Fw: GLW review of McKinley book (fwd)

Michael Eisenscher meisenscher at igc.apc.org
Fri Jul 10 09:35:03 PDT 1998

-----Original Message----- From: Alex Chis & Claudette Begin <achis at IGC.APC.ORG> To: Multiple recipients of list COC-L <COC-L at CMSA.BERKELEY.EDU> Date: Thursday, July 09, 1998 9:39 AM Subject: GLW review of McKinley book (fwd)

>Cc: marxism at lists1.panix.com
>Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 16:56 AEST
>From: Green Left Parramatta <glparramatta at peg.apc.org>
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Path: glparramatta
>Precedence: bulk
>Reply-To: sldrty-l at igc.org
>Sender: owner-sldrty-l at igc.org
>Subject: GLW review of McKinley book
>To: debate at sunsite.wits.ac.za
>X-MIME-Autoconverted: from 8bit to quoted-printable by igc7.igc.org id
>Dear Comrades,
>Below is a review from Green Left Weekly (issue #323)
>Why the South African revolution stalled
>The ANC and the Liberation Struggle: A Critical Political Biography
>By Dale T. McKinley
>Pluto Press, 1997
>175 pp., $34.95 (pb)
>Available at Resistance Bookshops
>Review by Norm Dixon
>This book is essential reading for anybody wishing to understand political
>developments in South Africa since 1994. It critically examines the
>and practice of the African National Congress, from its formation in 1912
>the negotiations that ushered in South Africa's first democratic elections.
>The ANC's post-apartheid accommodation with the country's capitalist power
>structure, Dale McKinley shows, is a continuation of an 80-year trajectory,
>not a change.
>McKinley is a respected young socialist. His views are representative of an
>important <197> small, but growing <197> tendency within the South African
>left that is prepared to challenge the dominant politics and ideology of
>ANC, and seeking to influence the direction of the trade unions and the
>South African Communist Party.
>While in Johannesburg to report on South Africa's first democratic election
>for Green Left Weekly, I discovered that one of the indispensable places to
>find out what was happening on the left was Phambili (``Forward'') Books.
>The bookshop was never empty. It buzzed as township activists, ANC
>officials, trade unionists, SACP members, academics, Trotskyists of various
>shades and socialists and radicals visiting from overseas thumbed the pages
>of the newest left books and magazines and debated politics.
>Phambili was the place to find out when and where meetings, conferences and
>demonstrations were taking place, what debates were raging on the left and
>in the liberation movement, and who had what ``line''.
>The person to ask was McKinley, who managed this subversive centre. Being
>the centre of this political meeting place, there was little McKinley did
>not know about South African left politics.
>Born in Zimbabwe, he spent several years in the United States, where he was
>active in the anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity movements.
>Returning to southern Africa after the unbanning of the ANC, SACP and other
>liberation movements in 1990, he became an active member of the ANC. Though
>critical of the SACP's politics, he joined the party.
>McKinley is presently a leader of the Gauteng provincial SACP and a member
>of the party's national political education department. Considering that
>many of McKinley's ``ultra-left'' positions would make some SACP leaders
>gag, the fact that he works out of

Dü@T7 Šthe
>party's head office is evidence that an atmosphere of open and free debate
>prevails in the party.
>``This work is grounded firmly within a classical Marxist-Leninist
>framework'', McKinley explains in the preface to The ANC and the Liberation
>Struggle. ``There can be no meaningful national liberation without a
>simultaneous struggle against what lies at the root of national oppression
><197> capitalism and imperialism. In short, national liberation can be
>little more than a political shift of the ruling class without a
>corresponding transformation in social relations, that is without a class
>McKinley argues that from the ANC's formation to the present, such a
>simultaneous struggle has not been the goal of the majority of its leaders.
>Instead, they have sought to persuade, and later, in the face of the
>National Party's brutal intransigence, to force South Africa's ruling class
>to permit ``civilised'' blacks to take their place in the existing
>institutions of the state and economy.
>The political and ideological struggles that have erupted within the
>leadership of the ANC <197> like the rise of the young Africanist current
>led by Mandela, Tambo and Sisulu in the late 1940s <197> have not been over
>the necessity for working-class revolution but over whether the black
>petty-bourgeoisie's ``place at the table'' could be won through polite
>appeals or had to be taken by more forceful means.
>McKinley argues that because the ANC leadership's dominant perspective has
>been to share control of the existing state, rather than overthrow it, the
>socioeconomic interests of workers, peasants and unemployed have never been
>allowed to take centre stage in the organisation or the struggle. Instead,
>the leadership has limited the mass struggles and organisation of the
>to being a means to apply pressure on South Africa's rulers to reform.
>The often repeated mantra of the post-1990 ANC that a more radical outcome
>of the anti-apartheid struggle has been precluded by the ``balance of
>forces'', McKinley suggests, is little more than a self-fulfilling
>``The practical politics of the ANC served seriously to undermine the
>possibilities of people's victories which might have propelled the
>in a radically different direction ... Looking at the broader historical
>framework of the ANC's liberation struggle ... it becomes clear why a
>gradual disempowerment of the masses emerged and ultimately an increasingly
>truncated liberation.''
>The major weakness of the book is its failure to analyse adequately the
>separately from the dominant ANC leadership and to explain the party's
>failure to challenge, in the past and the present, the ANC leadership's
>reformist orientation.
>Nor does McKinley address the most pressing debate on the South African
>today: how should socialists relate politically and tactically to an
>organisation that still commands the support of hundreds of thousands of
>militants, while at the same time heading a government that presides over a
>neo-liberal offensive and is actively fostering a new black capitalist
>to share economic power with the apartheid-era captains of industry?
>* Alex Chis Books *
>* Alex Chis & Claudette Begin *
>* P.O. Box 2944 *
>* Fremont, CA 94536 *
>* 510-489-8554 *
>* achis at igc.apc.org *
>* www.abebooks.com/home/ALEXCHIS/ *

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list