The Unresolved National Question in South Africa

Left thought under apartheid
Editor(s): ,
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Dimensions and Pages: 244x170mm
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-022-0
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-023-7
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): R380.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): $34.99

The Unresolved National Question in South Africa is an extremely valuable contribution to the decades-long debate on South African nationhood. Its striking feature is its highly professional and balanced approach to the various narratives and traditions that address the National Question.

— Vladimir Shubin, Russian Academy of Sciences

The re-emergence of debates on the decolonisation of knowledge has revived interest in the National Question, which began over a century ago and remains unresolved. Tensions that were suppressed and hidden in the past are now being openly debated. Despite this, the goal of one united nation living prosperously under a constitutional democracy remains elusive.

This edited volume examines the way in which various strands of left thought have addressed the National Question, especially during the apartheid years, and goes on to discuss its relevance for South Africa today and in the future. Instead of imposing a particular understanding of the National Question, the editors identified a number of political traditions and allowed contributors the freedom to define the question as they believed appropriate – in other words, to explain what they thought was the Unresolved National Question. This has resulted in a rich tapestry of interweaving perceptions.

The volume is structured in two parts. The first examines four foundational traditions – Marxism-Leninism (the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis); the Congress tradition; the Trotskyist tradition; and Africanism. The second part explores the various shifts in the debate from the 1960s onwards, and includes chapters on Afrikaner nationalism, ethnic issues, Black Consciousness, feminism, workerism and constitutionalism.

The editors hope that by revisiting the debates not popularly known among the scholarly mainstream, this volume will become a catalyst for an enriched debate on our identity and our future.

ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS

PREFACE: Edward Webster and Karin Pampallis

INTRODUCTION: Revisiting the National Question – Edward Webster and John Mawbey

PART ONE: KEY FOUNDATIONAL TRADITIONS

CHAPTER 1: Decentring the Question of Race: Critical Reflections on Colonialism of a Special Type – Jeremy Cronin and Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo

CHAPTER 2: The African National Congress: Social Democratic Thinking and the Good Society, 1940–1962  – Robert van Niekerk

CHAPTER 3: Oliver Tambo and the National Question  – Luli Callinicos

CHAPTER 4: The Unity Movement and the National Question  – Basil Brown, Mallet Pumelele Giyose, Hamilton Petersen, Charles Thomas and Allan Zinn

CHAPTER 5: The Africanist Turn in South African National Question Discourses – Siphamandla Zondi

 

PART TWO: CONTINUITY AND RUPTURE

CHAPTER 6: Vicissitudes of the National Question: Afrikaner Style – Dunbar Moodie

CHAPTER 7: Neville Alexander and the National Question  – Enver Motala and Salim Vally

CHAPTER 8: The Marxist Workers’ Tendency of the African National Congress – Martin Legassick 

CHAPTER 9: The National Question confronts the Ethnic Question  – Gerhard Maré

CHAPTER 10: Variations on a Zulu Theme – Ari Sitas

CHAPTER 11: Black Consciousness as Nationalism of a Special Type – Xolela Mangcu

CHAPTER 12: Postponing the National Question: Feminism and the Women’s Movement – Shireen Hassim

CHAPTER 13: Workerists and the National Question – Alec Erwin

CHAPTER 14 : Red, Black and Gold: FOSATU, South African ‘Workerism’, Syndicalism and the Nation  – Sian Byrne, Nicole Ulrich and Lucien van der Walt

CHAPTER 15: National Democratic Revolution meets Constitutional Democracy – Daryl Glaser

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

Edward Webster is research professor in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Karin Pampallis is an editor and publications manager of the Hidden Voices Project located in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

This timely and compelling volume offers a provocative set of questions for a new research agenda that can tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century. It is crucial reading for all those interested in South African politics and in the theory and practice of nation-building.

— Allison Drew, University of Cape Town

The Unresolved National Question in South Africa is an extremely valuable contribution to the decades-long debate on South African nationhood. Its striking feature is its highly professional and balanced approach to the various narratives and traditions that address the National Question.

— Vladimir Shubin, Russian Academy of Sciences

Insisting upon the urgency of revisiting the National Question if the promise of democracy is to be realised, this volume makes a major contribution to South African intellectual history while simultaneously encouraging us to grapple with key issues around political identity which continue to haunt us today.

— Roger Southall, University of the Witwatersrand

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