||Wolpe Lectures & Reviews 2009
|Crisis of the Capitalist System: Where Do We Go From Here Immanuel Wallerstein 5 November
Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict What we can learn from Gandhi
Norman Finkelstein 20 August 2009
A Pan-African Harold Wolpe Lecture Tunde Adegbola & Durban Sings 16 July
Economic crisis and prospects for social revolution
Alex Callinicos 18 June
Poverty & xenophobia: State failures, social challenges Bishop Paul Verryn 21 May
William Gumede on the Democracy Gap,30 April
Wolpe Lecture: Civil Society Internationalism, 22 January
Crisis of the Capitalist System: Where Do We Go From Here?”
Immanuel Wallerstein 5 November 2009
In 1982, I published a book, jointly with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, and Andre Gunder Frank, entitled Dynamics of Global
Crisis. This was not its original title. We had proposed the title, Crisis, What Crisis? The U.S. publisher did not like that title, but we used it in the French translation. The book consisted of a joint introduction and conclusion and a separate essay by each of us on the topic.
Full text in PDF format
Immanuel Wallerstein interviewed by Jae-Jung Suh
The financial crisis sweeping the world has led many to reconsider the
neoliberal premises of the U.S. government. Jae-Jung Suh sits down with
sociologist and world systems theorist Immanuel Wallerstein to consider
the paradigm shift in global thinking on economic policy and the future
Crisis? What Crisis?
Suh: These days, everybody is talking about a crisis. But everyone has a
different definition of crisis. Some talk about a financial crisis,
others about a more general economic crisis, including production. Still
others talk about a crisis of neoliberalism, a crisis of American
hegemony, and, of course, some talk about a crisis of capitalism. I
would like to start by asking how you define the current crisis.
Wallerstein: First, I think the word crisis is used very loosely. As
most people use it, it simply means a situation in which some curve is
going down that had been going up. And they call that a crisis. I don’t
use the term that way. But, in fact, I think we are in a crisis and a
crisis is a very rare thing.
We have to separate a number of elements here. If you take the world
since 1945, we had a situation for about 25 years in which the United
States was the unquestioned hegemonic power in the world system and it
was also true that it was a period of enormous economic expansion. It
was, in fact, the single biggest economic expansion in the history of
the world economy. The French like to call it the “Thirty Glorious Years.”
Both came to an end roughly at about the same time, circa 1970, although
it’s very hard to date these things. I think U.S. hegemony has been in
decline ever since that time. I analyze these things in terms of what
are called Kondratieff (Kondratiev) phases, and we entered a Kondratieff
B phase at about that time. The world economy has been in relative
stagnation for 30 years. Typical characteristics of a stagnation include
the fact that what were largely monopolized industries that have earned
enormous profits no longer do so because others have entered the markets
efficiently at that point, and so the profit levels of the most
profitable industries basically collapse.
There are two things that can be done about that. One is to move the
industries to areas of historically lower wages. Why you don’t do that
earlier is that doing so involves a loss -- a loss in transaction costs.
I have this crisis of profits. Korea develops as so many other countries
develop. They take up the less profitable industries and become the
locus of them.
The second thing that happens when you have a Kondratieff B phase is
that people who want to make a lot of money shift to the financial
sphere; basically, speculation through debt mechanisms of various kinds.
I see this from the point of view of the powerful economic players circa
the 1970s, the United States, Western Europe and Japan. I call it
exporting unemployment. Since there is a relative amount of unemployment
in the world system as a result of the decline of industrial production,
the question is: Who is going to suffer? So each tries to export the
unemployment to the other. And my analysis is that in the 1970s Europe
did well, and in the 1980s Japan did well, and in the beginning of the
1990s the United States did well. Basically, by various mechanisms -- I
don’t want to go into the details of the analysis of how they did it --
but financial speculation always leads to a bust. It’s been doing that
for 500 years, why should it stop now? It comes at the end of a
Kondratieff B phase. Here we are. So what the people are calling a
financial crisis is simply the bust. This recent business of Bernard
Madoff and his incredible Ponzi scheme is just the most perfect example
of the impossibility of continuing to make profits off financial
speculation. At some point, it goes. If you want to call it a financial
crisis, be my guest. That’s not important.
Suh: What is particularly interesting about the current phase of the
Kondratieff cycle, to use your preferred term, is that the world economy
is reaching the bottom of the cycle just as U.S. hegemony is being
questioned more seriously than before. It has been declining for some
time, perhaps for about 30 years since its defeat in Vietnam. Various
U.S. administrations have tried to reverse the process by various means.
Some tried human rights diplomacy or some version of liberal measures.
Others attempted more realist policies by expanding military capability
or turning to high-tech military power such as “Star Wars.” None were
able to reverse the process, but everyone sought to find the most
efficient way to manage the world with less power. What happened in
recent years is that George W. Bush came along with the neocons who
thought they were going to reverse this by policy of militarism and
unilateralism. But instead of reversing the process and restoring U.S.
hegemony, they accelerated the process of decline.
Financial Crisis/Geopolitical Crisis
Wallerstein: Here we are, about to be 2009, and we are in a multi-polar
situation, which is irreversible from the point of view of the United
States and a very complicated messy one. And we are in a so-called
financial collapse. We are in a depression. I think that all this
pussy-footing about language is nonsense. We are in a depression. There
will be serious deflation. The deflation, conceivably might take the
form of runaway inflation but that’s just another form of deflation, as
far as I’m concerned. We might not come out of that for four or five years.
It takes awhile. Now all of that is what I think of as normal
occurrences within the framework of the capitalist-run system. That’s
how it operates. That’s how it always has operated. There’s nothing new
in the decline of hegemony. There’s nothing new in the Kondratieff B
phase and so forth. That’s normal.
Suh: The long economic stagnation, combined with the decline of
hegemony, may just be part of a normal operation of the historic world
system. But how is the capitalist world economy itself doing? Is it
possible that the whole system is in such deep trouble this time that it
may find it impossible to get out of the current trouble? In other
words, the capitalist world system has had several crises before and
succeeded in getting out of them. The current trouble is a definite
downturn. But is it another turn in the normal cycle? Or is there
anything that makes this time different from previous periods of trouble?
Wallerstein: That’s the other question, which is crisis. There is a
crisis of the capitalist system, that is to say we have the conjuncture
of normal downturn processes. What I think of as the fundamental crisis
of the system is such that I don’t think the system will be here 20 or
30 years from now. It will have disappeared and been completely replaced
by some other kind of world system. The explanation of that I have given
a number of times in a number of my writings in the last 30 years is
that there are three basic costs of capital which are personnel costs,
input costs and taxation costs. Every capitalist has to pay for these
three things, which have been rising steadily as a percentage of the
price at which you can sell products. They have gotten to a point where
they’re too large and the amount of surplus value that you can obtain
from production has gotten so squeezed that it isn’t worth it to
sensible capitalists. The risks are too great and profits too small.
