Daniel, John / Naidoo, Prishani / Pillay, Devan / Southall, Roger (Eds), New South African Review 3: The Second Phase-Tragedy or Farce?

By Kotze, Dirk | Strategic Review for Southern Africa, June 2014 | Go to article overview

Daniel, John / Naidoo, Prishani / Pillay, Devan / Southall, Roger (Eds), New South African Review 3: The Second Phase-Tragedy or Farce?


Kotze, Dirk, Strategic Review for Southern Africa


Daniel, John / Naidoo, Prishani / Pillay, Devan / Southall, Roger (eds), New South African Review 3: The second phase--tragedy or farce? Johannesburg: Wits University Press 2013, 342 pp.

As the title indicates this publication is the third issue in a series of reviews. The first issue was subtitled 2010: Development or decline? (2010) and the second was New paths, old promises? (2011). These publications are edited in the Department of Sociology at Wits University as part of its Strategic Planning and Allocation of Resources Committee (SPARC) Programme. The series is intended to be a revival of the South African Review edited by the South African Research Service and published by Ravan Press in the 1980s and early 1990s. Arguably one of the best known of these series was issue seven edited by Steven Friedman and Doreen Atkinson, The Small Miracle: South Africa's negotiated settlement (1994). The latest publication should also be seen as direct competition for the Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) regular publication, State of the Nation.

The NewSouth African Review 3 is organised into four parts, namely Party, Power and Class; Ecology, Economy and Labour; Public Policy and Social Practice; and South Africa at Large. The four editors introduce each of the sections, consisting of 16 chapters in total. The book's format appears to be that of a yearbook but it is not linked to a specific year. It is therefore not in the same category as for example the South African Institute of Race Relations' annual South Africa Survey. The Review is organised around a theme, albeit very general in its formulation, and in the case of the third issue it is also not applicable to all its chapters. At the same time, though, it is not a yearbook as the choice of chapters and their foci are on the latest developments. The publication can, however, not stand in isolation as a complete book but must be viewed together with the earlier issues. Moreover, and as with edited publications more generally, the challenge of coordinating or integrating chapters also applies here. Though the editors present a strong sociological tradition within a leftist social democratic or even socialist intellectual sentiment, not all the authors use the same points of departure or lines of argument in their chapters. At the same time it should be said that possibly the strongest dividing factor in the current public debate is the role of the private and public sectors in macroeconomic policy. A characteristic of this publication is how tangible this debate's influence is in three of the four parts.

The discussions are strongly influenced by the Marikana massacre, an event that social scientists still find difficult to fully analyse, despite its assumption of symbolic significance. In his introduction Devan Pillay describes Marikana as the epitome of the transition's tragedy as well as a part of the global tendency of uneven development. According to Pillay, Marikana presents a racialised form of the problems associated with global capitalism, rendering it thus a local form of racial capitalism. It resembles Neville Alexander and the Worker Organisation for Socialist Action's description of apartheid which was presented as an antidote for the South African Communist Party's (SACP) 'colonialism of a special type'. Pillay's line of thinking extends to capture the South African economy in a 'minerals-energy-finance complex' driven by a 'power elite'. This introduction situates the book in a sociologically left, critical position towards the (African National Congress) ANC-as-government and the private sector.

Parts one and four deal with topics closest to conventional Political Science and International Relations while part two is mainly concerned with economic matters and part three with public policy issues. The chapters by Roger Southall and Susan Booysen on the power elite in South Africa and the ANC's regeneration respectively are not only empirical in nature but present also important conceptual and theoretical questions for Political Science in South Africa. …

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