9 June 2008

Organise by streets, blocks and villages!

The Communist University meets this evening (Monday) at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein. Instead of the second part of Chapter 10, of Karl Marx's Capital, "The Working Day", we will offer the latest Umsebenzi Online, with SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande’s Red Alert on the subject of street committees, which is linked below. This Red Alert was also reproduced in The ANC's weekly online newsletter, ANC Today.

Comrades, the Communist University is five years old; it started in June, 2003. Have we made a difference? Who knows? Revolutionaries seldom, if ever, have the pleasure of knowing the measure of their success. The fruits of their labours are spread wide, and not hoarded up in closed places where they can be counted, as if by a miser like Scrooge McDuck (pictured).

Revolutionaries must also not take themselves, as individuals, too seriously.

One thing seems very clear: The message of Paulo Freire is not well received in high places. Although “political education” is all the rage at the moment throughout the Alliance, what exactly is meant by the phrase is not spelled out. “Political education” is recited like a mantra (a prayer).

When the time comes for practical application, the would-be political educators all too often reach for what they know, and what they know is unfortunately no better, most times, than what Freire called “the banking theory of education”.

So, one by one, the different parts of the alliance are approaching the Communist University and asking for help to compile school-books. Deposits of prescribed “nollidge” is what they are seeking, such as can be “delivered” to the masses like development aid, so as to produce a predictable “outcome”.

Education is not charitable food-aid, comrades. Education is a revolutionary action of the learners, who are at the same time teachers. Nobody must be willingly permitted to be a Scrooge McDuck of education. A miser’s idea of education is not education at all.

In the Communist University’s humble view, there is as yet one crucial ingredient that is absent from the preconception of street committees. We cannot see where their dynamism will come from, unless they are first-and-foremost organised for learning, in the Freirean fashion. Who will champion this view? No-one will, unless the comrades at street level do it, themselves, and not because they are told, but because there is not other way.

Once, long ago, there was a popular movement for parks and gardens at street level in this country. It was a matter of respect and self-respect. It was powerful in its way: ideologically powerful.

This time round we must cultivate the human garden: The garden of the popular soul. Do communists have soul? You bet they do!

Another time, long ago, there was a famous film of a joint concert of African-American and African Music, in Ghana. It was called “Soul to Soul”. Now, we need a new “Soul to Soul” thing, between South Africans and other Africans, right here and now. All the ingredients are available. Nobody needs to go far.

Comrades, the Communist University apologises for the reduced service level (but we are not a bank!). There has been a lot of very strong material, especially about the people displaced by the May pogroms, and more material continues to come through. Follow it on the YCL Discussion Forum, or come to our class this evening, or both.

Click on this link:

Umsebenzi Online, Volume 7, No. 9, 4 June 2008 (2285 words)


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