27 May 2007

Situation Normal

The Communist University is approaching its fourth anniversary. The blog/group/archive arrangement is about a year and a half old, has nearly half a million “page views” from nearly 500 posts, and more than 3000 archived pages.

The greatest part of the CU is its live face-to-face sessions. The next one will be on Tuesday, May 29 at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein. We will discuss Karl Marx’s “Critique of the Gotha Programme” (linked below).

It could be the last session.
Click here to see what is to happen on Saturday, 2 June 2007. If the CU is in effect suppressed, we must accept it, comrades. All things must pass, sooner or later. Other CUs must come into being, if they can. Perhaps they already have.

What is exposed here is not really the rights and wrongs of a petty squabble. What is exposed is the very weak collective that underlies the Johannesburg CU, which has up to now not been able to expand, as a collective. Perhaps this is a good time to pause and reconsider, in any case.

The class struggle is hotting up and there are many other things to be done, including other publications that have to be brought out.

For archived details of the Public Service workers’ dispute, and facility for discussion and exchange of information about it
please click here. This dispute has caused the biggest workers’ mobilisation for many years in this country.

We will discuss the question of the CU again on Tuesday, face-to-face.

The Gauteng Province of the SACP held its press conference on 22 May and the Provincial Secretary, Zico Tamela, was widely reported, including in an interview in the Sunday Times. See below.

The SACP Central Committee met this weekend and issued its statement today. See below.

The CU has no privileged information on the subject, other than what is reproduced here. But with that limitation noted, one can say that it does seem as if the worst has passed and that there is no insurmountable difficulty to the holding of a successful 12th SACP National Congress.

President Fidel Castro of Cuba, the Commander in Chief, has issued another of his extraordinary “reflections”. See the link below.

The picture is of Ray Alexander Simons, one of the greatest organisers in history.

Click on these links:

SACP Gauteng Provincial council statement, 22 May 2007 (1142 words)

For the deaf who won't listen, Fidel Castro, Granma, Havana (779 words)

So Many Questions, with Zico Tamela, by Chris Barron, S Times (780 words)

Statement of the SACP Central Committee, 25-26 May 2007 (1675 words)

Critique of the Gotha Programme, Karl Marx, 1875 (8315 words)

22 May 2007

Zico Speaks!

Zico Tamela is the new SACP Gauteng Provincial Secretary. His election to this position, in his own estimation, was “historic” (see the link below). However the political significance of the change of personnel is not yet clear to the Communist University or the world at large. Cde Zico has not published his views extensively or widely, although he has often been urged to do so in this forum.

Perhaps all that is about to change. As Provincial Secretary and along with newly-elected Provincial Chairperson Nkosiphendule Kolisile, Cde Zico has called a press conference for 10h00 today.

More urgently, please see the next item linked below, being an article published in the Mail and Guardian last Friday by Shireen Pardesi (pictured), Chief Negotiator for the combined Public Service unions currently in dispute with their employer the government, over their pay claim and other claims.

The YCL National Committee met at the weekend. Their full statement is below.

Also from the Mail and Guardian, see the linked article by Darryl Accone, long a luminous critic within the South African press as well as an author of books. Accone writes here about the very shocking race-prejudice still suffered by people of Chinese origin in this country. How can it be acceptable that trade unionists and others of our movement can tolerate the menace of race prejudice in any form, considering what we have been through in South Africa?

Lastly, the Commander in Chief is not stopping. See the link for President Fidel Castro’s reflection. Another one has been received will be published here as soon as possible. One in one day is enough.

The Communist University meets today at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein. The topic is an account of the Paris Commune from
The Civil War in France, by Karl Marx.

Click on these links:

SACP Gauteng Province 10h00 Press Conference 22 May 2007 (Notice)

Why we're ready to strike, Shireen Pardesi, Mail and Guardian (704 words)

Statement of YCL National Committee (2522 words)

Yellow peril slurs stain rainbow nation, D Accone, Mail and Guardian (749 words)

Lessons, 6th Hemispheric Meeting, Fidel Castro, Granma (3416 words)

18 May 2007

Lunatic Express

“It is our understanding as the SACP that public sector workers are the core cadres of our national democratic revolution. There is no developmental state without a motivated, skilled and professional cadre of public sector workers. The public sector is not some temporary, basket case charity enterprise. The public sector is the seed of a different kind of economy – an economy in which we place meeting social needs (and not maximizing private profit) in the driving seat.”

