LAND:from words to actions: connecting policies to implementation

South Afrika is a rich country. It has almost everything required to become a global economic powerhouse,  a “First World” country by any standards.

Although much of the population still remains largely impoverished, racially and economicaly segregated as the legacy of apartheid’s separate developments remains perpetuated through the neoliberal policies which the current government pursues, yet there remains palpable promise that this could still be a revolutionary country for all its citizens. Only if the burning Land restitution, proper environmental and economic questions are adequately addressed. For this to happen, we need more than just political will, we need communities that will organise themselves for extraordinary self sacrifice. We have to deal with our government as if they are really the publics servants. We must demand servent leadership and stop giving all our power to big polirical men and the rich.

The South Afrikan government is a contradictory one, despite its patriotic, nationalist rhetoric and so called liberation history, it nevertheless still protects white privilege and does very little to deal with the historical and structural questions that are a cause for nassive black poverty.

The perennial Land question:

The majority of South Afrika’s indigenous population do not have a say on how the mineral and other resources are utilized and how they too can benefit from the wealth of the land.

Large tracts of arable land is either owned by private and mostly white farmers, while the rest is held precariously in public and private trusts by institutions and persons linked to the government.

In an article titled, Who Owns The Land, the City Press’s Yolandi Groenewald, wrote:

“The state audit found that 91% of all land in the Free State was privately owned and a further 2% could not be accounted for.

Free State Agriculture, the largest farmer representative organisation in that province, contracted the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, an independent university-based research network, to conduct their own investigation into land ownership in the province.

Their comprehensive report showed that little progress had been made with land reform. It found that 93% of the province was used for farming and 86.39% of the agricultural land in the Free State was white owned.

Only 2.96% of agricultural land in the province is currently held by black people. These farmers have been able to acquire only 148 423ha of land on the open market and have access to 4 827ha through equity schemes.

Only 1.71% of land has been acquired through the various permutations of the land reform programme, while 1.25% has been acquired privately.

However, the Free State’s former Bantustan of QwaQwa was not included in the farmland audit. A total of 209 000ha of land in the Free State has been transferred through various land reform programmes to projects for which the state still holds the title deeds. The audit also found that only 5 771ha has been transferred through restitution programmes.This conflicts with the 55 700ha figure shown by the land department.The most likely explanation for the anomaly was that the deeds for the land had not yet been transferred to the restituted owners and were still in the name of the previous owners, the report said.”

You can find the rest of the article here:

The report gives an impression that there is no really reliable study or knowledge about the real state of land ownership in RSA. The government is literally beating around the bush. There is no political will to address this peessing matter of life an death.

All the paries and movements that are agitating for land rediatribution and restoration of Black peoples dignity are rendered insignificant by the white owned mainstream media. Their lack of a cohesive united effort is also their Achilles heel. Instea of defining themselves as peoples movements they seem to be reduced to their respective leaders’ projects.

South Africa also has a high potential for renewable energy resources due to its geographical and climatic advantages. The Rastafari research unit called Kehase Research Institute has a paper titled: Development of Independent Renewable Energy SourcesFor Empowerment of Rastafari Communities in South Africa.

While the work focuses on the Rastafari community in particular, there is nothing prohibiting the Institute from linking this to the whole Southern Afrikan population.

Part of the researches objectives:

  • “To gain access into the abundant natural resources and land available to communities in SA
  • To acquire available techniques to power up and generate energy for indipendent Rastafari communities.
  • To attain eco-friendly methods of harnessing and yielding energy in order to secure our community’s economic and social development.”

This particular outlook may be focused on the Rastafari but there is evidence that there are many institutions and communities all over the continent who seek similar goals, but the question is are they getting sufficient support in order to implement their goals?

Here is a speech by Environmental Affairs Minister Molewa that highlights the opportunities and challenges that South Afrika faces:

Minister Molewa’s address at opening of Environment Summit

“A radical approach to utilizing the environment to transform the lives of our people – outlining rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders and social partners”.

ICC Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Province, Republic of South Africa, 09 June 2016

 “The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr. Willies Mchunu
The MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, Mr. Sihle Zikalala
Representatives of government departments, business and NGOs,
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to join you here today at this Environmental Summit in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal under the theme: ‘Utilizing Kwa-Zulu Natal’s capital in a sustainable manner to drive radical socio-economic transformation.’

In addressing this question, we are guided by the Constitution of the Republic, and the Bill of Rights, which gives effect to environmental rights and equitable access to resources; and also forms the basis upon which our environmental laws were created.

Environmental rights are given further support by our National Development Plan (NDP):  which revolves around citizens being active in development, all the while led by a capable and developmental state that is able to intervene to correct our historical inequalities, and that can enhance the capabilities of our people so that they can live the lives they desire.

The environmental sector continues to play a key role not just in advancing protection of our country’s natural resources, but in economic development, poverty alleviation, and job creation.

The world development agenda was previously centered on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s); that is until the 2012 Rio+20 Conference which was in essence a ‘stock-take’ on the global progress of the MDG’s.

Considering that by this time a number of the MDG’s were not fully implemented, it was resolved to advance a new global development agenda.

This became known as Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, encapsulated by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and was formally adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Jacob Zuma highlighted the alignment of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals to South Africa’s National Development Plan as well as to the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The SDGs, as they are commonly known, envisage, among others, a world in which every country enjoys inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all.

Ladies and gentlemen,

An increased awareness of the global implications of unchecked development on our planet and our natural resources: has given impetus to the need to integrate sustainable development into future planning.

The integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely economic, environmental and social – not only serves to protect and conserve our natural capital for current and future generations. It also offers the opportunity to build the country’s skills base, and empower and capacitate our people.

Sustainable development is wholly in line with the environmental clause contained in our Constitution which juxtaposes ‘securing ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources’ with ‘promoting justifiable social and economic development’

In April this year, I was delegated by President Jacob Zuma to join world leaders from 175 countries in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) (UNFCCC) in the French capital in December 2015.

The Paris Agreement marks the beginning of a new era of international cooperation to address the pressing challenge of climate change.

It provides a common platform for enhanced action to implement the UNFCCC. The objective is to make it one of the most enduring and successful of all multilateral agreements.

Given the reality of climate change, we are at a point where all countries of the world are stepping up efforts to integrate sustainable development principles into our planning and governance processes.

I have chosen for my address today the topic “A radical approach to utilizing the environment to transform the lives of our people – outlining rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders and social partners.”

This is in recognition of the role played by the environmental sector in driving not just natural resource conservation but also socio-economic transformation.

It is also in recognition of the need to strengthen partnerships between government, industry, business, civil society, and citizens as a whole, if we are to attain the vision we all aspire to: A South Africa that is prosperous and sustainable.

We are supported by a sound regulatory regime that is transformational and developmental. South Africa is transitioning towards a sustainable, climate change resilient, inclusive low-carbon economy.

Green Economy

Through South Africa’s Green Economy Strategy, we continue to promote equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social development. Our strategy has 8 key pillars, namely:

  • Green buildings and the built environment;
  • Sustainable transport and infrastructure;
  • Clean energy and energy efficiency;
  • Natural resource conservation and management;
  • Sustainable Waste management;
  • Water management;
  • Sustainable consumption and production and
  • Agriculture food production and forestry

These go hand in hand with the creation of jobs and opportunities as well as skills development for our people.

With regards to green buildings and the built environment, we are implementing energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure projects as part of our Green Cities Programme.

The city of Durban’s Green Strategy has implemented several projects to ensure the sustainability of the environment – which includes working with communities to plant more trees, and growing indigenous vegetation in areas previously dominated by invasive alien species.

The Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project is another example of the way in which communities are working to restore ecosystems, improve water quality, and mitigate the effects of flooding, to name but a few.

Clean energy and energy efficiency

Guided by the Integrated Resource Plan, by 2030 we aim to have sliced our energy demand as a country significantly, through technological innovation, good behavioral practice and public commitment to more efficient, sustainable and equitable energy use. We aim for instance in terms of the IRP to develop 42% of our energy mix from renewables.

Sustainable transport and infrastructure

This includes the development of an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system, developing rail networks and air transportation, with all of these built on well-constructed supporting infrastructure that should be adapted to make it resilient to the impacts of climate change

We have worked with partners to mobilize over R 115 million to support phase 2 of the non-motorized transport system (NMT) in the three Metros including in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.

Earlier this year the eThekwini Municipality unveiled an ambitious plan that includes integration of the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT), upgrading rail transport and the introduction of cycling and walking lanes. It is envisaged that the NMT in this metro will reduce congestion, cut down carbon emissions, and encourage sustainable development.

Chemicals and waste

The Department of Environmental Affairs hosted the 5th annual Waste Khoro here in Kwa-Zulu/Natal last week, where delegates looked at the ways in which the waste economy could be advanced, particularly with regards to facilitating the entry of new players into the waste management space.

In dealing with waste, we have based our actions on our well-established laws and regulations. During the past two years we have amended the National Waste Management Act to strengthen our waste management practices countrywide.

We have prioritized the licensing of waste disposal sites and continue to engage and empower communities affected by the negative impacts of illegal dumping and poorly managed landfill sites as well as bolstering compliance monitoring and enforcement capacity and the implementation of authorized waste management best practice.

In the next year we aim to approve and begin the implementation of the three prioritized Industry Waste Management Plans (IWMPs), namely for the Paper and Packaging, Electrical and Electronic and Lighting Industries respectively.

In line with the Pricing Strategy for waste and the SARS Waste Tyre Levy collection system, these IWMPs will set in motion a new economic paradigm for the management of these waste streams in South Africa.

Plans have been put in place for the management and disbursement of funds through the Waste Management Bureau that will be fully operationalized later this year.

There have been a number of successful initiatives in the province around waste management: many of them utilizing cutting-edge technology.

These include the Landfill Gas to Electricity facility in the eThekwini Municipality, the PETCO plastic bottle recycling plant in Phoenix, the Leachate Recovery and Treatment Facility in Kwa-Dukuza, the MPACT Recycling, Plastics and Corrugated Cardboard Plant in the city of Durban, and a tyre recycling facility in Durban that forms part of the government’s successful Waste Tyre Management Plan, REDISA.

Waste management isn’t just a catalyst for green jobs: it also plays a key role in government’s service delivery programme, especially at a municipal level.

Municipalities are required to have appropriate waste management infrastructure including buyback centres, material recovery facilities, and recycling centres.

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) provides for basic services infrastructure in this regard, as well as incentives to encourage recycling.

