The Communist University is primarily a political education initiative, tied firmly to its schedule of weekly Freirean “contact” sessions. The Internet side grew out of efforts to service the contacts of the original CU when it started meeting in the then Hypercube Resource Centre on the 7th Floor of COSATU House, in June 2003. Without the imperative of service to political education there would be no motivation or organising principle, and hence no CU blog, web site or Google group.
Please therefore read the following, comrades. It lays out our general line of march for the year.
The 2008 CU programme is going to have four component parts to it. Following the usual opening session that reflects on political education as such (on 29 January 2008), we go into a series inspired by SACP GS Cde Blade Nzimande’s “Red Alert” from Umsebenzi Online of 7th November 2007 (the Anniversary of the “October” 1917 revolution in Russia). Provisionally called “Can we do without a Communist Party?”, our set will problematise state and revolutionary centralism in contrast to the theory and practice of Dual Power, and of economism (also called workerism) versus the vanguard party.
These problems expressed themselves with extraordinary clarity in the polemic of Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg in the period 1900 to 1906, so we will use these brilliant writings as our test-bed, the better to be able to articulate and to comprehend the similar dynamics of our own time and place.
In each year of the CU’s annual programmes we have attempted to tackle Karl Marx’s “Capital, Volume 1”. (The picture is of Karl Marx, nicknamed “The Moor” - the black - as a young man.) In 2003, for example, we discussed the first seven chapters of the book. “Capital” presents a problem of length, and detailed, intricate, concrete argument. This is our second component.
This year, we are going to tackle the entire work, but “running in the background”, as they say with computer programmes. That is why it is called a “Ghost Programme”, referring to the famous “spectre of communism”. We will take some of the chapters into the formal schedule (e.g. Chapters 7-11 on Production of Absolute Surplus Value) but long before that, and continuing afterwards, we will steadily issue out the material for people to study. The total number of prepared texts, beginning with some of the precursors of “Capital”, and ending with the last chapter (33) of Capital itself, is 24, and the whole ensemble is now available for anyone who needs a worked-out study-plan for Capital, Volume 1.
Capital Volume 1 is the benchmark of our studies in many ways. Especially now, more than ever, South Africa needs cadres who are firmly grounded, which they will not be if Capital Volume 1 is a mystery to them. The CU challenges anybody to show us where there is any block or impossible place in our new study plan for Capital. Click here for the full “Ghost” Programme – Spectre of Capital Volume 1. Each text can be downloaded as an MS-Word file formatted ready for printing in our usual popular booklet style. Please take advantage, and form you own study circles of two or more. This is a work that needs discussion.
The third component of the 2008 CU programme is provided by the fortnightly SACP e-mail publication, Umsebenzi Online. Space has been left in the programme so that we can use Umsebenzi Online as a basis for discussion the current situation at any stage. At the same time, the CU subscribers, in a long project that still continues, are being added to the Umsebenzi Online distribution list. Please assist the growth of this list, comrades. Umsebenzi Online is published approximately 22 times per year and we have allowed sufficient space to be able to discuss a majority of these in our “contact” sessions.
The fourth component of the 2008 CU programme is a set called “Revolutionary Pluralism”. This is a deliberate return to the question of Dual Power in the run-up to the scheduled COSATU-sponsored “conference of the left” in September 2008. It is still work in progress but we do not expect to have too much difficulty gathering material about Dual Power in places like Bolivia and Venezuela. What we are looking for is a tactical way through the revolutionary maze, avoiding both reaction, and self-destruction.
We will also continue to take contemporary lessons from the press and other sources; for example, the pathetic situation in Kenya. That country once had a fine political tradition of party (Kiswahili: “chama”) building. But now there are only electoral parties looking for “state power” in the bourgeois democracy. When that state democracy failed, because it was stolen by Mwai Kibaki (aged 76, and there’s no fool like an old fool) in a shameful manner (see the link below), there was no structure among the masses to hold them together, and to articulate their way forward. The result is mayhem. We need party-building, and mass structures, and political education, and frankly, we urgently need to export these revolutionary ways and means of Dual Power from South Africa to our comrades in other parts of Africa.
Click on this link:
I acted under a pressure - Kivuitu, Isaac Ongiri, The Standard (639 words)
The Spectre of Marx’s Capital, Volume 1