||Contribution to the Second Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism
Thematic Table 1, "Neoliberal Economics Against Humanity. Our Lives Beyond Economics"
Madrid (Spain) 26 July - 2 August 1997
South African Comrades for the Encounter
The analysis of the South African case shows the complexity and the diversification of strategies of translation of neoliberal policies into practice at single national levels. At the same time this illuminates some implications for resistance at a global level. The adoption of neoliberal orientations by the ANC government can be considered as a response to two sets of complementary factors: the rearticulation of popular expectations and resistance from one side, and the crisis of traditional developmental state projects from the other. As a result, the form taken by neoliberalism in South Africa, that we here define as "homegrown structural adjustment" displays peculiar and autonomous characteristics. These are dependent on the internal relationships between state an class composition, rather than on a supposed "necessary" and purely economic neoliberal logic on a global scale. The particular characteristics of neoliberalism in South Africa, while underlining the issue of diversity of neoliberalisms worldwide, also shows loopholes and contradictions, revealing a rich potential articulation of resistant social subjects and practices. These, and the materiality of needs they express, provide arguments for a left strategy who wants to challenge the present alternative between institutionalisation and invisibility that the South African civil society is facing in the context of the neoliberal hegemony.
1. South Africa and the Decline of Developmentalism
1.1 The Global Dimension
1.2 South Africa's Constraints: The "Apartheid Debt"
2. Homegrown Structural Adjustment: Neoliberalism of a Particular Kind?
3. Resistance to Neoliberalism: Beyond Institutionalisation and Invisibility
4. Towards New Networks of Struggle
1. South Africa and the Decline of Developmentalism
1.1 The Global Dimension
South Africa has a rich history of political debate and participatory democracy. This history offers a number of possibilities for alternatives to the neoliberal paradigm. The aspirations of the masses and the working class which primarily led to the defeat of the oppressive apartheid regime demanded, from this point of view, not only the abolition of institutionalised racism. They claimed a real redistribution of resources to empower people and communities in meeting their basic needs and in addressing the historical imbalances created by racial capitalism. It was a demand for a revolutionary change capable to restore the control over their own lives for millions of people deprived of the most fundamental social rights by the conjunction of institutionalised racism and monopoly capitalism. This demand was expressed, at the same time, quite concretely and materially: it was aimed at proper housing, water and electricity services, the recognition of an adequate education as a social right up to the tertiary level, a meaningful land reform, the end to oppressive and discriminatory practices in the workplaces, the implementation of world-recognised labour standards.
The ANC-led cabinet which come out of the 1994 elections adopted a developmental approach to these demands. This was declared as combining an active role for the state in the redistribution of domestic resources with a policy aimed, at the same time, at encouraging competitiveness in the promotion of manufactured exports and at defining this country as an attractive site for foreign investment. The inherently contradictory nature of these two goals has become increasingly evident in the last two decades of neoliberal hegemony on economic policies worldwide, particularly in the so-called "developing countries". In fact, a dependent insertion in the world economy and plummeting revenues from the sale of raw materials were at the root of debt crises in these countries, and of the intervention of the international financial institutions to their "rescue". The first casualty of these interventions was the role of the state in the economy, which had characterized the first generation of developmental experiments in the post-colonial world.
The conditionalities and the fiscal austerity imposed by the IMF and the World Bank to these countries resulted in privatisation, the cut of public spending, the reduction of public employment, the promotion of export with low levels of manufactured added value, the definition of extreme forms of labour market flexibility. This devastated social security networks, precarised employment relationships, increased unemployment levels. The role of the state as a regulator of foreign investment flows and as a force able to bargain to a certain degree with multinational corporations on terms favourable to the re-investment of profits, social and environmental responsibility and fiscal measures conducive to redistribution, was decisively affected by such shifts. Consequentely, the priorities of the state in these countries tended to become increasingly conditioned by the strategies of global corporate powers. National developmental projects in neoliberal contexts then lost any pretension to regulate global movements of capital and they became instead increasingly dependent on foreign investment or "aid" schemes. On the other hand, if this could sustain the permanence in power of social and political elites, a generalised decline in living standards made the control of their own people all the more problematic. Resistance to neoliberalism from a diverse and articulated class composition was often met in these countries by a deepening crisis of the state in the delivery of a homogeneous social citizenship and in organizing class integration. The way the state usually responded to the proliferation of channels of formal and informal resistance showed the other side of neoliberalism: repression, combined to its "official" face, free-market and competitiveness.
