From the book: The Eye of the Needle by Richard Turner

I have shown in The Eye of the Needle that a participatory socialist democracy is not impossible, in the sense that "the facts of human nature or the imperatives social organization do not make it impossible". Nevertheless, my essay remains, in one sense, pejoratively Utopian. I have not considered in any details enormous problem of how to bring such a society existence in South Africa.

In part, this was intentional. I wished to make a normal statement, to offer a yardstick in terms of which the present in South Africa and elsewhere can be judged. I think that such a moral point can validly be made by itself; but of course, it is made as an invitation to begin the process of trying to change the society in a particular direction. In this postscript, I shall approach that problem. I do not intend to attempt to lie downs organizational strategy for bringing a participatory democracy into being in South Africa. The precondition for the formulation of such a strategy is an analysis of the dynamics of the society within which one wishes to act. It is that analysis that I shall attempt here.


South Africa is a highly unequal society in which a minority of the population enjoys immense privileges and rules the majority of the population very harshly. The population in 1970 was nearly 21.5 million. Of these, 15 million were Africans, 2 million were Coloured, over 600,000 were Indians, and only 3.75 million were whites. That is, the ruling white group makes up less than one-fifth of the population. The dominant group is highly visible, the effects of its dominance are highly visible, and there are virtually no crosscutting ties between whites and blacks that might alleviate conflict. The op­pressed people in South Africa are not only poor and deprived of meaningful political rights; they are also subject to various forms of legislation that enormously inhibit their freedom of movement and result in their wing subjected to continuous police surveillance.

The initial conquest left the African tribes with about 13 percent of the total land area. This area is over­crowded and cannot possibly support the population. As a result, most men have to go out into the urban areas to work for most of their lives. But the pass laws and the other laws controlling movements both make it extremely difficult for them to do this without going through a long bureaucratic process, and also in many, many cases, make it possible for them to take their families with them. This means that a high percentage of African families are almost permanently divided, with the husbands living for most of the year in the urban areas, which of course places enormous stress on the family system. In the year July 1969 to line 1970, over 600,000 Africans were prosecuted for fringing these laws.

Observing the situation, many commentators have concluded that the only possible result is a violent revolution, in which the small ruling minority is overthrown. Such a revolution has been predicted for in years and has still failed to occur. In fact, at not since white conquest was completed by the end of the nineteenth century has white rule even been shaken. The mass political organizations that grew up in the 1950s were crushed with ease. Any analysis of the dynamics of South African society must begin from the fact that it seems to be remarkably stable in spite of the gross inequalities.

Part of the answer to this conundrum lies in the military power of the whites. South Africa is a rapidly developing industrial society and its economic strength enables the dominant group to run an expensive and fairly efficient apparatus of repression, including a regular army, a white citizens force, a large police force, and a large secret police. Very little of this power has ever had to be used; it is certain that militarily the white group could fight off challenges to its dominance of far greater magnitude than it has had yet to face. So far the wide range of oppressive legislation has been adequate to prevent any such threat from building up. But mentally the white public is kept in a continuous state of war-readiness and the English-language press and the opposition United Party is almost as diligent in this as are the government. The whites are prepared for a fight and probably would fight if they had to. With the balance of forces as it is at present, they would certainly win in any straight black-white civil war?

This means, inter alia, that even if one were morally willing to advocate an armed uprising to change South Africa, there would be overwhelming arguments against such a strategy.

But the fact of military and police power does not of itself account for the relative stability of the South Africa society. In most societies, physical coercion is used only in the last resort to maintain the prevailing pattern of inequality. There are many other mechanisms of are control available. We need to investigate some of the more important of these mechanisms in South Africa. I shall consider three of the most important mechanisms: First, a ruling group can attempt to maintain control by developing a legitimating ideology, which justifies its rule in the eyes of the ruled. Second, a ruling group can maintain control by manipulating divisions within the dominated masses in the society. Third, the ruling group can manipulate or take advantage of a variety of displacement phenomena whereby the dominated individuals displace their frustration and aggression onto objects other than the social system in which this frustration and aggression originate.

The first of these, the development of a legitimating ideology, is of relatively minor importance in South Af­rica. White South Africans legitimate their rule by reference first to racial superiority and second to the cultural superiority of what they describe as white civilization. It is probably true that some black people have been brought to accept the idea of their own inferiority. But is probable that the idea of racial inferiority is widely rejected among all or most black groups. 1The idea of cultural superiority is perhaps more ambivalent. As we shall see later, one of the roles of the education system in South Africa has been to imbue in many blacks some sort of concept of the innate superiority of so-called western civilization over their traditional cultures. To the extent that whites appear as the bearers of this western civilization, it may well be that this belief function to legitimize continued white dominance.


The second mechanism is the manipulation of division among the dominated group. There are many different ways in which black South Africans are divided among themselves. Of course many of these divisions are perhaps relatively unimportant, and none of these divisions is absolute. Nevertheless, each type of division at the very least poses a tactical problem to anybody working for change in South Africa. It is important, therefore, not to pretend that such divisions do not exist. I shall first give a brief summary of the most important divisions, and then consider the question of their salience in the political sphere.

Ethnic divisions. These are the most obvious divi­sions, although they are not necessarily the most impor­tant. First, there is a division between the majority African group, on the one hand, and the two minority groups, the Coloureds and the Indians, on the other hand. These groups are both culturally distinct and also experience the oppression of the apartheid society in slightly different ways. Discriminatory legislation does not affect the Indians and the Coloureds in exactly the same way as it affects Africans.

Coloureds and Indians are not subject to the pass laws and therefore have much greater freedom of movement, Indians do need a permit to travel between the to provinces, but this neither restricts them in the way in which Africans are restricted, nor is it enforced by continual and humiliating pass raids. Most important is the fact that both Indians and Coloureds can movement urban areas and find and change jobs much more easily.

In addition to their greater freedom of movement Coloureds and Indians also have better educational facilities, and virtually the same trade union rights as the whites. As a result, they have, on the average, better, wages. (In spite of this, there are large numbers of Coloured and Indian unskilled workers working for the same wages as the African workers.)

On the whole, Coloureds and Indians are given better social facilities, have better housing, more medical services, and so on.

These differences in their objective situations provide the basis for possible differences of interest. In additional there is a considerable degree of racial prejudice between the groups. All surveys that have been under-taken show this to some degree. There is very little intermarriage between the groups, and not much social contact. The groups are obliged to live in different residential areas and have different school systems. Thus outside the work situation, there is no normal area of contact. There are also large cultural differences: Most Africans have some links with traditional African culture. South African Indians preserve a considerable amount of traditional Indian culture, and most are either Moslem or Hindu. The Coloured groups are largely westernized and have no language other than Afrikaans or English.

