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Communist University - Political School Material

Issue 1, Vol 13: 21 January 2016

In this issue:

 

Viewpoint by Mluleki DlelangaThe Philosophy and Ideology of Education

By Mluleki Dlelanga

It is not systematic education which somehow molds society, but, on the contrary, society which according to its particular structure, shapes education in relation to the ends and interests of those who control the power in that society “ Paulo Freire.

From a class point of view, basically speaking, youth in general, students in general and intelligentsia in general, whether located in State or outside the State Institutions remains social strata, they are not a class. Simply because they are located outside production relations in a class divided society.

One might ask what we mean. Classes are large groups of people differing from each other in a historically determined social production, by their relations in means of production, by the organization of labor and by how they share the wealth they produce.

Let me get closer to the historically evolution of society: there was once a Primitive Communal Society, this society was a classless society, from there was a Slave society, this was a class society. From Slave society there was Feudal Society this was also a class society, which Marx characterize this stage as the highest stage of capitalism and the current stage is a capitalist society, this is a class society where contradictions and the gap between the haves and have not’s are sharpening day by day.

In understanding the evolution of society we must not fail to understand that social production is a basis from which we move. The materialistic conception of history says “Production of material goods for satisfaction of human wants is a basis of society”.

All these strata mentioned earlier are not monolithic, but in the whole they reflect social structure of our society. In that process some individuals, groups and institutions claims class neutrality. As they claim class neutral, we know that there is no class neutrality in a class struggle and the benefit of being class is that whatever move you take one of the class benefit. Even Lenin eloquently taught us that “To expect class neutrality in a class divided society is as foolish naïve as to expect the capitalist to reduce profit to increase wages”

The people, groups or institutions who always claim to be class neutral amongst are: Chapter 9 Institutions, Judiciary, Church and some people. We know that they are not class neutral, why they can class neutral? It’s because historically they are a product of class struggle itself. During the primitive communal society property was commonly owned. There was no need for them.

Gradually, with the development of property relations classes were formed out of property. As a result State is formed with its role to mediate class contradictions around property. The great thinkers and leaders of the revolution Engels and Karl Marx points out that , Engels “ State is the product of society at a certain stage of development , it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel. But in order that these antagonisms , these classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle , it became necessary to have a power , seemingly standing above society, that would alleviate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of order and this power , arisen out of society but placing itself above it , and alienating itself more and more from it, it is the state” and Karl Marx “ the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of order , which legalizes and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between classes”

State has cohesion Institutions and non-cohesion institutions. Cohesive institutions are police, which by the way Police are old as the State; the Police duty is to keep law in order and to protect private property. This institution does it alongside with Judiciary. Army i.e. soldiers are also a cohesive institution of State which guard territorial entity of the state or sovereignty of the state against internal and external enemy of the State. The State also has non-cohesive Institutions; education is one of the non-cohesive institutions of state.

LOCATION OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM

First and foremost, literally speaking, there is nothing free in a capitalist mode of production. Our education system is responding to the needs and aspirations of the ruling class. It does not respond to the needs and aspirations of the exploited class. The core of any education system is curriculum. The content of curriculum of our education system is informed by ruling class. The basis of any curriculum becomes reflective of social class interests, which is by definition of social culture. Culture anyway is a way of life of society. Any society irrespective of class antagonisms has an economic system, communication system, rationality system, morality system, aesthetic system and value and norms system. Therefore curriculum does selection on systems. Obviously, curriculum reflects the ruling class ideas. A school from Grade A- to tertiary level reflects class interests of property owners.

WHO CONTROLS ENTRY AND EXIT IN EDUCATION

Before I withdraw what I have not yet said, let me start by saying am not a racist and amongst what my organization is fighting for is non-racialism. On zooming closely on who controls the entry and exit in education one has to look closely on the administration i.e. Human Resource Departments at Universities and Colleges. We as communists don’t dream, we are scientific, the reality is that our Human Resources Departments at Universities and Colleges are managed by white people and those white people reflects interests of the ruling class.

The main aim of education is to inculcate values and norms of propertied class and for social change. Unfortunately the South African education derives on memory and its content is based on memory. If a learner or a student didn’t master the content he/she won’t go through. No certificate. No matter how brilliant a learner or student, if he/she has not gone through the system, if no certificate you won’t be employed because you don’t stick on the content prescribed you fail. Even the ruling class comes up with excuses that Universities are producing unemployable graduates, they use that excuse as a way to justify their failing system. Our education system is devoid of innovation and creativity. The entry and exit of our education system is controlled by the ruling class.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Before 1994 the system of education of Government in our country was apartheid. This was a racist system that oppressed black people and black child for almost 350 years. One of the areas of oppression and discrimination was in education. Black children as well as Indian and the so called Coloured children were given an inferior education to their white counterparts in schools that were separated by race.

Our education it’s either at higher level is still a case of two nations. On the one hand, we have world class universities ad further education institutions with best accommodation, sporting facilities, better academic support, fully equipped libraries and qualified lectures. These institutions are mainly accessed by historically advantaged youth due to the high cost of access to these institutions.

On the other hand, you have institutions that are worse off than third world standard with decaying infrastructure, lack of accommodation, sporting and academic facilities and remain only access that students from the working class background have.

We believe there is a neo-liberal attack on higher education. In keeping with the progressive impoverishment of politics and public life since the emergence of a particular strand of neo-liberalism, Universities are increasingly being transformed into a training ground for corporate interests, hence retreating from their roles as public spaces in which young people are trained to become the critical citizens and democratic agents necessary to nourish a socially responsible future.

On hand there are arguments, especially from the  working class students and other progressive forces in society, for a policy of progressive taxation; which simply means that, the private sector, and the people earning high wages, such as the ‘upper’ and ‘middle classes’ will be taxed more than the poor, so as to fund free education; on the other hand, there are voices, arguably aligned to the conservative bourgeoisie establishment, crying foul about ‘progressive taxation’, and as a result lobby for regressive taxation which overlooks income inequalities among different social groups, and as a result stands to erode any social and economic gains for the poor.