The impending decline of state sovereignity inside developmentalist projects in the South of the world - apart from its residual attributions in the sphere of social control, repression, and technical implementation of IMF and World Bank's recommendations - is now confirmed and strenghtened by new measures sponsored by the World Trade Organization (WTO), such as the Multilateral Agreement on Investments and the agreement on public contracts. This decline parallels a shift in many countries in the "North" away from various attempts to enforce welfare state provisions. The transition there was from diverse forms of social citizenship, full employment and the provision of services as deferred income, to the reconfiguration of those states. Their main roles have been redefined in the direction of supporting the competitiveness of territories and/or private corporations on world markets, and of a social and economic policy totally subordinated to the imperatives of monetary stability imposed by transnational institutions.
As John Holloway argued, the national states are reduced to trying to attract and retain within their territories a share of the global surplus value. The state becomes more reactive as it tries to attract foreign capital and immobilize it in the form of productive investment, and it is weakened by the fact that capital-as-money attaches to no group of people and particular activity. This does not exclude a very high level of government intervention, for example, in the area of management of monetary policy, but it decisively diminishes the role of the state in processes of social mediation and equalisation. In short, the crisis of the welfare state in the North and the crisis of developmentalism in the South are part of a broader exhaustion of policy options exclusively based on the state for the guarantee of social and economic justice. For the left, this emphasizes the need for strategies of resistance and contestation capable to question the state as the only arena of political representation and progressive change.
1.2 South Africa's Constraints: The "Apartheid Debt"
However, South Africa is somewhat different from both the broad scenarios outlined above. In fact, compared to most countries of the South, South African government's foreign debt has been minimal (only 5% of the total South African debt in 1996, while the overwhelming majority of South African foreign debt is held by private companies). This could have sheltered the country to some extent from the neoliberal policy prescriptions of the international financial institutions. However, the South African state remains strongly indebted internally with major corporate powers, which were those who mostly benefitted from apartheid's cheap labour policies and public support. In 1997, only the service of the public debt amounted to 40 billion Rands, compared to just 15 billion Rands from income tax revenue. With a staggering interest rate at 22%, this meant that resources for redistribution were severely constrained and that the government's social and economic policy options were hostages to domestic monopoly capital. Therefore, the legacy of apartheid decisively shapes economic policy in the "new" South Africa.
Moreover, the mechanism of indebtment works in a perverse spiral. In fact, the South African public debt is owned by large corporate investors (eg. pension funds) which use the government's transfers and interest payments to buy government bonds. In this way, the taxpayers' money is used by big business to enrich itself through the expansion of the public debt, to the detriment of programmes for the poor and the marginalised. As a result, the power of big business still has a decisive capacity to influence the direction of the South African transition. However, the government was not merely a passive hostage of this power. It rather seconded the neoliberal orientations of big business by choosing to open to international financial institutions while at the same time dismantling the barriers to international competition. This process started with an IMF-sponsored drought-relief loan of US$ 850 millions. That loan was, actually, not necessary; its rationale was to commit South Africa with the IMF in order to facilitate a smooth transition in the 1994 elections. Since then, new interventions by the IMF and the WB have taken place, while the WB's director is now going to travel to South Africa to elicit the engagement of unions and "civil society" organisations in neoliberal policies, by coopting them in loosely- defined structures of "consultation".
