1 September 2015

Campaigns in General

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 10c


Campaigns in General

In this Agitprop Course, we have looked at many ways and means of getting our message to the masses.

We have also discussed elections and strikes. But we have not yet discussed campaigns, as such, in a general way.

The attached document is the transcript of a speech given by Dr Blade Nzimande prior to the SACP’s Red October, 2011, Campaign. Dr Nzimande is the General Secretary of the SACP.

The speech gives a general run-down on most aspects of the Red October Campaign and on campaigning in general.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: Together Let Us Build Working Class Power in our Communities, Nzimande, 2011.




31 August 2015

Catering

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 10b


Cake for 60th Anniversary of Cde Eric Stalin Mtshali’s Party membership

Catering

The above is an example of revolutionary catering.

There is also the question of whether to feed or not to feed, a meeting or a political education session.

It is always a draw-card if you can organise food.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: Sound System, Carpentry, Painting and Catering.


30 August 2015

Carpenter and Painter

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 10a

Armed Worker

Carpenter and Painter

Carpenters and painters are needed when you get into different ways of making your point.

One would be the making or rigging of exhibition stands as shown in the previous part.

There are many ways in which skilled workers of all kinds can generate propaganda.


·        To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.

29 August 2015

Sound Engineer and System

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 10


Portable PA systems, for 200 people and for 2000 people

Sound Engineer and System

Wal Hannington, writing a long time ago, pointed out that a sound system that does not work, is a curse.

The Mipro range gives compact, robust, portable public address with wireless microphones at a reasonable price, if that is what people want. It is still not foolproof. You should always test the system and keep checking that it is working.

It is not the case that an audience will always let the platform know when they cannot hear.

Checks should be made with every speaker from all parts of the audience, more than once in every speaker’s set.


·        To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.

24 August 2015

Exhibitions

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 9b


Design for an exhibition stand

Exhibitions

Exhibitions are a means of mass communication that the revolutionaries do not use very much in South Africa, but elsewhere they are seen at festivals and at specialist events that the revolutionaries take part in.

The basic unit of an exhibition is a modular piece of floor space that the exhibitor can hire, and erect on it a “stand” for the duration of the event. The stands can vary quite a lot, but the one illustrated above is quite typical. It has a “reception” type of desk where a person could sit and welcome the people, and provide information about the matter being exhibited.

Around the stand are display panels and fixed exhibits.

There would need to be a good supply of business cards and most likely leaflets and pamphlets.

Sometimes stands take the form of small meeting rooms, with chairs and a round table, where business can be discussed.

Exhibition stands need carpenters and painters and a lot of good planning.

The above applies to indoor exhibition stands. Outdoor ones usually look more like stalls. Here is a wider shot than the previous image used of the French / Italian Communist Party stall at the FĂȘte de l’HumanitĂ©, a festival to support a relatively left-wing publication, in France.


This is a typical stall. It could be set up like this out of doors, or indoors. It is selling literature and clothing, plus in this case, cold drinks for the large crowd.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: Broadcasting, Loudhailing and Exhibitions.


23 August 2015

Loudspeaker Car, Leafletting

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 9a


Loudhailers on bakkie and on kombi

Loudspeaker Car, Leafletting

A form of broadcasting that is used at local level is the loudhailer on a car, as illustrated above.

It is used at election time to get the vote out on the Election Day, and to announce or to advertise public meetings during the campaign period.

There is a section in the ANC Election Manual about loudhailing. This is what it says:

Loud-Hailing

Loud-hailing can be very effective if it is done properly. It is best used in strong and ANC frontier (contested) areas to inform people about things like mobile units for IDs, voter registration days, and Election Day. Either use a hand-held loud-hailer or one mounted on top of a car...

The person using the hailer should be trained and clear about what to say. Some people like to become pop stars or clowns when they have a loud-hailer and they can waste our resources and irritate voters.

Here are some tips:

   Speak slowly and clearly

   Write a script for what must be said and stick to it

   Drive slowly and responsibly, don't use flashy cars, put ANC posters on sides of car.

   Do not hang out of windows

   Never shout as you will not be heard

   Do not make comments at passers-by – especially women.

Leafleting

This is an effective method of broadcasting. One person standing in the right place can reach thousands of people with a good leaflet.

Put the important information up front and make it very clear.

Have a contact address, phone number and/or e-mail and web site address on your flyer.

