Khanya Annual Winter School 2010

Crisis of Resistance

1 – 9 August

Background to the 2010 Winter School
The 2010 annual Khanya College Winter School takes place against a backdrop of one of the worst crises in the global capitalist economy. In important respects, such as declines in production and the destruction of share values, the current crisis has been on a par with the 1929 global depression, while in others it has exceeded it, such as in the fall in global trade.
For its part, the international working class has been unable to deepen the crisis and turn it into a political crisis, one that calls into question the very future of the entire capitalist system itself. This despite massive job losses, falling wages, rising prices, huge state cuts in social services and a rise everywhere in all the social scourges from crime to prostitution to substance abuse and violence that attend such a rapid plunge into pauperism for large sections of the working class.
While the working class internationally has resisted the efforts of the ruling classes to shift the burden of the crisis onto it, these struggles have lacked the scale and depth to successfully do so. The working class has proved too weak. It now shoulders the burden of the crisis. It has proved unable even to call into question the neo-liberal model of capitalism, despite its obvious crisis of legitimacy.
The result is that, for the ruling class, the crisis appears to be passing. Companies such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays, operating in the sector that precipitated the crisis and most affected by it, are not only returning to profitability but are doing so in record style. While it is moot that the crisis is indeed over, considering developments in Europe surrounding the indebtedness of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, for example, there is no doubt the international ruling class has fully regained its confidence, and that it is very much business-as-usual, in the most literal sense. Despite all the initial threats to better regulate the finance sector to ensure no recurrence of the 2007 crisis, no such regulation has been forthcoming in any of the leading imperialist countries. If anything, the smaller, more concentrated and more profitable finance sector that has emerged out of the crisis is stronger than ever, more arrogant even, with Goldman Sachs setting aside $17 billion in bonuses for staff last year in the face of massive public outrage.
Crisis of Resistance: The theme of Winter School 2010
While the crisis may be receding for the capitalist class, the working class continues to be beset by its own crisis, namely, its inability to adequately raise its levels of resistance and challenge to the capitalist system, its crisis of resistance. This will constitute the theme of the 2010 Winter School.
The Crisis of Resistance theme will allow the various activities at the School to critically examine why the working class has been unable to defend itself against capitalist attacks. For some time a view has been put forward that neo-liberalism represents a new phase in imperialism, and that central to this phase of development is the complete reorganization of class relations between the capitalist class and the working class in particular. An important aspect to this reorganization of class relations is how neo-liberalism has broken up the working class, stripping some sections of the working class and their organizations of their social weight and political power while at the same time propelling to the fore sections of the working class not historically associated with a leading role in its struggles, cadre formation or ideological clarification.
Some have referred to this phase as one marking a whole new cycle of struggle, with different and new sections of the working class now constituting its leading fighting formations, with new forms of organization accompanying this development.
This had led to debates within the social justice movement whether organizations such as organized labour should continue to lead working class struggles, or whether this mantle has now passed to the newly emerging social movements. In the narrower, South African context, this debate is fuelled when in 2009 close on 1 million workers lose their jobs, with very little opposition from the labour movement, alongside a record number of ‘service delivery’ struggles in the townships.
The debate is further complicated by the fact that, again in the South African context, the social movements that emerged from around 2000 quickly reached their peak, in terms of levels of organization and mass support, before a period of protracted decline set in, pre-dating the current global crisis. This decline led to the complete demise of some of the movements, while others have continued to limp along, their future uncertain. Moreover, those that have continued to exist have singularly failed to connect up with the explosion of service delivery struggles that have taken place around the country, possibly hastening their demise as well.
The new and young leadership thrown up by the social movements has not yet had the time to develop for itself a clear theory about the nature of the present period, what it means to build organization in such a context, how to sustain organization in a period of political decline and, critically, how a cadre emerges and is built in such a period. In sum, the new leadership has not yet explicitly confronted what it means to build a new movement, if we are indeed in a new cycle of struggle.
Beyond this, it is incontrovertible that the working class movement has been in retreat since roughly 2004. Apart from the local examples given, the Southern Africa region has not witnessed any significant struggles for some time, and certainly no major ones in response to the crisis. Internationally, what became known as the ‘anti-globalisation movement’ has also been on the decline since after the global anti-Iraqi war demonstrations and protests. This is reflected in the decline of the World Social Forum, at one point regarded as the fulcrum around which resistance to neo-liberalism could be organized, and all the associated regional and local initiatives it gave rise to.
These are some of the issues the 2010 School will debate and discuss.
Who the 2010 Winter School Will Target
The Khanya College Annual Winter School 2010 will bring together 200 activists from South and Southern Africa. The event will take place over a period of 12 days in various venues in Johannesburg, South Africa. The primary target group are:
  • social justice activists;
  • activists in the social movements and organisations that the College works with directly; and
  • development practitioners from South Africa and Southern Africa.