The conclusion is that the IMF and the WB did not act in South Africa as all-powerful and invincible forces simply subjugating the national state to their will. Their influence in South Africa was made possible by the continuing domination of a domestic monopoly capital which grew under apartheid, and by the cooperation of the new democratic state. It seems that the rationale for such state cooperation was the aim to provide for a stable social control and the demobilization of the most critical and militant expressions in the South African society (at the level of townships, workplaces, campuses and rural areas). These, in fact, retained a massive potential to jeopardize the transition to a neoliberal form of democracy, a point we will return on later.
2. Homegrown Structural Adjustment: Neoliberalism of a Particular Kind?
The relevance of domestic economic and political factors in explaining the grip of international financial capital on South Africa has implications for our understanding of neoliberalism in this country. Patrick Bond captured this importance of internal factors in the phrase "homegrown structural adjustment", as opposed to externally-imposed structural adjustment policies in other African countries. This concept can substantially enrich and renew our critical analysis of neoliberalism. In fact, in the logic of the "homegrown structural adjustment" the nation state is not just a victim of the impersonal, necessary and unquestionable dynamics of globalised capital. Not only the national state is a crucial actor in reproducing the worldwide hegemony of neoliberalism, but neoliberalism itself should no longer be regarded as a purely economic force. It is rather a political response to the struggle and the resistance of peoples who see in the transition to democracy not only the establishment of formal rules and procedures for elections, but the effective delivery of social wealth in the form of land, education, social services, transportation, electricity, water, roads, sewerage and, more importantly, the possibility to autonomously decide over their management and distribution in the communities.
In other words, neoliberalism is the response by the political and economic elites to higher and more sophisticated levels of articulation of the class composition in a society, and to the struggles that follow. Neoliberalism does not encompass a set of global standards. It describes a political-ideological discourse which is the outcome of choices that answer to the imperatives of particular social forces and interests. There is nothing inevitable about it. The claim by some commentators that the ANC government had no choice other than the adoption of "stringent market-related policies" is spurious, the kind of historical determinism which is ridiculed and dismissed when mouthed by leftists of the jurassic variety.
We initially mentioned the developmentalist orientation of the ANC- led government in the context of the transition. Now, what is left of that option in the scenario of the "homegrown structural adjustment"? The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), as the socio-economic programme of the ANC for its election campaign of 1994, contained some elements of an anti-neoliberal thrust, shaped by consultations with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). As a whole, the RDP was a piece of social-democratic welfarism based on the ambition to redress the inequities of the past through the provision of education, health care and social services. However, RDP's greatest ambiguity remained its inability to provide foundations for the kinds of productivity deals and social citizenship arrangements (eg. full employment policies, comprehensive land redistribution, nationalisations) which could support the fiscal structures already necessary to the "historic" socialdemocratic welfare states. Moreover, when the RDP was written, those same socialdemocratic experiments were falling all over the world under the new gospels of fiscal restraint and macroeconomic discipline. Finally, the RDP contained strong neoliberal elements, such as an increased outward orientation of the economy and the promotion of foreign direct investment.
These ambiguities and weaknesses were addressed by the ANC government through an accentuation of the neoliberal contents of its economic policies. The July 1996 "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" (GEAR) strategy, drafted by the Ministry of Finance, is the most perfected elaboration so far of this shift in terms of formal enunciations. GEAR reinforced the government's emphasis on fiscal discipline, containment of inflation and export promotion as ways to enhance competitiveness, which would arguably enable public spending to rise again after that the, by now highly unlikely, growth rate of 6.1% was to be touched in the year 2000. A decisive role was recognised to the liberalization of foreign exchanges, export promotion, privatisation of state enterprises and the creation of a conducive and enabling environment for foreign investment. However, no specific measures were proposed to ensure business meets this duty to invest.
Moreover, GEAR recommended greater labour market flexibility, possibly via a two-tier system involving the deregulation of certain categories of semi- and unskilled work and the exemption for small business from provisions of the new labour legislation. Also envisaged was a "social accord" whereby wage restraint from organized workers would be rewarded with a commitment to price restraint from organized business. All this in a labour market that the International Labour Organisation itself recognised as already extremely flexible, characterised by wide wage fluctuations, and where even large-scale firms resort to subcontracting, outsourcing and the use of casual labour. Finally, the demand-driven characteristics of economic growth were substantially emasculated by GEAR. Conversely, the RDP's residual focus on redistribution and job- creation lost entirely its nature of independent and priority field of government intervention and it rather came to depend on business' international competitiveness and the performance of domestic and foreign corporate investors.