If it is about an event, make sure it has on it the date, time and venue (or gathering point); organisation(s) calling or hosting the event, the purpose of the action

Do not harass people.


·        To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.

22 August 2015

Radio, TV, Film and Video

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 9


Radio, TV, Film and Video

This item is concerned with what generally falls under the description “broadcasting”.

A more descriptive phrase is “one-to-many” communication. The model form is the mass-circulation newspaper, developed in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Cinema as a mass medium followed at the beginning of the 20th Century. Radio broadcasting got under way in the 1920s. Television took off as a mass medium in the 1950s.

Mass, one-to-many, broadcast communication is therefore typical of the 20th century. All of these media have been used by states to impose uniformity of thought and culture on the population. They have all been used by revolutionaries, as well. But typically, one-to-many communication is patronising and not conducive to revolutionary thought, which as we know requires dialogue if it is to develop.

Only with the rise of the Internet, with its possibility of “many-to-many”, or “any-to-many” communications, has the broadcasting model been challenged. Internet has meant that means of production and distribution of cultural artefacts on a mass scale are now in the hands of individuals.

Consequently, all of the media of broadcast communications, newspapers, cinema, radio and television are in crisis. All have declined to a fraction of what they used to be at their peak, and they are continuing to decline.

What has replaced them is not yet a new communism of communications, although there have been periods when something like a stateless free-for-all has appeared to exist in communications, in what we now call ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

In practice the Internet, and the World Wide Web which is the protocol that we use on the Internet, has been exploited by the bourgeois State as much as, or more than, it has been by revolutionaries. The possibility of frictionless communication does not in practice mean that production is being done by everybody. On the contrary, the situation has exposed the reality that communications is always a labour-intensive business. The ones who dominate in communications are those who can mobilise the largest and best-co-ordinated body of individuals who can be put to work on production. Capital can do this if it wishes.

Therefore what comes about is in effect an Agitprop war, where those with the most consistent and the best output will prevail. The revolutionaries, with potentially millions of well-motivated volunteers, should be able to win. But in fact it is usually the money-bags capitalists who win, because they can hire people quickly to get ahead.

What the revolutionaries need in the first place are people who are capable of working the means of communication, technically, artistically and ideologically.

At the same time, the revolutionaries need to avoid mimicking the communication strategy of the bourgeoisie, while stealing from it at the tactical level.

The bourgeois strategy is to return as soon as possible to the condition of “broadcasting”, whereby the fountain of national culture is effectively in their hands. The fullest development of this model is the British Broadcasting Corporation, of which the SABC is intended to be a copy. The SABC is supposed to set the tone of the nation by centralised and country-wide communication. The fact that the SABC is in a constant state of collapse, and the resultant furore that has continued for many years past, reveals that the bourgeoisie and the middle classes badly want a way to communicate with the masses, on their own (bourgeois) terms.

The revolutionary model, on the other hand, is the Freirean model of dialogue. Therefore, film and video are not in themselves good forms of propaganda for revolutionary purposes. Video locks people away from one another, with each person being held in a private channel of connection with the screen. It is extremely difficult to generate a discussion of quality from that starting point, if not impossible. Meetings that begin with the showing of videos seldom take off.

A revolutionary communication is a two-way communication. Revolutionaries must produce, as well as consume, political culture. This is the theoretical basis of this Agitprop course. Agitprop is not an add-on to political theory. It is in itself an indispensable part of political theory.

Internet that is private and secure

In August 2014, on the Keiser Report, on RT, Max Keiser interviewed David Irvine and Nick Lambert of MaidSafe, which David Irvine describes as “the Internet as it should be”.

This system uses the computer resources of its users, plus encryption, so that the Maidsafe system is vast but blind, and has no owners. Your data cannot be possessed by others. Your communications with others cannot be seen by anybody else.

The first interview of the MaidSafe two can be watched in the second half of episode 639 of the Keiser Report, broadcast on 12 August 2014. The follow-up interview is the second half of Episode 640, here. There is a Wikipedia entry on MaidSafe, here. The MaidSafe web site is here.


·        To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.

11 August 2015

Sit-downs, Sit-ins and Occupations

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 8b

Woolworths Sit-In, Greensboro North Carolina, 13 Feb 1960
Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Dave Richmond, and Ezzell Blair Jr.

Sit-downs, Sit-ins and Occupations

In a sit-down strike, the workers physically occupy the plant, keeping management and others out.

