April 21, 2015
April 19, 2015
“The nature of the modern state emerges clearly in the praxis of the police. Here, the distinction between a power/violence that imposes law (rechtsetzende Gewalt) and one that defends it (rechtserhaltende Gewalt) is suppressed: the police imposes law in the act itself in which it preserves it, intervening in precisely those cases ‘where no clear legal situation exists’. Not only in extreme cases, in which domestic order and public security are really threatened, but in every intervention in which the police violates the law in order to preserve it: when, for example, the police exceed the speed limit to stop the driver of an automobile guilty of having exceeded it, or when they intervene violently to break up a demonstration. This suspension and violation of the law is the normal practice of police action: only by its own violation can the law be maintained. There is no stable border between Gewalt and law, and the police illustrates this confusion in a paradigmatic way.
This delineates a situation in which it becomes impossible to decide which is the exception and which the rule, as both are inescapably intertwined in a police net. It was such a net that Walter Benjamin had the opportunity to observe at work in the bloody Social-Democrat repression of Noske against the Spartakist revolt in January 1919 and against the communist rising in the Ruhr in the Spring of 1920. But the criticism of police praxis without the criticism of the political form that makes that spectral praxis possible would leave the job half-done. And the political form in which the greatest imaginable degeneration of Gewalt is possible is democracy. Benjamin comments:
‘And though the police, may, in particulars, appear the same everywhere, it cannot finally be denied that in absolute monarchy, where they represent the power of a ruler in which the legislative and executive supremacy are united, their spirit is less devastating than in democracy, where their existence, elevated by no such relation, bears witness to the greatest conceivable degeneration of violence (die denkbar grosste Entartung der Gewalt).’
The embarrassment of Derrida when commenting on this passage is extremely instructive. Derrida is unable to see the decisive passage, namely, that which carries the critique of violence over into the critique of democracy. To save democracy, he is forced to speak of a degenerative form of democracy, of its distance from some model of democracy which has yet to be built, or revived, while, for Benjamin, it is instead democracy itself which makes possible the greatest degeneration of Gewalt. Overturning Benjamin’s reasoning, Derrida writes that if, in absolute monarchies, police violence appears as what it is and according to its own nature, in democracies their own principle is negated by such violence, which appears as what should not be. The scandal would, in other words, consist of a police violence that, in democracies, should not manifest itself. One must here respond that police violence does not corrupt the democratic principle, as Derrida thinks, but, rahter, expresses its most intimate essence. Police violence appears in its ‘spectral presence’ especially in modern representative democracy, for only there can it truly pervade everything. Its presence is ‘spectral (gespentisch)’, ‘elusive’, ‘diffused into every locale’, because it does not recognise any disitnction between public and private spheres. Inasmuch as it is legitimated by popular sovereignty, in the name of which it acts, it encounters no obstacles, but only a mass of individuals, private because deprived of any Gewalt.”
Another kind of Gewalt: Beyond Law. Re-reading Walter Benjamin
in Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory
Volume 17 Issue 1
April 18, 2015
18 April 2015
From the outset, Open Stellenbosch has made it clear that our aim is not an attack on the Afrikaans language per se, but to highlight the problematic ways in which Afrikaans is used at Stellenbosch University to marginalise and exclude students, especially, many black students. Before we address the minutiae of the Language Policy, it will be important to mention form the outset that our primary concern is with the teleological imperative of the policy, the very purpose of it, rather than its technocratic machinations.
The Language Policy of SU functions to position Afrikaans language and culture as subjected to vulnerability. It is therefore the duty of the policy to ‘protect’ this language, not only as a means of communication, but also as a site of cultural production. It is for this reason that we ought to interrogate the rhetoric of the Language Policy in order to trace in it the apartheid nostalgia that undergirds its very existence. It states in its aims and overview that it is, first and foremost, “committed to the use, safeguarding and sustained development of Afrikaans as an academic language in a multilingual context” (pg 2). This function runs in tandem with the aim to “increase teaching offerings in English” (pg 2). In addition, the Policy “acknowledge[s] language diversity and promote[s] accessibility for staff and students” (pg 2). However, the application of this policy is done through a “pragmatic” (pg 2) approach, which takes into account the resources for “support mechanisms”. We are persuaded to think that the intended aim is to develop ‘multilingualism’, or the loaded term, ‘language diversity’. But the giveaway, as we see it, lies in the defensive rhetoric that seeks to preserve a certain sense of power which is predicated on white privilege and cultural hegemony. And so, the term “safeguard” is used throughout the policy to somehow suggest that Afrikaans – as a historical entity, as a communication tool, as a socio-spacial culture – is under attack. The resultant logic is that the Policy will be its defender.
