kagablog

August 8, 2017

Alain Badiou on being blind

Filed under: philosophy,politics — ABRAXAS @ 8:27 am

Any real movement, especially when its blind mission is to reopen History, maintains that what is merely visible should not be considered genuinely given; that one should know how to be blind to the self-evidence of representation so as to have confidence in what is happening, what is being said, here and now, about the Revolution and its implementaiton.

August 2, 2017

WOLE SOYINKA: Re-positioning Negritude

Filed under: literature,philosophy,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 1:07 pm

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andile mngxitama – “is black speech hate speech?”

Filed under: andile mngxitama,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 10:43 am

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July 24, 2017

Mphutlane wa Bofelo – RECLAIM THE HUMANISM OF SOCIALISM TO EXTINGUISH THE FLAMES ENGULFING THE COUNTRY

Filed under: mphutlane wa bofelo,politics — ABRAXAS @ 10:34 am

Strini Moodley Memorial Lecture presented on 19 July 2017, Howard College Theatre, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN)

Respected leaders and members of the UKZN community, Umtapo Centre, the Steve Biko Transformative Educational Project and broader KZN civil society, I greet you in the name of the oneness, unity and fellowship of humanity: Sanibonani, Shalom, Namaste, Assalaam Alaykum, Kgotso ebe le lona. As frightened as I am by the word ‘memorial lecture’ and equally surprised when I saw the official invite to this event falsely accusing me of being a “lecturer”, I am greatly honored to be part of the speakers at this memorial lecture of comrade Strinivasa Raju Moodley – the man fondly known as Connection.

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The Connection nickname symbolized Comrade Strini’s inclination to interact with and bring people together beyond social, political, cultural and geographic borders. A memorial is indeed a fitting tribute to a man whose political and cultural work was by and large against de-historicizing the many social, political and economic problems facing humanity. The symbolic and political significance of the concept of memorial in this context is also due to the fact that comrade Strini subscribed to the Black Consciousness philosophy, a philosophy that has articulated the relationship between memory and being very well. Indeed Black Consciousness – like other philosophical branches Africana Philosophy such as Pan Africanism , Black Existentialism , Black Existential Feminism and Critical Race Theory , stresses the importance of remembering , particularly critical interrogation of the past and its link to the present and the future as a political act, that has either liberating or oppressive consequences depending on the meaning that one attach to their place in history and their role in the making of history.

Black Consciousness has properly identified the impact of the colonialist project of denigration, disfiguring and mutilation of the histories and traditions of an oppressed people as denying people a sense of being and belonging and therefore denying them their humanity. The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) – of which Strini was a co-founder in Azania – identifies the re-humanization of the oppressed people and their mental and physical liberation as the central aim of national and class struggles the world over and as the central focus of our struggle in Azania. The BCM articulates Black Self-realization, as the key mover of the agency of Black people as the most downtrodden of the exploited under-classes of Azania. It proposes Black Solidarity and Black Power as the most potent instruments to confront and challenge the structures of racial-capitalism that deny Black people their humanity, and advocates egalitarian socialist values and practices as the medium through which the humanity of all people – irrespective of the colour of their skin, their gender, their sexuality etc can be reclaimed.

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This takes us to today’s theme. I must admit that the first challenge I had in deciding how to approach my talk was deciding on which of the two proposed topics to speak on:

1. How can the flames engulfing the country be extinguished?
2. Socialism and humanism are they two sides of the same coin?

My struggle with the topics was precisely because I found the two topics so intertwined that it would be difficult to talk about one without speaking to the other. I found the implied framing of socialism and humanism as discrete and separate ideals and goals problematic. I also struggled with the notion of extinguishing the flames.

What flames are we referring to? Are we referring to the flames of spontaneous, organic and organised resistance engulfing the country as exemplified by Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall, popular land repossessions actions and nationwide protests against the squeeze of the continuities of apartheid-capitalism and neoliberal policies on poor and working-class people’s lives? Or which flames are referring to? There are so many flames engulfing the country. The country is engulfed by the fires and flames of industrial pollution that endangers the lives of thousands of people particularly poor working-class communities such as the people of Durban South basin who for decades have endured the assault of air pollution, oil pollution, water, noise pollution and land degradation on their lives and wellbeing caused by the activities of SAPREF , Engen Refinery and several polluting industries ranging from waste water treatment works, numerous toxic waste landfill sites, a paper manufacturing plant and a multitude of chemical process industries, the people of Zamdela

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in Sasolburg who for fifty years have been subjected to poor air quality as a result of high concentration of sulphur dioxide emissions and fine particulate matter courtesy of the Sasol Chemical Industry, and several communities in the country who almost three decades after democracy are still literally breathing raw sewerage? Azania is engulfed by socioeconomic violence unleashed on poor communities by neoliberal capitalist policies that churn unemployment, poverty and inequality. It is engulfed by rampant maladministration and corruption in the private and public sector. Azania is engulfed by the continuities of apartheid-capitalism and racial, class and gender disparities. Azania is engulfed by what for a lack of words I refer to as internecine wars between various fractions, appendages and outlets of capital in the scramble over who must turn the state into its private property and cash-cow the most. The various kinds of flames engulfing Azania are related to the flames engulfing other countries and other people all over the world. What I know, however, is that the Strinivasa Moodley we know, would be more interested in igniting and kindling to high voltage the flames of popular resistance and revolutionary war against social, political, economic, gender and environmental injustice. And to my understanding, Strini perceived Socialism as a scientific expression of humanist ideals.

This understanding influences me to use my poetic license and abuse the position of being the speaker to reformulate the my topic today as RECLAIM THE HUMANISM OF SOCIALISM TO EXTINGUISH THE FLAMES ENGULFING THE COUNTRY

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Herbert Marcuse poignantly expresses the point that we make that Socialism is humanism when he states:

“In the Marxian conception, socialism is humanism in as much as it organizes the social division of labor, the “realm of necessity” so as to enable human beings to satisfy their social and individual needs without exploitation and with a minimum of toil and sacrifice. Social production, controlled by the “immediate producers,” would be deliberately directed toward this goal. With this rational organization of the realm of necessity, human beings would be free to develop themselves as “all-round individuals” beyond the realm of necessity, which would remain a world of want, of labor. But the qualitatively new organization of the realm of necessity, upon which the emergence of truly human relationships depends, in turn depends on the existence of a class for which the revolution of human relationships is a vital need. Socialism is humanism in the extent to which this need and goal pre-exist, i.e., socialism as humanism has its historical a priori within capitalist society. Those who constitute the human base of this society have no share in its exploitative interests and satisfactions; their vital needs transcend the inhuman existence of the whole toward the universal human needs which are still to be fulfilled. Because their very existence is the denial of freedom and humanity, they are free for their own liberation and for that of humanity. In this dialectic, the humanist content of socialism emerges, not as value but as need, not as moral goal and justification but as economic and political practice—as part of the basis itself of the material culture.” I would like to agree with Marcuse that Socialism and humanism in its radical sense are inseparable.

My view is that the political, social and economic crisis facing the world today has its roots in (1) the barbarism and injustices of market supremacism, racial supremacism and patriarchy, (2) the inadequacy of representative liberal democracy and social democracy, (3) the excesses of commandist communism and vanguardist Marxism, and (4) the failure of the dominant discourse to locate racism and patriarchy as much central to problems we face as capitalism. Therefore this crisis cannot be appropriately dealt with without appealing to the radical humanism of socialism. It equally cannot be adequately addressed without locating socialist and radical humanist thought in the quest for forms, expressions and organs of power beyond the state, the market and formal political parties. Most importantly, the rediscovery and resurgence of the humanist goal of Socialism or what Biko and the BCM refers to as the vision of an egalitarian socialist society that bestows a human face to the world will be just a matter of chasing shadows if socialist and leftist thought in general is not located to the specificities and peculiarities of the conditions and problems faced by Black people, women, the gay-lesbian-transgender –intersex and queer communities, refugees and immigrants, disabled people and other disempowered , powerless , silenced and marginalised people. It is clear that to rediscover and articulate the mission of the quest for a humanity, socialism has to disabuse and redeem itself from the myth that socialist ideals and practices begins with Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and ends with Vladmir Lenin (with Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg said in hushed tones, Mao somehow tolerated, Antonio Gramsci somewhere in the background – Frantz Omar Fanon and CRL James as the bastard kids; IB Tabata , Archie Mafeje and Neville Alexandre too Black to be in the canons and Black socialist women completely left out.) Most importantly, socialism has to rid itself of the twin devils of statism and economism to explore participatory democratic politics and collaborative, cooperative, communal, social and sustainable modes of production and distribution of wealth and knowledge.

This means that we have do discard and bid goodbye to a predictive and commandist kind of socialism that not only claim to have all the answers but also claims that only a particular party and a particular inner-circle within this party possesses the spiritual powers to see the future, and therefore the rest of society must depend on the brains and eyes, guts and whims of this group of intellectual sangomas for its destiny and future. It is ludicrous to subscribe to the notion that one party can be the leader of society instead of its taking its cue from public demands, societal issues and the dynamics of time and place. It is absurd to portray one party as the vanguard of the working-class instead of the under-classes as the vanguard and a socialist party drawing from the daily experiences and struggles of the wretched of the earth. It is ridiculous for one political organization to impose itself as the sole authentic representative or torchbearer of a particular philosophy and to deny the plurality of voices and diversity of perspectives and slants within one philosophy, ideology or movement. As a matter of fact the very notion of which social force is the vehicle should be interrogated in a critical manner that avoids being essentialist about the questions of class, race and gender and also avoids being prescriptive and dogmatic on the agents and forms of struggle. As

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Herbert Marcuse correctly asserts:

Socialist theory, no matter how true, can neither prescribe nor predict the future agents of a historical transformation which is more than ever before the specter that haunts the established societies. But socialist theory can show that this specter is the image of a vital need; it can develop and protect the consciousness of this need and thus lay the groundwork for the dissolution of the false unity in defense of the status quo.

Indeed Strini perceived Socialism, Radical Humanism, and Black Consciousness as the way out of the mayhem in which we find ourselves where children and women are unsafe in the streets, at home, in schools and at every space and wherein everyday there is one or other form of protest in demand of very basic necessities that should be a given in a normal society.

Strini understood that in the context of Azania any project aimed at re-humanizing the people who are at the intersection of the ravages of racial, class and gender oppression that does not have the insight of Black Consciousness, Black Feminism and Ecological perspectives and does not take into cognizance of all forms of social exclusion, marginalization and powerlessness is bound to fail. This comes out very clear in Strini’s input on the beginning of Umtapo where he clearly articulates a Radical Humanist and Socialist perspective on the notion of Peace Activism in our context. Strini mentions that

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Umtapo was established in response to internecine violence in the community particularly internecine violence among political parties and that it was aimed towards an intervention programs that would make people to be in solidarity with one another to work together to address the root of the problem instead of fighting one another. (The Beginnings of Umtapo. Youtube.com). Explaining that in the context of all the wars and violence in Africa and the world peace has acquired a new meaning (ibid), Strini indicates states that:

“ …the whole notion of a peace activist is not different from the old days. In the old days we were freedom fighters. I think today every freedom fighter has to be peace activists. What is a peace activist? A peace activist is not a person who is only interested in the absence of war but is more concerned about the quality of life of every human being. A peace activist will be fighting for will be for development of the quality of life of every human being in the world. Not just in your own community, not just in your own family, not just in your own neighborhood, but the world over. That is what Umtapo sets out to do… to multiply themselves in the community. The way we want to go about with this is to establish a leadership institute that will be able to train young people to be leaders who are committed, accountable, incorruptible, who are able to have a keen awareness of their own self and their own history and are also able to mould and design new country, a new country that will have leaders who are gonna make it their role to eliminate violence, corruption and unemployment and all the things that have riddled the country, primarily the problem of poverty. (The Beginnings of Umtapo. Youtube.com)

Here Strini clearly articulates the idea that genuine struggle and achievement of peace lies in the struggle for and realisation of social, political, economic, gender and environmental justice and in the creation of an egalitarian society wherein all human beings have at their disposal the human, social, political, economic, cultural and environmental conditions required for their overall wellbeing or for meaningful human existence. He stresses:
• the importance of solidarity, self-realization and focusing on the roots rather than the symptoms;
• the role of activists as facilitators of individual and collective agency to mobilize collective action for social change;
• the need for committed, accountable and incorruptible leadership
• the vision of a development agenda that radically deals with the intersection of problems that is injurious to the welfare and wellbeing of people and the environment.

Strini’s emphasis of the importance of focusing on the roots rather than the symptoms of a problem is evocative of

0Jose Marti’s assertion that to be radical means to go to the roots. It is no wonder that within the BCM Strini was known as the irrepressible prophet of the revolution. At the personal level my most unforgettable memory of Strinivasa Moodley was of him workshopping us on Freirian pedagogy. I remember specifically his statement that has lived with me for all my life and that shape my social, cultural and political activism:

“The role of a facilitator is to kill himself\herself’

What I understood Strini to be saying was that the role of facilitators is not that of a gate-keepers of knowledge, power and resources nor is the task of facilitators to build an empire for themselves or to consolidate the establishment but rather to create a world in which their services is no longer required, a world in which knowledge production and education and active participation in social, economic, political and cultural life is not the preserve of the propertied and the elite.

That as activists, in any terrain – be it in academia, organised civil society, organised labor and in social and political movements etc – we should assume the role of facilitators rather than that of lecturers, teachers and leaders who know all the problems. What Strini is telling us is that we should see ours as the struggle against establishments, hierarchies, orthodoxies, dogmas and canons and rather than the the enterprise propping up the system that is based on various forms of social stratification, social disenfranchisement and social exclusion.

That our task is to smash the gated pedagogy that entrenches inequalities and commoditize education and other social services in the name of standards and the bottom-line. There is therefore no doubt that if comrade Strini was here he would be among those calling for expropriation of the expropriators, for socialisation of land and the major means of production, for equal redistribution of wealth, for the public control and social ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, for free and de-colonial education, for free, decent and habitable housing, free and quality public healthcare and quality and safe public transport, shouting at the top of his voice:

Rhodes Must Fall!
Fees Must Fall!
Outsourcing Must Fall!
Capital Must Fall!
Racism must Fall!
Patriarchy must fall!
South Africa must fall for Azania to rise!