The most famous sit-down strike was the Flint, Michigan, car-workers’ strike, which lasted from 30 December 1936 for 40 days and put the United Auto Workers’ Union on the map. Not long afterwards, the US government passed a law taking protection away from sit-down strikes, meaning that the bosses could fire people for taking part in one.

Two decades later, in the anti-racist Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s, the sit-in became a tactic for desegregating facilities such as “lunch counters” in the USA. The above picture shows one that took place in 1960.

These tactics are in turn related to the idea of “Occupation” whereby the people take over some place and thereby deny it to the claimed owners.

Land invasions are a kind of occupation. Sometimes they are successful, but not always.

Another kind of occupation has been the “Occupy” movement, which did not manage to hold on to anything that it occupied.

Conclusion is that this tactic, in one form or another, may be successful, but it is not always going to be.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: Strikes, Work to rules, Sit Downs and Occupations.


10 August 2015

Go-slows, Work-to-rules

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 8a

 SADTU action, Struben Street, Pretoria, 24 April 2013

Go-slows, Work-to-rules

A Go-slow is one thing. A Work-to-Rule is something else.

SADTU conducted a successful and victorious work-to-rule in 2013. Teachers are expected to do many things for which they do not get paid. SADTU members stopped doing those things. The above picture shows the massive march of SADTU members in Pretoria (there was another on in Cape Town on the same day) that was an extension of the work-to-rule campaign.

A go-slow is different. A go-slow is a strike, while in South Africa, a Work-to-Rule is not a strike.


·        To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.

9 August 2015

How to Strike

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 8

Chicago Schools Strike 2012

How to Strike
 Canadian Strike Manual; Management Strike Manual

In our whole series of ten-part courses, of which this is the fifteenth out of sixteen, we have not yet had any education on how to strike. Strike is the main weapon of the working class in its struggle with capital; the communists are the partisans of the working class.

The knowledge of how to conduct strikes is embedded in the trade union movement and in the minds and memories of millions of South Africans who have been through the experience of striking.

To some extent the knowledge also exists in training institutions like Ditsela, and in the academy. But the literature is scant. On the Internet we have so far found rather little. The following quotation is from the work of William Z Foster called “Strike Strategy”. Foster was a leader of the US Communist Party who ran an organisation called the Trade Union Educational League (T. U. E. L.).

“STRIKE ORGANIZATION

“It is timely to state a few of the general principles of organization and to indicate some of the more urgent necessities.

“The strike committee, whether the regular executive board or a special body, is the general staff of the strike and it must be properly organized to carry on its work. It must be divided into sub-sections to correspond with its various tasks. If the strike is national in scope the strike committee must contain various departments, Finance, Relief, Legal, Publicity, etc. The local strike committees must have sub-committees on Policy, Picketing, Publicity, Defense, Halls, Speakers, Finance, etc.

“In the case of unorganized workers every effort must be made to establish a real basis of trade union organization. Too often the only organization of the masses in such strikes is in the strike meetings. This is a mistake. The masses must be brought into active strike work. It gives them a sense of responsibility and a feeling that the strike is really their own. To thus draw them in, the numerous committees should be built on a broad scale. T. U. E. L. formations of various sorts may also be used to actively enlist the livest elements in the conduct of the strike.


“The picket committee, in most industries, is the very heart of the strike. It is the cutting edge of the workers’ organization. It is the first line of defense and attack. It must be developed to the highest degree of militancy and efficiency. It should be made up of the very best fighters among the workers...

“The legal committee is also essential, but the left wing must always be careful to hold the lawyers in check. They have a rather fatal habit, once they are engaged, of trying to run the whole strike as well as their legal department. If they succeed in this they soon strip it of all militancy and reduce it to a state of impotent legalism. They are also notoriously poor fighters at the conference table.

“The publicity committee is very vital. To give out the news of the strike is fundamentally important, not only for the information of the workers at large, whose support is wanted, but also for the strikers themselves, whose solidarity must be maintained. Yet in almost every strike, whether conducted by rights or lefts, the publicity arrangements are primitive and inadequate in the extreme.”

Foster was himself a successful strike leader. His book is a must-read.

There are works by Lenin and Luxemburg on strikes, but they are rather more concerned with the theoretical aspect of strikes as part of revolutionary strategy and tactics.

