5 June 2006

Free Development of Each and All

The Communist University wikispace web site “amadlandawonye” is where our old and new material is archived. It is the broad field or college in which we are able to hold our conversation with each other as well as with our revolutionary ancestors, and where necessary and useful things are close at hand. From November of last year up to now, it has clocked up 207075 total “views”, making it the fourth most viewed public wikispace in the world, out of a total of 4295. The diagram linked below was done in December 2006 when the CU system settled into the current pattern. The “Blogger” blog feeds the “Google” group with an e-mail linked to documents previously archived on the “Wikispace” web site. The number of people receiving these daily e-mails is now over 800. It works very well indeed. Apart from the PC and the Internet connection, it is all free. It is something (like language itself) that could be described as an “element of communism”. It is a materialisation of Karl Marx’s phrase at the end of the second part of the “Manifesto” about “a vast association of the whole nation in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” In free creation as individuals we make a human society. It all started with a few members of Johannesburg meeting as a study circle in June, 2003; firstly Zico Tamela and Makhi Ndabeni, then Dominic Tweedie and others. Then we discovered the Marxists Internet Archive and began to download short texts for distribution each week for discussion the next week, on a worked-out schedule. That led to the collection of these same texts on floppy disks, and then the first attempt (Christmas 2003) to build an archive spanning from the genesis of Marx’s oeuvre in the mid 1840s, through to the death of Engels 50 years later and the appearance of Lenin as a writer in 1894, and then from the death of Lenin in 1924 to the present day. There are overlaps but this 50-30-80 outline did help to catalogue the whole 160+-year period in an accessible way, and create a core base from which further expeditions become more possible. It soon became a hit in the form of the Communist University CD. From the works came a set of short texts, classified in another way, and then the drafting of “courses”, some occasional and others generic. (These short texts and courses eventually became the basis for the amadlandawonye web site). At the same time an e-mail distribution list was building, first from the participants in the study circle and the branch, and then by word of mouth and of mouse. The list started as a way of announcing discussions of the study circle and distributing the reading in advance. Soon it started to carry other notices and articles and became a de facto newsletter, going out from a gmail address. The limit of the gmail is 500 messages per day, but even at the level of 100 messages it already becomes cumbersome and difficult to manage. The CU grew too big for that and it had to find another way. Hence the system described above and in the diagram, invented and launched with the help of Nhlanhla Mabaso and Shafiur Rahman. Now it has become somewhat well-equipped, so that, for example, in a few days yesterday’s list of links could be built up from collected archives and known resources. The 26 items amount to a book-length set of texts that give an organic view of a 100-year history of tactical struggles around the class and national questions in South Africa, and yielding an understanding of the relationship between these struggles. These now make a good and ready source of reading for the “State Power” discussion. There is no other medium that allows such speed of assembling and publishing work like this. The free development of each only becomes the free development of all when all are freely developing. The working class needs two, three, many CUs and other such inventions to make it free. Let’s hope this short explanation can encourage more people to start such things. Wikispaces are especially good because they are designed for collective and co-operative working (as opposed to the single “webmaster”). Every SACP and ANC branch could have one, and every COSATU shop steward’s committee, and students, and international solidarity organisations. What they are all bound to discover is that there is no separation between the material and the medium, or between the political and the technical, or between the teacher and the taught, or between theory and practice. Not if you are a communist, there isn’t. Click on this link: Communist University Diagram (Word file download)

1 comment:

  1. Indeed a wonderful resource you've been creating collectively here (amadlandawonye wikispace and the CU blog). A good example of how the 'organic intellectual' can thrive in the new communications age. Capitalism providing not only the crisis but the productive means of eventual transformation? Means to and end, of sorts...


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