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Wolpe Lectures & Reviews 2011

Rights of Nature and Climate Politics Pablo Salon, 2 December

Community Climate Summit 28 October

Wolpe lecture on South Africa's transition John Saul, 29 September

Will Palestine be free Mustafa Barghouti, 25 August

The second Arab, revolt the United States, and the future of Africa Immanuel Wallestein, 23 June

Film & Discussion: Shack Theatre Florian Kunert and Phillip Hol, 26 May

An Election Debate: “To Vote or Not to Vote 21 April


Wolpe Lecture on Climate Change 19 February

Rights of Nature and Climate Politics”, 2 December

Video: A Wolpe Memorial Lecture by Pablo Solon
Uploaded by TransnationalInst on Jan 21, 2012

Bolivian social activist, analyst and researcher who served as Ambassador to the United Nations from January 2009 to June 2011, Pablo Solon, spoke at the Wolpe Memorial Lecture in Durban.

Filmed by the Transnational Institute

WatchWolpe Memorial Lecture by Pablo Solon (Part 1)

Wolpe Memorial Lecture by Pablo Solon (Part 2: Questions & Answers)

Community Climate Summit 28 October

Durban’s oppressed are seething: from workers to low-income residents to women to environmentalists to youth/students to fisherfolk, peri-urban farmers and informal traders. This Wolpe Lecture gathers the grievances and connects the dots between climate and other socio-economic catastrophes.
Do we protect people and beaches against E.coli floods, reconnect electricity after devastating price hikes, demand renewable energy, create millions of ‘climate jobs’, defeat the carbon traders and contest the ‘climate debt’, fend off South Durban fossil-fuel attacks, halt Durban offshore oil drilling and Drakensburg mountain fracking, recognise ‘Rights of Nature,’ and learn the art of citizen journalism? (Or do we just change a lightbulb, plant a tree and buy an offset from Goldman Sachs or theWorld Bank? And say bye-bye to the beaches?)
What about the COP17? Is the UN relevant? What lessons from the continent, via the PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance? And what are solutions to climate change?


Wolpe lecture on South Africa's transition, 29 September

Saul argues, “let us confess that in many ways South Africa is not really so liberated as all that. Choices have been made and they have not, by and large, been choices favourable to the life chances of the poorest of the poor or to their empowerment: to their liberation. The gap between rich and poor has actually widened and related gaps exist in the spheres of health, education, food. Democracy has become stalled at the level of a relatively passive act of voting rather than an active engagement of people in the transformation of their own lives. The pace of a genuine levelling up of the status of women has slowed to a stand-still. So, in the end, the question is whether the glass of liberation is best considered as being half empty or half-full.”

John Saul is professor emeritus of political science at York University, Toronto, and author of 19 books including Recolonization and Resistance (1994); Millennial Africa (2001); The Next Liberation Struggle (2005); Development after Globalization (2006); Decolonization and Empire (2007); Revolutionary Traveller (2009); and Liberation Lite (2011).

The respondent is Trevor Ngwane, one of South Africa’s best known community activists and socialists, and a leader of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee. Ngwane is a masters degree student at the UKZN Centre for Civil Society.

(with support from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and National Lottery)

The Transition in South Africa, 1985-1995 and Beyond:Choice, Fate, or Recolonization?
The Harold Wolpe Lecture presented at the University of KwaZulu-Natal,
Durban, South Africa, 29 September, 2011

Will Palestine be free, 25 August

Click on Image to enlarge


Dr Mustafa Barghouti.

Palestinian political activist and medical doctor Dr Mustafa Barghouti delivered a series of public lectures at South African universities and other institutions during August. His visit was hosted by the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) as well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

During his presentation on the Howard College campus on August 25 hosted by the Centre for Civil Society’s Wolpe Lecture series. Barghouti argued that the impact of Israel’s occupation of Palestine since 1948 has not been adequately recorded. People across the globe need to recognise the terrible acts that are taking place.

He showed a film containing footage of the extreme treatment that Palestinians are enduring, describing them as “apartheid acts”.