What we have found, on the Internet, is the Canadian “PIPSC” Strike Manual (attached). This is a real strike manual of a real union. It is a large union, and the scale of the strike organisation described is large, and it is very instructive. Here is the basic definition of a strike given in this manual:

“A strike is the refusal of employees to perform some of or all of their work. Strike action may take many forms, depending on the characteristics and nature of the work performed by the striking group. Regardless of the course of action taken, the objective remains the same: to persuade the employer to adopt a position acceptable to the union and its members on the issues in dispute. The union must be in a legal strike position before undertaking any strike activities. Strike plans should be prepared prior to a legal strike period. They must be treated as highly confidential to succeed.”

Employer’s Strike Manual

Finally, we have an employer’s strike manual (attached). It is very instructive indeed. It is particularly expressive of the aggressive frame of mind of the employer, and of the employer’s managers, who are themselves employees.

Reading all of these documents should make people aware of what a strike feels like. Quite likely it will make you respect the working people who go through this tough experience.

·        The above is to introduce two original reading-texts: PIPSC Canadian Strike Manual, 2009, and Canadian Employer’s (Management) Strike Manual, 2003.


4 August 2015

'Soap Box' Oratory

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 7b

Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, London, date unknown

'Soap Box' Oratory

There is a great tradition of open-air oratory in the working-class movement. Wal Hannington gives it a lot of attention under the heading “Street Corner Meeting”. Such open-air meetings can also take place at factory gates, at suitable times.

This tradition can also be seen among the religious people and in the bible stories of the prophets and the New Testament stories of John the Baptist, Jesus and St Paul, for some examples.

Lenin, too, was known to be an open-air speaker to impromptu crowds, and there are films of him doing so.

“Soap Box” oratory is a great way to learn how to communicate with the people en masse (“in their numbers”). Speaking in public is an art, and like any other art it requires many hours of practice to make it approach anything like perfection.

This kind of interaction with people, including strangers, also breeds confidence in the people, and love of the people. It is part of the “legalisation” of our organisations, including the communist party. Putting yourselves in front of the people and interacting with them means that they, too, can no longer regard you as strangers. Nor do they have to rely on the bourgeois mass media for news of you, or for an explanation of what you are.

Agitprop and Induction

There is an overlap between Induction and Agitprop.

We have made two separate courses, with perhaps a tacit understanding that Induction is the internal business of our structures, while Agitprop is for consumption by people who are outside it.

This is not the case. In fact, Agitprop is as much for “internal” consumption as it is for those who may not yet be organised, while Induction in turn requires Agitprop. One can even say that Induction is a process of Agitprop with the end result being the generation of cadres of the Party and of the Movement.

The overlap between Agitprop and Induction is particularly apparent in this part of our Agitprop course. In the end, what we are learning in both cases is how to be cadres, or what are sometimes called “tribunes of the people”. It is all about communicating.

Speakers’ Corner

The illustration shows the Speakers’ Corner in London, which is an expanse of grass in Hyde Park near the Marble Arch, where all kinds of speakers gather at suitable times to address the passers-by. There is another place in London on Tower Hill where this tradition of open-air speaking used to be carried on, and maybe still is.

·        The above is to introduce part of our reading-text: Marches, Seminars, Public Meetings, and Soap Box Oratory.


3 August 2015

Seminars, Public Meetings, Rallies, Conferences

0 comments
Agitprop, Part 7a

January 2013 ANC Rally

Seminars, Public Meetings, Rallies, Conferences

This item is about public gatherings initiated by your organisation. From the small to the large these are gatherings of people who are invited to attend, whether individually or by a general announcement.

For an additional text we will use the (attached) final parts of “Mr Chairman”, by Wal Hannington, a British communist, organiser and author. The book was first published in 1950. Although it is distant from us in place and time, yet it can help us to think about some of these things.

Let us look at how these things can be conceived in general, and then separately, and then with South African characteristics.

All of these events fall within what we are calling Agitprop. They are ways and means at different scales, and with some variation of form, for propagating ideas in a fuller and more detailed way, to larger numbers of people. Of course, they have a “message”, which is more or less pre-formed in the various different cases. Sometimes we are closer to “preaching”, and sometimes purposefully “listening”.

Seminars

Seminars are no different from what we do in the Communist University. A Seminar is an open-ended discussion where “no-one is right and no-one is wrong”, apart from the normal discipline of the chairperson, which rests in turn upon the self-discipline of the meeting.

