 1806 the Threshers virtually controlled Connaught. According to the Irish Solicitor-General in 1811 the countryside suffered from the "formidable consequences of an armed peasantry, and a disarmed gentry". The Lord Chief Baron, sentencing a teenage boy to death for stealing arms, declared: "Can it be endured, that those persons who are labouring by day, should be legislating by night?".
"In the three counties, the agitation for parliamentary reform commenced at exactly the point where Luddism was defeated."
- E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class.
The information in the following section is almost entirely taken from E. P. Thompson. This is because he seems to be the only lefty historian who's written anything decent about them. Many of the academics who deign to mention the Luddites are such blatant brown-noses of the bourgeoisie they're not worth reading - for example, one hack describes them as "simple-minded labourers... smashing the machines which they thought responsible for their troubles" (The Age of Revolution, E. Hobsbawm, p55). EPT, on the other hand, regards Luddism more as an honest mistake made by the workers on the long and tortuous path which led to the election of Harold Wilson. As you can see from the above quote, though, he is honest and often gives factual examples which contradict his progressive, social democratic ideas. From a communist perspective there is nothing "outmoded" about the forms of action described here. Some kind of Luddite-style community organisation would be appropriate for workers in small, scattered work-places today and, as for Captain Swing, perhaps a few burning hayricks and smashed farm machines might be just what rich farmers need to persuade them to share some of their fat EC subsidies with their miserably paid labourers.
The Luddite movement was focused around three main industrial objectives - the destruction of power looms in Lancashire, the destruction of shearing frames in Yorkshire and resistance to the break-down of custom in the Midlands framework-knitting industry. But the movement went well beyond these objectives, drawing in proletarians from outside these sectors and raising all kinds of political demands. It was a movement of such strength that for several months it could successfully resist 12,000 troops, not by military confrontation but social means - unbreakable community solidarity and spreading disaffection in the troops' own ranks. In June 1812 the Vice-Lieutenant of the West Riding declared "...except for the very spots which were occupied by Soldiers, the Country was virtually in the possession of the lawless... the disaffected outnumbering by many Degrees the peaceable Inhabitants."
The "croppers" of Yorkshire were highly skilled (and highly paid) wool cloth finishing workers whose status was threatened by two important inventions, the gig-mill and the shearing frame. The gig-mill was a device for raising the surface of cloth by passing it between rollers. It was at least as old as the mid-16th Century since there was a statute of Edward VI prohibiting its use. Workers had prevented its widespread use ever since. Who says you can't stand in the way of Progress? This struggle had been particularly intense at the end of the 18th Century. In the West Country bodies of rioters 1,000 or 2,000 strong had attacked the hated mills. In 1809 Parliament repealed all the protective legislation relating to the woollen industry - covering apprenticeship, the gig-mill and the number of looms which could be owned by one master.
The grievances of the framework-knitters of the Midlands (mostly Nottingham, Derby and Leicester area) were a bit more complicated. They mostly worked in small industrial villages in workshops containing three or four looms. These were rented from their employer. Since the end of the 18th Century they had suffered a severe worsening of general conditions as the development of uncontrolled prices and shoddy goods had undermined their earnings and craft status. The cotton weavers of Lancashire were also used to an artisan status which was directly threatened by the factory system.
The movement began in Nottingham in March 1811. A large demonstration of framework-knitters was dispersed by the army. That night 60 frames were broken in the village of Arnold by rioters who didn't try to disguise themselves. They were cheered on by the crowd. For several weeks similar incidents occurred throughout north-west Nottinghamshire. Despite the presence of troops and special constables, no arrests could be made.
In November of that year Luddism appeared in a more organised form. Frame-breaking had become the work of disciplined bands who moved rapidly from village to village at the dead of night. From Nottinghamshire it spread to parts of Leicestershire and Derbyshire, and continued without cease until February 1812. On 10 November a hosier in Bulwell defended his premises with arms. A Luddite was killed but, after taking away his body, his comrades returned, broke down the doors and smashed the frames. Three days later a large force of Luddites armed with muskets, pistols, axes and hammers destroyed 70 frames at a large workshop in Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Only those frames were attacked which were associated with reduced wages or the production of lower quality goods. This "reformist" spirit of the Nottingham Luddites is expressed well by the popular ballad of the time, General Ludd's Triumph:
The guilty may fear but no vengeance he aims
At the honest man's life or Estate,
His wrath is entirely confined to wide frames
And to those that old prices abate.
These Engines of mischief were sentenced to die
By unanimous vote of the Trade
And Ludd who can all opposition defy
Was the Grand executioner made.
The Luddites were masked and had a well developed system of signals, sentinels and couriers. Whoever led the raiding party on the particular night would be referred to as General Ludd. They also had "inspectors" who went around investigating pay and conditions and collected money for the workers made unemployed by the frames being broken.
