Riot Police in Parliament

Picture credit: President Jacob Zuma courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr

Richard Pithouse - The ANC has effectively abandoned the idea of liberation as a national project and sought, instead, to constitute itself as an authoritarian and predatory excrescence on society. By raising Jacob Zuma above the law, the ANC have broken the social contract on which a parliamentary system depends. The opposition now have a right to rebel. In fact, if they are genuinely committed to the idea of parliament as the primary seat of popular sovereignty, they now have an obligation to rebel and to sustain their rebellion until the ANC is willing to subordinate itself and its leader to the law.


Is the NDR Really a Formula for Radical Change?

Picture credit: COSATU Secretary General Zwelizima Vavi, President Jacob Zuma and COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Steven Friedman - Why is an idea, which featured in Marxist debates decades ago now thrown about by all sides in mainstream public debates? Why is it used by both sides in the dispute wracking Cosatu? The idea - or slogan - is 'national democratic revolution' (NDR). Both those who supported Numsa's removal from Cosatu and Numsa itself say they support the NDR. But, as we watch the rift in Cosatu develop, the key question is whether it will initiate an attempt to break with apartheid-era patterns, which supporters of the NDR say they want or remain a slogan designed to score points, not a recipe for change.

Numsa's United Front: Forward to the Past?

Picture credit: Numsa Jane Duncan - Numsa has been exploring political alternatives for the past year. In pursuing a United Front, the union claims to uphold socialist ideas in the Marxist-Leninist tradition, although it also recognises the importance of a diversity of political thought. But, it also invokes received ideas from a particular tradition in liberation politics. Numsa has called for the country to return to the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), guided by a very familiar and much revered document from South Africa's history, the Freedom Charter, as a path towards a socialist society. The question is: do the NDR and Freedom Charter really offer the basis for an alternative socialist politics in South Africa?

Diet's Effects on Emissions Give Food for Thought

Picture credit: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Tim Radford - American researchers confirm that a shift to vegetarian, Mediterranean or fish-based diets would cut greenhouse gases, conserve forests and savannah, and have a big impact on obesity-linked health problems. Since agriculture already accounts for 25% of all emissions, two US scientists argue in Nature journal that a shift away from the trend towards steak, sausage, fried potatoes and rich cream puddings offers tomorrow's world three palpable rewards. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced. There would be less pressure to clear forests and savannah for farmland, so biodiversity would be conserved. There would also be lower rates of disease linked with obesity and cardiovascular hazard.

On Going Vegan to Fight Climate Change

Picture credit: Affitnity Chris Hedges - My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate - "God grant me abstinence, but not yet." But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction, and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife - who was the engine behind our family's shift - and I have made.

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Ann Bernstein and Trudi Makhaya on the Economic Freedom Fighters

Picture credit: Ann Bernstien and Trudi Makhaya Video Watch - At a recent event hosted by SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in which we explored "left, right and centre" views on South Africa's economic development, a journalist snuck in a question about the panel's views on the Economic Freedom Fighters. It was interesting to hear what Ann Bernstein of the Centre for Development and Enterprise and Trudi Makhaya, economic analyst at eNCA Africa, had to say about the new political party. Bernstein said that she was puzzled by the party. Makhaya said that she was intrigued by black middle class professionals who voted for the EFF. She referred to the EFF's manifesto as "plain vanilla".

Russell Brand on Revolution, Fighting Inequality, Addiction, Militarized Policing & Noam Chomsky

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons Video Watch - For years Russell Brand has been one of Britain's most popular comedians, but over the past 12 months he has also emerged as a leading voice of Britain's political left. He has taken part in anti-austerity protests, spoken at Occupy Wall Street protests and marched with the hacker collective Anonymous. A recovering addict himself, Brand has also become a leading critic of Britain's drug laws. He has just come out with a new book expanding on his critique of the political system. It is simply titled "Revolution". Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews him.

Why We Need to End the War on Drugs

Picture credit: Copsrcorrupt Video Watch - Is the War on Drugs doing more harm than good? In a bold talk, drug policy reformist Ethan Nadelmann makes an impassioned plea to end the "backward, heartless, and disastrous" war on drugs. He highlights many reasons to end the global obsession with stamping out drug use, amongst them, raising the important point that current drug laws are driven by racism. According to Nadelmann, "If the principle smokers of cocaine were affluent older white men and the principle consumers of Viagra were poor young black men, then smokable cocaine would be easier to get with a prescription from your doctor and selling Viagra would get you 5-10 years behind bars."

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