Over and above these two contending perspectives, there is a question of “institutional autonomy” which Universities are blamed for; this is always a bone of contention between students and the University management. The argument over institutional autonomy especially by those opposed to it, is that, Universities behave like private kingdoms run by senates and councils on the basis of profit-maximization, not like public entities in the interests of working class students who come from economically and socially disenfranchised communities.

It is in the context of this and other matters that we have decided to convene this summit, with the hope that it will not be one of those proverbial talk-shops but will rather come out with ‘programme-developing and programme-consolidating’ discussions and engagements. We therefore wish to declare this not as a solely discursive summit but also a programmatic-infested summit, out of which practical solutions are going to be offered to the current economic and social problems in general, and educational problems in particular.

We must continue to locate everything into its proper context, and resist any temptation to overlook ideological considerations and material conditions at hand. The struggle for free education is but part and parcel of a class struggle over what kind of society has to be built. It is the struggle over the nature of knowledge production, notwithstanding the immediate concerns over fee free education. Any resolution on this is one way or other, going to advantage one class over the other.

Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many Universities are now modelled after the wisdom of the business world and seem less interested in higher learning than in becoming licenced storefronts for brand-name corporations, modelling their research programmes to suit capitalististic corporate interests.

As this occurs, the notion of ‘people’s education for people’s power’ gets lost in the maze of neo-liberal profit-frenzy programmes. As higher education increasingly becomes a privilege not a right, many working class youth find it financially impossible to enter Universities, and those manage to enter drop out as a result of the constant increase in fees.

Those students who have the resource to stay in school are feeling the pressure of the job market and rush to take courses and receive professional credentials in business and the biosciences as the humanities lose majors and downsize. Not surprisingly, students are now referred to as “customers” and professors behave like “academic entrepreneurs”. The attack on higher education is felt by the working class youth, pressured by the need to go through the system, and acquire a ticket into to the labour market on one hand and the emotional and psychological trauma they experience in the process of education.

With the ideological intention of a capitalist neo-liberal reality that seeks to reduce state intervention in the economy and in many sectors of society, it has always been the aim of the neo-liberal bourgeoisie establishment to reduce the state and state to helpless on-lookers in the national affairs without any political capacity to intervene in almost anything hence institutional autonomy which Universities use to prevent radical and far-reaching transformation in the higher education sector.

We believe we have a collective responsibility to reclaim the sites of critical thinking, and public service; progressive educators, workers and students will have to redefine the knowledge, skills, research, and intellectual practices currently favoured in schools and Universities.

We cannot afford to fold our arms when the capitalist system robs the working class youth of their future; we cannot afford dis-unity at a time when the entire working class is under siege from social ills brought about by the inherent contradictions of capitalism; we cannot afford not to come up with a programme of socialist oriented higher education when the working class youth is burning the brunt of capitalism.

Access to education and success must be ensured, the transformation of the curriculum to bring about working class education for working class youth and working class in generally must fearlessly fought for, our programmatic approach must be reflective of this willingness.

WHY OUR EDUCATION EXPENSIVE

There are three strategic role players located within a given society, where you find class struggle on our education system i.e. lecturer, content and student. They are all funded by internal and external capitalist class interests. Students or Learners as shaped by their background and their involvement on class and congress movement politics they engage on class struggle and ask strategic questions to advance their class position. Lecturers regardless of their ideological orientation they focus on the curriculum content when teaching students as prescribed by the ruling class.

There are number of contributing factors that makes our educations expensive. Firstly, Lecturers or Universities order the content, through from western bourgeoisie capitals. Hence books reflect capitalist thinking. These books they order are individual intellectual property. Secondly, Research machinery or instruments of labor e.g. laboratories are also ordered overseas, we don’t manufacture them. Thirdly, Professors and Doctors are highly respected and highly educated intellectuals but why they can’t produce our own home based knowledge content makes education expensive.

WHY CALL FOR FREE EDUCATION

The basis of free education is said to be based upon education clause on Freedom Charter as adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, 26 June 1955 that doors of learning and of culture shall be opened!

All friend s and foe quote this clause, let me quote it also “The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life: All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contacts with other lands, the aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honor human brotherhood, liberty and peace. Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children. Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit , adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass rate education plan , teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens; the color bar in cultural life , in sport ,and in education shall be abolished”

Let’s be realistic, let’s address from a class perspective the question of free education under capitalist production relations. Indeed, we as the young reds call for a free, compulsory and quality education. But let’s analyze it around privately owned property under capitalism.

For instance a son or daughter of Manyawuza versus a son and daughter of Oppenheimer, there is no equality and there can be no equality in an unequal situation. Therefore, free education must first focus from the Manyawuza’s son or daughter and in the process capitalists and private sector must also contribute on making this possible.

The call for free education , which by the way is the long standing resolution of the Young Communist league of South Africa , which has been calling and campaigning through its annual Joe Slovo Right to Learn Campaign that Free , Compulsory and Quality Education , an education system that is socialist oriented and ultimately a socialist education system.

WAY FORWARD

Free education slogan remains relevant as ever before. To us as communists at the end we need a socialist education system that is our goal. Ours is a struggle for socialism, free education is a noble call which is relevant as ever before as a strategic goal.  But tactically, as we are in the capitalist production relations there are tactical issues for consideration: Give time and wait for the outcomes of the Presidential Commission on free higher education and training and the Universities and government must implement outcomes of the student’s actions as agreed by government.

We want free, compulsory and quality education for the workers and the poor.

Masithethe.

Cde Mluleki Dlelanga is the National Secretary of the YCLSA.

 

Viewpoint by Sikhumbuzo MdlaloseBeware the Capitalist Roaders and Ideological cocktails- Know ‘Your’ EFF

By Sikhumbuzo Mdlalose

Down memory lane, in the late 1950’s Mao Tse-tung, the late Chairman of the Communist Party of China classically described the so-called revolutionary elements which pretentiously upheld socialist ideology yet essentially destined to restore capitalism as reactionary forces. Later in 1965 the Communist Party of China referred to these elements as capitalist roaders based on the same idea as developed by Mao.