Interestingly, the Policy is framed in patriarchal rhetoric which feminises SU by referring to the institution and “her partners” (5), thereby turning it into a feminine object of protection, a protection to be carried out by the white male university council. What we have, in this instance, is a discursive strategy that attempts to reconfigure whiteness as actually disadvantageous and not beneficial in post-apartheid South Africa. It is no wonder that many white SU students argue, as they are known to have argued on many platforms, that whiteness in South Africa has become a liability and that they sought refuge in Stellenbosch, the last bastion of a form of Afrikaner nationalism. The suggestion conveyed by the Policy is, in the first instance, a flagging of the possibility that white Afrikaners are increasingly becoming an “unprotected” minority in the country. This idea stems from the view that whiteness generally considers the slate as having been wiped cleaned by the new dispensation and political reforms that have come into place in a post-apartheid context. We have also noted that the proposition from these students often involves an argument that states is that even talking about race is itself racist, since we ought to see people for their individuality rather than as members of a collective group.
This is precisely what we are fighting, and it has been noted even by Vice Chancellors at other universities, including the Rhodes VC Dr Sizwe Mabizela, former VC of Rhodes and now Director of the Mellon Foundation Dr Saleem Badat, and even, however inchoate, Dr Max Price. We call for our own VC to face up to this structural racism, by firstly addressing the very foundations of the Language Policy, and not merely the procedural modifications about teaching and translating. It is the very process of translating that presumes Afrikaans as the normative code, to which every other non-speaker, generally ‘non-white’, is expected to adhere. The Rector at the University of the Free State noted in connection with the passing of the former VC, Russel Botman, that:
“Some of the historically white Afrikaans universities have a perfect alibi for not transforming – Afrikaans. When the Potchefstroom campus of North West University or the University of Stellenbosch is pushed to enroll more black students, they take refuge in language rights protected by the constitution. Somebody must tell these campus leaders that in the wake of our horrific racist past, white-dominant campuses in this country are morally unacceptable, demographically unjust and educationally dangerous. Afrikaans as a language is vital to our multilingual democracy, and must expand, but as the handmaiden of social justice, not racial exclusion”  (para. 11).
It should by now be clear, or shall become clearer as we proceed, that the language question at Stellenbosch is indeed the mechanism through which systemic segregation functions at SU. Having dealt with some of the problematic foundations of this Policy and SU, we can endeavour to explore the intricacies and how they operate in the classroom. The foremost way in which the current language policy marginalises students is by negatively affecting the academic performance of non-Afrikaans speaking students. Many students struggle to understand the content of lessons because they are excluded through the use of Afrikaans in lectures. The interpretation devices given to non-Afrikaans speaking students are inefficient, inaudible and often do not work. They also make students feel uncomfortable, highlighting their status as “those who do not belong” at this university. There are lecturers at this university who refuse to teach or answer questions in English. Non-Afrikaans speaking students are excluded by having to constantly ask their peers for help in understanding the language used in class, distracting them from the underlying academic content. The result is that many non-Afrikaans speaking students come out of lectures feeling as though they have only understood half of the lesson. Secondly, we highlight the obvious impracticality for lecturers of having to teach in two languages at once. One sentence Afrikaans, one sentence English. We ask, how can this possibly translate into a fluent transferal of ideas to students? Lecturers in the movement have emphasized the pedagogical short sightedness in terms of the language policy, and how it translates into the teaching experience.
In residences the marginalisation of especially black students is most evident. Many residence meetings are conducted exclusively in Afrikaans and this feeds into some of the racist traditions which permeate many of the more traditionally Afrikaner residences. Many black students feel they cannot contribute to the Residence experience because they cannot speak Afrikaans. The same can be said about student departmental leadership positions. Following on from this, the language policy directly discriminates against non-Afrikaans speaking students and lecturers by denying them access to other opportunities on campus, such as having Afrikaans as a condition for employment.
We call attention to the clear links between language and white supremacy on this campus. Leadership positions and teaching positions disproportionately favour white, Afrikaans speaking males and we find this highly problematic. Secondly, the unchanged labelling of the department “Afrikaans-Nederlands” denies other important roots of the language, and perpetuates the Afrikaner- nationalist portrayal of the language as of exclusively European origin. Finally we ask, why, at a public institution of higher learning, should paying students be discriminated against on the basis of language? Surely, no student should have to learn Afrikaans – as well as the cultural conscription it demands – simply in order to be visible in the institution. It is for this reason that we insist that at this campus, language is used to divide, exclude and marginalise and therefore we are calling for the discontinuation of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at Stellenbosch University.
