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Bua Komanisi Volume 6 - Issue 1, May 2007



2007 is an important policy year for the ANC-led tripartite alliance. In June the ANC will hold its National Policy Conference, in July the SACP holds its 12th National Congress, and in December the ANC’s National Conference will be taking place.

In the run-up to these major alliance events, the ANC has called for a “festival of ideas”. To its great credit, the ANC has also published a series of policy discussion documents to facilitate a wide-ranging democratic debate, inviting its alliance partners and the general public to engage.

In this issue of Bua Komanisi the SACP publishes two collective documents that have been developed to engage with the ANC’s policy process. These SACP documents review the ANC’s draft Strategy and Tactics document, and the ANC’s Economic Transformation for a National Democratic Society discussion paper.

Our two papers  (“Two Steps Forward…Two Steps Back” and “Seeing Double”) have been presented in various forums as SACP contributions to the debate. However, they should themselves not be seen as the “definitive” and “final” word of the SACP. This is a debate, and for the SACP our engagement here is work in progress.

The common theme in these SACP papers is that while both ANC documents under review mark some important progress away from what we have called the “1996 class project”, this progress is compromised by a number of key ambiguities. At the heart of these ambiguities is an inability in both ANC documents to clearly come to terms with the character and impact of SA’s persisting apartheid-colonial capitalist growth path.

Two steps forward…two steps back

SACP perspectives on the ANC’s draft Strategy and Tactics 2007

1. Introduction

1.1 The SACP welcomes the open and participatory manner in which the ANC has proceeded with the drafting of its Strategy and Tactics (S&T) discussion document for the 52nd ANC National Conference. Generally speaking, the present draft undertakes important shifts in many areas when compared to the S&T document of 1997, and the appended S&T Preface of 2002.

1.2 Of course, there are still many matters of detail or of sectoral significance that we believe must be debated, revised, expanded, or otherwise reworked. However, in this intervention we will try not to become embroiled in micro-drafting or in a catalogue of unrelated issues. Instead, we wish to focus:

  • Firstly, on the shifts and rectifications that have been made in the present draft, when compared to the S&T adopted at the ANC’s 51st National Conference in Stellenbosch in 2002. We will acknowledge progressive shifts, but we will argue that these shifts still remain trapped within an overall approach that fails to provide a strategic perspective on the transformational challenges of our NDR. This is particularly disappointing, because on a wide-range of fronts our ANC-led government is, indeed, beginning to move towards a much more active transformational agenda. Ironically, the present draft S&T falls behind advances beginning to be made by many government departments, and it therefore fails to rise to the real potential of our current period.
  • Secondly, we will focus on two overarching matters which go to the heart of the overall weaknesses of the draft document. These two overarching issues are:
    • An inadequate approach to the central concept of Colonialism of a Special Type (CST); and
    • An inability to spell out what is revolutionary (or, if you prefer, transformational) about the National Democratic Revolution.

2. Rectifications, but still a prisoner of the 1996 Class Project

2.1 The present draft S&T provides some important improvements and rectifications compared to its immediate predecessors, but ultimately the present draft continues to reflect the politics of what the SACP has characterised as the “1996 class project”.

2.2 It is very important that we do not understand this term (“1996 class project”) in a vulgar sense. We should not narrowly personalize it, nor should we imagine that it is some kind of over-arching conspiracy. We should also not reduce the “1996 class project” simply to one policy – for example, government’s 1996 macro-economic policy GEAR, as important as this particular package was in the unfolding development of the project. Above all, in invoking this concept, our intention is not to factionalise the ANC, but to win broad support right across the alliance and within the ANC, including its leadership, for a fundamental return to Charterist NDR values.

2.3 Essentially what we mean by the 1996 class project is a variant of right reformism that hopes to “deliver” the NDR through the stabilisation and growth of the capitalist economy as the necessary condition for a “re-distributionist”, state-led delivery to the poor. Many comrades actively involved in this approach are sincere. But the fundamental flaw is that this approach imagines the objectives of our NDR can be achieved without the radical transformation of the deeply embedded, special colonial features of our current South African capitalist accumulation path (which we will elaborate upon in section 4 below).

2.4 In focusing on what we call the “1996 class project” within our NLM, we should also never lose sight of what we might call the “1988 class project”. Essentially, this class project is the strategic project that began to be developed by leading echelons of South African monopoly capital (the big mining and financial houses) in the late-1980s. Having benefited from and actively backed white minority rule for over 80 years, by the second half of the 1980s, South African monopoly capital increasingly realised that the apartheid state was no longer able to reproduce conditions for continued profitability. In particular, the apartheid regime’s deepening illegitimacy and inability to spear-head stabilising political reforms; the growing economic burden of militarized and security oriented public spending; the destabilization of the region; and international sanctions all contributed to capitalist stagnation through the 1980s. In these conditions, monopoly capital began to explore the possibilities of an elite-pact between core leadership of the old regime and of the NLM, with a view to a negotiated transition to some kind of non-racial electoral dispensation. Global developments, especially the dramatic weakening (and eventual collapse) of the Soviet bloc, made majority rule seem a lesser “evil” for monopoly capital than the prospect of continued apartheid stagnation. The “1988 class project” has sought to win the hearts and minds of the leading echelon of the ANC around a commitment to policies designed to restore monopoly capital to profitability, to demobilize the mass-base of the movement, to break the alliance, and to reconstitute a new political centre around an ANC-elite, established business, and new emerging black business strata.

2.5 White monopoly capital in South Africa has, in fact, been the principal beneficiary of the post-1994 period. There is stabilisation and restored profitability, and many of our major corporations have used the period to trans-nationalise, some locating their head-quarters outside of South Africa, others re-locating major share-listings to foreign stock exchanges. The post-1994 period has also opened up much greater possibilities for South African monopoly capital within our immediate region and wider continent. The new majority-rule government often engages with these forces as “foreign” investors, which is to say on less favourable terms. In short, the late-1980s monopoly capital strategic project has achieved considerable success.

2.6 There has been a significant (but far from complete) congruence, particularly since the mid-1990s, between the monopoly capital class project (essentially a project “external” to the national liberation movement) and the 1996 class project (essentially an “internal” ANC reality). However, notwithstanding the congruence, the two projects are not identical. In the SACP Central Committee discussion document of 2005, we have argued that, unlike monopoly capital’s project, the 1996 ANC class project is now in crisis – both “objectively” and “subjectively”. While the crisis of the 1996 project impacts upon the 1988 project, the latter is relatively insulated from this crisis - partly through its transnationalisation and global mobility, and partly through its relative indifference to the fate of the ANC.

2.7 The objective crisis of the 1996 ANC class project lies in the fact that the South African capitalist growth path is actively reproducing underdevelopment, and therefore well-intentioned “delivery” without transformation is bound to fail.

2.8 The subjective crisis of the 1996 project relates to the multiple effects of attempts to demobilize and reconfigure the ANC and its alliance as the necessary condition for a technocratic, state-led delivery process working hand-in-glove with big capital. We have argued that this subjective crisis is manifesting itself organizationally, morally, and in the crisis of the reproduction of leadership (i.e. the “succession” battle).

2.9 This subjective crisis is also reflected in the ideological weaknesses and even in a certain flaccid vacuousness detectable in the draft S&T, as we will seek to argue in this intervention.

3. Two steps forward, two steps back – a brief chapter by chapter overview of the Draft S&T

3.1 The first substantive chapter in the draft document is Chapter II, “Where we come from: streams of an emergent nation”. There are some important innovations in this chapter dealing with the early history of our country and region. But (as we shall argue at length in section 4 below) it fails dismally to provide an effective programmatic basis for understanding the core concept of Colonialism of a Special Type.

3.2 In an S&T document we should be dealing with history not for the sake of embellishment, but in order to actively guide a programmatic perspective on what is to be done. The draft fails to do this, and as a result we get worthy but entirely vacuous generalisations like:

“South Africa’s colonial experience was based on the intersection of class, race and patriarchal relations of power. These distinctive social and biological features have been used in human history to exclude, repress and to stymie the progress of individuals and communities.” (para. 18)

All of this is true, but it is so vague (did class, race and patriarchal power just happen to intersect?) and so universal in its claims, it is hard to know what actual point it is making about SA, and our struggle.

3.3 Chapter III, “Vision of our collective effort: character of the NDR” - is also a relatively new innovation for an ANC S&T. It seeks to portray, in general terms, the kind of national democratic society we are trying to build. By portraying a relatively longer-term vision, this chapter is at pains to insist, correctly, that there is a long way still to go (“the liberation movement should avoid the temptation to crow over…successes in these early years as if we had already achieved our ultimate objective” – para 28). This is perfectly correct, as is the implicit message that “Aluta continua!”

3.4 However, once more, the chapter is filled with vacuous generalisations about the ND society for which we are struggling – see, for instance, paragraph 35, or paragraph 33 which tells us that:

“The NDR seeks to build a society based on the best in human civilization in terms of political and human freedoms, socio-economic rights, value systems and identity.”

Again, it would be difficult to disagree. But, leave out the reference to an NDR, and then ask which politician from George Bush Jnr to Hugo Chavez would not claim the same?

3.5 More concerning in Chapter III are throw-away phrases which indicate an extremely patronizing, philanthropic, “they are humans too”, attitude towards the poor unfortunates who lack the upward mobility to escape out of the working class: “Social cohesion in a national democratic society will also depend on the extent to which the rights of those in the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder are protected…workers’ rights are human rights…”.

