Category Archives: Richard Pithouse

The Rot Exceeds the Question of Corruption

Published in Business Day.

The Rot Exceeds the Question of Corruption

Richard Pithouse

Day after day, and year after year, the news in South Africa carries reports of people declaring that they are not animals. A migrant at the fundamentally corrupt and abusive ‘reception centre’ in Marabastad, Pretoria, says that “They treat us like a dog, they don’t do right. They just want money.” A report on an even more abusive prison in Bloemfontein notes that a leaked video shows an inmate shouting “No! I am not a donkey” before being injected with anti-psychotic drugs. People making their lives in shacks repeatedly declare that they are ‘living like pigs in the mud’, or that ‘we live like rats’. When the police open fire on a road blockade, or hurl teargas into a shack settlement, people are often say that they have been treated ‘like dogs’. Continue reading

SA’s road to freedom is stalked by death

Richard Pithouse, Mail & Guardian

The political assassination is not a phenomenon that is restricted to KwaZulu-Natal. But there is no doubt that it is overwhelmingly concentrated in that province. Until the establishment of the Moerane commission in October 2016, the scale of political violence in the province received very little national media attention, and was not generally understood to be a national crisis.

Academics, activists and journalists elsewhere in the country seldom grasped just how routine death threats, armed intimidation and murder had become in KwaZulu-Natal, or how brazenly local power- brokers, such as ward councillors, police officers and business interests — often entwined in mutually enabling forms of gangsterism — participated in the organisation of local forms of violent despotism.  Continue reading

Urban land question is also urgent

by Richard Pithouse,

The opening pages of Frantz Fanon’s The Damned of the Earth offer a searing account of the city under settler colonialism. It is “a world divided into compartments”, “a world cut in two”, a world “of barbed wire entanglements”, “a narrow world strewn with violence”.

Fanon provided a clear and spatial measure for decolonisation. He argued that the ordering of the colonial world, its violent coincidence of race and space, must be examined to “reveal the lines of force it implies” so that we can “mark out the lines on which a decolonised society will be reorganised”. Continue reading

Toward Freedom – South Africa: The Politics of Blood

Richard Pithouse, Toward Freedom

It has been just over five years since the South African state massacred thirty-four striking miners under the washed out blue of a winter afternoon. That event has come to mark a decisive rupture in the standing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa and abroad.

During the mass struggles of the 1980s the ANC came, for many people, to be entwined with the very idea of the nation and its aspirations. But five years after the massacre there is a general sense that the vision of collective emancipation that was once widely thought to animate the ANC has collapsed. It has been replaced with a politics of brazen venality undergirded with organized dishonesty, slander and violence. The party, and the state it manages, are increasingly seen as more of a predatory excrescence on society than an expression of society – as a route to personal enrichment and a mechanism for exercising social control in a context of mass impoverishment and escalating dissent.  Continue reading

Paulo Freire in South Africa

This article, by Richard Pithouse, was first published in the Mail & Guardian.

In 1968, revolt, much of it driven by students and young people, rushed from city to city against the global backdrop of the war in Vietnam, the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet military and the assassination in the United States of Martin Luther King Jr.

In Berlin, Warsaw, Detroit, Mexico City, Chicago, Prague, Kingston, Rio and many other cities, new actors asked new questions of the established order. In May that year, strikes, factory and university occupations and mass street protests in Paris rapidly escalated into an insurrection that left a mark that is still intensely felt in philosophy. Continue reading