Political economy and industrialisation in South Africa : a critique of structuralist Marxist analyses of apartheid and class struggle
The core of my thesis is to present a Marxist interpretation of the process of industrialisation in South Africa. I do so with the view that previous discussions on the process of industrialisation and its effects on the South African political economy have tended to obscure class relations in favour of race relations. The reason that this has occurred is that the dominant tradition in Marxist studies on South Africa has been located within a structuralist framework derived essentially from the French school of Marxism. The methodology of the structuralist Marxists has been such that it has led them to develop analytical tools that have focused on race rather than class as the predominant contradiction within South African society. An inadequate application and interpretation of Marx's labour theory of value has led Wolpe to develop his cheap labour thesis which has proven to be both problematic and inadequate as an aid to understanding the particular form of industrialisation in South Africa. Despite criticisms of this theory it has continued to be reproduced uncritically within South African acadentia leading to the development of further analytical tools such as racial capitalism and racial fordism that have proven to be inadequate in interpreting industrialisation. These concepts, moving even further away from Marx 's labour theory of value, tended to focus on the superficial aspects of racism rather than on class exploitation. The effect has been that an eclecticism has developed within the structuralist Marxist's analysis leading to an interpretation that seemed no different from the neoclassical and liberal schools of thought. A more serious implication of the structuralist Marxist's methodology has been the effect that it has had on the liberation movements and trade unions in South Africa. These theories played an important influential role in the strategic thinking of the liberation organisations leading them to direct working class struggles against a dominant racism rather than against a dominant racism and capitalism. These studies have implied that the post-apartheid state would be a reformist capitalist state rather than a revolutionary socialist state. While emanating from Marxism the structuralist Marxists have in actual fact been promoting a reformist capitalism. With these criticisms in mind I attempt to develop an interpretation of industrialisation that moves away from the structuralist methodology by anchoring my analysis within Marx's labour theory of value and class struggle. Furthermore, using the methodological approach of Geoffrey Kay I locate South Africa's process of industrialisation within the framework of colonialism and changing forms of imperialism. In order to understand South Africa's industrialisation (and that of many other former colonies) one has to develop an understanding of the changing forms of international capital and the effects that this had on development in various parts of the world. This interpretation essentially locates development and industrialisation within the process of capital accumulation and class struggle but also allows for an understanding often emergence of racism within this dynamic. The peculiarities of racism are located within this changing form of imperial dontination. While racism plays an important part in the dynamics of capital accumulation it is not tlle dontinant contradiction of South African society, which should be located within capitalist accumulation and changing forms of imperialism. Crises which emerge within this context are thus not crises of racism or crises in the economy but crises in the process of accumulation as a direct result of class struggle and affect both state and capital in a very serious way. The outcome of the crises can lead to reform or revolution. The post apartheid state has clearly adopted a reformist approach and for the structuralist Marxists tltis does not seem to be a problem, with many Marxists now seeing themselves as fonner Marxists.