The second major set of ethnic divisions, although it is within the African population, lies between the various tribal groups. There is some evidence of negative stereotyping between these different tribal units. However this is probably no more significant that the traditional negative stereotype that the English are alleged to hold the Scots. What is probably more important are determinant in this. In terms of the policy of separate development, tribal unit has its own legislature, based on the so-called homelands. The homelands are economically non-viable. Their legislatures are dependent on one way or another on white-controlled Parliament for most of their incomes. In addition, their citizens are all dependent in one or another on the white-controlled areas for their roes. The first point is a potential source of conflict between the groups. The white - controlled is willing to offer only a relatively small amount of money to these various legislatures. Under these circumstances, there is possibility of competition among them for resources. Such conflict could easily be encouraged and manipulated by the whites. It is difficult to say the relation might be between conflicts of this type leadership level and relations between members of the different tribes in contact with one another though some attempt is made to segregate Africans on a tribal basis in the urban locations and although members of certain tribes are more concentrated in some industrial areas than in others, there is nevertheless considerable amount of intermingling. So-called faction fights are a fairly frequent occurrence, but these are never between members of different major tribes rather they are between members of neighboring clans within the same tribe, and have causes different from ethnic prejudice.

Class divisions. Although the bulk of the three my black groups-African, Coloured, and Indian-are either peasants or industrial workers, there is a process of class formation occurring within each group. Naturally this class formation is taking place in slightly different ways within each group, but there are sufficient similarities to justify generalizing. Within each group, there is growing up a rather heterogeneous "middle class." This "middle class" includes a small number of very wealthy businessmen, a much larger number of smaller traders, professional people such as teachers and nurses, a sprinkling of doctors and lawyers, and finally civil servants and politicians. There is not necessarily any community of economic interests within this group, but they are, to a certain extent, unified by a common lifestyle and by a precariousness of status, both in relation to the poor mass of blacks and in regard to the whites, whose educational achievements and standard of living they share, but whose status, within society as a whole, is denied to them. There are three important points to be made about this class.

1. Although there is still a considerable mobility, this class is already, to some extent, self-perpetuating. There is a tendency to marry within the class, and the children of such marriages are much more likely to receive relatively high of education that is the skilled main condition of entrance.

2. The middle class inevitably has a somewhat different- set of interests than do the mass of the workers and peasants. On the one hand, many of them are employed in various ways within the institutions of separate de­velopment. For example, African clerks in the Depart­ment of Bantu Affairs play an important role in the day-to-day administration of the enormous variety of regulations that apply to Africans. Because of this, they have considerable power over the lives of individuals and therefore not only status but also the possibility of wealth through corruption. Government appointed chiefs and politicians similarly derive status and income from their positions. Businessmen are severely retorted in many ways, but, on the other hand, their businesses within the black residential areas are protected from competition from the much more powerful white-owned businesses (although this is less of an advantage for the Indian businessmen, whose businesses have large white and African clienteles). Within the African group, there is developing, partly as a result of government policy, a link between city and rural trades; and this development, in turn, fosters further ties between city business and other members of the rural elite.

Opposed to these advantages, which may be seen to accrue as a result of aspects of separate development, there are also particular disadvantages that affect this middle class more than they affect the rest. Because members of the middle class are more similar to the whites in lifestyle, the middle class are more offended by discriminatory treatment of all kinds. They are also the people who are often doing the same jobs as whites, but are earning much lower salaries. On the other hand, this makes them even more acutely aware of the injustice of the system, but, on the hand, it poses to them a different problem from that faced by the underpaid unskilled laborer. The teacher or the nurse or doctor wants equal pay for equal work, which means that they want to join the privileged white elite. The interests of the workers lie in the drastic alteration of the entire wage system, since within the present system; they can never aspire to a decent living.

3. Thus we can see that members of the middle class are likely to experience the injustices of apartheid in a different way. An important element in this is the fact that most members of this class are likely to have spent ten or more years within the formal western-style educational system. Within that system, they have been socialized to accept capitalist and western values, Among the Africans, members of the educated middle classes are also almost certain to belong to orthodox Christian churches. And the socializing role of the church has been similar. Both school and church, in many ways, encourage an ethic of possessive indi­vidualism. Both institutions are deeply rooted within European culture and inevitably also project a picture of the superiority of that culture. But the black middle classes are not accepted in any way within the ruling white group. They are almost as subject as other blacks to daily humiliations, although to a limited extent the few very wealthy individuals can privatize themselves with a curtain of money. Thus the middle class shares common interest with the workers and peasants in the ending of the system. Because the middle class is relatively new, there are still many family ties crosscutting class membership. The distance between the situations of some of the individuals who might be characterized middle-class and the situation of some of the better-paid workers is small. Nevertheless, as Leo Kuper has pointed out, under conditions of oppression and discrimination, very small differences of actual situation can become very important in status terms (An African Bourgeoisie: Race, Class, & Politics in South African [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965]; see, e.g., (116 f. and 398 f.). In particular within the African community, levels of western-style education are important indicators of status and can serve to differentiate the community into mutually suspicious groups. Upwardly mobile middle-class individuals are also likely to wish to establish their status in various ways by exaggerating the difference between themselves and the mass. This would make easy inter-class communication and cooperation more difficult.

This middle class is still numerically small. It is probably less than 5 percent of the African group, though a larger proportion of the Coloured group and an even larger proportion of the small Indian community. Nevertheless, it is obviously politically important, since it has much readier access to the communication and organizational skills necessary for political action. Also this class is growing, and certain aspects of separate development encourage its growth.

Geographical divisions. The Coloured and Indian Populations are fairly concentrated regionally. But the Africans may be divided into three different geographical groups: those in the white-controlled urban areas, those living in the white-controlled rural areas, and those in the rural African homelands. It is important to bear this in mind, since not only do these three groups have in some ways different problems, but also the extent of their organizational separation is likely to be a significant factor affecting political action. In recent years, the government claims to have managed to jam an increasing proportion of Africans into the homelands. But if we consider only the potentially politically active population, then there has probably been little change in distribution, as the homelands have a high proportion of children, the old, and the sick. Thus it is probably sufficiently accurate for our purposes to say that about one-third of the Africans live in the industrial urban areas, about one-third in the white-controlled farming areas, about one-third in the homelands. In sociological terms, we could say that about one-third are urban proletariat, one-third are rural proletariat, and about one-third a subsistence peasantry. However, as I shall point out shortly, these are only approximate notions.