The above words were part of a solidarity statement by the South African Communist Party on what they call the current "public service deadlock", issued yesterday. The Party is right. It is not yet a strike and does not have to be. It is ridiculous for the Minister, Geraldine Fraser-Moloketi, to be trying to score debating points as to how less than 6% is really more than 12%, as she was trying to do on TV yesterday. This is a person who can’t open her mouth without sneering, condescending and patronising. She is an enforcer and a bully, and not rational at all.

The trouble is that nobody wants that kind of enforcement any more, not even the capitalist class, and not even Fraser-Molokoti’s senior, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. It would be very unfortunate if we go into a strike that nobody wants, only because somebody forgot to properly re-programme the robotic minister’s operating system.

The SACP’s words above catch the real mood of the times, even among the bourgeoisie, which has had enough of terrible service and is prepared to pay because there is no other way, and they know it.

The articles linked below are today selected from the daily bourgeois press (Business Report and Business Day) to illustrate this mood. Where is the usual union-bashing and demonisation? It is not there. From the bourgeois point of view the state is supposed to organise service, and clearly the running down of salaries and the neglect of filling posts are not helping.

Who needs this dispute? Surely South Africa is not going to be sacrificed for the sake of Geraldine Fraser-Moloketi’s bad temper? Are the lunatics running the asylum?

Well, but irrational things do happen. For example, the march of South African white elephants is so far unstoppable. Each one promises to be the last but each is followed by another, naturally, like an invasion of pests.

Yesterday another “project” was announced, this time for a monorail to Soweto from Johannesburg. It looks like an April Fool’s joke, but it isn’t April. The route looks like a piece of twisted string. The price is said to be R12 billion. We remember that the original “Gautrain” price tag was R7 billion and is now, what, R50 billion? What will the monorail cost in the end? Where in the world does monorail work, anyway?

Why don’t they upgrade the existing Metrorail, as the people have consistently demanded, on lines that are already there? Why don’t they lay on a properly organised bus rapid transit system, which is known to work, on roads that exist? The answer is that there is much more money for the Bombelas and the other “consortia” this way. In US slang, this is a “boondoggle”. It is “pork”. And it is property-value speculation.

Let’s hope we win the public service dispute quickly and then go on the offensive against such white elephants and their promoters such as Paul Mashatile and Jack van der Merwe.

These things are not disconnected. Let’s hope SACP DGS Jeremy Cronin will fight strongly in the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport of which he is the chair.

Click on these links:

Unions, state draw battle lines, Terry Bell, Business Report (806 words)

Wage talks delay bigger debate, Hilary Joffe, B Day (918 words)

Manuel’s 9% remark spices up pay talks, Musgrave, Business Day (626 words)

Military unions, strike weapon, government, Terry Bell, Business Report (780 words)

17 May 2007

Deja Vu All Over Again

The image here has been used before on the Communist University Blog. The caption says: “Kafka: Morphing for the Masses”. It refers to one of Franz Kafka’s most famous stories, in which a man turns into a large beetle. Gradually his friends and family, at first sympathetic, begin to shun him and then to despise him. The beetle is brave, and does not lose his self-respect. He knows who he is.

What can one say about the first linked item? The Communist University has not turned into a beetle or any other kind of gogga or dudu. It is what it always was. The once comradely comrades who produced this document have however moved steadily towards the condition of the terrifying bureaucrats in another of Kafka’s stories, “The Trial”.

The best one can say about it is that there are charges, even if there is no evidence. If the last episode (branch meeting) in this sorry decline is anything to go by, the “evidence” led on 2 June in the 13th-floor security-guards’ office in Kerk Street, Johannesburg will consist of a series of disconnected rants.

The first time was tragedy. The second time will be farce.

The matter would make a more complete study if the document that has been transgressed (if that is the case) had ever been seen by the CU. The absence of that document (“branch resolution’) is also very “Kafka”. What is to be done? All advice will be carefully considered. Reply to your e-mail or go to the blog at
http://domza.blogspot.com/ and use the “Comment” facility. At least do read the document, even if you do nothing else.

All this shadow-play has nothing to do with reality. It is not “reality-based”. The imaginary crimes that have led to the same individual being called both “Comrade” and “Accused” in the same document, are only evidence of the displaced frustrations of a group of people who have designs relating to the 12th SACP National Congress, which will take place from 11-15 July this year. We have previously described them as “entryists”, but “turncoats” would be as good a label. By the way, “labeling” is one of the greatest crimes that it is possible to commit, according to these same entryist-turncoats.

Meanwhile, the real business of the SACP continues. See the latest “Umsebenzi Online”, linked below.

Thanks to the comrade in England who forwarded the Guardian article by Seumas Milne. It is a review of a book in the current unrestrained anti-communist genre by an Oxford academic called Robert Service. Milne does a good job. See the link below.