The point we would like to make here is that Socialism and humanism, to be specific, radical humanism, are two cups of the same liter or rather socialism minus humanism is socialism minus its core. By humanism here we are not referring to many variants of utopian and liberal humanism. By now it should be common knowledge that Western humanism or liberal humanism has been exposed and rendered false in its promise of human freedom without altering the capitalist relations of productions that fosters unequal, inequitable and unjust power relations. Western humanism and liberal humanism has also been rendered a falsity by its failure to confront the structures of racism and patriarchy and has its indecisiveness in the face of the ecological disaster associated with unbridled accumulation.

The humanism of Marxism has been undermined by a rigidly statist and economistic paradigm characterised by vanguardism and burecratic centralism. The falseness of the democratic and humanist postures of former Stalinist, one-party and bureaucratic centralist communist regimes lies in the fact that they seek to become more humanistic by making arrangements with Western imperialism or by using the socialist lexicon to implement the neoliberal capitalist agenda. We can see this playing itself in Azania with the tendency by those in power to pay lip service to the concept of people’s power while propping up the power of capital and entrenching systemic, structural and institutional arrangements that create a form of democracy that is effectively an empire of the social, political and corporate elites. But for genuine socialists and communists there is not denying the fact that any liberatory project worth thje salt has to be based on the humanist notion that enslaved human beings must accomplish their own liberation and therefore on a frontal attack on all structures serves as barriers to human agency for liberation. Such an understanding implies that the task of socialists is to engage in a simultaneous process of cultivation of individual and collective agency and exposure and confrontation of the systemic, structural and institutional arrangements that constrict, suffocate and throttle human agency.

Herein lies the humanism of Socialism: The idea that human beings are makers of their own history and should be at the centre of all social, political, economic and cultural activities and processes that have an impact on their life and shape their destiny; and that all structures, systems and institution that deny human beings this should be fought and smashed by any means necessary. As Herbert Marcus observes, “the human reality is an “open” system: no theory, whether Marxist or other, can impose the solution…’I find myself in agreement with Herbert Marcus that the tasks of all who are activists and intellectuals, all those who are still free and able to think (and bold to act), is to develop the conscience and consciousness of enslaved human beings who must accomplish their own liberation…. to make them aware of what is going on, to prepare the precarious ground for the future alternatives. This Socialist humanist ideal fits like a hand-in-glove in the Black Consciousness idea that the oppressed people should be the agents, subjects and objects of their own liberation, it resonates with the motto of the disability movement in Azania, Nothing about us without us and with the maxim that has since been hijacked and commercialized as clothing label: for us by us. Indeed a true liberatory project is one that is by the people for themselves and the role and work of a revolutionary activist in this regard is summed up in the advice of Lao Tzu :

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.”

Some of the practical things we could do to deal with the flames engulfing the country and the globe are to:

1. Revitalizing anti-sectarian radical popular-education, civic education, worker-education, worker-culture and theater for social transformation, centering these on the organic struggles and campaigns of the labor, student, youth, women and community organizations and using them to strengthen initiatives such as Fees Must Fall, Outsourcing Must Fall, Anti-eviction campaigns and popular protest for housing and land.

2. Exploration and experimentation with or consolidation of existing grassroots-based community development programmes and solidarity economy initiatives that tap into the principles and practices of eco-socialism and sustainable living approaches

3. Identifying spaces within and outside of existing formal and informal education platforms and broader labor , civic and social movement platforms to explore and experiment with the ideals of a cooperative higher education and the building of a broader movement for transformation of public higher education from what Henry Giroux refers to as a “bordered” or “limited” enterprise to a “borderless,” socially and politically conscious sphere directed towards the project of democratization and borderless pedagogy that moves across different sites – from schools to the alternative media – as part of a broader attempt to construct a critical formative culture that enables people to reclaim their voices, speak out, exhibit moral outrage and create the social movements, tactics and public spheres that will reverse the growing tide of authoritarianism.

4. Explore the idea of bringing radical socialist and broader left groupings that are not beholden to the current neo-liberal state and capital around a National Socialist Forum that explores a common platform of action around issues of common agreement and common interests that could include, among others:

(a) A series of workshops, seminars and campaigns to advocate for human, political, social and economic development policies and programs that serve to radically democratize the society, the state and the economy and to move South Africa towards the nationalisation and socialization of the primary means of wealth, the commanding heights of the economy and essential social services.

(b) A national summit on land redistribution, agrarian reform, sustainable industrial development and social and economic transformation aimed at consolidating and linking current struggles and campaigns on these issues and developing a cogent policy and political program on them.

(c) An ongoing campaign and advocacy against gender-based violence that will include a series of Gender and Sexuality workshops and seminars at schools, universities, communities and workplaces as an educational initiative aimed at tackling the attitudes, practices and systemic and structural factors that account for the explosion of various forms of violence and oppression against women and children and against the GBTQI community.

(d) Campaign for a popular constituent assembly that will do away with the sellout constitution that came out of the fraudulent Codesa process
The radical humanist socialist approach we propose to tackling the issues must attack and complete breakaway with the dominant narratives promoted by racism, capital and patriarchy that seeks to portrays Black people, workers, women, the GLBTQI community, refugees and immigrants, homeless and landless people as a problem instead of as people faced with particular economic, social and psychological challenges and problems caused by racism, capitalism and patriarchy. As Biko correctly responded to the racist notion of the black problem, ‘there is no such thing as the ‘Black problem’ but that the problem is quite simply white anti-Black racism.’ We should offer the same answer to those who turn Black students and Black youth into a problem rather than as people faced by the problem. When Black youths in particular are assailed with social rhetoric that asks them not to make any reference to the apartheid past or its impact on their social realities and are encouraged to restrict their focus on seizing the abundant opportunities and spaces for self-development opened up by post-apartheid legal and constitutional framework. When Black youths are told that an enabling environment has been created for them through the bold of heroes and sheroes of the struggle, and theirs is the new struggle of pulling themselves up by their own bootstrings to occupy the spaces and seize the opportunities.

When Black youth are bombarded with the rhetoric that overemphasize individual effort and individual agency above collective agency aimed at structural change and social transformation such as “phanda, pusha, play” (Hustle, push and play), vukuzenzele” (wake up and do it for yourself), #uzoyitholakanjani uhlel’ekhoneni?” (How will you find it when you are sitting at the corner?” Socialist Humanism and BC will enable the poor black rural and township child bombarded with “uzoyitholakanjani uhlel’ekhoneni?”Occupy your space” to respond:

i am not at the corner
out of my own volition
it’s the only space
left for me to occupy
the hospital has no space
for a bed for my TB
my numeracy is too wanting
for me to know the safe number
for me to raise at a specific
time and place to a particular
person in the prison space
my mind is an occupied space
campus culture declared me a dropout
the arts architecture history lectures landed me in Venice
literature left me in London of bygone days
the curriculum spoke to me in a strange language
the fees kicked me out of the space
at home i wrestled with the rats in bed
fought with roaches for a place at the table
till the red ants evicted
my family from our shack-house
because we spoiled the value
of the house of mister mayor
i am not at the corner
out of my own volition
i put a table on the street corner
to sell potatoes and cigarettes
metro police came with guns and the law
to kick me out of the very corner
me and my buddies gathered
around the corner to wash
cars for some money for bread
the rich man came with fancy machines
produced papers the local government
& took away the corner and the clients
i relocated to another corner
only for municipality to ask
me to produce business license
i am not under the bridge
out of my own choice
i identified a good space
where i can stand guard
on people’s cars for R30 for the shelter
big business came up with elegant uniform
donkiepiel & superficial smiles

Indeed Socialist Humanism will arm the youths and students, the poor and the unemployed with the political consciousness to boldly declare that as long as the systemic , structural and institutional arrangements not only push them to the corner but also allow for the rich and propertied to even colonize the very corner they are quarantined to : sizohlala sizinyova ne government ..Until there is truly a government of the people by the people for the people!!!
Without any apology: Izwelethu I Afrika. I Afrika Izwelethu! One Azania: One People! One Nation: One Azania!

June 20, 2017

OCTAVIO PAZ ON THE STUDENT REBELLION

Please read this description of the student rebellion of 1968 with FeesMustFall in mind.

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Hearing any participant or eyewitness of the rebellion of young people in Paris in May 1968 is an experience that puts our ability to judge things objectively to the test. In all the accounts I have heard there is one surprising note: the tone of the revolt, at once passionate and disinterested, as if action had been confused with representation: it was like a mutiny that turned into a Festival and a political discussion that turned into a ceremony; epic theater and at the same time public confession.

The secret of the fascination that this movement exercised on all those (including the spectators) who were present at its demonstrations lay in its attempt to unite politics, art, and eroticism. There was a fusion of private and collective passion, a continuous ebb and flow between the marvelous and the everyday, the lived act as an aesthetic representation, a conjunction of action and its celebration.
It was a true conversion: not only a change of ideas but of sensibility; more than a change of being, it was a return to being, a social and psychic revelation that for a few days broadened the limits of reality and extended the realm of the possible.

It was a return to the source, to the principle of principles: being oneself by being with everyone. It was a discovery of the power of language: my words are yours; speaking with you is speaking with myself.

It was a reappearance of everything (communion, transfiguration, the transformation of water into wine and of words into a body) that religions claim as their own though it is anterior to them and constitutes the other dimension of man, his other half and his lost kingdom – man perpetually expelled and torn away from time: in search of another time, a prohibited, inaccessible time: the present moment.
Not the eternity of religions but the incandescence of the instant: a consummation and an abolition of dates.
What is the other way to enter such a present? André Breton once spoke of the possibility of incoporating an extra-religious sense of the sacred, made up of the triangle of love, poetry, and rebellion, into modern life. This sacred cannot emerge from anything but the depths of a collective experience. Society must manifest it, incarnate it, live it, and thus live and consume itself. Revolt as the path to Illumination. Here and now: a leap to the other shore.

June 19, 2017

art and revolution

Filed under: art,philosophy,politics — ABRAXAS @ 11:08 pm

“There is no art that does not create a style and there is no style that does not eventually kill art. By injecting the idea of revolution into art, our era has created a plurality of styles and pseudostyles. This abundance turns into another abundance: that of styles that die aborning. Schools proliferate and propagate like mushrooms until their very abundance finally erases the differences between one tendency and another; movements live about as long as insects do, a few short hours; the aesthetic of novelty, surprise, and change turns into imitation, tedium, and repetition. What is left for us?”
Octavio Paz
Conjunctions and Disjunctions
1969

June 15, 2017

an interview with Tsietsi Mashinini

Filed under: politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 6:31 am

the president of the Soweto Students Representative Council and a central leader of the mass student protests that began in Soweto in June 1976

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Question: Could you tell us what life is like in Soweto?

Answer: I don’t know in what way I can portray the picture. But Soweto is the biggest Black township in South Africa. It has about 80,000 houses, which are inhabited by more than one million people. I came from a family of twelve kids. And my parents make it fourteen. We stayed in a four room house, and the rooms are about eight by ten. Very few houses have electricity. Of those with electricity, most of them belong to the in Soweto had wages just to keep them alive, and not to have any other needs a human being has. Bourgeoisie in Soweto. It is ghetto life all the way. Very few gas stoves around. There are lots of basic needs people cannot afford, because of very low wages. In fact, when a survey was done in 1974 it was found that 60 percent of people in Soweto had wages just to keep them alive, and not to have any other needs a human being has. You don’t own any property except your furniture. The house is not yours – it belongs to the Bantu Administration Board. You are in the urban areas for the purpose of either schooling or working. If you are not doing either of the two, you are sent to the Homelands. Soweto has very few recreational facilities. It has two cinemas, about six municipal halls, and scattered playgrounds here and there. It has almost 300 schools, from grade level Sub A through matriculation. There is no university in Soweto. If you want to go to university, you go to one of the tribal universities.

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Q. You mentioned bourgeois layers in Soweto. Can you explain that further?

A. They are a very small percentage. In fact they have a special township, a place for the rich, called Dube. That is where you find most of the big houses and mansions. Most of the people who stay there are doctors, lawyers, and people who have got the best jobs in town. The rest of the people are labourers and drivers. They constitute 85 percent.

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Q. Could you describe the conditions in the schools and the education system for Blacks in South Africa?

A. Besides having to buy everything you need at school, you pay high school fees. There are a number of bursaries that are granted on merit, but usually they are granted to students from rich families. The classes have almost eighty pupils in them. There are two or three on a desk even at high school. At primary school level you sit down on benches in rows with no desks at all. Our schools don’t have heaters. The school simply has a classroom, a blackboard, and the Department of Bantu Education provides the chalk and writing material for the blackboard. Everything else in the classroom is provided by the pupils. After April, the Bantu Education Constitution laid down that if you have not paid the fees you should be sent out from the school. If you don’t wear the proper school uniform every day, you are liable to expulsion. Teachers cane you for whatever offence, and each school has its own regulations. The school I came from, you enter at 7 a.m and school goes out at 5:30 p.m, with two breaks in between: one at ten o’clock for twenty minutes and a lunch break between one and two o’clock. You get punished for not having shoelaces, belts, ties, and buttons. And if you are a girl and you are wearing a tunic, you get punished if your buttons do not correspond to your tunic. In South Africa, the teaching is very impersonal and indifferent. It’s only in rare cases where you find the teacher with an interest in his students or pupils. Most of the time the teacher just comes in, gives you work, and goes out.

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Q. Are all the teachers Black?

A. Yes, all Black. In my school there was a white teacher. He came this year and was not well received by the students. I understand there are almost eighty white teachers in high schools all over South Africa. This is supposed to project an image overseas that Blacks and whites are living quite happily, that we even have white teachers in Black schools. I don’t know how many times that teacher nearly got beaten up at school by students because of the bitterness the Black people have.

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Q. Can you describe how the recent student protests developed around the Afrikaans language?

A. We don’t have much political education in South Africa and most of the material you read out here is banned in South Africa or it is for the whites only. So you come to realise that you know very little about the outside world except when Kissinger is going to Zurich. That, they announce. The local papers concentrate on local news. Newspaper reading has never been the interest of students for a very long period, because the newspapers were white. A South African high-school student because it was there that the eruption started, at high-school level around the South African Students Organization-cannot tell you that Transkei is another aspect of oppression because of this and this. But in some way or another, the student understands and indentifies all elements of oppression like this Afrikaans thing-that is, our education, which is simply to domesticate you to be a better tool for the white man for the white man when you go and join the working community.

Q. Until now all teaching was done in English?

A. Yes all the time.

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Q. And now the proposal was to make all teaching in Afrikaans, or just some of it?

