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Lessons of Struggle

South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990

Anthony W. Marx

Publication Date - 05 March 1992

ISBN: 9780195073485

384 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches


Providing an in-depth analysis of thirty years of South African opposition, this work focuses on the development of the Black Consciousness movement founded by Steve Biko, the ANC-aligned United Democratic Front, and the burgeoning trade unions, and examines how each group's ideology, in regards to racial assertiveness, national unity, and class organization, influenced each other's and shaped popular activism. Presenting the South African conflict in the context of general theoretical debates on the role of ideas in shaping social change and theories of race, nation, class, and revolution, Marx assesses the lessons learned in the process of the South African struggle and not only explains recent events in South Africa, but also suggests the likely implications of these past patterns of conflict on future developments. Based on unique interviews and previously undisclosed or undigested internal organizational documents, Lessons of Struggle will be invaluable to all those interested in the South African conflict.


"Anthony Marx has marshalled his evidence ably, and exceptionally carefully....I believe this is the finest work available on South Africa's internal opposition. The sheer breadth of scholarship has been executed with such a deft hand that we are fortunate to have before us an argumant endowed with considerable explanatory power. This is an all-too-rare experience for keen observers of the South African landscape. Take heart, however: Lessons of Struggle is a gem."--Ralph Lawrence, University of Natal in The International Journal of African Historical Studies

"The most comprehensive and analytically incisive study to date of the three principal strands of South African internal opposition: Black Consciousness, the African National Congress Charterists, and the black labor movement....A major contribution to our understanding of a significant part of South Africa's current politics. More generally, it should be read with profit by students of nationalism, rebellion, and social movements in comparative perspective."--Political Science Quarterly

"A good, readable introduction to and analysis of black resistance in South Africa over the last 3 decades. It is great for those who want to distinguish among the activities and positions of the various groups."--Roy Finkenbine, Murray State University

"Engaged, balanced and resourceful scholarship...provides an insightful, historically grounded analysis of the character, strategies and prospects of South Africa's ascendant political opposition. This timely study is must preparation for those of us wishing to follow and understand an emergent political drama in which South Africa's opposition expects to negotiate and dominate the political future of a country that has been seen as a quintessential, global symbol of racial injustice."--John A. Marcum, University of California

"A richly textured and timely discussion of the peoples' movements during the years we spent on Robben island and in exile. We are lucky to have such an insightful analyst."--Walter Sisulu, African National Congress

"Instead of blathering abstractly about the relations among ideology, interest, and action, Anthony Marx plunges into the analysis of changing South African realities. The result is not only great insight into the struggles of yesterday, today, and tomorrow in South Africa, but also a substantial contribution to our general understanding of collective action."--Charles Tilly, New School for Social Research

"Provides illuminating analytical propositions in regard to the relationship between political ideas and social structures, in addition to detailed original material drawn from a surprising array of interviews with activists spanning the political spectrum. It is bound to become required reading for South Africanists."--Dr. Neville Alexander, University of Cape Town

"With penetrating insight, Tony Marx dissects the ideas and strategies of the major movements challenging the apartheid regime. He makes a convincing case for the importance of ideology in the development of radical oppositional movements. His arguments will influence not only those riveted by the current transformations in South Africa, but also students of social movements and revolutions across the globe."--Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

"One of the most revealing studies of South Africa in a decade, based on interviews with a wide variety of opposition figures. Marx reveals the class and ethnic base of different parts of the opposition and gives valuable insights into the prospects for future conflict and cohesion within these groups."--Henry Bienen, Princeton University

"An outstanding, powerful book that will be widely cited. Marx makes a major contribution simply by telling this story in so much detail and with such empathy for the astonishing array of actors and positions. In addition, his theoretical grasp enables him to make sense at the broadest level of what he correctly calls one of the biggest issues in social science--the relative weights of material structures and individuals' ideas in shaping political change and continuity."--Jennifer Hochschild, Princeton University

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: The Vicissitudes of Struggle
    Ideological Conceptions of Recent Opposition
    The Interplay of Structure and Ideas
    Looking Ahead
    2. Racial Assertiveness and Black Unrest: The Black Consciousness Movement Through 1976
    The Parents' Movements
    The Emergence of Black Consciousness
    The Development of the BC Movement
    Anger and Explosion
    3. After the Uprising; Division and Realignment, 1977-1979
    Debates and Transitions With Black Consciousness
    Realignment Outside the Black Consciousness Framework
    4. Toward a National Front, 1980-1983
    Economic Recovery, Reform, and the Local Response
    Ideological Consolidation
    Building a National Opposition
    5. National Revolt, Repression, and Discord, 1984-1988
    Organized Revolt and Repression
    Chartist Predominance and Rising Disillusionment
    6. Toward a Black Working-Class Movement and the Watershed of 1989-1990
    The Emergence of the Modern Black Union Movement
    A Search for Class Consensus
    A Breakthrough Before the Next Century
    7. Lineages and Prospects of the South African Opposition
    Ideology Shaping Collective Action
    The Determinants of Ideological Transitions
    Implications for the Future
    The Centaur