 Jansen’s article is clear. Racism at SU is incubated in the language policy. The suggestion in his critical piece, Who killed Russel Botman?, is that the language policy as well as the role play by Afrikaans print media was central to the stress and resultant death of the late VC. It is true, also, as evidenced by the report in Die Burger, which sought to quell any Afrikaaner fears about an ‘uprising’ by referring to our mass gathering as ‘orderly’.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Facebook: Open Stellenbosch | Twitter: @openstellies
April 17, 2015
It should have come as no surprise yesterday when the grand jury in St. Louis refused to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who murdered Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Missouri. Various politicians and media outlets had labored to prepare the public for this for months in advance. They knew what earnest liberals and community leaders have yet to acknowledge: that it is only possible to preserve the prevailing social order by giving police officers carte blanche to kill black men at will. Otherwise, it would be impossible to maintain the racial and economic inequalities that are fundamental to this society. In defiance of widespread outrage, even at the cost of looting and arson, the legal system will always protect officers from the consequences of their actions—for without them, it could not exist.
The verdict of the grand jury is not a failure of the justice system, but a lesson in what it is there to do in the first place. Likewise, the unrest radiating from Ferguson is not a tragic failure to channel protest into productive venues, but an indication of the form all future social movements will have to take to stand any chance of addressing the problems that give rise to them.
A profit-driven economy creates ever-widening gulfs between the rich and the poor. Ever since slavery, this situation has been stabilized by the invention of white privilege—a bribe to discourage poor white people from establishing common interests with poor people of color. But the more imbalances there are in a society—racial, economic, and otherwise—the more force it takes to impose them.
This explains the militarization of the police. It’s not just a way to sustain the profitability of the military-industrial complex beyond the end of the Cold War. Just as it has been necessary to deploy troops around the world to secure the raw materials that keep the economy afloat, it is becoming necessary to deploy troops in the US to preserve the unequal distribution of resources at home. Just as the austerity measures pioneered by the IMF in Africa, Asia, and South America are appearing in the wealthiest nations of the first world, the techniques of threat management and counter-insurgency that were debuted against Palestinians, Afghanis, and Iraqis are now being turned against the populations of the countries that invaded them. Private military contactors who operated in Peshawar are now working in Ferguson, alongside tanks that rolled through Baghdad. For the time being, this is limited to the poorest, blackest neighborhoods; but what seems exceptional in Ferguson today will be commonplace around the country tomorrow.
This also explains why struggles against the police have taken center stage in the popular imagination over the past decade. The police are the front line of capitalism and racism in every fight. You might never see the CEO who profits on fracking your water supply, but you’ll see the police who break up your protest against him. You might not meet the bank director or landlord who forces you out, but you will see the sheriff who comes to repossess your home or evict you. As a black person, you might never enter the gated communities of the ones who benefit most from white privilege, but you will encounter the overtly racist officers who profile, bully, and arrest you.
The civil rights struggles of two generations ago have become struggles against the police: today, a black man can become president, but he’s exponentially more likely to be murdered by an officer of the law. The workers’ struggles of a generation ago have become struggles against the police: in place of steady employment, a population rendered expendable by globalization and automation can only be integrated into the functioning of the economy at gunpoint. What bosses once were to workers, police are to the precarious and unemployed.
In view of all this, it is not surprising that police violence has been the catalyst for most of the major movements, uprisings, and revolutions of the past several years:
The riots that shook Greece in December 2008, ushering in an era of worldwide anti-austerity resistance, were sparked by the police murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.
In Oakland, the riots in response to the police murder of Oscar Grant at the opening of 2009 set the stage for the Bay Area to host the high-water mark of Occupy and several other movements.
The day of protest that sparked the Egyptian revolution of 2011 was scheduled for National Police Day, January 25, by the Facebook page We Are All Khaled Said, which memorialized another young man killed by police.
Occupy Wall Street didn’t gain traction until footage of police attacks circulated in late September 2011.
The police eviction of Occupy Oakland, in which officers fractured the skull of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, brought the Occupy movement to its peak, provoking the blockade of the Port of Oakland.
In 2013, the fare hike protests in Brazil and the Gezi Resistance in Turkey both metastasized from small single-issue protests to massive uprisings as a result of clumsy police repression.
The same thing happened in Eastern Europe, setting off the Ukrainian revolution at the end of 2013 and sparking the Bosnian uprising of February 2014.
Other cities around the US have witnessed a series of intensifying rebellions against police murders, peaking with the revolt in Ferguson following the murder of Michael Brown.
It isn’t just that the police are called in to repress every movement as soon as it poses any threat to the prevailing distribution of power (although that remains as true as ever). Rather, repression itself has been producing the flashpoints of revolt.
The police cannot rule by brute force alone. They can’t be everywhere at once—and they are drawn from the same social body they repress, so their conflicts with that body cannot be concluded by purely military means. Even more than force, they need public legitimacy and the appearance of invincibility. Wherever it’s hard for them to count on one of these, they’re careful to exaggerate the other. When they lose both, as they have in all of the previously described movements, a window of possibility opens—a Tahrir or Taksim Square, an Occupy encampment or building occupation, the occupied QT in Ferguson last August—in which it becomes possible to imagine a world without the boundaries and power imbalances they enforce. This window remains open until the police are able to reestablish their facade of invulnerability and either delegitimize the kind of force it takes to confront them, à la Chris Hedges, or else relegitimize policing itself.