A. Every student is doing seven subjects, at least until high-school level: the two official languages, English and Afrikaans, your mother tongue, and four other subjects. This Afrikaans policy compelled you to do two of the subjects in Afrikaans and two in English. With the type of education we have and where you do not have much material to research on, students find difficulty in understanding the concepts involved in physics, biology, and geography. And now, if you do all these things in a language you are not conversant in, and the teacher has never been taught to teach in Afrikaans – Afrikaans has got very circles in society because everywhere the medium of English is used, except in official pamphlets where Afrikaans and English is used – and all the time for almost eleven years you have been taught through the medium of English, it is difficult to switch over. A number of junior secondary schools went on strike a then some went back. But there was one in particular, Phuti, which went on strike for six weeks and they would not go back until Afrikaans was scrapped as a medium of instruction. When any school was involved in an incident of some sort, the press built it up as another protest against the Afrikaans language. There was an incident at Naledi high school where security branch officers went to pick up a student for detention. When the go there, the students decide to beat up the security branch officers and burn their car. The press picked that up as another protest of Afrikaans medium of instruction and then it was the talk of the township. We were getting sick and tired because instead of oppression being gradually removed from us, the system was in fact implementing some of the thoughts of oppressing us. I realized that people were fed up with this sort of thing, but nobody had the guts to start anything. I decided that if we were to demonstrate it would have an effect because there has never been a demonstration before in Soweto. There were demonstrations some time before we were born or when we were little kids, like Sharpeville demonstration – of which we know very little because any material written material, about Sharpeville was banned. We heard that the students of the University of Witwatersrand had demonstrated. So I thought that if we could demonstrate it would be something out of the way. I was the president of the South African Student Movement [SASM] at my high school, Morris Isaacson. I called the students together, and on the Wednesday a week before June 16, we talked about it. I delivered the speech on the South African situation and got the students in a mood to do anything.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I gave them the briefing for the demonstration. On Saturday, we put a placard at the school gates saying: “Notice – no Security Branch allowed. Enter at risk of your skin.” Now the press put that up again as another protest against the Afrikaans issue. On Sunday there was a SASM meeting of all the students in Soweto. I went to the meeting and got a few chaps from the other schools to help me, and we decide to mobilize all the high schools and junior secondary schools. We did that on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we went on the streets demonstrating. We were very peaceful all the time and there were just placards denouncing Afrikaans as another method of oppression. The idea was coverage on this junior secondary school, and there, myself and a number of other students had drawn up a memorandum to the effect that we Soweto students totally rejected Afrikaans as a medium of instruction and we were not going back until this was scrapped. We were converged already, and I still trying to tell, the students to settle downs so that we could address them properly, when the cops started shooting.

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Q. How many students were involved on June 16?

A. The press put it at 10 000. I am not very good at estimating how many people were there, but I have seen what 10 000 people are. And if I was to compare that demonstration with others, I we had the biggest crowd on June 16. I think nearly all the students in central, north, east, and west Soweto were involved. Only the South was not involved.

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Q. How were the workers strikes organized after the student protests?

A. After June 16 we realized that there were too many killings, we tried to get a method whereby we could hit the system, and reduce the casualties. As we did not have guns, our only weapon was to cripple the economy of the country, lies in Black hands. So the idea was to stop workers going to work. So we sent work to the parents, the workers. We requested that from such and such a date to such and such a date nobody should go to work. And that is how the workers came into it. They pledged solidarity with the student and stayed at home. We distributed pamphlets, and students were circulating them, that is how there organized. All the time they wanted to be involved in the struggle, but there was no concrete organization which could announce “Don’t go to work could work” could only be done through students.

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Q. Are Black workers being organized on a large scale?

A. Yes I have seen of the underground work.

Q. The clash between some of the hostel workers and the other residents of Soweto what caused that?

A. Now, in the course of the struggle since the Black Consciousness Movement was established and even since Mandela time, the hostel dwellers were always overlooked as a sector of the community. Not much consciousness raising was done, so the system went to these people and told them to kill Black leaders. They gave them pictures of Black leaders, mine was included. They gave them numbers of houses to burn belonging to Black leaders. So, we knew about this, but we were not in a position to do anything. It was confirmed that the system had mobilized all the hostels and fortunate enough some of the hostels did not participate. Only one hostel did participate in the murder of Black people. Immediately afterwards, the Black community reorganized itself to pick the people who did not want to pledge themselves in solidarity with the Black students. But the hostel dwellers became aware of the fact that the system was just using them and so they pledged solidarity with the students. Now they are hitting very hard against the system. The only thing which will happen is that it won’t be reported what the hostel dwellers are doing against the system. It will only be reported what they are doing against the students.

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Q. What was the Students Representative Council?

A. The SRC was formed after June 16 when we were planning the second demonstration for the release of the detainees, requested each school to send two representatives. We did not want the thing to appear as if it was organized by SASM, otherwise SASM would be declared a restricted organization. By even so, all members of SASM were detained and I’m the only one left of the national and regional executive councils.

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Q. Have all the leaders of SASO and the Black People’s Convention been detained?

A. Yes, all of them. The SASO general student council was from July 5 to July 9. The national president was elected after the riots, was then detained in connection with the riots. Before the demonstrations Mongezi Stofile was an ordinary student, but after he was elected national president he was detained in connection with the riots.

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Q. Do you have any connection with the ANC OR PAC?

A. I will tell you something. The ANC and PAC played their part in the South Africa struggle in the 1950s and 1960s. Right now there are ex-members of the ANC in the whole of South Africa. But they are not politically active, that is, have a concept of perpetuating the activity of the ANC or PAC political ideology. As far as the students in South Africa are concerned, the ANC and PAC are extinct internally. Externally we are aware they exist. Internally they are doing no work. There may be some underground work they are doing which we are not aware of, but as far as the struggle is concerned they are not doing anything.

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Q. Do you think there is a different political outlook between the old movements, the ANC and PAC, and the Black Consciousness Movement?

A. Yes there is. There were a number of clashes between ANC and BCM leaders, because the ANC leaders did not want to recognise the BCM as a liberation movement.

Q. Why didn’t they want to recognise the BCM?

A. They did not want to understand why BCM was formed when ANC was the liberation movement. But ANC was banned inside the country, so a new liberation front had to come.

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Q. Can you say something more about the BCM, its origins and links with similar movements elsewhere?

A. The BCM was formed in 1968. There were student councils in Natal, Orange Freestate, all over South Africa. They came together and formed SASO – that’s the mother body of SASM. SASO and SASM belong to the students, SASO at the university level and SASM at high school to lower primary level. Then there is the Black People’s Convention (BPC) with the Black community, the Black Allied Workers Union with the workers and the Union of Black Women federations which concerned themselves with different sectors of the community. Then ideology is the same: to make the Black man more conscious of the evil of the white man, elements of oppression, and so on. The ideology concerned is to peacefully bring about a change in the South African social aspect and to bring about total liberation of the Black man. The BCM, which is a very strong movement, gained momentum from 1972 until the death of Tiro, the person who established SASM in 1972 and was assassinated by a letter bomb in 1974 in Botswana. He was permanent organizer of SASM and was the first national president of SASM at the high school level. He was one of the Black leaders who died for the Black course.

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Q. We have heard that the BCM is influenced by ideas from the American Black National Movement?

A. I am not sure. I myself have read very little material about the Black Power Movement in America. The students in South Africa do not identify Black Power the way it is identified in America. I don’t even know how it is identified in America. I believe that Black Power is the realization of the people of oppression. Immediately they realize they are oppressed they regroup themselves to fight against the system. As long as there is a Black person oppressed in South Africa, there will be Black movements which will result in the concept of Black Power – the eruption of the Black masses. Black Power is every Black person in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Q. To what extent have you involved sections of the Asians and Coloured populations?

A. The ideology of the BCM defines BLACKNESS as an attitude of mind, and not of the colour of the skin. So it makes provision for the Coloured and Indian population to be involved in the BCM. The Black man is any member of the South African community. The difference between the Coloureds, Indians and Blacks is that Blacks are not referred to as Blacks but Africans. If you want to differentiate between the three groups, one is African one is Indian, and one Coloured. They are all referred to as Blacks.

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Q. What have you read in South Africa? Are books and pamphlets smuggled in which give people an idea as to what happens in the rest of Africa?

A. There are a number of books which are smuggled into the country. A lot of people possess banned material. You just do not lend it to people to read because that is where the offence is, by giving it to people, by circulating it. So if you have banned material you keep it to yourself. If the system picks you up and you are in possession of banned material, that is another offence. The first banned book I read was the Immorality Act, which is a story written by a judge about a white man who was in love with a Black woman. The next was this book by Nelson Mandela, No Easy Walk to Freedom. There are quite a number of copies in South Africa. Mostly what is not banned are SASO and SASM newsletters, but they are banned after a month or two. Since June 16, everything that was Black was banned even before it was released.

Q. What about Marxist books? Books by Marx and Lenin?

A. Not even in the libraries. I only learned what it was when I was in Botswana in exile, that the concept of Marxism is based on “each according to his abilities, each according to his needs “. Then I realized that this was exactly what we were fighting for in South Africa. If you ask the people what type of government they would like to have, a person cannot articulate in those terms but a person can tell you that those people in Dube are rich and other people in White City eat cow dung and this is obscene. That a person gets R 40 and the other person gets R 140 for the same kind of job per month. If these things could be equal people would live better. In such parables people will tell you exactly what they want: and when you come to analyse it all, they want Marxism. They have been oppressed and suppressed for so long they only want to leave in an equal society.

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Q. How did developments in Mozambique and Angola affect the Blacks in South Africa?

A. It brought political awareness of the potential Black people carried in their hands. SASO tried to have a rally sometime before the independence of Mozambique and that rally was banned. Now, I was a political infant, and the question arose in my mind why was this rally banned? You turned to like everything the regime hates. They don’t like anything to do with Frelimo; then you are for Frelimo. When they were fighting Cubans and Angolans in Angola, then we were for those people they don’t like. The fact that they don’t like communism makes you think what communism is, and “no, I think I want this.” They are not aware that they are creating this type of thing. The system more or less made me what I am now because of their constant oppression. My character was built by the environment that I lived in. That is why I claim that I am not the only Tsietsi Mashinini – there are lots of other students who will become active because of what the system is doing to them.

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Koketso “Tsietsi Mashinini” Poho

Q. Because of the level of repression since June 16, do you think that the South African regime will be able to crush this movement?

A. I think they will ban the BCM and claim that they are behind all this. But a new liberation front will come up. They are going to drive the people underground, because the people are going to be afraid to act the way the BCM has done. A lot of underground work is going to be done without the knowledge of the system. They will only see various acts of underground work, but they won’t know who is responsible. The system itself has created so many enemies. There were people who sympathized with the BCM, but did not want to have anything to do with politics for fear of detention. The system was raiding almost fifty homes a night after June 16, looking for that person or this person. So many people were killed or detained. So many people have grudges against the system that they are prepared to do anything against the system anytime. So many mothers have lost their children. So many fathers have lost their children. So many husbands have lost their wives. That is because of the system.
In fact, I would say that the system has done more to heighten consciousness than SASO, SASM, and BPC have managed in their history.

Q. Do you see the struggle continuing for ten years?

A. Ten years? Five!

Q. You don’t see the present as a short outburst?

A. I see the downfall of the system in five years.

Q. Do you think that it is possible for the regime to do what it did after Sharpeville and crush the movement?

A. They cannot. If they want to stop Black Power they have to put every Black person in detention. Because as long as there are Black people outside, the struggle will go on.

Q. Do you think it will be possible to organize a powerful, political organization underground in South Africa that could lead a struggle for power by the Blacks?

A. I think there is already a strong, underground liberation movement, the BPC.

Q. Not people from the ANC or PAC?

A. I understand that the ANC has its own underground liberation movement. But there cannot be one underground liberation movement. Because say fifty people are active in this liberation movement, these people cannot come out in public to say, “We are doing this.” So they are acting on their own. Their results will cause people to say, “Such and such has happened. Let’s try do it in such a way.” So there are going to be a lot of underground movements. And I see them as the people who, in fact, are going to start the revolution in South Africa. That is if the people in exile don’t start anything before them.

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Q. What do you think of the Kissinger talks with Vorster?

A. We are aware of the role of Kissinger with his peace talks. The peace talks mean that Kissinger is representing the Western world in South Africa. The Western world has economic interests in South Africa. The Black masses are revolting against the racist regime. Kissinger has got to establish peace in South Africa such that their interests are not tampered with. The Black student is just beginning to realise his fight is not just against the racist regime, but that the racist regime has got its power resources in the whole of the Western world. And that is why they are rejecting people like Kissinger and so on.

Q. What attitude do you think the neighboring states should take towards the South African struggles?

A. If they could make military aid available to the South African struggle it would contribute a lot because that is the only language the people want to understand now. Armed struggle against the racist regime, that’s the only thing they see as possible to bring us total freedom. If you could look into the history of the struggle, you could see that all other means have been exhausted. The only thing left is armed struggle against the racist regime. When we protest in demonstrations, we are mad because we don’t have guns. When we try to negotiate, it is always said the government is still considering for indefinite period. And if anybody comes into leadership, they are detained for indefinite period. The racist regime created so many draconian laws to prove itself against the Blacks that if you obey the South African laws there would be political movement in South Africa.

Q. What about the credibility of Buthelezi and other chiefs?

A. They have much support from the hostel dwellers and people from their vicinities. But the Black students and Black parents in urban areas, where much of the Black population is, totally reject Homeland leaders because they are aware of the issue of Homelands and what it means.

Q. What do you think of the Bantustans?

A. Bantustans are supposed to be independent, but they cannot be independent when they are dependent on the racist regime. If the Bantustans have their own parliament, prime ministers and legislative assembly, the final word will always come from Pretoria. Whatever they want to do on a Homeland scale, the final word always comes from Pretoria.The Black people do not recognise any leader who is working within the system to try and bring about a change. All leaders of the government platform only speak that far and not further. Immediately they go over their limit, they are just sacked from their position. Homeland leaders and some new people are brought in. Pretoria is creating all the puppets – a dozen a day – because they are aware the political role these people could play to try and suppress the protests of the people. Now we do not recognise them, especially the students, who constitute a very powerful liberation front. As long as the students do not recognise the Homeland leaders, urban Bantu councilors, and so on, everybody within the government framework. Their independence shall be recognized by the regime only, not by the people.

Q. What message will you have for the people in Britain, France or the USA to help the struggle?

A. For one, by not recognizing the coming independence of Transkei which is just a political swindle as far as I am concerned, between Blacks and whites in South Africa. The people must understand that the racist regime is dependant entirely on Britain and other countries for arms and so on. And if they don’t support the racist regime it is entirely their duty to end to make sure that Britain cuts all ties with South Africa.