Barghouti also presented a mapped timeline that illustrated land dispossession from 1948 to 2005. The timeline showed that, while in 1948 Palestine and Israel owned 45 percent and 55 percent of the land respectively, by 2005 Palestine owned less than 18 percent of the land on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Further illegal settlements are continually expanding on the West Bank.

‘They built military settlements on Palestine land, and built walls three times higher than those of the Berlin Wall to separate and divide our cities. We are not allowed services, including access to roads and highways in cities like Jerusalem. We pay extremely high taxes in comparison to Israelis, and are very limited [in terms of] electricity and water consumption and supply. This is apartheid in a very extreme way,’ said Barghouti.

Slides presented at the seminar showed Israel’s ‘apartheid wall’ running through neighbourhoods, separating families, and denying Palestinian cities basic services, including medical care.

Even though a few thousand Israeli settlers have withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, ‘Gaza is not free. Thirty people have been killed, and 1 000 others severely injured in the past week, and 25 000 houses have been demolished. There was a United Nations Report by South African judge Richard Goldstone about the conflict that described illegal war crimes carried out by Israel. This report was later denied due to Israeli pressure on the author. What we are experiencing is more than apartheid. It is a combination of ethnic cleansing and severe discrimination,’ said Barghouti.

He added: ‘How can we then continue to negotiate with Israel when they continue to build settlements and walls around us during the 20 years of useless negotiations? Until it becomes too costly for Israel to do this, they will not stop killing us and taking our land’. He said that the non-violent ways to raise the costs include mass marches of ordinary Palestinians to the border areas, which occurred in May to commemorate the “Nakba” disaster of Israel’s original occupation, and the Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions campaign that worked so well to pressure South Africa’s white government twenty-five years ago. Israel is already feeling the heat from sanctions, including the University of Johannesburg’s Senate decision in March to end a research agreement with an Israeli university because of the latter’s role in perpetuating oppression.

Barghouti explained that Palestinians want democracy, and they want to choose their own government, without pressure from Israel. He called for South Africans to remember their political history and to stand in solidarity with Palestine.

‘South Africa could not have able to overcome apartheid if the world had not united against the apartheid government with sanctions. We are only asking for the same support. Our struggle alone for a non-violent solution cannot end this injustice. We need help and ask for you to join us in solidarity,’ Barghouti said.
>UKZN Online Volume: 5 Issue: 34

The second Arab revolt, the United States, and the future of Africa, 23 June

Film & Discussion: Shack Theatre, 26 May

The Centre for Civil Society based within the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal invites you to the following:-
Shack Theatre

A short film by Florian Kunert and Phillip Hol (DE) Installation by Justin Davy (ZA)

Date: Thursday 26th May 2011
Time: 17H30-19H00
Venue: Shepstone 5, Howard College Campus, (King George V Avenue, Glenwood, Dbn). All Welcome!.
Queries: Helen Poonen or Lungi Keswa, 031 260 3577/3195

Shack Theatre questions the ignorant and judgemental attitude that many people have toward South Africa's township communities that has little to do with experience, and everything to do with media perception. There is much more to the township than the negative side of life. It can also be a vibrant, upbeat place to live where tradition and culture combines with technology, music and fashion of the modern world to create something totally unique. Its sad that people living just a few kilometers away from Khayelitsha label it as aplace of crime and despair even though they have never been there.

Join Azola, Hlomela, Amanda, Zolani, Monde and phakama as they take you on a tour of their home and experience everyday life in the township, including food, family, music, football... and of course dancing.

An Election Debate: “To Vote or Not to Vote, 21 April 2012

The Centre for Civil Society based within the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal invites you to the following;

An Election Debate:
“To Vote or Not to Vote”

“What difference does it make in the current South African political economy, state of service delivery & environmental justice”?