At the beginning of February 1812 this phase of Midlands Luddism quickly died away. There were three main reasons for this. Not least of these was the fact that the use of terror by the workers had been quite successful, and wages had risen. Secondly, there were now several thousand troops in the area. Thirdly, there was now a Bill before Parliament to make frame-breaking punishable by death. This didn't stop the movement but did cause considerable panic in the workers' ranks. It also created a space for parliamentarism and trade unionism. A quasi-legal association, the "United Committee of Framework-Knitters" was formed to petition parliament for a Bill to protect pay and conditions. The Committee tried to suppress machine-breaking but feelings were running high in Nottingham, where seven Luddites were sentenced to transportation. In April a hosier was shot and wounded outside his house. He was accused in a letter from "the Captain" of attempting to force his women workers into prostitution by paying them such low wages. After the inevitable defeat of the Bill a union was set up. The prime movers of the union were Henson and Coldham. Henson was an experienced activist in the secret "Institution" to which all framework-knitters belonged. Coldham was the Town Clerk of Nottingham! It had an effective existence for two years and seems to have been powerful enough to prevent a serious resurgence of Luddism.
The Nottingham events directly inspired the Yorkshire croppers. Luddism appeared modelled on the existing tactics but accompanied by a much greater number of threatening letters. A leaflet was distributed in Leeds which was far more insurrectionary than anything seen in Nottingham -
"...You are requested to come forward with Arms and help the Redressers to redress their Wrongs and shake off the hateful Yoke of a Silly Old Man, and his Son more silly and their Rogueish Ministers, all Nobles and Tyrants must be brought down..."
These Luddites expressed solidarity with struggles in Ireland and elsewhere. One letter goes
"...the Weavers in Glasgow and many parts of Scotland will join us the Papists in Ireland are rising to a Man, so that they are likely to find the soldiers something else to do than Idle in Huddersfield and then woe to the places now guarded by them..."
Many of the smaller manufacturers just gave in, destroying or storing their own shearing-frames. After six or seven weeks only a few substantial mills were still holding out. In particular there were two owners who were notorious for their determination to defy the Luddites, they both kept armed company goons and troops on the premises day and night. According to tradition, the luddites drew lots to decide which mill to attack. The choice fell on Rawfolds in the Spen Valley. Around 150 Luddites attacked it. They failed. Many were wounded, two of them mortally and they had to be left behind. The first blood had been shed and it did not go unavenged. Later the same month the other notorious owner, one William Horsfall from Ottiwell, was shot dead.
In Lancashire the movement was more one of open mass riots. On 20 March the warehouse of one of the first manufacturers to use the power-loom was attacked at Stockport. In early April there were numerous riots aiming to force down the prices of potatoes and bread. On 20 April in Middleton a power-loom mill was attacked by several thousand. It's defenders fired muskets, three attackers were killed and many wounded. The next morning the crowd assembled in even greater strength. They were joined by a body of men armed with muskets and picks with an effigy of General Ludd and a red flag at their head. Finding the mill still impregnable the crowd burned the mill-owner's house instead. Four days later a large mill was successfully burnt down in Westhoughton.
April-May 1812 was a real high point in the class war. Outside the Luddite areas there were serious food riots in Bristol, Carlisle, Leeds, Sheffield and Barnsley. In Cornwall the miners struck and marched into the market towns demanding reductions in food prices. In Sheffield a militia arms store was broken into. On May 11 the Prime Minister, Perceval, was assassinated in the House of Commons. Joy amongst the proles was unrestrained. In London large crowds gathered outside the Commons and cheered the assassin as he was led away. In Nottingham order could only be restored by military force and the reading of the Riot Act. It was widely assumed that Perceval's death must be the result of some revolutionary conspiracy. There was widespread disappointment when it turned out to be the work of a solitary hero.
One of the factors which brought this movement to an end was more repression - more troops, more spies, more arrests and an increasing number of executions. But probably more important was a major concession. This was the repeal of the so-called Orders In Council in June 1812. This was the policy of blockading France as part of Britain's war effort. Its repeal led to an immediate improvement in trade, greatly relieving the famine conditions existing in many parts of the country.
But the ending of the bosses' recession didn't completely kill the movement. Luddism in Yorkshire and Lancashire largely gave way to preparations for an insurrection. During the summer of 1812 there were numerous raids for arms. Lead for making bullets was also being taken, in the form of pumps, water-spouts and guttering. The conspiracy extended well outside the Luddite areas but, unfortunately, never got as far as an actual uprising.
Over the next two or three decades the tactics of Luddism did much to inspire other movements of class warfare.
In the early 1820's in Monmouthshire, Wales there existed a secret organisation known as the "Scotch Cattle" based on the colliers. They claimed that Ned Ludd was their founder. Like the Luddites they had a well developed system of threatening letters, night meetings and military-style signals. They specialised in blowing up furnaces and terrorising scabs. Their leader was said to be Lolly, obviously Lol - the Lord of Misrule.
In 1830 the discontent of agricultural labourers exploded through the southern and eastern counties of England in marches from village to village, breaking threshing machines and demanding higher wages. Night time arson and machine-breaking were very widespread. "Captain Swing" was the signature most often attached to the threatening letters sent to landowners, farmers and parsons. Wages were successfully raised for a time but the main lasting effect was that the widespread introduction of threshing machines in rural England was delayed until the 1850's.
