Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Mandela: Human Rights in South Africa, 1993-8 Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

The revolutionary struggle in South Africa was based on the Freedom Charter, as described by Nelson Mandela in a 1993 speech: "We adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955. This is a document born of our struggle, rooted in South African conditions, and expressing the aspirations of the disenfranchised. Because of its content the Freedom Charter has met with international acclaim as an outstanding human rights document. The Freedom Charter provides a sound moral basis for law and law making. It posed an inclusive basis for citizenship..."

The concept of human rights has evolved greatly in the past few centuries since the first generation of civil and political rights were expressed in the American and French Revolutions. Later came the second generation of economic, social and cultural rights, inspired by movements following the Communist Manifesto, and first formally recognized by the Russian and Mexican revolutions. It was in 1948 that the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The capitalist countries wanted to restrict it to civil and political rights, but the socialist countries insisted on including economic, social and cultural rights.

Mandela warns against the capitalist tendency to restrict human rights to civil and political rights: "But we must warn against the language of rights being used to conceal attempts to maintain, in one form or another, the power, privileges or special status of one racial group. The Bill of Rights cannot be a device to secure the political or economic subordination of the majority or the minority ... We must address the issues of poverty, want, deprivation and inequality in accordance with international standards which recognise the indivisibility of human rights. The right to vote, without food, shelter and health care will create the appearance of equality and justice, while actual inequality is entrenched. We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom."

In his 1993 speech Mandela underlines the close link between human rights and democracy: "We must promote democracy at every level of society. The best and most effective means of ensuring human rights and to promote the eradication of racism and sexism is to enable the full and unqualified participation of all races, sexes and classes in all aspects of society ... Democracy and human rights are inseparable. We cannot have the one without the other."

Rights are not given, they are attained through struggle. Mandela makes this point in a speech to workers on May Day: "The achievement of our rights as citizens and our rights as workers should indeed be celebrated together. Our history has made them inseparable. Trade union struggles have been part of our fight for freedom and justice. Organised workers under the banner of Cosatu were a vital force in the final years that dealt the death blow to apartheid. Together we won our greatest victory, the election of a democratic government led by the ANC ... In striving for our goals we must dispel the idea that change can come from government alone, while our people wait passively for delivery. As we were our own liberators, so too must we change our own lives for the better. However good our new laws may be on paper, they must be implemented and enforced before they bring benefits to workers and others. However good the policies of the government are, nothing will come of them without the active participation of each and every one of us."

Mandela applied the revolutionary experience of South Africa to the world as a whole in his speech to the United Nations on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The very right to be human is denied everyday to hundreds of millions of people as a result of poverty, the unavailability of basic necessities such as food, jobs, water and shelter, education, health care and a healthy environment. The failure to achieve the vision contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights finds dramatic expression in the contrast between wealth and poverty which characterises the divide between the countries of the North and the countries of the South and within individual countries in all hemispheres."

Mandela insists that the time has come for action: "The imperative to act on this urgent, life and death matter can no longer be ignored. The central challenge to ensure that the countries of the South gain access to the productive resources that have accumulated within the world economy should not be avoided by seeking to apportion as much blame as possible to the poor. Clearly, all relevant matters will have to be addressed, including such issues as greater inflows of long-term capital; terms of trade; debt cancellation; technology transfers; human resource development; emancipation of women and development of the youth; the elimination of poverty; the HIV/AIDS epidemic; environmental protection and the strengthening of financial and other institutions relevant to sustained economic growth and development. Fortunately, the matter is no longer in dispute that serious work will also have to be done to restructure the multilateral financial and economic institutions so that they address the problems of the modern world economy and become responsive to the urgent needs of the poor of the world."

Mandela leaves the conclusion unspoken: this is the agenda for global revolution in the 21st Century, no less than it was the agenda for the unfinished revolution in South Africa in the 20th Century.

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Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism

Cuba's revolutionary medicine

People-power revolution in the Philippines