The one-third living in the white-controlled rural areas are highly atomized. They are to a large extent outside the traditional tribal organization structure, de facto if not de jure. Living scattered over large areas, they do not have the potential for developing new forms of organization enjoyed by the urban proletariat. Although they outnumber the white rural inhabitants by an enormous proportion, they are nevertheless virtually outside the political process. The total white control of all means of communication and transport in the countryside ensures this. The problem of the subsistence peasantry and have the urban proletariat both derive from the despoliation of land by the whites. The Reserves are overcrowded, so there is not much land for the peasants. This leads to over cultivation and the vicious circle of declining land fertility. Although the historical origin of the problems is the same, it is experienced in different ways. The peasant wants more land for the worker wants more money and better working conditions. Of course, this simple picture ignores the fact that many subsistence peasants are also members of the urban proletariat both derive from the despoliation of land by the whites. These Reserve are overcrowded, so there is much land for the peasants. This leads to overcultivation and vicious circle of declining land fertility. Although the historical origin of the problems is the same, it is experience in different ways. The peasant wants more land; the worker wants more money and better working conditions. Of course, this simple pictures ignores the fact that many subsistence peasants are also members of the urban proletariat, that is, they are migrant laborers who, sometimes from preference, but nearly always through legal constraint, have a small patch of land in the country but spend much of their working lives as factory workers. This also applies to a certain extent to the rural proletariat: Although families are often tied serf-like to the farms on which they work, nevertheless individual members are allowed to become migrant workers. Thus there is continual interchange between these three sectors, and this, to some extent, mitigates both the problem of communication and the possible difference of interests.

Religious differences. Within the Indian community, the division between Hindus (80 percent) and Moslems (20 percent) is culturally and socially very important. Within the Coloured community, there is a similar division between Christians and Moslems (Malay), although it is less important because the Malays constitute a smaller proportion of the Coloured community. Within the African community, the religious differences are more complex. First, there is the difference between pagan and Christian, which is linked with the general difference between traditional rural orientation and western urban orientation. Second, there is the differ­ence within the Christian group between the syncretistic Zionist groups, the more theologically orthodox Ethiopian groups, and the adherents of the various or­thodox multiracial denominations. 2It is difficult to assess the political significance of these divisions. Perhaps the most significant distinction would be between denominations that tend to be a political and those that either encourage or do not discourage some political involvement. 3


The third important mechanism for insuring stability in an unjust society is the development of a variety of what I have referred to as displacement phenomena. These displacement phenomena permit alternative forms of satisfaction, encapsulation, or the displacement of aggression onto some person or thing other than social system. There are many such displacement phenomena in South Africa.

The traditional opiate, religion, is one of the most obvious forms of such displacement: Christianity among Africans has frequently been notably pietistic and overworldly, promising later salvation in return for present suffering. It has been like this both such a religion provides a protection for Africans from the problems of having to make choices about action in this world. Religious groups of all kinds can offer an encapsulating supportive community to suffering individuals. In so doing, they help to alleviate some of the suffering. But they also serve to make it easier for people to adjust to and to accept the unjust social system. They treat the symptoms and not the disease. Similarly, the various tribal social and religious associations that spring up in the urban areas help to provide the uprooted migrant workers with a new community; but often they also encapsulate them within a cocoon that leaves the real world unchanged.

Another important displacement phenomenon associated with the churches has to do with leadership roles. It has often been pointed out that the African revolt against colonialism in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa manifested itself first within the churches. Breakaways from the white-dominated mis­sion churches expressed both the rejection of white paternalism and, in the syncretistic Zionist churches, a rejection of the idea of the necessary superiority of all aspects of western convention and culture. These breakaway churches became the only modern institutions in which Africans could take the lead. But the essentially inadequate nature of this surrogate for so­cial leadership is shown in a continued history of schism in these churches until today there are over two thousand different denominations. A major factor in many of the splits has been personality clashes between would-be leaders. Thus the intense politics of these groups takes up a vast amount of energy and again serves to encapsulate many enterprising individual within all-black organizations that exist on the margin of the exploitative society and cannot affect its structure.

I referred earlier to prejudices among the various ethnic groups toward one another. This is obviously fertile ground for displaced aggression and scapegoat phenomena. Perhaps the best-known example if this was the Durban riots in 1949, in which Zulus at tacked Indians in a clear example of displaced aggres­sion: They were not in a position to change the social system, so they attacked a weaker group within that social system, a group with which they had certain con­flicts that were magnified into the major grievances of the social order.

Finally much displacement of aggression occurs within each community in the form of a high level of crime, of violence within the family, of alcoholism, and such phenomena. Faction fights often have their origins inland shortage, which leads to intense competition for land between clans in a particular community; and since they cannot do anything about enlarging the amount of land available to the African group as a whole, the only result is bloody conflict between groups within the African community.


It will perhaps appear that I have painted a picture of a hopelessly and helplessly divided society in which the oppressed masses are so divided among themselves that there is no possibility at all of united action on their part to end their oppression. But, in fact, most societies are divided in ways at least similar to blacks in South Africa. Such divisions and the other mechanisms of control I have described do not constitute unsurpassable obsta­cles to change; they simply constitute problems that have to be taken into account in working out tactics and strategies. One has to be able to formulate policies that will take account of the slightly divergent interests of the various oppressed groups and attempt to weld these interests into one united force. But ignoring the conflicts that do exist within the oppressed groups cannot do this.

The present structure of the society was created by a particular pattern of military, political, and economic development. This pattern of development resulted in the entrenchment of white domination in a variety of ways. However the South African society is not a static society, and we now have to consider the extent to which the various social changes associated with the ongoing process of industrialization and economic growth affect the potential power and the attitudes and interests of the various groups in conflict in the South African situ­ation. In such an analysis, we have to continually relate, on the one hand, the social changes that come about as a result of industrialization and, on the other hand, the ways in which particularly the white group reacts politically to the problems constituted by these social changes. Finally we must note the way in which their reaction affects the ongoing pattern of social change.

Before undertaking this analysis, I wish to stress that it is important to realize the impact of these changes on whites as well as on blacks. There has often been a tendency among analysts to assume that the whites are a static monolith and that any analysis of likely future events in South Africa must, as it were, ignore the whites, for it is assumed that they will remain such a static monolith. It is said that change will come from the blacks and therefore any processes of change that hap­pen to be occurring within the white group are essentially irrelevant. It seems to me that this is a very serious mistake to make; I certainly agree that the major factor in bringing about political change in South Africa will be black action. But the way in which the white group reacts to black pressure will be enormously important. And this means that we must analyze developments within the white groups to see what likely modes of reaction there are. It means also that political activity directed at and within the white group in an attempt to create at least a group within white society who would be more willing to envisage change is very important. Even though it is unlikely that such a grout will become the agent of change, it is important that, as pressures build up, there should be an increasing group of liberal or rational or pragmatic whites who will be able to encourage concessions in the face of overwhelming pressure rather than push in the direction of a final Moody showdown that will benefit neither group in South African society.