It is apparent however that many municipalities often opt to use MIG for disposal (landfill development) and hardly for recycling (e.g. buy-back centres) infrastructure.

This indicates that a huge opportunity exists in the recycling value chain, and it is encouraging to note that some municipalities are being proactive and innovative in the recycling and pre-sorting of waste.

Government has committed investment of over R180 million into the development of 30 buy-back centers, of which 15 have been completed, 10 are under implementation and 5 are in the planning stages.

Examples include the construction of a waste buy-back center in the Emadlangeni Local Municipality and in the uMvoti Local Municipality and refurbishments to a buy-back center in the Newcastle Municipality and Mtubatuba Local Municipalities respectively.

These are all made possible through funding from our Environmental Protection Infrastructure Programme (EPIP).

To encourage the scale-up of recycling enterprises in the waste sector, we have also launched the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme that will provide the initial capital setup costs for emerging waste entrepreneurs including right here in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal.

With regards to job creation, the Department’s Youth Jobs in Waste programme has countrywide provided 3750 job opportunities, of which 2213 benefited women and 78 benefited persons with disabilities.

In Kwa-Zulu/Natal alone, we have created 794 work opportunities for young people through this programme, with all the municipalities participating and benefiting.

Examples include a waste management through street cleaning project and a park rehabilitation and tree planting project, both in the Umtshezi Local Municipality, which have resulted in the creation of 235 jobs.

We are also working hard to bring our country’s more than 67 147 registered Waste Pickers into the formal waste economy and ensure their safety and protection. Waste pickers as we all know help to divert recyclables away from landfils.

Environmental programmes

MEC Zikalala, I am proud to say that in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal the environmental sector is playing a real, tangible role in driving socio-economic transformation.

Our knowledge-based development model aims to address the interdependence between natural ecosystems protection and economic growth: with consideration of the adverse impact economic activities can and do have on the environment.

The Department of Environmental Affairs, through its Environmental Programmes (the “Working For” Programmes), funds the Working on Waste, Working for Water, Working on Fire, Working for the Coast, Working for Land, Working for Ecosystems and Working for Wetlands programmes, as well as Value Added industries, People and Parks, Wildlife Economy, Youth Environmental Services, Greening and Open Space Management as well as Biosecurity Programmes, respectively.

All these interventions are aligned with the NDP’s target of 11 million jobs by 2030.

These projects are aimed at the creation of job opportunities through labour-intensive methods; give support to small business development and promote skills development as per the requirements of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

Also in KwaZulu-Natal, the Department has launched the Environment Sector Local Government Strategy to provide a platform for a more coordinated and structured mechanism of dealing with sustainable environmental management in local government.

Biodiversity and conservation

Ladies and gentlemen,

South Africa, and this beautiful province, is richly endowed with natural capital. As the third most mega bio-diverse country on earth, our country is home to at least 17% of the world’s biodiversity.

Unfortunately, the enjoyment of and benefit from this country’s biodiversity was previously the preserve of the select few. Our people were forcibly removed from the ancestral land on which they had lived and depended, so that protected areas could be established.

The indigenous knowledge of our people was taken, and in some instances stolen, and used by foreign companies to make fortunes, as our people got nothing.

It has been under this ANC government that we are redressing this legacy of dispossession, to bring our people not just into the mainstream of conservation but to enable them to reap the benefits of this country’s biodiversity.

Our 14-year National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (BES) has been developed to increase the biodiversity contribution to Gross Domestic Product between now and 2030 while conserving the country’s ecosystem.  It focuses on enhancing growth in both the wildlife and tourism sectors by facilitating the entry of previously disadvantaged individuals.

This strategy has the strategic objective of capitalizing on the conservation successes of our country to contribute towards the socio-economic development of communities.

A key component we are driving is making communities owners of wildlife.

We have already begun the process of facilitating the transfer of wildlife assets to previously disadvantaged communities.

In 2015 we donated 4 dehorned rhino to the community of Nambiti right here in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The year before we handed over 5 rhino to the Mdluli Tribal Authority in Mpumalanga.

Work is also currently being done with the Balepye and Selwane communities in Limpopo who have been beneficiaries of South Africa’s land redistribution programme.

The Biodiversity Economy Strategy aims to optimize the total economic benefits of the wildlife and bio-prospecting industries in line with sustainable utilization principles.


Environmental impact assessments (EIA’S)


Premier Mchunu,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The birth of democracy in South Africa led to the development of a new legislative and policy framework in the environmental field. In support of sustainable development, a number of new tools were developed, including the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) process and the One Environmental System.

In line with the principle of co-operative governance, which emphasizes the need for cooperation and consultation within and between the various spheres of government – we are promoting sustainable development principles across the sector in line with the Department’s stewardship role.

Infrastructure investment is a key priority of the National Development Plan (NDP), New Growth Path, and Nine-Point-Plan and the Environmental Impact Assessment process plays a key role.

Recent legislative amendments to streamline the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) application processes to bring them in line with the Infrastructure Development Act, has yielded major successes in terms of turnaround times and finalization.

In the 2015/2016 financial year, competent authorities processed a combined number of 1 343 applications, with Kwa-Zulu/Natal accounting for 14% of these decisions.

The sector finalized 93% of these decision within the legislated timeframes and Kwa-Zulu/Natal averaged 97% which means it had 187 of its 192 decisions finalized in time.

This percentage is higher than the national average and it demonstratesthat this is a province at work, and other competent authorities are now learning from KZN.

There are currently 18 Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) countrywide which have five core functions: ‘to unlock opportunity, transform the economic landscape, create new jobs, strengthen the delivery of basic services, and support the integration of African economies.’

Amongstthe Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) were authorized in the province in 2015/16 are the proposed upgrade of 11.27KM of the Umfolozi to Eqwasha Twin Chickadee Eskom power line and 0.5 KM of the Umfolozi to Dabula Twin Chickadee Eskom power line; theProposed Development of the Duma (Kombe) 400KV Main Transmission Station and the Associated 88KV and 400KV Turn-in Power Lines;as well as the Proposed Development of the Vryheid Traction Station andAssociated Eskom Turn-inPower Lines –  all under the Transnet Coal Link Upgrade Project.

Other projects authorized that have an enormous economic significance in the province include the proposed extension of Alton south railway line to the Richards Bay IDZ phase 1F, Alton North Within Umhlathuze local municipality, and the proposed deepening, lengthening and widening of berths 203 to 205 at Pier 2, Container Terminal in thePort of Durban.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation

I would like to turn briefly now to South Africa’s contribution towards the global effort to fight climate change.

Last year South Africa submitted our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat.

Our INDC encompasses three distinct components namely Mitigation, Adaptation and Means of Implementation.

In submitting our INDC, South Africa has clearly demonstrated the country’s political commitment to limiting warming and, in turn, to limiting future risks posed by higher temperatures.

It builds on the 2009 emissions reduction pledge President Zuma announced on behalf of South Africa at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and further presents an emission reduction trajectory range for 2025 and 2030.

We are putting in place a greenhouse gas emission mitigation framework which includes a range of measures aimed at achieving our overall national goals as reflected in our National Development Plan.

South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy considers both development needs and climate change imperatives in the context of our status as a developing country, with a priority to eliminate poverty and eradicate inequality.

Our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy identifies priority interventions and harmonises key Water, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Health, Human Settlement, and Disaster Risk Reduction sectoral adaptation plans.

Adaptation interventions have already begun countrywide and in this province.

A successful example of this is the project on Building Resilience in the Greater uMgeni Catchment in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, funded by the UN Adaptation Fund. The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is the accredited implementing

Work is being done with business and industry to analyze the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the potential social and economic opportunities and impacts of South Africa’s transition to a lower carbon economy and society.

This year we begin the first voluntary 5-year cycle of implementing the greenhouse gas emission mitigation system, covering the period 2016 to 2020, with a mandatory system for the next 5-year phase.

Key components of the system include a carbon budget for each company; submission of pollution prevention plans (which will indicate how companies plan to achieve their carbon budgets) a reporting system to gather information on emissions from companies; and a variety of other measures to be applied to support and/or complement the Carbon Budget system.

Through the national Green Fund, we have adopted an innovative approach to catalyzing investment in green programmes.

Since the establishment of the Fund in 2012, a total budget allocation of R 1.1 billion has been made. The Board of the Fund has approved 31 investment projects, 16 research and development projects and 8 capacity building projects.

Over 1 600 direct job opportunities and at least 11 300 indirect job opportunities have been created. The majority of these job opportunities are created under the investment projects portfolio. More than 7 400 individuals have been directly trained and capacitated in the area of green skills.

We are also doing work with the National Business Initiative on the green economy.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is also financing the Sustainable Cities Programme to the value of US$ 9 million while the small Independent Power Producers are supported with an Equity Fund of US$ 15 million, all channeled through the DBSA. We have also mobilized US$57.5 million from the Climate Investment Fund to support the expansion of the approved South African Sustainable Energy Acceleration Programme.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We face the task of promoting economic growth in tough economic times. The conservation of our natural resources is a cornerstone of sustainable development; and at the same time our natural capital if utilized correctly can be a source of economic development, job creation and the upliftment of our people.

I have given you a brief idea of the ways in which the public and private sectors, working in collaboration with communities – are advancing sustainable development.

Whether in growing the waste economy or in supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation: the time is now for us to foster new partnerships, and strengthen existing ones.

The province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal is among the country’s leaders in natural resource management, and we have much to learn from what is being done here. Let us build on these successes to deliver on the vision of Agenda 2030: of People, Planet and Prosperity.

I thank you.”

The government has spoken, but who will ensure the implementation? Who will ensure that what is said is done?



Corrupted Seeds and the future of food

An excerpt from an essay titled SEEDS OF CORRUPTION  from the upcoming book called Rock ‘n Rule: The Essays, Stories and Poetry of Menzi Maseko

The Problems Posed By Genetically Modified Organisms in Southern Afrika and Globally

“Developing countries export capacity, especially Africa’s, is undermined and restricted by unjust trade practices. Agricultural products from developing nations face protection that is four to seven times higher than goods from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development states (Newsframer 2006:16).

This unjust protection has a negative effect on the development of Africa in particular because a large percentage of the population depends on the agricultural sector for survival. According to the Commission for Africa Report the agricultural sector is responsible for 70% of the employment on the continent and accounts for 30% of Africa’s GDP (direct).” – (Africa and the Developed World, by Khwezi Mabasa, The Thinker magazine, November 2011/Volume 33)


This is but a brief summary of the apparently insurmountable challenges posed by Genetically Modified Organisms in Afrika. There are various sources of information relating to this subject ranging from books, non-governmental organisations, civil society formations, farmers journals and associations and of course on the world wide web.