They are looking for alternatives. Other people are looking for other
alternatives. For this I use a Prigogine kind of analyses where the
system has deviated so far from equilibrium that it cannot be restored
to any kind of equilibrium, even temporarily. Therefore, we are in a
chaotic situation. Therefore, there is a bifurcation. Therefore, there
is a fundamental conflict between which of the two possible alternative
outcomes the system will take, inherently unpredictable but very much
the issue. We can have a system better than capitalism or we can have a
system that is worse than capitalism. The only thing we can’t have is a
capitalist system. Now, I have given you a short version of the whole
Suh: So, even if the world system as a whole has been on the decline,
has been in the B phase, there were also many “dangerous moments,” let’s
say, so as not to use the word “crisis,” in the early 1970s, 1980s and
1990s. And each time there were pundits who forecast the end of the
system or the end of the capitalist world. But each time the world
system found a way out of the difficulties. In the 70s, for example, the
capitalist world economy found a way to survive the oil crisis. It found
a way out of the difficulties of the 80s and 90s also. From a longer
term perspective, the capitalist world economy managed to get out of
more serious troubles like the Great Depression or earlier ones in the
19th century. So what is that makes this time different?
Longue Durée Perspective
Wallerstein: You see, this time is a tricky phrase. You’re assuming a
collapse is a matter of a year or even a decade, whereas a collapse of a
system takes 50, 70, 80 years. That’s the first thing to be said. The
second thing to be said is that all of what you’re pointing at are
exactly the mechanisms by which you exported unemployment. Basically,
the OPEC oil crisis was a mechanism which was very much supported by the
United States. Indeed, one could even argue that it was instigated by
the United States. We have to remember that the two key governments that
pushed for the 1973 oil rise were Saudi Arabia and Iran, then under the
Shah of Iran, the most pro-American government in the whole of OPEC. The
major consequence of that oil rise and price rise, the first one, was in
fact to shift money to the oil-producing countries, which was
immediately placed in U.S. banks. It was harder for Europe and for Japan
to deal with this than it was for the United States. At which point, I
don’t know if you are aware of this, but there were people from the
banks, who in the 70s, went on missions to countries all around the
world and spoke to the finance ministers and said: “Wouldn’t you like to
have a loan, because, after all, you have balance of payment problems
that give you political difficulties and we’re very happy to give you a
loan. And that will solve your balance of payment problems in the
meantime.” Of course, you make some money on the loan. But quite aside
from anything else, you create this indebtedness which bursts because
loans always have to be paid back.
Chronic US Debt
There was the so-called debt crisis, which is often dated at ’82 because
of Mexico. I date it at ’80 because, I think, Poland started it. And if
you analyze the Polish situation, it was a loan problem of the same
kind, and they tried to handle it same way by squeezing the workers who
rebelled and so forth. As a result of that, all of these countries got
into trouble. So we had to find some other loans. The eighties was the
period of the junk bonds. You’re getting this mechanism by which
companies are buying up other companies and creating junk bonds and
making loads of money. Of course, when that explodes, you have to look
for new mechanisms.
The new mechanism is the U.S. government and the U.S. consumer. That is
the ’90s and 2000s. That is to say, we get the U.S. government under
Bush becoming indebted. You get the consumer becoming highly indebted,
which then gives way to a symbiotic relationship with China and a number
of other countries, including Korea, who invest their money in treasury
bonds. That creates this incredible situation where the U.S. is totally
dependent on the loans, but loans have to be repaid at some point. We’re
at that point right now. Countries like China -- of course, not only
China, it’s just the one most talked about, it’s true of Norway, it’s
true of Qatar -- are in this delicate situation where on the one hand
they want to sustain the United States so they continue to buy their
products and on the other hand the money that they’ve invested is losing
value all the time because it’s in dollars. And the dollar is going
down. So, it’s two curves that cross. You’ve got to lose more one way or
US combined deficits, 1960s to present
Basically, they’re moving slowly out of the dollar and the dollar is
collapsing. And that adds more to the collapse of U.S. hegemony because
the last two pillars of U.S. hegemony in the first decade of the 21st
century have been the dollar, which is now kaput as far as I can tell,
and the military is useless.
It’s useless because you have all this magnificent machinery, 10 times
more than I don’t know who else and so forth: all these planes, all
these bombs and everything that is up to date, but you don‘t have
soldiers. Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere else have proved you’ve
got to send in soldiers. You don’t have soldiers because politically
it’s impossible in the United States. The last time we used actual
American soldiers we got a rebellion called the Vietnam crisis. So, we
don’t use soldiers, we use mercenaries. So you buy the services of the
poor: blacks, Latinos and rural white youth. That’s what makes up the
U.S. Army and Marine Corps. They’re being a little bit overused at the
moment, so even they don’t find it good enough to re-enlist. Then
there’s the National Guard and those are more middle class types. They
never expected to be spending years and years in Iraq, so they don’t
re-enlist. So, we have no soldiers. Basically, the U.S. has no soldiers
it can send anywhere. All the talk about North Korea, all the talk about
Iraq, all the talk about Somalia is nonsense. There are no soldiers and
you can’t just bomb them. It doesn’t work. So, we don’t have armed
power, suddenly everybody realizes this and everybody is saying we’re
not afraid of you because you don’t have any power. You don’t have
military power. You’re spending your money on a big machine, but it
doesn’t work. You can’t win a war with it. Now that people have suddenly
really realized that, the U.S. has nothing to play with.
There it is. It’s got a big financial crisis, the U.S., worst of all, I
suppose. The dollar is just one currency among several and one power
among others. From the U.S. point of view, we are in a bad situation,
which is why we elected Obama. But he’s not going to do any magic. The
most he can do is a little bit of social democracy within the United
States, which is very nice and I’m all for it. It reduces the pain, but
he cannot restore U.S. hegemony in the world and he cannot get us out of
the world depression by some magic policy of his own. He doesn’t have
that power, but nobody else does. There we are. This is why it’s a
chaotic situation that fluctuates wildly. Nobody knows where to put
their money. Literally nobody knows where to put their money. It may go
up and it may go down. It changes almost daily. It is truly a chaotic
situation and it will continue to be that for some time. So, it’s a very
unpleasant situation in terms of an ordinary life. A very dangerous one
on the individual level and, I suppose, on a collective level. I have a
friend who said despite Mumbai, he is going off to India on this trip. I
said, “OK.” It is dangerous, every place is dangerous now. What is a
non-dangerous place? It used to be that those nice hotels were the
Suh: Now, they’re the targets.