Nevertheless, as I have said, the black group will obviously be the important agent for bringing about political change in South Africa. So I shall begin this analysis by looking at the interrelationship between black political attitudes and organizational potential, the ongoing Process of industrialization and urbanization, and the Particular set of institutions that have been introduced by the present white government to act as some sort of Political safety valve for black aspirations.


Let us begin by looking at the development of the economy. The most notable characteristics over the past twenty years have been first, the very rapid rate of industrial growth and, secondly, the large and growing imbalance between the growths levels in the white-animated industrial areas and the pattern of development in the black rural areas. The figures below give some idea of the rate of economic growth within the industrial sector. These figures show two very significant developments: First, they show the overall rate of growth of the industrial sector; second, they show that African employment has been increasing rapidly-the percentage of Africans employed within these two sectors has been increasing, and at the same time the percentage of whites employed within the sector has been decreasing. Thus, one of the major effects of industrial growth has been a change in the relative pattern of employment favoring increasing African dominance of the industrial sector. This has meant that in addition to getting more jobs, Africans have progressively been getting more and more semiskilled and skilled jobs, Even now it is probable that the bulk of Africans workers in industry are in jobs that require virtually no training.


  Total Employed Africans Employed %Of Total Whites Employed % Of Total
1951 742,000 360,000 48,5 250,000 33,7
1961 967,000 484,000 51.0 321,000 33,5
1972 1,650,000 950,000 57,6 340,000 20.6

Nevertheless the pattern of employment is changing in the direction of more and more Africans doing both skilled and unskilled jobs; at the same time, Indian and Coloured workers are also moving rapidly into semi skilled and skilled employment. However this continue to meet with resistance from white workers who have traditionally monopolized the highest paid skilled jobs The fact that the government supports the white workers means that a skill bottleneck has developed, which does threaten to slow down the overall development of the economy and hence also, of course, to slow down such growing significance of African employment within the economy as a whole. Nevertheless a slow down such as this is not likely to be accepted for very long by the consumption-oriented white electorate. So it is probable that methods will be found for overcoming the skilled employment bottleneck without overly threatening the privileged position of white workers.

The second noteworthy aspect of the economy is the imbalance between industrial development and their development of the so-called tribal homelands, the Africans rural areas, which remain essentially areas of subsistence peasant farming. The relationship between these subsistence areas and the industrial economy is a clasic example of the progressive development of underdevelopment. The industrial economy drains the labor supply from the Reserves, thus ensuring that the wealth created by the laboring inhabitants of the rural areas is created in the white areas under white control. To some extent the rural agricultural areas have become market-oriented, dependent upon producing at least small cash crops and a certain amount of purchasing for consumption; but the wholesale and retail trade is virtually dominated by white interests, and hence any capital that is generated through agricultural development in these areas is rapidly siphoned off into the white areas. The limited encouragement of African entrepreneurs by the Bantu Investment Corporation does little to upset this overall pattern. Furthermore, even if it were possible to generate capital within these areas, any industries set up would have to compete with the established industries in the white areas, which benefit from economies of scale, from economies of urban concentration, and from being placed much closer to the markets and to the transport networks. So it is likely that without drastic reorganization of the economy the Pattern of this continuous development of underdevelopment of the Reserves will continue.

The government policy of developing so-called "border industries," that is, white-controlled industries in the white areas on the borders of the Reserves, which can draw on African labor from the homelands areas, is not likely to play a major part in altering this pattern. First, it is not likely to do this because it is not likely to become an important element within the economy, since it is too expensive. Second, even if border areas were to become important economically, they would contribute nothing at all to the development of the African areas; they would merely smooth of labor exploration by ensuring that all the productive capacity of black workers was expanded within the white areas all their welfare needs would have to met in the area where they live, that is, in the black areas, and would thereby provide an additional drain on the limited finances of these black areas.

Both these economic changes clearly also involve large-scale changes in the social pattern. In particular, the process of industrialization involves changes for African workers of at least four different kinds: First, it involves changes in the pattern of relationships into which the individuals enter; second, it involves change in attitudes, perceptions, and needs; third, it involves changes in the kinds of problems with which the indi­vidual is faced; and fourth, it involves changes in the kind of organizational possibilities offered to individuals wishing to solve these problems.

We can understand these changes more fully by contrasting the new situation with the traditional pattern of life within the tribal societies. The following long quotation from Absolam Vilakazi's book Zulu Trans formations (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1962, p. 111) describes the relationships between economy and society within Zulu life:

The Zulu practised kraal economy. This is basic to the whole economic life of the people. All property, whether in land or in cattle, is within the umuzi, which may be regarded as one body of individuals who share in the use and enjoyment of the products of the property so corporately held. The powers controls of property are vested in the kraal head that acts as trustee for the whole group. It is always insisted upon that property does not really belong to him for it is not the results of personal labours, and, in any case, concepts of personal property are not developed to the extent that they are in western society. Property held by the kraal head on behalf of the group may be, and often is, inherited from the forebears. The owners are the living and the dead people of the lineage, so that the use of this property has a ritual co-efficient. Over and above all these considerations, it is important to remember that the economy of any Zulu traditional kraal has a definitely sociological character; so that the land, the cattle and all other products of human activity must always be understood from three standpoints: economic, religious and social with the religious and social elements accented more than the economic. This explains why, for the Zulu, strict bookkeeping and calculation of costs or budgeting are not accepted with any enthusiasm. This seemingly stupid way of carrying on economic activity can be explained by the fact that people do not apply economic criteria or standards of reasoning when cause they are engaged in their economic activities. This is not because they are careless of economic consequences, but because calculation may interfere very seriously with social and religious considerations.

In this society, then, all relationships are multi-stranded, rather than single-stranded. The land is the cement that binds the tribal society together in one social, economic, and religious group.

The position of workers in the urban industrial society is obviously very different in many ways. First, they work for other people in return for a wage. Their relationship with employers is single-stranded, involving only the cash nexus; it is not set within a complex of mutual responsibilities, such as exists in the work situation in the tribal area. Second the home and the work place separated: in South Africa, they are even more separated than unusual, since Africa residential areas are separated from the rest of the city and workers usually have to travel considerable distance to and from work. Third the role of the family changes. It is no longer an economic unit, working collectively: rather the individuals who work each have their own salaries, children becoming independent of their parents financially: often the mother has to work and this means that the young children are left at home for most of the day. So the whole coherence of the family is broken down, and the ethical and religious principles of family relationship that existed in the tribal area are no longer relevant to the new problems facing the family.

