29 December 2011

CU next year


CU next year

The Communist University publishes in multiple media, but the only register of "students" is the Communist University Google Group, and some other Google Groups.

Taken together with the YCLSA Discussion Forum the CU channel has about 4000 (four thousand) subscribers. Parallel channels contain another approximately 2000 subscribers, for a grand total of more than six thousand, all together.

There are no fees, and there is no certification. We will return to the question of certification, below. First let me give you some more information.

The year-end break is a time of completing preparations for the next year, and preparations for the CU in 2012 are well advanced. There will be a fuller announcement in early January. In the mean time, here are some details.

We will us take it in parts. This is because the Communist University is multi-media, and because it is necessarily to some extent different in each different medium.


We start with the Google e-mail discussion groups. The 12 (twelve) Communist University courses are serialised in 40 instalments via these groups, between January and November each year. That is four ten-week courses, delivered via three parallel channels. The whole 2012 schedule looks like this:
SADTU Political Education
Communist University
CU Africa
African Revolutionary Writers
Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume 1
Development, Rural and Urban
Anti-Imperialism, War and Peace
Karl Marx’s Capital, Vols. 2 and 3
National Democratic Revolution
Hegel, Dialectics, Right and Logic
The Classics
State & Revolution
No Woman, No Revolution
Philosophy and Religion

For each of the three e-mail channels, there is a corresponding blog, where the serialised course material is archived each time it goes out. The blogs also carry information and links that amount to permanent access to all of the course material, to the above schedule, and to suggested dates for your study-circle live sessions.

Live sessions
Among other things, the CU functions as a systematic server of political education material to people's self-organised study circles around South Africa, Africa and the world.

The schedule of posting and meeting dates is designed to facilitate the synchronisation of the e-mailings, such that the material can be printed in hard copy and distributed in good time for the subsequent scheduled meeting dates.  The several hundred reading texts of original revolutionary literature are formatted for printing as booklets (A4 folded to A5). The reading texts are attached to the e-mails, and are also constantly available as downloadable files.

Principles of learning for political purposes

In all cases, the CU believes that for politically-useful learning to take place, there must be dialogue, and not monologue. Hence the "many-to-many" e-mail discussions, and hence also the nature of our live sessions, which are seminars, and not lectures. In our pedagogical practice we follow the teachings of the late Paulo Freire.

Hard copy

Work has been under way for many months towards a re-launch of the (now) twelve Communist University courses as Print-On-Demand course packs of booklets, packaged in a specially-designed and convenient way. The full design was realised in hard copy only yesterday, for the first time.

These packs should be available for political schools all over the country via a well-known chain of print-shop franchises. At the same time, the newly re-formatted text files will be made available on the Internet, and may also be circulated in a CD format.

The above are the main CU media at present. There can be more. For example, if people wish to carry the CU into other media like Facebook, or talk-show radio, or any other, they are welcome to do so, provided that the two-way dialogical character is maintained as far as possible in each medium.

Let us now proceed to the question of


Certification is a major operation that involves the creation of a permanent bureaucracy of reliable record-keeping, and a stable formalisation of the courses.

The formalisation of the courses is well under way in terms of the defining of the 12 Communist University generic courses listed in the table above. But there is no external validating authority that will sanctify the CU's efforts in this regard.

There are no resources and there is no legal entity that can hold resources as Communist University. There is no organised collective behind the CU other than the group (study circle) that meets in Johannesburg, currently at the Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, on Wednesday evenings during the CU season.

One way forward might be to award peer-group recognition. This would be given, in the first place, to those who have mastered the principles and the practice of critical pedagogy (the Freirean "praxis"). It would be some kind of certificate that could be signed by all the available peers. In Freirean education, the teachers are learners and the learners are teachers, so it would be appropriate to that extent. Peer recognition is the historically oldest form of "degree", by the way.

We should note here that there is a contradiction between open-ended Freirean education, and "qualification". Freire would criticise the latter as being part of the "banking" theory of education that he opposed.

Further discussion

As always, we must go to discussion, if all of the above is to be internalised, and equally importantly, socialised.

Please ask more questions and please, all CU subscribers, do give your contributions on the question of certification.