Such relegitimization can take many forms. In Occupy, it took the form of rhetoric about the police being part of the 99% (which could just as easily have been said of the Ku Klux Klan). In Egypt, people overthrew several governments in a row only to see the police and military resume the same function again and again, each time relegitimized by the regime change; it turned out the problem was the infrastructure of policing itself, not a particular administration. In the Ukrainian revolution, when the police were successfully defeated, the same self-defense forces that had just routed them took over their role, performing it identically. Calls for “community self-policing” may sound innocuous, but we should recall the white vigilante groups that roamed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Policing, in practically every form we can imagine it, is bound to perpetuate racism and inequality. It would be better to talk about how to do away with the factors that give rise to our supposed need for it in the first place.
In protests against the killing of Michael Brown, relegitimizing the police has taken the form of demands for police accountability, for citizens’ review boards, for police to wear cameras—as if more surveillance could possibly be a good thing for those too poor to survive within the law in the first place. It is naïve to present demands to authorities that regard the police as essential and see us as expendable. This can only reinforce their legitimacy and our passivity, fostering a class of go-betweens who build up personal power in return for defusing opposition. We should be grateful to the demonstrators in Ferguson who refused to be passive last night, rejecting representation and false dialogue at great personal risk, refusing to water down their rage.
For the only possible way out of this mess is to develop the ability to wield power on our own terms, horizontally and autonomously, stripping the police of legitimacy and shattering the illusion that they are invincible. This has been the common thread between practically all the significant movements of the past several years. If we learn how to do this, we can set our own agenda, discouraging the authorities from taking the lives of young men like Michael Brown and opening up a space in which they cannot enforce the structural inequalities of a racist society. Until we do, we can be sure that the police will go on killing—and no prosecutor or grand jury will stop them.
first published here: http://crimethinc.com/texts/r/bluefuse/
April 16, 2015
Basically the South African white community is a homogeneous community. It is a community of people who sit to enjoy a privileged position that they do not deserve, are aware of this, and therefore spend their time trying to justify why they are doing so. Where differences in political opinion exist, they are in the process of trying to justify their position of privilege and their usurpation of power.
With their theory of “separate freedoms for the various nations in the multinational state of South Africa” the Nationalists have gone a long way towards giving most of white South Africa some sort of moral explanation for what is happening. Everyone is quite content to point out that these people -meaning the blacks -will be free when they are ready to run their own affairs in their own areas. What more could they possibly hope for?
But these are not the people we are concerned with. We are concerned with that curious bunch of nonconformists who explain their participation in negative terms: that bunch of do-gooders that goes under all sorts of names -liberals, leftists etc. These are the people who argue that they are not responsible for white racism and the country’s “inhumanity to the black man”. These are the people who claim that they too feel the oppression just as acutely as the blacks and therefore should be jointly involved in the black man’s struggle for a place under the sun. In short, these are the people who say that they have black souls wrapped up in white skins.
The role of the white liberal in the black man’s history in South Africa is a curious one. Very few black organisations were not under white direction. True to their image, the white liberals always knew what was good for the blacks and told them so. The wonder of it all is that the black people have believed in them for so long. It was only at the end of the 50s that the blacks started demanding to be their own guardians.
Nowhere is the arrogance of the liberal ideology demonstrated so well as in their insistence that the problems of the country can only be solved by a bilateral approach involving both black and white. This has, by and large, come to be taken in all seriousness as the modus operandi in South Africa by all those who claim they would like a change in the status quo. Hence the multiracial political organisations and parties and the “nonracial” student organisations, all of which insist on integration not only as an end goal but also as a means.
The integration they talk about is first of all artificial in that it is a response to conscious manoeuvre rather than to the dictates of the inner soul. In other words the people forming the integrated complex have been extracted from various segregated societies with their in- built complexes of superiority and inferiority and these continue to manifest themselves even in the “nonracial” set-up of the integrated complex. As a result the integration so achieved is a one-way course, with the whites doing all the talking and the blacks the listening. Let me hasten to say that I am not claiming that segregation is necessarily the natural order; however, given the facts of the situation where a group experiences privilege at the expense of others, then it becomes obvious that a hastily arranged integration cannot be the solution to the problem. It is rather like expecting the slave to work together with the slave-master’s son to remove all the conditions leading to the former’s enslavement. Secondly, this type of integration as a means is almost always unproductive. The participants waste lots of time in an internal sort of mudslinging designed to prove that A is more of a liberal than B. In other words the lack of common ground for solid identification is all the time manifested in internal strifes inside the group.