In a seminar, the chairperson’s job is to protect speakers, to encourage as many as possible to speak, and to keep the meeting on-topic, but not to force any kind of conclusion.

In a seminar, the platform does not dominate and the initial speaker, who “opens the discussion”, should not use more than a quarter of the time, and preferably even less than that (but with the possibility of speaking again). Fifteen minutes might be an ideal upper limit, with ten minutes the average. A physical platform is not required in a seminar. The best arrangement of seating is an oval or a circle, as in a boardroom or a council chamber. Seminars can be very small, but also can be quite large. A seminar of 100 or even 200 is not impossible. Time used in a seminar might be from one and a half hours to two and a half hours from start to finish.

“Seminars” that are not seminars

In South Africa, it is sometimes the case that organisations will hold a public event and call it a “seminar”, when it is not a seminar. This would usually be an event that has a prior intention of endorsing a certain outcome, and where there may be several speakers on a definite platform, speaking one after another, and together using up most of the time. In these circumstances, if the chairperson is going to ask for contributions from the floor, they can only in effect be questions of clarity, suggestions, and minor amendments to the matter being presented. The conclusion of such a meeting will be some kind of adoption of the position as laid down by the platform speakers, which may have the form of a document or a declaration.

Such meetings take a very similar form to press conferences. They are more like Wal Hannington’s category 4, “For obtaining public opinion by resolution in support of a certain project”, or in other words, a “launch”.

Consultative meetings

The SACP, when preparing a campaign, has quite often in the past held invited, consultative meetings that have mainly consisted of representatives of organisations that would have an interest in such a campaign. These meetings are not quite a public launch, and yet they are more driven and directed than a pure seminar would be. They are held so as to canvass opinion and to assist in drafting a campaigning platform that will unite the broadest number of organisations and interests, after which the Party would run the campaign. In rare cases a special purpose vehicle or in other words a new mass movement might be set up, if such an organisation had a good chance of being sustained over time.

Public Meetings

The term “Public Meeting” is on the face of it a general term, but it usually means the kind that Wal Hannington gives as his category 1, being “for demonstration and propaganda purposes only”. Such public meetings are used to spread a message, and to introduce personalities to the public. Public meetings are held at election times in South Africa, and also, for another example, by local police and other authorities when they want to address the population.

Mass Rallies

Mass Rallies usually take place in stadiums. Typical in South Africa are the “Siyanqoba” Rallies that are held in all provinces at the end of the ANC’s election campaigns. Another example would be the January 2013 rally that was held in Durban to mark the end of the 100th Centenary year of the ANC (see the illustration above).

These rallies are Agitprop on a big scale. They involve huge organisation and mobilisation, very large numbers of buses, and sometimes overflow provisions in second stadia, with electronic relay using large screens. These are whole-day commitments by the masses who attend them. There is usually entertainment of a political kind as a warm-up, and everything is done to create a good atmosphere.

The main speaker will be a principle leader of the organisation, such as President Zuma, above, preceded by, in South Africa, leaders of the Alliance including the SACP, COSATU and SANCO, and the Leagues and MK veterans.

A good public address system is crucial.

Conferences

Conferences are also covered in Wal Hannington’s book and we have included that part of the book in the attached discussion text. For our purposes, conferences may be taken as being of two kinds.

In the first place there are the constitutional conferences of organisations, often called congresses, including the SACP, ANC and COSATU-affiliated unions, held in conformity with their respective constitutions and for the purpose of making decisions about policy and about leadership succession. Those conferences have their place within the field of Agitprop. Their results have to be widely pronounced and will constantly be referred to, afterwards.

There are also conferences that are convened by broad invitation. These ones are like seminars, but on a larger scale, and are perhaps spread over one or more whole days.

Logistics, organisation and finance for Rallies and Conferences

We have looked briefly at Event Management in part 6 of the Induction course.

In both cases the date must be fixed far in advance. Finance must be arranged, and a venue selected. Especially in the case of rallies, the local authorities will have to be contacted early so that all the terms of compliance can be fulfilled in time for the event. These can be elaborate. The local authority will guide as to what will be required. In the case of conferences, the conference venue should have all of the compliance under control – but this is something that you need to check.

Accommodation and catering have to be laid on for everyone you are responsible for, and found available for all of the others.

·        The above is to introduce part of our reading-text: Public Meetings, Wal Hannington, 1950.