3.6 Critically, for the SACP, Chapter III makes important progress (relative to the recent past) on the question of the ANC’s stand in regard to socialism. In line with the position adopted by the ANC at its 1969 Morogoro Conference, for instance, the present draft in paragraph 54 quite correctly leaves the question open as to whether the national democratic society we are collectively struggling for can be achieved within the parameters of a capitalist society. Paragraph 54 says: “Whether such common social decency is achievable under a market-based system in a globalised world is an issue on which society should continually engage its mind. Concrete practice, rather than mere theory, will help answer this question.” For a broad-based national liberation movement this is a perfectly correct (if rather vague) formulation. The ANC correctly embraces progressives who are both socialist and non-socialist, and we agree that a commitment to socialism should not be a membership requirement for the ANC, or a point of factional division within the organisation.

3.7 However, no sooner has the draft S&T left this matter appropriately open, than it is busy shutting the door once more in the very next paragraph. “The NDR seeks to eradicate the specific relations of production that underpin the national and patriarchal oppression of the majority of South Africans. It does not eradicate capitalist relations of production in general.” (para.55). Two steps forward…two steps back.

3.8 There is a great deal of confusion in these formulations in paragraph 55. The broad-based, and multi-class unity of the NLM movement is (or should be) based on a common commitment to eradicating the colonialism of a special type (CST) features of our persisting South African capitalist accumulation path. Because (as we shall argue in 4 below) the draft S&T is unable to clearly portray the systemic features of CST, it is unclear exactly what is meant here in paragraph 55 by eradicating “the specific relations of production that underpin the national and patriarchal oppression of the majority”. It could simply mean de-racialising and en-gendering the otherwise persisting capitalist “socio-economic ladder” – where down “on the lower rungs” life stays the same for the workers and the poor.

3.9 It should also be noted that socialism equally (as opposed to a full-blown communist society) “does not eradicate capitalist relations of production in general”. Socialism is, however, a society in which production for social need is hegemonic over a still persisting production for private profit. Is a national democratic society not a society in which such a social needs hegemony is dominant? Perhaps we should leave this question to “concrete practice” – but we should definitely not close it off.

3.10 Chapter IV “Progress in changing society: shifting domestic balance of forces” – again this chapter represents progress relative to the immediate S&T predecessors. It repeats the view that we “are not satisfied with the current order of things” (para.60) – this is an important shift away from earlier tendencies to blandly declare the “NDR on track”. What is more, it is said quite correctly that: “It is possible in national liberation processes to mark time, tinkering with social relations under the veneer of formal political democracy. Yet as with all historical phenomena, to mark time is to move in reverse.” (para.62).

3.11 This is a profound statement, and the draft S&T finds itself here on the brink of understanding that there are systemic features in our society that are constantly reproducing a crisis of underdevelopment – apartheid is not just an evaporating legacy. But the draft document is unable to state clearly what these systemic features are, and it is unable to guide us clearly with concrete tasks that move us beyond “tinkering”.

3.12 Some of the reasons for this inability soon become apparent in this chapter. The draft document continuously disconnects the systemic features of our situation, and treats dynamically linked phenomena as if they were unrelated the one to the other. For example, paragraph 75 salutes “the restructuring of the economy which has resulted in higher levels of competitiveness and better access to world markets”. But then it notes “a tendency has also developed in the period since 1994 for the informalisation of jobs, contracting out and utilization of labour brokers.” The draft document blandly notes greater global competitiveness, on the one hand, and the informalisation of hundreds of thousands of workers, on the other, as if they just happened to be two disconnected realities.

3.13 In paragraph 80 we have the same kind of disconnect. The paragraph condemns “a value system within society that encourages greed, crass materialism and conspicuous consumption”. But the same paragraph argues that a “spirit of entrepreneurship, ambition, daring, competition and material reward … are inherent to a market-based system” and “necessary”. The draft document might have helped its case here if it had systematically unpacked the specific CST features of South African capitalism (including extreme duality, extremes of inequality, etc.) – i.e. the levels of greed, crass materialism and conspicuous consumption, while being inherent in all capitalist systems, are particularly notable in the specific case of South Africa’s capitalist accumulation path. But the failure (that we will deal with in 4 below) to effectively analyse the key features of CST, leaves the draft document adopting a sermonising tone, condemning the “excesses” of “crass materialism and conspicuous consumption”…but like a voice crying out in the wilderness. Like the Moral Regeneration Movement, which suffers from the same weaknesses, it is unable to offer a concrete programmatic response to these moral challenges.

3.14 Chapter V “Drivers of Change: motive forces of the NDR” – once again, the same pattern of two steps forward, two steps back is apparent in this chapter. The chapter begins, importantly, to move away from the recent predecessor S&T perspectives on motive forces – where motive forces are defined as any group that has “an objective interest” in the NDR. Since one of our correct slogans has been “A better life for all” – everybody starts to become a “motive force”. In the new draft S&T we begin to move towards a much more revolutionary/transformational approach to what we mean by “motive force”. A motive force is not an accolade awarded to anybody who stands to benefit from the NDR, but rather the programmatic recognition of forces that are capable of driving forward the NDR. In other words, to be a motive force is not an award, it is a revolutionary responsibility. In the new S&T draft, concrete tasks are assigned to key sectors of our society, and the ANC commits itself to mobilizing and organizing these forces (“blacks in general, Africans in particular”, “the working class”, etc.) around these concrete revolutionary tasks.

3.15 Unfortunately, however, these important steps forward are undermined by nostalgia for the Mafeking and Stellenbosch version of “motive force”. This occurs, predictably, in regard to BEE capitalists. Paragraph 99 says that the “deracialisation of ownership and control of wealth and income is in their objective interest. In this sense they are part of the motive forces, with great potential to play a critical role in changing the structure of the South African economy: developing the national forces of production…” We all know that these (numerically minute) strata are certainly benefiting very well from the de-racialisation of ownership and control of wealth and income – but are they contributing to changing the structure of the South African economy? And why do they have “great potential” in this regard?

3.16 Paragraph 100 notes that the rise of BEE capitalists is “dependent in part on cooperation with elements of established white capital” and that they are therefore “susceptible to co-option into serving its narrow interests – and thus developing into a comprador bourgeoisie.” It also notes that BEE capitalists are dependent on “opportunities provided by the state [and] they are constantly tempted to use corrupt means to advance their personal interests – and thus developing into a parasitic bourgeoisie”. But if BEE capital is strongly marked by comprador and parasitic tendencies because of its objective, systemic location within an already developed capitalism then how on earth can we also claim that it has “great potential to play a critical role in changing the structure of the South African economy”?

3.17 If the draft document had been able to analyse and distinguish between productive capitalist strata and strata that are just parasitic and comprador, it would have been able to make a better case for a potentially progressive role for some sectors of capital (in terms of developing the forces of production, including job creation, or expanding the national market, for instance). But this potentially progressive role is based on the actual, objective location of different strata, and not simply on skin colour (or party political affiliation). Because it is unable to carry forward an objective analysis of a variety of capitalist strata, and their respective organic tendencies, the S&T draft is unable to effectively provide leadership to emerging (and established) capital.

3.18 Chapter VI – “Organisational leader of change: character of the ANC” – once again this chapter introduces new and positive material. In particular, it moves away from a very instrumentalist approach to the post-1994 state. In recent ANC S&T documents the state is portrayed as an “instrument” that “we” must get our hands on. Transformation of the state tended to become merely a question of head-counts and “deployment” of ANC cadres into key positions. In this new chapter, there is much thoughtful consideration about how it is not only “we” who change the state, but it is the “state” that also changes “us”. There is no longer a tendency towards denialism about all the many challenges that any ruling party is likely to face – growing social distance, careerism, patronage networks, bureaucratic indifference, etc. (see paragraphs 127, 128, 129, 131, and 132 in particular).

3.19 However, for reasons that we will go on to explore in sections 4 and 5 below, the chapter is not really able to state positively and concretely how the ANC will lead the NDR. This is, for instance, very apparent in paragraph 138 – which is where a bare handful of lines are finally devoted to the tripartite alliance:

“Historically, the three streams of the national liberation struggle in our country – the revolutionary democratic, the socialist and trade union movements – have found common cause in pursuit of the objectives of the NDR as commonly understood. The ANC will continue to work for strategic unity among all components of this Tripartite Alliance, in pursuit of a national democratic society.”

There is nothing wrong with the sentiments expressed here. But what is the leadership role the ANC proposes to play in regard to its alliance partners? What strategic and tactical role does it seek to foster for these partners?

3.20 Chapter VII – “The Global balance: character of the international situation” – this chapter re-introduces more forcefully the concept of a global imperialist system, and warns, correctly, of the dangers of growing unilateralism and militarism. But imperialism tends to be treated rather more as a political phenomenon, and not as a systemic, global capitalist accumulation reality. Are we using the concept “imperialism” because George Bush Jnr and a neo-conservative executive are in power in the US, and would things change systemically under a different administration (which is not to say that it is entirely a matter of indifference)?

3.21 This lack of a substantive analysis of imperialism allows for old habits to return. For instance, there is still a residual belief in some wonderfully new “post-Cold War” reality, particularly in regard to Africa. For instance:

“Africa has the best possibility in this milieu to emerge from an era of political and social decline. It can on a massive scale turn adversity into opportunity. A new spirit is abroad on the continent…” (para.159); and

“Most of the conflicts on the continent have been resolved. Democracy is spreading” (para.160)

Very important achievements, like the breakthrough in the DRC, or in Burundi, where the South African government has played an outstanding role, must be warmly acclaimed. Obviously we must also reject all forms of racist, and post-colonial Afro-pessimism, but wildly over-optimistic Afro-voluntarism is not a sober alternative.