An important feature of all these movements was the commitment to secrecy. The clandestine hit squads of the day were premised upon a mass culture of non-cooperation. Whole working class communities refused to collaborate with the authorities. Often secret mass meetings were called which were only occasionally infiltrated by the state. This is why so few Luddites were ever caught despite the affected areas being saturated with troops and the extensive use of spies from outside the areas. The harsh sentences imposed by the judiciary were a sign of the desperation of the authorities.
Contrast this with a statement made by the executive of the Miners' Association in 1844 to the employers. It began: "We have no secrets; all is done openly and to any of our meetings all are invited. Manufacturers! Traders! and Shopkeepers! You are deeply interested in our welfare".
The legalisation of certain forms of organisation such as the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824 is not something which enabled the working class to organise itself better - the Luddites were pretty well organised and everything is legal if you don't get caught! What it did do was enable the recuperators, particularly middle class ones from outside "impenetrable" working class communities, to become better organised. The attitudes which the working class had had towards rich reformers was summed up by Francis Place "The laws against combinations... induced [working people] to break and disregard the laws. They made them suspect the intentions of every man who tendered his services".
It would be a mistake to think that the development of trade unionism and parliamentary politics was just a middle class conspiracy. If petty bourgeois and even bourgeois elements had an influence out of all proportion to their numbers it was because, for the most part, the proles saw nothing wrong with this. As E. P. Thompson says in The Making of the English Working Class:
"Only the gentleman - Burdett, Cochrane, Hunt, Feargus O'Connor - knew the forms and language of high politics, could cut a brave figure on the hustings, or belabour the Ministers in their own tongue. The reform movement might use the rhetoric of equality, but many of the old responses of deference were still there even among the huzzaing crowds".
But the role of middle class types should not be underestimated. Most of the top leaders of the Miners' Association had never worked in the coal industry despite the continual cry from the members for the appointment of sacked miners as officials. The Association's treasurer, for example, was a pub landlord from Newcastle. A particularly important role in the union was played by W. P. Roberts, a solicitor from Bath, who was the union's legal officer.
In so far as Roberts and his friends had a political program for the union it can be summed up as the Right to Strike. That is, a class deal whereby the bosses allow the workers to struggle by peaceful, democratic means in return for guarantees that they won't go any further than that, that they won't threaten the bosses property rights or control over the production process. The right to strike implies the right to manage. It also implies that the Rule of Law should, to some extent, apply to all classes. Obviously, workers will only have any respect for the law if they can sometimes win court cases. This is where Roberts came in.
The Miners' Association was the first union in Britain to use the law courts in a systematic way to defend its members. Roberts became known as the "workingman's Attorney General". He used to travel up and down the country representing miners, and often other workers, in magistrates courts. "We resisted every individual act of oppression, even in cases where we were sure of losing", he explained. He was very good at his job, winning many small victories against the employers, here freeing a man imprisoned for leaving work without permission, there taking back wages illegally withheld. He once boasted that he had taught the magistrates law and how to make legal warrants. He regularly had the decisions of magistrates overturned by the Court of Queen's Bench in London. The fact that the authorities allowed him to get away with all this shows how much the ruling class were prepared to make concessions to integrate the proletariat into civil society.
The commitment of the union to the rule of law was nothing short of fanatical. They always told miners to be peaceful, even when they were being evicted from their homes. This happened on a massive scale during the strike in Northumberland and Durham in 1844. The Northumbrian miners' union leader Thomas Burt (later to become a Liberal MP) describes how families "stood with tears in their eyes and saw villainous wretches throwing to the door articles to which the memory of past years had given sanctity; but they had been taught by their leaders that if the peace was broken, they might bid farewell to their cherished union; and such was the power, eloquence, and advocacy of their leaders that the peace was not broken, even under such trying conditions". Rule 12 of the union's constitution (agreed in May 1843) stated "That this Association will not support or defend any member who shall in any way violate the laws of the country".
As well as assisting Queen Victoria's judiciary the union also attempted to suppress strikes, even legal ones, in a way which today we find very familiar. During 1844 there were strikes in almost every coalfield in Britain but the union doggedly maintained its position of opposing all "partial" strikes. Only a "general" strike of the whole industry was supposed to be good enough.
The union conference in Manchester in January 1844 was held in the midst of a strike wave in the South Lancashire coal-field. There had been 20 strikes and 100's of men had been out for 5 months. Since the last conference had condemned partial strikes they had not received a penny in strike pay and union officials had been sent to try to get them back to work. Not surprisingly, thousands left the union over the next few months. In many cases the men had succeeded in winning large pay rises through their unofficial action!
But the union didn't have things all its own way. As well as the unofficial strikes (many of which it had to officialise) there were numerous occasions where the veterans of 1842 failed to fully observe the spirit of Rule 12. During a strike in Yorkshire in 1844 scabs had been brought in from Derbyshire in large numbers. At the Soap House pit near Sheffield they were housed in a barracks in the pityard. A large crowd scaled the walls, broke open the doors, smashed every window and gave the scabs a good kicking. During the same strike, at Deep pit in the same area, strikers blew up the engine boiler. These sort of incidents, though, had already become few and far between by 1842 standards. The Miners' Association largely disappeared after the anti-Chartist repression and recession of 1848, but the damage had been done.
