Löwy looking forward to learn from the South African left

Marxist sociologist and philosopher Michael Löwy says in order to fight capitalism effectively, there is a need for labour movements to build solidarity with other movements.

French-Brazilian Marxist sociologist and philosopher, Michael Löwy who will be delivering the annual Abdulhay Ahmed Saloojee Trust lecture on Friday says he is looking forward to learn from the experiences and thinking of the left in South Africa. The 3rd lecture, to take place at Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, Cape Town, will focus on struggles for democracy in Latin America and what lessons can be drawn for South Africa’s forthcoming elections.

Michael Löwy

“Latin America is a key component of the Third World and it shares a common interest with Africa in struggling against colonial domination. Also a large section of the population of Latin America are people with African descent,” said Löwy in an exclusive interview with Elitsha. He was born and grew up in São Paulo, becoming a committed socialist by the age of 16, before fleeing Brazil for France. “We moved to France in 1969, due to military dictatorship, where I studied further and got my two PhDs, on Marxist theory of revolution and the other one was on György Lukács [the Hungarian Marxist philosopher],” he said.

Key issues facing the working class today

According to the author of The Marxism of Che Guevara, one of the key issues facing the working class and the labour movement around the world at the moment is that it is being outdone by capital at the global level. “Capitalism is global and the labour movement is lagging behind. We need a mass labour, radical socialist international movement to fight capitalism,” he said.

Secondly, argued Löwy, there is a need for the labour movement to build broad alliances with feminist, ecological, youth and student movements. “The labour movement cannot do it alone, it needs to build solidarity between oppressed groups and those that are fighting against the unjust system,” said the 81-year-old activist.

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“Thirdly, the labour movement must raise anti-capitalist consciousness. Right now, they are bogged down by reformism and social democracy illusions. Some are even toying with ideas of class conciliation with some sections of the bourgeoisie,” arguedLöwy.

He also thinks it is important for ecological issues to be at the centre of the labour movement. “Capitalism is depleting the planet and life on the planet. Therefore, there is a need to build and have socialist ecological alternatives at the centre of theory and action of the labour movement,” he said.

Löwy’s life-long contributions to the struggle for socialism and democracy recommended him to be the speaker of this year’s Abdulhay Ahmed Saloojee memorial lecture. Bobby Wilcox from the Saloojee Trust said that they bring different speakers from around the world to talk about democracy because Abdulhay was passionate about democracy and learning about the best democratic practices. He has a particular interest in South Africa because there is a leftist movement, in his view, that is stronger and more active as compared to other countries on the continent.

Abdulhay Ahmed Saloojee was born in India in 1927 while his family was already settled in Johannesburg. His mother brought him to rejoin the family just 2 years later. By the age of 15 he was already active in the Transvaal Indian Congress. He later enrolled at the University of Witwatersrand where he furthered his political interest and was one of the founding members of the Progressive Forum. The Progressive Forum attracted the attention of the state security apparatus and Saloojee was interrogated on numerous occasions and warned in terms of the suppression of Communism Act to cease his political activity.

Venezuelan Ambassador Merida

The lecture starts at 18h00 on Friday and among those who will attend the event will be Venezuelan Ambassador in South Africa, Mairin Moreno Merida who is expected to talk about the current situation in her country.

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