South Africa's Fractured Power Elite

Monday, 13 February, 2012 - 15:00

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The major debate which took place from the 1970s between liberal historians and their Marxian-revisionist opponents revolved around whether there was a functional relationship between the policies pursued by successive South African governments and the interests of capital. On the one hand, the liberal historians argued that there was considerable contestation between political and economic power holders, whilst on the other, the Marxian-revisionists proposed that the relationships between them were broadly compatible, with changing political policies reflecting the changing interests of dominant elements of capital across different eras.  Inevitably, the debate was inconclusive. Nonetheless, there was to be a considerable convergence around the idea that, from the mid-1970s, the mounting costs of the National Party’s rigid adherence to key tenets of apartheid were increasingly costly to large scale capital, which during the 1980s came to exert significant pressure upon the government to enter into negotiations with the African National Congress (ANC).
[For more see the paper attached below.]

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