Fri Aug 9 07:09:11 MDT 1996

7 Aug 1996

Dear Comrades:

We thought this new journal might be of interest to many of you.
Against the Current readers will recognize the names of
contributors Langa Zita and Patrick Bond from past ATC issues. Of
course, it is difficult to start any new left publication and foreign
subscriptions go a long way given the exchange rate.  Those who are
able and interested might consider a donation to help cover start-up
costs as well.

Here's to a productive Summer School and Convention for those who are
there and regards to you all.

In Solidarity,
Matthew Ginsburg
Franco Barchiesi

Announcing a new journal from South Africa...


*********First issue now available - subscription info below********
*******Lead editorial reprinted at the bottom of this message*******

                  -- FIRST ISSUE INCLUDES--

Franco BARCHIESI,           "Promises for Sale - Debunking the
                             Developmentalist State Form"

Dale McKINLEY,              "Critique of Government's Macroeconomic
Vishwas SATGAR,              Strategy: Growth, Employment and
Langa ZITA                   Redistribution"

Oupa LEHULERE               "Debating Social Democracy"

Franco BARCHIESI            Interview with Immanuel Wallerstein

Greg RUITERS                "On Civil Society - Review of Mzwanele
                            Mayekiso's 'Township Politics'"

Mzwanele MAYEKISO           Excerpts from 'Township Politics'

Frank S. WILDERSON          "The Makgoba Affair: Semiotics of a
                             Prelates War"

Sandile DIKANI              Two Poems

                    --Subscription Information--

For a three-issue annual subscription:

            South Africa            Overseas

Workers         R50                    N/A

Full-Time       R40                    N/A

Salaried        R75                 $30/L20

Institutions    R120                $60/L40

Overseas rates include the cost of airmail postage in all cases.

Workers and students should provide proof of where they work or study
(eg photocopy of student card, union card, etc)

Send checks or international money order to:

P O Box 483
Wits 2050
South Africa

 or contact us by:

Phone: (011) 482-4327
Fax: (011) 716-3781
E-mail: 029frb at

Please include the following information
with your subscription:

____________________POSTAL CODE:_________

The DEBATE Editorial Collective is made by:

Franco Barchiesi, Heinrich Bohmke, Patrick Bond, Ashwin Desai,
Rehad Desai, Leonard Gentle, Matthew Ginsburg, David Hemson,
Darrell Moellendorf, Greg Ruiters, Frank Wilderson.

                     --Lead Editorial--

                       WHAT DEBATE?

    One delegate [of the Washington-based Institute of International
     Finance] said he will advise his clients that South Africa is safe
     as an investment destination for a time horizon of eight months...
    The three-year perspective is terrible and the five-year perspective
     is impossible.
                                  Ben van Rensburg, chief economist
                                 South African Chamber of Business
                (speaking to a parliamentary committee, 3 June 1996)

Since around the time of the first democratic election, the South African
left (however we define ourselves) have been starved of good written
debates about left theory, strategies and tactics. That was the moment
not only when many of our leading thinkers migrated into government,
and an apparently indefinite future of self-censureship.

It was also the point at which Work in Progress, a non-sectarian
monthly, suddenly died. Other useful periodicals continue, of course, and
on a quarterly or semi-annual basis progressive readers can satisfy their
hunger for arguments that flow from particular political parties (African
Communist), policy wonks (Transformation), social scientists (Social
Dynamics), political philosophers (Theoria), feminists (Agenda),
urbanists (Urban Forum) and so on. But dissatisfaction is also in the air,
and for many of us the existing material sometimes means a hard trek
through orthodox or simply flat and uninvigorating material.

The strategists and intellectuals of social movements, labour, left parties
and the academy have traditionally thrived on debate, particularly during
lulls in the broader struggle. And South Africa's transition to democracy
has, regrettably, paralysed much of what is considered to be the formal

But it has also thrown up myriad contradictions and has begun to
restructure class, race and even gender relations in significant ways. It
is time, many of us now conclude, to get a better handle on all of
this. It is time to revisit classical controversies in political
economy, politics and culture, and apply new arguments that are more
sensitive to environment, race, identity, gender and generational
concerns than the left has generally managed.