In this new situation, the individual's traditional culture can no longer provide a guide; even traditional tribal dress is not practical for industrial work. Faced with this, how do most African workers coming into the industrial areas react? Max Gluckman has described the typical reaction as being a process of alternation; that is, the migrant worker adopts new behavior patterns in the cities, but retains traditional behavior patterns for life back in the rural areas (Order and Rebellion in Tri bal Africa [New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963],PP. 223f.). So there is a process in which all individuals move from one culture into the other and back again, rather than an ongoing process of acculturation. But this means that while the workers are in the city, they behave as city workers, not as rural peasants. It also means that as the period is extended in which the African workers are becoming more dependent upon the city and the rural homelands are becoming less viable, the process of acculturation is likewise extended.

This process of acculturation is necessarily impeded and distorted by the fact that every attempt is made to it keep urban African workers on the margin of the urbanized society. Until new institutions have grown up to in replace the solidarity of tribal society with some new form of integration into a balanced society, the African workers in South Africa will continue to resemble what has been described by sociologists as a mass society. A mass society is a society in which individuals are atomized in the sense that they have no strong links with other members of the society. Such individuals tend to be individually insecure and socially unstable, as they seek for some sense of personal identity. Social instability often manifests itself in acts of apparently motiveless mass violence; thus such a mass society is likely to be relatively insecure, but at the same time, lacking organization and a coherent sense of direction, it is unlikely to produce the sort of forces that could channel the latent violence in a revolutionary direction.

In South Africa the atomization of mass society is exacerbated by three factors: First, poverty and unemployment mean a continuous competition for jobs between workers; second, the inadequate social infrastructure means competition for housing and other facilities; third, the fact that African workers are subject to the pass laws and hence have no security of tenure in the urban areas means that they are in a continuous state of fear and suspicion. The net result of this is a feeling of resigned hostility toward the unpleasant but necessary urban environment.

Nevertheless, placed in that urban environment, it is inevitable that there will be a change in the pattern of needs and expectations of individual workers. Traditional society, subsistence-oriented, was accustomed to a constant and low standard of living. But within the urban environment, in a cash economy, and subject, as whites are, to the continuous pressures of advertising, the Africans undergo a change in their consumption patterns. This is a fact of the utmost significance, since it means that the level of relative deprivation of African workers in the urban areas is high, and is likely to remain high even if there is a small increase in their wages. That is, urban African workers do not compare their standards of living with the standard which they might have had, had they remained in the rural areas. They compare it instead with the standard of living of other groups within the urban areas.

Apologists for the present situation in South Africa explain the poverty of Africans by adducing their traditional culture, their lack of skills, and often their alleged racial inferiority. If African workers were to accept this type of explanation, then their level of dissatisfaction would not have any political significance, since it would not be directed against the political regime. However, there is no indication that they do accept such explanations. In fact, the evidence is all in the opposite direction, that they perceive their problems as having roots in the political and social organization of the society, rather than in any individual deficiency of their own. For example, according to Lawrence Schlemmer, over 80 percent of a random sample of 350 African township residents endorsed, supported, and added to the state­ment: Africans are poor because they are treated badly and not given opportunities (in Labour Organisation and the African Worker, ed. D.B. Horner [Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, 1975], pp. 3-20). These Durban respondents indicate they are aware that their problems are socially and politically determined rather than a result of some adverse fate. Such awareness is the first prerequisite for action to change the situation.

However, while this awareness itself remains atomized, while it remains simply the serial opinions of a large number of individuals, it has no further political significance. Thus our question must be: To what extent is it likely to lead to more organized political action?


I have already mentioned the role played by various religious and tribal groupings within the urban areas in helping to reintegrate the atomized urban workers. However, as I pointed out, the overall effect of this kind of organization is more to encapsulate individuals within a marginal social group than to orient them toward some form of social and political activity. Thus these groups by themselves are not likely to have any political significance unless they can be integrated into a wider political movement by some independent source of political activity within the black community. (Otherwise they are likely to be manipulated in a non-political direction by the dominant group.) During the 1950s there was such an independent source of political activity in the two major political organizations: the African National Congressand the Pan African Congress. However, both these organizations were banned in 1960 and since then there has been no effective open political organization among urban African groups in South Africa. The white government, partly because of its own enormous power, easily disposed of the ANC and the PAC but also partly because of their internal weaknesses. Although both were at times able to mobilize large numbers of Africans for specific issues, neither ever managed to build up the kind of structured political organization that could have maintained support between individual campaigns and could have linked many different locally based campaigns into one overall strategy. But even had these organizations been drastically improved, it is probable that this would not have changed the situation much; for there was no source of power available to Africans in the fifties. They had no access to any of the possible weapons that an oppressed class could use. In particular, their position in the economy was still sufficiently marginal for them to lack economic bargaining power.

Since then the machinery of political repression has made it impossible for any new major African political organization to be established within the urban areas. The institutions of separate development that have been set up to provide some sort of political institution for Africans are largely irrelevant to urban concerns. They are based on the rural homelands areas and their powers are limited to the solving of the problems that might arise within these areas. Any new organizational form that arises to fill this vacuum must be based, first, on a set of problems common to large numbers of Africans in their everyday experience and, second, on some pre-existing institution that serves to bring them together in some way. Third, if such an organization is to generate any sort of power, it must arise within a sector of the society in which some potential for the generation of such power exists. For example, most African workers have housing problems. They are crammed tightly together in residential areas and therefore the first two conditions are given. Nevertheless there is no way in which such an association of African tenants could use their position as tenants to generate power. As tenants the only activity or action they could undertake would be to refuse to pay their rent, and this would be sufficiently marginal an act to have no significant impact on the political scene in South Africa. To be more precise, although it would have considerable publicity impact, it would not arouse the kind of power threat to the dominant group that could not be very easily contained.

Reflecting upon the above analysis, it is obvious that there is only one sphere in which Africans do have po­tential power and in which their power potential is in fact growing: This is within the economy. As industrial workers, Africans have common sets of problems in a common factory environment that forces them together in large groups. Although they do not have ordinary trade-union rights and may not strike, nevertheless African workers are legally allowed to form trade unions 4. Even in the absence of trade unions, it is probable that the increasingly pivotal nature of their role in economy will push them toward various forms of indus­trial actions. This has been dramatically demonstrated at least twice in South Africa recently. At the end of 1971, almost the entire African work force in Namibia (South-West Africa) went on strike for improved conditions and changes in the contract system. The govern­ment was obliged to make at least some concessions; the extent of the strikes was such that it was not possible to take the traditional large-scale punitive action. Second in January 1972, in Durban, South Africa witnessed perhaps the largest series of strikes that has ever occurred here. Nearly one hundred thousand mainly African workers went on strike in a large number of different factories. Although these strikes are illegal, the government has been forced to accept them, and in many cases the workers have won increases in wages.