At times it does take a self-anointed and an imaginary big elephant to be in the room for one to be concerned about why it is in the room, given the extent of damage it may cause not only to some of those in the room but to the room itself, our country.

Henceforth it is also for history’s sake that I address myself on the EFF, unveiling its reactionary opportunism for what it is, and its leading fold for who they are.

Of course as a standalone entity, the EFF is not a colossal threat to our country and our revolution but wittingly or unwittingly it is a threat only as a noisy-tailing partner within the anti-majoritarian neoliberal offensive collective.

And on the basis that the proletariat or the working class is not inherently class-conscious, and that there exist some significant sections of the working class that can be easily manipulated into believing that the EFF represents their interests wherein actually the contrary prevails, I am further motivated in addressing myself on this ideological vagabond, the EFF, even if it means mentioning their acronym in every paragraph!

On the outset we are interested into politics because we are actually interested in the betterment of the lives of the downtrodden masses, frankly the working class. It therefore follows that it remains our revolutionary duty to frantically expose and dislodge capitalist roaders, who masquerade as saviours of the working class yet destined to a capitalist direction and perpetual restoration of capitalism. Even if it means continuing to genuinely identify and isolate such elements within and outside our movement, we shall and should do so.

But as for pseudo-leftist elements who are actually echoing the vices of capitalist roaders within our movement, we can only leave it to the internal platforms of our movement because this is an awkward platform, this one belongs to the opportunist EFF and its vacillating folks.

Without a single iota of doubt and on many occasions since its inception, we have observed how the opportunist EFF have used every trick in the book to sway the attention of everyone who cared to listen to their pseudo-militant and quasi-revolutionary rantings.

As so did the NUMSA leadership clique, the EFF tries by all means to be an all-in-one kind of a formation not only ideologically, but even on its conduct, be it in parliament, in public and everywhere.

If they are not hijacking students uprisings, they want to be factional mouthpieces of mineworkers and that is if they are not in some press conference with some capitalist conglomerates, assuring them (capitalist conglomerates) of their future existence should they ‘run’ this country. They do these sort of things in order to feed on their narrow interests, especially the egoistic interests of its leadership fold.

The birthmarks of the former ANCYL leadership fold caricature led by a paranoid Malema has its remaining dominant genes in the EFF.

As they used ANCYL stature as an armament to shoot from the heap, to all directions and as a tool for looting government resources in order to sustain their individual lives of ease, a life defined in terms of access to luxurious possessions like a 16 million house, R50000, 00 watch, Porsche cars and the like, they are doing exactly the same with the EFF, and sustaining the life of ease represents real uncompromising cardinals of the EFF.

Zooming into what they call 7 Cardinals bears evidence to their uncompromising discourse for what Lenin referred to as Social-chauvinism. In themselves, these Cardinals present a purely reformist essence towards the concept of economic freedom. Clearly the so-called struggle for economic freedom linked with sounds and calls for de-colonisation of our economy without the emphasis on class struggle exactly represents a concealed yearning for sharing of the loot with both petty and comprador bourgeois syndicalist.

The EFF, especially its leadership fold, is not destined to build a true workers democracy for such a destination will expose their inherent petty bourgeois inclinations. When they speak of an Open, accountable, corrupt-free government and society, they are actually paying lip-service for even a man from the street can tell how corrupt the presidency of the EFF is. After being expelled from the mass democratic movement they migrated with this special talent and solicited their own nest of corruption; namely the EFF.

While they blame everything on capitalism and the ‘NEOLIBERAL ANC’ (trying to sound communist), on the other side they go visit London, meet with the architects of world monopoly capital and go pass by Karl Marx’s grave for photo shooting on their way back to South Africa. Consummated opportunism at its best!

And Lenin addresses this sort of tendency in his Opportunism, and the collapse of the 2nd International, 1915:

“Social-chauvinism and opportunism are the same in their political essence; class collaboration, repudiation of the proletarian dictatorship, rejection of revolutionary action, obeisance to bourgeois reality, non-confidence in the proletariat, and confidence in the bourgeoisie. The political ideas are identical and so is the political content of their tactics.”

The less said about what they (the EFF) call the founding manifesto, the better. For what essentially appears in that founding leaflet is an epitome of consummated opportunism, devoid of ideological grounding and with some cut and pasted elements of 2011 Clarion Call Document of the ANCYL.

Double standard blatancy!!

When you want to observe their anarchist outlook, look at how they approach the issue of land redress, they go around encouraging people to forcefully occupy all vacant land while on the other side presenting themselves as law obedient good boys and good girls of the South African justice system which is an inherent protectorate of private property under capitalism.

Dali Mpofu’s opportunism never stops crystallising the EFF as a news-headline-thirsty symbol of chauvinism, be it on race and class matters. Like a political predator, Mpofu (their National Chairperson of their disputed national congress) tried to ride on the sorrows of those who lost their family members during the famous despicable in Marikana, which actually started way before the 16thof August 2012, although Mpofu and Company chose to focus only on the 16 August 2012 events. Instead of selflessly representing these poor families, the Advocate was preoccupied with the battle of settling political scores with his former ruling party, the ANC, on behalf of his new found home. But all these attempts failed.

Mpofu’s election to be a legal representative of a renowned white racist, Gareth Cliff, is but one demonstration of how the EFF ilk is determined to steal any form of popularity wherever and whenever it flies and they do all sorts of these things devoid of principle that they so applaud in all media platforms.

When the EFF leadership fold questions the SA-Russia Nuclear deal, they do so as walking-wounded tigers who are still narrowly vengeful of their expulsion from the ANC and particularly their eternal hatred against the current ANC president. In so doing they close their eyes on critiquing other similar deals that the SA government had concluded since and beyond Mandela’s administration and such deals had been concluded with most of the leading imperialist forces we have come to know in our planet.

