Category: Counterculture

Ubuntu Party Office raided by persons unknown.

On Saturday 20th October, the legal advisor for the UBUNTU Party, and the New Economic Rights Alliance (NewERA), Raymondt Dicks, was overpowered at his home office, in a military style operation by between 6 and 10 armed men.

Mr. Dicks, who was a legal advisor to the SA police and Army for many years, says that the event was executed with absolute precision and intent to gain access to his documents and legal files.

He and two other people who were there at the time were tied up on the floor for over 3 hours while the intruders ransacked his office. It was a clear attempt to make it look like a robbery but it is quite obvious what they were after – all the pertinent research and legal documentation relating to legal action against the banks.

The investigating officer took no more than a few minutes to determine that this was not a normal robbery but most likely had an ulterior motive behind it. Mr Dicks is the legal representative for New ERA and the UBUNTU Party and UBUNTU Liberation Movement. He has been representing Michael Tellinger in his personal capacity in various actions against the bank, mainly Standard Bank. Earlier this year he drafted the Constitutional Court papers that Tellinger served against the four major banks, the Reserve Bank and the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Dicks has been investigating and gathering extremely sensitive evidence to lay criminal charges against the banks for their unlawful activities against all the people of South Africa.

The intruders left behind obvious items of high value while they searched meticulously through all of Mr Dick’s legal files creating a huge mess of all the paperwork. While being careless with other laptops and electronic equipment causing some damage to it in the process of gathering it, they took great care to remove his computer undamaged together with the back-up drives and all the secondary backups that were well hidden on the property.

It was only the next day when Dicks tried to analyse his losses that he discovered the files relating to the cases of Michael Tellinger, UBUNTU Party and New ERA were missing.

“It is very clear to me what they are after – it does not take a rocket scientist to work this out” he said “their decoy did not really work because the files they removed are very obvious” he added.

The entire horrific experience was captured on security cameras showing the whole operation from the beginning. The most disturbing part of the footage is that it shows what seems to be two police vehicles with flashing lights, escorting the other vehicles containing the intruders, while they closed off the road next to his house, allowing the operation to happen uninterrupted.

Michael Tellinger says: “We trust that the South African Police will take this matter extremely seriously because it goes to the core of our socio economic structure and the wellbeing of everyone, exposing those who are behind what can only be called the largest legalised organised crime syndicate in the world – The banksters that rule our lives and manipulate our government with impunity and no recourse.” He urged all South Africans to “take this as a clear sign that we are very close to exposing their unlawful activity and to unite in the support for the UBUNTU Party in their mission to put an end to this abuse of our most basic human rights and to restore all the power to the people – where the power should always be. ”

Press Statement released today by The Ubuntu Party

If The Pirate Bay loses, we all lose.

It may seem trite to talk about file-sharing without taking into consideration the rights of copyright holders, but copyright holders are just as much to blame for the growing knowledge gap in the developing world, as they are for the contemporary movement which appears to have reached its apotheosis in the shenanigans surrounding The Pirate Bay.

Take a moment to reflect on the irony facing today’s torrent user, no longer restricted to the predominantly white, European upper classes able to afford computers and bandwidth. As is increasingly the case, the average torrent downloader is more likely than not a newly enfranchised and computer literate African or Asian. Having survived the isolation of life without the Internet, and the phenomena of the digital divide, and eager to catch up on lost time, he or she will be entering a more restrictive, less free Web than the one which created the torrent file-sharing craze in Europe and America, and only to find that the sites which gave birth to the epic destruction of copyright values, no longer exist.

Can we blame these new Africans and Asians from being angry with the double oppression, so emblematic of political studies textbooks which must now inform any debate on the subject of file-sharing?

What a depressing state of affairs then to be greeted with the apparent demise of The Pirate Bay exactly at the same time that we Africans have enought bandwidth to download anything of any significant value? Having sung the joys of free and open societies, Europeans and Americans are simply closing doors and moving on to another economic universe.

Arguing for a stay of execution then, in the Pirate Bay judgement which could see the worlds biggest file sharing service close for good, may appear like  sheer opportunism, a Johnny-come-lately wanting rights over a rich mans kingdom, knowing full well that expressing such a wish, is sheer advocacy of criminality, but surely there is nobody who can deny the injustice of capitalist exploitation, so harshly illustrated by such a digital delay – As South Africans we are about 15 years behind the dominant culture on this planet.

Look at it another way, our American and European brothers, having grown exceedingly wealthy in terms of piracy, now appear content to let content simply vanish into a mashup culture as we are all forced to embrace a world in which creative production has been liberated from the shackles of copyright.

So not only are we expected to share our productive wealth, freely, we are also expected to conform to the many innovations in copyright law which have given us, Creative Commons, Copyleft, FOSS and so on, all handed down to us like the proverbial fleece.

Be that as it may, we really do have some form of right to the collective commonwealth of the planet, in a time in which there has been more information produced in the last year than the entire span of human history.

Why should we be remain shackled by exchange control inequalities and monetary policies (such as that the World Bank) which has garnered our national debt, and sold subsequent generations to the factories and sweatshops from which many will never escape?