3.22 Chapter VIII – “Steps towards the vision: programme of national democratic transformation” – this chapter introduces many positive programmatic perspectives, most of which the SACP itself has been calling for over several years – the importance of shared growth (and not just any growth); the need for an effective industrial policy (see para. 179); the need to transform parliament (para. 171); a commitment to a comprehensive social security system; public transport as a key transformational driver; an up-front commitment to dealing comprehensively with the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and a commitment to “land restitution”.

3.23 However brief many of these references might be, we obviously welcome their inclusion within the draft S&T. But, as we will now go onto to explain, these steps forward remain, essentially, rectification measures within the same basic “1996 class project” perspective.

4. Colonialism of a Special Type

4.1 The draft document reaffirms (see para 14) the centrality of the concept of Colonialism of a Special Type for any revolutionary strategy in SA. But the unpacking of the concept (see paragraphs 13 and 14) is exceedingly weak, often historically inaccurate, and largely descriptive rather than analytic in nature.

4.2 Colonialism in South Africa - some basic history - the historical paragraph (13) that attempts to explain the development of CST in SA proceeds as follows:

“It speaks to South Africa’s strategic geographic location and its vast endowments in mineral and other resources that this geographic entity experienced colonial intrusion earlier than most African societies. Further, the colonial designs of the imperial powers were applied more systematically; the European settlers fought intensely among themselves over the territory; and most of these settlers came to characterise South Africa as their home.”

There are many confusions and inaccuracies in this brief paragraph:

4.2.1 Does SA have some timeless strategic geographic location? In the period of European sea-borne mercantile capitalism (from the late 15th century) South Africa, or rather (because South Africa did not exist until the early 20th century), small colonial port enclaves on the southern Africa coast-line were strategic for colonial merchant fleets on the way to and from the East. While there are some strategic geo-political features in the present, generally speaking our challenge is our non-strategic location – “our distance from our major markets”, as the ASGISA document politely puts it.

4.2.2. Early colonial settlement. While many indigenous societies worked local mineral resources (iron ore, copper, gold), it was only in the last quarter of the 19th century that the colonial powers became aware of our “vast endowments in mineral and other resources”. These “endowments” were not, therefore, the cause of the relatively early and relatively extensive “colonial intrusion” through the second half of the 17th, 18th and into the 19th century (as the draft document asserts). This early colonial expansion into the hinterland was more related to the temperate climate of much of South Africa (like large parts of North America, Australia, New Zealand or Argentina – where there were equally extensive colonial settlements). The draft document only looks at colonialism from an African and not global perspective, and therefore tends to exaggerate the exceptionalism of the South African case. In the earliest period, the winter-rainfall of the Western Cape (unsuitable for the summer rainfall crops of Bantu-speaking African cultures) was also an important factor favouring initial colonial settler expansion. This settler expansion was often (not always) in defiance of the main colonial authorities. Once the expansion entered into the summer rainfall areas, it encountered extremely stiff military resistance. On the so-called eastern frontier, for the better part of a century, the expansion was at an average of only one kilometer a year! In the first three-quarters of the 19th century, with British colonial hegemony, a British army of occupation was introduced alongside colonial settler expansion. But the military occupation initially had nothing to do with “mineral endowments”. It was seen in London as a costly side-show in a colonial backwater – largely to defend kith-and-kin, many of them settled in the “frontier” regions as a buffer to protect the immediate hinterland of strategic ports, and as a resolution to the social problems of a “surplus population” thrown up by the industrial revolution under-way in Britain.

4.2.3 The absolutely decisive turning point in South Africa, and what critically underpins CST, was the mining revolution of the last quarter of the19th century. It was a revolution that coincided with and was integral to what Lenin was to describe as capitalism’s “highest stage” – the stage of imperialism dominated by finance capital and massive productive investments in distant parts of the globe. The Anglo-Boer War was directly linked to the opening up of capital-intensive deep-level industrial mining in a hinterland not directly controlled by the hegemonic British colonial power. It was not a war between “European settlers” as paragraph 13 in the draft document seems to claim. It was a war waged by the hegemonic colonial power – Britain – against independent, semi-feudal Boer republics that had the open, or tacit, support of other European colonial powers (Germany, Russia).

4.3 We have made this brief venture into South African history not for the sake of an academic exercise, but to draw attention, first of all, to two critical features of pre-mining revolution colonialism in SA. These are two critical features that have put their stamp on all subsequent history and political struggle in our country:

Much like other colonial societies in temperate zones (Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile) there was relatively extensive European colonial settlement based on agriculture in South Africa over several centuries;

However, unlike these societies, by the beginning of the 20th century, the overwhelming majority of the population in SA were not of settler (or slave) origin. In early colonial southern Africa, indigenous hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist societies were all but decimated by settler advances (as in the North and South American and Australasian cases noted above). However, the settled, iron-working, agricultural-pastoralist societies associated with Bantu-speaking societies, proved to be much more socially, culturally, economically and militarily resilient, despite suffering huge deprivations in colonial wars of dispossession that often had genocidal intent.

4.4 The mining revolution - It was into and upon this social reality that an extremely advanced form of capitalism in its “highest stage” was imposed from without. It was highly advanced in its capital-intensity, its deep-level mining technology, its long-distance logistics rail and port networks, its modern joint-stock company institutional form, and its dominance by global finance capitalism. This externally imposed capitalist revolution shaped and was shaped in its turn by the social reality of South Africa at the end of the 19th century – colonially controlled ports, a relatively extensive white community of settler origins, and a surviving African majority largely penned into what were to become “reserves”.

4.5 Industrial mining and the “two economies” – Industrial mining in South Africa was built on a “duality”. On the one hand, as we have noted, it was associated with the most advanced forms of capitalist development of the period. On the other hand, it also required high-levels of labour-intensity – a mass of unskilled workers. This mass of unskilled workers was drawn from “native reserves” as migrant workers. A constant supply of hundreds of thousands of such workers required the coercive squeezing (through military pacification, restrictions on land access, poll tax, hut tax, etc.) of the areas under African occupation AND the simultaneous conservation of these areas and of the (now subordinated and perverted) power relations (largely patriarchal in kind) within them. This “conservation” was designed to ensure “indirect rule”. The simultaneous coercive squeezing and conservation promoted the conditions for the “cheap” (cheap for monopoly mining capital) reproduction of labour for the mines. In short, the mining revolution in South Africa was based on an articulation between “two economies” – or rather between two modes of production. The one dominated by advanced monopoly capitalism, the other patriarchal-based agriculture – in which the main “crop” was not cotton, or tobacco, or cocoa, but male migrant labour. These were not “two economies” but rather one economy, one South African capitalist economic growth path…but based on a systemic duality that had both an external dimension (European metropole/African colony) and, increasingly, a dominant internal dimension.

4.6 CST Capitalism – this combination of factors has laid the basis for South Africa’s capitalist growth path over more than a century and a quarter. Many things have, of course, changed through the course of the 20th and into the 21st century, but the underlying systemic and structural features of CST capitalism persist into the present. In the most general terms these systemic features include:

4.6.1 From the late 19th century South Africa ceased to be a largely marginal zone in an emerging global economy. It was now actively linked into the circuits of global capitalist accumulation as a semi-peripheral zone, and it was launched onto a path of dependent development.

4.6.2 This dependent development is characterised by, amongst other things, an excessive reliance on primary product exports (minerals and agricultural products) and an equally imbalanced reliance on imports of capital goods and manufactured consumer goods, a relatively weak national market dominated by a small middle class; the dominance of the mineral-energy-finance complex to the relative disadvantage of other sectors of capital (eg. manufacturing); and a dual labour market, characterised by a small band of skilled (and now semi-skilled) workers and a mass of marginalised workers (previously largely migrant, now largely casualised, under-employed, “a-typical” workers)

4.6.3 Systemic, deep-seated and chronic social, economic, spatial and (throughout most of the 20th century until 1994) politico-juridical duality. All forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism are characterised by duality – essentially the subordination of a peripheral/semi-peripheral zone to the imperatives of an external metropolitan centre and its accumulation path. This form of “external” duality, as noted in 4.6.1 and 4.6.2 above, has also been a defining feature of modern South Africa. But much more than in most other variants of colonialism, in South Africa systemic duality has also been a pronounced “internal” feature.

  • This internal duality is, of course, precisely what defined the politico-juridical state form of CST – a ruling colonial bloc and a colonially oppressed majority occupying the same territory- with enfranchised white citizens, and disenfranchised black non-citizens – many of them regarded as black “tribal subjects”, etc.
  • But CST was not just a politico-juridical, state form. It was also marked by other forms of duality – economic, social and spatial. These latter forms of duality remain deeply embedded within our present reality.

4.7 Weaknesses that flow from an inadequate approach to CST – we believe that there is a whole range of key strategic issues that are inadequately understood and located within the draft S&T as a consequence of a rather vague description of CST. These include:

  • The tendency to reduce CST to one of its underpinning factors: settler colonialism. This tendency (which is to be found in several formulations in the present draft) obscures the much more decisive role of imperialism and of the emergence of South African monopoly capitalism in the development of CST. This tendency to exaggerate settler colonialism can run the danger of ending up in a politics (like that of the PAC) narrowly focused on “restitution”, with all of the resulting sterility;
  • The downplaying of imperialism, here and throughout the document, tends to mean that the document is unable to locate our current growth path as being still sharply marked by features of dependent development. This is ironic because, for instance, the International Expert Panel of Economists has begun to point out precisely many of the systemic features that we have noted under 4.6 above. While government is beginning to actively address these systemic matters through a re-evaluation of macro policy, the development of industrial policy, etc., the ANC in its draft S&T is unable to provide a ND revolutionary framework for these new developments.
  • The document tends to reduce CST to apartheid rather than understanding apartheid as a phase within a more prolonged CST reality. The dangers of doing this are apparent, for instance, in paragraph 43:

“…fundamental to the destruction of apartheid is the eradication of apartheid production relations. This is more than just an issue of social justice. It is also about the fact that these relations had become a brake on the advancement of technology and competitiveness of the economy.”