It will not sound anachronistic to anybody genuinely interested in real integration to learn that blacks are asserting themselves in a society where they are being treated as perpetual under-16s. One does not need to plan for or actively encourage real integration. Once the various groups within a given community have asserted themselves to the point that mutual respect has to be shown then you have the ingredients for a true and meaningful integration. At the heart of true integration is the provision for each man, each group to rise and attain the envisioned self. Each group must be able to attain its style of existence without encroaching on or being thwarted by another. Out of this mutual respect for each other and complete freedom of self-determination there will obviously arise a genuine fusion of the life-styles of the various groups. This is true integration.
From this it becomes clear that as long as blacks are suffering from inferiority complex -a result of 300 years of deliberate oppression, denigration and derision -they will be useless as co-architects of a normal society where man is nothing else but man for his own sake. Hence what is necessary as a prelude to anything else that may come is a very strong grass-roots build-up of black consciousness such that blacks can learn to assert themselves and stake their rightful claim.
Thus in adopting the line of a nonracial approach, the liberals are playing their old game. They are claiming a “monopoly on intelligence and moral judgement” and setting the pattern and pace for the realisation of the black man’s aspirations. They want to remain in good books with both the black and white worlds. They want to shy away from all forms of “extremisms”, condemning “white supremacy” as being just as bad as “Black Power!”. They vacillate be- tween the two worlds, verbalising all the complaints of the blacks beautifully while skillfully extracting what suits them from the exclusive pool of white privileges. But ask them for a moment to give a concrete meaningful programme that they intend adopting, then you will see on whose side they really are. Their protests are directed at and appeal to white conscience, everything they do is directed at finally convincing the white electorate that the black man is also a man and that at some future date he should be given a place at the white man’s table.
The myth of integration as propounded under the banner of liberal ideology must be cracked and killed because it makes people believe that something is being done when in actual fact the artificial integrated circles are a soporific on the blacks and provide a vague satisfaction for the guilty-stricken whites. It works on a false premise that because it is difficult to bring people from different races together in this country, therefore achievement of this is in itself a step forward towards the total liberation of the blacks. Nothing could be more irrelevant and therefore misleading. Those who believe in it are living in a fool’s paradise.
First the black-white circles are almost always a creation of white liberals. As a testimony to their claim of complete identification with the blacks, they call a few “intelligent and articulate” blacks to “come around for tea at home”, where all present ask each other the same old hackneyed question “how can we bring about change in South Africa?” The more such tea-parties one calls the more of a liberal he is and the freer he shall feel from the guilt that harnesses and binds his conscience. Hence he moves around his white circles – whites-only hotels, beaches, restaurants and cinemas -with a lighter load, feeling that he is not like the rest of the others. Yet at the back of his mind is a constant reminder that he is quite comfortable as things stand and therefore should not bother about change. Although he does not vote for the Nats (now that they are in the majority anyway), he feels quite secure under the protection offered by the Nats and subconsciously shuns the idea of a change. This is what demarcates the liberal from the black world. The liberals view the oppression of blacks as a problem that has to be solved, an eye sore spoiling an otherwise beautiful view. From time to time the liberals make themselves forget about the problem or take their eyes off the eyesore. On the other hand, in oppression the blacks are experiencing a situation from which they are unable to escape at any given moment. Theirs is a struggle to get out of the situation and not merely to solve a peripheral problem as in the case of the liberals. This is why blacks speak with a greater sense of urgency than whites’.
A game at which the liberals have become masters is that of deliberate evasiveness. The question often comes up “what can I do?”. If you ask him to do something like stopping to use segregated facilities or dropping out of varsity to work at menial jobs like all blacks or defying and denouncing all provisions that make him privileged, you always get the answer -”but that’s unrealistic!”. While this may be true, it only serves to illustrate the fact that no matter what a white man does, the colour of his skin -his passport to privilege -will always put him miles ahead of the black man. Thus in the ultimate analysis no white person can escape being part of the oppressor camp.
“~here exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world, and especially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant”.
This description of “metaphysical guilt” explains adequately that white racism “is only possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty” meted out to the black man. Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from their white society ,liberals waste lots of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can find that they are liberal. This arises out of the false belief that we are faced with a black problem. There is nothing the matter with blacks. The problem is WHITE RACISM and it rests squarely on the laps of the white society. The sooner the liberals realise this the better for us blacks. Their presence amongst us is irksome and of nuisance value. It removes the focus of attention from essentials and shifts it to ill-defined philosophical concepts that are both irrelevant to the black man and merely a red herring across the track. White liberals must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our society-white racism.
