||It is a great honour to participate in a discussion with progressive Indian intellectuals, aiming to surface some of the theoretical and political problems that we face in South Africa when migrant labour comes into contact with one of the world’s most militant proletariats. In a post-colonial settler state still suffused with racist socio-geographical patterns and still reliant for a great deal of surplus value extraction from migrant workers in mines, factories and plantations, and with neoliberal ‘class apartheid’ replacing ‘racial apartheid’, little wonder that South Africa has amongst the world’s highest social protest rates. But as we conclude, it is yet more tragic that as one response to structural conditions, extreme forms of violent xenophobia broke out in 2008 and 2010, leaving scores of immigrants dead.
I will, in this paper, first briefly outline roughly a half-century of theoretical developments in political economy that explicitly or implicitly grappled with migration. Then we review the main empirical aspects of labour migration over a century of regional proletarianisation. Next, contemporary economic crisis trends are sketched. And finally, an indication of why social resistance to neoliberalism has taken both ‘left’ and ‘right’ turns, the latter in the form of xenophobia. There is, it will be clear, an ‘uneven and combined development’ of capitalism, and also of anticapitalism.