From principled perspective, we had always been alone as the SACP and COSATU in critiquing what came to be known as the arms deal in face of socio-economic challenges we faced and still facing as the country and some of those who are the loudest in criticising the SA-Russia nuclear deal were nowhere to be found except when they do so to feed on their sham political-point scoring.

While the German, French and other European languages are almost yearly introduced to many of the South African schools and universities, the levels of criticism levelled against the introduction of one of the Chinese languages, Mandarin, into SA education system, has left so much to be desired about the attitude of the EFF and other small opposition parties in this regard. And the less said about the DA the better, for it is in its DNA to be staunch representatives of western imperialism through its white supremacist liberal ideology, and they fail to be hypocritical in their pursuit for such an agenda. They are part of our good friends in the enemy camp- at least we know where they stand.

In actual fact the extremes of populist demagoguery as pioneered by the EFF actually collaborate with DA’s right-wing orthodoxy. The only difference is that on the one hand, the leaders of populist demagoguery are a composite unit of frustrated lame ducks armed with some orate smokescreen of hope ‘appealing’ to the unsuspecting elements of the working class, and on the other hand right-wing orthodoxy is led by western ancestral white supremacists who sing praises to market fundamentalism as the be-all and end-all of our economic woes.

All and sundry, they are blindly at odds with the democratically elected government as led by the ANC. No wonder the President of the country, J G Zuma, lamented about the poverty of politics in his parliament.

For without doubt, there are existing challenges that come with South Africa’s relations with other BRICS countries, and they need to be addressed, and these include cheap labour exploitation by Chinese firms, the Chinese growing monopoly over the clothing industry through import reliant investments and their utter disobedience to South African labour laws.

But the current administration had been able to break some of the imperialist chains with the west and sought to forge economic relations with the eastern powers for mutually beneficial economic relations with such countries. If we so love our country and given its historically detrimental overdependence to the west, would it not be reasonable for any thinking politician to look into our country’s posture as the huge step to a potentially correct direction?

Although our democratic dispensation was also based on accountability and constructive opposition, but with the current state of affairs, our movement remains the only beacon of our struggle to lead this country beyond mere political emancipation but to economic emancipation through the more radical phase of economic transition.

And moreover, to think that our historic imperialist and colonialist enemies retreated after 1994 is to be narrow and such a school of thought might as well cloud one’s judgement about our current political and economic challenges. Living up to the legacies of President O R Tambo we need to echo his words when addressing the 7th National Congress of the SACP in 1989:

“As never before we need to move arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, with all our allies, friends and supporters. Within our movement, we need to close ranks now as never before and wage intensive struggle with reinforced vigour”

The tactics employed by our enemies before 1994 will never be the same as those they employ in this current juncture. Our enemies have changing strategies and tactics but with the same goals. If it means creating and elevating an imaginary elephant like the EFF, our enemies would go out of their way in using it as a tool to hoodwink unsuspecting elements of the working class and thereby manufacturing mistrust within and outside our movement with an aim of turning all of us asunder. They are masters of an old mantra: “The more things change, the more they should remain the same”

By way of conclusion, let us borrow from Franz Fanon:

The enemy, in fact, changes his tactics. At opportune moments he combines his policy of brutal repression with spectacular gestures of friendship, manoeuvres calculated to sow division, and “psychological action.” Here and there he tries with success to revive tribal feuds, using agents provocateurs and practising what might be called counter-subversion.” THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH

Sikhumbuzo Mdlalose is the former National Working Committee Member of the YCLSA and current PEC Member of the SACP, Moses Mabhida Province.

 

Viewpoint by Sandile MzilikaziOn Climate Change

By Sandile Mzilikazi

Introduction

“…climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating environmental problem of this century. Floods, droughts, severe storms, hurricanes, melting ice caps, rise in sea levels, ocean acidification and heat waves, all of that sharpens the impact of global crisis besetting us…60 percent of the planet’s ecosystems are damaged, 20 percent of the earth’s crust is degraded, we have been impassive witnesses to deforestation, land conversion, desertification, deterioration of fresh water systems, overexploitation of marine resources, pollution and loss of biodiversity… The overuse of the land exceeds by 30 percent the capacity to regenerate it. The planet is losing what the technicians call the ability to regulate itself; the planet is losing this. Every day more waste than can be processed is released. The survival of our species hammers in the consciousness of humanity. …Current human activity exceeds the threshold of sustainability, endangering life on the planet, but also in this we are profoundly unequal.” Hugo Chavez, Conference of Parties (COP) 15

The United Nations Climate Conference of Parties (COP) 21 Talks in Paris that took place in December 2015 have ended with the adoption of a landmark resolution between 195 countries.

This historic climate deal despite its limitations, in particular the absence of a punitive enforcement mechanism, nonetheless remain historic and serve as an important leap forward in the struggle for global climate justice.

In spite the significance of this subject to humanity in general and South Africa’s national development aspirations, very little attention has been given to this vital issue within the National Liberation Movement (NLM) despite its clear strategic link to the attainment of the goals of the National Democratic Revolution. Regrettably, if and when dealt with it has been left to a footnote amongst the tomes of resolutions taken in conferences and summits with technocrats left to their whims to deal with “the detail” with very little ideological guidance.

This paper will attempt to place the struggle for the protection of the earth, to be intractably linked to the pursuit of socialism and the defeat of imperialism. We will make a case as to why the discussion on the future of the planet that houses our collective future cannot be left to a few technocrats. We will reaffirm the case of why the struggle for environmental justice in general and climate justice in particular must be built on as a key pillar on the SACP’s Political Programme The South African Road to Socialism (SARS). In short, we will make a case for placing climate justice as a strategic thrust for “building capacity for, momentum towards and elements of socialism” .

We will make a case for why the struggle for climate justice is a mortal fight between the past and the future, the world’s poor and rich, truth pitted against misinformation and importantly science set against conjecture. It is a nonantogonistic contradiction that exists between world’s poor and the rich that requires the ideological, political and where possible the material intervention of a vanguard party of the working class.

