South Africa: Workers and poor the biggest losers in Zuma’s reign of state capture

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma at the SACP 2012 national congress. Photo: Mark Waller   The left allies of the governing ANC at first backed the ex-president but ended up apologizing for having done so It’s been a surreal time in South Africa, where events went into overdrive in February after a period of political torpor heading for seemingly permanent logjam. The recall mid-month of president Zuma by his party, the African National Congress, followed by his resignation as head of state and the speedy inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa as the country’s head of state ended a long run of … Continue reading

The Weinstein and Westminster Scandals Should Make us Reflect on the Connection Between Power and Sexual Violence

1). What started in October with the rapid fall of a once untouchable movie mogul has grown in the intervening weeks into a full blown crisis for institutions across Britain and the US. The British Prime minister has had to hastily convene cross party meetings and cobble together a semblance of an HR system at Westminster after a series of accusations against MPs and ministers from both sides of the house. Her defence secretary has had to resign after revelations of inappropriate advances toward journalists and lewd comments to one of his own female MPs. Her first secretary of state … Continue reading

South Africa: A sort of justice for Ahmed Timol – freedom fighter murdered by secret police in 1971

It’s taken 46 years for some sort of justice to prevail in the case of Ahmed Timol, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody when South Africa was under racist white rule. Timol was the twenty-second person to be killed in police custody following the introduction in 1967 of the Terrorism Act. This allowed for indefinite detention without trial. Timol was a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), which was banned by the apartheid regime. In October 1971, he was arrested for being in possession of the communist party newsletter Inkululeko-Freedom and other material. A few days later he was … Continue reading

‘Woman is Man’s Symptom’: Blade Runner 2049

If a film is like a dream, then the images in that dream might be a good place to start: images of rain and sea, water, the symbol of birth and death. Of dust, dryness and colour, and vast space, of chilling winter and endless snow. But this is a peopled space – whatever we might take a person to be. In  Blade Runner 2049 Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford appear as rather lonely men (or ‘men’) surrounded by vital, important women ( or ‘women’) appearing in all the ways a woman might seem to a man: as mother, wife, daughter, leader, sex object, lover … Continue reading

A Corbyn Government Under Attack: What Would We do?

I’ve just been reading China Mieville’s October, his account of 1917 in Petrograd, and wondering about what it might mean to attempt a socialist transformation of British society in the face of the inevitable oppostion.   Assuming Corbyn would face a concerted effort to derail or destroy a Left government, what should we do to avert that? I think we all realise that we need, not just an election followed by a Labour Government that ‘gets on with governing’ old style, but a supportive mass movement outside parliament. That’s easier to say (or write) than do, though. Such things aren’t grown … Continue reading

A Month That Changed the Country? Grenfell Tower Could be a Watershed

It seems fitting that at this time a new series of Twin Peaks is appearing on our screens. David Lynch’s most well known production about a small town in the North of the United States, traumatised by the slow revelation of its dark underbelly. It begins with the murder of a local homecoming queen. An act that on the surface appears totally out of place amid the scenes of bucolic small town life. A darkness that could only have been visited upon the community from outside. Eventually the surface is broken to reveal that what appeared wholesome, functional and everyday … Continue reading