It is true that by the mid-1980s the apartheid state and its policies were beginning to impact severely on technological advances and on competitiveness (having previously served monopoly capital extremely well by creating conditions for its expanded reproduction for several decades). The structural economic crisis of late apartheid had several features – among them the drain of an increasingly militarized budget; the impact of sanctions and of relative international isolation. These problems were a critical factor leading advanced sections of South African monopoly capital to promote a negotiated transition, in order to create conditions for restored profitability. This partial coincidence of interest between monopoly capital and the South African NLM was an important and positive factor. But it should not disguise the fact that the ND transformational strategic agenda of our movement and big capital’s agenda for restored profitability are not (or should not be) the same thing at all. Monopoly capital has little or no inclination to abolish the CST features of our accumulation path. If paragraph 43 substituted the words “eradication of CST production relations” for “apartheid production relations” then we would be making it much clearer that we are not simply focused on the supposed “deracialisation” of the economy.

  • In the absence of a more analytic explanation of CST, the draft document is not able to present a coherent analysis of the specific features of patriarchal oppression in South Africa. Paragraph 31 tells us:

“Our definition of CST identifies three interrelated antagonistic contradictions: class, race and patriarchal oppression. These antagonisms found expression in national oppression based on race; class super-exploitation directed against Black workers on the basis of race; and triple oppression of women based on their race, their class and their gender.”

The paragraph asserts the interrelatedness of the three contradictions, but it does not explain how and why they were interrelated within CST. Maybe it was just because whites were nasty? But what is the systemic relationship of these things…and not in general only, but also specifically how and why are they defining features of CST?

Paragraph 38 does not help matters in this regard either:

“Precisely because patriarchal oppression was embedded in the economic, social, religious, cultural, family and other relations in all communities, its eradication cannot be an assumed consequence of democracy…”

This is true enough. But here “patriarchal oppression” is explicitly evoked as a generic reality embedded in “all communities” – which it is of course. And we could say this of all societies world-wide. What again goes missing, however, is the specific, systemic features of patriarchy and their centrality to CST.

Unless we are able to ground our particular strategic transformational challenges in regard to patriarchy within the central features of CST, it will always be an add-on – both theoretically and in our National Democratic practice. (We have attempted to sketch some of the outlines of such an approach in a separate discussion paper for the SACP Policy Dialogue).

  • A systematic approach to CST enables us to understand duality (both external and internal) as a single unified process of simultaneous development AND underdevelopment – where the development reproduces underdevelopment, and underdevelopment is the condition for the expanded reproduction of a particular developmental path. For instance sustained capitalist economic growth since 1994 of around 3-4% a year and the loss of a million formal sector jobs, and the further casualisation of hundreds of thousands of more workers are NOT unrelated matters. They are systemically connected to the nature of our post-1994 growth. Likewise, the current balance of payments challenges we are confronting are, ironically, NOT disconnected from the successful surge of primary product exports that we have seen in the last several years. These are all expressions of a profoundly dialectical process of combined and uneven development located within the CST character of our economic accumulation path dominated by major monopoly interests.
  • The CST approach helps us to understand that South African capitalism since the late 19th century has NOT been “immature”, or “undeveloped”, or “backward”. It is not a question of having still to “complete the capitalist revolution” (which is not to say that we should neglect ongoing technical development, for instance). Our key strategic challenge is a different one – it is, precisely, to make a national democratic revolution. Industrial capitalism was implanted into South Africa “fully formed”, “mature” and at it most advanced stage. BUT, this cutting-edge capitalism was linked into the global capitalist accumulation circuits as a subordinate pole. In other words, the response to duality (both external and internal) is NOT simply a question of “modernization”, or “catch-up”, or “re-capitalisation”, or greater competitiveness, or discovering some “stairway” from the “second” to the “first” economy. The NDR is about transforming the power relations that reproduce CST-related duality.
  • Closely linked to this last point, is the tendency throughout the document to think of national/colonial oppression as a form of exclusion (eg. paragraph 42: “Black communities…were deliberately excluded and neglected”, or paragraph 73: “Even more critically, trends do indicate a persistence of the poverty trap – a form of marginalised Second Economy community excluded from the advanced First Economy mainstream”, or the common view that pre-1994 “South Africa was excluded from global markets”, etc.). But a correct understanding of CST enables us to see that national/colonial oppression is simultaneously exclusion AND inclusion.

    The mining revolution marginalised South Africa as a semi-peripheral site of mineral production and export, by including South Africa as an active component of the global imperialist accumulation process.

    • CST national oppression of the black majority both excluded black communities (through a range of juridical, political, spatial, social and economic means) and included them on subordinated terms within a modern capitalist economy and subjected them to the very opposite of neglect, namely minute, daily control by a barrage of coercive measures – compounds, pass laws, group areas, curfews, etc.
    • In the present, township taverns or the minibus sector are not excluded from the “advanced First Economy mainstream” in any simplistic way. Township taverns are by far the largest South African market for the transnational corporation, SAB-Miller. The minibus industry, apart from being the principal form of mass mobility for the working class commuting into the “first economy”, is a major market for Toyota and the petrol companies. In short, the struggle is not for simple “inclusion”, or for the mere de-racialisation of access, or for a “re-capitalising” promotion into the “first economy”, or for the restitutive provision of slices of action – it is about transforming the power relations embedded in CST.

5 Understanding the R in the NDR

5.1 The weaknesses noted above in regard to understanding CST are then closely related to an inability in the draft document to deal coherently with the strategic tasks (especially the organisational and mobilisational tasks) of our national democratic struggle. The problem begins, in part, with an incorrect understanding of the very concept of “strategy” itself. Paragraph 27 tells us:

“A national democratic society constitutes the ideal state we aspire to as the ANC and the broad democratic movement. It should thus not be confused with tactical positions that the liberation movement may adopt from time to time…”

And then paragraph 29 continues:

“This is where the line should be drawn between strategy – the ultimate goal; and tactics – the methods and actions that respond to changing immediate circumstances…”

These formulations establish two categories:

  • strategy = our ultimate goal/the ideal state, and
  • tactics = methods and actions that respond to immediate circumstances.

However, in earlier decades ANC S&T documents (eg. Morogoro 1969) quite correctly always saw three (and not two) interrelated concepts here:

  • Our strategic goal – what we might call, following the present draft, a national democratic society;
  • Our broad strategy to achieve this goal – what we have called the NDR led by a NLM; and
  • Conjunctural tactics – more time-bound, and more flexible approaches that need to be subordinated ultimately both to our overall strategy and our ultimate strategic goal.

Now, of course, the concepts “goal”, “strategy” and “tactics” are always relative concepts, and they can be applied at greatly varying levels of comprehensiveness. A single campaign (elections for instance) will have a broad strategic goal (to win with an increased majority, perhaps), a set of strategies (to prioritise certain issues and certain areas for mobilisation, perhaps) and a range of tactics (that will be deployed in the cut and thrust of the campaign).

However, in an S&T document of this kind we are talking on a much broader horizon and over a much more extensive time-line.

5.2 The key point to note in 5.1 above is that the draft document collapses our revolutionary strategies into our strategic goal. But our revolutionary strategies are NOT the same thing as our strategic goal. The NDR itself, the ANC, the tripartite alliance, the mobilisation of blacks in general and Africans in particular around their grievances, aspirations and capacities, our understanding of, and approach to revolutionary motive forces – these are all key strategic means to achieving a shared goal – a national democratic society. But the ANC, or the alliance, or mobilised blacks in general, or the working class are not themselves “the national democratic society”. They are not ends in themselves, but strategic means to achieving our objective.

5.3 This confusion obviously runs the grave danger of then reducing key components of our revolutionary strategy into mere tactics – is a broad-based, multi-class ANC merely a tactic? Is the alliance a temporary tactic? Is our radical progressive African nationalism a tactic? And if so, are they then more or less akin to other “tactical positions that the liberation movement may adopt from time to time, taking into account the balance of forces…” – (to quote from paragraph 27) ? Clearly this is not the intent of the current draft document, but once again a poor conceptual approach provides an inadequate grounding for an effective elaboration of ANC strategy and tactics.

5.4 Having failed to state adequately what has to be changed – owing to a vague and merely descriptive account of CST; and having failed to state adequately how it is to be changed – owing to a conflation of goal, strategies and tactics: it should not be entirely strange if this draft S&T starts to become insecure about who we (i.e. the NLM) are. It is in this context that we should understand paragraph 56:

“In broad terms, the NDR seeks to ensure that every South African, especially the poor, experiences an

“In broad terms, the NDR seeks to ensure that every South African, especially the poor, experiences an improving quality of life. It seeks to bring together:

  • The best traditions of a developmental state, represented by an efficient state that guides national economic development and mobilizes domestic and foreign capital to achieve this goal; and
  • The best traditions of social democracy, represented by popular democracy which places the needs of the poor and social issues such as health care, education and a social safety net at the top of the national agenda.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing eclectically if intelligently from a wide range of relevant experiences elsewhere in the world – but Sweden is not South Korea, and South Africa and the challenges we face, for better or worse, are neither the one nor the other. Having failed to effectively locate the NDR as a struggle against the legacy of CST, the draft document becomes insecure about who we are and seeks an eclectic and hybrid resolution.