The above target group will participate in the entire school, and, specifically, in the network and skills workshops. The rest of the school is open to the general public.

The Activities of the 2010 Winter School

Cultural Festival, 1 August
The aim is to provide space for local artists outside the ‘mainstream’ to showcase their work, provide a platform for linkages between progressive artists and the social movements, contribute to the emergence of a progressive and radical cultural movement and to build a broad radical social justice movement. All the activities of the cultural festival are open to the public and invitations will be sent to cultural activists, active in art forms, activists from the social movements, students, NGOs and other organisations. Cultural interventions covered include:

  • Eyes in Action – art exhibition running for the week of the school.
  • Words in Action – Poetry, reading and music festival, all day on Sunday.
  • Khanya Film Festival - every evening at the Zabalaza Theatre, House of Movements, 123 Pritchard Street

Skills for resistance workshops, 2–3 August
The primary aim of these 2-day workshops is to develop the capacity of activists to use various skills for the purposes of organising for social justice. Through popular education, the workshops will deal with the role of the particular skill in creating awareness of various issues and provide the technical training in the particular area. The following skills workshops will be available at the Winter School:

  • Silk-screening
  • Radio
  • Writing Skills
  • Popular Education
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Law and Organising
  • Banner & Mural making
  • Media Skills
  • Educational Workshop: Women's Legal rights and organising

Opening of the Winter School, 2 August
This will take the form of registration of participants and a keynote address. The registration will take place at various times during the day at the House of Movements, JHB
The keynote address on 'Crisis of Resistance’ event is open to the general public. Specific invitations will, however, be extended to social justice activists from among movements, students, NGOs and other organisations.

Conference on radical political economy, 2-3 August
The conference will run con-currently with the Skills Workshops, with between 40 and 50 participants, amongst them activists and progressive intellectuals. The conference will discuss the political economy of the Southern African region, its class structure, and the obstacles to and prospects for building social movements in the region current. This will build on the work of the first conference, held at the 2009 Winter School.

NGO/CBO Fair, 4 August
The NGO Fair is aimed at providing a space for various NGOs to profile their work, talk about challenges and to network with other NGOs that work in similar fields or who supplement the work they do. The fair will take place at Museum Africa

Networks of resistance meetings, 56 August
The primary aim of these meetings of networks and prospective networks is to build national and regional movements of activists organising in the various sites of struggle. In turn, these networks will contribute to the building of a radical social justice movement. The following meetings will take place as parallel sessions:

  • Southern African Farmworker Network
  • Network of Community Museums and Heritage Institutions
  • Network of Cultural Activists
  • Anti-Xenophobia Network
  • Network for Home-based Care workers
  • Environmental Justice Network
  • Economic Justice Network
  • Network of Community Photographers
  • Network of Service Delivery

Jozi Book Fair, 79 August
This is open to the public with invitiations to small publishers; progressive publishers; NGOs who publish books; activists from the social movements; students; social justice activists from NGOs and other organisations. The aim of the book fair is to profile writers and publishers, and provide a space for networking and book buying, thereby strengthening the development of a reading culture.

More information at:

Linked to programme(s): 
Khanya Annual Winter School