Wallerstein: They’re the targets. There’s no way. I mean, so-called
terrorists have all the advantage when they can pick the place. There’s
no way to defend everything. There’s just no way. You can choose a
limited number of places and put up enormous concrete barriers. That’s
what the U.S. has done in Baghdad with the green zone. So, you can be
relatively safe, but it’s not perfectly safe. People do manage to get
even in there. It’s just one unit, if you’re outside that unit then. . .
Suh: What’s different about this time, you suggest, is that we are
entering not only a particularly turbulent Kondratieff B phase but we
have also entered the terminal crisis of the world economy. If we have
been in this terminal stage for some time, what does the current
economic crisis do? What does it mean?
A Terminal Crisis of Capitalism?
Wallerstein: It means that the normal mechanisms of getting out of it
won’t work any longer. We’ve had this kind of depression before; one in
’29. We’ve had many such depressions: 1873-96 was our Kondratieff B
phase, 1873-96 was like this period. There have been many over the last
four, five hundred years. The way you get out of it, there are standard
modes of getting out of it. The modes of getting out of it aren’t
working this time because it’s too hard. The standard modes of getting
out of it; one of them is you create a new, productive leading industry,
which you monopolize and get high profits and protect it very well, and
so forth. You do a little bit of redistribution so that there are
markets for these things. So, we’ve gotten out of it before, but it’s
not going to be so easy this time. That is to say, there may be an
upturn. It’s not impossible that there will be a relative upturn five
years from now. It accentuates the problem because the upturn itself is
raising the three basic curves, making them higher and higher and
higher. There was an analysis done in the physical sciences a long time
ago, which showed if a curve moves up towards an asymptote and gets to
about 70, 80 percent of the way, at that point what happens is it begins
to shake enormously. That’s the analogy. We’re at the 70, 80 percent
point on these three essential curves and it is shaking enormously.
There are great fluctuations and is very unstable; that is why we talk
about being chaotic. But it can’t move up another 10 percent because
it’s just too near. We haven’t had that problem before because when the
curve was way down here at 20 percent, it worked very well. And you go
from 30 to 40 percent, it worked very well. When you get all the way up
there, there’s nowhere to go. That’s what the concept of asymptote is. I
want to analyze this in terms of percentages of possible sales prices.
The whole point is you can’t just expand the amount of money which you
demand indefinitely for selling because people don’t want to buy at a
certain point, because it’s just too much. And they don‘t.
Does the Obama Administration Offer an Alternative?
Suh: How would you then characterize the Obama administration? It is at
least conceivable, theoretically, that he would try to address the three
problems that you argue are at the core of the current crisis of the
capitalist system: the rising wage cost, the rising input cost and
taxation. One of the main reasons for high wage costs in the U.S. is the
incredibly expensive health care cost, which significantly increased
over the past few decades as the health care industry rode the high tide
of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has reached a point where the
unrestrained market is starting to hurt the economy. So Obama is trying
to bring in some kind of universal health care, which can potentially
contribute to reducing wage costs overall. Also, his ambitious domestic
expenditure programs can be seen as an effort to rein in the rising
input cost by investing in infrastructure and new technologies. A
state-led drive to invest in “green technologies” may be designed not
only to reduce environmental externalities that add to the rising input
cost, but also to create a new industry that generates a higher profit
rate at a lower input cost. The problem of taxation will be evaded by
deficit spending. So Obama seems to be trying not only to cure the
excesses of neoliberalism but also to address the deeper problems of the
world capitalist economy. The question is how successful he can be in
accomplishing these goals.
Wallerstein: I don’t think he can attack any of those because I don’t
think he has much power on the world scene. It isn’t that the U.S. is a
non-entity, but it’s in a situation in which there are eight or ten foci
of power and the U.S. options are limited. Look at the meeting of the
Rio Group in Brazil. Here we have the first meeting in 200 years, 200
years, of all the Latin American and Caribbean countries, in which the
U.S., Canada and the European powers were not invited. Every single head
of state came, with two exceptions. Who were the two exceptions?
Columbia and Peru -- two, currently, mostly pro-American countries. But
also, they didn’t boycott it. They sent a number two or number three.
Even Mexico came. Of course, Raul Castro was there, who was the hero of
this meeting. They took very strong positions and the U.S. was
absolutely out in the cold.
Latin American and East Asian Challenges to US Hegemony
Now the U.S. has a plan and there’s another structure called the Summit
of the Americas. And that’s met a couple of times and that gets all the
heads of state of the Western Hemisphere, except for Cuba. They’re
supposed to meet in April in Trinidad and Tobago. I wonder how many
heads of state are actually going to show up.
But what Brazilian President Lula da Silva did was he undercut that
meeting completely by this other meeting. This was absolutely
inconceivable five years ago. Then what’s Obama going to do? He can’t
change that. He can’t change the fact that the European Union hailed his
victory and said in a unanimously passed resolution “we want to renew
our friendship with the United States, but this time not as junior
partners.” The picture is very clear. It’s very clear.
Just a couple days ago you had a China, Japan, South Korea meeting
asserting what I’ve been arguing for sometime would come, which is a
kind of political collaboration of some kind among these three countries
-- none of which the U.S. wants and none of which Obama can change. He
can bless it. He can talk a much more palatable language to the rest of
the world, but that doesn’t make the U.S. the leader. He’s still
thinking that the U.S. is the leader. He has to be disabused of this
idea. Nobody wants the U.S. as the leader; people want the U.S. as a
possible collaborator on many things that have to be done like climate
change, but not as a leader. I think his hands are tied there in terms
of the world economy. What he can do is what everybody else can do,
which is use the state machinery at home to do social democratic things
to keep from having an uprising nationally.
Everybody is worried about that in the United States, in China, in South
Africa, in Germany. Everybody is worried that they’re going to have
something like what happened recently in Greece -- a spontaneous
uprising of angry people. That’s very hard for governments to deal with.
When people are a little bit angry, which is what is basically happening
now, they get even angrier. All the governments are trying to appease
them. OK, fine. That’s what he can do. He will do things domestically.