The next, defiant, session of the CU will be next Tuesday, 22 May at 17h00, in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein. The text we will use as a basis for our dialogue is and excerpt from “The Civil War in France” (see the link below).

Support the CU! Come to class!

Click on these links:


Umsebenzi Online Volume 6, No. 9, 16 May 2007 (1747 words)

Movement of the people, Seumas Milne, The Guardian (1170 words)

The Civil War in France, Karl Marx, 1871 (6391 words)

14 May 2007

Hot Iron

Communists like to think that the bourgeois media invariably play a union-busting role when big strikes are on the go. That may often be so. But time and chance play tricks with the affairs of people, including media folk.

When Amy Musgrave and Sue Blaine’s article opining that the forthcoming public-service strike had been “dealt a blow” was given front-page splash treatment in Friday’s Business Day under the heading “
Union split threatens to derail Cosatu strike bid”, the paper’s editors may not have realised that their story would galvanise the eight COSATU and other “independent” public-sector unions into an immediate and firm show of unity.

Musgrave’s next contribution, in Saturday’s Weekender, followed the unions’ unity statement after their meeting on Friday afternoon. It was headed “Million public sector workers set to strike”. A veritable “bouleversement”! See the link below.

Lending strength to the unions’ argument is another Weekender piece by Mariam Isa, showing that the growth in the economy has been understated (see link). The money is there. Let the government pay up. Maybe even the bourgeoisie can see that it is no good squeezing public service workers. The consequences of such a miserable policy are all around us.

Also in the Weekender is a story about the tailing of SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande by unknown surveillance operatives. This is a serious matter and should be given proper attention. Why is it not being dealt with? See the third link below.

Meanwhile in Poland, the Polish Constitutional Court has thrown out an anti-communist witch-hunt law. That can’t be bad. Even bourgeois courts can come through with the goods at times.

And in India, in the 170-million-population state of Uttar Pradesh, an “untouchable” or Dalit woman, Mayawati, in the tradition of the great
B R Ambedkar, the better rival of M K Gandhi. See the link.

For Durbanites, there will be a seminar tomorrow (Tuesday) at the CCS at 12h30 on "Globalisation and Urban Fragmentation" by John Turner’s protagonist Rod Burgess. Turner (see picture), author of “
Housing by People”, is now 80 years old and probably won’t be making the trip, which is a pity. He wrote in the tradition of Lewis Mumford, Steen Eiler Rasmussen and others of that classic ilk. Burgess is only a utilitarian masquerading as a proletarian. The CU has some of Burgess's material, thanks to Patrick Bond. When there is time to take out the "hard returns", it will go up in our archive.

Tuesday evening is
Communist University evening. We meet in the SACP Boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein at 17h00. The text we will discuss on the 15th is extracts from the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, by Karl Marx.

This post is delayed. It should have gone out at least 12 hours ago. Blame Telkom ADSL. It’s time to look seriously at iBurst.

Click on these links:

Million public sector workers set to strike, Amy Musgrave, Weekender (420 words)

Bigger economy is a fact, Mariam Isa, Weekender (507 words)

Spooks under SACP bed, Karima Brown and Vukani Mde, Weekender (699 words)

Polish anti-communist law unconstitutional, Matthew Day, Telegraph (277 words)

Surprise landslide in Indian state election, Randeep Ramesh, Guardian (549 words)

11 May 2007

To Change The World

On the first of May
Remember Confucius did say
Chaos is a name for opportunity.

On the workers day
When Peasants gather in the hay
The time is now, to build up our unity

Let us forge the way
Yes we can make the bastards pay
From our anger there is no immunity

Be happy be gay
Marx and Lenin showed us the way
Let’s build a socialist world community

Ron Press

Today we are with the grandfathers. SACTU veteran Ron Press is one (see picture). Above is his May Day Poem, which the Communist University only now publishes, although Cde Ron was well in time. His book,
To Change the World! Is Reason Enough? can be read on the Internet.

Another is Fidel Castro, who has made a new start as a blogger. Our dear Cuban comrades are somewhat surprised, it seems. Each new Fidel blog goes out under a reverential heading: “Reflections by the Commander in Chief” or “Reflections of President Fidel Castro”. But the man only signs himself as “Fidel Castro Ruz”, and claims no special place. He knows that in this medium there is no cover and no hiding place. He enters it like a young man, prepared to take his chances. If he makes a mistake the whole world will see it at once. But that does not stop him.