Climate Change

Following decades of manufactured denialism and scepticism, with countless scientists and lobbyist being bought off by transnational corporations (similar to the AIDS denialism in the 90’s and tobacco denialism in 60’s) there is now general consensus amongst the scientific community on the causes and long term consequences of the change in global climatic weather patterns.

The world has reached a point where sufficient scientific consensus has been built that concurs that the earth's climate system is warming and that it is extremely likely (at least 95% probability) that humans are causing most of it through activities that increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.[1]

Despite this scientific evidence which has been around for almost half a century, many governments, in particular those from the industrialised world have been reluctant to act, opting instead to use the threat of climate change as a political bargaining tool that can be traded off in economic and political agreements because of a 5% chance that the science “might be wrong”.

Humanity cannot afford to gamble with its fate, in the pursuit of lopsided development. The threat we face as humanity is real and imminent. In effort to scope the gravity of the threat and the lethargy in responding to this threat Fidel Castro said “Numerous dangers threaten us, but two of them, nuclear war and climate change, are decisive and both are ever farther away from coming close to a solution.” [2]

What does the science say?

The political and science debates on climate change dates back to the 19th century, when anthropologists started collecting evidence suggestive of the fact that northern Europe may have been covered by ice thousands of years ago. This was coupled by a separate yet important discovery of the greenhouse effect, attributed to the polymath Baptiste Joseph Fourier, suggesting that "greenhouse gasses" trap heat radiated from the Earth's surface .

In combing both these theories, scientists were able to build a hypothesis that ice ages, that were believed to have been around thousands of years ago, were caused by a decrease in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In 1896 Svente Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, made an important leap forward in this field by providing evidence that the doubling the carbon dioxide content in the air would gradually raise global temperatures by 5 – 6 degrees Celsius. For over half a century, this body of work remained undeveloped until Guy S Callender, who interestingly was a Canadian steam engineer, suggested that the warming trend revealed in the 19th century, during the industrial revolution, a period characterised by rapid and global capital expansion was caused by a 10% increase in greenhouse gasses emitted from the burning of fossil fuels.

Over the course of last half century, countless papers have been written on the subject with consensus being reached that there is currently “30% more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere relative to pre-industrial levels (150 years ago) in today's atmosphere that has resulted in of 0.5-0.6Ctemperature increase”. [1]

A 2013 study analysed 11,944 abstracts from academic papers published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature between 1991 and 2011 found that 97.1% researchers on the area agreed that humans are causing global warming. [3]

After years of inaction, debates on the causes and possible impact of global warming, it would be safe to say there is a now sufficient consensus amongst both scientists and politicians that the rapid rise in temperature will result in catastrophic and irreversible climate change that will have untold and disastrous impact on human society and natural environment.

This change is projected to result in the melting of polar ice caps; changes in sea currents and sea levels, dramatic and unpredictable increases in temperature that have resulted in most intense storms and flooding, and the long lasting droughts as evident throughout the sub-saharan Africa and here in South Africa.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)

The recent climate talks which took place in Paris under the auspice of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) are the latest in a series of international conferences and negotiations on climate change aimed at finding solutions to a manmade menace that threatens the livelihood of billions of world’s poor located in the so called developing world.

As mentioned above, notwithstanding compelling evidence on existence of the phenomenon of climate change since the turn of the 20th century, very little progress has been made in finding and agreeing on how best this threat can be addressed.

Decades of campaigning, lobbying and petitioning by civic organisations, students, workers, progressive world leaders and left leaning political movements have been met with derision.

Moral, social and political cases for why climate change needs to be confronted have been put before political and business leaders with not much progress. It was only in the 1990s, when an economic case, pointing to link between global warming and the expansion globalisation (capital accumulation) was any attempt made to find a solution. This line of reasoning is clearly reflected in a Standard and Poor’s (the rating agency that is responsible for the economic assassination of the developing world) report that draws a link between the expansion of global capitalism lead by advanced economies and the risk climate change places on the emerging economies that serve as suppliers of raw materials and markets for their produced goods and services. In the report they assert that developed economies and transnational firms have to devise plans to mitigate emerging economies risk “in part due to (emerging economies) reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”[5]

With the adoption of this prognosis, there have been regular meetings between high-level international diplomats nearly every year to try grind through a solution. Regrettably the results of these meetings have thus far been mostly disappointing. The most important of these summits leading to the recent COP 21 summit in Paris, was the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, the COP 3 in Kyoto and the COP15 Summit in Copenhagen which promised a lot but in the end proved to be anticlimatic.

The 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development also referred to as the “Rio Earth Summit” was the first attempt by the world to reflect on the impact that capitalist lead industrialisation (which is highly dependent on fossil fuel) has had on the environment. The summit focused on more than just the climate. It also included many other aspects related to environment and sustainability including toxins, water, land polution and clean energy. One of the major outcomes of the conference was the development of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The adoption of the framework was followed by a series Conference of the Parties (COP) mandated to negotiate and agree upon further action.

The 1997 COP3 in Kyoto, Japan resulted in the drafting and adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect in 2005. The conference agreed that rich industrialised countries were required to cut their greenhouse gas emissions on average by 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012. As has become customary of the US, the self-styled policeman of the world and the world’s largest emitter of industrial greenhouse gases (23%), entirely refused to ratify the treaty under duress from powerful fossil-fuel, oil and car transnational corporations to not curb their profit driven ends.

Chief amongst the criticism levelled against the Kyoto Protocal, besides being non-binding and the askew commitment of the agreement, was that it allowed rich countries that do not want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below their target to buy “right to pollute” credits from other countries that have achieved their targets.