He will spend money on building bridges, which gives jobs. He will try
to get a new health program through that will cover people. All good
things, but they’re national things, they’re local things. They’re the
same kind of good things that other leaders are trying to do in their
countries. If he recognizes his limitations, he could be a great
success. If he doesn’t recognize his limitations, he could be dragged
I just wrote a piece on Pakistan; I called it “Pakistan: Obama’s
Nightmare.” There ain’t nothing he can do about Pakistan. We’ve done
enough damage already and if he tries to do any more... but he’s been
very reckless. Part of his business of getting elected is to show “I’m a
tough guy, too.” So he made statements about Afghanistan, which he can’t
carry through on. He made statements about Pakistan he can’t carry
through on. He made statements on Israel-Palestine he can’t carry
through on. He should stop making statements. He should start, how shall
I say, lowering the rhetoric. There’ll be all sorts of people who tell
him that’s not what he should do, but I’m telling him that is what he
Suh: We are now witnessing a very different world. The dollar, which has
served as the world’s currency since the Bretton Woods system and
survived the 1970s crisis, is significantly weak. It is facing the
challenges of other currencies, particularly the Euro and the Japanese
yen, that are vying to become the next global currency. The financial
crisis fundamentally shook faith in the dollar, and some even suggest
that it has already collapsed as the world currency. On the other hand,
the U.S. maintains unchallenged military power and spends a
disproportionate amount on keeping up its military dominance. Washington
spends on its military as much as the rest of the world combined. And
yet, U.S. military power, however technically sophisticated it may be,
has proven to be rather ineffective, even useless, in theaters like Iraq
and Afghanistan. All in all, the two main pillars of U.S. hegemony have
been shaken to the core. How do these changes affect the geopolitical
Wallerstein: Ah, well, yes. That’s a reasonable question. As I see it
now, there are maybe eight or ten foci of geopolitical power in the
world. And that’s too many. All of them will start trying to make deals
with each other and see what kind of arrangements are optimal because
with 10, none of them have enough power. So, we’re in for a juggling
period. People will try out possibilities and see what they can do. For
example, I see the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as one possible
combination, but Russia is not sure how it feels about it, India is not
sure how it feels about it, and maybe even China is not sure how it
feels about it. OK, maybe Russia and China both are playing footsie with
Brazil and Latin America to see if they can arrange things. The United
States can play that game too. We are in a period of, how shall I say,
without clarity. I have long argued that the likely combination, I
argued this as early as the article I wrote in 1980, is an East Asian
combo with the United States, Europe with Russia, with India not sure
where it wants to go.
Suh: One of the cleavages you talked about in your writing is the divide
between the Davos Forum and the World Social Forum. Of course, these are
not cleavages in geographical terms.
Wallerstein: That’s right. It’s a political cleavage.
Suh: Political cleavages and cleavages in terms of differing political
Davos and Porto Alegre: the shape of the future?
Wallerstein: This has to do with the real crisis. If, as I say, we’re in
a period of bifurcation, which means two possible solutions, then Davos
represents one possible solution and Porto Alegre the other possible
solution, with total uncertainty as to who will win out, but obviously,
very different visions. The important thing, which I insist on, is that
the people in Davos not try to restore capitalism. They’re trying to
find an alternative, that is, how shall I say, which maintains the
principles, the inequality, hierarchy, and so forth. We can have another
system other than capitalism that does that. The Porto Alegre thrust is
for a relatively democratic, relatively egalitarian system. Neither side
has a clear image in its own mind what kind of structure this would
require. Neither side is totally unified. That is to say, I see the
Davos camp split between those who have a slightly longer range vision
and those who are only worried about the next three years, and they go
in different directions. Porto Alegre is totally unsure of what kind of
system this other world that they’re talking about would be. And they
are particularly unsure of what kind of strategy they would use to get
there. Basically, the next five or 10 years, there’s something going on
in the camp of Davos; I call it “the spirit of Davos,” although I don’t
mean literally “Davos.” There’s something going on in the camp of “the
spirit of Porto Alegre.” At this point I don’t know how it’s going to
come out. That is, who is going to have the clearer strategy and what it
is, and so forth. So in that sense, we’re in a period of great
uncertainty as to what will happen. And that may determine, if one side
or the other has a better strategy or clear vision that may win out.
Suh: You’ve suggested that we’re in the terminal stages of the world
capitalist economy. Then, those who talk about how to save the current
financial crisis or how to institute an oversight mechanism for
financial transactions across the border are, in a way, trying to hold
on to a system that’s dying out. They are trying to lengthen the life of
the dying system with some kind of life support. Their debate is about
what the best life support system is, for example whether a bailout of
$5 billion or $10 billion is more efficient. But the real competition is
about a new historical world system that will eventually replace the
current world capitalist economy. Here you have two camps envisioning
different worlds, competing to articulate their visions, and struggling
to chart new possibilities. One of them wants to create a world system
that would more or less replicate the current uneven distribution of
power and production in a different way. This world could be based on a
developmental role and regulative function of the state and an oversight
management role of international institutions that will help to more
effectively address the systemic problems of today’s world. The other
camp, however, envisions a different world that is more democratic and
egalitarian. This is a collection of divergent ideas and visions, but
there seems to be a growing convergence on the importance of empowering
the local in a way that frees it from the commodification of life. There
are many experiments that seek to find a way to free the people and
nature from the chains of commodification, and yet free them from the
tyranny of parochialism by networking local communities in a mutually
reinforcing and mutually nourishing way.
Wallerstein: Well, you know, that’s what people are debating. They’re
debating very much what an egalitarian world means. For example, one of
the things that is under much debate in the world left for the last 200
years has been Jacobinism. Therefore, it has been basically not only for
a state oriented policy but for a homogenizing outcome, like everybody
should be the same. We should transfor
Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict What we can learn from Gandhi
Norman Finkelstein 20 August 2009
The Harold Wolpe Lecture The UKZN Centre for Civil Society presents Prof Norman Finkelstein
Date:Thursday, 20 August, 5-7pm
Venue: Shepstone 1, (Howard College )
Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is currently an independent scholar, following an attack by Zionists which cost his job at DePaul University in Chicago. Finkelstein is the author of five books which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history; The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering; Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict; A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen thesis and historical truth (with Ruth Bettina Birn); The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A personal account of the intifada years. He has just completed a new book entitled A Farewell to Israel: The coming break-up of American Zionism, to be published in 2009.
All welcome! CCS contacts for transport:
Helen Poonen or Lungi Keswa - 260 3195,
Finkelstein visit highlights scholar-activists and protest power
Patrick Bond Muslim Views, August 2009
Norman Finkelstein is one of the world’s most celebrated scholars of the
Middle East conflict, and his national speaking tour over the next two
weeks will interest many who might consider academic scholarship in such
situations only half-baked until tested in the fires of harsh social
One site of struggle is the university. No armchair academic,
Finkelstein has been actively seeking to unmask propagandistic analysis
by academics serving the status quo, particularly Israel’s oppression of
Palestinians, deemed worse than apartheid by expert witnesses.
