The situation in Zimbabwe has become critical for its workers, the small farmers and small traders. If Zimbabwe had oil then the US or Britain would probably already have used the situation to justify an Occupation as they did in Iraq. Some of the pacifists and Liberals in the Labour Movement are likely to propose such a "humanitarian" solution even now, or the next best thing to appeal to the imperialist club of the United Nations to intervene. But socialists should not mislead and miseducate the working class into believing that imperialism has any interest in protecting rights be it here in Britain, in the US in Zimbabwe or in Iraq. The only force capable of protecting workers, of producing progressive solutions to the world's problems and which has a vested interest in doing so in a progressive manner is the world working class. Anyone that pretends otherwise that fails to teach that lesson to workers even by omission that fails to argue that imperialism is the working class's main enemy abandons the banner of Marxism in favour of bourgeois nationalism and liberalism.
Others, more squeamish at supporting a role for old colonial powers, or the world's imperialist hegemon, in Zimbabwe might be inclined to look instead at its neighbours to the bourgeois states of Southern Africa. But, such a policy is little if any better. It is just as much a miseducation for the working class to suggest that a weak bourgeois state can or should provide a solution for workers than that a powerful one can or should be appealed to. A solution to the problem of the Zimbabwean people, just as for the Palestinian people and oppressed people everywhere lies in the international working class alone. Only through building the unity of the working class, and developing a Programme and structures by which workers throughout the world can come to the support of their comrades elsewhere can a progressive solution be found.
Karl Marx in the Critique of the Gotha Programme responded harshly to those who responded to the weakness of workers by proposing that anything useful could be provided on the workers behalf by the bourgeois state. He said that such appeals demonstrated not just that the working class and its leaders were weak, but that they were "unripe for ruling." Only by maintaining a strict opposition to that bourgeois state, and instead relying on, and building the workers own strength could that weakness be overcome.
In Spain, during the 1930's, workers from all over the world rallied to the call of the International Brigade to go to the support of the Spanish workers in their fight against fascism. That is the model we need today, be it in Zimbabwe or in Iraq, or anywhere else where workers are under the cosh from powerful, and reactionary military forces, be those forces that of an occupying power, or of a fascistic state, or of fascistic military forces within that state. At the moment such a proposal looks far-fetched because the workers movement is weak, such ideas have long since disappeared from the workers tool-box. But, in the 1960's and early 1970's faced with increasing opposition and better organisation by the bosses, workers returned to tools they had not used for many years or decades, tools such as the flying picket. The job of Marxists is to act as the memory of the class, and to remind workers of such tools, to propagandise for their use at the appropriate moments. Faced with powerful, well armed foes now is the time for the working class to relearn some of those lessons, and to dig those tools out from its box.
When Angola faced attack from the imperialist forces of South Africa Cuba sent forces to oppose the South Africans. Trotsky argued for Stalin's USSR to come to the aid of Chinese workers and peasants, in the face of the invasion by Japanese imperialism. Such support from a Workers State even a badly deformed one such as Cuba or the USSR is not the same as an imperialist occupation. But, such support has to be clearly under the control of the workers it is intended to support, otherwise the Stalinists will use it for their own bureaucratic purposes, will use it in the event of victory to then subdue the workers. The best guarantee against that is the development of a democratic workers aid organisation. WE should demand that the remaining deformed workers states offer immediate aid to the Zimbabwean workers, we should build a democratic workers aid organisation.
IN the first instance a great responsibility fall on the South African Labour Movement, because of its immediate proximity and its strength. It is a duty of COSATU and other Labour Movement organisations immediately to organise support for Zimbabwean workers, including the provision of food, and other necessities, continued action such as the recent blacking of arms shipments to the regime, and instead the organisation and provision of arms to the Zimbabwean workers to defend themselves. But, Mugabe's militaristic regime has considerable muscle. The South African workers themselves must be prepared to arm themselves and intervene to defend Zimbabwe's workers. IN doing so they will learn invaluable lessons for the time when they are ready and have to take on their own bourgeois state.