Paul Trewelha – Critique of Padmore, Pan-Africanism or Marxism (2 articles)

This also fits into the category of useful South African left writing, being an incisive critique of the politics of George Padmore, former Marxist-Leninist-turned-African-nationalist. Through the “Pan-Africanist” variant of African nationalism, Padmore remains a major influence on current movements — a critical examination of his contradictions, flaws and prescriptions remains, then, essential.

PDF is here: Trewelha – Critique of Padmore

This is from  Searchlight South Africa, Vol.l, No.1, September 1988

Another paper by Trewelha also deals with Padmore, and is provided below purely in the interests of additional material on Padmore. While it has a few useful points about Padmore’s silences about Stalin’s brutality, much of it is taken up with a bizarre Trotskyist theory, based on uncited anecdotes (via other Trotskyists) trying to show Stalin had Alfred Nzula — the first black general secretary of the CPSA/ SACP — killed  by the GPU/ KGB in Moscow in 1934. The fact is that Nzula died of pneumonia, after passing out drunk on a street at night. Not a glorious end, but there you have it. The slightest familiarity with Nzula’s work as writer and party leader and theorist reveals a thoroughgoing Stalinist, hardly a political opponent that would vaguely interest Stalin’s secret police. That Nzula opposed the two-stage theory is simply nonsense. The other SA communists killed in the USSR at the time — like Lazar Bach and Paul and Maurice Richter — were not killed for “Trotskyist” views, but for failing to keep up with the swift shift from (Stalin’s) New Line to (Stalin’s) Popular Front. All three were ardent Stalinists. Nonetheless, the appallingly thin historiography on SA communism — and the CPSA/ SACP’s culture of never compiling the texts of its main leaders (hagiographic biographies, icons and dubious official histories substitute for any real discussion of party history, in the party) — open the door for such myth-making. SACP/ CPSA silence on people like Nzula has less to do with their alleged Troskyism, than the embarrassing fact that the two-stage theory originally excluded the ANC as a group of “national-reformist” traitors from the transition in SA. The ANC now being the  SACP’s ally, some might say master, the fact that two-stageism was originally ANTI-ANC has to be occluded.

PDF is here:Trewelha – Death of Nzula and silence of Padmore

This is from Searchlight South Africa, Vol.1, No.l, September 1988


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