Secondly, the black-white mixed circles are static circles with neither direction nor programme. The same questions are asked and the same naivete exhibited in answering them. The real concern of the group is to keep the group going rather than being useful. In this sort of set-up one sees a perfect example of what oppression has done to the blacks. They have been made to feel inferior for so long that for them it is comforting to drink tea, wine or beer with whites who seem to treat them as equals. This serves to boost up their own ego to the extent of making them feel slightly superior to those blacks who do not get similar treatment from whites. These are the sort of blacks who are a danger to the community.
Instead of directing themselves at their black brothers and looking at their common problems from a common platform they choose to sing out their lamentations to an apparently sympathetic audience that has become proficient in saying the chorus of “shame!”. These dull-witted, self-centred blacks are in the ultimate analysis as guilty of the arrest of progress as their white friends for it is from such groups that the theory of gradualism emanates and this is what keeps the blacks confused and always hoping that one day God will step down from heaven to solve their problems. It is people from such groups who keep on scanning the papers daily to detect any sign of the change they patiently await without working for. When Helen Suzman’s* majority is increased by a couple of thousands, this is regarded as a major milestone in the “inevitable change”. Nobody looks at the other side of the coin -the large-scale removals of Afri- cans from the urban areas or the impending zoning of places like Grey Street in Durban and a myriad of other manifestations of change for the worse.
Does this mean that I am against integration? If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behaviour set up by and maintained by whites, then YES I am against it. I am against the superior-inferior white- black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil (and a poor one at that). I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people.
If on the other hand by integration you mean there shall be free participation by all members of a society, catering for the full expression of the self in a freely changing society as determined by the will of the people, then I am with you. For one cannot escape the fact that the culture shared by the majority group in any given society must ultimately determine the broad direction taken by the joint culture of that society. This need not cramp the style of those who feel differently but on the whole, a country in Africa, in which the majority of the people are African must inevitably exhibit African values and be truly African in style.
What of the claim that the blacks are becoming racists? This is a favourite pastime of frustrated liberals who feel their trusteeship. At that time, and for many years, the only Progressive Party MP. Editor’s note. ground being washed off from under their feet. These self-appointed trustees of black interests boast of years of experience in their fight for the ‘rights of the blacks’. They have been doing things for blacks, on behalf of blacks, and because of blacks. When the blacks announce that the time has come for them to do things for themselves and all by themselves all white liberals shout blue murder!
“Hey, you can’t do that. You’re being a racist. You’re falling into their trap.” Apparently it’s alright with the liberals as long as you remain caught by their trap. Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words one cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate. What blacks are doing is merely to respond to a situation in which they find themselves the objects of white racism. We are in the position in which we are because of our skin. We are collectively segregated against -what can be more logical than for us to respond as a group? When workers come together under the auspices of a trade union to strive for the betterment of their conditions, nobody expresses surprise in the Western world. It is the done thing. Nobody accuses them of separatist tendencies. Teachers fight their battles, garbagemen do the same, nobody acts as a trustee for another. Somehow, however, when blacks want to do their thing the liberal establishment seems to detect an anomaly. This is in fact a counter-anomaly. The anomaly was there in the first instance when the liberals were presumptuous enough to think that it behoved them to fight the battleforthe blacks.
The liberal must understand that the days of the Noble Savage are gone; that the blacks do not need a go-between in this struggle for their own emancipation. No true liberal should feel any resentment at the growth of black consciousness. Rather, all true liberals should realise that the place for their fight for justice is within their white society. The liberals must realise that they themselves are oppressed if they are true liberals and therefore they must fight for their own freedom and not that of the nebulous “they” with whom they can hardly claim identification. The liberal must apply himself with absolute dedication to the idea of educating his white brothers that the history of the country may have to be rewritten at some stage and that we may live in “a country where colour will not serve to put a man in a box”. The.blacks have heard enough of this. In other words, the Liberal must serve as a lubricating material so that as we change gears in trying to find a better direction for South Africa, there should be no grinding noises of metal against metal but a free and easy flowing movement which will be characteristic of a well-looked -after vehicle.
By Stephen Biko
first published on the web here: http://www.blackstate.com/sbiko1.html
April 13, 2015
Despite all my feelings of self-respect I cannot help looking on the warders as superior beings. The consciousness of being confined acts like a slow poison, transforming the entire character. This is more than a mere psychological change, it is not an inferiority complex – it is, rather, an inevitable natural process. When I was writing my novel about the gladiators I always wondered why the Roman slaves, who were twice, three times as numerous as the freemen, did not turn the tables on their masters. Now it is beginning gradually to dawn on me what the slave mentality really is. I could wish that everyone who talks of mass psychology should experience a year of prison. I had never believed that saying that a dictatorship or a single person or a minority can maintain its ascendancy by the sword alone. But I had not known how living and real were those atavistic forces that paralyse the majority from within. I did not know how quickly one comes to regard a privileged stratum of men as beings of a higher biological species and to take their privileges for granted as though they were natural endowments. Don Ramon has the key and I am in the cage; Don Ramon, as well as I, looks upon this state of things as entirely natural and is far from regarding it as in any way an anomaly. And if a crazy agitator were to come and preach to us that all men are equal, we should both laugh him to scorn; Don Ramon with all his heart, I, it is true, only half-heartedly – but all the same I should laugh.