What is perhaps more important, they have also gained an awareness of their potential power and of the virtues of solidarity; and it is likely that from this there will be considerable development of African trade unionism. As we have seen, African trade unions, though legal, cannot strike, and in fact are severely limited in the actions, they can take by law. However, in very few societies have trade unions arisen as a result of government legalization; even white trade unionism in South Africa became recognized and legally backed only as a result of long and sometimes exceedingly bloody struggles.

Trade unionism and worker organizations arise when the economy has developed to the point where the workers do have potential bargaining power. This bargaining power arises, first, out of a declining competition as a result of an increase in the total number of employed; second, it arises as the skill level rises and it therefore becomes more difficult and more financially inconvenient for employers to replace striking workers. This situation has now been reached in South Africa. What this means is that it is probable that in the case of relatively small strikes or actions organized in individual factories, employers are likely to see it in their interest to reach some sort of accommodation with the workers rather than to call in the police and have their condition force arrested, which would result in large interruptions in production and the necessity of training new workers to fill the place of the old. Third, as the Durban and the Ovambo 5strikes indicate, if labor action takes place on large scale, it is very difficult for the Government to deal with it, particularly significant in Durban was the fact that there was no apparent central organisation, rather the strikes spread spontaneously from plant to plant. Under these conditions, government action is possible against leadership, since there is no leadership, and government action against a hundred thousand workers who make up the bulk of the workforce in the second industrial city of the country is equally impossible. It is impossible both for economic reasons and for reasons of general publicity.

Informal worker organizations and formal trade unions that arise in the situation are not likely to be directly political. That is, they are not likely to make specifically political demands in connection with political rights. Nevertheless their existence and their power is a political fact of great importance. The issue of politics is the distribution of resources within the community and a strong trade union movement could play an important role in enabling the African group to force some sort of redistribution of resources within the community without necessarily having this conflict mediated through ordinary political institutions. Also, this awareness among blacks of their potential power and among whites of blacks' potential power will of itself have significant consequences at a purely political level.


Although no new mass African political organization has emerged in recent years, nevertheless there have been two significant political developments: First, some of the more important homeland leaders, and particularly Chief Buthelezi and Chief Matanzima, have begun to extend their interest beyond purely homeland affairs and to articulate clearly and loudly the demands of urban Africans as well as of the inhabitants of the homelands. 6Within the Coloured community, the Labour Party has similarly taken advantage of the institutions of separate development to develop support for the outright condemnation of separate development. Parallel to this, there has grown up a movement that condemns all collaboration with the institutions of separate development and preaches black solidarity through the philosophy of Black Consciousness.

The idea behind separate development is that South Africa is made up of a number of distinct ethnic communities having few interests in common and that each community should therefore be able to run its own affairs. However, in fact, South Africa is one common society and the implementation of the theory of separate development is such that it leaves almost the entire common economy purely in the hands and under the control of the white government. This means that in fact the institutions of separate development have no real power to affect the key issues within South African society and particularly to affect the question of the distribution of wealth within the society. Separate development is a legitimating ideology rather than a factual state of affairs. But in-so-far as it is a legitimating ideology used by the National Partyto justify continued white rule, those leaders who emerge within the institutions of separate development are in a sense protected by the role they play in National Party thinking. The National Party has created these institutions to give voice to what it considered to be authentic representa­tives of the various ethnic communities, and so the National Party can scarcely now adopt precisely the same kind and of oppressive tactics against these leaders as it has adopted in the past against black leaders. This is of course a question of degree and individuals involved in separate development politics have been banned in the past, and Special Branch harassment has occurred.

Nevertheless it is very difficult for the Government to touch the most important leaders and these leaders have been condemning separate development and continued white domination in no uncertain terms. But the problem is that the institutions of separate development constitute a platform from which to speak but not a power base from which to act. There presumably comes a time when these leaders will have to accept that the white government is not going to accede to any of their more basic demands. The question is: What will they do at that point? The alternatives will be either to attempt, within the framework, to undertake alleviating measures that will improve the situation of some blacks, or else to attempt to develop a strategy that either goes outside the framework of separate development or uses its institutions in an attempt to develop some organizational power. The second option is obviously the more dangerous from the immediate point of view, since it cannot be predicted with certainty what the white government will do if these leaders do become a genuine threat of this sort. On the other hand, by remaining quietly within the limitations of the framework, they cannot hope to achieve any of their aims.

As I have already pointed out, the nature of the inter­locking economies of the white-controlled area and the African homelands is such that the homeland economy cannot hope to become viable. They may be able to attract a limited amount of investment, but such investment is not likely to change the essential structure of the relationships. Even within the sphere of agriculture, it is probable that the homeland leaders can do little.

In the present system of land tenure, the homeland agricultural areas are over-farmed. There are two possible solutions to this: The first one is to encourage individual tenure to boost the more successful individual farmers, and hence to develop a master-farmer class who probably will utilize the land more successfully. But the cost of this would be depriving other individuals of the land they do have, beginning a process of concentration of land ownership and developing within the homeland areas a split between a land-owning class and a landless rural proletariat. This might increase the overall level of production, but would produce other serious social dislocations that might prove economically more costly in the long run.

The alternative might be to attempt to develops socialist model of cooperative farming- by pooling the land and the available resources, using the large units as a basis for borrowing, generating, and reinvesting capital, and also for the more rational planning and utilization of the resources that do exist. However, it is quite possible that the South African Government would not in the first place permit such a socialist solution. Second, it is highly unlikely that a socialist enclave within a predominantly capitalist economy and capitalist society would be viable anyway. The patterns of behavior that would need to develop would be continually contradicted and inhibited by the overall patterns of behavior and motivations in the larger society.

Although such experiments should be tried, it is also unlikely that they would change in any significant way the structure of relationship between homeland satellite and white-controlled metropolis. Thus the homeland waders cannot hope to use the development of the Reserves as a method of solving the problems of other than a very small minority of the African population. Yet, they are at present powerless within the urban areas and so unless they can devise a strategy that extends their power to the urban areas they are not likely to be able to do anything there either. Associated with this is the problem, of course, that the institutions of separate development divide the majority black population into more than ten separate groups, each of which independently is a minority in the society. None of these groups individually can hope to outweigh continued white dominance.

Faced with these problems the proponents of black consciousness, and in particular the South African Student Organisation(SASO) and the Black People's Convention(BPC), have condemned outright any collaboration whatsoever with the institutions of separate development. Instead, they advocate a policy of black solidarity, based ideologically on the rejection of imposed western culture, the reassertion of black values, and the development of a new culture, and based organizationally on the idea of developing community organizations around specific problems of specific communities in various parts of South Africa. The idea of black consciousness has certainly made considerable impact in South Africa in the last few years. However, both the ideological work of articulating and propagating a new black culture and the organizational work of developing community organizations seem for the moment not to have progressed very far.