Speakers: Mazibuko Jara (Democratic Left). Alan Murphy (Socialist Green Coalition)
Respondent: Orlean Naidoo (community activist – Westcliff Chatsworth)
Anchored by: Blessing Karumbidza (Researcher - Social Economic Rights Institute, Johannesburg)
Date: Thursday 21st April 2011
Time: 17H30-19H00
Venue: Howard College Theatre (All Welcome), Howard College Campus, (King George V Avenue, Glenwood, Dbn)
Queries: Helen Poonen or Lungi Keswa, 031 260 3577/3195

“My words but a whisper, your deafness a shout” – Jethro Tull

When at the last Wolpe event it was claimed that those communities that have for a long time been attending the Wolpe lectures hosted by the Centre for Civil Society do not know what capitalism is, then it is obviously time for a rethink. What other format can better stimulate eco-socialist awareness, interest and activity?

Any dogmatic approach to elections, whether that dogma is in voting for a particular party or even in not voting at all, is not susceptible to logical discussion, conversation or debate. Just as, unfortunately, when the statistically impaired continue to pay their voluntary tax to the looto, it has more to do with a combination of exploitation on one side and magical thinking on the other.

There are now two ANC candidates in Chatsworth who were previously fighting with the social movements against government restrictions on the poor. But they are rewarded with a big favour when there is a call to have no electoral opposition to them.

Those calling for no vote are making no lesser claims than the politicians that make false promises – don’t vote because this is how you will best advance your cause! It is a petty parochial call for a no-vote when it is done to defend a position as the deliverer of pre-paid meters to the poor on behalf of the council. Why not rather formally stand as an ANC candidate? This passive-reactionary ‘non-political’ attitude seems totally unaffected by numerous Wolpe lectures. Is there perhaps not one more Marxist influenced person than to begin with? If there were, should we not expect a tactical inclusion of various strategies to achieve holistic overall aims? But we are still presented with a tedious reticence to build a constructive complementary solidarity even while claiming to do otherwise – like a talk left walk right politician. There is a reticence to deal with ‘politics’ – but no compulsion to avoid the dumbing down ‘domkrag’, similar to what was used by the old Nats to stir lowest common denominator knee-jerk reaction.

Are the Wolpe lectures not meant to bridge between academia and community? Clearly more alternative workshops, dialogues and discussions where academics do more listening than talking are necessary. Otherwise the social movements are a lost cause if its members merely represent factions of the ruling parties – i.e. when they will not vote for anyone else, and then eventually return to the ID/DA/ANC/COPE/MF/IFP/NFP/UDM or some other capitalist party.

Struggles in communities accompanied by a large left vote against the ANC have better prospects of getting some meaningful change. SGC member ECOPEACE has already shown that it can deliver, even if that is the funding of communities through councillors’ salaries. The comparatively simpler task of electing and holding to account a local councillor should in no way be a distraction from any long term sustainable egalitarian agenda, rather it can reinforce that objective.

The left should not be content only watching what happens – they loose nothing by calling for a vote against the Capitalist parties and for whatever left-green alternatives are available. They should call for and contribute in one way or another not just in building this alternative, but in ensuring it is accountable.

Will academics instead continue to sit on the fence? Will r2k, CJN!SA and other social movements use this election as the opportunity it is to promote their campaigns or let it pass by again?
Alan Murphy

Alan Murphy


Wolpe Lecture on Climate Change, 19 February

(The Centre for Civil Society based within the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, invites you to the following Wolpe lecture)

Topic: Climate Teach-In, with Rehana Dada, Blessing Karumbidza, Siziwe Khanyile, Des D'Sa, Bobby Peek and others
Date: Saturday, 19th February 2011
Time: 10am-3pm (videos about climate from 9am)
Venue: Howard College Theatre (All Welcome), Howard College Campus, (King George V Avenue, Glenwood, Dbn)
Queries: Transport/lunch subsidies available - contact Helen Poonen or Lungi Keswa, 031 260 3577/3195

With the Durban Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17) to be held from November 28 - December 9, it is important for community, environment, student, labour, women and other activists to share knowledge and concerns at this early stage. (isiZulu translation provided)

With support from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Foundation and Lottery South Africa.

 Tribute to Harold Wolpe plus links to selected seminar programmes
 A Tribute to Harold Wolpe 
 The Wolpe Trust 
 UKZN History Seminar Series 
 Articulations: A Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture Collection 
 WISER Seminar Series 
 Online Audio and Video Recordings: UC Berkeley Lectures and Events  
  Philosophy Seminars 

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