These shifts were already noticeable in immediate post-RDP economic policy documents. These redefined the RDP's emphasis on "meeting basic needs" as a strategy played at a rhetorical level to generate consent and contain some social consequences of poverty without eliminating the structural causes of poverty. GEAR was then not a rejection of the RDP, but the confirmation with a remarkable consistency of a neoliberal orientation already present, albeit in a more nuanced way, inside the RDP.
As ANC's Rob Davies, former chair of the parliamentary Finance Committee, recognized, there was no guarantee that the implementation of all the prescriptions of GEAR would lead to the desired macroeconomic outcomes. The whole process rather depended on the capacity of GEAR's measures to generate "confidence" among domestic and foreign private investors. In other words, private corporate profitability was recognised as the main vehicle through which some sort of social delivery would take place, sooner or later, without even indicating how this was expected to happen. The results are telling indeed: more than 100.000 jobs lost during GEAR's first year (GEAR promised 126.000 jobs gained), Gross Domestic Product dips to -0.8 percent in the first quarter of 1997, inflation teeters at 9,9 percent, and new inequalities have enlarged with the enrichment of a tiny layer of black corporate business. The only visible "social" dimension of GEAR, and one of its main legitimizing motifs, was job creation. However, the director-general of the Ministry of Finance has recently come out with the astonishing remark that more research is required into the link between economic growth and job creation... But, it is worth stressing, GEAR is not an aberration: it is rather a distillation of ideological predispositions that gradually took hold within the ANC during the 1990s. If this strategy will not be contested, business will get from GEAR's failure the lesson that more fiscal discipline, more privatisations, more cuts on public spending are required, and the real danger exists that they will find increasingly receptive ears in the government.
All the social indicators have been adversely affected by the performance of neoliberalism South African-style. Provision of housing remains dependent on the competitive advantages required by corporate developers, state subsidies for the purchase of housing are available only for the most marginal sectors of the market, and they remain largely inadequate. Notably absent are schemes for public housing construction, or for subsidized rent, while the government does not oppose the developers' "redlining" policies in many areas. Conversely, the issue was addressed through very superficial forms of upliftment of urban areas ("pit latrines policies"), and through efforts to stop long-lasting rent and tariff boycotts which subordinated urban redistribution to largely ideological and rhetorical patriotist devices (the "Masakhane campaign").
Processes of restitution and redistribution of state-owned land do not affect the fundamentally "willing seller-willing buyer" basis of the agrarian reform. Moreover, the existing processes through which rural communities arbitrarily dispossessed during apartheid can claim their land back do not provide for any really empowering mechanism at the local, grassroots level. As a result, the clientelist power of "chiefs" and traditional authorities in claiming the land for their communities has often increased.
Struggles for the transformation of tertiary education have clashed with lack of funding and the impending cuts to public subsidies due to the reduction of state involvement in the sector. These arguments are used by old-style university administrations to resist change in the composition of the student body to make it more representative of the South African population, redressing the plights of the formerly excluded. Moreover, this obstacles workers and students' demands for a real change in working conditions and study curricula. Rather, the position of the privatisers of the university is reinforced; struggles against privatisation, downsizing and retrenchments have been matched by high degrees of repression as in the recent case of the COMSA trade union at the University of Durban-Westville.
Recent changes to industrial relations legislation explicitly posit a direct link between the end of conflict and adversarialism at the workplace level and the strenghtening of South African competitiveness in world markets and in the global scramble for foreign investment. To this end, flexibility, co-determination and worker participation are encouraged. However this is pursued through a separation of collective bargaining over wages and working conditions, which is limited to the centralised level, and issues of productivity and restructuring, delegated to supposedly "conflict-free" forums at the workplace level. While no statutory duty to bargain exists in South Africa, this separation fundamentally disarticulates the bargaining power of workers on the shopfloor, and it weakens the union leadership vis-a-vis business and government. A demonstration of this was the discussions on the amendment to the legislation on basic employment standards, whereby capital, supported by the government, rejected union demands for a 40-hours working week and six months maternity leave. This sparked a massive wave of protest culminated in the 2 June general strike, and it led COSATU to question the viability of tripartite centralised bargaining, without, however, an alternative strategy clearly emerging.