For most of my data I have relied on these websites: , and upon the many conversations I have had with fellow social activists, especially with my friend Vanessa Black. This lady possesses a wealth of experience and unbiased information and knowledge of this deleterious problem, so her input has been invaluable. It was through her that I was introduced to the campaigns, lobbying and other works of Earthlife, Earthlife Africa and the recently re-formed Earthlife Africa eThekwini.

I mention this on the offset and not in the end so that whosoever reads this gets an understanding that there are many people and organisations that have been resisting this inhumane and cancerous scourge for a very long time. It is no surprise that the struggle against proliferation of GM crops does not get sufficient media coverage, as if this is not a serious enough issue.

Many professionals from ecologists, biologists, doctors and even some politicians have lost much of their mainstream credibility and even livelihoods while seeking to reveal the truth surrounding this GMO issue. The truth as they say does hurt, but unfortunately it sometimes hurts both the truth teller and the ones who strive to prevent it from coming to light.

Suffice to say that the battle still rages on, on and off the pages, in the farms, supermarkets and as I often tell people: the revolution is on our plates; there is no turning away and avoiding the facts.

Our food and water is the final frontier when it comes to human rights and the struggle for sustainable ecological co-existence. It is sad to realise that just as in male-stream politics, there is no such things as common sense within the pro-GMO lobby. Keep the above quotation from The Thinker in mind through-out this article.


What Are Genetically Modified Organisms:

GMO’s are animals, plants and microbes that result from a process of genetic engineering where genes from one organism are unnaturally inserted into the DNA (impathafuzo) of another, usually a different type of organism. The key word is unnaturally.

For those of us who were asleep at science class or who attended the notoriously ill-equipped and perennially education-less township and rural schools, it is fitting to explain what DNA is.

DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid; it is the basic “blueprint” in every cell of a living thing. It is responsible for producing the proteins that determine how the organism looks, grows, functions and reproduces. Genes are the segments that make up the DNA containing codes for the specific proteins.

In genetic engineering, genes responsible for specific traits in an organism are cut out of the DNA and “spliced” into the DNA of the organism the scientist is trying to change. Due to the hit and miss or imprecise process of genetic engineering, scientists need to identify which cells have successfully “recombined with foreign genes”.

So What GMO’s are found in South Africa?

In 1998 South Africa harvested its first commercial Genetically Modified crops: Maize and Cotton. Yes, you read that right; our main staple crop is now genetically modified and is no longer as nature planned it.

Shockingly South Africa was the first country in the world to allow the growing and selling of a genetically modified staple food, and we remain one of the few countries in the world where this is the case.

Currently (2011) the GM crops permitted to be grown commercially in South Afrika are:

  • Maize – 77% is GM

Maize Ingredients to look out for are: dextrates, dextrins, maltodextrin, starch or modified starch; vegetable protein or hydrolysed vegetable protein, corn oil, corn starch, corn syrup, and corn meal/flour or maize meal.

  • Soya beans – 88% is GM (400 000 ha)

Soya Ingredients to look for are: hydrolysed vegetable protein, textured vegetable extract, soy protein isolate, soy protein, lecithin, emulsifier, maltodextrin, tofu, tempeh, shoyu and anything that mentions soya.

  • Cotton – 1005 is GM
  • Rice products include imported rice sticks, vermicelli, noodles, and cakes.
  • Canola oil – margarine spreads; crisps, salad dressings, biscuits and fried foods.

Can GMOs affect my health?

The only human clinical trial with Genetically Modified foods showed that modified genes from soy transfer into intestinal bacteria. This is very serious because traits found in currently commercialised GM crops include the ability of these cells to create a pesticidal toxin – our gut could become a living pesticide factory; as well as antibiotic resistance. This means that antibiotics in our current medical arsenal become completely ineffective, allowing even common infections to devastate the population.

This has even more catastrophic implications in Third World communities where GMOs and the genetic engineering carry on unchecked and unregulated. Countries such as India and the Afrikan continent are naturally more susceptible to all the deathly whims of pseudo-science.

Claims by the industry that no one has been hurt by GM foods are misleading. Since we do not know when we are eating them and no one monitors human health impacts. However, one study found that soya allergies skyrocketed by 50% after GM soya beans were imported to the UK. Specific health problems have also occurred since the 1980’s:

  • In 1988 a GM food supplement (L-tryptophan) was responsible for killing 100 Americans and causing up to 10 000 others to fall sick.
  • The movement of GMOs cannot be controlled absolutely. GMOs not approved in certain countries or which are not allowed for human consumption are discovered in other countries and in the wrong places.
  • GMOs have also been behind the rising health problems among livestock.
  • Sterility problems and increased infant mortality when infants eat GM feed.
  • Damage to organs including bleeding stomachs, excessive cell growth and inflammation in lung tissue …
  • This is just a brief summary of the health problems directly linked to the spread of Genetically Modified Organism through-out the food chain.

As from 2012 GM crops covered more than 2.1 million hectares of SA, making us the world’s 8th largest grower. These GM crops have one of both of the following genetically engineered traits (characteristics).

Herbicide tolerance (Ht) crops have genes inserted that make them resistant to herbicide. This is usually Monsanto’s Roundup – these are called Roundup Ready (RR). This allows farmers to spray the herbicide indiscriminately over their entire field to kill the crop. Companies such as Dow Chemicals are applying for new types of Ht crops tolerant to older and more toxic herbicides such as Glufosinate and 2,4-D

Insect Resistance (Bt) crops have an inserted gene from the soil bacteria, Basillus thuringiensis, which makes a toxin. This results in a GM plant that produces this Bt toxin in every cell making these plants living pesticides.

Imported Foods: Large quantities of GM maize and soya have been imported into South Afrika for animal feed and a variety of GM products enter SA as components of processed food. Recently Bayer’s GM rice LL62 approved for growing in the USA was approved for importation into SA as a commodity.

rBST in milk: South Afrika also allows dairy farmers to use a genetically engineered growth hormone called rBST or rbGH. It has been banned in over 100 countries, including those belonging to the European Union, due to the health problems it creates both for the cows producing and the people consuming the milk.

New GMO’s: Many experiments are being conducted in laboratories and open field trials for a variety of new GMO’s. In SA this includes banana, canola, cassava, cotton, grapes, maize, potato, sorghum, soya, sugar cane, and a variety of vaccines for humans and animals. Some of these are looking to new traits like drought tolerance or suitability for processing for starch and fuels.

An application by South Afrika’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC) to commercialise GM potatoes was turned down. ARC appealed and the final decision is waiting on the Minister of Agriculture.

Each time you eat food products imported from countries that have commercialised GMO’s especially the USA, Canada, Argentina and China, which together produce 99% of GM crops globally. Looking at these statistics you begin to get the idea. The countries of the so called First World, or their governments have dished out the menu, it is not in our power to question it, just gobble it up. There are many on-going battles by anti-GMO activists in all the countries mentioned, but the buck stops at government’s legislation.

Many governments have been paid billions by multinational monstrosities such as Monsanto, Nestle and even Coca Cola and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just to mention a few to make sure that no one can resist the spread of GMO’s even at the expense of the loss of thousands of autonomous farmer’s livelihoods.

There is a global agenda by the elites to ensure that organic farming becomes a thing of the past. All this is done in the name of helping poor people and in the pretence of providing more food security to a ballooning population. But everyone knows that the poverty problem has nothing to do with scarcity, but everything to do with how a few companies have monopolised and attempted to patent and own every means of production, from the seeds to the land.

Hunger is a daily reality for about 800 million human beings, most of them in the Third World, black and brown peoples. Hunger is not caused by inefficient farming or lack of food production. Hunger is caused by having no money to buy food, no access to land, poor food production, social inequality and military conflict and even blatant racism.

Unfair global free trade regimes coupled with subsidies to northern country farmers is allowing developed countries to dump cheap agricultural products in developing countries which destroys the livelihood of local farmers and the local agricultural industry. Once this happens, countries become food dependent and food becomes inaccessible to the poor. GMOs are introduced as the solution, but they only serve to make these conditions worse.

GM seeds and plants belong, through patent rights, to the company that created them. When you use these seeds you sign a contact with the company that you will not save them (the seeds) for the next season or share them with other people. You are also required to pay a yearly fee for using the company’s patented product.

 Who are the culprits?

There are only a handful of multinationals that control the production and sale of GM seeds. Monsanto has systematically been buying up seed companies (including Calgene, Asgrow, Dekalb genetics, Cargill, Pharmacia and Upjohn) since it shifted its focus from chemicals to biotechnology in the 1980’s.

In 2005, Monsanto moved into the international vegetable seed market by purchasing Seminis and thus became the world’s largest seed company. Seminis supplies over 3.500 seed varieties to fruit and vegetable growers in 51countries. Monsanto is now the leading producer of GM seeds in the world and its seed technology is used in at least 90% of all GM crops worldwide.

(Monsanto has manufactured several other controversial and dangerous products including Agent Orange* used by the USA military in the Vietnam War, PCBs, DDT and Aspartame).

Let us stop right there. There is much more information and documented testimonies from disenfranchised farmers all over the globe, who have been duped into sowing this devilish seed of corruption. Yet there is something that we all can do to curb the spread of this menace. Here are just a few clues:

What Can We Do?

  • Eat Organic
  • Be Informed
  • Tell other people about it
  • Demand that news on New GMO’s gets extensive Media coverage
  • Tell your government that you refuse to eat GMOs
  • Write to the ministers of Agriculture, Health and Trade and Industry: mention this:
  • No further field trials, releases and importation of GMO’s, Demand that SA goes GM free
  • Demand that the GM hormone rBST that is used to increase milk production be banned in SA
  • Demand the segregation of GM seeds, foodstuffs and animal feed from their non-GM counterparts.
  • Demand transparent and democratic public consultation with regard to GMOs
  • Demand the mandatory labelling of all products containing or resulting from GMO’s, these legislations must be enforced.

Finally, we know that our government representatives are mostly incompetent, but they are NOT ignorant. They know very well what they are up to and it is you right ad duty as a citizen to guarantee the health and safely of the land and the livelihood of your family and of the local farmers who produce our food.