FOOTNOTES

1. Afrikaans is the Dutch based language of the Boer section of the white population.
2. Migrant workers in the urban areas generally housed in barracks like hostels so as to isolate them
from the rest of the population.
3. Nelson Mandela a central leader of the African National Congress in the 1950s and early 1960s. He
is now serving a life sentence on Robben Island.
4. African national Congress and Pan Africanist Congress.
5. South Africa’s Black population is composed of 17.8 million Africans, 2.3 million Coloureds,
710 000 Indians. The Indians were originally brought to South Africa as indentured workers,
and the Coloured are descendents of the early White Settlers. Indians, Malay slaves, KhoiKhoi,
San, and other African people.
6. Frente de Libertcao de Mocabique (Mozambique Liberation Front).

June 5, 2017

Vito Laterza on white people

Filed under: 2002 - western4.33,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 7:11 pm

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May 25, 2017

Spectres Are Haunting Europe

Filed under: film,politics — ABRAXAS @ 1:19 pm

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May 20, 2017

Everybody Dies!

Filed under: film as subversive art,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 11:12 am

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May 3, 2017

Mphutlane wa Bofelo – FALLISM AND THE DIALECTICS OF SPONTANEITY AND ORGANIZATION: DISRUPTING TRADITION TO RECONSTRUCT TRADITION

Introduction

“The modern proletarian class does not carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern workers’ struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight… That’s exactly what is laudable about it, that’s exactly why this colossal piece of culture, within the modern workers’ movement, is epoch-defining: that the great masses of the working people first forge from their own consciousness, from their own belief, and even from their own understanding the weapons of their own liberation.” – Rosa Luxembourg

This essay explores the principles and ideologies embedded in the Fallism or the Fallist Movement in relationship to the discourse on transformation in South Africa. It examines how the continuities between apartheid and post\neo-apartheid realities shape the political consciousness, ideological perspectives and activism of the Fallism generation. From this basis the essay explains the emergence of Fallism in South Africa through the logic and notion of historical experiences- historical consciousness, material conditions – social consciousness, structure – agency nexus. The essay further examines the interplay between spontaneity and organization in the context of Fallism, applying Rosa Luxemburg’s notion of the Dialectics of Spontaneity and Organization. It concludes by enlisting Walter Benjamin’s theory of Traditions of the Oppressed to argue that Fallism represents both continuity and discontinuity of the traditions of the historic liberation movements and emergent Social Movements in South Africa.

Journalist Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya asserts that the name Fallism is derived from the fact that the common thread in the campaigns and movements concerned is the call or demand that something or someone must fall. This essay concentrates on the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall, with some reference to Outsourcing Must Fall Movements. The decision to focus on these ‘movements’ is influenced by the explicit interconnectness of the issues they deal with. The three movements\campaigns operate within a shared ‘socio-geographic’ community and site of struggle (Higher Education\ Campus) and all deal with issues directly and indirectly related to conditions and sense of alienation & de-humanization, marginalization & exclusion, discrimination & exploitation in a space in which the protagonists are subjected to a peripheral and subaltern existence. These sections of Fallism also have a shared opposition to neoliberal capitalist exploitation and ‘new imperialism’ and a devotion to the theme of de-commodification, de-coloniality, intersectionality, solidarity and anti-sectarianism in their struggles.

The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall Movements are particularly overt in their non-partisan\ non-alignment stance in relation to political parties and social movements and in their declaration of their unifying philosophical and ideological frame of reference as Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, Black Feminism and Queer politics. The campaign for the resignation of President JG Zuma pursued under the slogan ‘Zuma Must Fall’ is not included in this essay particularly because of its lack of the attributes shared by these three segments of Fallism. While the campaigns\movements that are the focus of this essay continue to exist as Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall, the Zuma Must Fall initiative seem to have found its home, expression, platform and movement in Save South Africa. In their intellectual\ ideological\political homilies, speechifying, and symbolisms the three ‘movements’ are explicit that the issues they raise are a mobilization platform and point of entry in their struggle against racism, classism, sexism, patriarchy, neoliberalism and new imperialism, and their struggle for de-commodification of labor and education, and for de-colonialisation at all levels of society and the state.

Implicit in their discourse is a critique of the kind of South Africa they don’t want and general articulation of the kind of Azania they dream of or at least the principles around which it should be constructed. One cannot say the same of the campaign for Jacob Zuma to step down as the president of South Africa. Beyond its key theme of protection of constitutionalism and the rule of law, it does not project any unifying philosophical and ideological worldview and vision of the social system it envisages. In his emphasis of the need for people struggling against injustice to start imagining how they will live afterwards, Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya raises the concern that he has never heard what those behind the Zuma Must Fall initiative think must happen thereafter. It is for the reasons outlined here, that the Zuma Must Fall is not included in this appraisal of the Fallist Movements. Thus, for the purpose of this essay Fallism shall refer to movements who use the strategy of focusing on one key symbol, issue or figure as a rallying and mobilizing point to advance an ideological and political program directed towards the fall of structures of oppression, exploitation, discrimination, disenfranchisement, exclusion, powerlessness, based on race, class, gender and other forms of social exclusion.

Rhodes Must Fall: Engaging the colonial legacy and the continuities of racial-capitalism in post\neo-apartheid SA

“We need history, but our need for it differs from that of the jaded idlers in the garden of knowledge.”- Nietzsche, On the Advantages and Disadvantages of History for Life

On March 9, 2015 students at University of Cape Town rose up in a protest against a statue at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that commemorates Cecil Rhodes. The protest movement grew bigger to focus on the wider issues represented by the alienating presence of the arch-imperialist’s statue at the university. The character of the movement is aptly captured by the UCT chapter’s definition of itself as “a collective movement of students and staff members mobilizing for direct action against the reality of institutional racism at the University of Cape Town.” The statue of Cecil John Rhodes was ultimately removed on 9 April 2015, following a vote of the UCT Council on 8 April 2015 but the RMF lives beyond the fall of the statue and has culminated into a wider movement to “decolonize” education across South Africa. The Rhodes Must Fall (RMF emerged as an expression of the discontent and rage of Black students and Black staff at University of Cape Town (UCT) in response to the alienating colonial architecture, euro-centric culture of the university and a fee structure that is completely hostile and unsympathetic to the realities and experiences of Black people. The collective experience of racial profiling, financial and academic exclusion and general alienation in a high education institution with Euro-centric ethos found motif in the struggle against the symbolic representation of the colonial legacy, i.e the statue of the arch-colonial racist – Cecil John Rhodes. However the issues that mobilized the movement are deeper and bigger that a protest against the statue. At the core of these issues is the history of the universities’ indifference to Black students feeling of being alienated by its euro-centric education practices and lilly-white culture, its downplaying of the students’ struggle with exorbitant fees and its apathetic response to incidents of rape and violence against women on campus. It is not a wonder that students in other universities immediately connected to the issues raised by the campaign that initially started at UCT and that within a short space of time Rhodes Must Fall became a movement, with participation by university students across the country. Raeesa Pather observes response from some UCT students to the Rhodes Must Fall movement has revealed the day-to-day racism that slips under the campus radar. The students she interviewed shared stories and experiences of white students referring to RMF students as “monkeys” and “kaffirs” or “savages” who “destroy everything they touch” on social media; and of black staff and students frequently reduced to tears by the racism they encounter from their peers. Recognition of the relationship between the valorization and denigration of the black body, the sexualization and objectification of the female body, the vulgarization and censure of the queer body and the commodification and exploitation of the body of the worker, and the ridicule and belittling of disabled bodies, led the activists of Rhodes Must Fall and later Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall to intersectionality.

The practical reality of the connection between the social structures that oppress, exploits, de-humanizes and discriminates against Black people, women, the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) community, workers and disabled people raised awareness of the interconnection between racism, capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, ableism etc. Black students’ reflections on and awareness of the broader social, political, economic and cultural environment that shape their marginal and peripheral existence at the lilly-white institution made them to ponder on the continuities between pre and post-1994 South Africa. Ironically, it is precisely the fact that a significant number of the current generation of students falls under the category of youths born after 1994 that raised their keen awareness of the continuities between the social and power relations under in the settler-colonial and racial-capitalist set-up and in the post\neo-colonial and liberal –capitalist dispensation. The Black students realization of the systemic, structural and institutional nature of these continuities made them recognize that the contrast between the born-free label given to them and their conditions and feeling of being un-free in the higher education and broader social environment is the result of the untransformed nature of the education system and the social system within which the education system functions.

True to the Marxian notion of the nexus between material realities and social conditions and historical and social consciousness, the harsh material reality of being the other in a university with a history of being a white university in a colonial town raised the Black students’ social and historical consciousness. On the other hand, the material and social reality of being beneficiaries of privilege accrued from social stratification based on race, class and gender made a sizable number of conscientious white students and academics find common cause with Black students in their struggle against neo-colonialism, while a significant number of white students and academics held on to the comforts and privilege and saw the Rhodes Must Fall Movement as an unnecessary disruption. The racist mindset of some of the White academics is reflected by an academic at one historically white university who rebuffed the concern that the dominance of texts by White Anglo-Saxon writers in books prescribed in the English literature department alienated Black students as simply a matter of Black students being lazy.

The students’ recognition of the complementarity between the education system and the socio-political-economic system is reflected in their deliberate adoption of Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, Queer Politics and Black Feminism as their philosophical and ideological frame of reference and their articulation of the intersection between race, class and gender. This finds resonant expression in the assertion by Kealeboga Ramaru, a student in RMF student that: “When we say ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ we mean that patriarchy must fall, that white supremacy must fall, that all systematic oppression based on any power relations of difference must be destroyed at all costs”.

After the fall of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes the students continued to operate under the name Rhodes Must Fall, interpreting the name as symbolizing the fall of systematic oppression accrued from colonialism. The students’ observations that the two decades of transformation being the catchphrase at the centre of government policies and public discourse have brought no meaningful change realized that social, political, economic and educational structures are made un-transformable by the colonial and neo-colonial base, foundation, parameters, conventions and protocols upon which they are rooted. Therefore students moved away from a simple call for transformation to a call for the de-colonialisation of universities to create a campus environment, university culture and education practices that embracing rather than alienating of the reality of being black and female and working-class in the world.

This necessitates institutional codes and practices, epistemology and pedagogy rooted in the historical-material realities of South Africa instead of jettisoning and rebuffing the historical, cultural, social and political realities of South Africa and Africa. Thus, the immediate practical program of the movement constituted of three major practical demands \proposals, that is, (1)the university must hire more Black academics, (2) the university must stop outsourcing workers, and (3) the university must develop an Afro-centric curriculum. These demands are centered on the theme of de-coloniality but also express the idea of Black Solidarity and the principle of Black-Worker Students Solidarity which reflect the students’ awareness that their education issues are inseparable from broader societal issues and the specific experiences of the broader Black community and the working-class. In as far as organizational form and organizational culture is concerned Rhodes Must Fall from the inception asserted the principles students’ self-organization around common issues and collective activity involving all students organizations and students from various social and political backgrounds, without affiliation to a specific political party and without a rigid organizational structure or hierarchy. While committing to stay student-centric and non-partisan, the movement accepts support and advice of elders and activists from organized civil society, labor, social and political movements.

The organized student formations affiliated to political parties like Pan African Students Movement, EFF students and South African Students Congress (SASCO) are active in the movement. This raises concerns and challenges of struggles and contestations for political hegemony of the movement among the different political and ideological currents. This is also complicated by the diversity of the entire student body. The movement seeks to mediate this diversity through intersectional politics that are inclusive of all its members. The movement has therefore positioned itself as a place of all people in agreement with the themes and objectives of de-coloniality and intersectionality, including white people. However, the movement is clear and uncompromising that de-colonialisation of higher education institutions shall be led by Black students. The perception that universities like Rhodes and UCT are colonial fortresses also influences the students’ confrontational and non-trusting attitude towards university administration.

This attitude was expressed well by Kealeboga Ramuru’s on the occasion of the falling of the statue Cecil John Rhodes:

“We must at no point forget that management is our colonial administrators, and their removal of the statue is merely an attempt to placate us and be perceived as sympathetic….Our freedom cannot be given to us – we must take it.”

The movement is equally unapologetic choice of confrontational and transgressive methods and tactics. It offended the liberal sensitivities of many people with its defense of Chumani Maxwele’s poo protest , its exclusion of white students from certain for a and its defense of PASMA’s chanting of the “One settler, one bullet” slogan at the movements gatherings at UCT. Members of the Rhodes Must Fall defense of the slogan are that the slogan is a rallying call to protest and tackle colonialism at the universities.

Fees Must Fall & Outsourcing Must Fall: The Dialectics of Spontaneity and Organization

The principles of de-commodification, de-coloniality and intersectionality born out of Rhodes Must Fall were later adopted and updated by the Fees Must Fall Movement which emerged in mid-October 2015. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s research-study report titled ‘#Hashtag: An analysis of the Fees Must Fall Movement at South African Universities’, found that the issues of decolonization and transformation were central themes promoted by those involved in the protests. This confirms the link between the philosophical and ideological framework of RMF and FMF as informed by the commonness of their political terrain and the practical realities that brought them into existence. Fees Must Fall began in mid-October 2015 in response to an increase in fees at South African universities. The students soon found common course with the workers at the university who are subjected to precarious labor in the form of casualization and outsourcing. The protests started at the University of Witwatersrand and spread to the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University. The protests received sympathy from various sections of South African society and elicited international solidarity. A Cape Town daily newspaper, The Cape Argus, invited student co-editors to edit the day’s edition of the newspaper. Articles were written, commissioned and edited by the students involved in FMF. On 23 October 2015, a group of around 200 students gathered at Trafalgar Square the United Kingdom in front of South Africa House to show support of protesting students in South Africa. On the morning of the same day university vice chancellors and student representatives met with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria to negotiate a way forward. Whilst they were meeting, a large group of protesting students assembled outside the Union Buildings to await Zuma’s response. A small group turned violent, setting fire to a portable toilet and breaking down fences. The police responded with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. Another group of students called for restraint and discipline, stressing it was a peaceful protest. Later in the day, after about 3pm, President Zuma announced from within the Union Buildings that there would be no increase in university fees in 2015.

