The South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) 14th party conference this week was a predictably smug affair. In its own eyes, the party has a special "scientific" understanding of the dynamics of the capitalist mode of production. Little wonder, then, that when the central committee surveyed almost a century of tumultuous historical events in its political overview, the only unbroken thread the party’s leaders could discern was their own extraordinary prescience and insight. Given that it has failed to secure any of its key objectives over the past 96 years, it is surely time for a rethink. In particular, the SACP needs to explicitly say what is wrong and what is right, and how its goals can actually be accomplished. SACP activists still find it hard to look history in the face. In exile, the party achieved the only real triumph it has enjoyed: its ascendancy in an alliance with the ANC.Their joint formation of a military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, was the key to this power. But it was...

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