Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990

Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990

Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990

Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990

Synopsis

This work provides an in-depth analysis of thirty years of South African opposition paying particular attention to the development of the Black Consciousness movement founded by Steve Biko, the ANC-aligned United Democratic Front, and the burgeoning trade unions. Marx demonstrates how each group's ideology, focusing respectively on racial assertiveness, national unity, and class organization, influenced each other, and shaped popular activism. His findings help to explain both the recent initiation of negotiations and possible future developments.

Excerpt

For me, as for many in my generation, entering college in the wake of the 1976 Soweto uprising, the South African struggle was an early focus for our political education. Our antiapartheid activism at the time was no doubt naive in some respects, but it expressed our moral outrage at a distant form of injustice that somehow resonated. Later, South Africa remained a living illustration of the issues that I had studied and pondered. Perhaps it gave me some connection with the experience of discrimination that so disrupted the lives of my grandparents and parents as Jews in Nazi Germany. Or perhaps I was drawn by vague comparisons with race relations in New York City, where I had grown up amidst neighborhoods demarcated by an informal urban apartheid. But for whatever reason, I wanted to know more.

In 1984 I had my first opportunity to see South Africa. I spent much of that year helping plan and establish what was to become Khanya College, a university preparation program for politically active black students. It was exciting work during a time of burgeoning activism under the banners of the newly formed United Democratic Front and the National Forum. I found myself in the midst of many ideological debates about how educators, black elites, and whites could contribute to the struggle for a new South Africa. I even inadvertently contributed to such debates by accepting an invitation to attend the National Forum meeting of that year, where Black Consciousness adherents objected to the presence of whites, no matter how sympathetic. But adherents of nonracialism disagreed. Abstract debates about how best to confront oppression suddenly took on a more concrete dimension.

After such experiences, I wanted to understand the differences of ideology and strategy within the opposition -- in terms of both why they had developed and what differences they had made. In 1986, during the height of renewed repression, I was back in South Africa . . .

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