But for Finkelstein this was a costly career move, for after his
Princeton University PhD in political science and a brilliant period
based at Chicago’s De Paul University, he was in effect fired from
DePaul in 2007, refused tenure (permanent job security) thanks to
immense pressure brought to bear by Zionists.
Leading the attack was Harvard Law School’s Alan Dershowitz, perhaps the
highest profile US legal academic. Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah
ripped holes in Dershowitz’s analysis, The Case for Israel, unveiling
not only his errors of content but also blatant plagiarism.
In response, Dershowitz went for Finkelstein’s jugular, and hence it is
fair to conclude that his DePaul firing was based not on scholarly merit
(his department and the tenure committee endorsed him overwhelmingly),
but instead on politics, justified by the allegation that his style as
an academic was combatitive. Which it was, appropriately so.
The US, after all, is a zone for name-calling as a distraction from
sorting out the more durable Middle Eastern power plays. In April, the
same Dershowitz pronounced that Archbishop Desmond Tutu – back from
leading a UN factfinding mission in Gaza – “is a bigot and a racist…
blind, deaf and dumb when it comes to issues of Israel.”
In an interview with playwright Wajahat Ali, Finkelstein explained how
Zionist propagandists seek “to delegitimize all criticism of Israel as
motivated by anti-Semitism and to turn the perpetrators into the
victims. It seems to have less effect in recent years due to overuse:
once you start calling Jimmy Carter an anti-Semite, people really begin
Finkelstein’s visit to South Africa is hosted by a variety of leading
academic and Palestinian-rights organizations unfazed by earlier
attempts by the Zionist Federation along similar lines. So at least in
Joburg, Durban and Cape Town before August 22, you will find a place to
engage with this remarkable son of two Holocaust survivors who has put
conscience ahead of blind religious loyalty: the Afro-Middle East
Centre, the Univ of Joburg Centre for Study of Democracy, the Wits
School of Social Sciences, the UKZN Centre for Civil Society and School
of Politics, the Durban Univ of Technology Journalism, Durban’s Diakonia
faith centre, the UCT History and Current Affairs Society, and
Stellenbosch Univ and UWC, along with Not in Our Name (progressive
Jewish activists) and the Palestine Solidarity Group.
Finkelstein is not the only courageous US academic targeted by extremist
Zionists intent on denying freedom of intellectual expression when it
comes to Israel.
Professor Joel Kovel, who was a visiting scholar at our UKZN Centre for
Civil Society in 2006, suffered similar treatment – being fired
notwithstanding world-leading contributions to both environmental and
Middle East scholarship - from what was once a bastion of free speech
and academic enquiry, Bard College in New York.
Though money was cited as a reason in a pathetic letter written to me by
Bard official Dimitri Papadimitriou, Kovel’s dismissal followed
publication of his book Overcoming Zionism.
And in another high-profile case, Professor William Robinson from the
University of California at Santa Barbara was attacked when he
circulated material to his students underscoring a comparison made by
Princeton Professor Richard Falk – a UN special rapporteur on Palestine
– that related the Israeli incursion into Gaza to the Nazi’s early
Warsaw siege. Robinson’s colleagues are fighting back on his behalf and
seem to be winning.
In South Africa, academic silencing and self-censorship is not unheard
of, and at UKZN we suffered the banning of Dr Ashwin Desai from
employment at our centre in 2006 and again last year, the forced
resignation of Professor Nithaya Chetty. But this is not yet due to Zionism.
Testing our freedom to criticize Israel, scholars in the law, religious
and education faculties at my university and Univ of Johannesburg are
making important statements against the Gaza massacre that we should all
echo. Along with former Wits Law professor John Dugard (subsequently a
UN special rapporteur on Palestine) and UKZN law prof Max du Plessis,
Farid Esack and Salim Vally of UJ asked the National Directorate of
Public Prosecutions to investigate war crimes committed by South
African-born David Benjamin.
Benjamin, trained in law at UCT, is employed by the Israeli Army’s
Military Advocates Corps, hence making him not just party to but an
active enabler of war crimes, especially white phosphorous bombs that in
January were dropped upon Gaza civilians (illegal under the Geneva
Convention). Benjamin recently bragged to Bloomberg News that “the
Military Advocates Corps] were intimately involved in the planning [of
the Gaza massacres]... Approval of targets which can be attacked,
methods of warfare – it all has gone through us.”
Against such men, we need much more combatitiveness by comfortable
academics and the rest of the society, including more work on the
Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions campaign against Israel.
A Pan-African Harold Wolpe Lecture
CCS COMMUNITY & MEDIA ADVISORY:
Launch of the Durban Sings Oral History Project:
A Pan-African Harold Wolpe Lecture with Tunde Adegbola
Where: 6 Fisher Street - Gospel for All Nations Community Hall C/r Point and Fisher Street, South Beach, Durban.
When: July 16 2009, 8.30AM - till late.
FUNDED BY THE ROSA LUXEMBURG FOUNDATION
DURBAN SINGS is a regional audio media and oral history project with a story to tell. Using street recordings and internet audio archiving to create an open platform for contributions and remixes from artists and activists around the world. DURBAN SINGS is a sound network joining hemispheres via audio correspondence between listeners; this is represented on the Centre for Civil Society website: ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?11,62 under community portal link funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in order to facilitate the building of a listening bridge between communities, artists and activist groups in KZN and the rest of the world.
The project is facilitated by Molefi Mafereka Ndlovu, a community research scholar at the CCS and Dr. Claudia Wegener a visiting scholar from the University of the Arts London
Eight editorial collectives of the DURBAN SINGS project are uploading an extensive oral history archive of interviews from Clermont, Folweni, Inanda, Ntuzuma, Marianridge, Mzinyathi, Umlazi and the inner city all networked via their own blog-sites and the switch-board blog at: www.durbansings.wordpress.com
Responses, re-broadcasts and re-mixes have been arriving at the site from near and far, among them eThekwini Libraries’ Indigenous Knowledge Project: Ulwazi (http://wiki.ulwazi.org) and an entire class of ‘Intercultural Communication’ students at the University of Windsor; Canada. The complete work will be celebrated and launched on the 16th July with a one-day public Wolpe Lecture event in the inner city where the Collectives present their work jointly with guest-speaker Tunde Adegbola, media-activist from Nigeria (http://www.alt-i.org ). A publication of DURBAN SINGS in print and audio will be launched later this year.
