State strategy and transition in South Africa: Historical and contemporary perspectives

Show simple item record Sarakinsky, Ivor 2011-05-09T09:29:19Z 2011-05-09T09:29:19Z 1988-08-08
dc.description African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 8 August 1988 en_US
dc.description.abstract Much of the contemporary debate on the transition from an apartheid to an apartheid free South Africa has primarily focussed on the question of class alliances and the possibility of socialism. This literature has not, in any detail, discussed the nature of the apartheid state and the prior question of how a transition is to be brought about. The important debates concerning the role of the working class in alliance with other classes do not put any suggestions forward as to how the apartheid state is to be transformed. Recently, two positions on this question have emerged. First, John Saul (1986: 3-22) makes some interesting arguments concerning the relationship between the popular democratic and proletarian themes in the liberation struggle and the way they are reflected in the liberation movements. However, on the question of transition, Saul merely makes vague references to the 'overthrow of the apartheid state', the resistance movements 'forcing a transition to a democratic resolution of South Africa's crisis' and 'the smashing of the apartheid state1. All this is said in the context of his correct assertion that the 'brute capacity of the state to bottle up the challenge (to it)...has not been deeply threatened'. Second, and more recently, Roger Southall (1987: 345-374) discusses the possibility of socialism as well as other scenarios in a post-apartheid South Africa. His argument is premised on the unclear assumption that a transition has occurred 'not (by) the revolutionary overthrow of the state but (by) its erosion from below'. Later on, he asserts that much of the argument about the ongoing struggle concerns 'the strength of the white state, and the supposition that it cannot be overthrown, only eroded. The problem with both these positions, excluding their vagueness, is that they do not seriously consider the institutional structure of the South African state, its power and its tactical responses to the recent wave of popular militancy in South Africa. In other words, the mechanics of transition are not rigorously examined as these authors have focussed their discussions on other themes, and it is to this question, the question of transition and the state, that this paper is directed. However, before examining the contemporary line up of forces in the South African milieu, the way the liberation movements have historically viewed the state and the tactics that they have adopted to effect a transition will be discussed. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries African Studies Institute;ISS 377
dc.subject South Africa. Politics and government. 1989-1994 en_US
dc.title State strategy and transition in South Africa: Historical and contemporary perspectives en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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