"SATANIC CHILD SEX TERRORIST
CRACK MENACE GROWS"
The moral panic has always been an important weapon in the arsenal of the bourgeoisie. By manufacturing scare stories about "problems" which they can blame on lack of individual moral responsibility they can gain acceptance for harsher state repression and hammer home the need to respect work, the family and the Law. These scare stories are usually simple morality tales about the link between hedonism, violence and the corruption of youth. They bear little relation to reality. From the "juvenile delinquency" panics of the 1950's to the "crack menace" of today the story is the same. [Oct. 2004 - we would recommend the book Satan's Silence by Debbie Nathan for a complete history of the Satanic child abuse panic].
SATAN AND HIS WORKS
In Britain the present crop of moral panics have mostly failed to take root. In the USA the "War On Drugs" has been much more successful. Much of the anti-drugs propaganda in the British media has simply been imported from the US.
In 1989 a national drug squad, overcoming the traditional rivalry between police and Customs was set up, with wide ranging powers. Drugs are a pretext. The bourgeoisie isn't worried about crack in Lambeth, Hackney and Moss Side. It's an excuse to crack down on the inner cities with, they hope, the support of a majority of the population. In June 1989 there was a riot in Wolverhampton following a police "drugs" raid. In October 1990, about 500 axe-wielding police invaded Broadwater Farm estate, against which they have a grudge. A cop was killed there during an uprising in 1985 after the cops had caused the death of a local woman. The media willingly cooperated in this attempt to isolate and criminalise the estate. Small amounts of cannabis were found. In July 1991 armed police with a helicopter attacked the Pembury estate in Hackney, kicking a pregnant woman down the stairs, and dragging black workers returning from work into police vans. The estate is one of the most squatted in London.
In April 1989 a United States Drug Enforcement special agent had addressed a senior police drugs conference giving his "personal guarantee" that within two years Britain would have a crack problem on a par with the US, which would cause an explosion of murder and child abuse. The British media uncritically repeated the story, and added their own lurid tales of drug induced decadence. In a few days, the press claimed that a crack addict allowed her daughter to be raped in exchange for the drug; that the "third world" infant mortality rate in Washington DC is caused by cocaine; and that coke causes child molesting. This is a concerted attempt to link our deepest fears to drugs. In particular, there is an attempt to convince us that the horrors of life in American cities are caused chiefly by the import of a mild anaesthetic from South America.
The predicted drug boom didn't take off. There was even a suggestion in August 1990 that the special police and Customs squad set up to fight crack should be disbanded. Senior officers of the National Drugs Intelligence Unit admitted that there had been no upsurge in crack use.
Every now and again, a story is exposed. The Lambeth Police Monitoring Unit discovered that the police story about a Caribbean "Black Mafia" called "Yardies" was a pack of racist lies. But even in demolishing the black drug-pusher myth, the South London Press (6 July 90) maintained that there is a "spiralling crack menace in South East London". Spiral, spiral. A Southwark council moron summed up the official line : "Although the Yardie idea may be myth it cannot be ignored". The overtly racist nature of anti-drug campaigns is nothing new. In the 1920's, Scientific American published articles scientifically linking cocaine use by black men with raping white women. In Britain in the early 1950's the first serious media scare about youth being corrupted by smoking grass provided the pretext for police repression against newly-arrived West Indian immigrants.
Not all moral panics issue from the police. When British social workers started spreading stories about groups of people from Nottingham to the Orkneys livening up their Satanic rituals with a spot of child abuse, the police were sceptical. Nevertheless, they joined forces with crazed social workers to raid dozens of innocent homes, taking children off to secret locations, where the social workers used standard police interrogation techniques ("you might as well tell us, your sister already has") to intimidate children into agreeing to lies about their parents.
In every case, the stories were exposed as complete nonsense, the product of the imaginations of Christian social workers and their American gurus. They were a clumsy attempt to spread fear and distrust. The natural inclination of children to fantasize about witches and demons scares Christians, who respond to interest in witchcraft, the occult, etc., by labelling all of it "Satanism" and claiming it leads to child-molesting.
The state realized that the Satanism campaign was getting out of hand. The social services were under attack. Groups were set up to defend parents against persecution. So they abandoned the campaign and let the children go home.
Social workers' brutality against children in "care" led to a small uprising in a children's "home". Slates were thrown, windows smashed and furniture broken before police restored order at the Tyn Mawr institution in Wales. This action shows an identification with prisoners. It also implies identifying social workers with prison officers and the police. Their lefty friends don't agree. "'We want to care for the kids', said one social worker. 'But unless they give us the resources we can't do that'" (Social(ist) Worker 8 June 91).
There is a crisis of state legitimacy in Britain, with growing numbers of workers holding the police and the courts in contempt. The release of the Birmingham Six in March 1991, after 17 years of false imprisonment, damaged the system still further. Refusing attempts by nationalists to turn the issue into a purely Irish affair, firmly rejecting a tricolour offered by one of the crowd, the Six denounced the judges and politicians who had conspired to keep them inside, as well as the police, and read out a list of other framed prisoners, such as the Tottenham 3, who were forced to confess to the 1985 Broadwater Farm cop-chop.