5.5 It is not difficult to recognise in this Swedo-Korean hybrid (offered by paragraph 56) the strategic agenda that has been dominant in the ANC and state for the last several years. It is a strategic agenda that, we believe, is now encountering a series of systemic crises. It is not sustainable. Essentially, the agenda has been one of building an “efficient state” that “guides” domestic and foreign capital to produce “development” (understood largely as growth and improved technical capacity), while at the same time using state revenues for an expanded programme of social delivery that prioritises “the needs of the poor”.

5.6 There can be no doubts that there has been very significant DELIVERY over the past 13 years. But has there been TRANSFORMATION? The successful return to growth has, by and large, tended to reproduce the systemic socio-economic features of CST, making the well-intentioned delivery effort an unending tread-mill affair. Delivery has been poured into deepening inequality, rising levels of unemployment (now stabilized but at an extremely high level), persisting poverty and systemic duality.

5.7 We have to put the “R” back into the NDR. This does not mean taking off on some voluntaristic leap. It does not mean being reckless about the real balance of global and domestic forces. And it does not mean that we have to make a whole new revolution. The 1994 democratic breakthrough has placed us on the terrain of a struggle for “revolutionary-reforms” or for systemic “transformation”. But reforms that are reformist, i.e. that improve without transforming the systemic legacy of CST, are simply not good enough. We have to promote transformation that builds capacity for, momentum towards and elements of the “ideal” national democratic society to which we aspire now in the present. But to do that we have to:

  • Analyse and explain the key systemic features of CST – i.e. WHAT we are struggling against; and
  • Elaborate our NDR strategies and tactics – i.e. HOW we will carry that struggle forward.

The present S&T draft document says many things that are entirely relevant to these two key issues that lie at the heart of any S&T perspective. But, for reasons we have tried to explain, it does so in ways that are inadequate.

Seeing Double

SACP contribution to the debate on the ANC’s “Economic Transformation for a National Democratic Society” discussion paper

There is much to be welcomed in this document. In particular, it captures in general terms (and thereby re-affirms) important economic policy shifts that have been initiated or consolidated over the past few years, among them:

  1. A rejection of market fundamentalism: “our approach to economic transformation proceeds from the understanding that the changes we seek will not emerge spontaneously from the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. People acting collectively in the spirit of human solidarity must shape the contours of economic development. In this process the state must play a central and strategic role.” p.15

  2. A broad characterization of our approach to a developmental state – that both affirms the need for an active, interventionist developmental state, and contrasts our national democratic, mass-based approach, in this regard, to the generally more authoritarian and more narrowly pro-capitalist “Asian Tiger” developmental state  –
    “The South African developmental state has different advantages and challenges. While we seek to engage private capital strategically, in SA the developmental state must be buttressed and guided by a mass-based, democratic liberation movement in a context in which the economy is still dominated by a developed, but largely white, capitalist class...” (p.16)

  3. The key strategic role of the public sector – including state-owned enterprises, state-owned development finance institutions and regulatory agencies – see pp.19-20.

  4. The immediate challenge of a major public-sector led infrastructural investment programme - see pp. 20-22.

  5. The beginnings of a more elaborated industrial policy – p.30-31.

  6. A welcome commitment to opening up a policy debate on the appropriate macro-economic policy to support our socio-economic objectives:
    “Recognising the importance of macro-stability, there is considerable room to debate the appropriate framework for macro-economic policy and how it can support the objectives of halving unemployment and poverty through accelerated growth and industrial diversification along a sustained and strengthened post-apartheid growth path. Whilst the tactical management of macro-economic balances cannot be determined by conference resolutions, it is important that the ANC establish a broad strategic framework within which our cadres deployed to government can operate. Therefore, we must review [our emphasis] our experience of the relationship between a number of macro-economic indicators, including the exchange rate, inflation and interest rates in order to refine and develop our strategic perspectives on macro-economic policy.” (pp.39-40)

    To these positive strategic positions we should also add the key thrust of the separate ANC policy discussion paper on the “Role of the Working Class and Organised Labour in advancing the NDR”, namely:

  7. Its robust rejection of the argument that “labour market inflexibility” and the role of trade unions are key constraints to growth. The paper refers favourably to the findings of the “local and international panel of experts”:

“Overall, their findings on the labour market point to the fact that the causes of economic growth hindrances and the rise in unemployment lie elsewhere other than the labour market…They find that ‘real wages have not risen since 1994;, and that the only role, if any, that the strong labour movement (unions) has played in South Africa is ‘to prevent real wages from falling’. Statistically, the authors point out that in fact, between 1995 and 2005, real wages of the South African labour force have decreased by 10%” (p.222)

Fundamentally, the SACP welcomes all of these key strategic orientations. They mark progressive shifts that can help to consolidate unity in both strategy and action within the state, across the Alliance and, indeed, across a very wide range of South African society, including key sectors of productive capital.

However, if we are to improve and consolidate these gains then a set of inter-related problems within the present document will need to be addressed.

An undue defensiveness

In the first place, these important advances risk being compromised by a certain defensiveness that tends to fudge the import and nature of these advances. For instance, the document spends an undue amount of time seeking to “prove” that ANC economic policy has been one seamless, unbroken, era-long paradigm over the decades. We are told, for instance, that “the ANC’s economic policy stances are both comprehensive and correct, and these perspectives have remained consistent throughout the era of liberation.”(p.50). 

Knowingly or otherwise, this proclamation of undying correctness, serves to suppress real debates and a process of critical self-review. The purpose of such a self-review is not to score points, but to learn from our immediate past, to reach a collective understanding of what has been right and wrong in our approaches, so that, collectively, we can move forward with greater clarity. Failure to be straightforward about such challenges can be compromising.

Much as with our approach to HIV/AIDS, the danger of fudging is that contradictory positions co-exist awkwardly.  In turn this is liable to result in implicit (if not explicit) no-go areas for comradely discussion, awkwardness about frank engagement, and hesitation in practical implementation. This, in turn, creates uncertainty and even legitimate suspicion about how serious our commitment to these many progressive economic positions really is.

In the current economic policy discussion paper there is a series of inter-related areas in which an old paradigm continues to cast a long shadow over the potentially progressive strategic positions that we have noted.

Apartheid – a “market constraint”… or a CST monopoly capital growth path?

Inherent in what we are describing as the “new” ANC/government paradigm is the recognition that we have to place South Africa on a critical new economic growth path. In other words, central to this new paradigm is the recognition that the growth path we have inherited from the apartheid-colonial past requires substantive transformation.

This central tenet is quite distinct from the core perspective of what we might call the “1988 class project” – we are referring to the strategic agenda of white monopoly capital that evolved primarily in the late 1980s. The implementation of apartheid policies through the 1950s had helped to secure for monopoly capital in SA a return to profitability. Between 1963 and 1973, through the height of the granite years of apartheid oppression, economic growth averaged 6-7%. It was the “external” oil price shock and global slow-down of 1973, rather than any “internal apartheid constraints”, that brought this sustained period of apartheid growth to a halt.

By the second half of the 1980s, the apartheid-colonial state and its deepening crisis had, however, indeed become an impediment to sustained growth for white monopoly capital.  The cost of repression and regional destabilization was escalating with the diversion of major budgetary resources into defence and security; deepening international sanctions were beginning to isolate local monopoly capital from markets; while oil sanctions impacted upon energy prices; state indebtedness mounted; and the rolling wave of worker and community struggles impacted upon productivity. In these conditions, big capital in South Africa experienced apartheid as a “market constraint”, and increasingly pressed for some kind of elite-pacted “democratic” transition. This was a positive development in that it helped to breech the walls of a relatively monolithic white ruling bloc, and it created a partial congruence of interest between the ANC-led NLM and key sectors of capital at a critical turning point in the late-1980s and early-1990s.

But the economic policy agenda of the 1988 class project was NOT remotely the same as the historical position of our NLM. For the former, post-apartheid economic policy was to be centrally about “freeing up the market” through liberalisation, de-regulation, labour market flexibility, a relatively unrestricted and greatly accelerated opening up to global markets (including greater freedom to disinvest and de-list), privatisation and the rolling back of state welfarism (largely a white minority welfarism).

The 1988 class project deliberately conflated apartheid racial regulation, state ownership and welfare provision with all state economic activism. Apartheid was presented as simply one version of a generic “social engineering” and the lesson we were meant to learn is that “all social engineering” (i.e. deliberate collective intervention in the market) is oppressive and doomed to fail. Transcending apartheid became simply synonymous with downsizing the state, any state.  For the 1988 class project moving “beyond apartheid” has not meant the abolition of the CST growth path (within which we have been situated since the late-19th century) but rather its perpetuation in new circumstances.  Unfortunately, this paradigm was not without its impact on our movement and our post-1994 state[1]

The continued presence of this 1988 white monopoly class project within our own thinking is visible in parts of the current ANC policy discussion document. Consider, for instance, the following paragraph:

Since the democratic breakthrough of 1994, the ANC has sought to forge a new growth path that transcends the constraints engineered by apartheid…The historically unprecedented period of continuous economic growth over the last eight years points to an economy that is beginning to break free of apartheid’s limitations. Critical elements of a new growth path have begun to emerge, underpinned by the building of a democratic and redistributive state, the progressive erosion of apartheid spatial patterns, growing integration with the regional and global economy and strong growth of the black middle strata.” (p.26)

Leaving aside the passing reference to a “democratic and redistributive state” which has its own problems and to which we will return below, it is obvious that, in the key concepts it evokes, this paragraph is located within the “liberate the market from apartheid constraints” paradigm of the 1988 white monopoly class project. This results in a series of contradictions and disjunctures with other more accurate things said elsewhere in the paper.