Pressures on organized labour have recently intensified. A 1996 ANC discussion document on "The State and Social Transformation", produced inside circles close to the vice-President and likely future President, Thabo Mbeki, warns the labour movement to give up its "economistic" demands, reminding the relatively "privileged" status of the waged workers and their obligations to the developmental effort. At the same time, no similar obligations are imposed upon capital; instead foreign investment is recognized as a priority leverage for the development effort itself. As a matter of fact, average manufacturing wages in South Africa are already at the level of the low-income Asian economies. Finally, the allegedly "privileged" position of the formal working class is questioned by the existence of networks of income through which waged workers support the huge pool of unemployed relatives condemned to marginalisation or the precariousness of the informal economy.
This situation is particularly dramatic for women. From one side, neoliberalism and globalization encourage their access to the labour market on the basis of their cheapness - given their continuing links with the household - and their adaptability, due to the desire of emancipation from the oppressive structures of patriarchy. From the other hand their position remains of second-class citizenship, confined to the jobs with worst wages and working conditions, which are proliferating as a result of market-led processes of casualization, decentralization, homework. Moreover, neoliberal policies which cut public spending and basic services shift most of the burden of reproduction on women, thus reinforcing their subordinate position and hampering in a contradictory way their entrance in the labour market.
The promotion of centralised bargaining and corporatist policy making between capital, labour and government ultimately does not restore at the central level the power the workers lose at the grassroots. In fact, capital and the ANC are rather prone to bargain bilaterally the forms of restructuring which might be more unpopular for the workers. This often places the unions in front of the "fait accompli". Moreover, the power of capital in these deals is enormously increased by the government self-imposed constraints in the name of fiscal discipline (eg. a 3% deficit-to-GNP ratio by the year 2000). This, by preventing prospects for a demand-driven growth along Keynesian lines, annihilates the welfarist ambitions of South African corporatist decision-making. Moreover, even an expansionary policy based on purely monetarist devices and the reduction of the interest rate is questioned, given that this can lead to a further crisis for the unstable Rand and for a Balance of Payments already under strain.
In this scenario, the only chances left for macroeconomic growth are confined to foreign investment; to this end the government is currently engaged in a massive wave of privatisation of basic services (transport, telecommunications, water). This completes a general framework which makes a mockery of the South African ambitions for a corporatist welfare state. The convergence between local oligopolies and foreign corporate investors, even if not without contradictions is, as we mentioned, an integral component of the homegrown structural adjustment. Furthermore, this same framework is elaborated and refined in the form of "macroeconomic constraints for the process of change" by a whole legion of academics, technocrats, consultants and research units. These people, mostly coming from a radical and militant past in the anti-apartheid struggle are now engaged in reminding the public during the day of the same "objective" limitations to radical change that they themselves elaborate at night for Anglo-American or the Department of Finance. It is in the name of these limitations that these "experts" recommend the workers to moderate their wage demands, and to link them to productivity, flexibility and company performance. And it is in the name of these limitations that they endorse the repression of students and workers protesting on campuses, and that their newspapers and publications ignore the enduring struggles of the rural poor and the township squatters. The state, rather then being a passive victim of this mechanism, is a structure that must be hegemonised by forces reproducing the neoliberal paradigm through measures of deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation. But the roots of this hegemony are to be found in the crisis of welfare-developmental state options in the face of the globalisation of capitalist command. This ultimately questions the nature of the state itself as the primary focus of progressive struggles for change.