And perhaps more concerning for us as an organisation that advocates for social ownership and control of the economy , it created a carbon trading market for “carbon credits” that could theoretically be earned by corporations that “invest” in projects that they can claim reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Understandably from our ideological perspective as the YCLSA, this escape clause is not only unhelpful but undesirable as it sought once again to create a market lead solution that allows those in the financial and energy complex to make money from selling off the atmosphere. This instrument was once again another way to profit from the destruction of the earth and to reduce the atmosphere to another commodity that can exchanged on a market in the process of capital accumulation.

Unsurprisingly, greenhouse gas emissions from the richest countries continue to rise with US emissions are up 21.1% while China (the factory of world) the world's biggest emitter of CO2 has increased by 240% from 1990 baseline.

So what did COP 21 offer? A new deal for climate change?
The delegates to the conference of parties (COP 21) from 195 nations reached an unprecedented agreement on global climate in Paris after years of often fruitless negotiations to get to a deal to limit carbon emissions. The final text of the declaration resolved to amongst the many commitments:

  • To “keep global temperatures "well below" 2.0C above pre-industrial times and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C.”.
  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
  • To review each country's contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing "climate finance" to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

The legally binding pact limiting greenhouse gas emissions provides the world a road map for breaking away from fossil fuels that have powered the global economy since the Industrial Revolution. The deal - to take effect from 2020 - ends years of disagreement between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion-dollar effort to slow down global warming and deal with its consequences already occurring around the planet. It is important to underscore that the agreement will not become binding on its member states until 55 parties who produce over 55% of the world's greenhouse gas have ratified the Agreement. This includes, China, US, Russia, EU and Japan. Each country that ratifies the agreement will be required to set a target for emission reduction, but the amount will be voluntary.
While this agreement that brings highly industrialised wealthy nations as well as vulnerable low-lying island nations, to agree to globally coordinate their efforts effort is ground breaking, commendable and a welcomed breakthrough, it still has important shortcomings.
Disappointingly, the agreement does not make provision for any means to enforce commitments made by member states that ratify the agreement besides "naming and shaming". The lack of an enforcement mechanism leaves the fate of humanity at risk, in game of Russian roulette played by big business.

Coupled with that reality is the concern raised by many scientists that the goal of 2.0C reduction may not be sufficient to reverse the damage, considering investments that may still need to be made. Billions of the world’s poor, in low lying coastal and islands are in grave risk. This is because the window of opportunity to limit increases to below 1.5°C is for all practical intentions and purpose no longer there.

At the risk of sounding, alarmist, it has become evidently clear that the fate of humanity now lies in the hands of governments that serve at the behest of large multinational corporations. The working people of the world are called upon to engage in a mortal struggle to hold their governments and big business accountable in order to save humanity.

Market driven capitalism and the environment

Fundamental to the inherently crisis ridden capitalism system is a doctrine of a “production system for profit instead of production for us”. This inherent system design flaw is what gives rise to a vicious cycle of capital formation and surplus, which is conditional to growing sales (outputs), which in turn requires the perpetual and unquenchable demand for more resources. So called market competition adds further pressure to the quest for growth because to successfully compete in the “market” more resources and new markets should be found which put pressure of the environment (which in most cases is not rehabilitated for usage for other purposes).

As a result, corporations in an effort to constantly grow surpluses, constantly invent new goods and markets for consummation even if those goods have no utilitarian value. It is this quest for new markets at all costs that has given rise to wastefulness and inefficiency that is inherent within the system that has given birth to a non-value adding billion rand media and advertising industry, while millions go to sleep hungry with no shelter.

It’s the incessant pursuit for growth and profit at all costs that results in the natural environment (rivers, atmosphere, land and water) being reduced to another exchangeable commodity to be owned and exploited like the other factors of production.

The complicity of the consumerism and materialism values that the YCLSA and SACP has identified as being antithetical to the socialist values cannot go unattended as a contributing factor. Consumer culture, in South Africa is exported through one of the most sophisticated media and advertising industries in the globe. Consumerism makes it a social standard to acquire the newest and fanciest cell phone or car while the current one is technically functional. What was the “in thing yesterday” is systematically rendered to cosmetically obsolete. It is this evil genius of capitalist consumerism that underwrites this “growth at all costs”.

South African consumers do not have a shortage of music, sport and even political icons to look up to on how to consume more and more goods in order for corporations to realise more and more profit and in so doing demanding more and more resources to produce more superfluous goods and services no one really needs, and inevitably producing more pollution in the process.

The South African working class and the environment

The 13th National Congress of the SACP resolved to adopt environment justice as a new site of struggle. This is because the struggle for climate justice and the struggle for socialism are intractably linked.

Similar to the struggle for socialism, the struggle over the climate justice is the struggle over access, the use, and control between the many and the few of finite resources.

It is a struggle about the privatisation of land, forests, water resources and a people’s culture and way of life.

It a struggle of the small man against the big man over preservation of food and at times even national sovereignty.

It is the struggle fought over collective political, economic, and social rights.

It is a struggle that requires the education, organising, and agitation of the working class across ethnic, cultural and international boundaries.

It is a struggle that demands the theoretical and practical leadership of a vanguard organisation that can lead those that stand to lose the most under the yoke capitalism.

It a pursuit that requires the formation and cultivation of strategic alliances with workers, students, and women already in trenches that have already developed practices and knowledge to protect and defend their livelihoods.

It is a scientific pursuit that stands juxtaposed to misinformation and conjecture. It is a struggle that requires the development of sound theoretical models, strategies and tactics in order to realise systematic transformation needed to tackle the real causes of human underdevelopment.

Just like the struggle for socialism it is hinged on the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of society, their mobilisation, and agitation towards participatory economic democracy.

Socialist Cuba has often been in the forefront in this regard. As part of our political programme, our vision for a socialist society has to include a political and economic revolution built upon the interconnection of the environmental, social, and economic justice. This resolution was underpinned by a realisation by the SACP that struggle for socialism is conditional on the abolishment of the capitalism mode of production, which has subjugated the largest sections of South Africans to poor sanitation and food insecurity, resigning those in urban areas to townships located downstream (downwind) to polluting industries and those in rural areas to a grinding life of poverty confined to unproductive subsistence farming with no protection from the ravaging effects of natural elements.