Torrents and filesharing would appear to be one way of softening the blow — in exchange for decades of colonisation and slavery we all get to share in the collective commonwealth, copyright notwithstanding?

Such pleas to the collective gestalt may seem like a giant guilt trip, more sound arguments must therefore be deployed. The danger in not in opening society to a post-propertied, and post-copyrighted world, but that we Africans and Asians will simply continue on our schizophrenic way, in the process dismantling what remains of our former colonial masters and their fixations with torrents and file-sharing.

Our culture and civilisation will fall into the breach.We wil be the ones being torrented and sampled and will we want to behave like those masters who wage war merely to assert property law?

The popular perception of value which the supposed goods you and I  wish to liberate (steal would be a better word) is merely that, a perception.

Online will Africans simply buy the discarded remains of the 20 and early 21st Century – all that has already been deprived of value by torrents and filesharing? Are we just another market, to bolster the failing economies created from the exchange of intangibles?

Surely this is what the Pirate Bay represents, a giant remainders section in which the files themselves have no intrinsic worth other than the fascination any one individual may have for what many suppose  to be a rivelrous resource. Yet in a world of instantaneous duplication, where the  usual property law do  not apply, where is the rivelry? There is surely more than enough to go around?
I am reminded of the days of yore in the old South Africa when Record Libraries were still legal. For a small fee anyone could join and the resulting clubbing together of finances meant we all benefitted from rare acquisitions which no single person would make in their sane mind.

After the Libraries were banned, because “Home Taping is Killing Music” and in order to enforce control over the occasional hit, the social fabric went back to self-serving greed. We instantly became poorer for it. Instead of wonderfully obscure and complete collections of audio, – music as a resource — we ended up with the usual Top Twenty scarcity and the resulting loss in sensation reduced our culture to a poor facsimile. In other words, Home Taping didn’t Kill Music, Banning Record Libraries did. (Isn’t it strange that to achieve anything like popularity, a song has to be ubiquitous, but to be economical it must also be considered scarce?)

The same travesty of selfishness will happen if The Pirate Bay disappears completely. We will go back to our usual predilections, which are informed by bad Hollywood bestsellers and lowest common denominator compositions on MTV and SABC. Might I therfore suggest some kind of a rule which might appease the industry which is now killing torrents, and which has its sites on your hard-drive – do you have receipts for the latest copy of  Lady Gaga, Madam?

A ban on anything uploaded which was created in 2010.

At least with time-based scarcity, we would not have to argue against the novelty of intellectual property  but rather against the insane idea that copyright should last over a lifetime and beyond into the grave. Copryight should really be reduced to one or two years at the maximum. That way, we all won’t be 15 years out of date, or end up living in a time-warp in which none of the major influences have any chance to influence. Musicians will still get paid, because a one hit wonder which lasts for week will still make money. But the argument that this should be extrapolated out ad infinitum has surely been done a death by the surge of copyleft items which are drowning out copyright works. The sheer volume of free stuff on the Internet is levelling everything, because who wants to be forced into paying for last week’s news? Nothing is sold, everything fades into oblivion, even the memories we once treasured as a species before the computer age came along.

Less torrents = less influence.

It is copyright which is killing the pop music industry.

Timebanking creating next wave alternative economy

It took a global economic collapse for timebanking to emerge as the next wave  of the alternative economy. While readers may already be familier with the concept of a local energy trading system or LETS, and South Africa already has a well-established complimentary currency in the form of the Talent, timebanking brings with it a particular form of equality — we are all timebound and the only constraints we have are therefore time-based. Exchanging one hour of your time for another person’s hour may seem absurd, but it is the basis for the time-banking system, a system which allows users to trade services.

There are over 80 timebanks in the USA and a several in the UK and Scandenavia alone. Unlike the LETS system where users still set prices of goods and services, but in a complimentary currency for example, the Talent, timebanking is done on a one-to-one basis, i.e. one hour = one currency unit.

Voluntary currencies such as the Time Dollar are therefore not competing with traditional complimentary currencies such as Australia’s Shell and Pip, and South Africa’s Talent but rather creating a third tier currency based upon volunatrism and mutual aid.

Remarkably instead of competition, allthese alternative and complimentary currencies are based upon community cooperation and have faired a lot better than mainstream fiat currencies which are based upon the failed global banking system and a corporate-capitalist military which has to occupy neighbouring countries in order to enforce the law.

If local energy trading with Talents and time-banking doesn’t grab you, there’s always COGS, a Swedish system which utilises the gift economy to “pay forward”. Instead of accepting the one-to-one exchange, users give the proceeds of the exchange to a third party as a “gift” thereby changing economic patterns which may have become too straightjacketed or  outmoded  by todays fast changing customs and traditions.

The Brian Weinronk Interview

Weinronk with his trademark ultraviolet artwork

Brian Weinronk is a cultural maverick and founder of eponymous eighties multimedia and inter-racial venue Club Indaba. He is also known as the brains behind City Late, Roxy Cafe, and the Coffee Lounge. I interviewed him back in 2005 to find out a little more about Cape Town’s unofficial history of dance culture.