The announcement was welcomed by the students as a victory and brought a stop to the Fees Must Fall protests. The 2015 protests led to the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training. In 2016 the students resumed the protests in response to the announcement by the Minister of Higher Education of fee increases capped at 8% for 2017, with each institution given the freedom to decide by how much their tuition would increase. The 2016 protests saw the movement lose momentum, due to alleged sabotage by the Progressive Youth Alliance – which is aligned to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and internal divisions. The alleged infiltration by PYA and the apparent difficulty experienced by Fees Must Fall Movement to deal with the tensions emanating out of contesting political and sectional interests and the relatively ad hoc nature of its programs have raised issues about the weaknesses of Fallism, particularly is spontaneous character and apparent aversion to conventional organizational arrangements.

An extensive research on the strengths and weaknesses, victories and successes Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements is required for a more objective appraisal of Fallism. A brief examination of these strength’s and weakness will suffice for this essay. In the main the key strength of Fallism is its insistence of non-partisan student-centered action, Black student leadership, student-worker-community solidarity and intersectionality. This helps to reignite the unity-in-action coalition-building, movement-building traditions of the 70s and 80s that facilitated for civic, labor, political and community organizations and people of all social backgrounds to work together against apartheid. The respect for diversity and plurality and keen awareness of the plight of excluded and discriminated sectors of society made RMF and FMF a place where the gender and sexuality issues and the feminist and queer voices found a platform more than ever before in the history of student struggles. Included in the strengths is the ability to elicit international solidarity, as was the case with the liberation movement in its struggle against apartheid-capitalism. Within a short period of time the call for de-colonizing universities had crossed the borders of South Africa, with progressives at Oxford University up in campaigns for the removal of the statue of Rhodes on their campus just after the protests have spread throughout South Africa. The brought public focuses – locally and globally – to concerns that have been there but waiting for vociferous articulation and vigorous action. The most important of these concerns is the reversals and replacement of multi-culturalism and sensitivity to the distinct needs and demands of historically oppressed and marginalised communities by rising fascism, market fundamentalism and empire politics. This particularly relate to the rampant “institutional racism” in the world and more insidious and crude in South Africa. Amit Chaudhuri’s definition of institutional racism as the resurrection of the colonial order, which was by no means managed exclusively by racist individuals, but by people who believed that a skewed system was normal is more relevant in the South African situation. The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movement amplified and exposed this conception of institutional or systemic or structural racism with exposure of how some of the institutions that pride themselves of centers of progressive liberal, social democratic and leftist traditions were reeking with racist attitudes and practices.

The movement forced the state and society to explore for underlying reasons behind question such as: why are there so few black professors in South Africa? Why are there so few Black African South African post-graduates at South African institutions? Why do Black students feel so alienated at universities and why are female students so unsafe at the universities? Why South African students have turned on their parents’ generation? Most importantly, the Fallist movements have helped South African’s to reflect on the extent to damages of overzealous obsession with reconciliation and nation-building without bold confrontation the structures that produces and entrench racism, classism, sexism and related forms of discrimination. It exposed the failures of the country to deal honestly and decisively with the issues of redress, restitution, restoration, reparation, redistribution and reconstruction as the sine quo non for genuine reconciliation and sustainable nation-building. It also highlighted the relationship between the dominant values within the institutions and broader society and the power and social relations that are shaped by skewed patterns of ownership and control of the economy. The immediate victories of these Fallist movements include:

• the fall of the statue of John Rhodes at UCT,
• the setting up of the commission,
• the government’s increase of the amount budgeted for higher education by R17-billion over 3 years,
• government’s commitment ton increase subsidies to universities by 10.9% a year,
• the increased the use of blended learning by South African universities to assist non-protesting students complete their courses,
• free education returned to the centre of policy debates in the country, with the then minister of Finance, Pravin Gordon pronouncing that on 25 August 2015 that that if corruption could be addressed, South Africa could afford to cover university fees for students from poor backgrounds,
• the theme of de-colonialization became more pronounced in the transformation discourse in South Africa
• the Outsourcing Must Fall campaign born out of the Fees Must Fall Movement put a spotlight on the plight of workers who are in precarious labour at universities and spread to other sectors in the economy where workers are subjected to precarious labor and unfavorable conditions of employment
• outsourcing Must Fall led to UCT announcing that hundreds of previously contracted will be insourced from July 2016
• at the University of Free State workers won a 100% pay rise as part of the in-sourcing agreement with management, with the Socialist Youth Movement (WASP’s youth wing) playing a leading role.

Another gain for the movement was the overwhelming support for its cause from civil society. The greatest weaknesses of the movement is the inability to keep the momentum of advocacy and activism for the overall de-colonialized for free and de-colonized education going beyond the protests in response to specific issues. After the fall of the statue the Rhodes Must Fall activities subsided and its voice in the public discourse faded somewhat. Similarly, the Fees Must Fall seems to be more active and vocal at the time of registration and protests against financial exclusion. Whatever work these organizations do in between the protests is not out there in the public domain. The loose character of the movement reduces its capacity to plan ahead for eventualities such as the arrests of its members and fight back. The lack of structure and codes of operation also reduces the capacity of the movement to defend its activities and independence in situations where established and resources organizations engage in acts aimed at deviating the agenda and program of the movement or hijacking it. The spontaneity of the movement’s its actions and its seeming aversion to organization and structure also denies it the ability to develop a protracted and sustained political program. It also means not all people who participate in its programs and activities are oriented or subscribe to its values such as non-discrimination and respect for diversity. This result to situations that it can’t effectively reign on those who act in contrast to its principles such as misogynist and homophobic elements who may be found in the student movement who may display these tendencies at the protests and rallies of the movement. The movements also seem to lack the capacity to protect its protests from infiltration and to reign on criminal elements and political agents deployed to take focus away from the essence and subject of their struggle. Some form of organizational structure with a leadership collective, foundational documents, program of action and code of practice would be helpful for the movement to avoid the situation whereby it is not in control of who can speak and act on its name and what the centre of authority is with regard to its activities and programs. A case in point is made of how, while the FMF insist on not having an organized leadership structure, the media ordained Nompendulo Mkatshwa the face of the 2015 Fees Must Fall, with t Destiny Magazine portraying her as the face of Fees Must Fall. Some people on twitter asked why the Magazine chose to portray Mkatshwa as the face of FMF ahead of Wits SRC president Shaeera Kalla who was effectively the one leading Mkatshwa and questioned not only why the magazine put a face to the movement but also why it specifically chose the picture in which Mkatshwa wore an ANC scarf. Destiny Magazine claimed that the magazine did ask Mkatshwa to wear a more “neutral” scarf, but she refused. It is difficult to dismiss the suggestion that Mkatshwa’s refusal to wear a more neutral scarf was a political decision and action aimed at providing mileage for SASCO and at showing that influence of the congress movement permeates everywhere in society. Similarly it is difficult not to find the decision of the media to refer to Mcebo Dlamini as the leader of the Fees Must Fall Movement as part of a ploy to impose a person from within the congress movement as the voice and face of Fees Must Fall. This imposition of Mkatshwa and Mcebo as the face and voice of FMF as well as the alleged hijack of the march that was meant to go to Luthuli House by PYA created tensions and division.

In the context of a loose movement it becomes more difficult to quell in a manner that does not polarize the movement. The divisions within student leadership somehow, weaken their case, throttle their fighting capacity and disarm them from engaging a protracted uninterrupted struggle for de-colonialisation. It makes it difficult for them to develop a common platform on which they can continuously engage in broader public discourse, bringing in their de-coloniality project to debates on economic freedom and related issues such as land redistribution and radical economic transformation. Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya articulates the problematic of focusing energies on immediate gains without reflecting on long-term institutional, policy, strategy and programmatic issues when he observes:

“I get the sense that most of the energy (of the Fallists) is spent on dealing with the present problem without adequately preparing for life after the problem has been solved, as if they do not believe their campaign will bear fruit……We only need to look to our recent past to see how struggles hinged on being opposed to something, but not necessarily pro another thing, end up.”

A Black Consciousness elder who works closely with the RMF mentions that the members of the movement say their rationale for not having a leadership structure is to avoid harassment. This reason is not plausible enough because whether a resistance to oppression and injustice takes a completely spontaneous nature, organized, unorganized or semi-organized forms, whether there is a leadership collective or not, the system will make attempts to crush it. The harassment of individuals is unavoidable, and so is infiltration and attempts to co-opt the movement of a section thereof. It is also important to note that the absence of a centrally coordinated program of action, the political education , mobilizing and activism initiatives become disjointed and open to capture by organizations or political forces that are dominant at a particular university. On the other hand the relatively loose and spontaneous character of the movement can be useful in protecting it from the hierarchical, authoritarian and dogmatic conventions that often stunts creativity and plurality of perspectives within traditional political parties and social movements. An awareness of the gaps and advantages in both spontaneity and organization could allow for a dynamic conversation between older activists who are schooled in the lore and tactics of organization and the younger generation with more inventive maneuvers and channels characteristic of current waves of popular uprisings. However the obstacle to this seems to be skepticism towards organization on the part of the Fallism and contempt for spontaneity on the part of the traditional left and radicals. While the Fallist movement seems to be overly sensitive of the shortfalls of organization and hierarchy\structure and overzealous in its faith in spontaneity, the old generation of activists seem to be overly dismissive of the potency of spontaneity and romantic of the uses of organization. This perception of a rigid dichotomy or separation between spontaneity and organization is not helpful. Perhaps the best way forward for the moment should be seeing spontaneity and organization as complimentary rather than incompatible.

This will allow for organic responses to immediate situations but also building organizational and leadership capacity and political and ideological development that allow the movement to make certain interventions that utilize the spontaneous actions to build capacity for sustained and protracted struggle. This approach is in line with Rosa Luxembourg argument that spontaneity and organization are not separable or separate activities, but different moments of one political process. Luxembourg defines “spontaneity” is a grass roots approach to organizing a party-oriented class struggle. Believing that spontaneity is the elementary moment from which the class struggle evolves to a higher level of organization, Luxembourg argued that one cannot exist without the other. She advocated that organization mediates spontaneity; and spontaneous struggles provide a momentum and environment for organization. This idea that organization must mediate spontaneous action becomes more important in the face current experiences of how the organic uprisings in the Middle-East and Northern Africa – so-called Arab Spring – either quickly dissipated or were captured by interests that had nothing to do with revolution precisely because of a lack on ideological agenda and political program. The manner in which the 2016 wave of Fees Must Fall protests were redirected by the PYA also highlights the need for organization to mediate spontaneity. On the other hand, the manner in which organizational arrangements and highly centralized hierarchical structures of authority and processes of decision-making are used in traditional political movements to put a squeeze on dissent and entrench gate-keeping and empire-building tendencies exemplifies the deficit of organization.

The many examples of how organizational traditions are sometimes at variance with current material realities and contemporary experiences of the people prove the theoretic correctness of Rosa Luxembourg’s proposition that organization should be informed by the daily struggles and immediate organic actions of the masses as they spontaneously engage with the issues facing them. A nuanced application of the Dialectic of Organization and Spontaneity, rooted to the dynamics of South Africa, could be useful for Fallism and conventional political, civic, social, community and labor organizations. It can enable them to explore and engage in a dynamic process of fusion of spontaneous action and anarchist traditions with organizations and deliberate planning. This would allow for spontaneous action to benefit from the insights and expertise of organization, and for organization to draw strength and build from the space and conditions created by spontaneous struggles.

Conclusions: Continuity and discontinuity of SA liberation struggle politics in Fallism

‘The continuum of history is the one of the oppressors. Whereas the idea [Vorstellung] of the continuum levels everything to the ground, the idea [Vorstellung] of the discontinuum is the foundation of real tradition.’ — Walter Benjamin

The Fallist anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles – and the language that developed out of the struggles – went beyond the class and gender perspectives of social and power relations. Fallism traced the roots of political oppression, economic exploitation and social denigration of Black people in South Africa to colonialism and imperialism.

Consequently it identified racism and white supremacism as the ideology employed in service of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. Thus, Fallism re-ignited Pan Africanist, Black Consciousness and Black Feminist traditions and re-located the perspectives Du Bois, Garvey, Cessaire, Sengor and Lumumba; Nkrumah, Sobukwe; Cabral, Malcolm X, Kwame Toure (Stockely Carmichael) Biko, Sankara, , Ivan Van Sertima, Assata Shakur, Bella Hooks at the centre of current struggles and contemporary policy debates on transformation academia and broader society.

It also heightened students and youths students’ interest in and interaction with current Pan Africana philosophies and Black intellectual traditions such as the Afro-centricity of Molefi Kete Asante and Afro-Pessimism of Frank Wiltherson. Consequently, Fallism motivated students, youths and workers to fuse the language, culture and images of the liberation movement traditions and with contemporary modes and new chic & cheeky avenues and idiomatic expression of struggle. In so doing, Fallism simultaneously reclaims and appraises the traditions of struggle and messes up, unsettles, disrupts and discontinues these traditions to create forms of politics and activism that speaks to the turbulence and hurly-burly of the time\s and place\s and spaces they find themselves in. It plays James Brown’s “Shout it aloud: “I am Black & Proud!” and the BCM’s “Black is Beautiful” at high voltage to express the hope and ideal of Blackness freed of White Supremacism and Black inferiority\docility complex. At the same time it irrepressibly screams that “Blackness is an excrement of Whiteness” , “Blackness is death” in recognition of the wretchedness of Black bodies and desolation in an extremely anti-Black world where Blackness is not a mere cultural identity, but a position of accumulation and fungibility (Saidiya Hartman)….a condition—or relation—of ontological death.

To a mind that is longing and romantic about the past ways activism and the struggle at the expense of being cynical of everything in new ones, Fallism urinates on the graves of heroes. To a mind that is puffed-up and quixotic about the present modes of activism and forms of struggle at the price of making modernity, avant-gardism or newness the creator of everything, Fallism is the all-mighty new and fresh beginning. What we are referring to here are two extreme paradigms of engaging with a ‘new’ movement\moment like Fallism. On one extreme is the viewpoint of projecting a particular moment\movement as a momentous, earth-shattering tumultuous big moment of complete rupture that disrupts and ends histories and traditions and begin a brand-new new history and creates spanking new traditions. The problem with the romantic view of any particular movement\moment in history as the new big thing or as the end and beginning of history is that it buries the histories and traditions of the oppressed in the name of creating a new philosophy and culture of liberation. It therefore presents history and philosophy, and tradition and progress as binary opposites. This gives the so-called new person the pomposity that makes him to strut around like he is the first person to see the world as it is. It therefore denies the new movement the wisdom that philosophy derives from history and the sensitivity and discernment that progress develops from tradition. This is typified by the tendency to think of concepts such as de-coloniality, intersectionality, and anti-sectarianism and confrontational and transgressive politics as new inventions of Fallism, rather than principles and practices born out of the concrete and tangible historical and material realities within whose womb the agency, activism and struggle of the Fallist generation is born. This framework prohibits the old generation connection and intimacy to the language and struggle of the new generation and to dismiss it as the folly of the young.