A change in climatic patterns that will result in a shift in rainfall quantities and distribution will directly impact on millions in working class communities; will affect human settlements, livelihoods, and infrastructure particularly in low-lying coastal areas.

In South Africa the impacts of climate will result in significant change in rainfall patterns, resulting in potentially devastating effects on agricultural production similar to what is evident in the recent drought. Though Africa only contributes only 2% of the global emissions South Africa, the biggest economies on the continent accounts for 50% of emissions on the continent. South Africa’s historical industrial path based on extractive primary sectors buttress by cheap labour, cheap electricity and minerals has placed the country on an unsustainable growth path and on a collision course with the counter currents of global capitalist forces.

The recent water shortages as result of poor rainfall, the contamination of scare water sources from acid mine drainage coupled with crumbling water reticulation infrastructure are indication of what is to come should we fail to arrest this situation. The ongoing droughts and irregular rainfall will further expose millions who are already food insecure to further food insecurity in one of the driest country in the continent. According to a COSATU policy paper published in 2011, 40% of all South Africans are considered to be food insecure. A future characterised by irregular rainfall and drought will almost certainly increase in droughts and floods which are part of climate change will cut food production in parts of the world by 50% in the next 12 years. This will put pressure on food prices, including on basic foods such as bread. South Africa will not be exempt from this. In fact the bread price in South Africa has already risen by 66% in the last three years. [6]

On a global scale, in spite not contributing to this problem, it will be communities in the poorest nations that will bear the brunt of the costs consequential to climate change. Many of these countries, in particular those from African, lack the capacity and resources to create effective responses that will come as a result of climate change and its negative impact on livelihoods. This is clear case for why we need to change the way we produce food and energy in order to power the people and machinery driving the economy.

What is to be done?

“Socialism, this is the direction, this is the path to save the planet, I don’t have the least doubt. Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the world. We say this from Venezuela, which because of socialism faces threats from the U.S. Empire. If capitalism resists, we are obliged to take up a battle against capitalism and open the way for the salvation of the human species. It’s up to us, raising the banners of Christ, Mohammed, equality, love, justice, humanity, the true and most profound humanism. If we don’t do it, the most wonderful creation of the universe, the human being, will disappear, it will disappear.” Hugo Chavez

Our entry point as the YCLSA on the issue is that the struggle for socialism and the struggle for a sustainable and healthy environment are ultimately one and the same struggle. Significantly, the YCLSA acting independently and through the SACP, has to provide leadership on environmental issues. This includes working with progressive forces in South Africa and throughout the world to ensure that environmental issues continue to receive the standing they deserve.

The poor people of the world and the working class in particular stand to lose the most in the event of defeat in the struggle climate justice. And as a corollary the working class is also best placed to lead to process to embark on campaigns that can change the trajectory of this struggle.

The working class is the motive force for the realisation of sustainable economy where all South Africans and global citizens, including present and future generations realise their right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.

Consistent with our theoretical conception of the relationship between the economic base and super structure; the governments of the biggest and industrialised economies serving “as the executive arm of the ruling class” are unable and unwilling to take decisive action to protect the environment and the fate of humanity.

Evidently, even if they may so wish to act in the interest of their citizens, many of these governments are brow beaten into submission to act to the whims of capital at the expense of workers and the planet.

In spite of the cohesive arm of transnational capitalism, South African workers in particular and industrial workers in particular are in a uniquely positioned to lead the struggle for socialism and social justice.

Notwithstanding recent challenges faced by COSATU, South African workers are by the most organised in the industrialised world. They make up the majority of our communities and their position in production gives them social power by the use of the strike, to impact and paralyze the system. This is particularly true of workers in the energy and transportation sectors, organised by the NUM and CEPPAWU, who working together with their international counterparts could wield their power to the transformation of the fossil fuel industry, without undermining existing jobs. This combined with the socially progressive constitution in the republic, the location of South Africa in the energy and minerals value chain and the relationship with the ruling African National Congress places COSATU and SACP in a uniquely advantageous positon in global geopolitics.

So how do we create elements of, capacity for and momentum towards a socialist society?

How do go about reversing the harmful effects of climate change in South Africa and our communities?

The YCLSA should strengthen economic planning and participation at all levels in order to lobby and advocate for the proper allocation of resources in the best way possible for people and the planet. YCLSA members and branches must be actively involved in local government Integrated Development Planning (IDP) and Social Labour Plan (SLP) consultaions processes in order to ensure that municipalities and mines build infrastructure like roads, public transport, and community food production facilities, libraries and clinics for working class communities at the expense of prestige projects like bicycle lanes, municipal and government advertising and police stations, prisons, and courts.

The YCLSA and SACP must invest in building capacity, to participate in community consultation forums that often environmental impact studies for the construction of new mines and heavy industrial facilities. As part of our advocacy work in IDP and SLP consultation work, must be to call for investment in and the promotion of use of public transportation in working class communities, the expansion of rail logistics and the reversal of the apartheid spatial legacy by locating new working class communities within places of work and play.The YCLSA should call for the increase in use and quality of public infrastructure and vociferously oppose any attempts to privatise its use, ownership and control. We should continue to advocate for a social and economic system enjoyed in common, such as public transit, parks and recreational facilities, healthcare and quality education. This would reduce waste as well as give everyone access to social goods.

The YCLSA and SACP must work to build organs of people’s power and democracy in local communities and to educate communities of their rights and responsibilities. Empowered and organised communities will be able to ensure that solar and wind farms are built instead of nuclear power and coal plants. Democracy is essential for successful planning. When workers and communities are empowered to make decisions about production, they will be able to find creative solutions that respect ecological limits while fulfilling people’s needs.