Desperate to restore their credibility, the police started a new anti-drugs campaign in May 1991. In August they announced the formation of a squad of detectives to tackle violent crime related to cocaine dealing across south London, claiming that gangs had links to organized crime in the US and the Caribbean (of course!). Scotland Yard listed various unpleasant London robberies, claiming that they were all in some way related to crack.
Since the USA was defeated in Vietnam, its rulers have been working out how to persuade the public to support war abroad and the law at home.
The anti-terrorism campaign was one such attempt. There were a number of important blunders in this campaign. Reagan was exposed selling arms to Iranian terrorists and using the proceeds to finance Nicaraguan ones, and it was revealed that he persuaded the Iranians to keep the Embassy hostages in order to destabilize the Carter administration.
Given the cock-ups, they had to try something else. General Noriega, originally put in power by the drug runners of the CIA under George Bush in the seventies, was turned into a scapegoat. They didn't invade Panama in December '89 to stop the coke trade which now flourishes more than ever before. They did it to ensure control over the Panama canal, and to test how US public opinion would react to the biggest military operation since Vietnam. Given the success of the operation - it was "over by Christmas" - opinion polls reported overwhelming support. This led to the Gulf war. The American ruling class are now confident that they can launch a full scale war anywhere to protect their interests.
Recently US involvement in Peru has escalated with the sending of military personnel to train two combat battalions who will be used to protect police units from attack by left wing guerillas. In Colombia, the drugs war is largely a faction fight within the ruling class, between the US-backed government and the big dealers who process coca leaves into cocaine. It affects the poor only so far as the streets become less safe and jobs in the coke industry are destroyed. In Peru it is directed primarily at the peasants of the Upper Huallaga valley where up to 300,000 families survive by growing coca. The Peruvian government talks of crop substitution but its obvious that growing potatoes instead of coca is economically absurd. The drugs war is about nothing less than the brutal expropriation of these peasants who will flood into the cities, forcing down wages of urban workers who already live at bare subsistence level.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
"I think people believe that the only strategy we have is to put a lot of police officers on the street and harass people and make arrests for inconsequential kinds of things. Well, that's part of the strategy, no question about it." - Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates.
In the ghettoes of America's cities, another war is being fought, with equally sinister implications for the working class. With crack dealing as a pretext, military style operations are being used against inner-city non-white youth. In these operations, thousands of teenagers are searched at random, forced to "kiss the sidewalk", and have their names entered on computers for "gang membership". LAPD Chief Gates explains the "reasoning" behind the campaign : "This is war... we're exceedingly angry... we want to get the message out to the cowards out there... we want the message to go out that we're going to come and get them." The head of the drug squad added "This is Vietnam here". And the Los Angeles Times quoted local politicians comparing the drug-dealing gangs to "the murderous militias of Beirut".
There is a political purpose behind these wild claims. In the midst of a local economic boom, black youth unemployment in LA County is 45%, and worse in other areas. American cities are increasingly racially divided. Crack dealing to neighbouring wealthy white suburbanites is rational economic behaviour for local gangster capitalists, who employ thousands of people. A Rand Corporation survey in 1985 found that three quarters of cocaine users in the Washington metropolitan area lived not in the black ghettoes of DC itself but in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. In a New York Times/CBS poll in 1989 it turned out that the highest percentages of people "knowing someone seriously affected by drugs" were those earning more than $35,000 a year. This is not, of course, how the trade is depicted by the media, who talk about the "ghetto drug problem", and you don't see many yuppie coke-heads spread-eagled over their Porsches by the police.
Crack is derived from cocaine by removing the hydrochloride salt. This makes it possible to vaporize, hence smoke it. Smoking it gets you higher, quicker. Thus it is more addictive than ordinary cocaine. However, a survey in Miami revealed two thirds of teenage crack users using it less than once a day (British Medical Journal 5 August 1989).
Crack related deaths in the USA are caused by shoot-outs in the competition for the money to be made, a result of the drug's illegality. Unlike legal business, which is controlled by the law, the illegal part of the capitalist economy is regulated by murder, just as it was during the Prohibition of alcohol. The dealers are organized in gangs in order to defend their slice of the market. Because coke dealing is so lucrative, it is tempting for the children of respectable working class and even middle class black people to get involved. Youth involvement in the business has produced a phenomenal mortality rate. A black male in Washington DC stands a 1 in 10 chance of being shot dead before his 35th birthday.
The war on drugs has nothing to with the dangers of the drugs themselves. The most intelligent capitalists agree with the Economist that most illicit drugs are relatively harmless and that their legalization is the only rational solution. The fact that rationality is not the issue is proven by the proposed death penalty for smuggling a boat load of grass, and the massive raids on marijuana growers in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties in Northern California in 1989 and 1990 by the Army and National Guard. These raids were not carried out because the ruling class don't know that marijuana is harmless, but to accustom people to helicopter gunships flying over their houses, the army sealing off large areas, and troops terrorizing schoolchildren with automatic weapons.
The drugs war is also an attempt to mobilize good citizens in support of the police. It could not achieve this objective without the collaboration of community activists, social workers and priests. After years of vicious cuts in all forms of social services the only sources of funding left to "community leaders" and similar parasites are those related to the drugs war. They are now in a position to provide a service which the state is more than willing to pay for.
