Here’s FDR in an interesting quote I dug up. It’s from about 1935 – in the lead-up to his re-election in 1936 – and it is made to a journalist from the Hearst organisation.

FDR to a journalist in the run-up to the 1936 presidential election

FDR to a journalist in the run-up to the 1936 presidential election

This gives one a sense of how threatening was the Great Depression – to the very system of capitalist accumulation itself. This is, basically, FDR trying to save “the American way of life” from a real and significant challenge by socialists of various hues.

The Great Recession and particularly the excesses in the financial markets that helped bring it on, has strengthened similar force in our world.

The ANC and its alliance partners were ahead of the curve (as bankers like to say) on the family of ideas that FDR came to espouse: more equality, more regulations, more state, more taxation, more protection. The difference, though, is that FDR was trying to save capitalism from its own excesses. For Cosatu and the SACP, at least, they still claim to hope to use the excesses of capitalism against itself.

I remain convinced that the real power in The Alliance is the emerging and burgeoning  ‘capitalist’ elite and the ideas of this class are fundamentally similar to FDR’s and fundamentally at odds with the views the leadership of the SACP and Cosatu claim to espouse. 

(Note: My cute use of the word “claim” when referring to the views of some Cosatu and the SACP leaders is a result of the fact that I find it impossible to believe that leaders of the ilk of Blade Nzimande genuinely hope for the demise of capitalism when, in fact, they are becoming, in this historical moment and in this country, its main beneficiaries.)

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