Re: [OPE-L] colloquium on primitive accumulation

From: Patrick Bond (pbond@MAIL.NGO.ZA)
Date: Thu Mar 09 2006 - 00:52:03 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
> Hi Patrick,
> Right -- that's the colloquium which you helped to organize that Michael P
> also went to.  He wrote an interesting paper called "Articulation From
> Feudalism to Neoliberalism" which is *attached*.
> How did the colloquium go?  How many people attended?  Did any
> paper create a special 'buzz' among the participants? Any plans
> for a follow-up?

Hi Jerry, it was a much-needed revitalisation of the South African poli-econ
tradition, which has been in the doldrums since the early 1990s (I would
personally accuse Reg Theory of doing near-fatal damage but that's another
story). The papers are mostly posted now, at under
Economic Justice. A couple of testimonials - one by Michael P, another by
Margaret Legum, the matron of the post-Keynesian tradition in SA - are below
that have awful fibs you can ignore about moi. Anyhow, the main follow-up
will be through 'economic justice' thematic activity at our Centre. First,
in SA, that will involve deepening the analysis of Luxemburgist accumulation
by dispossession, and uneven/combined development (getting Ashwin Desai back
into our ranks after a ridiculous recent ban by the university
vice-chancellor is still a challenge). It may be that this intellectual work
will contribute a tiny bit to restoring links between trade unions
(currently aligned to the neoliberal ruling party) and the new social
movements. Second, the regional Southern Africa intellectual linkages are
growing with activists whom we hope will be increasingly connected to their
labour/community movements and the Africa Social Forum. The head of the
continent's main intellectual group (Codesria of Dakar), Adebayo Olukoshi,
did a remarkable talk - in the spirit of Guy Mhone whose economic theory is
termed 'enclavity' - about African economic distortions. That and much more
will be produced in December as a special issue of the Review of African
Political Economy. And Capitalism Nature Socialism will also carry some of
the material. We'll have a joint CCS/RosaLuxemburg document at some stage
soon, too.

Maybe much more importantly, the day before the conference began (i.e. last
Monday), the local city manager of Durban - former radical urban planner
Mike Sutcliffe - tossed out democracy and prohibited a large march which
aimed to protest slum conditions. This was the second such banning, and so
the comrades went to the courts and by 2pm had the ban overturned (meantime,
the police had cracked a few heads and taken four leaders prisoner). Still,
that was the highlight of the week: taking back from the neoliberal regime
the elementary Bill of Rights protections on civil/political activism. The
harder struggles, to realise socio-economic rights, lie immediately ahead.
The task of analysis is fairly minor in all of this, because we can all see
what one Cape Town commentator termed 'neo-apartheid' all around...

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Perelman" <michael@ECST.CSUCHICO.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 5:49 PM
Subject: Re: [PEN-L] new pen-l additions.

> My own talk was not particularly important, but the Durban experience was
> an eye-opener.
> You had poor young people who live in shacks -- maybe 10' x 10',
> constructed of the sort of
> materials that you could scrounge up in the nearby dump -- going toe to
> toe with some of
> the smartest and most articulate academics you can imagine.  There was
> mutual respect on
> all sides.  I could not imagine something like that happening in the US,
> with its elitist
> hierarchies.
> I have never seen anybody work like Patrick Bond -- organizing every
> detail of the
> conference, taking care of the petty needs of people like me, going to the
> police station
> to help young people who have been arrested and beaten during an aborted
> demonstration, and
> still taking care of his administrative duties.  One woman who saw Patrick
> for only about
> 10 minutes, juggling everything on the cell phone while trying to
> coordinate arrangements
> for different visitors remarked to me, that's not healthy trying to do so
> much.  As he
> left, we tried to guess whether he would hit the ignition in his truck for
> the cell phone
> first.  And yet, when it came time for him to deliver his talk it was
> totally organized,
> calm, and brilliant.
> The poverty and waste of the talent of poor in Durban was appalling.
> Young, intelligent
> looking people, living in squalor, next to a wretched dump, with no
> economic prospects
> whatsoever.
> I really wish that people here could help me to understand what a
> realistic program would
> be for a government to get the economy moving the economy moving.
> Comparing South Africa
> with the policies that I understand are taking place in Venezuela is not
> very flattering to
> the South African government.
> One thing that struck me on the trip is that the US seems to be moving
> more in the
> direction of South Africa than South Africa is moving in the direction of
> the US.  I am
> flooded with e-mail and all sorts of back work.  I'm hoping that the long
> thread on India
> threw some light on this subject.
> --
> Michael Perelman
> Economics Department
> California State University
> Chico, CA 95929
> Tel. 530-898-5321
> E-Mail michael at

With compliments from a recovered economist

Dear Patrick, you pulled off a coup:
a seminar filled to the brim
with discourses ancient and new,
and none of us out on a limb.

With capital accumulation -
not to mention its primitive form -
with narrative articulation,
we certainly talked up a storm.

We examined pre-capitalist construction -
its social formation to boot.
We concluded its only a fraction
of capital's capacity to loot.

The national question's still with us.
Contestation of space still ensures.
And patriotic bourgeoisies plus
design sub-imperialist lures.

So, dear friend, please accept admiration
for your transformational wand
that triggers the rigours of chasin'
the intellectual adventures of Bond.

Margaret Legum
March 2006

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