About Tunde Adegbola
Tunde Adegbola is a research scientist, consulting engineer and cultural activist with wide ranging experience in information and communication media systems. He holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, M.Sc. in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Information Science (with application in Linguistics). Prior to his present position as the Executive Director of African Languages Technology Initiative (Alt-I), he had contributed to the development of Cellular Automata Transform (CAT) as one of the most advanced compression technologies employed on the global information infrastructure today. He has also made notable contributions in the design and installation of various audio and video production and post-production facilities as well as Radio and TV stations in Nigeria.
Some of his most outstanding projects include the design and installation of production and broadcasting facilities for Africa Independent Television (AIT), Channels Television, Mainframe Film and Television Productions studios, Media International Productions studios and Klink Studios, all in Nigeria. He was also the technical consultant to the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) that conceptualised, designed and built West Africa democracy Radio (WADR) as a hub of radio stations in West Africa.
Tunde also teaches as an Associate Lecturer at the Africa Regional Center for Information Science (ARCIS) in the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, teaching postgraduate courses in Artificial Intelligence and Information Networking. His present research interests lie in the area of ICT for development, particularly in developing speech technologies for tone African Languages.
From the vantage point of his involvement in setting up some of the most important production and post-production facilities used in the Nigerian home video production industry over the last twenty years, Tunde has observed and, has from time to time, ventured to make salient commentaries on Nigeria’s fledgling motion picture industry.
An accomplished musician and a keen sportsman, he is married with three children.
Economic crisis and prospects for social revolution
Alex Callinicos 18 June
Poverty & xenophobia: State failures, social challenges
Bishop Paul Verryn 21 May
Poverty & xenophobia: State failures, social challenges
Bishop Paul Verryn
I just had a tour of Bottlebrush to see one of the sites of xenophobia.
And another interesting meeting was at the airport, by coincidence,
where an iXopo methodist minister told me there were recent xenophobic
attacks against the Chinese; they involved Zimbabweans and people from
the DRC as attackers!
So this is an intricate and nuanced problem, not just straightforward
For example, I did not hear of any white being attacked. The attacks
were on blacks.
There are many foreign national whites in SA, like myself, with German,
Spanish, Dutch blood in my veins.
And there are some stinkingly rich foreign national blacks who were not
caught in the crossfire.
So we're dealing with a specific class and race who found themselves at
the short end of the stick.
Central Methodist Mission has been in the news quite a lot, including
the Gauteng MEC saying we were being irresponsible.
That MEC, who was not reappointed, may not have known that SA has signed international conventions.
For example, if a police officer discovers a foreign national on the
street and after questioning that foreign national, finds that that
he/she needs help, the police officer must find help. There are
vulnerable people there who need to be guided to a place of safety.
Now as we come to the year anniversary of xenophobia, we must ask
serious questions. There were 100,000 displaced. There were 61 people
killed. Of those 21 were South African nationals. Charges lodged at the
police station went nowhere.
It raises questions about our judicial system, our SA police services,
our Department of Human Settlements, our Constitution.
Ultimately we need to reverse our fundamental value system around
poverty, especially the intolerance around this nation concerning the poor.
When one looks at this a little deeper, there's a rigorous discussion in
the New Testament. Three people are given varying degrees of talents.
The first person doubles their talents, the second doubles their
talents, but the third buries their talent. The master is furious and
says, take that talent and give it to someone else, and you go to hell,
more or less.
I make this point about talents because if you come to Central
Methodist, we've got accountants, bricklayers, qualified teachers with
masters degrees, carpenters, plumbers, more than 30 people in the
plastics professional, and an entire nation of skills sitting at Central.
In a country that desperately needs skilled people, for example, the
astuteness of the Zimbabwean school teacher, we have these amazing
gifts. And we're busy burying them!
Given these skills, I hope by the end of our talk we don't have a
mindset of the 'problem' of refugees and foreign nationals.
I think some of the main criminals are the employers. Someone comes to
the building and says, 'We need 40 bricklayers. We want 40 who don't
necessarily have papers.'
Then we find they work for a week, then the employers call in the
police, who arrest the workers without papers, and the employers won't
pay them. Or they get foreign nationals - thankful for anything - and
they pay them R50, for a whole week's work.
What happens, as a result, is that South Africans think people are
stealing their jobs at a very low rate.
The labour authorities are becoming involved in this, because foreign
nationals have rights. The employer has created a part of the problem.
Another part of the problem is the politicians. I have never heard any
of our three state presidents since last year, saying, here with these
immigrants, we have a great opportunity to learn of our African roots.
With people from all over Africa, we should be delighted for this
cultural infusion. We should be opening the gates, collapsing colonial
borders, and become a genuine rainbow nation that we boast about but
implement so feebly. Our top politicians need to reframe this, not as a
As for Home Affairs, let me tell you that I feel awkward. I made friends
with some of these people. I have to tell you good things and bad
things. I like Mavuso Msimang (DG of Home Affairs) like my brother. He
is empathetic, passionate, and understands the issues. So is the Deputy
DG. But it is an unmitigated disgrace about what is happening in Home
Crown Mines has queues of 1000; inefficiency breeds a culture of
corruption - give me R300 and I'll take you to the front of a queue.
The Department of Home Affairs needs to hang its head in shame. We pay
money for people to visit Home Affairs to get papers, they go the night
before and sleep outside the gate, but they still don't get the refugee
status, because only the first 30 were served.
Here is my vision. On the borders you have a beautiful room, serving
tea, coffee, a meal. As people come into South Africa, they sense,
'We're welcome!' There is a scrutiny of their gifts and possibilities
and potential, and people open up the doors, and make people feel welcome.
In our country, 95% of our people are religious. You know Islam: if
anyone is in any state of poverty, your immediate responsibility is to
help. Same for Christian and Jewish traditions.
We did not really get rid of apartheid. It is redirected.
The desperation I feel under these circumstances can be illustrated when
I recall a phone call on a radio phone-in show recently threatening even
more violence than last May.
Police sprayed water at 2am on a cold night on our people. We house 3000
people in Central Methodist. There isn't a space to walk. People are
And we have two buildings right next to us: the Carlton Hotel, 23
floors, completely empty; and Innes Chambers, formerly occupied by rich
lawyers and advocates, also empty.
This shows, the major issue of justice is the rich and poor.
Home Affairs just closed a camp in Acacia, and removed all the tents and
burned what was left. Two weeks ago, Medicins sans Frontier took me to
an old warehouse where 110 people from the xenophobic attacks are there.
I have seldom seen squalor like this. The New South Africa.
I want to warn you, that xenophobia is alive and well. We need rigorous
movement building to turn this in another direction.