Special thanks to Earthlife Africa for all the information and GM Free campaigns (which we must all become a part of) on GMO’s

(Special thanks to Earthlife Africa’s Vanessa Black* for the researched  information and the statistics )



Expendable Lives ?

Yesterday I attended a presentation at the AIDS 2016 conference in Durban. Out of the numerous stalls and platforms that had delegates from around the world showcasing their work within the HIV/AIDS ‘industry’, there was just one that really grabbed my attention. The young Afrikan-Americans calling themselves: Tacoma Action Collective.

These highly articulate and passionate young people were elaborating on their campaign called #StopErasingBlackPeople / Social Protest in a Silent Crisis. Their focus was on Art& Activism; Social Media&Social Justice; Social Justice and Prevention; Grassroots Organising.

I walked in as Chris, who describes himself as a Grassroots activist, ( All four of them describe themselves as such) was presenting about the Black peoples representation at some famous civic and arts spaces. It sounded like a confluence of black radical politics, social justice and artistic impressions on the silencing or ignoring of black people.

Jaleesa then presented on how Chris’s art was the only work that represented Black people at some famous exhibition. ..

I think there is a lot of inter-sections between the movement I belong to, the Black First Land First and the Tacoma Action Collective. Hopefully, we can meet today and speak further and see where we can work collectively across continental divides.

Essentially, it is clear that Black people are facing similar challenges at every aspect of our lives. We are expendables and white supremacy and capitalism treats us as collateral …

This shall be continued. . .

Knowledge Sankofa: The Complexity of Racial Identities in Southern Africa

This story of Dutch intrusion into Southern Africa was shared via email by a Tseliso Moahloli with the title: The Plagiarized image of Camissa (//gam I Ssa): I quote:

“Today I was browsing through some old books at a good second-hand bookstore near where I live and found a very interesting statistic in a maritime history book concerning the fact that over the full span of the1600s over 1770 Dutch ships alone had called at the Cape. It hit me like a thunderbolt as to how much we were fed a load of bull-dust as history during Apartheid times, and I will explain why.

Now I have always been interested in maritime affairs. I went on a working trip to sea for a couple of weeks as an engine-room boy when I was 14 and a number of my family were seamen all their lives. It was one way of getting away from Apartheid South Africa for many men of colour and a means of seeing the world.

For 18 months of my time in the immigration services I was put in charge of a transformation programme involving SA harbours and was responsible for pushing for the re-building of a cruise-liner terminal and inter-agency security command centre in Duncan Dock as  a pilot for each of our harbours.

At the time it was opposed by all and sundry and most vociferously by the DA. The way they talk now all of those opponents want to claim responsibility for what they now see as a great addition to Cape Town’s offerings. So what has all this maritime stuff got to do with the warping of history you might justifiably ask?

I came home and did some quick research by consulting a work – “The Dutch East India Company’s Shipping 1602 – 1795 in a comparative perspective by FS Gaastra and JR Bruijn from Leiden University. This work considers all the variables at play for each decade of two centuries and provides the statistics for six European powers merchant fleets during the 1600s and 1700s between Europe and South and Southeast Asia. It shows us that just over the period 1590 untill 1700 there were 2632 ships that had to call at the Cape and before van Riebeeck arrived in 1652 the figure of ships that called at the Cape was 1071. This represented a rise from around 8 ships a year in the last decade of the 1500s to around 30 in a year with layovers of 2 days to 8 days by the time Van Riebeeck arrived.

The Dutch dominated the numbers but England followed with France Portugal, Denmark also regularly coming to the Cape. Interestingly in the period 1610 to 1620 English ships increased to ten times the number of the previous decade. This strongly indicates why they considered colonisation at this point in time and then later opted to support local development of  indigene support infrastructure.

Indicators of the progression of the English approach is to study their actions of taking Chief Xhore of the Goringhaiqua to London for training and orientation in 1613, the failure of their Newgate convict settlement at the Cape in 1614 – 17, the taking of Chief Autshumao to Jakarta (Batavia) in 1631, the subsequent establishment of an indigene refreshment station on Robben Island in 1632, and the subsequent move of this project to the Camissa River on the Table Bay Mainland by 1638.

This English sponsored relationship with Autshumao and his 60-strong Goringhaicona  permanently settled alongside the
river and beach continued over 20 years before the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and represents the true foundation of the town which would become the City of Cape Town. Autshumao was dealing with 2 to 3 ships per month at this stage and their stayovers would be anything between two days and more than a week.

Effectively it was an almost daily presence of European visitors. This represents a very different picture to one of Jan van Riebeeck arriving to greet a desolate Cape and just a bunch of beach scavenging ignorant indigenous people awestruck at seeing Europeans.

But let’s look at some of the dynamics of the Dutch and other European shipping of this magnitude. Let’s also look at the probable impact on the Khoena and then lets also keep in mind the improbability of the cock ‘n bull history that has been handed down to us over the years, with the collaboration of our academic institutions.

When one looks at the comparative maritime records of that time one gets a good picture of the competitiveness of the European/English powers, the dominance of the Dutch, the size and shape of their vessels and changes over time to this technology due to the cargoes carried. One also has to look at what was driving the increase in shipping to South and Southeast Asia and the dynamics of that region.

What were these ships carrying to that part of the world and why so frequently? One also sees a dramatic and striking attrition rate of ships by examining the return journeys. The attrition rate through wrecks and wear and tear on vessels shows in that only around 50% of these vessels returned to Europe. It spurred on the development of shipbuilding technology.

It was also a driver for the need for sophisticated stop-over points starting with refreshment posts  and graduating to ship repair facilities. The records also show an almost studious  omission in our history books to mention that the main outward bound role of the shipping was to take company officials and huge loads of soldiers to supply the wars in South and South East Asia.

There the Dutch were fighting the English and Portuguese and Muslim Sultanates and to fortify their factories and huge bases in India, Sri Lanka and at Batavia. Factories stretched across the long Indian and Bengal Coast and from Arakan (Rhakine) in Myanmar, to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, through to Formosa, and Japan and then throughout Indonesia. This was a scenario thirsty for armed forces. The United Dutch  East India Company had all the powers of state ceded to them by the Dutch States General. Now here’s the thing – these troops needed time ashore at strategic stops. The voyages were long and soldiers and officials got sick and died but also grew grumpy and fights broke out.

By 1615 already there was a great need for soldiers and officials to be able to go ashore at the Cape of Good Hope. The English took the lead in trying to find a solution. The English East India Company came up with an elaborate plan to establish a small trading colony using freed convicts from Newgate prison.

They also knew that it would need to cooperate with the indigene population and took Chief Xhore to London, Pocohontas style, so that he could be orientated to their requirements. The whole thing fell apart in three years. But they then followed plan B – by using the services of Xhore who served the French, Portuguese and Danes as well. He ably fascilitated trade and the other needs of the Europeans.

He was more reluctant to serve the Dutch and at one time refused to served them because of their abuse of his people. For this he lost his life at Dutch hands around 1626. The English had so come to rely on Xhore that they found the need to establish a new point person.

This is how in around 1630/31 Autshumao was taken for orientation to Jakarta, returned to the Cape and assisted  Autshumao on two occasions to establish himself formally as a trader facilitator for passing shipping. There are many signs that he did this ably, was a proficient linguist, was shrewd and astute and also knew the value of playing off English and their enemies the Dutch. The main large formations of Khoena knew to keep their main herds of cattle far inland away from the Europeans so Autshumao was not simply an opportunist go-between trader but served a very useful defensive role.

Now what is the impact of the big numbers of ships, the frequency of these ships visiting the Cape, the different nationalities involved, the need for repairs stop overs, the need for soldiers and officials to go ashore in large numbers, the problems on the ships, the need for supplies and so on. The first thing that it should tell one is that Table Bay at the Cape was already a Port before 1652.

Secondly it was already a trading and layover station. From my own experience in harbours this kind of sea traffic creates stowaways and stay-behinds. Shore-leave by men leads to sexual encounters and relations becoming a norm of port. Ship repairs would have needed the gathering of repair materials and therefore negotiation of terrain, cutting and gathering timber and this would have led to job creation and further trade. This huge amount of sea-transport and human traffic must have had a huge impact on the local population living at the Camissa settlement.

All of the historical materials that I have read together with the size of the shipping stop-overs at the Cape and the vast numbers on board those ships and the poor state of those vessels when put alongside the information that we know of the social history of the Khoena between 1590 and 1652 suggest that we have all been taken for a ride by historians of the colonial and Apartheid eras. Vigarous or robust engagement had already become a norm by 1652 and did not start on that date and neither was Cape Town founded at this time. Pause now for a minute.

In 1647 a shipwreck occurred at Table Bay. The Dutch ship Nieuwe Haarlem on its way back to Holland was wrecked at Woodstock beach. The survivors under Captain Leendert Janszen built a small wood and sand fort called Sandenburg at Salt River and remained at the Cape for a year until 1648. Leendert Janzen, Matthew Proot and Jodocus Hondius III used their time to gather intelligence on the terrain, the indigenes and the other visiting vessels as well as mapping Table Bay. They joined the fleet (of 12 ships that stopped over for a number of days) of Admiral GW de Jong to return to Holland and  encountered Jan van Riebeeck on board the ship.

Van Riebeeck had been fired from his job in Hanoi (Tonkin) in Vietnam because he was cheating the VOC by insider trading. This was his voyage of disgrace. On board this return voyage these five men prepared a proposal to the VOC. Van Riebeeck to redeem himself with the VOC offered to lead a settlement expedition to establish Dutch control at the Cape. The Dutch needed to maintain their dominance in the east and hence the control of the strategically positioned Cape was seen as vital and that there needed to be a more technologically advance port to achieve the much needed ship repair and servincing required.

Janszen and de Jong’s views of the indigenes was a lot more favourable and respectful that that of Jan van Riebeeck and his later approach. Their approach mirrored that of the English of establishing cooperative relations. Van Riebeeck was bent on conquest and dislodging any form of intermediary trading by indigenes. He wanted a simple direct trading relationship simply as a stepping stone for company control over resources. As such the Camissa community’s entrepreneurial approach of a proto-trading class of local people of colour was out of the question for van Riebeeck.

The report to the VOC would have presented the statistics of how many vessels were stopping over, how many people going ashore, the trade that was being done and that no European power had established themselves at the Port where trading was only organised by the indigenes under an English trained and sympathetic Autshumao and a relatively small settled group of indigene ‘Watermans’ next to the Camissa which they called the Soetwater Stroom. Van Riebeeck saw this scenario as a push-over and thus the die was cast. The VOC and de Jong had their ideas but van Riebeeck had his own. The skelm of Vietnam imfamy was not about to change his old habits.