It also disallows the young generation the perception and insight to realize how their idiomatic and practical expression of struggle is indebted to the history and traditions of the struggle of the old. On the other extreme is the framework that ascribes everything to tradition and therefore see the new movements\moments as simply a continuance of the old. This framework perceives the concepts and practices of new movements as simply versions and extensions of the old and therefore jettisons anything that tends to significantly vary from old ways as an aberration; a deviation that should be seen as an abomination. Neither of these perspectives is useful. One perceives tradition as “a great retarding force,” and one sees modernity as a destabilizing force. One sees organization as a great hindrance and the other perceives spontaneous action as an inoperable circuit. But in reality tradition and modernity, history and philosophy, organised action and spontaneous action feed from one another and can’t exist without the other. There is a dialectic interaction between the students’ historical memory \ historical consciousness (of the slave rebellions, anti-colonial struggles and liberation wars, of the battle of Isandlwana, the June 16, 1976 uprising, etc) and their objective experiences of marginalization \exclusion\discrimination.

Fallism should be seen as continuing as well as discontinuing the traditions of the Congress Movement, the Pan Africanist and Black Consciousness Movements, the Social Movements that emerged in the 90s in response to capitalist globalization and neo-liberalism, and the Black Consciousness inspired counter-hegemony and counter-culture movements like the Blackwash and September National Imbizo that preceded the Rhodes Must Fall, Fees Must Fall and Outsourcing Must Fall movements. This kind of understanding will allow the older generation of activists and segments of the historic liberation movement to appreciate the new movements as building on the legacies and traditions of struggle of their predecessors and responding creatively to current realities- discarding, updating and replacing modes of resistance and protest with new forms of rebellion and activism. Leigh-Ann Naidoo captured this well in her ‘Open Letter to Barney Pityana on the Rhodes Must Fall Movement’ in which she inter alia beseeched:

“If you would show solidarity and engage from the vantage point of being willing to listen and learn rather than knowing better than them, then you would be able to start seeing the amazingness of these young students – mostly undergraduates and honours students. They don’t have all the answers as they grapple with competing oppressions and urgent issues. They are working with concepts like ‘intersectionality’ that bring in to focus the multiple oppressions that occur in addition to the race/class lenses of the past. The movement and its public or popular education programme has created a space that has allowed for people with varying privileges and their corresponding blind spots, to be part of the conversation. This is radical dialogue, which I believe formed part of the legacy with which BC has left us……Biko and you would be impressed by the Black female voices and black transsexual voices in the conversation.

But you don’t have access to any of this because you choose to stand outside of the movement and last we heard from you, you were challenging Prof Pumla Gqola, who has been writing and thinking about radical BC, because you believed somehow that the idea of removing the statue was not well or deep enough thought through. Pumla has come to speak and listen at Azania House, why haven’t you? Is it perhaps because it may make your boardroom meetings with the powerful untenable? Or is it that you have been contorted by privilege and comfort? I am asking because I truly don’t know and would like to understand how so many of the people who fought and sacrificed to fight Apartheid and all its oppressions can stand by silently now and ignore the fact that while things have changed, a lot has morphed into something worse. Poverty and inequality under the ANC’s watch is getting worse, and there has been a rampant entrenchment of white privilege, even under a black government.”

Leigh-Ann Naidoo was essentially appealing for Pityana to see his SASO\BPC activist self in the young activists of Rhodes Must Fall and hear the voice of chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi’s protest against his (Pityana) radicalism of the 70s in his (Pitaya’s) critique of the confrontational and transgressive politics of the Fallists. Indeed the history of the liberation struggle in Azania is the history of the disruption of tradition to create or reclaim a tradition or rather the history of discontinuity and continuity. The South African Native Congress of 1912 disrupted the tradition of resistance to colonialism and imperialist invasions along tribal lines and introduced the mobilization of African people around African Nationalism. Under the new name of the African National Congress (ANC) and within the framework of the Freedom Charter it interrupted African Nationalism with its adoption of multi-racialism and non-racialism. The Pan Africanist Congress contested the multi\ non-racialism framework with its notion of the oneness of the human race and the centrality of the African experience and African people in the struggle against colonialism. The Black Consciousness Movement updated the PAC’s scientific explanation of race as a social construct and a function of the politics and the economy with the Anti-racism position and an explicit broad definition of Black to include all ‘people of colour.’ The ANC Youth League the ANC generation of the 50s and the Pan Africanist Congress respectively disrupted the old ANC tradition of petitions and deputation to international institutions and took the struggle into the realm of mass action with the 1949 Program of Action, the Defiance Campaigns and the Anti-Dompass demonstrations. The Poqo operations went beyond peaceful protest to armed resistance. The 1970s generation fueled by the fire of Black Consciousness moved beyond the traditions of protest to and resistance and rebellion and the 80s generation took the rebellion to the level of rendering apartheid South Africa ungovernable with peaceful and violent acts of civil disobedience, popular uprisings and armed insurrections. As Walter Benjamin observes, history is not based on a progressive flow of “homogeneous, empty time” directed to the future but on a disruptive constellation of the present and the past. The impact of the legacy of the past and the lessons we gain from the exercise of discerning what of the past is use-worthy material and what is garbage material implies that the past is not simply gone. In other words, the past cannot be fully historicized.

The point is not whether or not the struggling oppressed maintains or disrupts traditions in their quest to develop the culture of liberation and to demolish the structures and traditions of oppression. The points is how best the struggling oppressed update and improve the most liberatory traditions of their past and how they frees themselves from the most oppressive traditions of the past. It is precisely by opening themselves to an interrogation and interruption by the new generation of activists and movements that old generations of activists and movements can be assured of a revolutionary continuation of the best of their practices and a revolutionary discontinuation of the worst of their practices. There is a dialectic and complimentary relationship between the optimism of “Shout it aloud: “I am Black & Proud”; “Black is beautiful” and the pessimism of “Black life is death”; “Blackness is the excrement of Whiteness”. Understanding this dialectic is not only the function of how ‘the struggling, oppressed class relates to its oppressed past’ in order to know what ‘past is constitutive or destitute of tradition’. It is also the function of identifying which aspects of the tradition are oppressive and which possess liberatory ethos.

Walter Benjamin asserts that ‘The history of the oppressed is a discontinuum.’ – ‘The task of history is to get hold of the tradition of the oppressed.”. The argument we have presented in this essay is that history constitutes both continuity and discontinuity and that the past carries both oppressive and liberatory memories and practices. Consequently our position is the task of the oppressed is more to identify which tradition is inherently or potentially oppressive and which is inherently or potentially liberatory. Therefore we conclude that the task of the Fallists and other new emerging movements is to combat and discontinue the oppressive aspects of social and political traditions and to reclaim, update, preserve, continue and expand the liberatory elements of social and political traditions.

Screen shot 2017-05-03 at 8.13.15 PM

(Mphutlane wa Bofelo is an anti-establishment underground poet\essayist and popular-education and worker-education facilitator currently based in Durban in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa)

. This essay expands on the view expressed by wa Bofelo in the keynote address at the Mandela Bay Book Festival on 17 March 2017 on the subject of ‘Black Consciousness Poetry and the Fees Must Fall Movement’
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya. 2016. Fallists need future view too. The Mercury. 9 April 2016
Azania is the name first adopted by the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and later endorsed by the Black Consciousness Movement and leftist Socialist formations like the African Peoples Democratic Union of South Africa (APDUSA), New Unity Movement (NEUM) and Workers Organization for Socialist Action (WOSA) as the name of a liberated South Africa. The literal translation of Azania is the land of the Black people. Citing Runoko Rashidi and Ivan van Sertima (editors), African Presence in Early Asia, Tenth Anniversary Edition, Transaction Press: New Brunswick: 1995, Black Consciousness stalwart and Maoist theorist, advocate Imrann Moosa asserts that the etymology of Azania to the Zanj Rebellion( 869 – 883 A.D.). The Zanj rebellion constituted of a series of small revolts that eventually culminated into a large rebellion that saw the 500 000 slaves sacking Basrah and setting up their own state, advancing to within seventy (70) miles of Baghdad itself. The Zanj built a city in the marshes known as al-Moktara (the Elect City) that was almost impregnable due to its watery location, and they also built a fortified town, al-Mani’a. They even minted their own currency. The Zanj thus took over the Caliphate and maintained a marooned state for some fifteen (15) years.
Rhodes Must Fall. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Must_Fall (Accessed 9 April 2017)
Raeesa Patel. Rhodes Must Fall: The Movement after the statue. The Daily Vox. Monday, April 24, 2017 http://www.thedailyvox.co.za/rhodes-must-fall-the-movement-after-the-statue/ (Accessed 19 April 2017

ibid
On 10 March 2015, UCT student Chumani Maxwele flung the human waste on the statue of Rhodes, calling for the monument to be taken down. This led to scores of protesting students drenching the statue of Cecil John Rhodes in human excrement.
Langa, M. (ed) 2016. # An Analysis of Fees Must Fall Movement in the universities of South Africa. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation: Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Rhodes Must Fall. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Must_Fall (Accessed 19 April 2017)
Amit Chaudhuri. 2016. The Real meaning of Rhodes Must Fall. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/16/the-real-meaning-of-rhodes-must-fall (Accessed 20 April 2017)

Vhahangwele Nemakonde. Is Nompendulo the face of Fees Must Fall? http://citizen.co.za/news/news-national/868535/is-nompendulo-the-face-of-fees-must-fall/ (Accessed on 28 April 2017)
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya. 2016. Fallists need future view too. The Mercury. 9 March 2016
Luxemburgism – Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation http://www.liquisearch.com/luxemburgism/dialectic_of_spontaneity_and_organisation (Accessed 20 April 2017)
Luxemburgism – Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organisation http://www.liquisearch.com/luxemburgism/dialectic_of_spontaneity_and_organisation (Accessed 20 April 2017)

ibid
Afro-pessimism http://incognegro.org/afro_pessimism.html (Accessed 21 April 2017 )
The Daily Maverick, 14th April 2015
Walter Benjamin cited by Sami Khatib. 2015. Walter Benjamin and the “Tradition of the Oppressed”. http://anthropologicalmaterialism.hypotheses.org/2128 (Accessed 21 April 2017)

ibid
ibid

April 19, 2017

Black Consciousness Movement Rallying For Land Occupation

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 9:12 pm

Date : 27th April 2017
Time: 10h:00am
Venue: Freedom Primary School

We have a serious problem with overcrowding in black townships as the demand for housing has increased. This has resulted in some of the communities like Freedom Park, Eldorado Park, Orlando, Motsoaledi, Kliptown any many more communities accommodating the influx by letting out backyard space, hence there is overcrowding.

We are calling on all the landless people who some of them live in backyards, shacks and hostels or paying rents in various landlords to attend a land occupation rally in Freedom Park at Freedom Primary School. We believe unity of all the landless people in mass action to occupy the land can force the stubborn arm of the state to release land to the Black Majority. We believe land occupation is the legitimate means to flee poverty and unemployment. If the landless majority acts together in unity to occupy all the lands then real freedom for the Black Majority will be achieved.

IF OUR LAND IS NOT FREE THEN NO ONE IS FREE TILL OUR LAND IS FREE.

April 10, 2017

Sarah Slingers victimized by Via’s in Greyton land rights conflict

Filed under: Greyton 7233,politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:55 pm

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March 29, 2017

Stephanus Muller & Willemien Froneman – Crisis? what crisis?

Filed under: music,politics,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 2:19 pm

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February 3, 2017

Krishnamurti on revolution

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 10:30 am

The activity of revolution is riddled with contradictions and so can never liberate.
Krishnamurti
Commentaries on Living

January 15, 2017

ANGELO FICK quoted from Metalepsis in Black

Filed under: 2016 - Metalepsis in Black,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 12:31 pm

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December 27, 2016

Filed under: philosophy,politics,signs of the times — ABRAXAS @ 9:57 am

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November 27, 2016

a kliye message

Filed under: politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 11:00 am

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October 21, 2016

can whites decolonise?

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 5:07 pm

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on the white saviour complex

Filed under: 2015 - Decolonising WITS,politics — ABRAXAS @ 4:34 pm

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skill all whites – is it hate speech?

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:30 pm

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Is South Africa reverting to a repressive state? by Jane Duncan

Filed under: politics — ABRAXAS @ 10:45 am

Inaugural professorial lecture, Council Chambers, University of Johannesburg, 13 July 2016

Introduction

Since the Marikana massacre in 2012, several journalists, academics and media commentators have argued that South Africa is reverting to a repressive state. They have interpreted violence at the hands of the South African Police Service (Saps) generally, and Marikana specifically, as signs that the post-apartheid social order can no longer be held in check through consent alone. They argue that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and other powerful actors have concluded that naked violence is now needed to stabilise increasingly fractious social relations (McMichael 2014; Pithouse 2016: 1-5). Some have even used the term ‘police state’ to describe post-Marikana South Africa (Hlongwane 2014; Kasrils 2013; Essop, Eliseev and Grootes 2015; Bezuidenhout 2016). As a police state is one where the police act as a political force to contain social dissent using arbitrary force, it is an important manifestation of a more repressive state: a society that is ruled by its military is another.

How likely is South Africa to descend into a state of full-blown repression? How likely is it that there will be more Marikanas? Needless to say, being able to answer these questions will have a major impact on the future trajectory of the country’s politics. In attempting to do so, I will move beyond arguments set out in my previous book ‘The rise of the securocrats: the case of South Africa’ (Duncan 2014). In this book, I assessed the significance of the growth in the strength of the state’s repressive apparatus, but did not really consider limits on the state’s capacity to repress. I do so in this paper, and in doing so, I draw on arguments set out in my new book ‘Protest nation: the right to protest in South Africa’ (Duncan 2016).

There can be little argument with the statement that South Africa’s democratic government under its fourth president. Jacob Zuma, has strengthened the coercive capacities of the state, consisting of the police, the intelligence and the military and located in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. In fact, it would appear that this Cluster has become the praetorian guards of an increasingly embattled presidency (Duncan 2014: 2-4). The well-reported growth in the levels of police violence against ordinary civilians and protestors and police militarisation are the most visible manifestation of this shift, as is the normalisation of the military in domestic policing functions, which suggests a growing militarisation of society (Nicholson 2015). However, the huge public controversies over police violence and police militarisation, mask the fact that there are fundamental shifts in the coercive capacities of the state, away from overt repression and towards less visible, more pre-emptive forms of repression. What are the indicators of this shift and why is it significant?