3. Resistance to Neoliberalism: Beyond Institutionalisation and Invisibility
The neoliberal hegemony over social and economic policy making, and the failure of socialdemocracy to present itself as a real way out, confront the people's desire for real change with a harsh alternative. From one side, the "civil society" is required to orderly accept its institutionalisation inside the neoliberal "macroeconomic constraints" and inside social-democratic structures of social control, corporatism, co- determination and pacification which are showing their failure both in their redistributive capacity and in their representiveness. On the other hand, those who do not want to accommodate in this process of institutionalisation are simply relegated to invisibility. However today, more than three years after the first appearance of the RDP, the masses still await some delivery. This demands a challenge to the current alternative between INVISIBILITY and neoliberal-socialdemocratic INSTITUTIONALISATION. The symbolic power that the RDP still holds for the South African class composition may still indicate the existence of an intermediate space between those two opposites. In fact, it shows the persistence of a vision of change as based on reappropriation of basic needs and on circuits of solidarity impermeable to the market hegemony.
This seems able to sustain, at least to a certain extent, the tradition of self-empowerment and self-organisation at the level of workplaces and communities that was crucial in the defeat of apartheid, and which remains on the agenda of an anti-neoliberal left. It also creates contradictions for capitalist restructuring which diminish its prospects for stability. The promotion of flexibility and worker participation often has the unintended effect of making workers autonomously realize the importance of their social cooperation and communication. This clashes with a management style characterised by a permanent racism, authoritarian innovation, unregulated resort to downsizing, outsourcing and retrenchments. This trend, far from disappearing, is reinforced by the search for new competitive positions for South African manufacturing in world markets. This contradiction, while challenging unions' strategies, led in the past workers in many sectors (from automobile to paper) to reject co-determination and participation.
Land struggles and occupations in areas such as Mpumalanga and the Northern Province have at the same time demonstrated the extent of the popular demand for a genuine land redistribution, of a widespread dissatisfaction with market-driven approaches and of the contestation of the role of "traditional" authorities. Struggles over land are affecting a whole range of issues linked to capitalist depletion of resources. People in Kyalami (Thembisa) massively rejected "development" in the form of a R 10 million construction of toxic waste dump, which eventually closed down. The Difateng community resisted pre-paid meter electricity installation, to which the electric company Eskom retaliated with a switch-off punishment. These kinds of struggles are however the most likely to fall into invisibility and oblivion given the silence of those whom SACP's Tebogo Phadu calls "deprofessionalised intellectuals".
The tradition of mass formations of struggle embodied in the "civics" at the level of black working-class townships, expressed in the 1980s in the forms of widespread anti-institutionality, boycotts of rent payments and campaigns against undemocratic local authorities, entrenched a deep popular support for grassroots direct democracy. However, this was partially countered by authoritarian and personalised styles of local leadership. From the second half of the 1980s, the articulation of civil society was increasingly overtaken by an ANC hegemony over the movement that did not deepen practices of grassroots democracy, while preparing the ground for demobilisation and institutionalisation in the 1990s. In the post- apartheid era, the ANC-led government's response to broad social demands has not provided for an increase in welfare and services expenditure and the rejection of the debt inherited from apartheid.
Democratisation was rather reduced to mere electoral and procedural politics, with no ambition to interfere with capital's prerogatives in the economic domain and no response to the process of demobilisation and institutionalisation of grassroots struggles. In the long run, the choice for the government was either empowering mass organisations and their individual members or relying on the expertise of the bureaucrats who had run the apartheid machine for decades. Clearly an alternative to neoliberalism would have necessitated opting for the empowerment of mass organisation. Nationally organised in SANCO (South African National Civic Organisation), the civic movement has recently pushed for redistribution and community control of resources. This tries to receive and organise a plight from the grassroots, and it confirms the continuing relevance for South Africa of a history of resistance characterised, unlike other African countries, by mass-based organisations that posited alternatives to neoliberalism, translated to some extent at policy level, and which are still relevant to overcome the alternative between invisibility and subaltern institutionaisation.
