Sunday December 21st, 2014, 10:50 am (EST)

Africa

From Racial to Class Apartheid: South Africa’s Frustrating Decade of Freedom

The end of the apartheid regime was a great human achievement. Yet the 1994 election of an African National Congress (ANC) majority-with Nelson Mandela as the new president-did not alter the enormous structural gap in wealth between the majority black and minority white populations. Indeed, it set in motion neoliberal policies that exacerbated class, race, and gender inequality. To promote a peaceful transition, the agreement negotiated between the racist white regime and the ANC allowed whites to keep the best land, the mines, manufacturing plants, and financial institutions. There were only two basic paths that the ANC could follow. One was to mobilize the people and all their enthusiasm, energy, and hard work, use a larger share of the economic surplus (through state-directed investments and higher taxes), and stop the flow of capital abroad, including the repayment of illegitimate apartheid-era debt. The other was to adopt a neoliberal capitalist path, with a small reform here or there, while posturing as if social democracy was on the horizon… | more |

The Tragedy of Rwanda

Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (Princeton University Press, 2001), 384 pages, paperback $16.95.
Linda Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (London and New York: Zed Books, 2000), 288 pages, hardcover $69.95, paperback $19.95.

In Rwanda, in four months of 1994, as many as a million people were massacred in a well prepared and organized orgy of killing amounting to genocide. Seldom in recorded history has there been such a concentrated frenzy of mass murder of innocent people. How could such a thing have happened? Who was responsible? Could it have been prevented and why wasn’t it? These questions are the subject of the two books under review… | more |

Africa: Imperialism Goes Naked

The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, moving from its home, where it assumes respectable form, to the colonies, where it goes naked (Karl Marx, “The Future Results of British Rule in India,” New York Daily Tribune, January 22, 1853).… | more |

Marx’s statement is telling and relevant. Capitalism has always acted as a global system, working across or between nation states. The ever-present imperative to produce profit has pushed capital from its historic heartlands in northern Europe to all societies. But as Marx implies, the process of expansion has not been a homogenizing one: the bourgeoisie has double standards, or perhaps multiple standards, as it negotiates its presence in a wide variety of locations. The standards that most would define as minimally acceptable (social democracy) have been a product of specific historical and material conditions: a result of the emergence of institutionally robust and interventionist states and the political demands of working classes. But, these historical conditions are part of the same conditions that produced very different states and economies in sub-Saharan Africa: the colonial states arising from the scramble for colonies of the late 1880s are themselves part of the same capitalism which produced the bourgeois civilization that Marx ironically attributes to late Victorian England. The hypocrisy is that civilization in Europe, plus plunder, primitive accumulation, and famine in the colonial world were part of the same overarching liberal ideals… | more |

Back to the Motherland: Cuba in Africa

Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 576 pages, cloth $34.95, paper $24.95.

Angola is by most accounts a decimated, nearly hopeless land, ruined by more than three decades of war. But there was a moment in the mid-seventies when this former Portuguese colony shone as a beacon of hope for all Africa. It was here that the mythic power of white military supremacy was smashed by black troops from Angola and Cuba. And though the role of Cuban volunteers in this victory inspired Africans and left internationals everywhere, the details of the story have remained largely hidden and even in Cuba, uncelebrated… | more |

Neoliberalism and Resistance in South Africa

An aspect of the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa was inadvertently captured at the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting held at the International Convention Centre in Durban, in June 2002, as the police arrived with a massive show of force and drove protesters away from the building with batons and charging horses. One of the organizers of the WEF was approached by an incred- ulous member of the foreign media and asked about the right to protest in the “new South Africa.” The organizer pulled out the program and, with a wry smile, pointed to an upcoming session entitled “Taking NEPAD to the People.” He said he could not understand the protests because the “people” have been accommodated.… | more |