You are Cape Town’s mother of reinvention. How did you get into dance-culture?
I was working very much in isolation in a workshop and wanted to interact much more with people. I didn’t want to be the lonely artist, so I met up with some people through a cousin of mine who had a defunct club called Offbeat. It had been a gay club and it wasn’t happening and there were three partners. It was all counterculture. It wasn’t the mainstream disco circuit. I suppose Charlie Parkers would have been mainstream disco, or Raffles.

Where did you come up with the name Indaba Project?
Funny enough it was before Gatsha Buthelezi hijacked it from us, with the Indaba and the Inkatha Movement. [laughs] He started an Indaba and people started to think we were involved with the Inkatha Freedom Party. I think it was the name of people coming together. What we wanted was a whole fusion of people and music and cultures and local talent. The whole emphasis was on live music although we had a DJ and a dancefloor.

And the venue?
We found this place in Wale Street. It was a nice venue. We weren’t empressarios, we helped to host people with media, like artists and musicians, helping each other basically a space where anything could happen. A performer-friendly, audience-friendly space.

Did you have any problems with group areas, racial segregation?
Hazel Mill, she ran Hazels. It was the first coffee bar that served alchohol to black people. It wasn’t allowed and they had lots of trouble. Anyway, Hazel became a hidden away partner. We couldn’t get a liquor licences, there was no such thing a shabeen licence because tried to get a shabeen licence but that didn’t work.

What was your involvement with the cross-pollination that was happening at the time with Johannesburg bands like Benny B Funk coming down to Cape Town?
A lot of the alternative bands that played at Jamesons got to hear about us. Especially in summer, they would come and do a couple of sets at Indaba and The Base. I don’t think anybody got wealthy, but some of them got quite famous, like Peto. The sad thing is how few professional musicians have stayed on, stalwarts like Robbie Jansen.

Any acts that you would say came out of Indaba Project?
The Genuines played a helleveh lot there, I think they got exposed to an audience. They weren’t unknowns but they were more known on the Cape Flats than in town. So I think that’s where they got their break. The whole idea was to foster new talent, bands that weren’t necessarily well-known but had a following.

Your project had a philosophy?
We had a theatre that sometimes operated, we had a few very fringe, hectic lesbian plays. We had one room where we had art exhibitions and Beezy Bailey painted a whole wall – an amazing acid trip of personal stuff.

Any brushes with the authorities?
There was a story that one of the patrons had had a bomb in a suitcase. But there was generally an incredible atmosphere of paranoia in 1986/87. Scary times.

How did the State of Emergency effect you?
The feeling that your phone is probably tapped but trying not to buy into it too much. Everything cautious. We weren’t mainstream politicos, we were a nightclub.

What kind of people went there?
Generally a crosscultural fusion.

Define fusion.
Well mon, A + B = C, see? It doesn’t always happen. Fusion, certianly cultural fusion is where you get a new mass coming out of the blending of different music, different styles, world music, it creates something new. Its not just white kids dancing to black music. Probably a lot of things that we had no idea were going on. It wasn’t a trendy club. It didn’t matter what you were wearing.

Your relationship to media guru Samten De Wet?
We had a photocopy evening. The guy who did our flyers donated a whole lot of photocopy machines and Samten arranged an art evening with his friend Nat Tardrew, and people could do anything from sitting with a naked bum on a copy machine to expressing different forms of art. Samten then put it into handmade books. Which is right up his street. Robyin Orlin also did something.

What did you think when you saw scene change, the ravers?
There was a lot more ugliness, the drug scene is uglier. At indaba people smoked dope. I’m sure there were probably things going on in the toilets that nobody knew about but the worst you could see was dope.

What was the sex like?
We had a huge bed area off the dance floor where people used to go. It was a chill-out area before chill-out but very loud and onto the dancefloor and I remember there would be times, with everbody else dancing around and bopping and there would be times when it was used as a bed.
Any advice to the children of today what would your advice be?
Do what you’re passionate about and if things are not working out as you would like them to work out, know when to close the door and open a new door. Don’t be scared to actually re-invent yourself.

Tell us about your other projects like the Coffee Lounge and Roxy’s?
I think there’s a constancy in all of them, they’re all platforms not for me, not necessarily to perform myself but to nurture talent. I think it combines business sense and altruism by giving somebody else a platform and it creates audience and everybody wants to hear new talent. People are scared to take those chances and I don’t know why. Perhaps we need business people behind these things.

Was Roxy’s a success?
Very. It had no cultural pretension at anything. It was just a friendly place. We once tried to have Ian Fraser and we tried the idea of him doing a bit of impromptu but it didn’t work because there were all these little rooms. But it worked just for its atmosphere.

Disco, any thoughts?
I remember my father saying he couldn’t understand my generation. He used to twist but with disco you don’t actually hold your partner. The whole thing about dance was that it was intimate. He couldn’t understand our generation that we could get off on dance where you interact with your partner but you don’t necessarily hold them. Its quite interesting. That whole thing about Saturday Night Fever and Ritas. It became fine to dance for your own self-expression, if you interacted with you partner and got into some kind intimate thing it was a bonus.
DRL June 1 2005