And what does he do, this young-man-grandfather? Why, he seizes the heart of the matter. He agitates. He stirs. He is pleased that “The debate heats up”. He takes on the whole world, not waiting to ask who is with him. Titles and honours of the past are of little use in the battles ahead - and that is where his eye is fixed. You have to love this man, but only for a few seconds. He doesn’t want your sentiment. He wants your attention. There is business to attend to and work to be done. His pace is already outstripping us again. See both his blogs of this week linked below.

Another grandfather dear to us is Paulo Freire. Rosa Maria Torres is a writer who knew Freire. She has her view of him and compares it to other peoples’ understandings. The CU does not recognise the Freire who complained of being misunderstood. We though that the Freirean path was a journey, not an arrival. But read this article. There is plenty in it including names of unfamiliar works by Freire. They should all be made available on the Internet, including “The Pedagogy of the Oppresseed”.

Terry Bell gives us a good run-down of the “essential service” gambit in the class struggle as it affects the forthcoming public sector union strike. See below.

The next face-to-face session of the Communist University is next Tuesday, May 15, at 17h00 in the SACP board room, 3rd floor, 1 Leyds Street, cnr Biccard, Braamfontein. The reading is part of “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, by Karl Marx – see below.

Click on these links:

The debate heats up, Fidel Castro Ruz (1711 words)

The tragedy threatening our species, Fidel Castro Ruz (1269 words)

The million Paulo Freires, Rosa Maria Torres (2962 words)

Essential service label clashes with right to strike, Terry Bell, B Rep (812 words)

18th Brumaire Compilation, from Karl Marx (10719 words)

7 May 2007

Prison for the assassin!

The relentless cruelty and shameless hypocrisy of the US Imperialists in relation to the Cuban Miami Five and the corresponding and related case of Luis Posada Carriles present problems for something like the Communist University. In the search for news, for brightness, and freshness, we fail to repeat on each occasion, as President Fidel Castro never fails to do: “Prison for the assassin! Freedom for the Five Heroes!”

Fidel’s old friend, Saul Landau, has shown one way to do the business. It is a form that was considered a fatal weapon by the ancient peoples, known as satire, which is to say a truth that is sharper and more pointed and inescapable than the bare truth itself. Therefore do read the first linked item about the “Geezer Assassin” (Posada). It leaves him where he should be - with nothing.

Terry Jones is another one who wields the weapon. Our thanks must go to the comrade who sent me the link (see below). For those who may have missed the original story, some British matelots were captured in Iranian waters, very well cared for, and then released and flown home. They were received in an atmosphere of hysteria reminiscent of the “Relief of Mafeking”. This was a case of “first time as farce, second time also as farce”.

This evening (Tuesday) at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, the Communist University meets to discuss Part 1 of “
The Class Struggles in France, 1848-50” by Karl Marx. This chapter, which is an account of real events, is also a patient and very full account of the class forces at play and their interactions. It is a model of political economy. Take it paragraph by paragraph. Karl Marx is a clever writer. He can tell a story with many half-hidden treasures in it for those who take the time to find them.

Click on these links:

Posada Walks - Advice from a Geezer Assassin, Counterpunch (2892 words)

Call that humiliation? Terry Jones, The Guardian (714 words)

3 May 2007

Relentless Imperialism

Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa, and therefore is an urgent piece of unfinished business for all of us. An SACP delegation led by General Secretary Dr Blade Nzimande went there very recently and this visit is the basis for the new Umsebenzi Online. See the link below.

President Fidel Castro of Cuba has caught the attention of the world once again with his denunciation of the Imperialist plan to marketise staple foods as energy feedstock, thereby inevitably pricing the staple diet of billions of poor people worldwide out of their reach. President Castro has a deep knowledge and understanding of the relationship between people, agriculture and food.
Click here for an account by Saul Landau of a jeep trip with Fidel in rural Cuba nearly 40 years ago, when in Fidel’s tent the “lantern burned when all the others had gone out” while he studied agricultural texts.

Fidel does not mince his words. In Africa, where the preferred grain for energy, namely maize (“corn”) is the staple food of hundreds of millions of families, we are in mortal danger. See the link below.

Mervyn Bennun, back in South Africa, is a revolutionary lawyer who yesterday soberly and with great clarity, exposed the worm at the heart of the National Prosecuting Authority. If ever there was a “seminal text” (a high point, or watershed) of our constitutional history, this must be it. Hic Rhodus! Hic Salta! See the link below.