A major ideological aim of the drugs war is to blame crack (rather than job losses and welfare cuts) for the dramatic decline in incomes and general quality of life in the inner cities over the last decade. This is made easier by the fact that, unlike in the suburbs, crack use in the ghettoes is a very visible phenomenon. Many destitute street people do turn to crack for solace and do become addicted. Because they run out of money it is very common for them to go through withdrawal which involves manic behaviour. Since they are constantly on the streets the craziness of easily labelled "crack heads" makes them walking advertisements for the war on drugs.
It is not just the urban "underclass" who are feeling the iron-heeled jackboot on their necks. There is also a campaign against lazy workers in the form of more and more widespread compulsory drug testing in work places. Some companies are even insisting on testing a urine sample before considering someone for employment. The technology used is very sensitive - if you smoke a joint at a party you could test positive two weeks later.
The war on drugs has massively overloaded the US prison system, which now has by far the highest per capita detention rate in the world. The American gulag boasts 426 prisoners per 100,000 head of population, against South Africa's 333, the Soviet Union's 268, and Britain's 97 (London Guardian, 19 June 91). The prison population is growing at 13% per annum necessitating a vast prison building program. A system of parole and probation exists whereby a prisoner can be under judicial control for up to 10 years after release. This allows a prisoner to be permanently circulated through the system on the slightest pretext. A black man in America is four times more likely to be in prison than a non-white South African man. One in four black men in their twenties is in prison, on parole or probation. The number of black Americans arrested for drug offences increased even more rapidly than the general arrest rate, which grew every year from 1980.
In 1967-68, tanks had to be used to quell inner-city riots. Since then, all kinds of techniques have been used to split, demoralize and destroy these communities. But racism, impoverishment and heroin have not completely defeated the urban proletariat, as was shown in May when black and Latino youths joined forces in Washington to attack the police and loot shops for three days running, jogging memories of 1968, when machine guns were ready on the White House lawn to protect the President from the proletariat. Hence the anti-drugs campaign. Its aim is to get people used to military policing which at the end of the day is the guarantor of the survival of the state.
FIGHTING THE WAR ON DRUGS
So far, the drugs war is much more intense and successful in the US than in the rest of the world. Surveillance with video cameras, and a wide proliferation of different kinds of police and security guards, are widely tolerated. Notices about "drug-free zones" don't get ripped down. A lot of Americans agree to drug-testing by employers; this means agreeing that your employer has the right to determine what you do while you are not being paid.
The bourgeoisie will try to build on their success. Recently the start of a "people's war on drugs" was announced in China and in the Russian Empire perestroika has made traditional cannabis growing a target of persecution. The maintenance of internal borders in the EC is justified by "terrorism and drugs".
These campaigns are waged by our usual enemies: the media, the police and politicians. We should recognise them for what they are - not some kind of misguided health education but, like all moral panics, attacks on our class. Next time someone tries to sell you a newspaper with a story about Satanic drug peddlers, just say no.
Disobey the New World Order
We organized a meeting in London in July 1991 to discuss the consequences of the Gulf War, Imperialism and the New World Order. The meeting was attended by comrades from Wildcat Germany, as well as Radical Chains from Britain, and various other bods. There was a high level of agreement as to the basic method of analysis. The participants have rejected the classical Marxist "crisis theory" and adopted a more "autonomist" position. We can hardly do justice to either approach in a few lines, but we'll try anyway.
The traditional view takes various forms, including Paul Mattick's "the falling rate of profit explains everything", the saturated markets of Luxemburg, and Lenin's theory that imperialism would inevitably lead to world war and generalised permanent ruin. All these theories have in common the view that the internal workings of capital lead to periodic catastrophic breakdowns which are essentially independent of anything the working class does. The working class, then, remains passive until such time as the crisis, in the form of recession and/or war, comes along and gives it a good kick in the arse, spurring it into understanding the fundamentally nasty nature of capitalism and thus the need to struggle for communism.
The autonomist approach can be summed up as follows :
- The working class has power to influence the direction and slow down the progress of capitalism.
- Almost everything capitalism does can be explained as a reaction to the class struggle.
- The class struggle is everywhere. It takes multiple forms, most of them disguised as something else.
- The capitalist system is not an objective fact, governed by iron laws. It is a relationship of power between classes.
- The economic crisis is initially caused by working class struggle, but is also used by the bourgeoisie as a weapon against that struggle.
The difference between the two approaches can be clearly seen in wartime. Crisis theory tends to see war as just an inevitable symptom of capitalist competition and economic collapse. The experience of two major wars in the Gulf, though, has taught us how important war is as a means of crushing the class struggle. War is not a symptom of capitalist collapse - quite the contrary. With the anarchists we say "war is the health of the state!".
The most accessible journal in the autonomist tradition to English speakers is Midnight Notes (available from Box 204, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, USA). Various articles from this journal were distributed before the conference. Valuable though these extracts were, the participants at the conference rejected Midnight Notes's support for everything that moves, including national liberation struggles which have always undermined the class struggle. Midnight Notes's optimistic assessment of the state of working class autonomy in America today led one comrade to remark "What have they been smoking, and where can I get some?".
