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Bond, Patrick (2006) South African subimperialism. Centre for Civil Society Colloquium on the Economy, Society and Nature: 1-69.


Imperialism, subimperialism and anti-imperialism are all settling into durable patterns and alignments in Africa – especially South Africa – even if the continent’s notoriously confusing political discourses sometimes conceal the collisions and collusions. ‘All Bush wants is Iraqi oil,’ the highest-profile African, Nelson Mandela, charged in January 2003. ‘Their friend Israel has weapons of mass destruction but because it’s [the US] ally, they won’t ask the UN to get rid of it... Bush, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. If there is a country which has committed unspeakable atrocities, it is the United States of America.’2 Mandela’s remarks were soon echoed at a demonstration of 4,000 people outside the US embassy in Pretoria, by African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe: ‘Because we are endowed with several rich minerals, if we don’t stop this unilateral action against Iraq today, tomorrow they will come for us.’3 This was not merely conjunctural anti-war rhetoric. Mandela’s successor Thabo Mbeki was just as vitriolic when addressing the broader context of imperial power, for example when welcoming dignitaries to the August 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development: ‘We have all converged at the Cradle of Humanity to confront the social behaviour that has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. This social behaviour has produced and entrenches a global system of apartheid.’4 Mbeki’s efforts to insert the phrase ‘global apartheid’ in the summit’s final document failed, due to opposition by then US secretary of state Colin Powell, who in turn was heckled by both civil society activists and Third World leaders in the final plenary session.

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 Relevant Publications
 The Accumulation of Capital. Chapter 27: THE STRUGGLE AGAINST NATURAL ECONOMY: Rosa Luxemburg 
 Capitalism & cheap labour power in South Africa: Harold Wolpe 
 Labour Market Discrimination and its Aftermath in Southern Africa Guy Mhone 

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