For instance, in the preceding paragraph it is correctly noted that:

“The apartheid growth path...[was] initially successful in creating high levels of growth and drawing in large quantities of foreign direct investment..” (p.26)

But, if that is the case, then how in the next paragraph, without further qualification, can we speak of “The historically unprecedented period of continuous economic growth over the last eight years…”? And how can we trumpet “growing integration with the regional and global economy”, again without further qualification, as if South Africa’s capitalist economy has not been deeply integrated into the global capitalist accumulation system since the last quarter of the 19th century?  Clearly in the very last years of apartheid, white monopoly capital experienced regional and global mobility challenges – and, while removing mobility constraints on capital may or may not be one of our tasks, it can hardly be the central strategic task of the NDR to help white monopoly capital to recover its regional and global mobility. Which is not to say, on the other hand, that we can seek simply to cut ourselves off from our region or from the world, but the character of our integration is the critical reality. (We will return to this shortly).
“The progressive erosion of apartheid spatial patterns”?
The 1988 white monopoly class project paradigm is clearly visible in other ways in the paragraph from p.26 that we have quoted above. The paragraph speaks complacently of the “progressive erosion of apartheid spatial patterns”, which is presumably linked to the allegedly “strong growth of the black middle strata” and the suburbanization of a percentage of black households. We will not engage here with the question of the black middle strata – but it should be noted that there is a debate about just how strong, how large and how sustainable its growth really is. What is eminently challengeable is the comfortable assumption that apartheid spatial patterns are “progressively eroding” - thanks, presumably, to the invisible hand of economic growth, global integration and market liberalisation.

A few pages later in the document, a quite different and more accurate picture is provided:

“Since 1994 South Africa has witnessed a massive migration to the areas of economic opportunity, leading to sprawls of informal settlements in major towns. Although poverty continues to be highly concentrated in rural areas, today the greatest numbers of poor people reside in and around the urban centres. Nevertheless, the enduring legacy of apartheid planning means that spatial marginalisation from economic opportunities and social amenities continues to be a significant feature of our economy, and must be addressed in order to reduce poverty and inequality and ensure shared growth…we must act decisively to reverse the pattern of spatial marginalisation in housing delivery.” (pp.38-9)

This double vision (a claimed steady erosion of racialised spatial injustice, on the one hand, and the admission of its obdurate persistence on the other) is the symptom of the 1988 class project not having been definitively laid to rest within our movement. It continues to walk about within our ranks in broad daylight. While the ghost of 1988 urges us to trust in capitalist economic growth and global integration to erode all exclusions, the best of the present document urges us, on the contrary, to “act decisively”, to “reverse patterns of spatial marginalisation”. In the midst of “unprecedented” economic growth, these patterns of spatial marginalisation are continuing to be reproduced and exacerbated as a result of, amongst other things:

  • a failing (“willing seller willing buyer – i.e. capitalist-market driven) land reform programme;,
  • one million farm workers and their families being forced off the land in the past decade (not only because of the racism of many white farmers, but – as elsewhere in the third world - also because of unduly accelerated agricultural de-regulation and consequent capital intensification and market failure); and
  • a well-intentioned low-cost RDP housing roll-out, but typically in remote peri-urban locations.

Abolition of the second economy…or the abolition of duality?

One of the more remarkable statements in the document is to be found in the section on “Defeating Poverty and Second Economy Interventions” (p.44ff.). Here the ghost of the 1988 class project boldly proclaims that:

“The most significant vehicle for sharing growth would be to eliminate the second economy.” (p.45)

And the same formula is repeated again soon after:

“industrial strategy must aim to eliminate the second economy directly” (p.45)

It would be completely unfair to the intentions of the drafters to note that this is the same “modernizing” rhetoric that President Mugabe used to justify “Operation Murambatsvina” (“Clear out the Rubbish”).  But whatever the very different intentions here, these sentences demonstrate that the idea of two separate economies (one of which can be eliminated) has clearly gripped the imagination, despite the many protestations that “when we speak of two economies, we are speaking metaphorically, and we are not really thinking about two economies”. (Once more a case of seeing double?)

What we have in reality is not “two economies” but DUALITY – i.e. a dynamic relationship of growth and simultaneous under-development reproduced by the growth path itself. To eliminate the “second economy” we would have to eliminate its principal cause – namely the “first economy”. Or, to put this in less apocalyptic terms, to eliminate duality in our economy and society, we need to thoroughly transform the growth path itself

Global illusions

To understand some of the underlying paradigm assumptions that underpin this “eliminate-the-second-economy” illusion, it is useful to turn briefly to another paper included in the ANC discussion documents for the policy conference: “Challenges and opportunities facing workers and unions: the role of the ANC”, pp.183-203.

This paper provides its own unique definition of what constitutes the “first” and “second” “economies”. It is worth quoting the relevant paragraphs:

“A weaker national bourgeoisie and a more powerful global capital market mean that increasingly large parts of national economic systems are tied very closely into their global counterparts. Those parts of the economy that do not have access to or have not been drawn into global processes operate very differently” (p.190).

The paper then goes on to argue that the production of the same product (flowers or fast-food chicken meals) may be located within two quite different production systems, depending on whether they are producing for the “global” (the example of Nandos is cited) or merely “domestic” market.

“The global producers will be driven by changes in technology, taste and prices on a global scale whilst the local producers depend on very local changes in production conditions and demand. The former group are part of a first economy and the latter part of a second economy.” (p.191)

The paper then goes on to extol the global economy (with some qualifications about volatility), while commiserating with national economy producers who are basically about to be banished into a limbo of no return.

“What is problematic about this divide is that the productivity, skill and income levels are rising in the first economy and generally falling in the second economy. For unions it is easier to organize in the first economy because it is more concentrated and accountable to modern legislation…Globalisation is a process where a global economic system has developed and within this the productive forces have changed and the changes permeate all reaches of the global system very fast…Certain economies are predominantly excluded from the global systems and this exclusion and `fall back’ effect is rapid.” (p.192)

Note the novelty of locating the so-called “first” and “second” economy divide in this way. It makes a major domestic-market oriented company (say Bokomo Cereals) and a street-side braaied mielie vendor, or a major public utility like the SA Rail Commuter Corporation and a local minibus association all equally part of the “second” economy producing products or providing services for a national or sub-national market. On the other hand, we would presumably have to locate a sweat-shop in Thailand producing sport shoes for Adidas and a head-office in Germany “equally” within the “first” economy. And, if we are to believe the paradigm, by virtue of being dynamically (i.e. computer-) linked to the global market, the Thai sweat-shop is supposed to be witnessing rising “skill and income levels”, and is supposedly “easier” for unions “to organize…because it is more concentrated and accountable to modern legislation”.

However, whatever the problems, this stretching of the usual (although always imprecise) definition of “first” and “second” economies implicitly serves a useful purpose. It draws our attention to the fact that we are not dealing with a single and easily defined duality, but in fact a whole web of core/periphery type relationships, of which the dominant global market/subordinate national markets is but one. The economies of the G7 relative to the South establish one key duality; the complex and increasingly symbiotic US/China relationship is an unequal relationship or duality in which China is, for the moment, a subordinate pole notwithstanding its immense trade surplus with the US; but China’s relationship with, say, Africa, is another potentially problematic duality in which China’s economy assumes the role of core to our primary-product exporting periphery. Within our country there are a whole series of dualities, the dominant mineral-energy-finance complex tends to crowd out logistical, financial and energy resources, reproducing an unequal relationship with the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.  The trans-nationalised SA Breweries-Miller and its major retail outlets in SA (township-based shebeens) is another variant of duality - a global market player (in this case, the fourth largest brewer in the world) and a largely informal retail sector servicing a very localised (not even national) market.

All of these examples underline that we are not dealing with two disconnected economic systems so much as with a web of active relationships – global/national, dominant national/subordinate national sectors, Gauteng/Northern Cape, formal/informal, urban/peri-urban, urban/rural, core and periphery.  A township shebeen is not simply marginalised from the global economy, rather it is integrated into it in a particular (subordinating and under-developing) way. We are dealing not with a simple and single duality, but rather with the systemic effects of advanced capitalism’s penetration of every nook and cranny and its incessant reproduction of combined and uneven development.

Despite many important points, notably in its concluding sections which we will not deal with here, the paper “Challenges facing workers and the unions”, is unable to effectively acknowledge the relational nature of the “first” and “second” economy phenomena. Ultimately this is because the paper has an exceedingly economistic and technicist understanding of “globalization” – reducing it to “the revolution in communication and computing technologies” and to the “dynamism” of capital increasingly able to organise production in “dispersed sites” on “a global scale” (see pp. 185-6). While these are certainly important empirical features of the current phase of extensive and accelerated capitalist globalization, the paper entirely ignores other determining structural features spurring the last several decades of capitalist globalization – including falling rates of profit and crises of over-production in the historically core centres of production –spurring re-location of production to the periphery (i.e. to cheap and unorganized labour)[2]; and the extreme financialisation of capital, typical of long-term periodic changes in the hegemonic pole in the capitalist mode of production[3].

