15 October 2007

Editors under attack

The Communist University meets at 17h00 on Tuesday 16 October 2007 in the SACP Boardroom, to discuss the abridged resolutions of the COSATU Central Committee (see the first link below).

The previous full CU post was on
24 June 2007 (click here to read it). It explained that the CU was facing difficulties at the time. The first of these difficulties was the necessity for the CU’s writer to work on the development and production of the e-mail publication “COSATU Today” (CT). The latter mailing and its companion, COSATU Media Monitor (CMM), now provide between them a very good daily coverage of working-class concerns. Another member of COSATU’s staff has become responsible for that work.

CT is the unvarnished collected statements of the working-class mass formations, their allies and their friends. CMM is a compilation of the reactions to these statements found in the bourgeois media. You can subscribe both
by clicking here (and following instructions) or by putting your e-mail address in the small box given on the COSATU home page, or in the box on the NEHAWU home page.

The CU will presume that most of its subscribers are getting the two COSATU publications, and that we do not therefore have to duplicate what is already covered, unless there is a particular reason to do so. The previous (flexible) parameters of the CU were that the linked (or attached) documents would be no more than five in number, and not amount in total to more than 200KB. The
blog material, which is also the e-mailed text, was the equivalent of a single A4 sheet. The CU published nearly every day, for a long time.

Just for the record, the Communist University posts have in practice been written by one person. But the CU phenomenon in total is the product of the efforts of hundreds of people over many years.

Because we can now rely upon COSATU’s service, can manage with less CU Internet work than before. “Occam’s Razor” states: “It is vain to do with more, what can be done with less”. We can now concentrate our aim on the
Freirean idea of “codification”, which Peter McLaren defined as follows:

A codification is a representation of the learner’s day-to-day situations. It can be a photograph, a drawing, or even a word. As a representation, the photograph or word is an abstraction which permits dialogue leading to an analysis of the concrete reality represented. Codifications mediate between reality and its theoretical context, as well as between educators and learners who together seek to unveil the meanings of their existence.”

That is a lot of words to describe something that is above all supposed to be simple! In our case it only means that the texts carried by the Communist University are solely intended as a basis for dialogue, and not as prescription or dogma. Nor are they merely “course material” preparatory to an examination, or to any kind of “qualification”, or leveling, or commodification of people. The knowledge that we intend to foster is created socially, in dialogue. This is the only kind of knowledge that can animate the collective social, or democratic, human subject. It is the only kind that is socially available as a defense against dictatorship.

This is not to say that we are eclectic, indifferent, or liberal. On the contrary, at all times we strive to be intentional, and to ascend from the abstract to the concrete, and to move towards “concrete analysis of concrete situations” (Lenin’s phrase). If we have done that much, then we have done the right thing, pedagogically speaking.

So here is a short codification for today. It is from the Introduction, by Ian Birchall, to “
Sketches from the French Revolution” (1890) by Ernest Belfort Bax. It says: ‘For Bax, Robespierre was a “pedantic Rousseauite prig”, and he argued: “The fact is, Robespierre was a petit bourgeois, a Philistine to the backbone, who desired a Republic of petit bourgeois virtues, with himself at the head, and was prepared to wade through a sea of blood for the accomplishment of his end.”’

Pedantic prigs are dangerous. And editors are under attack. See Justice Malala’s article, linked below. The picture above is of Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya.

Click on these links:

Abridged resolutions of the COSATU Central Committee (4665 words)

Mbeki & Co reduce SA to a state of fear, Malala, S Times (920 words)


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