The Emergence of Modern South Africa: State, Capital, and the Incorporation of Organized Labor on the South African Gold Fields, 1902-1939

The Emergence of Modern South Africa: State, Capital, and the Incorporation of Organized Labor on the South African Gold Fields, 1902-1939

The Emergence of Modern South Africa: State, Capital, and the Incorporation of Organized Labor on the South African Gold Fields, 1902-1939

The Emergence of Modern South Africa: State, Capital, and the Incorporation of Organized Labor on the South African Gold Fields, 1902-1939

Synopsis

The Emergence of Modern South Africa views economic conflict, specifically the interaction of the state, big business, and labor, as the central issue in the development of South Africa. Yudelman focuses on the labor-management conflict in the country's gold fields in the early decades of this century, a time and place critical to the development of the state. At that time government walked a tightrope between supporting big business (to ensure economic growth) and appeasing the workers (to remain in power). Yudelman demonstrates how a symbiotic alliance between the mining companies and the state successfully subjugated the workers, and points out that this unique relationship continues to this day, dominating every aspect of life in South Africa. David Yudelman's historical analysis and lengthy epilogue on the 1970s and 1980s shed light on today's economic unrest and those conflicts to come. His book also shows how the South African case provides early and important insights into the development of the state-business symbiosis in industrial societies everywhere.

Excerpt

An integrated empire requires predictive capacity over the supply of labor. So, too, does the modern concept of the state, whether capitalist or socialist. Organized labor immediately becomes an issue where the state (or empire) and capital have divergent goals: who organizes the labor, and to what ends? The modern state is often far more interventionist than the traditional empire was, and in both capitalist and communist societies, the state and capital often work through a symbiotic relationship. Ideological Marxism to the contrary, there are genuine choices involved here and all is not inevitable. The choices in a nation that has once been a colony may well differ from the choices made in an integrated nationalist state. Further, where deep-rooted elements of racism also intervene to help define conventional wisdom about both labor and the steps necessary to attain predictive capacity over it, issues often labeled "neocolonial" quickly arise. No situation is better suited to pose the types of questions that have led to both pro- and anti-Marxist conclusions and, more recently and increasingly, to conclusions simply best referred to as non-Marxist.

David Yudelman, of the Department of Political Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, has explored both the facts and the theory of this dilemma, with specific reference to gold production in South Africa. He has sought to place the issue of race in South Africa into a larger framework, as George Fredrickson, John Cell, and other historians have done recently, so that one does not impose an intellectual apartheid upon the economic and social facts. By a careful examination of the conflict between capital and labor . . .

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