South Africa Pushed to the Limit
- The Political Economy of Change
- Marais, H
About this Publication:
Praise for Hein Marais’ South Africa: Limits to Change – The Political Economy of Transition • “This is an important and original book, scholarly, but at the same time readable. It is better in my view, than any recent book on the political economy of South Africa’s transition.” - Professor John Sender, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London. • “If students can read only one book on South Africa’s transition, this should be the book.” - Professor Jaclyn Cock, Department of Sociology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. • “South Africa: Limits to Change breaks new ground both in its analysis and in its discussions of the options available to the South African left.” - Professor Adam Habib, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Johannesburg. • “Hein Marais is probably the most intelligent and articulate author who writes about South Africa in a Marxist paradigm.” - Professor David Welsh, Professor Emeritus, University of Cape Town. Fifteen years after becoming a multiracial democracy, South Africa arguably is the most unequal society on earth. The lofty hopes that greeted the end of apartheid now seem dwarfed by rampant poverty and unemployment, political feuding and the scourge of deadly disease. In this extensively revised follow-up volume to his acclaimed book South Africa: Limits to Change, published in 2001, Hein Marais brings new insights to the country’s ongoing transition from apartheid. Marais critiques the conservative economic policies that have brought spectacular wealth to the privileged but condemn 40% of the population to poverty. The big winners of the transition, the book shows, have been the country’s major conglomerates. The basic structure of Africa’s biggest economy, however, remains largely intact and continues to serve a small minority which now also accommodates sections of the new political elite. The signal change, Marais argues, is the predominance of financial capital, which excels at the expense of the real economy but exerts enormous influence on policy. Drawing on the rich traditions of radical South African intellectuals, he examines the origins of the policy choices that have brought this about, details their uneven outcomes and sketches alternative paths forward. With one in three adults out of work and public services slow to materialise and poor in quality, protests and acts of civil disobedience are daily occurrences. Yet, to the puzzlement of many, the ruling African National Congress continues to win overwhelming victories at the polls. Marais explains this complex kinship, examines the tools that are being used to maintain popular support, and pinpoints the fault lines in those ventures. In doing so, the book adds new insight to the vendettas that split the ruling party and led to the ousting of former leader Thabo Mbeki. It surveys the South African left’s re-emergence, but questions its tactics, warning that it risks being left behind by history. Crucially, the book also spotlights the devastating impact of three simultaneous epidemics – AIDS, tuberculosis and malnutrition. It explains how the country became the site of the world’s worst AIDS epidemic, analyses the policy failures that exacerbated it, and details the havoc these epidemics are wreaking on society. Importantly, it outlines key changes for undoing the harm done. By critically surveying South Africa’s route to liberation and the balance of forces that has shaped the past 15 years, this book provides a benchmark critical analysis of the long journey beyond apartheid.
Roots of apartheid. Rise of African nationalism. The system hardens. Boom years. The cracks start showing.
Resurgence of resistance. Phases of reform. Muddling toward an exit. Stalemate.
How the compromise was built. Key elements. Limits to change.
High stakes. Clearing the path. Orthodoxy triumphs – but how? The left on the back foot. Critique of economic policy. Is South Africa’s economic policy neoliberal?
Structure of the economy. South Africa in the world system. Economic trends. Bending the numbers. Who wins, who loses? A restructured labour market. Progress made and social costs. Trends in inequality. Can the data be trusted?
The triple epidemics: AIDS, tuberculosis, malnutrition. The political economy of AIDS. Failures of policy or politics? The impact of rampant disease on a polarised society. The myth of coping. Managing social crisis.
Chapter 7: Getting social policy right
Disarray in healthcare and education. Causes and remedies. Social grants: poverty reduction by accident? The fallacy of dependency. Social policy and regime legitimacy. A radical proposal.
Brotherly feuds and scapegoats. The purging of Thabo Mbeki. False ruptures. Rebuilding hegemony. Making the centre hold. Tactics of the organised left. New social movements?
Of Interest and Benefit to:
Students and academics in the fields of sociology, politics, African studies, economics, public health, and history
Anyone interested in current affairs