It may be supposed that the principle business of Imperialism is its confrontation with the world’s working class. This is not necessarily true, however, at a tactical level at any given point in time. The case of South Korea, as described by Tim Shorrock, illustrates this well. Although South Korea as a separate nation-state is the product of an anti-communist war in the early 1950s, yet this supposedly “pro-Western” bastion has been continuously subjected to aggressive Imperialist machinations aimed at ruining its national bourgeoisie and expropriating its best assets for the benefit of US transnational corporations. See the link below.

Time and again (e.g. in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Somalia, to mention only three) the Imperialists have sold out their bourgeois allies, and even gone to war against them, for the advantage of global corporate business. Imperialist wars against national bourgeois regimes have been far more common than wars against proletarian socialist countries. If South Africa is to mount a challenge to Imperilist hegemony in the form of a truly (“economically”) independent development path, we will have to expect a similar reaction.

Our President, Thabo Mbeki, received a South Korean minister yesterday. Let us hope that the discussion went along good strong anti-Imperialist lines.

Some people continue to report trouble opening the CU links, which nearly always go to the site
http://amadlandawonye.wikispaces.com/ . After long consideration of this problem, it appears that it is in two related parts. Firstly, the site can be slow to open, if the connection is less than perfect. The page appears solid red for a long time. But it usually does open, if you leave it long enough.

The reason why people feel they cannot wait for it to open may be simply that they have not yet got the idea of using multiple open windows in their browser (whether Internet Explorer or any other, such as Firefox). If you can continue to work in another window while amadlandawonye is opening in the first one, then the pressure is off and you can afford to leave it and come back to it after a few minutes, in the reasonable expectation that it will open. Interent Explorer version 7 provides very good means to assist of multiple-window browzing. In any case, please be patient, comrades.

12%” refers to the wage claim within the joint public sector bargaining position.

Click on these links:

Western Sahara not Morocco bantustan, Umsebenzi Online (2196 words)

Immediate energy revolution, President Fidel Castro, Granma (2039 words)

Mud in the waters of justice in SA, Mervyn Bennun, Business Day (2172 words)

US Corporate Trade Policy in Korea, Tim Shorrock, Counterpunch (3402 words)

1 May 2007

Pen and Sword

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande made a speech at the main COSATU May Day Rally in Secunda, Mpumalanga. The speech (linked) concretises very well the challenges facing the SA working class.

Sanders Research is a site that has been characterised here as a “good conspiracy theory site”. This was probably a hasty judgement. Of course there is nothing wrong with being a good conspiracy site. But in fact Sanders research is more positive and more scholarly than even the best of such sites. It is firmly based on a proper understanding of the ascent from the abstract to the concrete, and the true meaning of the phrase “political economy”.

Sanders Research also happens to use an arrangement that is not very far from the Communist University’s. It sends out e-mails while archiving articles that are linked from those e-mails. But it has been going longer - 10 years – and consequently has a good perspective on the rise of aggressive military Imperialism during the past decade. The linked review of the book “Travesty”, written by a Sanders Researcher, shows some of this.

The bombing of Yugoslavia and the “trial” (and death, most likely murder) of Slobodan Milosevich were events that occurred on the periphery of our South African consciousness. This review suggests that we should have been paying more attention. It suggests that it was this Yugoslavian episode which rehearsed the pattern subsequently used in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Somalia, and in different ways, in some European states. This amounts to an deliberate roll-out of military domination that is intended to cover the entire world. To enable it, international law had to be stood on its head. Read the linked article to see how this was done.

Not unrelated to this process are the machinations of the World Bank. The latest part of this general story is the scandal involving Paul Wolfowitz. This scandal exposes the rotten nature of the bank, as is shown in the next linked item, also from Sanders Research.

The CU received a direct, anonymous e-mail about the World Bank containing a denunciation by Kenya’s former permanent secretary for ethics and governance, Dr. John Githongo. See the link below.

And in the last listed link below, on the same topic, Venezuela announced that it is withdrawing from the World Bank and the IMF. See the report from the BBC below.

In the very select “Links” section of the Sanders Research site there is one to
http://www.g2mil.com/ , an “independent military research portal”. Within that site can be found “The magazine of future warfare”. The editorial of that magazine (Spring 2007) happens to be about the formation of the US “Africa Command”. Read it for an insider’s view of the nature of the military monster that has been unilaterally foisted upon Africa by the USA. What the hell gives them the idea that they can do that without asking us?

Click on these links:

2007 May Day Address at Secunda Rally, SACP GS Blade Nzimande (3431 words)

Travesty, Corruption of International Justice, Sanders Research (2578 words)

Why They Fight at World Bank, Anne Williamson, Sanders Research (2340 words)

Githongo Calls on Wolfowitz to Resign (255 words)

Venezuela to withdraw from IMF and World Bank, BBC News (234 words)