Re: [OPE-L] Martin Legassick on Depelchin's Silences in African History

From: Patrick Bond (pbond@MAIL.NGO.ZA)
Date: Tue Mar 07 2006 - 06:53:26 EST

Martin Legassick on Depelchin's Silences in African Histor----- Original
Message -----
From: Rakesh Bhandari
re: the Walter Rodney thread; Legassick has written some very important work
on formally
unfree labour


Here's something he delivered to our colloquium on primitive accumulation at last week:,75,10,2365

Legassick, Martin  (2006) South African political economy. Centre for Civil
Society  Colloquium on the Economy, Society and Nature: 1-54.

Why is the country not embarking on a large-scale socialist programme to
mobilize young people, in order to build roads and schools and plant fields?
"Forget it' says the media manager. 'The government dare not be seen as
socialists, or the West will crap in its pants.' 'I am actually sick of
being held to ransom by the West,' grumbles the mfundisi. 'Do this, do that.
What has all this free-market stuff brought us? They don't give up a thing,
not tariffs, not lifestyle, yet we have to be more capitalist than Wall
Antjie Krog in the Transkei, A change of tongue

There has been an enormous transformation of the South African state from a
white-controlled and staffed apartheid repressive monster to a state with a
democratic parliament and an extremely democratic constitution (at least on
paper) which guarantees basic freedoms. The ANC was elected to govern with a
majority of more than 60% in 1994 and has increased its apparent share of
the vote at two subsequent elections (1999, 2004) to some 70% - though the
percentage of the population voting in the elections has consistently
diminished so that in 2004 only 38% voted for the ANC.2 But the mass of
people elected the ANC into government not for the sake of having members of
parliament, but in order to improve their lives. ANC election propaganda has
recognized this, promising (1994 onwards) "a better life for all", and (in
2004) to "create jobs and fight poverty". But does the ANC have a policy and
programme which is adequate to the task?

The bosses' guru Raymond Parsons reasserted recently that "rapid growth and
transformation in SA are possible only with a market-related economy" - that
is, a capitalist economy.3 The negotiated settlement drew the ANC, in
government, into compromise with capitalism.

Since 1994, the ANC government has promoted the capitalist economy. 'There
is no other way' the ideologists of the ANC proclaimed when they introduced
GEAR in 1996, echoing right-wing Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in
Britain in the 1980s. But GEAR has been a vicious neo-liberal economic
programme equivalent to the SAP's of the International Monetary Fund and
World Bank, attacking the living standards of the working class.

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