Radical Chains found this too cynical, arguing that the USA has not yet tested whether it has really overcome the post-Vietnam syndrome. Our German namesake argued against the idea of "ultra-imperialism", the view that capitalism is united on a world scale. There were numerous other disagreements at the meeting, the minutes of which will be available shortly. In this article, we reiterate our view of the current balance of class forces. First, a brief summary of the last 25 years of world history.
May 1968 in France, when 10 million workers paralysed the country in a mass strike outside union control, and politicized students rioted in Paris for a program of immediate social revolution, demonstrated that revolution is possible in an advanced industrial democracy. It was the tip of an iceberg. Mass strikes shook the world through the late 60's and early 70's, and a revolutionary movement emerged, opposing capitalism east and west and affirming pleasure, the refusal of work, the rejection of authority, and the overthrow of this society and its replacement with one based on cooperation in place of competition. The old mole was digging new ground.
The Vietnam war led to mutinies, desertion and the killing of officers. Soldiers held three-day dope parties rather than fight the enemy. This was recognised by the North Vietnamese negotiators who said that their men would not fight Americans who avoided combat. This defeat had devastating effects on America's self-image, to the benefit of the working class. That self-image has only just been restored.
No ruling class gives up voluntarily. In Chile, Italy and elsewhere, capitalists experimented with repression and restructuring of industry. Thee price of oil was raised to generate inflation, undermining wages. In America, Christianity crawled back into the light of day. The drug war attacked the counter-culture and justified the militarization of the police. Grenada was invaded to restore US national morale, then Panama, then the Gulf. There were numerous working class reactions - France '79, Poland '81, Britain '84 - but the proletariat had no political direction. Isolated defensive struggles were inadequate against an aggressive, conscious, political assault by the world ruling class, increasingly united under US leadership. The USA has forestalled the emergence of a rival imperialist power for the immediate future, though in the long run it will come into conflict with the Fourth Reich, or European Community. In the meantime, numerous small wars will continue to proliferate against the working class.
Communists greatly underestimated the depth of defeat. Many comrades didn't believe the Gulf war would happen. Our view that it would be another Vietnam was completely wrong. Events overtook us. The propaganda of the "No War But The Class War" group in London was too concerned with opposing both sides, instead of pointing out that the two capitalist sides were in fact united against our side.
Thanks to our international contacts, we were able to produce a leaflet after the war explaining how it was ended by mass desertion on the Iraqi side, and how Saddam Hussein, the West and the Kurdish nationalists cooperated to prevent the uprising turning into a proletarian revolution. The leaflet, included in this issue, has been distributed in Britain, Germany, the USA and elsewhere.
The war in the Gulf demonstrated the success of the counter-revolution against the gains of the working class movement of the sixties and early seventies. The US working class has been smashed. As Colin Powell, the US commander, announced on 28 February, the post-Vietnam syndrome has been cured. Now the US feels able to intervene militarily anywhere in the world to attack the class struggle. America is finding a role as the world's policeman. The workplace struggle in the US has virtually disappeared, crushed by unemployment and atomization. Real wages are now lower than they were in 1959. Struggles in the community around housing, prison, police harassment and so on, are being successfully held back by racism and diverted by separatism.
Western Europe is a hot spot compared to America, but for the most part, the working class here is also going through a massive defeat. Nonetheless, the ruling class is having to pay a price for restructuring. In France and Britain for example, we have seen the reemergence of a minority of the working class with no social-democratic links to the state, whose struggles take the form of direct confrontations with it. This minority is learning how to organise riots with growing confidence. The legitimacy of the state is increasingly in question. Western societies rely on a huge bluff. State power is not based on force alone. The drain in public confidence in the police is an expression of this bluff gradually falling apart. But the economic crisis has proved to be a very effective way of sabotaging workplace struggles.
Eastern Europe contained greater potential for class conflict, but considering the scale of the counter-revolution, the working class is simply failing to defend itself. Nevertheless, Romania showed the international ruling class the danger of working class revolution has not been permanently overcome. The events of December 1989 started as a workers' uprising in Timisoara, and had spread halfway across the country, to Sibiu to be precise, before the army were able to take control of it. This was a major failure in the programme of privatising Eastern Europe.
This is why capitalism has started a civil war in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia has a long tradition of international class struggle, across its various internal boundaries. Nationalism has been deliberately stirred up by Yugoslavian and German politicians to crush the class struggle. Dividing the working class by racism and nationalism has proved the most effective way of avoiding a united international working class being created by capital's homogenisation. When different groups of workers are constantly engaged in killing each other, they are obviously unable to unite as a class to fight the attacks of capital. The conflict is continuing to spread, threatening to involve other European countries. In 1914, we were urged to defend Serbia against German imperialism. Today, its the other way round. The bourgeoisie is turning Yugoslavia into another Lebanon. This will be a massive blow to the class struggle in Eastern and Western Europe. (A detailed history of class struggle in Yugoslavia can be found in the pamphlet Yugoslavery, available from BM Blob, London WC1N 3XX).