History has been most unfair to Autshumao and the Goringhaicona trading mission at Camissa and has never properly analysed what happened in the 50 years prior to van Riebeeck’s arrival or the 20 year old human trading settlement at Camissa and the impacts of the large scale visitations of ships, sailors, officials and troops who were adequately catered for by locals. The social history of this port village with its sizable yet relatively small population which had changed their mode of living, economic and social habits as happened in every other port across the African coastline. This criminal negligence in academia which continues to this day has to be challenged.

Indigenes are treated as anthropological and archaeological subjects in the paradigm of stone-age and iron age peoples, rather than as subjects of social history enquiry by our museums and educational institutions. This has both robbed us of the ability to properly assess our past but has also fed into a primitivistic paradigm in terms of how many who seek to revive the memory of and understanding of our forebears think about and represent our forebears today in an equally skewed manner. European historical evaluation which is highly skewed sets the edges of discourse today and all sorts of European overlays from Fuedal Monarchies to modern Nation concepts are placed on our past and then informs our present.

The early foundational human endeavour of a Khoena settled trading community which embraced visitors and whom no doubt some visitors embraced and remained and assimilated into, but certainly which would have had offspring as occurs in all ports requires much,  much more research and evaluation attention. This Camissa footprint  (//Gam I Ssa) where the Castle and District Six stands today on the Cape Peninsula known to the Khoena as //Hui Gaeb! can give us all a whole new take on our past.

We certainly cannot ignore this overwhelming evidence that 1652 was not a magical date of Khoena and European interaction….. nor can we ignore the vast numbers of vessels and people from abroad who came here and interacted with locals…. Nor can we ignore that key notable indigene figures had travelled abroad and returned and engaged with new technology and trading and new ways of living and were not merely beach scavengers. With all of this information at our fingertips we cannot accept uncritically the European writings that have marginalised and robbed us of a fair view of our forebears.

Many of the basic assumptions that we make about the past are called into question. We are the descendants of this Camissa footprint as much as we are of the older Khoena modes of living and of slavery and all the interactions including resistance.

There are much more complexities in our past than many care to acknowledge, but also a wonderful focal point arises for us to move away from racial terminology and exclusive terminology in anchoring our local  identities alongside our national, regional and pan African identities. My inquiry and studies make me proudly Camissa, and proudly African before anything else. I live in a place called South Africa within borders made by imperialism and colonialism.

I am passionate about Southern Africa and Africa and I am driven in this by my local heritage rooted in all that arises out of the Camissa footprint founded on the indigene experience and enhanced by generations of indigenes, enslaved peoples and non-conformist Europeans who embraced rather than rejected or oppressed indigenes and slaves..  The people of Camissa embraced and assisted the enslaved brought to our shores and they embraced Camissa. In my family tree there are 24 slaves, 4 Khoena including one from the Goringhaicona at Camissa as well as an array of European and Afro-Europeans. This is meaningful….not a racial tag of ‘Coloured’.

Indeed it is high time too that we stopped racialising our terminology. Drop Coloured, White, Black. Camissa alongside Zulu, Xhosa, Khoena, San, Sotho, Korana, Tswana, Afro-European, Afro-Asian etc more accurately describes sub-community identities in the South African family of African diversity.”

Patric Tariq Mellet

Capitalism, Violence and Racism

Gramsci’s Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society?
Written by Frank Wilderson, III
The Black experience in this country has been a phenomenon without analog. – Eugene Genovese, Boston Review October/November 1993
A Decisive Antagonism Any serious consideration of the question of antagonistic identity formation—a formation, the mass mobilization of which can precipitate a crisis in the institutions and assumptive logic which undergird the United States of America—must come to grips with the limitations of marxist discourse in the face of the Black subject.

This is because the United States is constructed at the intersection of both a capitalist and white supremacist matrix. And the privileged subject of marxist discourse is a subaltern who is approached by variable capital—a wage. In other words, marxism assumes a subaltern structured by capital, not by white supremacy. In this scenario, racism is read off the base, as it were, as being derivative of political economy. This is not an adequate subalternity from which to think the elaboration of antagonistic identity formation; not if we are truly committed to elaborating a theory of crisis—crisis at the crux of America’s institutional and discursive strategies.
The scandal with which the Black subject position threatens Gramscian discourse is manifest in the subject’s ontological disarticulation of Gramscian categories: work, progress, production, exploitation, hegemony, and historical self-awareness. By examining the strategy and structure of the Black subject’s absence in Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks and by contemplating the Black subject’s incommensurability with the key categories of Gramscian theory, we come face to face with three unsettling consequences.
First, the Black American subject imposes a radical incoherence upon the assumptive logic of Gramscian discourse. In other words, s/he implies a scandal. Secondly, the Black subject reveals marxism’s inability to think White supremacy as the base and, in so doing, calls into question marxism’s claim to elaborate a comprehensive, or in the words of Antonio Gramsci, “decisive” antagonism.

Stated another way: Gramscian marxism is able to imagine the subject which transforms her/himself into a mass of antagonistic identity formations, formations which can precipitate a crisis in wage slavery, exploitation, and/or hegemony, but it is asleep at the wheel when asked to provide enabling antagonisms toward unwaged slavery, despotism, and/or terror.

Finally, we begin to see how marxism suffers from a kind of conceptual anxiety: a desire for socialism on the other side of crisis — a society which does away not with the category of worker, but with the imposition workers suffer under the approach of variable capital: in other words, the mark of its conceptual anxiety is in its desire to democratize work and thus help keep in place, insure the

coherence of, Reformation and Enlightenment “foundational” values of productivity and progress. This is a crowding-out scenario for other postrevolutionary possibilities, i.e. idleness.
Why interrogate Gramsci with the political predicament and desire of the Black(ened) subject position in the Western Hemisphere? Because The Prison Notebooks’ intentionality, and general reception, lay claim to universal applicability.

Neither Gramsci nor his spiritual progenitors in the form of scholars or activists say that the Gramscian project sows the seeds of freedom for Whites only. Instead, they claim that deep within the organicity of the organic intellectual is the organic Black intellectual, the organic Chinese intellectual, the organic South American intellectual and so on; that though there are historical and cultural variances, there is a structural consistency which elaborates all organic intellectuals and undergirds all resistance.
Through what strategies does the Black subject destabilize — emerge as the unthought, and thus the scandal of — historical materialism? How does the Black subject distort and expand marxist categories in ways, which create in the words of Hortense Spillers”a distended organizational calculus”? (Spillers Year 82) We could put the question the other way round: How does the Black subject function within the American Desiring machine differently than the quintessential Gramscian subaltern, the worker?
Before going more deeply into how the Black subject position desatabilizes or disarticulates the categories foundational to the assumptive logic of marixsm, it’s important to allow ourselves a digression which attempts to schematize the Gramscian project on its own terms.
The Gramscian Dream Students of struggle return, doggedly, to the Prison Notebooks for insights as how to bring about a revolution in a society in which state/capital formations are in some way protected by the “trenches” of civil society. It is this outer perimeter, this discursive “trench,” constructed by an ensemble of private initiatives, activities, and an ensemble of pose-able questions (hegemony), which must be reconfigured before a revolution can take the form of a frontal assault.

But this trench called civil society is not, for Gramsci, in and of itself the bane of the working class. Instead it represents a terrain to be occupied, assumed, and appropriated in a pedagogic project of transforming “common sense” into “good sense.”

This notion of “destruction-construction” is a War of Position which involves agitating within civil society in a “revolutionary movement” that builds “qualitatively new social relationships” (Sassoon 15):
[A War of Position] is a struggle that engages on a wide range of fronts in which the state as normally defined…is only one aspect. [For Gramsci a War of Position is the most “decisive” form of engagement] because it is the form in which bourgeois power is exercised [and

victory on] these fronts makes possible or conclusive a frontal attack or War of Movement. (Sassoon 15-17)
In other words, for revolution to be feasible the proletariat must be “hailed,” in the Althusserian sense of the word, to a revolutionary position. And, for Gramsci, it is within this “trench” between the economic structure and the state (with its legislation and its coercion), within civil society, that this hailing must take place.

Again, for that to happen the trench, civil society, must be transformed. A War of Position can be summed up as a process by which workers struggling against capital and the state forge organs of working class civil society which in turn elaborate organic intellectuals capable of assimilating certain traditional intellectuals, and throughout the whole process all the struggle’s personnel, if you will, fashion a discourse on all of civil society’s fronts through which they eventually become hegemonic.

In this way the “common sense,” the “spontaneous” consent of the ruled toward the ideology of the rulers, finds its “good sense,” fragments of antagonistic sentiment transformed into an ensemble of questions which, prior to this process, could not be posed (i.e., What is to be done?). Common sense, by way of contrast, is an effect of “the prevailing forma mentis.” It involves…
…the notion that the social order can be perfected through “fair and open” competition… [And it] seeks to remedy problems and injustices through reforms fought for and negotiated among competing groups within the existing overall structure…thus leaving the juridical administrative apparatus of the state more or less intact…It…makes the revolutionary idea of eliminating competitiveness (i.e., greed) as the primary motivating force in society seem unreasonable, unrealistic, or even dangerous. (Buttigieg 13)

The pedagogical implications are self-evident. For Gramsci this is a process through which various strata of the class struggling for dominance achieve “historical self-awareness” (Gramsci 333-35). And for this reason civil society itself is not the bane of workers because its constituent elements (as opposed to the way those elements are combined) are not anti-worker.1 Therefore:
[Gramsci’s] purpose is not to repress civil society or to restrict its space but rather to develop a revolutionary strategy (a “war of position”) that would be employed precisely in the arena of civil society, with the aim of disabling the coercive apparatus of the state, gaining access to political power, and creating the conditions that could give rise to a consensual society wherein no individual or group is reduced to a subaltern. (Buttigieg 7)
At this moment (the end of subalternity by way of the destruction of the ruling class) the State becomes “ethical.” Gramsci writes:

1 The constituent elements of civil society are, however, anti-Black.

Every State is ethical in as much as one of its most important functions is to raise the great mass of the population to a particular cultural and moral level, a level (or type) which corresponds to the needs of the productive forces for development, and hence to the interests of the ruling classes. (Prison Notebooks 258)
He suggests that schools and courts perform this function for the State, before describing the “so-called private initiatives and activities” which form the hegemonic apparatuses of the ruling class. But these private initiatives are not “ethical” precisely because of their ability to exist in tandem with the State (i.e., newspapers, cinema, guild associations) and/or due to their function as its outright handmaidens (i.e., lobbyists, PACs).
[Therefore] only the social group [his code word for “class,” in an attempt to secure the Notebooks’ safe passage past Mussolini’s prison censors] that poses the end of the State and its own end as the target to be achieved can create an ethical State—i.e. one which tends to put an end to the internal divisions of the ruled…and to create a technically and morally unitary social organism. (259)
In other words, “civil society can only be the site of universal freedom when it extends to the point of becoming the state, that is, when the need for political society is obviated” (Buttigieg 30). “[T]he phenomenon  of ‘subordination’…occurs without coercion; it is an instance of power that is exercised and extended in civil society, resulting in the hegemony of one class over others who, for their part, acquiesce to it willingly or, as Gramsci puts it, ‘spontaneously’” (Ibid 22).