As the YCLSA we must heighten the call for development of renewal energy projects across all levels of government including at municipal level. South Africa has huge untapped potential for renewable energy. A shift towards renewable energy will reduce our emissions, and importantly present sustainable development benefits, including rural job creation, and stimulation of small enterprise. The combination of both Hydroelectrical (Grand Inga) and Concentrated Solar Plants (Karoo) and Gas Fired Plants will in combination with the installed coal fired station provide ample base and variable load electricity that is in line with our a growth path that is in the best interest of the working class. It is estimated that the Grand Inga Electricity Scheme alone, estimated at $ 60 Billion will produce 44 GW of energy for the continent. That is a quarter of the costs per unit of electricity produced compared to nuclear. From where we sit, it should be clear that there is absolutely neither a political, environmental nor even an economic case for nuclear that stands to benefit the workers of South Africa. .

The YCLSA must forge strategic alliances with progressive organisations to ensure decrease demand through technology, efficiency, and education while ensuring that low income households are still able to access electricity and water, through municipal indigent programmes. Unemployed youth must be employed and trained by the state to design and rebuild energy efficient houses and to do retro-fitting of energy efficient homes through solar water heaters, installation of decent ceiling insulation, and the design of houses to best take advantage of natural light and warmth from the sun. As part of this work, the SACP and YCLSA must identify and work with progressive environmental issue based organisations in our communities and campuses that share the protection of the environment as a minimum program. Most campuses across the country have organisations that organise around the ideology of “ecosocialism” an ideology consistent with Marxist theory. In so doing the YCLSA will be able to build strategic relationships with individuals and organisations with a view a view to amplify its programs and to draw in a generation of activists to its ranks.

The constraints faced by Eskom can be expected to persist into the forcible future. Unemployed youth, including YCLSA structures must be brought into massive energy efficiency programmes by including integration of energy-saving technologies into our social programmes and by leading campaigns to encourage environmental and energy conscious consumer behaviour.

Coupled with our programme towards socialism, the YCLSA and SACP must define clear and measurable indicators of development, not econometric indicators of growth GDP, as a scorecard for our development path. Rather human development indicators of like unemployment, inequality, life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy.

We must strengthen our ties with progressive international working class youth and student organisations, through World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) to build strategic alliances and draw lessons on how to corporate and coordinate our campaigns and struggles. Of immediate interest for us as the YCLSA would be the work done by our counterparts in Cuba. From the 1990s, faced with economic hardship following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the overnight loss of cheap oil, socialist Cuba pioneered a host of ecologically sustainable approaches to agriculture and food and energy security. These included smaller farms, the shortening of logistic hauls distances through development of local markets and the use of more labour intensive methods, and even the reversion in many cases to the use of more soil. Over the last decade, Fidel Castro has risen to be one of the most consistent global leaders raising the challenges of climate change end environmental sustainability.

We must mobilise and educate workers in energy and transport sector on their role with capitalism, as a competition based system which is focused on the unbridled pursuit of profit in which labour creates all of the wealth in society but has neither control over production nor the distribution of goods and the profits it creates. Workers must be made aware made of not only their shop floor struggles, but importantly their struggles must be linked with those of the community. As part of this programme the SACP resolved to campaign for” a switch to the use of renewable sources (notably solar and wind for energy), while balancing this with other developmental priorities.” Working with workers in energy, manufacturing and agricultural sector, we need to find sustainable solutions to energy and food security that will not comprise the livelihood of those workers. As part of mapping the solution space, is the responsibility identify renewable energy solutions that will not comprise the jobs of the millions of workers in the mining and energy sector. We must start to seriously promoting and supporting local small scale agriculture for local consumption both in rural and urban settings. People in townships, villages and even in cities (building rooftops) must be encouraged to produce their own food. Such a shift would be important mitigation step to protect working class communities in a country dependent on industrial scale farming. In order to address the environmental crisis, the SACP must play an active role in providing workers with the ideological guidance that will at all times be able to link their shop floor struggles, their livelihoods and the struggle for socialism.

Communities, business, and the state will have to mobilize to invest in method in negative carbon policies and programmes. That is, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it (where possible). The promotion of reforestation and elimination of deforestation in rural communities is one of the campaign the SACP can be actively educate and organise around.

As argued, a mode of production that exists to maximise profit instead of serving human need results in the accumulation of capital that is detached from the process of producing economic value. This leads to waste, inefficiency, and social and environmental problems including climate change issues. Profit driving production is for this reason why monopoly capital will be unable to find a sustainable solution in contract to a socialist economy. Instead of producing for profit, the governing principle of a socialist economy would be to meet the needs of people and the ecosystems we depend on. This would allow us to produce in the ways that are most sustainable, rather than most profitable. We need a revolutionary transformation that creates a new social system. This can only be achieved through the power of the organised, educated, united and agitated working class under the leadership of a disciplined vanguard Party.

To accomplish these tasks, we need a YCLSA that is organisationally disciplined, that not only can influence its membership, its South Africa allies, but a YCLSA that is bold and innovative enough to actively search for new allies locally and internationally that share the visions of building a just and equitable world order. Let us build a world which provides for people’s basic needs and that is based on egalitarism and economic, political and social democracy.

Sandile Mzilikazi Khumalo is YCLSA Mpumalanga Chairperson

References:

  1. Oreskes, Naomi (2007). "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?". In DiMento, Joseph F. C.; Doughman, Pamela M. Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. MIT Press. pp. 65-66. ISBN 978-0-262-54193-0.
  2. Reflections by Fidel, The March Towards the Abyss, Jan 6th, 2012 3
  3. John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A Green, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs. Andrew Skuce; Nuccitelli; Green; Richardson; Winkler; Painting; Way; Jacobs; Skuce (15 May 2013). "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature" (PDF). Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (2): 024024. Bibcode:2013ERL.....8b4024C. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024.
  4. Rising Tide North America and Carbon Trade Watch Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: False Solutions to Climate Change. Second edition.
  5. Standard and Poor, Climate Change Is A Global Mega-Trend For Sovereign Risk,15-May-2014
  6. COSATU Policy Framework on Climate Change: Adopted by the COSATU Central Executive Committee, August 2011 - See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=5679