William Gumede on the Democracy Gap,30 April
William Gumede on the Democracy Gap,30 April, 5-7pm
Topic for debate: 'South Africa's democracy gap'
Speaker: William Gumede
Date: Thursday, 30 April 2008 (from earlier postponed date, 26/3)
Venue: Howard College Theatre, UKZN Howard College Campus
William Gumede – author of an acclaimed critique of Thabo Mbeki’s rule -
is Honorary Associate Professor at the Wits Graduate School of Public
and Development Management; and Senior Associate and Program Director at the Africa Asia Centre of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His forthcoming book is The Democracy Gap.
(The Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation are
thanked for their support for the lecture series.)
The power of the poor
William Gumede 28 April 2009
Jacob Zuma and the ANC ran a brilliant campaign that successfully framed
the 2009 election as a face-off between well-off blacks and whites on
the one hand and the poor black majority on the other -- rather than on
an examination of the government's record in power.
Zuma was voted in by the majority of poor black South Africans, for whom
little has changed since 1994. To win elections in South Africa the
support of the black poor and working class in townships, rural areas
and informal settlements, more than 60% of the population, is crucial.
Zuma successfully portrayed himself as poor, identifying his personal
marginalisation by former president Thabo Mbeki with the marginalisation
of the poverty-stricken masses. He successfully distanced himself from
the failures of the ANC government in the minds of poor voters, blaming
them on Mbeki.
Throughout the election campaign, his strategists portrayed his camp,
which now dominates the ANC, as an almost different party. They
projected Zuma and the new leadership as more pro-poor and democratic --
and paradoxically less corrupt -- suggesting they will offer effective
Zuma tapped into a dramatic change in the mood of South Africa's poor
black majority. Forgotten by the elite, they have run out of patience
and are now demanding the economic dividends of democratic rule.
Some poorer South Africans blame democracy itself for their
marginalisation, rather than government incompetence, leadership
indifference and public corruption. For many, the 16 formidable charges
Zuma sidestepped were manufactured by Mbeki and rich blacks and whites
who oppose a poor peasant from Inkandla in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Zuma successfully portrayed the abuse of democratic institutions by the
Mbeki administration -- of which he was a member until 2005 -- as an
attempt to exclude a downtrodden peasant and champion of the poor from
the presidency and a manifestation of the marginalisation of the
dispossessed under democracy.
Ominously, such framing creates a climate for political leaders to
batter democratic institutions without risking much opposition from
ordinary citizens. In their campaign against Zuma's corruption charges,
the new ANC leadership closed down the Scorpions without consulting
Parliament, which should have decided the issue, while repeatedly
attacking critical media and judges who ruled against him.
Last week Zuma said the country's highest court, the Constitutional
Court, is not God. His supporters have launched a drive to purge Zuma
critics in the ANC, government and state-owned companies. These are
labelled as coping -- serving the Congress of the People.
He and some of his supporters also subtly played the ethnic card,
encouraging Zulu-speakers to support him and claiming that Afrikaners
are the only real white South Africans. Such statements can only
heighten ethnic divisions.
He has made many promises of policy and institutional reform, while
providing little detail, no delivery timetable and no information on
what programmes will cost. Cosatu, his ally, has failed to peg its
support for him on delivery targets and clear time frames.
South Africa is about to face the full brunt of the global financial
crisis, with rising job losses across the economy. Yet neither the ANC
nor the opposition parties have proposed clear remedies with time frames.
Cope was unable to counter the ANC's message that it forms part of a
rich black and white cabal which opposes the interests of the poor. It
and the DA focused their campaigns on Zuma's compromised morals and
attacks on democratic institutions.
This may have resonated in the black and white middle classes, but it
fell on stony ground among those living in shacks, without jobs or food,
who cling to Zuma's promises of free healthcare, education and social
One thing is clear: the glue that binds the different factions within
the ANC family is not consensus over policies, the direction of the
country or ideology, but getting Zuma elected president.
To capture the top office, he has assembled a disparate coalition by
promising every group what it wants to hear. Often the pledges are
contradictory and some of his supporters are heading for disappointment.
Dashed expectations and infighting in the coalition over how to address
South Africa's urgent problems under a Zuma presidency may trigger
another split in the ANC.
And he is unlikely to have the honeymoon period enjoyed by past ANC
governments. If he fails to deliver the poor will also turn against him.
His initial response to these pressures is not encouraging. Not yet
formally in power, he has copied many vices of the Mbeki era from which
he has distanced himself.
To prove his detractors wrong, he must use the best talents of all South
Africans from all race groups, whether they are critical of him, rather
than rewarding incompetent cronies, dodgy financial backers or those
from the same ethnic group.
He must do more than talk about defending the Constitution, and
democratic institutions and values, but reflect such commitments in his
As Zuma assumes the presidency, he would do well to heed the warning of
ANC veteran Mac Maharaj: It is actions that are going to inspire
William Gumede is author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of
Ruined by liberation aristocrats
By Percy Zvomuya 9 March 2009
William Mervyn Gumede, author of the influential biography Thabo Mbeki
and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC, has written a new book, The
Democracy Gap: Africa's Wasted Years, due out in May. The book examines
the failures in government of African independence and liberation
movements and why the tiny republics of Mauritius and Botswana have
fared better than the rest of the continent.
The Mail & Guardian questioned him this week about his new work.
Q Why have countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Guinea Bissau
and Zimbabwe, which fought liberation wars, struggled as democracies?
Zanu-PF, the ANC and MPLA (Angola's ruling party) had military
structures and this influenced their way of operating. They tended to
centralise; there was not much internal democracy. When they came to
power they couldn't break away from this culture, which undermined
internal democratic processes.
In a democracy you have to be inclusive and open.
Q How can South Africa avoid the same trap?
We shouldn't praise individuals -- let's not create gods. Our leaders
should be accountable. That's what many countries got wrong. Politicians
should know that you are only as good as what you did yesterday. What
can you do now? What can you deliver now? We should defend the country's
democratic institutions because, once they are destroyed, it's difficult
to rebuild them. Those institutions should have a life outside of
political parties. Individuals will die, will go away, but those
institutions will remain.
The other thing is the need for internal democracy [in political
parties]. We praise South Africa's Constitution as the world's most
liberal. But it will be an empty document if it doesn't inform the way
our political parties act. If we're going to give taxpayers' money to
political parties, we should demand that they follow the Constitution.
Q Isn't it possible that South Africa might prove to be exceptional in
Every African country thought it was exceptional. Everyone thought their
leaders were exceptional. If you look at the archives of Nigerian papers
at the time they got independence (1960), everyone in Nigeria, in Africa
and indeed the world over thought they were exceptional. No one wanted
to criticise them … The moment we stop criticising, the moment we stop
showing the weaknesses of the state, the country is certain to go down.
