Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I have been watching this development in South Africa for some time. I would agree with Bill Fletcher that this movement in South Africa bears watching and even experimenting with here in the United States. I can see where lessons learned might be very useful in Canada, too.

"Amandla": A new voice from within the South African

By Bill Fletcher

November 25, 2007

A very unusual and exciting project was launched in
South Africa this past June. Amandla
(www.amandla.org.za), an on-line and hard-copy journal,
emerged from within overlapping sections of the South
African Left. At a point when the radical Left
internationally desperately needs innovative theory,
Amandla appeared on the scene as a means for the
summation of the South African experience and a
mechanism for badly needed debate within that
significant movement.

I have admired the South African Left for years. Yet
the South African Left has been torn by its own
internal contradictions. Those who have aligned
themselves with the South African Communist Party have
tended to favour the continuation of the tripartite
alliance of the African National Congress, the Congress
of South African Trade Unions, and the South African
Communist Party, despite the grip that neo-liberalism
has held on the ANC-led government [note: the reasons
for this situation go beyond the scope of this
commentary]. Separate from this section of the South
African Left can be found at least two other
components: smaller radical Left political parties,
normally very critical of the tripartite alliance; and
an altogether different amalgam of groupings that tend
to be what can be described as the South African social
movement Left (e.g., anti-HIV/AIDS; Clean water
movements; anti-poverty). To a great extent these
different components of the South African Left have all
but ignored each other except and insofar as they have
attacked one another, sometimes with an unnerving

Into this mix has stepped Amandla, which has served as
a political project to promote dialogue within and
between different segments of the South African Left.
The two issues that have been published are quite
fascinating in their breath. Most interesting has been
the fact that the South African Communist Party, which
tended to shy away from even acknowledging a Left
outside of the tripartite alliance, has had an
important presence in this project through interviews
and articles, including by leading members.

Amandla is important for those of us in the USA both
for giving us insight into the thinking within South
Africa, as well as for, hopefully, inspiring us to do
likewise in the USA. In terms of giving us insight into
South Africa, the South African Left, regardless of any
problems it faces, remains among the most vibrant on
the planet. It is confronting issues of national and
regional economic development in the face of
imperialism, as well as attempting to address the
challenge of building a pro-socialist movement in a
post-liberation society. The latter is noteworthy for
many reasons, not the least being that the South
African Left often finds itself up against former
comrades, individuals who know all the right words and
phrases of the Left, but who use them to advance a
different set of class interests.

In reading Amandla I found myself thinking equally
about the situation in South Africa and in the USA.
Amandla may become a vehicle for a reconfiguration of
the South African Left, at least over time. The result
of such a reconfiguration is impossible to predict, but
the active debate and engagement of different political
tendencies could result in a very different practical
working together and operational unity. It might,
perhaps, result in the gelling of a new
national-popular bloc that advances 21st century
politics against neo-liberalism.

In the USA, though there are significant magazines and
websites, there is nothing quite comparable to Amandla,
and this is a serious loss for us. Much of the
sectarian banter that so many of us have experienced at
one point or the other over the last thirty years has
drifted away like an echo in a cave, yet this has not
meant that serious, principled exchanges emerge that
result in a heightened practical and strategic unity.
Magazines and websites exist that are normally
sponsored by a group or core which may open their pages
to the point of view of another tendency, but that is
qualitatively different from the sort of movement
intervention that Amandla potentially represents in
South Africa.

Readers should not look at Amandla through the eyes of
a voyeur, but rather through the eyes of members of the
radical Left on this side of the 'pond' who are seeking
knowledge and analysis of the situation in Africa, but
also as those attempting to draw lessons for how we can
qualitatively change the state of the US Left.
Publications have historically had the potential, and
actuality, to serve to challenge and, in some cases,
change the discourse in movements. Drawing from that
lesson we should ponder, in turning the pages of
Amandla, whether we would benefit from such a project.


Bill Fletcher, Jr. is an international and labor writer
and activist. He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute
for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, and is the
immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. He can
be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com