From human intelligence to signals intelligence

The first indicator is that intelligence work has become increasingly important to stabilising social relations. Surveillance provides the state with a politically low-cost form of social control, as abuses are very difficult to detect. Political surveillance is part of an arsenal of tools available to the state to profile problem subjects, and to use this knowledge to stymie protests they may consider to be problematic. The state can use such surveillance, or the threat of surveillance, to create fear that organised violence will be used against perceived opponents. At the same time, the fear of being watched may force people to self-police their own behaviour, as theorised by Foucault in his appropriation of James Bentham’s panopticon (Foucault 1979: 200-216).

In South Africa, the state has expanded its surveillance capacities over the past decade. In 2003, the Thabo Mbeki Presidency issued a directive requiring an expansion of the-then National Intelligence Agency’s (NIA) mandate to include political and economic intelligence. In the case of political intelligence, the NIA was to focus on ‘…the strengths and the weaknesses of political formations, their constitutions and plans, political figures and their roles in governance, etc’ (Africa 2012: 117). These changes led to the intelligence services ballooning in size; by 2004, personnel accounted for an unsustainable 74 percent of the total domestic intelligence budget (Kasrils 2008). A year later, signs emerged that intelligence operatives were becoming embroiled in internal factional battles in the ANC: a problem that was proved to exist by a Commission of Enquiry, which partly blamed the culture of secrecy in the intelligence services as a source of the problem (Ministerial Review Commission on Intelligence 2008).

Shortly after Zuma took office, the domestic and foreign intelligence services were centralised into the State Security Agency (SSA), in spite of the fact that the 1996 White Paper on Intelligence cautioned against such centralisation (South African government 1995). The political intelligence-gathering mandate has also allowed the government to normalise spying on domestic political groupings on the most tenuous of grounds (Right 2 Know Campaign 2015). A document leaked to the media, and apparently summarising the SSA’s National Intelligence Priorities for 2014 (which are classified, although they should not be) – and which are developed every year to guide the use of the state’s surveillance capacities – states that the SSA should investigate and engage in counter-planning for a ‘so-called “Arab Spring” uprising prior to [2014 national] elections’ (Swart 2016). The SSA claims it will resort to the ‘maximum use of covert human and technical means’ to counter these threats (Swart 2016). The document’s citing of the Arab spring – a legitimate struggle against authoritarianism – is significant, as it implies that this protest wave in the Arab region was essentially illegitimate. In the South African context, the risk of such a priority straying from the covert surveillance of illegal political activity into legitimate activities should be self-evident: a risk that is strengthened by the SSA’s overly broad mandate, excessive secrecy, recent history of abuse of this mandate and inadequate reforms to increase public accountability.

The risk associated with human intelligence is that the identities of intelligence operatives deployed to spy on organisations can always be uncovered, leading to politically-costly scandals about intelligence abuses. As a result, the intelligence community has taken advantage of the digital ‘revolution’ to shift away from using human intelligence (intelligence gathered through physical means) to signals intelligence (intelligence gathered from communications surveillance). It is difficult to tell whether South Africa has embraced this global shift, but it would be unsurprising if it has. While the government’s targeted interception capacities are regulated in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communications-related Information Act (Rica), mass surveillance remains completely unregulated in terms of the law, which predisposes these capacities to abuse. In fact, not only does South Africa produce mass surveillance technology, but the state has funded its development (Page 2013) and allowed it to be exported, including to authoritarian regimes such as Libya, where the equipment was used to spy on Muammar Gaddafi’s political opponents (Vermeer 2013).

From militarised policing to intelligence-led policing

The second indicator, closely related to the first, is the shift from militarised policing to intelligence-led policing. As its name suggests, this policing model uses risk assessment as its main tool to direct policing decisions about where and how to intervene. The model is more recent than paramilitary policing, as it was conceptualised in Britain and the United States (US) in the 1990’s, but it really gained currency after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Intelligence-led policing relies heavily on covert techniques for crime-detection, including paying informants, spying on individuals and organisations, the use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, communications surveillance and the interception of voice and data traffic (Bezuidenhout 2008).

Intelligence-led policing does not necessarily make human rights violations go away; it merely makes them less visible. This form of policing encourages problematic profiling of individuals or social groups that may resort to crime, which can lead to stereotyping of particular social groups as being predisposed to crime. Activists who are considered to be politically threatening to existing ruling groups may be placed under surveillance to gain more information about their activities and to intimidate them, which risks chilling political activity. The US police used intelligence-driven policing to infiltrate organisations linked to the anti-globalisation movement, to identify and isolate ‘troublemakers’ (Fernandez 2008). But like overt forms of violence, generalised surveillance techniques also erode public trust in the state: in fact, the latter can do so more readily than the former as surveillance proceeds from the premise that states do not trust their citizens from the outset (van Brakel and de Hert 2011: 163-192).

In South Africa, the Crime Intelligence Division of SAPS holds the key to this new policing strategy, so it is unsurprising that this Division has become so powerful (and controversial) in recent years, as this policing model makes it the lynchpin of policing strategies (SAPS 2011). Heightened power without heightened accountability is a recipe for disaster. A case currently being heard in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court points to members in the division having used the surveillance capacities of the state to spy on journalists. Yet, in spite of its increasing importance to policing work, there are signs of Crime Intelligence having lost its effectiveness, leading to a resurgence of organised crime (Burger 2013).

SAPS has embraced intelligence-led policing for several reasons. Police violence is eroding trust between the police and communities, making it more difficult to revert back to community policing (Bezuidenhout 2008: 48-49). Yet at the same time, SAPS cannot risk many more high profile shoot-outs with protestors, as the long-term political costs will simply be too great. So, it stands to reason that the SAPS would search for a policing model that still allowed them to contain dissent using a less politically-risky approach, and intelligence-led policing provides just such a model.

From post-hoc to pre-emptive repression of protests

The third indicator is an increasing use of pre-emptive methods of containing protests through manipulations of the Regulation of Gatherings Act (RGA), to stop more protests from spilling out onto the streets in the first place. In a research study I led on the right to protest in eleven municipalities – and which involved the physical collection and logging of municipal data about gatherings and protests over a five year period (2008-13) – I found that none of the municipalities studied received a clean bill of health. The full findings of this project are set out in my new book, ‘Protest Nation: the right to protest in South Africa’ (Duncan 2016). A research team collected all notifications for protests and gatherings sent to municipalities in terms of the RGA: they yielded incredibly rich data about how many protests were taking place relative to gatherings, the reasons for the protests, the protest actors and municipal responses to the protests.

The municipal and the police statistics suggest that the majority of protests take place peacefully and uneventfully, which is not the dominant image of protests either in the media or the public imagination. In fact, from Saps’s Incident Registration Information System (IRIS) database for the areas with the most unrest-related incidents between 2009 and 2012 , it became clear that despite being labelled unrest-related, most of the protests did not escalate beyond barricade-building and tyre-burning into violence, and in fact were recorded as being fairly incident-free. The protests recorded in the municipal records constitute a humdrum of protests, taking place day in, day out throughout the country with little incident. Between the media and police hype about ‘violent service delivery protests’, it is this wider picture of peaceful protests that is so often missed, and unsurprisingly so. The security cluster can use images of marauding mobs, apparently predisposed to violence, to create moral panics in the public about protests, to turn the public against protestors (even those whose demands are legitimate), and to justify heightened security measures against them.

Yet in spite of protests remaining largely peaceful, all the municipalities surveyed instituted unreasonable restrictions on the right to protest, and these have curtailed this right to varying degrees. While the misapplication of the RGA has been a problem at least since the early 2000’s (Duncan 2010: 105-127) , a particularly significant shift became apparent from 2012 onwards. In the wake of the local government elections, the Department of Co-operative Governance sent out a circular to local governments that outlined proactive measures that municipalities need to take to deal with protests. These measures included ‘…[working] with the office of the speaker [and] public participation units to ensure ongoing engagement between councillors and communities and residents’. Several municipalities used this memo as a pretext to change how they administered the RGA.

This shift increased the already-onerous bureaucratic obstacles municipalities put on protests, many of which already shared an assumption that the notification process in terms of the RGA was actually a permission-seeking exercise, and that they had the right to grant or deny ‘permission’ to convenors to engage in a gathering or protest. This municipal misapprehension of the process set the tone for how notifications were dealt with, both by the municipalities and by the police. Practices that limited the right unduly included a requirement on the part of convenors to seek a letter from the institution or person they were marching against, guaranteeing that they would be willing to accept the memorandum. The rationale for seeking such an assurance appears to be to prevent frustration on the part of protestors, which could boil over into violence. However, it has also become a censorship device, where those who are being marched against can squash the protest simply by refusing to accept the memorandum.

The City of Johannesburg requires protest convenors to seek permission from a ward councillor to protest, and after the 2012 Co-operative Governance memo, they and the Mbombela municipality, instituted a filtering system to reduce the number of service delivery protests, where convenors need to show that a meeting took place between the mayor’s office, the community and the ward councillor involved in that community, or at the very least that an attempt was made to bring all parties to the table to resolve the issues at hand. But this prescription is not lawful, as the RGA does not prescribe what process people should follow before they take to the streets. The number of ‘approved’ protests increased in Mbombela once the ¬filtering process was introduced, ¬suggesting that the potentially -‘troublesome’ protests did not even enter into the system. But the municipality did admit that the condition had led to an increase in the number of ‘unrest-related’ protests, taking place outside the framework of the RGA, and that the police were more likely to be heavy-handed against such a protest as they were not involved in facilitating it in the first place. These were led mainly by individuals or organisations that were in dispute with the structures they were meant to negotiate with, suggesting that an increasingly restrictive approach towards protests on the part of the municipality was changing the character of the protests, forcing them to become what the authorities would consider ‘unlawful’ and driving up the potential for the protests to become disruptive.

While the municipalities studied have gradually closed spaces for the right to protest, this closure is highly uneven and subject to considerable contestation. Spaces were much more closed where the political and economic elite were united in their intentions to stifle protests and prevent criticism and alternative forms of mobilisation (the Rustenburg municipality being a case in point): but this unity was not found uniformly across the municipalities. As Oliver has argued, erratic government repression arises not because the government has chosen to be erratic, but because of inconsistencies among political actors (Oliver 1998). Furthermore, non-conventional actors are more likely to be repressed than conventional ones (such as unions or well-known political parties), as the security apparatus consider the former to be less predictable than the latter (Combes and Fillieule 2011). The evidence supports a view of the state put forward by Gramsci that it is not monolithic, but is rather a site where ruling class alliances take place or even shift (Cox 2013). In times of significant political de-alignment, elements of the state can even work against one another. Erratic repression is likely to occur when divisions have opened up within the political elite, or between the political elite and the bureaucratic layer: in such circumstances, spaces for alternative voices remained open, albeit constrained and subject to reversal.

Internationally, the academic literature has recognised the fact that ruling elites have expanded their repertories of social control beyond outright repression: as a result, the literature has shifted away from focussing on the concept of repression, to that of pacification. According to Keinscherf, pacification includes measures that ‘…produce undisruptive and unthreatening forms of collective action’ (Keinscherf forthcoming: 3). However, this is not to say that repression as it is commonly understood, and pacification, are mutually exclusive: in fact, they can be complimentary strategies. For instance, the intelligence services can be used to separate out ‘good’ protestors from ‘bad’ protestors, and the resulting protest policing may be either facilitative or militarised depending on the type of risk management strategies that the police identify through the intelligence gleaned (Keinscherf forthcoming: 14). But the fact that the elites have found it necessary to shift from more visible to less visible forms of social containment at all, is not a sign of their strength; rather it is a sign of their weakness as they recognise the fact that they lack the capacity to repress openly. Why is this so? The next section will attempt to answer this question.

Organic crisis: growing popular capacity for independent action

It seems fair to say that South Africa is manifesting more elements of a classic Gramscian organic crisis: in other words. For Gramsci, crises become organic when they are thrown up directly by contradictions in how the capitalist system functions, when they are dynamic in that they are not confined to particular actors, events, issues, or moments in time or place, and consequently when they are a process rather than a momentary eruption. The demands being raised may be diverse, and at times even incompatible. Such crises usually arise when a particular regime of capitalist accumulation becomes unsustainable because of its own internal contradictions. In such circumstances, the ruling bloc (or the coalition of interests that underpin a particular ruling group) loses its legitimacy on a mass scale. An organic crisis develops when the following conditions obtain:
• Popular capacity for action increases;
• More people can be detached from the previous hegemonic block and be convinced to side with the subaltern classes;
• There is a decline in capacity of the elite to offer significant concessions, but;
• There is also a decline in the capacity of the hegemonic bloc to mobilise effective repression.
When these conditions obtain, the hegemonic bloc cannot offer concessions easily, yet neither can it repress easily either (Cox 2014).

With regard to popular capacity for action increasing, while the number of crowd management incidents increased year-on-year since 1996, too little can be deduced from this upward swing, as the police database that logs these incidents (the IRIS system) records both protests and gatherings. However, from the municipal data referred to earlier, it is apparent that protests peaked in 2011 (the year of the local government elections) in municipalities such as eThekwini, Johannesburg and Lukhanji, which is when crowd management incidents recorded by Saps peaked too. So it is not unreasonable to assume that the peaking of incidents in 2011 can be attributed at least in part to an uptick in protest action, suggesting an increase in popular capacity for action as expressed through protests.

Figure 1: peaceful and unrest-related crowd management incidents between 1995 and 2013. Source: own graph, based on Saps IRIS information, released in response to a South African History Archive (Saha) information request

There was little evidence of co-ordination across protest sites, though; co-ordination occurred when a trade union movement organised a national action, or where a strike took place in different parts of the country, for instance a public sector strike. While there was little evidence of these protests coalescing into more generalised political demands, they have the potential to if a national political movement comes into being that links these different struggles together. The municipal data pointed to high levels of organisation, and of new formations or even organisations emerging all the time, suggesting that Patrick Bond’s term ‘popcorn protests’ (Bond 2012) – used to describe seemingly sporadic, spontaneous protests – ignored the extent of organisation that actually exists. There was no evidence of unions and community organisations uniting around shared grievances. However, it was apparent from the municipal data that struggles at the point of consumption are becoming as important to the political life of direct action politics as struggles at the point of production, and in some cases (in the Makana municipality, for instance), the former are overtaking the latter as flashpoints of struggle.