What appears to be spontaneous is a product of consent manufactured by intellectuals of the ruling class. Again, not only is consent manufactured but it is backed up by coercion-in-reserve, what Gramsci calls political society: the courts, the army, the police, and, for the past 57 years, the atomic bomb.
It is true that Gramsci acknowledges no organic division between political society and civil society. He makes the division for methodological purposes. There is one organism, “the modern bourgeois-liberal state” (Buttigieg 28), but there are two qualitatively different kinds of apparatuses: on the one hand, the ensemble of so-called private associations and ideological invitations to participate in a wide and varied play of consensus making strategies, civil society, and on the other hand, a set of enforcement structures which kick in when that ensemble is regressive or can no longer lead, political society.

But Gramsci would have us believe not that White positionality emerges and is elaborated on the terrain of civil society and encounters coercion when civil society is not expansive enough to embrace the idea of freedom for all, but that all positionalities emerge and are elaborated on the terrain of civil society. Gramsci does not racialize this birth, elaboration, and stunting, or re-emergence, of human subjectivity—because civil society, supposedly, elaborates all subjectivity and so there is no need for such specificity.

© We Write January 2005 2(1)
Anglo-American Gramscians like Buttigieg and Sassoon, and U.S. activists in the anti-globalization movement whose unspoken grammar is predicated on Gramsci’s assumptive logic continue this tradition of unraced positionality which allows them to posit the valency of Wars of Position for Blacks and Whites alike. They assume that all subjects are positioned in such a way as to have their consent solicited and to, furthermore, be able to extend their consent “spontaneously.”

This is profoundly problematic if only—leaving revolution aside for the moment—at the level of analysis; for it assumes that hegemony with its three constituent elements (influence, leadership, consent) is the modality which must be either inculcated or breached, if one is to either avoid or incur, respectively, the violence of the State. However, one of the primary claims of this essay is that, whereas the consent of Black people may seem to be called upon, its withdrawal does not precipitate a “crisis in authority.”

Put another way, the transformation of Black people’s acquiescent “common sense” into revolutionary “good sense” is an extenuating circumstance, but not the catalyst, of State violence against Black people. State violence against the Black body, as Martinot and Sexton suggest in their introduction, is not contingent, it is structural and, above all, gratuitous.
Therefore, Gramscian wisdom cannot imagine the emergence, elaboration, and stunting of a subject by way, not of the contingency of violence resulting in a “crisis of authority,” but by way of direct relations of force. This is remarkable, and unfortunate, given the fact that the emergence of the slave, the subject-effect of an ensemble of direct relations of force, marks the emergence of capitalism itself.

Let us put a finer point on it: violence towards the Black body is the precondition for the existence of Gramsci’s single entity “the modern bourgeoisstate” with its divided apparatus, political society and civil society.

This is to say violence against Black people is ontological and gratuitous as opposed to ideological and contingent. Furthermore, no magical moment (i.e., 1865) transformed, paradigmatically, the Black body’s relation to this entity2.

In this regard, the hegemonic advances within civil society by the Left hold out no more possibility for Black life than the coercive backlash of political society. What many political theorists have either missed or ignored is that a crisis of authority that might take place by way of a Left expansion of civil society, further instantiates, rather than dismantles, the authority of Whiteness. Black death is the modern bourgeois-state’s recreational pastime, but the hunting season is not confined to the time (and place) of political society; Blacks are fair game as a result of a progressively expanding civil society as well.

2 See David Marriott’s On Black Men and the last few chapters of  Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection for an analysis of how the idiom of power, irrational despotism, which Blacks lived under in the 19th century, changed its method of conveyance after Jubilee, while maintaining gratuitous irrationality through the 20th century.

Civil Death in Civil Society Capital was kick-started by the rape of the African continent. This phenomenon is central to neither Gramsci nor Marx. The theoretical importance of emphasizing this in the early 21st century is two-fold: First, “the socio-political order of the New World” (Spillers 1987: 67) was kick-started by approaching a particular body (a Black body) with direct relations of force, not by approaching a White body with variable capital.

Thus, one could say that slavery—the “accumulation” of Black bodies regardless of their utility as laborers (Hartman; Johnson) through an idiom of despotic power (Patterson)—is closer to capital’s primal desire than is waged oppression—the “exploitation” of unraced bodies (Marx, Lenin, Gramsci) that labor through an idiom of rational/symbolic (the wage) power: A relation of terror as opposed to a relation of hegemony.3 Secondly, today, late capital is imposing a renaissance of this original desire, direct relations of force (the prison industrial complex), the despotism of the unwaged relation: and this Renaissance of slavery has, once again, as its structuring image in libidinal economy, and its primary target in political economy, the Black body.
The value of reintroducing the unthought category of the slave, by way of noting the absence of the Black subject, lies in the Black subject’s potential for extending the demand placed on state/capital formations because its reintroduction into the discourse expands the intensity of the antagonism. In other words, the slave makes a demand, which is in excess of the demand made by the worker. The worker demands that productivity be fair and democratic (Gramsci’s new hegemony, Lenin’s dictatorship of the proletariat), the slave, on the other hand, demands that production stop; stop without recourse to its ultimate democratization. Work is not an organic principle for the slave. The absence of Black subjectivity from the crux of marxist discourse is symptomatic of the discourse’s inability to cope with the possibility that the generative subject of capitalism, the Black body of the 15th and 16th centuries, and the generative subject that resolves late-capital’s over-accumulation crisis, the Black (incarcerated) body of the 20th and 21st centuries, do not reify the basic categories which structure marxist conflict: the categories of work, production, exploitation, historical self-awareness and, above all, hegemony.
If, by way of the Black subject, we consider the underlying grammar of the question What does it mean to be free? that grammar being the question What does it mean to suffer? then we come up against a grammar of suffering not only in excess of any semiotics of exploitation, but a grammar of suffering beyond signification itself, a suffering that cannot be spoken because the gratuitous …
3 It’s important to bear in mind that for Hartman, Johnson, Patterson, and Spillers the libidinal economy of slavery is more fundamental to its institutionality than is the political economy: in other words, the constituent element of slavery involves desire and the accumulation of Black bodies and the fact that they existed as things “becoming being for the captor” (Spillers 1987: 67). The fact the Black slaves labored is a historical variable, seemingly constant, but not a constituent element.

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terror of White supremacy is as much contingent upon the irrationality of White fantasies and shared pleasures as it is upon a logic—the logic of capital. It extends beyond texualization. When talking about this terror, Cornel West uses the term “black invisibility and namelessness” to designate, at the level of ontology, what we are calling a scandal at the level of discourse. He writes:
[America’s] unrelenting assault on black humanity produced the fundamental condition of black culture — that of black invisibility and namelessness. On the crucial existential level relating to black invisibility and namelessness, the first difficult challenge and demanding discipline is to ward off madness and discredit suicide as a desirable option. A central preoccupation of black culture is that of confronting candidly the ontological wounds, psychic scars, and existential bruises of black people while fending off insanity and selfannihilation. This is why the “ur-text” of black culture is neither a word nor a book, not and architectural monument or a legal brief. Instead, it is a guttural cry and a wrenching moan — a cry not so much for help as for home, a moan less out of complaint than for recognition. (80-81)
Thus, the Black subject position in America is an antagonism, a demand that can not be satisfied through a transfer of ownership/organization of existing rubrics; whereas the Gramscian subject, the worker, represents a demand that can indeed be satisfied by way of a successful War of Position, which brings about the end of exploitation. The worker calls into question the legitimacy of productive practices, the slave calls into question the legitimacy of productivity itself. From the positionality of the worker the question, What does it mean to be free? is raised. But the question hides the process by which the discourse assumes a hidden grammar which has already posed and answered the question, What does it mean to suffer? And that grammar is organized around the categories of exploitation (unfair labor relations or wage slavery).

Thus, exploitation (wage slavery) is the only category of oppression which concerns Gramsci: society, Western society, thrives on the exploitation of the Gramscian subject. Full stop. Again, this is inadequate, because it would call White supremacy “racism” and articulate it as a derivative phenomenon of the capitalist matrix, rather than incorporating White supremacy as a matrix constituent to the base, if not the base itself.
What I am saying is that the insatiability of the slave demand upon existing structures means that it cannot find its articulation within the modality of hegemony  (influence, leadership, consent)—the Black body can not give its consent because “generalized trust,” the precondition for the solicitation of consent, “equals racialized whiteness” (Lindon Barrett). Furthermore, as Orland Patterson points out, slavery is natal alienation by way of social death, which is to say that a slave has no symbolic currency or material labor power to exchange: a slave does not enter into a transaction of value (however asymmetrical) but is subsumed by direct relations of force, which is to say that a slave is an articulation of a despotic irrationality whereas the worker is an

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articulation of a symbolic rationality. White supremacy’s despotic irrationality is as foundational to American institutionality as capitalism’s symbolic rationality because, as Cornel West writes, it…
…dictates the limits of the operation of American democracy — with black folk the indispensable sacrificial lamb vital to its sustenance. Hence black subordination constitutes the necessary condition for the flourishing of American democracy, the tragic prerequisite for America itself. This is, in part, what Richard Wright meant when he noted, “The Negro is America’s metaphor.” (72)
And it is well known that a metaphor comes into being through a violence which kills, rather than merely exploits, the object, that the concept might live. West’s interventions help us see how marxism can only come to grips with America’s structuring rationality — what it calls capitalism, or political economy; but cannot come to grips with America’s structuring irrationality: the libidinal economy of White supremacy, and its hyper-discursive violence which kills the Black subject that the concept, civil society, may live. In other words, from the incoherence of Black death, America generates the coherence of White life. This is important when thinking the Gramscian paradigm (and its progenitors in the world of U.S. social movements today) which is so dependent on the empirical status of hegemony and civil society: struggles over hegemony are seldom, if ever, asignifying—at some point they require coherence, they require categories for the record—which means they contain the seeds of anti-Blackness.
Let us illustrate this by way of a hypothetical scenario. In the early part of the 20th century, civil society in Chicago grew up, if you will, around emerging industries such as meat packing. In his notes on “Americanism and Fordism” (280-314), Gramsci explores the “scientific management” of Taylorism, the prohibition on alcohol, and Fordist interventions into the working class family, which formed the ideological, value-laden grid of civil society in places like turn of the century Chicago:
It is worth drawing attention to the way in which industrialists (Ford in particular) have been concerned with the sexual affairs of their employees and with their family arrangements in general.