Post-Apartheid South Africa

Reply to John S. Saul

John Saul has had an extensive and committed involvement with Southern Africa. His analyses are taken seriously in left circles in South Africa. Sadly, perhaps understandably, his most recent extended visit to this country has left him feeling deeply disappointed (“Cry for the Beloved Country: The Post-Apartheid Denouement,” Monthly Review 52, no. 8, January 2001, pp. 1–51). This sense of disappointment is rooted, I would guess, partly in the intellectual, organizational and even emotional energies that Saul, like many others, invested in the solidarity struggle against apartheid, and in legitimate expectations for a post-apartheid South Africa. There is also, and I want to underline my own empathy with his irritation on this score, a hint of personal hurt: “The most startling thing I personally discovered about the New South Africa is just how easy it has become to find oneself considered an ultraleftist!” (p. 1) This sense of disappointment, even of betrayal, is also present in many progressive circles within South Africa, and indeed among many cadres of our movement. Despite all of this there is, I believe, something seriously off-beam in Saul’s analysis… | more |

Starting from Scratch?

A Reply to Jeremy Cronin

It is interesting that, on one of the two main fronts of inquiry opened up in my original essay, Jeremy Cronin professes—despite the wounded tone he adopts throughout and for all his talk about my “frozen penultimates,” “sneers,” and “derision”—to be in considerable agreement with me. This concerns my reading of the overall trajectory of socioeconomic policy that the African National Congress (ANC) government has adopted since 1994. As he puts the point, “Saul goes on to argue that the ANC liberation front has erred seriously on two critical fronts—the choice of economic policies, and the relative demobilization of our mass constituency (except during electoral campaigns). I agree with Saul on both counts.” Indeed, he adds, “I agree substantially with the broad analysis of the last twelve years or so in South Africa that Saul makes in his pessimism of the intellect mode,” including, it would appear, my criticisms of the “government’s macroeconomic policy (the Growth Employment and Redistribution framework—GEAR), privatization policies, excessive liberalization measures, the failure to mobilize our mass base, or concerns about the growing bureaucratization and the influence of an emerging black bourgeois stratum on policy” … | more |

October 2002 (Volume 54, Number 5)

October 2002 (Volume 54, Number 5)

In late August and early September a number of MR and Socialist Register authors (including Patrick Bond, John Bellamy Foster, Gerard Greenfield, Naomi Klein, and John Saul) participated in forums in Johannesburg related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. On August 24, they joined in a march led by antiprivatization activists from the black townships (in particular by Trevor Ngwane and Virginia Setshedi—whose role in the struggle in South Africa is discussed in Ashwin Desai’s new MR Press book, We Are the Poors). The march was organized to protest the arrest and jailing of political activists. The marchers lit candles and proceeded peacefully but were met within minutes by the South African police who exploded percussion grenades, injuring three of the protestors. The harsh and unprovoked actions of the police on this occasion pointed to the increasingly antipopular character of the South African state, which is imposing neoliberal economic policy on the society. It also underscored the repressive measures now commonly utilized at world summits in general. We will address the Johannesburg summit and the economic and environmental problems of southern Africa in an upcoming issue of MR… | more |

Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the Power Politics of Bourgeois Democracy

Since February 2000, when president Robert Mugabe suffered his first-ever national electoral defeat—over a proposed new constitution—Zimbabwe has witnessed confusing debilitating political turmoil. A decade of economic decline, characteristic of the imposition of structural adjustment across Africa, preceded the rise of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Standards of living had crashed during the 1990s, the state withdrew—or priced at prohibitive levels—many social services, and the economy deindustrialized. State and private sector corruption were rife… | more |

We Are the Poors

We Are the Poors

Community Struggles in Post-Apartheid South Africa

When Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994, freedom-loving people around the world hailed a victory over racial domination. The end of apartheid did not change the basic conditions of the oppressed majority, however. Material inequality has deepened and new forms of solidarity and resistance have emerged in communities that have forged new and dynamic political identities. We Are the Poors follows the growth of the most unexpected of these community movements, beginning in one township of Durban, linking up with community and labor struggles in other parts of the country, and coming together in massive anti-government protests at the time of the UN World Conference Against Racism in 2001.… | more |

