19 March 2008

The Revolution Is Ours

The Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the Free State SACP has met and issued a statement that covers a number of matters, including the matter of the Free State University, the Yahoo section among the white students there, and the underlying problems and necessary solutions.

Meanwhile, on the liberal site called
Politicsweb, there has appeared a very scholarly essay by the veteran opponent of the old regime, and ex-political prisoner, Paul Trewhela. Trewhela’s essay is in response to an article written by Prof. Malegapuru William Makgoba almost exactly three years ago. Both of these texts are linked, below.

Why did Trewhela wait for three years to respond in this way, with his parallels drawn between Makgoba and the German Nazis of the 1930s? Alternatively, what is it in the present situation that would cause somebody like Trewhela to drag up a three-year-old newspaper article and make such a big deal of it?

One clue may be the “comment is free” blog article of
R W Johnson, on the web site of the London Guardian. Johnson associates Jacob Zuma, power cuts, UFS, other universities, and finally Makgoba, all together, for the purpose of pushing out some new “Afro-pessimism”. Some of the commenters below his article have picked up on the “baboon” thing and rushed away with it. This is no doubt what was intended.

The fourth item is from another blog - the Mail & Guardian’s “Thought Leader”.
Reg Rumney, a veteran financial journalist, mercilessly criticises the classic “white elephant” project at Coega. In the comments below the blog, you can see how an extravagant project designed to reward capitalists and to foster new capitalist enterprise, now that it is failing is criticised for being “socialist”!

The last linked item examines the bourgeois compulsion for expropriating the symbols of the popular masses, and for turning them into part of the commodity system, as brands. Capitalism appears compelled to expropriate not only the reactionary folkways that William Makgoba finds comforting, but also the revolutionary political legacy of the people. There are commercials on TV in South Africa showing people turning into M K Gandhi, or O R Tambo. The idea is to associate the honoured revolutionary symbols with capital. The bourgeois must steal everything, even your thoughts. See the fifth item below.

This is the world we live in. The revolutionaries create new things, but as fast as they can do so, the forces of the bourgeoisie seek to expropriate what we have done, or if not, then to block our work and destroy it. This is the common experience of revolutionaries, until the revolution.

The dispossession of the commons of the prior society that was ordered by the mothers was the prerequisite for individual and alienable property. Class society was, and could only have been, built upon the idea and the brutal fact of such property. All class societies have therefore to date been based on the imposed ascendancy of men over women. This was so under slavery and under feudalism. Capitalist society has historically, and additionally, been based on the imposed subordination of people in accordance with a constructed racial distinction, and racial myth.

In the South African revolution it is recognised that class contradictions cannot be dealt with in isolation from gender and racial contradictions. All these contradictions must be resolved in the same movement forward. This is our peculiar contribution to world revolutionary history. These are the three sources and the three component parts of our entire revolutionary transition. Liberal intellectuals will continue to try to expropriate any and all possible aspects of our revolutionary thought, at every possible opportunity.

The image is of Simon Bolivar, and a map showing Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Click on these links:

Free State SACP PEC, March 2008, Press Statement (979 words)

Two Vice-Chancellors, Heidegger and Makgoba, Paul Trewhela (2407 words)

Wrath of dethroned white males, Malegapuru Makgoba, M and G (1679 words)

Coega and the Radiohead song, Reg Rumney, Thought Leader (557 words)

The Branding of Bolivar and the Cuban Revolution, Vald├ęs, Counterpunch (1275 words)

Events Diary


  1. The bit about Coega is interesting. You say the project was mearnt to benefit capitalists, who are those? Is a capitalist someone who seeks to make profit? You do understand that the word or concept is not interchangeable with businessperson right? Capitalist implies ownership of the "means of production" and exploitation of people, nature and the environment solely for profit. What do you make of business people who invest in poor countries to make money and create meaningful lives for people in such countries. If one starts a habour in an area to increase business activity so that people can be employed - what do you call that person? an agent of capitalists? I think the world is sick and tired of ideologues who do not engage with details but seek to criticise everything that people do because it seems "capitalistic". Come and visit Coega; do a study of the impact of the project over the years, listen how many stomachs have been fed because of the Project!!! We are developmental activists at heart and our work shall speak for itself!!! watch the space. come and listen to what people in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Eastern Cape have to say about the project.

  2. Hi Ongoma.

    I wrote:

    'In the comments below the blog, you can see how an extravagant project designed to reward capitalists and to foster new capitalist enterprise, now that it is failing is criticised for being “socialist”!"

    This was part of an argument about the way that various kinds of commentators, and in particular Reg Rumney, play around with words like socialism, sometimes to damn them and sometimes to expropriate them.

    If it is any consolation to you, Karl Marx is said never to have used the word "capitalism". So to that extent I sympathise with your complaint. As to the merits of Coega as a project I will leave you free to advocate them.

    For your information, the SACP has criticised the preference for large individual projects like Coega, Gautrain, Pebble Bed and Blue IQ as opposed to the general development of the country.

  3. Hi Domza

    Thanks for that. I guess yours was merely a reflection on what others say. I guess the SACP is not homogenous as it is the case with any other form of organisation. The SACP, COSATU and the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Eastern Cape differ with their national counterparts in their views on Coega. That is the case but not what I would stand on to advocate for the project.

    My views on the project changed significantly when I got a glimpse of its specific details. I came, fresh from varsity, full of energy and critical approach to politics of development in the post-colonial or apartheid world. I had views on capitalism particularly industrial capitalism, "neoliberal" macroeconomic policies, and Britton Woods institutions and their agenda - just like any political studies student in developing world I guess. To sum those views up: I believed that industrial capitalism and the broader formation of the state under the colonial project in africa served to marginalise "indigenous" people. I believed that it was easy for projects like Coega in the post colonial era to serve as neocolonialism and have the same negative impact on South Africa.

    However, since I engaged with the detail, since I got close to the project, I am forever amazed that the people running it managed to turn it into perhaps one of the most effective change agents in post apartheid South Africa. One should see the amount of time spent on preferrential procurement, skills development, training and job creation, and creation of opportunities for women. It's crazy! really crazy. I mean, Coega Partisans have earned respect in the province and in the country as the best drivers of development.

    I am proud to have been associated with the project. If it can get more support from government, and the guys would be allowed to do what they do best without lots of beraucratic red-tape, the project can achieve more. I think Coega should be training ground particularly for public servants. Well, I have not been around for many years so that could be a limitation. Please do pay a visit to the project sometime. visit my blog ongama.blogspot.com for my article "Ours is politics of the jungle". You have encouraged me to blog more often. soon you will see more articles there.



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