The current phase of globalization has been relatively successful in returning global capitalism to profitability but it has done so by deepening the danger of a new set of systemic crises which include[4]:

  • an extremely grave threat to the bio-physical conditions for the survival of human civilization itself (climate change, global warming);
  • the rapid depletion of key non-renewable resources (especially cheap oil), which in turn
  • threatens many of the key drivers of the present phase of accelerated global growth (global trade and global dispersal of production facilitated not just by ICT but by long, oil-dependent logistics chains), and which also
  • increases militarization and regional instability centred on resource wars, and
  • the global agrarian crisis – (which we deal with in the next section).

This is not to say that we can simply opt out of the world economy. There is little prospect of consolidating an NDR (still less of building socialism) in one (isolated) country. But, on the other hand, the idea that salvation lies in simply hitching a ride on global growth, simply in a modernizing technological catch-up strategy is itself utopian. Consolidating national food security (partly through a major land reform programme based on small-scale production for household consumption and local markets), addressing national energy security, shortening our logistics lines (not least through local, national and regional economic development) – none of these should simply be dismissed as “luddite”, second economy romances.  Our industrial policy measures, our infrastructure investment, our sector specific programmes should seek not to seal our economy off, but to ensure as best as possible a sustainable and balanced economic growth path that factors in not just the requirements (where appropriate) of global competitiveness, but also the often contradictory requirements of local, national, and regional development. The importance of a balanced approach is starkly high-lighted by the global agrarian crisis:

The new agrarian question

As Samir Amin has noted:

“Modern capitalist agriculture – encompassing both rich, large-scale family farming and agribusiness corporations – is now engaged in a massive attack on third world peasant production.  The green light for this was given at the November 2001 session of the WTO in Doha, Qatar. There are many victims of this attack – and most are third world peasants, who still make up half of mankind”.[5]

From the perspective of an economistic, technocratic, modernization paradigm the opening up of agriculture globally to capitalist market forces makes eminent sense. The ratio of productivity of the world’s most advanced capitalist segment of agriculture to the poorest, which was around 10 to 1 before 1940, is now nearly 2000 to 1.  In fact, productivity has developed much more unequally in agriculture and food production than in any other area. This leap in productivity has also reduced the relative price of food products to other industrial and service products to one fifth of what they were 50 years ago. (Amin, ibid.) 

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that three billion farmers are still engaged in peasant farming much of it largely survivalist, while capitalist agriculture based on the principle of return on capital employs only a few tens of millions of farmers who are no longer peasants.

But isn’t the “abolition” of this “second economy” inevitable? And was the capitalist agrarian revolution over the 18th and 19th centuries not a key dynamic in Europe’s global advance?

There are at least three absolutely critical differences in the current global capitalist offensive against peasant production.  The WTO’s general principle of fast-tracking market-liberalisation for agricultural products and foodstuffs will impose the elimination of billions of non-competitive producers within the space of a few decades, compared to the century-and-a-half long process in Europe. A significant part of the surplus population thrown up by this relatively long agrarian revolution in 18th and 19th century Europe was resolved by mass migration – largely to the Americas (an option that is not easily open, given highly restrictive immigration controls in most of the developed world for the Third World’s burgeoning surplus population). But surplus population in Europe was principally absorbed into the still considerably labour-intensive factories of the industrial revolution.  Modern technologies are now considerably less labour intensive and much of current third world industrialization is compelled to be capital-intensive in order to be competitive. On the most optimistic of assumptions about global economic growth, less than one third of today’s remaining three billion peasants will be absorbed into formal sector employment. (Not to mention the billions of already displaced unemployed and semi-employed people, who now inhabit great sprawling peri-urban slums that cut a swathe across the “developing” world).

Capitalist modernization has no sustainable answers to the new agrarian question. In fact, a capitalist agrarian revolution on a world-scale has genocidal implications. As with environmental sustainability, a very different strategic paradigm is imperative – one that foregrounds social needs and sustainable livelihoods.  But the possibility of such an alternative strategic paradigm tends to be rendered entirely unthinkable and characterised as “adventuristic” by the dominant paradigm that informs the go-global-or-be-damned modernization paradigm.

Globalisation - “the advantages of this are limitless”

Unfortunately, the principal paper upon which we are focusing (“Economic Transformation for a National Democratic Society”) is not unaffected by this kind of globalist utopianism. The ANC ETC paper tells us, for instance, that:

“South Africa’s private sector…operates in a globally defined terrain: technological advancement has created a global economic system that increasingly works as ‘a unit in real time on a planetary scale’. The advantages of this are limitless.” (p.22)

The negative features of capitalist globalization, insofar as they are acknowledged, tend to be treated as a disconnected set of “other”, more or less accidental empirical realities, for example:

“On the one hand the restructuring of the economy has resulted in higher levels of competitiveness and better access to world markets. However, a tendency has also developed in the period since 1994 for the informalisation of jobs, casualisation and contracting out; a significant minority of workers now have such ‘atypical employment’.” (p.12)

We are not, of course, dealing with some accidental tendency as this passage implies. The restructuring of the labour market (at the expense of millions of workers) is a direct cause and effect of “higher levels of competitiveness” and “better access to world markets”. Once again, there is an inclination to see two separate things when what we have is a single accumulation process.

Another version of this double-vision, of disconnecting connected realities, is the shift from objective description to subjective moralizing. For instance, having told us that the “technological advancement” of a “global economic system” that works as a “unit in real time on a planetary scale”, and creates “advantages” that are “limitless”, the paper then immediately introduces an “on the other hand”:

“On the other hand, these opportunities can be abused through financial systems in which paper money begets paper money: with new ingenious ways found to extract so-called shareholder value that has little bearing on actual production. This also creates an environment for a pervasive short-termism that can hold back the development of productive forces. Related to this is the growing tendency to sustain and justify staggering packages and astonishing lifestyles of corporate executives and so-called celebrities, with levels of inequality that are reminiscent of the eras of slavery and feudalism.” (p.23)

While the moral outrage is commendable, it is ultimately akin to admiring the imposing physique, claws and teeth of a lion, and then scolding it for not being a vegetarian.

The present extremely high levels of capital financialisation (led by the US), the maximization of profit-taking, short-termism in much investment, the simultaneous breath-taking development and stunting of the forces of production (plant closures and retrenchments of experienced and skilled workers in search of cheaper labour markets, the deliberate suppression of new technologiess – eg. the electrical car), extremes of inequality – i.e the tendency to increasing global immiseration – these are not just “subjective” moral failings of naughty capitalists, they are integral and objective components of the contradictory character of capitalist accumulation on a world-scale.

So what can we do to consolidate a national democratic society in South Africa? As we have said at the beginning, the discussion paper begins to point us in broadly correct directions, and in particular, it points to the need to consolidate a progressive, national-democratic developmental state.  Unfortunately, the discussion document’s approach to the developmental state is, itself, vulnerable to being constantly undermined by a blurred double vision.

Double vision and the developmental state
What do we mean by a national democratic developmental state? At present, a dominant view tends to conceptualise it as a state with two basic features:

  • A state that intervenes to overcome the economic “constraints” of apartheid in order to lower the cost to doing business, thus making our economy globally competitive.  Here the strategic intervention of the state in terms of infrastructural development, macro-economic policies, planning and coordination, and global lobbying (“selling South Africa”) is justified because of the “short-termism” of private capital, the weaknesses of our “national bourgeoisie”, and the vagaries of global capital, including its tendencies towards Afro-pessimism; and.
  • A “redistributive” state that is essentially “welfarist” in nature. This is the state that “delivers”, top-down, low cost housing, social grants, education, health-care, public transport, etc.

It is not difficult to recognise in this double-visioned version of the developmental state all of the dualities we have been dealing with – core/periphery, “first” and “second” economy…or, what in earlier days in SA would have been called “our modern western economy” and “native affairs”. Certainly, in practice, and as a result of many pressing challenges, this core/periphery duality built into the anatomy of the state is being challenged from within government itself. However, the momentum of this duality still remains a powerful reality.

In some cases, the duality is actively institutionalized within single departments (Agriculture and Land Affairs), at other times the duality cuts through sectors, and is then reproduced by different programmes and distinctly different kinds of parastatals – thus in transport, the freight logistics and tourism sectors tend to be distinctly “first economy” and, if not left entirely to the private sector, gets to be handled by distinct state owned enterprises, para-statals that behave like para-corporates (Transnet, National Ports Authority, Airports Company, SA National Road Agency). While SOEs are for the “first economy”, public transport and local transport infrastructure including rural logistics needs are off-loaded into “public utilities” – SARCC/Metrorail - and into various provincial and municipal Road and Public Works departments. For many other services, particularly those requiring massive roll-out, the duality is played out between a well-resourced private sector and an under-resourced and overburdened public sector (health-care, education, safety and security).

It would be true to say that, generally, the relevant ANC policy discussion papers, and many specific government policies and programmes are now increasingly aware of the dangers of these dualities. But the ghost of the former paradigm continues to haunt and undermine clarity of thought and strategic action. There are two general and inter-related areas in which these dangers are evident:

  • The tendency to displace responsibility for taking the lead in overcoming endemic duality in our society from the developmental state and its mass democratic movement, and relocating it with the “private sector” and the “market” – the very reality that is actively reproducing development/underdevelopment in the first place; and
  • The tendency to see the public sector work-force not as a key cadre of the NDR, but more as a bothersome labour relations managerial challenge.

Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Who must lead the struggle to overcome social and economic duality?