Dialogue with Death
April 12, 2015
the only protest left to authentic art is complete withdrawal from society.
April 8, 2015
April 4, 2015
April 2, 2015
March 29, 2015
“Black music has always known, and not been afraid to acknowledge just how high the stakes of Black thought are. To summarize the final soliloquy of Clay, the protagonist in LeRoi Jones’ (aka Amiri Baraka’s) play Dutchman. You’d better be glad Charlie Parker could play him some horn and Bessie Smith could sing, because if they didn’t make music they might murder you. One would be hard pressed to find another group of people on this planet whose music is a surrogate for murder. One would be hard pressed to (find) another group of people on this planet whose life is a proxy for death.”
— Frank B. Wilderson, III “Do I Stank or was it already Stanky in Here?” or ”Notes from an Impossible Negro”
March 27, 2015
We are an independent collective of students who have come together with the aim of subverting white supremacy and institutional racism at UCT. This movement was catalysed by Chumani Maxwele’s radical protest action against the statue of Cecil John Rhodes on Monday the 9th of March. This has brought to the surface the existing and justified rage of black students in the white supremacist space which is cultivated and maintained by UCT, despite its rhetoric of ‘transformation’. In our belief, the experiences seeking to be addressed by this movement are not unique to an elite institution such as UCT, but rather reflect broader dynamics of a racist society that has remained unchanged since the end of formal apartheid.
This movement is not just about the removal of a statue. The statue has great symbolic power – it is a glorifying monument to a man who was undeniably a racist, imperialist, colonialist, and misogynist. It stands at the centre of what supposedly is the ‘greatest university in Africa’. This presence, which represents South Africa’s history of dispossession and exploitation of black people, is an act of violence against black students, workers and staff. The statue is therefore the perfect embodiment of black alienation and disempowerment at the hands of UCT’s institutional culture, and was the natural starting point of this movement. The removal of the statue will not be the end of this movement, but rather the beginning of the decolonisation of the university.
CENTERING BLACK PAIN
At the root of this struggle is the dehumanisation of black people at UCT. This dehumanisation is a violence exacted only against black people by a system that privileges whiteness. Our definition of black includes all racially oppressed people of colour. We adopt this political identity not to disregard the huge differences that exist between us, but precisely to interrogate them, identify their roots in the divide-and-conquer tactics of white supremacy, and act in unity to bring about our collective liberation. It is therefore crucial that this movement flows from the black voices and black pain that have been continuously ignored and silenced.
We want to state that we adopt an unequivocally intersectional approach to our struggle against racism. An intersectional approach takes into account that we, as black people, experience different forms of oppressions. Our understanding of race is informed by recognising other forms of oppressions such as gender, sexuality, disability, and class, so that no one should have to choose between their struggles.
With regard to white involvement, we refer to Biko:
“What I have tried to show is that in South Africa, political power has always rested with white society. Not only have the whites been guilty of being on the offensive but, by some skilful manoeuvres, they have managed to control the responses of the blacks to the provocation. Not only have they kicked the black but they have also told him how to react to the kick. For a long time the black has been listening with patience to the advice he has been receiving on how best to respond to the kick. With painful slowness he is now beginning to show signs that it is his right and duty to respond to the kick in the way he sees fit.”
We support the White Privilege Project and encourage white students to engage with that. They can contribute through conscientising their own community on campus. We also welcome their participation in radical action as a sign of solidarity, so long as that participation takes place on our terms.
ON ‘REVERSE RACISM’
In line with our positions, we reject the policing of the responses of black students to their violent experiences. We want to add that we feel that the Constitution’s conception of racism is fundamentally racist because it presupposes that racism is a universal experience, thus normalising the suffering of those who actually experience racism.
“A derivation from the word ‘race’ is ‘racism’. The mere definition of the word race does not amount to racism. Racism is a set of attitudes and social mores which devalue one race in order to empower another, as well as the material power to deploy those values in the devaluation or destruction of the lives of the devalued race. Therefore those at the receiving end of racism cannot be racists. They may develop counter values which despise racists, but precisely because of racism, they lack the material power to implement those values” – Yvette Abrahams, UWC Women and Gender Studies Department.
The Constitution’s conception of racism has systematically been used to deter irrepressible urges by black South Africans to challenge racism and violence. An example of this was the Human Rights Commission ruling against the Forum for Black Journalists, when white journalists were banned from the organisation in February 2008 and this was declared unconstitutional and racist. An examination of South Africa’s political history reveals the necessity for black people to organise to the exclusion of white people in the fight against racism.