One should not be misled, any more than in the case of prohibition, by the “puritanical” appearance assumed by this concern. The truth is that the new type of man demanded by the rationalization of production and work cannot be developed until the sexual instinct has been suitably regulated and until it too has been rationalized. (Prison Notebooks 296297)
The discourse of this “suitable” regulation and rationalization underwrote the “common sense” which hailed the proletariat through the influence, leadership, and “spontaneous” consent of an ensemble of questions (hegemony) and simultaneously crowded out the project of transforming proletarian shards and

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fragments of “good sense” into a revolutionary project. Gramsci called it a “psycho-physical adaptation to the new industrial structure [pre-Crash], aimed for through high wages” (286). And it meant that the working class struggle was pre-hegemony existing, he suggested, “still in defense of craft rights against ‘industrial liberty’” (Ibid). In this scenario a war of position has yet to commence because even unions, the vanguard of the working class, were simply “the corporate expression of the rights of qualified crafts and therefore the industrialists’ attempts to curb them [had] a certain ‘progressive’ aspect” (Ibid.).
Gramsci’s preceding diagnosis is indicative of his well known pessimism of the intellect but it also contains the glimmer of his optimism of the will. For the unflinching nature of his analysis illustrates the moves that the worker must make (against Americanism and Fordism) in order to bring about the “flowering of the ‘superstructure’” (a War of Position) so that “the fundamental question of hegemony [can be] posed” (Ibid.). But we must ask ourselves, for whom does his analysis provide an optimism of the will?

Most American political theorists and social moment activists have not pried open even the crevice of a doubt about the Gramscian Dream’s applicability to all U.S. positions, which Gramsci himself acknowledges when he writes:
The absence of the European historical phase, marked even in the economic field by the French Revolution, has left American popular masses in a backward state. To this should be added the absence of national homogeneity, the mixture of race-cultures, the negro question [Emphasis mine]. (286-87)
For the sake our scenario—the impact of a successful War of Position on our hypothetical meat packing plant—let us not refer to the question as “the negro question.” Instead, let us call it the “cow question.”

Let us suppose that the superstructure has finally “flowered,” and that throughout the various fronts where the power to pose the question held by the private initiatives and associations elaborated by the industrialists, hegemony has now been called into question and a war of position has been transposed into a war of maneuver. The scandal which the Black subject position threatens Gramscian discourse with is manifest in the subject’s ontological disarticulation of Gramscian categories: work, progress, production, exploitation, hegemony, and historical selfawareness.

Gramsci’s notes on “Americanism and Fordism” demonstrate his acumen in expressing how the drama of value is played out away from the slaughter house (civil society: i.e. the family), while being imbricated and foundational to the class exploitation which workers experience within the slaughter house. But still we must ask, what about the cows? The cows are not being exploited, they are being accumulated and, if need be, killed.
The desiring machine of capital and White supremacy manifest in society two dreams, imbricated but, I would argue, distinct: the dream of worker exploitation and the dream of Black accumulation and death. Nowhere in Gramsci can one find sufficient reassurance that, once the dream of worker exploitation has been

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smashed—once the superstructure, civil society, has “flowered” and the question of hegemony has been posed—the dream of Black accumulation and death will be thrown into crisis as well.   I submit that death of the Black body is (a) foundational to the life of American civil society (just as foundational as it is to the drama of value—wage slavery) and (b) foundational to the fantasy space of desires which underwrite the industrialist’s hegemony and which underwrite the worker’s potential for, and realization of, what Gramsci calls “good sense.” Thus, a whole set of new and difficult, perhaps un-Gramscian, questions emerge at the site of our meat packing plant in the throes of its War of Maneuver. First, how would the cows fare under a dictatorship of the proletariat? Would cows experience freedom at the mere knowledge that they’re no longer being slaughtered in an economy of exchange predicated on exploitation? In other words, would it feel more like freedom to be slaughtered by a workers’ collective where there was no exploitation, where the working day was not a minute longer than time it took reproduce workers’ needs and pleasures, as opposed to being slaughtered in the exploitative context of that dreary old nine to five? Secondly, in the river of common sense does the flotsam of good sense have a message in a bottle that reads “Workers of the World Become Vegetarians!”? Finally, is it enough to just stop eating meat? In other words, can the Gramscian worker simply give the cows their freedom, grant them emancipation, and have it be meaningful to the cows? The cows need some answers before they raise a hoof for the “flowering of the superstructure.”
The cows bring us face to face with the limitations of a Gramscian formulation of the question, what does it mean to be free? by revealing the limitations of  the ways in which it formulates the question, what does it mean to suffer? Because exploitation (rather than accumulation and death) is at the heart of the Gramscian question, what does it mean to suffer—and thus crowds out analysis of civil society’s foundation of despotic terror and White pleasure by way of the accumulation of Black bodies—the Gramscian question also functions as a crowding out scenario of the Black subject herself/himself, and is indexical of a latent anti-Blackness which Black folks experience in the most “sincere” of social movements. So, when Buttigieg tells us that:
The struggle against the domination of the few over the many, if it is be successful, must be rooted in a careful formulation of a counterhegemonic conception of the social order, in the dissemination of such a conception, and in the formation of counterhegemonic institutions—which can only take place in civil society and actually require an expansion of civil society [Emphasis mine]… (31)
…a chill runs down our spine. For this required expansion requires the intensification and proliferation of civil society’s constituent element: Black accumulation and death.

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No data for the categories What does it mean to be positioned not as a positive term in a counterhegemonic struggle, i.e. as a worker, but to be positioned in excess of hegemony, to be a catalyst which disarticulates the very rubric of hegemony, to be a scandal to its assumptive, foundational logic, to threaten its discursive integrity? Why is American civil life, whether regressive or expansive, predicated on Black death? Why are Black folk the indispensable sacrificial lamb vital to its sustenance?
In White Writing: On the Culture of Letters in South Africa, J.M. Coetzee examines the positionality of the KhoiSan in what he calls the early Discourse of the Cape: travel, ethnographic and scholarly writing of Europeans between the late 16th and 18th centuries.
Those Europeans who encountered the KhoiSan during this period came face to face with an Anthropological scandal: a being without (recognizable) customs, religion, medicine, dietary patterns, culinary habits, sexual mores, means of agriculture, and most significantly, without character—without character because, according to the literature, they did not work. Even when press-ganged into service by the whip, by the bible, by the specter of starvation, they showed no valuation of industry. The only remedy for this condition, according to one Cape writer, was terror — their annihilation.
Wherever the European went in South Africa the project of colonization was sutured, brokered, and fought with the help of discourse, and therefore, no matter how bloody it became, no matter how much force it necessitated, the project did not face the threat of incoherence. Africans like the Xhosa who were agriculturalists provided European discourse with enough Anthropological categories for the record so that, through various strategies of articulation, they could be known by the textual project which was the accompaniment to the colonial project. But not the KhoiSan. S/he did not produce the necessary categories for the record, the play of signifiers that would allow for a sustainable semiotics.
According to Coetzee, European discourse has two structuring axes upon which its coherence depends: the Historical Axis, codes distributed along the axis of temporality and events; and the Anthropological Axis, an axis of cultural codes. It mattered very little which codes on either axis a particular indigenous community was perceived to possess — and possession is the operative word here for these codes act as a kind of currency—what matters is that the community has some play of difference along both axes; enough differences to construct taxonomies that can be investigated, identified, and named by the discourse: without this the discourse literally can’t function. The discourse is reinvigorated by the momentary tension which ensues when an unknown entity presents itself, but this tension becomes a crisis, a scandal, when the entity remains unknown. Something unspeakable occurs. Not to possess a particular code along the Anthropological axis or along the Historical axis is akin to not having a gene for

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brown hair or green eyes on an X or Y chromosome. But not possessing an Historical or Anthropological axis altogether is akin to not having the chromosome itself. The first predicament throws the notion of what kind of human into play. The second predicament throws the notion of humanity itself into crisis.
Whereas even the Xhosa presented the Discourse of the Cape with both an Anthropological and Historical play of difference, the KhoiSan presented the Discourse of the Cape with an Anthropological void.
Without those textual categories of Dress, Diet, Medicine, Crafts, Physical Appearance, and most importantly, Work, the KhoiSan stood in refusal of the invitation to become Anthropological Man. S/he was the void in Discourse which could only be designated as “idleness.” And idleness had been (a) counterposed to work and (b) criminalized and designated with the status of sin, long before the Europeans reached the Cape: it was not a signifier within Anthropology but the death knell of humanity and spirituality itself.
Thus, the KhoiSan’s status within Discourse was not the status of an opponent or an interlocutor, but was the status of an unspeakable scandal. His/her position within the Discourse was one of disarticulation, for he/she did little or nothing to fortify and extend the interlocutory life of the Discourse. Just as the KhoiSan presented the Discourse of the Cape with an Anthropological scandal, so the Black subject in the United States, the slave, presents both marxism and American social movement practice with an Historical scandal. Every group provides American discourse with acceptable categories for the record (a play of signifiers, points of articulation) except Black Americans. How is Black incoherence in the face of the Historical Axis germane to the Black experience as “a phenomenon without analog”?
A sample list of codes mapped out by an American subject’s Historical Axis include (1) Rights or Entitlements: here even Native Americans provide categories for the record when one thinks of how the Iroquois constitution, for example, becomes the American constitution. (2) Sovereignty: whether that state be one the subject left behind, or one, once again the case of American Indians, which was taken by force and dint of broken treaties. White supremacy has made good use of the Indian subject’s positionality: a positionality which fortifies and extends the interlocutory life of America as a coherent (albeit genocidal) idea, because treaties are forms of articulation, discussions brokered between two groups presumed to possess the same kind of Historical currency: Sovereignty. The code of Sovereignty can have both a past and future history, if you’ll excuse the oxymoron, when one considers that there are 150 Native American tribes with applications in at the B.I.A. for sovereign recognition, that they might qualify for funds harvested from land stolen from them.4 In other words, the                                                            4 What’s being asserted here is that White Supremacy transmogrifies codes internal to Native American culture for its own purposes. However, unlike immigrants and white women, the

