26 March 2007

How Things Work

South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) GS Thulas Nxesi has written a short and clear explanation, for City Press readers, of COSATU’s policy of encouraging workers to play a full part in the ANC. See the link below.

ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma gave the YCL’s Chris Hani Memorial lecture on Saturday (see link). Among other things he said “We must really encourage a change of attitude in the areas our young people chose to study. These must be work related.” Does the YCL agree with this statement?

Communist University is aware that the South African revolutionary youth have never been prepared to accept mere vocational training. This was the case at the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Morogoro, Tanzania, for example. As far as we know it has always been the case. (The picture is of the late Solomon Mahlangu).

Chris Hani was a student of Latin and of English literature (see his short autobiographical note, linked below). In what sense were these studies “work related”? Education is not the same as job training. Revolutionary education is what
Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci wrote about. All true education has revolutionary potential.

Job training to make people more valuable as labour-power commodities should be for the account of the capitalist employers, and not for the general fiscus. Is Cde Zuma merely proposing to “lower the cost of doing business”? That is not our concern. True education is what we demand. Comrade Zuma needs to learn the difference between job training, and education.

Just for the record, a number of events have taken place in the last days which have been played down in the local media. One is the explosion of an arsenal in Maputo, Mozambique, causing more than 90 people to lose their lives and God knows what amount of injury and loss of shelter and life support. Who caused this to happen? Another is the small war that broke out in Kinshasa, DRC, resulting in the former presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba taking refuge in the South African Embassy in that city. What is it all about? Another is the shooting down of a huge cargo aircraft in Mogadishu, Somalia, by opponents of the Ethiopian invaders and the Imperialist puppet “government”. The entire crew of the giant aircraft, eleven souls in all, perished. Once again the Imperialists have started a war they cannot finish. How is to be finished, then?

Another event is the capture of 15 British military in Iranian waters. The British are claiming that they were innocently running an Imperialist maritime road-block in the Shatt-al-Arab! They claim they were outside Iranian waters. But the question of where people are in relation to borders is not a difficult one in these times of global positioning by satellite, not even at sea. The British are undoubtedly guilty.

Finally, Counterpunch is a political site, and so is the CU. The final linked item (on washing hands in hospitals) hardly seems political. Yet it is, and in more ways than one. The political job of convincing the doctors to wash their hands is the first. The doctors sometimes like to tell us that if only the politicians would give the people “clear”, and not “confusing” messages about hygiene, then the people would obey and everything would be all right. But the behaviour of the doctors themselves proves that clear instructions, by themselves, have practically no effect. Politicians could have told them this for nothing. It is an exceptional doctor (like Che Guevara, say) who knows much of politics.

The second way that the article is political is the unfortunate dialectical fact that the most hygienic environments are the ones where the most lethal pathogens thrive most easily. The same is true of political institutions. They can be well set up and healthy, but for these very same reasons can suddenly become hotbeds of counter-revolution, just as hospitals that are set up to cure people can become, in a matter of hours, the source of killer disease.

Click on these links:

COSATU wants its members to join ANC, Thulas Nxesi, City Press (641 words)

YCL Chris Hani Memorial Lecture, ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma (3402 words)

Chris Hani, My Life, 1991 (791 words)

On Washing Hands, Atul Gawande, Counterpunch (2041 words)


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