There are a number of reasons for this, but it seems to me that one of the most important is the predominantly middle-class origin of the concept of black consciousness. First, it is borrowed from the idea of black consciousness as developed in the United States, where racial discrimination and cultural oppression are the salient issues. Although the black population is relatively poorer than the white population, the major demand has been that their position should be improved simply by ending discrimination and by integrating the black community into the existing economic structure on a more equal footing. Black consciousness dealt more with the cultural rights than with the economic rights of the black community, the assumption behind this being that once the cultural rights were respected; the economic rights would come of themselves.

However, in South Africa, the situation is very different. I have already pointed out the extent to which the African middle class and black middle class in general have been much more highly subjected to the socialization process of western education, and therefore are likely to have a much more ambivalent attitude toward western, or so called white culture, than are working - class individuals who have had very little experience of such a culture. On the one hand the middle class are likely to be attracted toward the model of westernization and, on the other hand, they are likely to be much more affected by a refusal on the part of the whites to accept them as western. This ambivalent attitude and its result in psychological insecurity is likely to make the issues of culture and of racial discrimination much more salient for these individuals than it is for members of the working class. But the very fact that the stress is laid upon white oppression of black makes it difficult for these individuals to perceive this difference. They automatically project their perception of the problem onto all other blacks and assume a similarity of perspective and an ease of communication between different blacks that probably is not there. Because they fail to realize that people in different class situations suffer the effects of oppression in different ways, they have not been able to develop an ideology that adequately links those different perspectives in a model that both interprets present reality and projects a coherent alternative realty. Their present organizational weakness probably has a similar root.

One has, however, to distinguish between (1) the concept of black consciousness, (2) the specific ideological intent given this concept by SASO and the BPC, and (3) the organizational structure of those two groups. The psychological oppression resulting from almost a century of control by a foreign culture is enormously important, and the concept of black consciousness has been widely accepted by blacks as a means of escape from this psychological oppression. Nevertheless, it is Probable that for most it is understood very simply as being a way of asserting their own individual dignity and does not have the detailed ideological implication that it does for SASO and the BPC. Furthermore, the acceptance of the slogan of black consciousness and the spread of the slogan by no means indicates an acceptance of the leadership of BPC and SASO as organizations. The slogan has in fact been taken over by several of the leaders of separate development institutions, who use it to assert the dignity of blacks and the necessity of solidarity between the various black groups. In a sense, black consciousness has certainly furthered the development of black solidarity in South Africa. But it is people like Chief Buthelezi who are recognized by the bulk of Africans as their present leaders, while the BPC is probably known by a relatively small percentage of predominantly middle-class blacks.

Nevertheless this does not necessarily mean that the Buthelezi strategy is better than the BPC's. We need to analyze more closely the arguments for and against attempting to use the instruments of separate development to bring about the end of separate development, The three main arguments against are (1) that working within the institutions of separate development boost,' National Party policy and makes the regime respectable in the eyes of the world; (2) that although these institutions do provide a platform, nevertheless the limit within which one can legitimately move are very rigidly defined so that one has to attack alternative strategies, which might in fact be more successful, in order to retain the support of the government; (3) that by their very nature these institutions divide the black community, promote conflict between the different groups, and facilitate the manipulation by the government of any ethnic prejudices that do exist.

These are strong arguments; but it seems to me that there are equally strong arguments in favor of attempting to utilize these institutions in various ways:

1. It is possible, as Chief Buthelezi has done, to make clear that the fact that one uses the institutions in no way indicates support for the policy of separate development or acceptance of continued white control over the major areas of South Africa.

2. It is important to remember that if anti-apartheid forces do reject these institutions, the institutions will nevertheless continue to exist. The government will always be able to find puppet-like blacks who will be able to project to the outside world the image of some black support for separate development and who will speak positively in favor of separate development. Although such puppets are never likely to get mass black support, it is important to realize that they could develop into a de-mobilizing elite, whose very existence discourages further development of black political organizations? In particular, anybody who controls a local government body expending large sums of money can build up support through a process of patronage, near corruption, and actual corruption. It would be possible for un­scrupulous individuals to build up a political machine that provided a variety of benefits to a range of clients who would constitute, in any event, an economic elite within the community, would therefore be in a position to monopolize educational resources in the community, and in general could inhibit the development of genuine political organizations within that community.

3. It must be remembered that political organization outside the institutions of separate development is still very risky. It is in fact unlikely that the government would long permit SASO and the BPC to continue to function. The Natal Indian Congress, which also attempts to operate outside the institutions of separate development, has been badly hit by the banning of its leader, and such bannings are likely to be used against any organization that follows a similar strategy. 7On the other hand, working within the institutions of separate development does give one some protection. Further more, the elections organized in connection with these institutions can be very valuable organizing tools; that is, organizing around an election is one of the best means for actually building up political support and for propagating a particular policy. In the last resort, the only way to show that these institutions are phony is by taking them over and showing it from within, rather than by permitting a group of puppets to run these institutions for their own benefit and the benefit of a small elite within each community.

It is clear, however, that simply controlling these institutions is not enough. Some further strategy has to be developed for actual mass mobilization of some so here that the improving power potential of the working class becomes significant. If the homeland leaders can link up with the working class, then there is a possibility of a movement that has both potential power and a developing political voice. Such a facilitated by the fact that African workers are, in theory at least, citizens in the homelands, and therefore have a vote in the homelands. This means that homeland leaders are likely to be under pressure large sector of their electorates to take some more positive form of action against apartheid, and in particular to do something about the position of urban African workers. If such a link-up can be made, then it will make it even more difficult for the government to take against developing African trade unions in the areas.

To summarize, the development of the economy is producing a black proletariat with increasing bargaining power, suffering from severe relative deprivation and increasingly willing to use its bargaining power. Political leaders using the instruments of separate development may be able to link up with this growing urban movement and thereby develop a coherent powerful black political movement in South Africa. The problems of the urban working class transcend ethnic differences within the African group and although to a lesser extent, the differences between the African groups on the one hand and the Indian and Coloured groups on the other. Insofar as Coloured and Indian workers at present have normal trade and also, on the whole, have better jobs than Africans may be that in the future they will attempt to protect relatively privileged position by using their trade union rights. However, it is unlikely that this will succeed, both because the majority of Coloured and Indian workers are still in fact in low-status, low-skilled jobs and also because they lack the political rights that are an essential ingredient in the ability of the white workers to achieve such an entrenched political and economic position. Thus there are tendencies toward a unified black approach. But it is important to remember that these are only tendencies, and that there remain divisions that could be skillfully manipulated by white groups in order to maintain white control. However, their ability to manipulate these divisions depends to a considerable extent on developments among- whites. We must now therefore analyze changes in white attitudes and white politics.


How will whites react to increasing black pressure? To what extent will they be willing to make compromises?

