CCS Events
CCS Libraries
About CCS
CCS Projects
CCS Highlights

Publication Details

Macozoma, Saki  (2003) From a theory of revolution to the management of a fragile state. Development Update Vol 4 No 3 : 1-20.

Debating the South African transition and its prospects to deliver thoroughgoing transformation is not new: it is the continuation of a century-long tradition of analysing the politics and economics of South Africa with a view to finding and forging appropriate responses. Two broad alliances emerged in South Africa over time: the capital/apartheid axis, and a nationalist/marxist axis represented by the Congress Alliance 2 led by the African National Congress (ANC). Each produced a central thesis that underpinned its ideological perspective. The ideological outlook of the capital/apartheid axis first appeared as jingoism sanitised by a civilising mission, exemplified by Lord Milner and his kindergarten after the South African War. Afrikaners, when their turn came, underpinned their ideological outlook with strident nationalism reinforced by Herrenvolkism. At the centre of both these ideological prisms was support for a system of capitalist accumulation that sought to pauperise Africans for the purpose of securing the plentiful cheap labour for which the economy thirsted. The consolidation of the settler state in 1910 resulted in a government that John Tengo Jabavu had earlier characterised as ‘playing a political baal to the entreaties of the Natives’ 3 and necessitated new political responses on the part of the African population. The burden of developing a theory and praxis of resistance, and later of revolution, lay with the leadership of the African population.

As resistance grew in response to the legislation of dispossession and greater discrimination, a theory of resistance became necessary. The confluence of resistance strategies between African nationalists and communists began in the late 1920s and culminated in the Congress Alliance in the 1950s. The complex reality of the relationship between national, class and gender oppression and its symbiotic relationship with capitalism had to be explained in political terms. The concept of colonialism of a special type CST) was developed.4 From this understanding of the South African problem a theory of revolution – the national democratic revolution (NDR)5 – evolved over decades of struggle and reflection. The concept of the national democratic revolution guided the ANC and its allies through the political negotiations of the early 1990s to a settlement that included significant compromises. The critical question at the conclusion of the negotiations was whether a programme for the fundamental transformation of society was possible, given the nature of the negotiated settlement. This question brought the role of the state in the South African transition onto the centre stage of political and ideological debate. The state, in any case, had assumed a particular significance in South Africa given the country’s socio-political development from a series of independent African polities, through the Afrikaner republics and the consolidation of the settler state by the British, to the evolution of the apartheid state. Each successive group needed the state in order to exercise hegemony. The British needed a coherent, unified state to put a firm grip on the country’s mineral wealth. Afrikaner nationalists needed the state to realise their dream of eradicating the poor white problem and give practical effect to their particular notions of Herrenvolkism and national socialism. African nationalists and their allies, in their turn, need(ed) to capture the state in order to stop and reverse the ravages of apartheid and its twin, racial capitalism.

On The Web 
Read Publication 
 cast your net a little wider...
 Radical Philosophy 
 African Studies Association (USA)  
 New Dawn Engineering 
 Indymedia Radio 
 Southern Africa Report online 
 Online Anti Apartheid Periodicals, 1960 - 1994 
 Autonomy & Solidarity 
 New Formulation 
 We Write 
 International Journal of Socialist Renewal 
 Journal of African Philosophy 
 British Library for Development Studies 
 The Nordic Africa Institute Online Library 
 Political Economy Research Institute Bulletin (PERI) 
 Feminist Africa 
 Jacques Depelchin's Tribute to Harold Wolpe 
 African Studies Quarterly 
 The Industrial Workers of the World 
 Anarchist Archives 
 Wholewheat Radio 
 Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa  
 Zanon Workers 
 Public Citizen  
 Open Directory Project 
 Big noise films 
 London Review of Books  
 New York Review of Books 
 Monthly Review 
 New Left Review 
 Bureau of Public Secrets  
 Zed Books 
 Pluto Press 
 Duke University Press  
 Abe Books 
 The Electric Book Company 
 Project Guttenberg 
 Newspeak Dictionary 
 Feral Script Kiddies 
 Go Open Source 
 Source Forge 
 Ubuntu Linux Home Page 
 Software for Apple Computers 

|  Contact Information  |  Terms of Use  |  Privacy