Monday, April 19, 2010

Some things worth checking out

Death and the Mielieboer: The Eugène Terre'Blanche Murder & Poor-White Canon-fodder in South Africa

But who are the Boers, truly, beyond the cartoons of black-bearded back-countrymen, scarecrows in the corn, leaning on ancient muskets? Afrikaners today are often are the sons, daughters, granddaughters and grandsons of the tens thousands of women who were deliberately starved to death in British concentration camps a century before as their farms were put to the torch. Do not brush aside this key fact because of the whiteness of their skin: their women-folk and children were deliberately exterminated in an imperialist war that generated so much global opposition at the time that it was the Iraq of its day: Scandinavians, Irishmen and Russians gave their lives on the far-away veld; angered Québécois burned down public buildings; and awed anti-American guerrillas in the Philippines learned their tactics by night. Scratch a highveld Boer and you will likely find a bitter hatred of British imperialism – based on living-memory family experience of the camps. And that war was provoked by the imperialists because Britain lusted after and finally burgled the goldfields of the highveld from a frontier people who had progressively retreated into the African interior away from the claws of the bankers, into the spears of the Bantu.

True, they were and often remain an austere, narrow people: one of their Calvinist sects, the Doppers, is deliberately named after the tin cap or dop used to extinguish a candle, the message being the need to extinguish the Enlightenment. And true, they often beat "their blacks" with an offhanded cruelty, and at best established a paternalistic overlordship over them known as baasskap (boss-hood). But in their warfare with, suffering at the hands of, and eventual enslavement of the Bantu, a strange relationship developed: alone among all white settlers on the African continent, they self-identified en masse as Afikaners, as Africans, not Europeans, and seve
red their ties to their distant motherlands. The they and their black neighbours lived, ate, thought and died, merged and became inextricably intertwined: well over 10-million more black South Africans today speak Afrikaans, the slave's idiom-rich, story-telling pidgin-Dutch of old, than do whites; while platteland (big-sky farmland) Afrikaners are fluent in African vernacular languages. For the British-backed English-speaking elites, the mining bosses and big land-owners, this closeness was worrisome; something had to be done to divide and rule them. Racialised divisions worked successfully among the working class until multiracial revolutionary syndicalism mounted a challenge from 1917 – a challenge undermined and dissipated within five years by the black nationalist mystifications of the aspirant bourgeois party that became the ANC. It may be that despite their progressive approach to the racial question, the syndicalists lost their grip on the labour movement because of the allure of politics of racial polarity that pitted whites and blacks against each other, a politics seized on with fervour by the NP on its ascension to power in 1948.
Via Anarkismo.

University Struggles at the End of the Edu-Deal

The student movement, however, faces a political problem, most evident in the US and, to a lesser extent, in Europe. The movement has two souls. On the one side, it demands free university education, reviving the dream of publicly financed 'mass scholarity', ostensibly proposing to return to the model of the Keynesian era. On the other, it is in revolt against the university itself, calling for a mass exit from it or aiming to transform the campus into a base for alternative knowledge production that is accessible to those outside its 'walls'.iv

This dichotomy, which some characterise as a return to the 'reform versus revolution' disputes of the past, has become most visible in the debate sparked off during the University of California strikes last year, over 'demands' versus 'occupations', which at times has taken an acrimonious tone, as these terms have become complex signifiers for hierarchies and identities, differential power relations, and consequences for risk taking.

The contrast is not purely ideological. It is rooted in the contradictions facing every antagonistic movement today. Economic restructuring has fragmented the workforce, deepened divisions and, not last, it has increased the effort and time required for daily reproduction. A student population holding two or three jobs is less prone to organise than its more affluent peers in the '6os.

At the same time there is a sense, among many, that there is nothing more to negotiate, that demands have become superfluous since, for the majority of students, acquiring a certificate is no guarantee for the future which promises simply more precarity and constant self-recycling. Many students realise that capitalism has nothing to offer this generation, that no 'new deal' is possible, even in the metropolitan areas of the world, where most wealth is accumulated. Though there is a widespread temptation to revive it, the Keynesian interest group politics of making demands and 'dealing' is long dead.
Via Mute

A People's History of Koch Industries: How Stalin Funded the Tea Party Movement
The Soviet oil planners were delighted with Koch’s refineries, which “operated commendably, and would in the future be the type preferred by the heads of the Soviet Union’s petroleum industry when purchasing new cracking equipment.” The Communists were so impressed they kept giving Winkler-Koch business and regularly sent Soviet engineers to train in Wichita. It was a sign of growing mutual trust.

By the time he got out in 1933, Koch earned $500,000, which was a ton of money for a kid fresh out of college. This nut of money served as the foundation for the family’s future wealth, which Koch no doubt started acquiring at rock-bottom prices. After all, 1933 was one of the two worst years of the Great Depression—all assets were priced to go at 90% off. In the end, the capitalist-hating socialists ended up treating Koch fairly, way better than the monopolistic thrashing he got from his native land. So you’d think he’d at least something good to say about the Soviet Union when he got home?

Nope, not at all. He hated the Commies real bad. But for some reason he kept it to himself until the late 1950s (possibly because he was still doing work for the Soviet Union). Then, after coming back from a trip to the Soviet Union in 1956, he flies off the handle. According to a 1956 AP article, Fred Koch was among eleven prominent residents of Wichita, Kansas, “left for Moscow by plane today in an effort to convince the Russian people that Soviet propaganda about capitalists is untrue.” Sounds like the perfect cover for a business trip.

Via The Exiled

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