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curse of being able to generate categories for the record manifests itself in Indians’ “ability” to be named by White supremacy that they might receive a small cash advance on funds (land) which White people stole from them. (3) Immigration: another code which maps the subject onto the American Historical Axis—narratives of arrival based on collective volition and premeditated desire. Chicano subject positions can fortify and extend the interlocutory life of America as an idea because racial conflict can be articulated across the various contestations over the legitimacy of arrival, immigration, or of Sovereignty, i.e., the Mexican-American War. In this way, Whites and Chicanos both generate data for this category.
Slavery is the great leveler of the Black subject’s positionality. The Black American subject does not generate Historical categories of Entitlement, Sovereignty, and/or Immigration for the record. We are off the record. To the data generating demands of the Historical axis we present a virtual blank, much like the KhoiSan’s virtual blank presented to the data generating demands of the Anthropological axis. The work of Hortense Spillers on Black female sexuality corroborates these findings. Spillers’ conclusions, regarding the Black female subject and the discourse of sexuality are in tandem with ours regarding the Black ungendered subject and the question of hegemony and, in addition, unveil the ontological elements which Black women and men share: a scandal in the face of New World hegemony.
[T]he black female [is] the veritable nemesis of degree and difference [emphasis mine]. Having encountered what they understand as chaos, the empowered need not name further, since chaos is sufficient naming within itself. I am not addressing the black female in her historical apprenticeship as inferior being, but, rather, the paradox of non-being [emphasis mine]. Under the sign of this particular historical order, black female and black male are absolutely equal. (Spillers “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words” 77)
In the socio-political order of the New World the Black body is a “captive body” marked and branded from one generation to the next (Ibid). A body on which…
Native American has no purchase as a junior partner in civil society. Space does not allow for us to fully discuss this here. But Ward Churchill and others explain how–unlike civil society’s junior partners—genocide of the Indian, just like the enslavement of Blacks, is a precondition for the idea of America: a condition of possibility upon which the idea of immigration can be narrativized. No web of analogy can be spun between, on the one hand, the phenomenon of genocide and slavery and, on the other hand, the phenomenon of access to institutionality and immigration.

So, though White Supremacy appropriates Native American codes of sovereignty, it cannot solve the contradiction that, unlike the codes civil society’s junior partners, Native American codes of sovereignty are not dialogic with New World codes of immigration and access. It should also be noted that prior to the late 18th century and early to mid 19th century the notion of Native America as sovereign nations was subordinated to the idea of the “savage.” In short, articulation comes, conveniently, into play as the “Indian Wars” are being won.

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…any hint or suggestion of a dimension of ethics, of relatedness between human personality and its anatomical features, between one human personality and another, between human personality and cultural institutions [is lost]. To that extent, the procedures adopted for the captive flesh demarcate a total objectification [emphasis mine], as the entire captive community becomes a living laboratory (68).
The gratuitous violence begun in slavery, hand in hand with the absence of data for the New World Historical Axis (Rights/Entitlement, Sovereignty, Immigration) as a result of slavery, position Black subjects in excess of Gramsci’s fundamental categories, i.e. labor, exploitation, historical selfawareness; for these processes of subjectification are assumed by those with a semiotics of analogy already in hand—the currency of exchange through which “a dimension…of relatedness between one human personality and another, between human personality and cultural institutions” can be established.

Thus, the Black subject imposes a radical incoherence upon the assumptive logic of Gramscian discourse. S/he implies a scandal: “total objectification” in contradistinction to human possibility, however slim, as in the case of working class hegemony, that human possibility appears.
It is this scandal which places Black subjectivity in a structurally impossible position, outside of the “natural” articulations of hegemony; but it also places hegemony in a structurally impossible position because our presence works back upon the grammar of hegemony and threatens it with incoherence. If every subject—even the most massacred subjects, Indians—are required to have analogs within the nation’s structuring narrative, and one very large significant subject, the subject upon which the nation’s drama of value is built, is a subject whose experience is without analog then, by that subject’s very presence all other analogs are destabilized. Lest we think of the Black body as captive only until the mid 19th century, Spillers reminds us that the marking and branding, the total objectification are as much a part of the present as they were of the past.
Even though the captive flesh/body has been “liberated,” and no one need pretend that even the quotation marks do not matter, dominant symbolic activity, the ruling episteme that releases the dynamics of naming and valuation, remains grounded in the originating metaphors of captivity and mutilation so that it is as if neither time nor history, nor historiography and its topics, shows movement, as the human subject is “murdered” over and over again by the passions of a bloodless and anonymous archaism, showing itself in endless disguise. (1987: 68)
Herein, the concept of civil war takes on a comprehensive and structural, as opposed to merely eventful, connotation.

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Conclusion  Civil society is the terrain where hegemony is produced, contested, mapped. And the invitation to participate in hegemony’s gestures of influence, leadership, and consent is not extended to the Black subject. We live in the world, but exist outside of civil society. This structurally impossible position is a paradox because the Black subject, the slave, is vital to civil society’s political economy: s/he kick-starts capital at its genesis and rescues it from its over-accumulation crisis at its end—Black death is its condition of possibility. Civil society’s subaltern, the worker, is coded as waged, and wages are White. But marxism has no account of this phenomenal birth and life-saving role played by the Black subject: in Gramsci we have consistent silence.
The Black body in the U.S. is that constant reminder that not only can work not be reformed but it cannot be transformed to accommodate all subjects: work is a White category. The fact that millions upon millions of Black people work misses the point. The point is we were never meant to be workers; in other words, capital/white supremacy’s dream did not envision us as being incorporated or incorporative. From the very beginning, we were meant to be accumulated and die. Work (i.e. the French shipbuilding industry and bourgeois civil society which finally extended its progressive hegemony to workers and peasants to topple the aristocracy) was what grew up all around us — 20 to 60 million seeds planted at the bottom of the Atlantic, 5 million seeds planted in Dixie. Work sometimes registers as an historical component of Blackness, but where Whiteness is concerned, work registers as a constituent element. And the Black body must be processed through a kind of civil death for this constituent element of Whiteness to gain coherence. Today, at the end of the 20th century, we are still not meant to be workers. We are meant to be warehoused and die.
The U.S. carceral network kills…more blacks than any other ethnic group… [and] constitute[s] an “outside” in U.S. political life. In fact, our society displays waves of concentric outside circles with increasing distances from bourgeois self-policing. The state routinely polices the unassimilable in the hell of lockdown, deprivation tanks, control units, and holes for political prisoners. (James 34)
Work (i.e. jobs for guards in the prison industrial complex and the shot in the arm it gives to faltering White, communities — its positive reterritorialization of White Space and its simultaneous deterritorialization of Black Space) is what grows up around our dead bodies once again. The chief difference today, compared to several hundred years ago, is that today our bodies are desired, accumulated, and warehouse—like the cows. Again, the chief constant to the dream is that, whereas desire for Black labor power is often a historical component to the institutionality of White supremacy, it is not a constituent element.
This paradox is not to be found at the crux of Gramsci’s intellectual pessimism or his optimistic will. His concern is with subjects in a White(ned) enough subject

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position that they are confronted by, or threatened with the removal of, a wage, be it monetary or social. But Black subjectivity itself disarticulates the Gramscian dream as a ubiquitous emancipatory strategy, because Gramsci (like most U.S. social movements) has no theory of, or solidarity with, the slave. Whereas the positionality of the worker enables the reconfiguration of civil society, the positionality of the slave exists as a destabilizing force within civil society because civil society gains its coherence, the very tabula raza upon which workers and industrialists struggle for hegemony, through the violence of Black erasure. From the coherence of civil society the Black subject beckons with the incoherence of civil war. Civil war, then, becomes that unthought but never forgotten specter waiting in the wings—the understudy of Gramsci’s hegemony.
Works Cited
Barrett, Lindon. “The “I” of the Beholder: The Modern Subject and the African  Diaspora.” Unpublished paper presented at Blackness in Global Contexts  Conference, UC Davis, March 28-30, 2002.
Buttigieg, Joseph. “Gramsci on Civil Society.” boundary 2. Fall l995.
Churchill, Ward. From a Native Son: Selected Essays on Indigenism, l985-l995.  Boston: South End Press, l996.
Coetzee, J.M. White Writing: On the Culture of Letters in South Africa. New  Haven: YaleUniversity Press, l988.
Genovese, Eugene. Boston Review October/November 1993
Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Ed. and Trans. Quintan  Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. New York: International Publishers,  l971.
Hartman, Saidiya. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in  Nineteenth Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, l997.
James, Joy. Resisting State Violence. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota  Press, l996.
Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market.  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, l999.

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Marriott, David. On Black Men. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Martinot, Steve and Jared Sexton. “The Avant-Garde of White Supremacy.”  Social Identities January 2003.
Patterson, Orlando. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Cambridge,  Mass.: Harvard University Press, l982.
Sassoon, Anne Showstack. An Introduction to Gramsci.
Spillers “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words”
—-“Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics.  Vol. 17 No. 2. Summer 1987.
West, Cornel. “Black Strivings in a Twilight Civilization.” In Henry Louis Gates  Jr. and Cornel West. The Future of the Race. Henry A. Knopf, l996.

Poetics:”short lifetimes demand action”

good things come to the waiting list

the last guest at the wedding this

snake-tied / balding head cat with the crumpled suit

alligator shoes, silver calf-links and whisky breath

sophisticated reptilian

looking like someone long hooked on crystal meth …

eyes deep in debt

seen it all

life’s shortened long breadth

earth turning about a crooked axis.

mankind is supposedly civilised but hardly ever at ease

with tranquillity

still prone

to superstitions / annihilations / extinctions / denominations

arduous trips to Mecca / holy mountains and sepulchres

endless transformations

trampling on the little ones due to obsolete traditions

the jazzman has it

the jazzy woman bears it on her elongated tear

the eager ear

hears it

its really quite simple

Joy is sorrow unmasked

what is the meaning of Life

I am ever so often asked

impendulo: ZAZI!





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