SACSIS is closed for the December break and will re-open on the 5th of January 2015. This website will not be updated during this period. We thank our readers for your interest in our views and wish you everything you want from this holiday season and beyond. Look out for more articles and interviews from SACSIS next year, as well as an exciting new panel discussion that we have in the pipeline for February 2015 that will cover the race debate in South Africa. Click on this post to read about our year in review and find the editor's picks for 2014.
Richard Pithouse - For some time now much of the left has either been alienated from actually existing popular mobilisation or unable to make and sustain productive connections with it. Indeed, the relentless elitism of much of the left has consigned it to irrelevance in a period of escalating popular struggle. This elitism unfortunately propels significant parts of the left towards the fantasy that trickle-down economics can be successfully opposed with trickle-down politics. The primary challenge for the left today is to break with this elitism.
Dale T. McKinley - In case you missed it, 2014 was the first full year of South Africa’s 'radical second phase' of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). Apparently, we are now well into a nation-wide process of 'radical transformation' that is definitively putting the country on a 'new growth and development path'. Forget about the return of rolling blackouts, the record-breaking wealth and conspicuous consumption of the rich, the ongoing crisis of local government service delivery and the palpable intensification of racial discord. According to the ANC and the SACP, most all of these hallmarks of this past year are the unfortunate legacies of an evidently non-radical first phase of the NDR.
Jane Duncan - Drones have an unprecedented capacity for undetected, pervasive mass surveillance of people - including, of actions that may not usually be discernible to the naked eye - making it easier for governments to collect information on their citizens. The circumstances in which they do so need to be tightly regulated as they present a unique threat to privacy and the potential for their misuse (against government critics, for instance) is great. Civil society organisations elsewhere have been warning about the dangers of under-regulated drone use. How concerned should South Africans be?
Mandisi Majavu - As American grand juries decide not to indict white police officers responsible for the deaths of two black men in separate incidents, Michael Brown and Eric Garner join a long list of black men who've been killed with impunity by the police. Black misandry has reached new heights in the U.S. - American legal and social institutions have evolved to view the use of force as justifiable and necessary to control black males. In response, African-Americans, decades after the end of the civil rights movement, now find themselves having to draw on their history and tradition of civil disobedience to demand justice.
Watch - The place that travel writer Pico Iyer would most like to go? Nowhere. In a counter-intuitive and lyrical meditation, Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness. In our world of constant movement and distraction, he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day, or a few days out of every season. It's the talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands of our world. It’s the perfect talk to inspire reflection, as we evaluate the year behind us and contemplate the future we wish to make for ourselves.
Watch - As Numsa gears up for the launch of its United Front, SACSIS and Norwegian People’s Aid recently hosted a panel discussion that examined the relationship between labour and civil society in the struggle for social justice. While Numsa is doing pioneering work in South Africa, international examples of labour/civil society partnerships are not uncommon. International speakers on our panel talked about their experiences of these partnerships. Although many challenges must still be overcome, the importance of labour and civil society joining forces is indisputable. As one speaker put it, the struggle against elites is a political struggle that requires a new political mass movement.
Watch - On November 22, at a panel discussion co-hosted by SACSIS and Norwegian People's Aid, Dinga Sikwebu, co-ordinator of Numsa's United Front talked to an international civil society audience about the metalworkers union's expulsion from Cosatu and the reasons for the launch of Numsa's United Front. Sikwebu argued, "the people at Cosatu think that it's a policy for (the federation) to stay in the alliance." Numsa was expelled because it "violated that policy". There are other charges against the metalworkers' union, but in the main, Numsa sees its expulsion from Cosatu as being politically motivated.
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