When South African protests are viewed in the global context, it becomes apparent that popular capacity for action is not only increasing, but these increases are being sustained. The protests could easily be described as a cycle in the sense used by Tarrow (1989). However, is the protest cycle in South Africa of even greater historical significance? For instance, could it be part of a broader regional or even global protest wave? The question of whether the protests, including those in South Africa, are part of a wave, rather than being isolated, single-country protest cycles, is an important one, as it speaks to whether the protests will fizzle out in time or escalate into fundamental and transformative challenges to the system on a worldwide scale. According to Colin Beck (Beck 2011: 167-207), the difference between a protest cycle and a protest wave is that the latter is present in at least two or more societies within a decade of each other, and these protests are tantamount to revolutionary situations. In other words, the protests affect more parts of the world over a longer period, and are not concentrated in a fixed period in time or driven by a small, well-defined set of actors. These features suggest that the unfolding struggles are responses to broader crises in the world economy, and in spite of their heterogeneity, they are capable of being sustained and even escalated into an insurrection precipitating an organic crisis.

The mobilisations in Chiapas, the Occupy movement in the United States, the ‘pink tide’ in Latin America and ‘Arab spring’, Palestinian struggles against Israeli occupation, and anti-austerity protests in different parts of the world, are all examples of challenges to the system in different regions of the world (some more successful than others). Less well-known and studied are the wave of protests that engulfed sub-Saharan Africa in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian political revolutions, with the most pronounced ones erupting in Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

For Cox (2013; 2014), if protest cycles are sustained in more than one region of the world over a period of at least fifteen years, then this is a further indication that the crisis is organic, rather than episodic; as a result, the multiple resistances that have been mounted against the system could be described credibly as a revolutionary wave. Sustained regional disruptions usually happen at least once every twenty years. The fact that some have not led to regimes falling, and where political revolutions have been achieved, they have not necessarily deepened into social revolutions, becomes less significant if revolutionary waves are understood as a process rather than an event. If these protests have brought new political actors onto the streets, resulting in new forms of organisation, and extracted significant concessions from ruling elites, shaking the state in the process, then they could be described as moving in an anti-systemic direction. This is because the protests build confidence in the power of collective action, and consequently have the potential to extract even more significant concessions in future (Cox 2014). When viewed in this global context, it becomes apparent that South Africa’s protests are of word-historical significance, and point towards them being part of a broader global wave of heightened popular action. They are also likely to place popular limits on the state’s ability to use organised violence, as doing so may well intensify popular action rather than dampen it.

With respect to more people detaching themselves from the hegemonic bloc, the municipal data before 2011 pointed to the ANC alliance dominating the protest space – especially in smaller towns and rural areas – but that its dominance declined after 2011. The ANC alliance has proved to be a combustible one, with political alignments with the ruling party coming under considerable pressure. At community levels, the municipal data suggested that the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) – often considered to be a fourth member of the ANC alliance – is largely a spent force, and is being overtaken by a host of independent community organisations or civics. In fact, while the protests cannot be said to have a distinct ideological character, the data points to the hegemony of the ANC diminishing. This does not support arguments advanced by Booysen (2011: 126-173) and Fakir (2014) that the protests are merely about holding the ANC to account: rather there is growing evidence of more communities becoming subjectively available for alternative politics to that offered by the ANC alliance.

Organic crisis: concessions or repression

With respect to Gramsci’s two other conditions for an organic crisis, namely that the elite cannot offer concessions very easily, but neither can they repress very easily, the neo-liberal phase of capitalism has entered a period of organic crisis in several regions of the world. This phase is characterised by the financialisation of the economy, the rise of permanent mass unemployment and declining rates of profit, creating conditions for a political crisis. In other words, these features make this phase particularly unstable in that it creates conditions for mass revolt, as fewer concessions can be offered than in earlier expansionary periods (such as was the case under social democracy), while the system cannot generate enough profit to prevent itself from contracting and even collapsing, worsening the socio-economic conditions even more. In the case of South Africa, while the Zuma administration promised a more redistributive state, and undoubtedly many of its more principled office bearers remain subjectively committed to a more just and equal society, the objective conditions in which they came to office did not favour radical redistribution.

Yet at the same time, managers of the neo-liberal system – governments, financiers and other big capitalists – need to maintain consent in order to continue ruling, which they find increasingly difficult to obtain. If they resort to coercion to stabilise the system, they risk legitimacy and state violence is used most effectively when consent remains for its use (Cox 2013). Their inability to resolve these crises lie at the heart of the current period’s organic crisis. For instance, there are limits on the extent to which paramilitary policing can be used to contain growing dissent. While many police are clearly ‘getting away with murder’, public antipathy is building against the police and the political order they seem to be propping up. There have not been nearly the same levels of protests against police violence in South Africa as there have been US cities such as Ferguson, in the wake of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by the police. But, Marikana has hastened political shifts that have been underway for some time now, and has not dampened protest levels: to that extent, it has not been a particularly successful massacre for the ruling elite. The massacre was a precipitating factor in the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and Cosatu’s largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), has been expelled from the federation, spurring it on to form a United Front in collaboration with community organisations and social movements. The state cannot risk going down even further down this path. Violence against dissenters on a mass scale is likely to eat into the ANC’s still-considerable legitimacy, and hasten its slow but steady demise at the polls. This is especially so if a national movement comes into being that generalises protestors’ demands, and relates them to the neo-liberal system of governance. Workers and the poor, who face the brunt of the system, are increasingly unlikely to consent to supporting and funding their own oppression.

Another factor that makes full-scale repression unlikely is that the security cluster appears to be an increasingly divided house, and not insignificant cracks are beginning to show. The police commissioner at the time of the Marikana massacre, Riah Phigeya, has been suspended and may well be dismissed for her role in the massacre (Nicolaides 2016). A spate of top management resignations in the SSA in 2011 has been linked to refusals to use the surveillance capacities of the state to spy of Zuma’s detractors ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung (Molele, Letsoala and Sole 2011). Furthermore, in order to repress openly, the police would probably need the assistance of the military. But the military is industrialised and unionised. In spite of arguments that unionisation can compromise combat-readiness, in 1999 the South African Constitutional Court legalised the formation of military unions (Sachs 1999: 33). There is evidence that a significant number of soldiers have a consciousness of themselves, not just as soldiers, but as workers, who are exploited like other workers. Frustrations with poor working conditions boiled over during the ill-fated march on the seat of political office, the Union Buildings, in August 2009. This very public confrontation – the dynamics of which were misreported by many media organisations (Duncan 2014) – led to the Chief of the Army, Solly Shoke, accusing the soldiers involved of mutiny, and warning them that some other countries would have shot them for their actions (Hosken 2009).

In view of these fractious relations, the political elite face a gamble: if the current administration put soldiers in front of exploited, protesting workers (like the soldiers are), and told them to shoot, what would they do? What if they refused? Can they really risk a rebellion in the military, which really would amount to mutiny? The political risks could be too great for them to gamble on the military.

The more historically-aware security officials are also likely to make political calculations about how long they will last if they intensify open repression. As the embarrassingly weak presidency of Jacob Zuma splutters to a close, the ignominious fates suffered by the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, could well be top of mind when they attempt to weigh up the long-term political costs of engaging in an all-out defence of their positions. Regimes that relied on repression to maintain power have never lasted (Cox 2013). It is not coincidental that since 2009 – the year that Zuma came to office – evidence has mounted of some even resorting to political assassinations to silence their critics, especially in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu/ Natal (Duncan 2014). The 2014 murder of Abahlali base Mjondolo activist Thuli Ndlovu by two ANC councillors is a case in point (Pillay 2016). But resorting to informal repression is itself an indication that more violent sections of the political elite recognise that they cannot engage in open repression. The conviction of Ndlovu’s killers makes it less likely that political assassinations will escalate into unstated state policy, although as the country heads up to possibly its most fractious local government elections yet, it would be naïve to ignore that the risks are there.

Conclusion: implications for universities

The current government’s ability to offer meaningful concessions is limited, but so too is its ability to repress easily. This means that the South African political landscape bears all the hallmarks of having entered an organic crisis. Crises of this nature are not necessarily negative; they can allow fundamental societal contradictions to surface in ways that force society to confront them, grow from them, and move forward. In spite of fact that the current political moment seems so dark, the fact needs to be recognised that the political space is wide open, and is actually pregnant with great promise. Does the state have the capacity to repress on a broader scale? It appears not. There are unlikely to be more Marikanas in the sense of an organised, armed assault on protestors, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that state violence could occur as an unplanned reaction to particular events. While there are clear and well-acknowledged legal limits on its ability to use violence, the political limits, and more specifically the limits imposed by popular agency, are less well-acknowledged (Cox 2013). This is because repression is often studied as a static structural factor constraining movement activities, but not as a factor that is changed dynamically through interactions between state structures and popular agency. Arguably, the social and political conditions that would allow the state to use ongoing (as opposed to sporadic) violence, do not exist in this current conjuncture, as the balance of power is shifting gradually towards popular movements outside the hegemonic bloc. No matter how powerful the men and women with guns seem, there are important signs that they are actually quite vulnerable, and the shifting modes of repression point to that. While overstatements about the power of the coercive capacities of the state are understandable in the wake of Marikana, they are not helpful, as they can lead to fear, and even political paralysis. What Cox (2013) has referred to as ‘repression horror’, can lead to movements seeing the state as omniscient and omnipotent, even when this is, in fact, not the case.

But this does not mean that democratic movements must become complacent. Appropriate activist strategies to counter repression and win back democratic space are likely to be both timely and effective. On the other hand, ill-considered, misdirected ones, may be ineffective. In this regard, campaigns that focus on the accountability and transparency of the intelligence services are particularly important, as are campaigns to defend the right to protest from administrative censorship (and not just police violence). In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, civil society and social movements are waging a global fightback against unaccountable mass surveillance, and already, they have won significant victories. For instance, the Barack Obama administration in the US has been forced to roll back some of its most pernicious mass surveillance programmes (Jacobs and Roberts 2015). But in South Africa, the most effective method of limiting state violence in all its forms, is for movements to intensify popular organisation and action, and deepen the political shifts that are already underway.

These strategies are relevant for all movements seeking to bring about a just and transformed society, and exercise their right to protest to do so, including the emerging student movement. Universities are autonomous institutions. They are not part of the state; but neither are they private entities, either, as they perform a public function. The university’s autonomy presents the student movement with a paradox. This autonomy is necessary for them to enjoy academic freedom; without it, they could become the mouthpieces of ruling elites, where spaces for critical enquiry are snuffed out. Yet, by virtue of their special status, they are not subject to the electoral pressures from below experienced by those in government, and indirectly, the state. This means that universities can become detached from the realities of the societies in which they operate. While they do not enjoy the same monopoly on violence that the state does – and when threatened with violence, they need to call on the state’s monopoly to protect themselves – universities can deploy wide-ranging security measures without necessarily being held to account in the ways that government is. Universities should not use institutional autonomy as an excuse to use excessive security powers, as doing so would constitute abuses of this autonomy.

Several violent incidents have taken place on South African campuses this year, including the petrol bombing of university facilities on several campuses. The perpetrators have not been identified and brought to book. Yet, rather than dealing with these incidents as individual acts as criminality, several universities have limited protest rights in a sweeping, overbroad manner, including through wide-ranging interdicts. In doing so, they have implied that the violent incidents are, actually, assembly offences which feeds into prevailing media discourses and moral panics about ‘the violent protesting mob’: moral panics that exist in spite of the available evidence pointing to the majority of protests remaining peaceful. Private security guards have been deployed on many campuses, even when they were peaceful and no protests were taking place, suggesting that a national decision had been taken to deploy them, irrespective of the actual threat levels on the ground (Evans 2016). Surveillance measures are being implemented with no account being taken of the chilling effect they have on academic freedom. In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, and the more recent Edward Snowden revelations, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) argued that privacy of electronic communications on campus was a condition for academic freedom, as academic communications can be very sensitive (AAUP 2013). For a university to claim the right to intercept communications anytime, anywhere, anyhow, undermines these principles, and make collegiality more difficult as it communicates the message that university authorities are operating with a presumption of wrongdoing. These measures risk poisoning the academic environment, and will most likely harden attitudes in ways that can only hasten the downward spiral of conflict.

What is so unfortunate about this downward spiral is that it echoes well-recognised, even theorised, protest cycles. It could be assumed that as places of learning, including about protests, these developments would be recognised and the downward spiral arrested. But it would appear that the necessary lessons of history are not being learned. According to Della Porta and Diani, protest repertoires change in interaction with the authorities in a series of reciprocal adjustments. Depending on the authorities’ responses, some protestors may be pushed towards radicalisation, where more extreme, even violent actions are engaged in, or institutionalisation, where activists become sucked into official decision-making structures (Della Porta and Diani 1999: 189). They argue that political violence by protestors is rarely ever adopted overnight or consciously; rather, in the early stages of the protest cycle, such violence is generally unplanned, small in scale, limited in scope, and often occurs as a spontaneous reaction to an escalation of force by the police (Della Porta and Diani 1999: 190). Many protestors are frightened off by the escalating violence, but small groups of protestors – whose attitudes have been hardened by official recalcitrance – begin to specialise in more organised acts of violence. According to Della Porta and Diani, ‘During this process small groups begin to specialise in increasingly extreme tactics, build up an armory for such actions, and occasionally go underground. The very presence of these groups accelerates the exodus of moderates from the movement, contributing to a demobilisation which only the most violent groups escape (at least temporarily)’ (Della Porta and Diani 1999: 190).

To the extent that this cycle is now manifesting itself on several campuses around South Africa (and the hard facts that it is still need to be established), then the official narrative of ‘last year, the student movement was noble, but this year it has lost its legitimacy and descended into violence’ (Habib and Mabizela 2016), rings hollow. This argument fails to take into account how official overreaction to last year’s largely peaceful protests may well have created the ground for this year’s events. University actors must do more to break with this self-fulfilling prophecy. Universities need to have the clarity of vision to recognise that more security cannot be the only response to this downward spiral: a lesson that more historically-aware elements in the state are beginning to learn. It is the easier route for universities to say and do ‘security’ in response to growing campus unrest, but it is also the more simplistic route. In fact, it would be ironic if universities are among the last public institutions to learn these important lessons, and an indictment on their role in society.


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September 20, 2016

black-consciousness

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hairy

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September 15, 2016

The Hymns of Furious Souls

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