Sub-Saharan Africa in Global Capitalism

If we define sub-Saharan Africa as excluding not only north Africa but also bracket off, for the moment, the continent’s southern cone, dominated by South Africa, the key fact about the rest—the greater part of the continent—is thrown sharply into relief: after 80 years of colonial rule and almost four decades of independence, in most of it there is some capital but not a lot of capitalism. The predominant social relations are still not capitalist, nor is the prevailing logic of production. Africa south of the Sahara exists in a capitalist world, which marks and constrains the lives of its inhabitants at every turn, but is not of it … | more |

Mandela’s Democracy

In his speech from the dock, at his 1962 trial for inciting African workers
to strike and leaving the country without a passport, Nelson Mandela described
the initial formation of his political ideas: … | more |

Political Reawakening in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, is a post-nationalist politics propelled by progressive currents finally on the horizon? Has fatigue associated with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union’s (ZANU’s) malgovernance and economic mistakes finally reached a breaking point? If so, do these developments reflect a general dynamic in the broader social struggle against the globalized, neoliberal form international capitalism now takes? Will a new labor party emerge as the organizational basis for popular aspirations?… | more |

Between Nuremberg and Amnesia: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa

The conscious crafting of an honest history by a state commission is a rare enough event to justify our calling your attention to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But this writing of history is incomplete, in the same degree as the process of change in South Africa. Certain brute facts are ignored and avoided, and this avoidance was the condition of the bargain accepted by the ANC. As per South Africa’s Freedom Charter, now it can in some meaningful sense be said that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.” But what belongs to whom is the question left unaddressed as the very condition of the transition negotiations, transferring its tension into all aspects of that transition, not least any permitted debate over present remedies for a history of injustice.… | more |

Township Politics

Township Politics

Civic Struggles for a New South Africa

This insider’s account of an extraordinary period of national political transition is also a primer on a new radical philosophy, the street–smart Marxism that developed in South Africa’s sprawling townships between 1985 and 1995 and rendered them ungovernable for the apartheid state. Mzwanele Mayekiso, a young leader of the “civics”—as South Africa’s popular community organizations are called—spent almost three years in prison as a result of the civics’ militant organizing. Here, he interlaces his personal story with caustic assessments of apartheid’s hand–picked township leaders, with rebuttals of armchair academics, and with impassioned but self–critical analyses of the civics’ struggles and tactics. He ends with a vision of an international urban social movement that, he argues, must be a crucial component of any emancipatory project.… | more |

Unity and Struggle

Unity and Struggle

Speeches and Writings of Amilcar Cabral

Cabral is among the great figures of our time — these texts provide the evidence.… | more |

Return to the Source: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabralcar

Return to the Source: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabral

Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabralcar

Amilcar Cabral, who was the Secretary–General of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands (PAIGC), was assassinated by Portuguese agents on January 20, 1973. Under his leadership, the PAIGC liberated three–quarters of the countryside of Guinea in less than ten years of revolutionary struggle. Cabral distinguished himself among modern revolutionaries by the long and careful preparation, both theoretical and practical, which he undertook before launching the revolutionary struggle, and, in the course of the preparation, became one of the world’s outstanding theoreticians of anti–imperialist struggle.… | more |

History of the Upper Guinea Coast

History of the Upper Guinea Coast

1545–1800

Walter Rodney is revered throughout the Caribbean as a teacher, a hero, and a martyr. This book remains the foremost work on the region.… | more |

The Black Man’s Burden

The Black Man’s Burden

The White Man in Africa from the Fifteenth Century to World War I

Since it was first published in 1920, The Black Man’s Burden has been widely recognized as a prime source of education and influence in the field of African history.… | more |

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