With our state’s tendencies to reproduce duality within its own institutional anatomy its core task of placing South Africa on a new critical growth path by progressively overcoming duality is proving to be a challenge. This is not assisted by a continuous tendency of expecting the private sector/the market to be the leading “developer” of the “under-developed”.

For instance, we are told:

“A number of developing economies have succeeded in drawing people involved in ‘sustainable livelihood’ activities into mutually beneficial relations with larger firms. Many of the fast growing service activities we identified take place in the second economy. Our key challenge here is to raise the quality and income earning capacity of these activities, while simultaneously seeking to overcome the divisions that isolate them from the potential benefits of greater integration with a growing first economy…[we need] to forge more beneficial, symbiotic relations with activities in the first economy.” (p.46)

While none of this is necessarily absolutely wrong, some of the formulations are skirting close to forgetting that most sustainable livelihood activities are already very much articulated into a symbiotic (but not very beneficial) relationship with the “first economy” – every informal settlement in South Africa has spaza shops with Coca Cola sponsored signs, spaza phone-booths that our outlets for cell-phone companies, and taxi associations with symbiotic relations with vehicle retailers and petrol companies.

Only the developmental state, and in these cases, the local developmental state, supported by its mass democratic base, can create the conditions in which these symbiotic relations are transformed from relations that continuously reproduce under-development into a sustainable and balanced local economic growth and development process.

In its earlier version, the taxi recapitalisation programme tended to assume that a taxi scrapping subsidy (originally R25,000, now R50,000) supplied to tens of thousands of mostly survivalist taxi operators to help them get into the “market” for a new generation of mini- and midi-buses would somehow be necessary and sufficient to transform the major mode of public transport in SA. There is now a much greater appreciation that the critical transformational intervention must come from the local developmental state – taking back public control over routes and ranks through continuous, popularly-based regulatory control, constructing user-friendly infrastructure, integrating all modes of transport into a single local system, and integrating public transport with housing and other built environment planning and development, etc.

But the original recap illusion has cost us much time, provoked ill-will amongst the intended beneficiaries, and left communities as passive observers. Likewise, whether it is with land reform, or with co-operatives, there is a tendency to imagine that the role of the developmental state is, at most, a one-off intervention (restitution of a parcel of land, or the passing of cooperative legislation) with the rest left largely to the market.

For instance, in the present ANC ETC discussion paper, while there is a welcome call for support for a “vibrant cooperative movement”, the document clearly believes that government has already done its bit:

“Whilst government has acted to put in place a legislative framework to support and encourage such a movement, the organisational resources of civil society have not yet responded in sufficient scale.” (p.47)

(The people are to blame, we should elect another!). In fact there are tens of thousands of cooperatives in South Africa, including, but not only, all kinds of saving co-ops like stokvels and burial societies, etc.  It is also true that, after considerable initial skepticism, there is now a relatively widespread interest in co-ops from the side of government. However, there is simply no coherent approach, with different departments and different spheres of government all doing different, often piecemeal and contradictory things.

To overcome duality and to set our country on a sustainable new critical growth path the developmental state (and quite often, the local developmental state) must be the hegemonic force – not the market. While we might wish to draw “sustainable livelihood” activities into “mutually beneficial” relationships with “first economy” capitalist firms where this is possible – the principal mutually beneficial relationship needs to be built between the developmental state and sustainable livelihood activities (whether they be co-operatives, a small family farm, or a local taxi association). This state/livelihood activity needs to be a sustained relationship involving ongoing regulation, support and democratic engagement, and not a one-off intervention.

The missing millions – public sector workers and community volunteers
The ANC policy conference discussion papers include two relatively substantive articles on workers and trade unions – “Challenges facing workers and unions” (pp.183-203) (this is the paper considered above in some detail), and “The working class and organised labour” (pp.204-245).  Remarkably (unless we have missed a passing sentence or two somewhere) there is not a single reference to public sector workers throughout these 62 pages!! And yet, public sector workers, numbering some 1,5 million, constitute around one-fifth of formal sector workers and one-third of workers within COSATU unions.

Why the amnesia about public sector workers?

There are probably at least two reasons. The one is that, notwithstanding statements that we are seeking to build a “developmental state” of a special type (“reinforced by a mass-based NLM”), there are pronounced tendencies to see the developmental state as essentially a technocratic and managerial competency.

But the second and more significant reason is that we find it difficult to really believe that public sector work is actually productive work, that it actually contributes to the GDP.  We have probably now moved away from the worst of the late-1990s. Then, an incoming government minister could be given two weeks to come up with performance targets and ten “quick-win deliverables” one of which would invariably be to “downsize” the public sector work-force –as if this was such an obviously good thing to do, it only required ten working days to figure out the details and make a solemn commitment.

If we are to build an effective national democratic developmental state that catalyses accelerated, sustainable and shared growth, then we need to appreciate that teachers, health-care workers, municipal workers, librarians, police and other safety, security and justice professionals are key cadres of our NDR and not (or they should not be) a bloated burden on capitalist tax-payers. Yet, these are all professions that have been deeply demoralized by our interventions and discourse of the late 1990s.

There are now welcome signs of serious rectification – the proposed very significant expansion of the police force, and the expansion of the numbers of teachers and a promised revision of salaries. But we still tend to mention these things under the separate heading of “social transformation” or “peace and security” – as if they did not belong equally with active “economic transformation” (yet another duality).

But if the million and a half public sector workers drop-off the radar screen when we are talking about “economic” activity, the hundreds of thousands of “volunteer” workers who are absolutely critical to much of what we are trying to achieve are even more invisible when we speak of economics and work. Yet, here again, we are increasingly aware that we cannot address many of our challenges without their active mobilisation. There are now 50,000 home-based, volunteer health-care workers receiving stipends from the Department of Health. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands more working for NGOs, or just voluntarily in their own right. We are now, quite correctly, proposing a vast extension of the Community Policing Forums and their transformation into Community Safety Forums, and there are reports that CPF members might be getting stipends for transport and to be able to phone the police.

What is “work”?

All of this then begs a key question: what exactly do we mean by “work”?

When the booming private security industry employs tens of thousands of poorly paid, poorly trained, largely unmotivated security guards to protect business premises, cash-in-transit vans, and suburban properties – then we regard this as “work” and duly enter it into our employment creation, labour market and GDP calculations. But when we mobilize hundreds of thousands of community volunteers, or deploy the unemployed into brief stints of alien vegetation removal, then we seem not to treat this as “real work”.

Is “work” only labour that can be commoditised (i.e. that private capital can extract surplus value from) like the down-trodden private security guard watching all-night over an ATM in a suburban mall? Or is “work” all productive activity that is socially necessary and useful?  And, if we agree with the latter, then let us appreciate that, for instance, clearing alien vegetation from the water-courses of a severely water-stretched country confronting the calamity of climate change is absolutely socially (and economically) necessary work.  It is not a case of digging holes, only to fill them again.

More and more, our own experience is teaching us that to build a national democratic society we have to break out of the prison of market fundamentalism. We have, increasingly, to de-commodify our understanding of work. We have to invent our own developmental state that is much more than a temporary catalyser of accelerated growth, a state and para-state that can then, once growth is humming along, be downsized and privatised. In fact, the national democratic state we are starting to build contains the seeds of an alternative economic growth path, and of a different class hegemony, in which meeting social needs becomes increasingly the dominant yardstick of progress.  Throughout the present ETC discussion paper this alternative vision keeps bursting through, only to be blurred by a persistent double vision.

The ETC discussion paper captures the general spirit of a different kind of economic class hegemony beautifully when it asserts: “our approach to economic transformation proceeds from the understanding that the changes we seek will not emerge spontaneously from the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. People acting collectively in the spirit of human solidarity must shape the contours of economic development.” (p.15)

But to rise to the challenge of that vision we will have to finally banish the ghost of the 1988 (white monopoly capital) class project from our imaginations, from our practice and…from our discussion papers!


[1] This impact has been deepened by the assiduous cultivation by white monopoly capital of a tiny stratum of ANC-linked black shareholders and board-members in the name of “black economic empowerment”. The battle-cry of this stratum has been that if a minority of whites could be super rich in the past, it is racist to deny a minority of blacks their constitutional right to be super rich in the present. The flip-side of this argument is too seldom heard: If the majority (and not just a minority) of whites could once have enjoyed access to excellent public health care, well resourced (if ideologically distorted) public education, rent-controlled apartments and housing loans, reasonable public transport, excellent public amenities like parks, municipal libraries and public sports facilities – why should all South Africans not now begin to enjoy such basic human rights?

[2] Robert Brenner, "The Economics of Global Turbulence: Uneven Development and the Long Downturn, The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Boom to Stagnation," New Left Review, no.229 (May-June 1998).

[3] See in particular Giovanni Arrighi’s work on the recurrence of long-range “financial expansion” cycles in the world capitalist system (1994 and 1997). He cites Genoa in the second half of the 16th century, Dutch-led financial expansion in the 18th century, Britain’s financial expansion in the late 19th and early 20th century, and the United State’s current extreme financial expansion. These “financial expansions…signal the beginning of a fundamental restructuring…a ‘sign of autumn’…They are the ‘season’ when the leading organizing centres of world capitalism reap the fruits of their leadership, and at the same time, begin to be replaced at the commanding heights of world capitalism by a new leadership.” (1997)

[4] Cf. Marx: “the real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself…and capitalist production continually overcomes its immanent barriers only by means which again place these barriers in its way on a more formidable scale”. Capital, vol.III

[5] Amin, S, “World poverty, pauperization and capital accumulation”, Monthly Review, October 2003.