Q But most of these countries didn't have South Africa's strong
Yes, but these institutions came under the control of powerful
politicians. When the politicians left, these institutions were razed to
the ground and the institutions didn't work. If we destroy the
institutions it will be difficult to rebuild them. Take the public
protector's office -- if you appoint your cronies or say we won't give
you money because you are criticising us, you destroy the office's
The other problem is when you make exceptions. For instance, we say
Jacob Zuma shouldn't be tried, and yet other people are tried. This will
create lawlessness and the rule of law will collapse. A leader should be
beyond reproach. You can't say I'll defend myself in court -- that's not
being beyond reproach.
Most post-colonial governments inherited lawlessness; there was no rule
of law under colonialism because the law was applied selectively. There
was no reason to obey the law because it didn't benefit black people.
You can't have leaders who don't live within the rule of law. If you do,
the rest of society will say: My leaders are doing this. Why can't I do
this too? Shabir Shaik has just been given medical parole; so should
everybody else who does not feel well. The problem with liberation
movements is they created liberation aristocrats who did what they wanted.
Q So the danger is not past?
This is our tipping-point. From here things will go downhill; no
liberation movement has moved upwards from this point. The [ANC]
coalition is holding because there's an election to be won. Afterwards
the left will have to come to terms with the business and the populist
elements in the coalition; this is a postponed fight. The unions should
have supported policies, not an individual.
Q Didn't the unions identify Zuma as embodying their aspirations?
This is another failure of liberation movements -- putting faith in
individuals. If there are strong policies, individuals don't matter.
It's more important to build institutions that outlast individuals.
Q What are the pointers for a flawed leader?
You can measure the potential for failure by the number of bodyguards a
politician has. The bigger the convoy, the more likely he is to fail, to
be a dictator.
Wolpe Lecture: Civil Society Internationalism, 22 January
Topic: Civil Society Internationalism - from Lindela to Gaza to Washington
Speakers: Giyani Dube, Lubna Nadvi and Kate Griffiths, plus songs by
Date: Thursday, 22 January 2009
Venue: Howard College Theatre, UKZN Howard College Campus
The Lindela detention camp on the West Rand - the topic of Giyani Dube's
book Road to Lindela - is a notorious site, one which attracted 500
protesters in December demanding a shut-down. A decade ago, the Human
Rights Commission found that “employees of the private Dyambu Trust
(which runs Lindela) extort money from detainees under a wide variety of
circumstances, and SA's xenophobic immigration policies contribute to
the brutality regional citizens face. The ANC Women's League is a
co-owner/operator of Lindela. Many suspicious deaths have occurred
there, giving Lindela the reputation of South Africa's Guantanamo Bay
torture camp - a site Barack Obama promised he would quickly shut down
on coming to power as the US president. Obama also once supported the
Palestinian cause, but has been silent on the Israeli massacres in the
Gaza Strip since late December. However, civil society has not been
quiet or civil, with increasingly militant protests attracting millions
of people, including Cape Town where 15 000 marched recently. In Durban
the Israeli ambassador's visit to a theatre festival last week prompted
calls for a cultural, academic and economic boycott, one we need to
consider as a means of intensifying pressure against future massacres,
even if a cease-fire has temporarily halted the aggression. More
generally, the rise of Obama reflects both hope for non-racialism but
also the danger of renewed US neoliberalism and imperialism, in view of
the advisors he's chosen, the giveaways to Wall Street now underway, and
his silence on Gaza. All of these topics are up for analysis and debate
at the Wolpe Lecture panel on 22 January.
Giyani Dube is a Zimbabwean exile active in the National Constitutional
Assembly, Movement for Democratic Change, and Johannesburg Central
Methodist Church Soup Kitchen. In 2007 he became director of the 'Road
to Lindela' Project, and edited the book by the same name. He is
secretary general of the Creative Writers and Arts Workshop in
Johannesburg, and a journalism student at the University of the
Lubna Nadvi teaches Political Science and International Relations in the
School of Politics at UKZN. She is also a community activist and is a
member of the Durban based Peoples Social Movement, Social Movements
Indaba (KZN) and the Education Officer for the Palestine Support
Committee (Durban). Her work in the communities is primarily concerned
with highlighting the plight of low income families, living in council
flats and shack settlements, who are struggling with issues such as
evictions, lights and water cutoffs, shack fires, lack of sanitation,
HIV Aids and Gender based violence. She has also co-ordinated anti-war
rallies and marches and is an active member of the national and
international Anti-war Coalition. She currently serves as the deputy
chairperson of the Advice Desk for the Abused. She is also a frequent
commentator in the print and electronic media on current affairs. She
served as the national Secretary General of the South African
Association of Political Studies from 2001 - 2004, and currently serves
on its Council. She has recently been a recipient of a Human Rights
Award, from the Durban branch of Amnesty International for contributions
to Women's Rights, and was listed in the Mail and Guardian's list of
South African women achievers. As an academic, she researches and
publishes in the area of International Relations, Middle East and
African Politics, Political Islam, HIV Aids, Gender / Feminist Studies
and Social Movements, and recently completed doctoral work in the field
of Political Islam, focusing on South Africa as a case study.
Kate Griffiths, a US citizen, is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at
City University of New York and an alternate member of the National
Committee of Solidarity in New York City. Solidarity is a revolutionary,
socialist, feminist, antiracist organization working toward rebuilding
the independent organization of civil society in the US. Kate is a labor
activist and writer based in Brooklyn, NY.
Timothy Rukombo is a Zimbabwean refugee resident in Durban, and a leader of the Movement for Democratic Change in South Africa. Border Jumper is his first CD.
ROAD TO LINDELA
The Zimbabwean 10 December 2008
A group of Zimbabwean writers based in South Africa set up ‘The creative
writers and arts workshop’ and from it has emerged a book that documents
the truth of the Zimbabwean crisis, Road to Lindela.
Ike Dube, Gift Kavuno and project director Giyani Dube combined their
talents to sketch a background to the Zimbabwean crisis, covering life
in Zimbabwe today, conditions in Zimbabwe's now notoriously filthy and
inhumane prisons, the political situation and the collapse of the
economy. The growing flood of Zimbabweans fleeing the violence and
economic implosion north of the Limpopo has placed significant pressure
on South Africa and the SA Department of Home Affairs has responded in
ways which the authors say violates their rights according to the South
African constitution. The section on the Lindela Detention Centre at
Krugersdorp is sub-titled The place where unwanted people wait and
tells of the brutal conditions under which illegal immigrants from
countries across Africa are detained. Road to Lindela is available in
all good South African bookstores.
|| Tribute to Harold Wolpe plus links to selected seminar programmes