Law and Revolution in South Africa: Ubuntu, Dignity, and the Struggle for Constitutional Transformation

Law and Revolution in South Africa: Ubuntu, Dignity, and the Struggle for Constitutional Transformation

Law and Revolution in South Africa: Ubuntu, Dignity, and the Struggle for Constitutional Transformation

Law and Revolution in South Africa: Ubuntu, Dignity, and the Struggle for Constitutional Transformation

Synopsis

The relation between law and revolution is one of the most pressing questions of our time. As one country after another has faced the challenge that comes with the revolutionary overthrow of past dictatorships, how one reconstructs a new government is a burning issue. South Africa, after a long and bloody armed struggle and a series of militant uprisings, negotiated a settlement for a new government and remains an important example of what a substantive revolution might look like. The essays collected in this book address both the broader question of law and revolution and some of the specific issues of transformation in South Africa.

Excerpt

I first visited South Africa in 2001. It was a fairly straightforward academic trip, to give lectures on my work. South Africa was a particularly important destination to me, because it represented revolutionary possibility in a world that had seemed to have completely forsaken such possibility Like so many others of my generation, I grew up with the international struggle against apartheid and, therefore, to see revolutionaries—many of them imprisoned for years—come to power in the government was truly exhilarating. Of course, by the time of my visit in 2001, many on the left (including myself) had become extremely concerned that the economic policies of the African National Congress had gone in the wrong direction, and conceded way too much to what has popularly come to be known as the Washington Consensus. But revolutions, particularly the long and bloody struggle to overthrow apartheid, do not succeed within a day. The struggle to transform South Africa was alive in 2001, and it is alive today.

The essays in this book were written not simply by someone on the left who engaged with the struggle in South Africa as if it were an exemplar of what might be, or, alternatively, as a harbinger of the ultimate failure of any meaningful alternative to capitalism. Instead, they were written during a time when I was working on the ground in South Africa to create a project called the uBuntu Project, and I have been deeply influenced by this on the ground work in South Africa. The uBuntu Project was formed in 2002, and its initial projects were interviews in the townships on the Western Cape, addressing the significance of uBuntu for young people in the urban areas. The project was born in the townships, and later, the uBuntu Township Project took over the work of this early pilot project. It has now become a . . .

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