15 November 2007

Cloud of Unknowing

The Communist University is proud to announce some major backroom work, which we have called “Plug-in City” in tribute to the London architectural scene in general and to Archigram in particular (see illustration). The CU’s Plug-in City allows you to sign up to more than 25 Google groups of different kinds (Discussion Forums, On-line Publications, Media Release Distribution Lists, and International Solidarity Networks). Most of these free subscriptions offered in convenient boxes, where you only have to put your e-mail address and click a button. The main page is connected to four subsidiary pages. It is here:

Meanwhile, Business Day’s pundits are at last admitting that they cannot foretell the future. In particular they cannot predict the outcome of the ANC’s 52nd National Conference, due to take place in Polokwane, Limpopo, from 16-20 December 2007. Steven Friedman, Sipho Seepe and Karima Brown all demonstrate, in one way or another, the exhaustion of the “two camps” theory of ANC-ology. The commentariat may finally be waking up to the fact that there is more at stake here than who gets to stay in the biggest hangover palace from the old regime.

Friedman raises the possibility that there may not even be a contest at Polokwane. In other words, a deal may be done behind the scenes (by “horse-trading”) and the new leader may just “emerge” without the delegates being asked to vote. Well, anything’s possible, but in that case there might be quite a lot of fed-up delegates on the day.

Sipho Seepe deconstructs the mix-and-match traditions (“Which tradition are you wearing today, chief?”) of the African National Congress, especially as espoused by T. Mbeki, MA (Sussex). Seepe thinks that there are no genuine traditions beneath the phoney ones, and likewise to hope to discover new ideas anywhere in the ANC is wishful thinking. Maybe Seepe is just covering his own lack of ideas.

Karima Brown comes closest to describing a real underlying Polokwane political nexus, thus: “The ruling party’s crisis of unity is not so much a class chasm as it is a clash of interests within a single inheritor class. It is only a matter of cosmetics that one of these factions has appropriated Zuma, and now deploys the jargon of revolution to assure its ascendancy. On the opposing end, another faction of capital coheres around Mbeki and his inner circle, appropriating to itself not only the machinery of state but the rhetoric of constitutionalism and probity in its attempts to perpetuate its power.”

Wilson Johwa reports in today’s Business Day that Jacob Zuma spent two and a half hours at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange yesterday. Said Adam Habib: “They are covering their bases. This is an initiative from both sides.” Johwa gives a useful list of all the toenadering the Zuma faction has been doing with big capital and its institutions. Fine, they have to do it, but then let’s be transparent. What is on the table? “No significant policy shift” is the commitment Zuma gave to Merrill, Lynch, according to Johwa’s account. That won’t do for the working class.

So, one can learn a lot from the bourgeois media. In London, the Guardian’s man in Johannesburg, Chris McGreal, has written a long article about the South African arms deal, which has a big British dimension. Let one quote suffice: “The offsets proved to be an illusion. The man who negotiated them on behalf of South Africa, Jayendra Naidoo, later said that it was ‘highly questionable’ that the offsets generated any economic development.”

Click on these links (not forgetting
Coming Events):

Cloud of unknowing, Steven Friedman, Business Day (778 words)

Bogged down, bogus traditions, stale ideas, Sipho Seepe, B Day (877 words)

SA 1994 settlement on trial with Zuma, Karima Brown, B Day (749 words)

Zuma charm offensive at the JSE, Wilson Johwa, B Day (415 words)

Double standards, Chris McGreal, The Guardian (1355 words)

Coming Events


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