It is laughable that UCT has a building named after Biko, when Biko himself said “Those who know, define racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words one cannot be racist unless he has the power to subjugate. What blacks are doing is merely to respond to a situation in which they find themselves the objects of white racism. We are in the position in which we are because of our skin. We are collectively segregated against – what can be more logical than for us to respond as a group?”
We have noted that the UCT SRC has supported this movement, and we welcome their solidarity and appreciate the strong stance they have taken. However, we are wary of the contradictions inherent in the SRC taking up such a cause. Given that they are a structure specifically designed to work with management, having them lead puts this movement in a compromised position in which we would have to negotiate with management on their terms. To be clear, we see SRC involvement and support as crucial in this movement, but believe leadership and direction must come from students themselves. Any attempt by the SRC to co-opt the movement will thus be rejected.
ENGAGEMENT WITH MANAGEMENT
We find the way in which UCT management has ‘engaged’ with this movement to be disingenuous. At no point have we been engaged directly by management. Management has responded to various media houses and has made attempts to isolate individuals from within the movement to divide us. Black outsourced workers are used to deal with protests, despite their own exploitation at the hands of the same institution, whilst management keeps itself unseen. Their releasing of statements reflects the way in which the university prioritises pacifying public opinion and defending its public image over the interests of its own black students. Our expectation is that management makes a genuine attempt at meeting with us, on our terms, which involves the removal of investigations that frame us as criminals. Meaningful engagement cannot happen if one party is under duress.
We also find it infuriating that management is attempting to open up a process of debate through their ‘Have Your Say’ campaign. Alumni have been emailed and asked for input, and notice boards have been put up near the statue to allow for comment from the broader student body. This is not meaningful engagement of black students by management, and in fact shows a complete disregard for the black experience. Management is making clear that they are not interested in alleviating black pain unless the move to do so is validated by white voices. It is absurd that white people should have any say in whether the statue should stay or not, because they can never truly empathise with the profound violence exerted on the psyche of black students. Our pain and anger is at the centre of why the statue is being questioned, so this pain and anger must be responded to in a way that only we can define. It must be highlighted that the push for dialogue around the statue reflects the disturbing normalisation of colonisation and white supremacy at UCT. That the presence of Rhodes is seen as debatable shows that management does not take seriously the terrible violence against black people historically and presently. Finally, it is revealing that while black protestors are threatened with and are facing investigations, the racist backlash from white students has been met with silence by the university.
OBJECTIVES OF THE MOVEMENT
Our immediate demands are that we receive a date for the removal of the statue from campus grounds, and that the university investigation of student protesters be withdrawn. We find it unacceptable that management has presented a date on which council will discuss the statue; we reject the notion that the university has any decision to make here. Our position is clear and will not be hampered by bureaucratic processes which management hides behind. Our pain should be the only factor taken into consideration, and therefore the statue’s removal from UCT must be a non-negotiable, inevitable outcome.
Our long-term goals include:
1. The removal of statues and plaques commemorating racists; The renaming of buildings from names of racist or average white people to black historical figures; The re-evaluation of artworks which exoticise Africa, poverty, and the black experience and are predominantly done by white artists; The recognition of suppressed black history relevant to the institution such as slave graves on campus, and black people who have contributed to the development of the university.
2. The implementation of an Afro-centric curriculum. By this we mean treating African discourses as the point of departure and only examining Western traditions in so far as they are relevant to our own experience; Financial and research support of black academics and staff; Radically changing the representation of black lecturers across faculties; Revising the limitations on access to senior positions for black academics.
3. An admissions policy which explicitly includes race and which prioritises black applicants; Improved academic support programs; A meaningful interrogation of why black students are most often at the brunt of academic exclusion; The development of an improved financial aid system; Improved facilities which deal with sexual assault, as well as facilities which help black students deal with the psychological trauma as a result of racism.
4. The end of victimisation and intimidation of workers; Challenging the system of outsourcing which diminishes UCT’s accountability towards workers and gives rise to worker vulnerability; The implementation of support structures for workers similar to those offered to students for sexual assault and mental health, as well as access to services dealing with labour, family and housing issues.
The Rhodes Must Fall Student Movement
first published on the web here: http://uncensoredvoice.blogspot.com/2015/03/uct-rhodes-must-fall-mission-statement.html
White Power re-imagines itself as a victim in order to retain what it pretends it no longer has. There is no such thing as a white without privilege in this labour camp still called “South Africa”.
March 26, 2015
March 23, 2015
The colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence.
Violence enlightens, because it indicates to the means and the end.
At the level of individuals violence is a cleansing force.
It frees the colonized man from his inferiority complex.
It makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.
The Wretched of the Earth
March 20, 2015
March 18, 2015
keep reading this article here: https://clivesnell.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/the-land-questionreclaiming-our-heritage-in-stellenbosch/