The current choice for neoliberalism in South Africa does not necessarily imply the rejection of alternatives allegedly with no concrete expressions on the ground. The struggle to overthrow apartheid involved millions of ordinary people in structures that were organised along the principle of participatory democracy. Today, the source for us to start thinking again about alternatives is still the same: mass movements and mass organization. However, we must face a reality whereby existing mass organizations have been significantly demobilised and disoriented after the institutionalisation of labour and the civil society, particularly after 1994. Major leaders of nearly all unions and civics have gone into government. Moreover, political pressure from the ANC and financial carrots from business have led to generalised shifts from previous anti-capitalist positions.
4. Towards New Networks of Struggle
An alternative to neoliberalism will in the long run depend on alternative forms of organisation and networks of struggle capable to root the desire for change arising from the whole articulation of the South African class composition. This desire is currently excluded and not represented by the alternative between invisibility and institutionalization imposed by neoliberalism to the South African people. Making these networks and structures visible again is a major challenge from this point of view.
Important short-term steps must be taken as well. It is in particular imperative for a broad social left to break with the self-reassuring developmental rhetoric of the present government. This will imply, for example, that a clear-cut alternative to neoliberalism will be more likely to emerge if COSATU as a federation severs its formal political allegiance to the ANC and focuses more radically on working class issues. Challenging neoliberalism will ultimately require creativity and inventiveness in the redefinition of grassroots self-organized forms of resistance capable to link the struggle of the factory working class with the multiplicity of demands at the level of communities. The terrain of basic needs can provide one foundation for this political and organisational synthesis. Those same needs that are now denied by neoliberal commodification and marketization of life are nonetheless the material bases for ordinary people's distance from and resistance to neoliberalism.
The social cooperation and knowledge that people have to articulate in response to the capitalist colonization of their whole lifetime - be it in the form of worker response to flexibility, or as informal circuits of income generation and distribution outside the reach of capital and the state at the level of communities - represent an opportunity and a challenge for any form of organisation engaged against neoliberalism. As an opportunity, it stresses the existence of a whole social composition not reconciled with capitalist global imperatives. As a challenge, it requires rethinking the whole issue of organization, away from easy slogans and shortcuts and attentive to the need to combine at the same time the connection and circulation of struggles with the respect of their inner diversity and reciprocal autonomy.
Moreover, if new networks of struggle will question the viability of strategies focused on the influence on, or the conquest of, state power, they cannot be read as expressions of an undifferentiated "civil society" as simply absence of the state, which will have a neoliberal flavour. In fact, what the working class and the popular movements conquered through struggle, as social rights and outcome of progressive social policies, will have to find a place in networks of resistance against the restructuring of that same state in the direction of liberalisation and privatisation.
As this Encounter indicates, the analysis must be able to read how the different progressive formations, however structured, "organise, struggle and resist against neo-liberalism for humanity". This ultimately requires for our approach to current South African struggles against neoliberalism to be understood in the broader, worldwide struggle for anti-neoliberal resistance. Contrasting of neoliberalism on a mass scale may require a long-lasting process of reconstruction of resistance. But given the tradition of grassroots democracy and popular mobilisation in South Africa, the neoliberal paradigm can encounter here a degree of resistance with a meaningful impact on globalized processes of opposition. If this materializes, like its apartheid predecessors neo-liberalism will be swept away by mass organisations and movements who hopefully this time will be prepared to make sure their own agendas rule the day.
The comrades who met to discuss this document are: Franco Barchiesi, Patrick Bond, Rehad Desai, George Dor, Hein Marais, Lucky Mphafudi, Nape Nchabeleng, John Pape, Roseline Nyman. Other comrades participated in a process of collective editing via E-Mail.
This participation to the Encounter is supported by the Editorial Collectives of "DEBATE - Voices from the South African Left".
Given that this document is mainly intended as a discussion paper, a bibliography has been omitted. However, invaluable, albeit indirect and even unintended, inputs to this document in the form of writings or speeches have been given by the following comrades: Brian Ashley, Heinrich Bohmke, Ashwin Desai, Oupa Lehulere, Andile Mngxitama, Melanie Samson.
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