19 July 2008

Struggle Continues, Education Continues

We all have a human right to self-defence. Two days ago, in a post to the mighty 800-strong YCLSA Discussion Forum, a comrade quoted the late Comrade Harry Themba Gwala (pictured) as follows: “If the warlords come to fight, you must fight; if they come to kill you, you must kill them.” This is the simple truth.

In two successive issues of
Umsebenzi Online, both linked below, SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande, and Cde Solly Mapaila, SACP Secretary for Organising, Campaigns and Cadreship Development, have dealt with the recent sham furore that the friends of the bourgeois class have attempted to raise around this simple issue and around related claims of dictatorial power by the judiciary, amounting to barely-disguised tyrannical claims upon a monopoly of violence for the oppressors of the workers and the poor.

Just such an elite monopoly of violence, whether judicially sanctioned or de facto, was bequeathed upon more than 50 ex-colonial states of Africa through neo-colonialist manipulations, and it has caused untold suffering to the people of Africa. The monopoly of violence has been treated as a one-time trophy, and then turned against the free peoples. This monstrosity can be seen at this moment in Zimbabwe, where an electoral majority is daily being beaten down by bloody force, vile torture, and death.

COSATU has taken the initiative. See the historic third item below. Among other things it says (please note the events and the dates):

“We seek to declare Southern Africa an oppression-free zone and an oasis of justice and democracy for its people, who for years have suffered different forms of degradation, from colonialism through neo-colonial despotism to neo-liberal savagery with its resultant dehumanising poverty...

“The week from 10-17 August 2008 will be the busiest week in our international calendar this year, with the Zimbabwe and Swaziland Solidarity Conference hosted by COSATU on 10-11 August, the SADC Civil Society Conference on Zimbabwe on 12-14 August, the SACP African Conference on Participatory Democracy on 14-16 August, the SADC Heads of State Summit on 15-17 August, and COSATU’s mass rally on 16 August.”

The ANC has taken the initiative. See the historic fourth item below on the revival of liberation movements, by ANC President Jacob Zuma.

The SACP has taken the initiative. See the announcement of the SACP-hosted Conference scheduled for 14-16 August in Johannesburg (the fifth item below). Updated
details are available on the SACP website, including a call for papers. Get your papers in quickly, comrades! There is serious business afoot!

The Communist University will not meet on Monday. Five years of work have not produced a collective cadre force that can keep the COSATU House sessions going, for the time being. Meanwhile, the command Asikhulume!! has repeatedly been heard and understood in the land. Consequently, comrades are meeting around the country in self-organised groups for umrabulo. There is arguably no need for a study circle located in the SACP head office. The Communist University was always “virtual”. It was never supposed to be centralised. A virtual university can never die. It is like a ghost. It is like the spectre of communism!

The “ghost” course on
Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume 1 continues. See the last two links, below. Chapters 13, 14 and 15 were originally omitted from the schedule, to keep it brief, but they can still be accessed by clicking on the links in this sentence. Among other things, these chapters deal with work-organisation in an interesting and clear way.


Click on these links:

Open letter to SA Human Rights Commission, Blade Nzimande, Umsebenzi Online (1560 words)

Judicial Dictatorship, Solly Mapaila, Umsebenzi Online (4875 words)

Oppression-free zone, oasis of justice and democracy, COSATU on SATUCC (801 words)

Revival and strengthening of liberation movements, Jacob Zuma (2213 words)

African Participatory Democracy Conference, Johannesburg, 14-16 July 2008 (brochure)

Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 12, Relative Surplus Value, Karl Marx, 1867 (4354 words)

Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 16, Absolute and Relative Surplus Value, Karl Marx, 1867 (4675 words)

6 July 2008


The Communist University will meet on Monday evening, 7 July 2008, at 17h00, in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein.

(Just for the record, the seventh of July is “Saba-Saba Day” in Tanzania (seventh day of seventh month), which is the peasants’ holiday in that country, just as 1 May is the workers’ day.)

Our discussion will be based on Chapter 11 of Karl Marx’s “Capital”, Volume 1 (see the link below). This is a short chapter of only four pages, and it is the last part of Capital that we had planned to discuss in the CU “contact session” series.

Comrades, the Communist University is going to “pause” a lot of its operations at this time. We will continue to meet on Mondays for a while, and perhaps we can provide some material for discussion, distributed manually, with announcements henceforth by word of mouth.

The CU blog is paused, and the CU e-mails are consequently also paused. (The CU blog and the CU e-mails are made in one and the same process.) Comrades, the CU has run for five years. It is time to reflect.

We have shown that there is no limit on political education, when people are willing to educate each other in the Freirean way. There is no lower limit that needs to be put in front of any comrade, to say he or she is not ready to take part. There is no upper limit to say that any matter is too difficult.

We have shown that it is not the text but the dialogue that is the essence of political education.

We have been ahead of our time in the sense that the controllers of resources, as a rule, do not yet accept the Freirean way of education. Hence the Communist University has been left to its own devices, and perhaps that has actually helped us to show the way.

The lack of resources (and the other setbacks like the suspensions) have meant that we have laid down a track record of working that proves that revolutionary education can proceed without any support from above. Of course we are grateful for such support as we have had from time to time. Mostly, we had to do without.

The lesson seems to be that if comrades meet together for political discussion on a regular basis, with a chairperson, at a stable venue, and share texts that are not to be “learnt” but only meant to serve as a common basis (or “codification”) for discussion, then anything is possible. They can reach any imaginable heights of common understanding and knowledge.

If the knowledge of such comrades will never be recognised, it is because it is not commodified. We pass no examinations and give out no certificates. Our common study, and nothing else, serves to give us confidence in our understanding. This is socialised knowledge, which is the kind that we want in any case.

E-mail and the Internet are not of the essence but are good and useful means of communication and sharing of texts. They are cheaper and faster than any previous means of communication that we have.

With “hard copy”, the A4-folded-to-A5 “pamphlet” format has proved to be the popular one. Like any other human design, the Communist University could not exist until it was measured out in detail. These have been some of the details.

The CU web sites remain. They are
http://amadlandawonye.wikispaces.com/, http://cu.domza.net/, http://groups.google.com/group/Communist-University/, and http://cu.domza.net/.

Don’t forget the Marxists Internet Archive at
http://www.marxists.org/index.htm. It was this great resource, more than any other one (except for Paulo Freire’s book “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”) that helped and inspired the Communist University of Johannesburg.

Click on this link:

Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 11, The Rate and Mass of Surplus Value, Karl Marx, 1867 (4 pages)