We do not know the precise mechanics of the Yeltsin coup in Russia, though it seems certain that the "hardliners" were set up by the KGB -just like Saddam Hussein was set up to invade Kuwait.
The involvement of ordinary people in Yeltsin's manoeuvres around August 19 is symptomatic of the success of the counter-revolution. They were used as extras in a theatrical set-piece battle whose outcome was never in doubt. The crane which tore down Dzerzhinsky's statue was provided by Moscow city council. As we have maintained since the beginning of perestroika, the popular upheavals in Eastern Europe have been largely directed by the state. More detailed analyses of the counter-revolution in Eastern Europe can be found in Wildcats 12 and 14. Now Yeltsin and his followers can disguise the jackboot of perestroika with the figleaf of a popular revolution, denouncing strikers as Communists as they introduce privatisation, mass unemployment, wage cuts, price rises, and national and ethnic conflicts across the whole of what was the Soviet Union. This doesn't mean that they want to break up the Soviet Union economically - its far too integrated for that and Russia and the Ukraine, through their control of heavy industry and food supplies, have the power to dominate the other Republics. With its monopoly of nuclear weapons Russia can also dominate them militarily if need be. As with the EC the rulers want the best of both worlds; a strongly integrated economic bloc in which the working class is nationally divided. It remains to be seen whether the class will be able to resist the collapse of its living standards.
As we write, the counter-revolution is deepening almost daily. Democracy and the free market stalk the world, dealing dispossession and death. But this is not a rerun of the counter-revolution of the thirties. Capitalism has progressed since then. The world proletariat, the dispossessed, has expanded considerably. It now confronts one united world capitalist class, ruling a world with an increasingly homogenous culture and even one language, which potentially unites capitalism's gravedigger. We don't know how long it will be before the international class struggle revives. In the long term, the New World Order contains the seeds of its own destruction. But the immediate future looks bleak.
September 21 1991.
TERROR AND DEMOCRACY - Two Faces of the Krugerrand
The reformist De Klerk regime in South Africa is not the only government which is implicated in the massacres of black proletarians by Inkatha mobs.
The international ruling class approve of and support the massacres, just as warmly as they support the abolition of apartheid. The EC decided to drop the ban on investment in SA after sending a delegation there at the height of the terror. The delegates must have known that the police and army were working with the Zulu fascist movement Inkatha to terrorize the working class in the townships. As the terror grew, the USA lifted sanctions against the SA government, welcoming it back into the community of civilized nations.
Democracy cannot succeed without terror and vice versa. Both are means to neutralise the class struggle. SA has been one of the main centres of class warfare since 1976, with various highs and lows, and since 1985, has seen a permanent mobilization of proletarian autonomy on numerous fronts - rent strikes, workplace struggles, attacking local councillors, squatting, defying racist laws. This has seriously disrupted the accumulation of capital, and forced the Afrikaner ruling class to undertake a remarkable shift to the left, even abandoning the Population Registration Act, the central pillar of apartheid.
The working class of SA was not prepared to give up its struggle in return for Nelson Mandela at the beginning of 1990. The newly legalised ANC were unable to control the class struggle, so the role of Inkatha was greatly expanded. Random murderous attacks on commuter trains were added to its rampages through the townships. The resulting climate of fear has undermined the working class's ability to organise itself. The ANC call for police protection for the townships and the inhabitants are often so desperate they go along with this. For all its talk of armed struggle, the ANC has never actually armed its supporters inside SA. Instead it has negotiated with Inkatha; as if the slaughter it perpetrates on behalf of the state is just the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. The South African state has been developing Inkatha as a scabbing and policing organisation since 1974, making use of the division between permanent township residents and male migrant workers in hostels. It is significant that only in the last 18 months has this been really successful. Without the pacifying influence of the ANC terror could be nowhere near as effective.
When eventually the ANC deliver what the government wants - the suppression of the working class struggle - the pogroms will be wound down, and the ANC can tell the proletariat not to make trouble, for fear of provoking another wave of terror. Then democracy will be fully implemented, with the new nominally non-racial National Party and the ANC as the two major capitalist parties, together with all kinds of racially-based political gangs continuing to divide the proletariat.
The ANC has been put in its place. The international bourgeoisie were genuinely worried about the unreconstructed Stalinism of most of the ANC leadership, and found their Damascan conversion to multi-party democracy unconvincing. ANC leaders were among the few people in the world to announce support for the short-lived coup in Moscow. The ruling class didn't want a Romania in SA, with Winnie Mandela playing the role of Elena Ceausescu.
Hence her trial, and hence the attacks on ANC hacks as well as on the working class. They didn't charge Winnie with the murder of 14 year old Stompie Moeketsi, because she and her husband are too important. But they made clear to the Mandelas and their private police force, colourfully known as "Mandela United Football Club", that they must clean up their act. For example, bribing people to keep quiet about ANC torture, murder and abduction may be just as effective as threatening to kill them. The ANC, like Winnie Mandela's victims, is being whipped into shape.
Terror and democracy constitute a powerful capitalist offensive against the working class which is difficult to fight. There is no doubt that the class struggle in SA is going through a setback. We don't know how long it will be before the working class turns against democracy as effectively as it fought apartheid.