Such debate is not merely of intellectual importance. Although the
democratic breakthrough has surpassed most of our expectations -- had
we been asked what would happen a decade ago -- it has been
profoundly flawed, by all accounts. Masses of black South Africans
continue to confront the residues of apartheid at so many levels. South
Africa's social inequalities are amongst the most extreme in the world.
And the government has faltered enormously in delivering even the
simplest goods and services.

The debate that finally seems to be emerging over such realities also
reflects the fact that traditions of social struggle are very much alive.
Striking nurses, autoworkers, civil servants and Cosatu's ability to
coordinate a national strike show the durability of worker confidence.
Land invasions and student demonstrations exhibit the hunger and will
for radical change.

Are these just ongoing exhibitions of atomistic civil society, or instead the

seeds of the next large movement-wide push for a true transformation
toward democracy, egalitarianism and sustainability (especially since
such words themselves have been poisoned by their use in so many
World Bank documents)? Are all the challenges to capital and state
power worth supporting? What is an appropriate evaluation of local
militancy today? What strategies and tactics would we want to see
becoming more generalised within the organisations of poor and working

Answering such practical questions depends upon us correctly
assessing the possibilities of change at this conjuncture. We are
presented in the bourgeois press with only the logic of neo-liberalism,
perhaps augmented by a few social democratic components here and

If experiences elsewhere are any guide, this means that most of South
Africa will probably taste the fruit of liberation not mainly via political
democratisation but instead in the form of dramatically declining living
standards. And that, we are informed, is our lot, because of the need to
invite foreign investors and soothe international financial markets.

Are there alternatives for South African political economy?  How should
the left handle ourselves in economic debate with neo-liberal technocrats
within the state, and indeed how should we respond to the policy
discourses and economic logic of global capital more generally? What
new political configurations -- breaking some alliances, making others --
are needed? How, in the process, do we anticipate stronger black
intellectual leadership, a more decisive role for women comrades, a
growing environmental consciousness, the expansion of the cultural
resources of the left?

We hope, in this new journal, to give the broad, pluralistic left of South
Africa a voice through debates over these and many other questions.
We seek not ideological homogeneity but instead to enhance the best
existing traditions of debate, and the introduction of new ideas that open
our eyes to things we all have in common.

Along these lines, and acknowledging our glaring failure to achieve
gender diversity or content, this issue of Debate gets us off to a hopeful
beginning. Our theme this time -- "developmentalism" -- is very much in
question at the moment given the crash of the RDP. We lead with a
challenging article by Franco Barchiesi, who dissects the
"developmentalist" state and the rise of market ideology. Barchiesi and
Matthew Ginsburg then interview Immanuel Wallerstein so as to continue
to draw up a global accounting of the conjuncture. Next, in an important
paper that has been circulated widely within the SACP, three Party
militants (Langa Zita, Vishwas Satgar and Dale Mckinley) make the links
between global forces and government's 14 June macroeconomic
strategy document.

What soon becomes clear is that behind every developmental project lies
a struggle over ideology. We hope that the classical debate on social
democracy and revolution taken forward here between Oupa Lehlulere,
Eddie Webster, Rehad Desai and Barchiesi inspires further
intervention.We follow this with an excerpt from the preface to
Mzwanele Mayekiso's new book on development struggles in Alexandra.
Greg Ruiters then rebukes Mayekiso's notion of "working-class civil

As a grand finale, Frank Wilderson deconstructs the Makgoba Affair at
Wits University, with all that it implies for intellectual challenges to the
emerging order. We are also proud to intersperse our debates with
poetry by Sandile Dikani.

Debate aims to spread across South Africa, perhaps into the region as
well. We request that you send your own work to us as soon as you
feel it is ready to publish, and that you subscribe, read and promote
dialogue on the South African left.

For if the three year perspective is terrible and the five-year perspective
is impossible from the standpoint of the Institute of International Finance
and SACOB, it is critical for us to gear up both our debating and our
movement-building to take advantage of the situation. The momentum of
liberation appears to have reversed, but that does not mean we cannot
help reverse it yet again.

Franco Barchiesi
Sociology of Work Unit
Dept of Sociology
Private Bag 3
University of the Witwatersrand
PO Wits 2050
South Africa
Tel. (++27 11) 716.2908
Fax  (++27 11) 716.3781
E-Mail 029frb at

56 Auckland Avenue
Auckland Park 2092
South Africa
Tel. (++27 11) 482.4327

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