To what extent will they be able to develop intelligent strategies of self-defense? Or to what extent are they more likely to react with outright resistance, and thereby to heighten the conflict within the society?

To answer these questions, it is necessary to have some understanding of white motivations and to understand also the way in which white culture is being changed by the ongoing impact of industrialization, urbanization, high-levels of education, and different types of contacts with the outside world. The first point to be made is that, although South African society would seem to be a perfect machine whereby whites exploit blacks, nevertheless the average white South African is not simply a rational exploiter. White South Africans do take their rights to exploit blacks for granted, but their psychic and cultural makeup is much more complex than that. They are very ignorant of how their society works; they are ignorant of history and of the nature of social relationships; they are very insecure, and underlying their apparent arrogance is often a deep fear both of blacks and of any pattern of behavior that threatens their perceptions of the naturalness of their own behavior patterns, and hence of the naturalness of their right to exploit. Thus we cannot assume that they will necessarily react rationally to any form of challenge. The most difficult problem in trying to untangle the different elements in white culture is the attempt to work out the precise relationship between race prejudice and economic self-interest. The institutions of racial discrimination clearly favor the economic interests of the whites; but this does not mean that we can necessarily deduce that racial discrimination and race prejudice are purely a function of whites' perceived economic self-interests. On the other hand, one cannot necessarily assume that the liberalizing impact of education and wider contacts with the outside world will necessarily lead to a decreased will to dominate and to exploit.

One of the more facile arguments that is advanced about South Africa's future is that the process of economic development will of itself lead to a liberalizing of white attitudes, to a declining prejudice, and to a move toward a more open and just society.

The assumption underlying this argument is that capitalism involves the rational utilization of resources in the pursuit of profit. Since labor is one of the major resources of an economy and since race prejudice, by denying the ability of black workers, leads to a non-optimum utilization of their labor, it is argued that their capitalist motivation will necessarily lead white entrepreneurs to a rational analysis of the real nature of the capacities of black workers; that is, they will discover that blacks are in fact not inferior and, in order to better utilize their labor, will stop treating them as inferior. A supplementary hypothesis is that insofar as this will mean increased education and training facilities for Af­ricans and will mean that they will be doing skilled jobs, they will thereby be in a position to demonstrate to white workers that they are in fact their equal, and white workers will also come to accept their equality.

However, there are at least three weaknesses in this argument: First, capitalists are not necessarily any more rational than other people; they may seek profit, but they seek it within the context of their own presuppositions, and these are quite likely to blind them to the actual profit potentialities inherent in the situation. Second, even if entrepreneurs are rational, faced with resistance from the skilled white workers and hence with the loss of production that might ensue if they attempt to advance black workers, it is in fact probably more rational for them to accept the prejudices of the white workers and operate within that framework. Third, the present system, by making it possible to pay black workers at very low rates, is in fact in many ways economically quite rational from the point of view of the capitalist, if not from the viewpoint of the workers.

In an article in 1960, Leo Kuper advanced an opposite argument to the effect that the South African system was ideally designed to heighten racial tension and that therefore one should expect a continuing increase in race prejudice rather than any decrease ("The Heightening of Racial Tensions," Race, vol. 2 [1960], pp. 24-32). Although there is undoubtedly much truth in the idea that government policies do foster racial prejudice among the whites, it nevertheless cannot be said that since 1960 race prejudice has increased. In fact, for a variety of reasons, it would seem to have decreased:

There is certainly much less blind ignorant hatred of blacks by whites; there is certainly a decrease in the more ridiculous forms of prejudice; and there is certainly an increased recognition of the capacities of black peoples. This can be shown on a number of levels, includ­ing the willingness of white government ministers to meet black counterparts from other states and to mix socially with them. In part this is a function of the gen­eral development of education in South Africa. Also it is important to remember that the white community here is in no sense culturally autonomous. The English-speaking community particularly depends for most of its culture, its literature, even its films and popular magazines on Britain and the United States. This means that as much as it might attempt to protect itself, it is nevertheless influenced by change that occurs elsewhere, and the fact that over the last ten to fifteen years there has been considerable change in attitudes to race prejudice within English-language culture outside South Africa has had profound effects here also. These effects and the general world hostility to race discrimination have also, to some extent, brought about change in the Afrikaner attitudes. There does seem to be a slow decline in prejudice, but we cannot, as I have already pointed out, deduce from this that there will be a decline in willingness to dominate.

Nevertheless the decline in prejudice is significant, because one of the important irrational factors underly­ing any refusal to compromise with black demands has been the image carried in many white minds of innate black savagery. There has been the fear that any compromise, any rights offered to blacks, would lead inevitably to some atavistic outburst on their part; that is, many whites have interpreted to themselves the necessity of controlling the blacks in terms of the innate savagery of blacks rather than in terms of a conflict of interests between the white desire to exploit and the black desire to cease being exploited. Such prejudice leads people to see any move toward change in all-or-nothing terms, and in that case the answer is inevitably nothing. Thus the decline of this kind of prejudice can at least produce a white population who, although not willing voluntarily to change the situation, will be sufficiently intelligent to realize when compromises will be in their interests. Any such compromises will of course be designed to maintain white control, but nevertheless a series of compromises of this sort can move the society away from one of absolute dominance in the direction of a more equal society.

A survey of the attitudes and opinions of white voters undertaken by Schlemmer and myself in Durban in 1971 led us to divide the respondents into three general categories in regard to their racial and political at­titudes. The first categories were the "Verkramp," that is, individuals showing both material self-interest and a high level of racial prejudice. The second group we described as "pragmatic"; these showed that they were still mainly concerned with white economic interests, but they had a much lower level of race prejudice and hence were willing to do away with a number of aspects of discriminatory legislation that they saw as being possibly in the long run detrimental to white economic interests. The final group we described as "Verlig." The Verlig individuals were both relatively low in race prejudice and at the same time seemed much more willing than the other voters to take into consideration the economic interests of groups other than the white group in South African society. The terms "Verkramp" and "Verlig" have been widely used in South African politics in the last few years to categorize, on the one hand, "rigid and conservative" and, on the other, "enlightened" political beliefs.

The relative distribution of the three types varied considerably from the English to the Afrikaans sample. Nevertheless, there were significant numbers of Verlig voters in each sample. We estimated that 30 percent of the English respondents were Verlig, 50 percent prag­matic, and only 20 percent Verkramp. On the other hand, the Afrikaans respondents were 20 percent Verlig, 25 percent pragmatic, and 55 percent Verkramp.

Since Afrikaans voters represent about 60 percent of the electorate while the English represent only 40 percent, the Verkramp section is still the predominant group in the electorate. Nevertheless both the pragmatic and the Verligtes are of considerable size and hence are likely to be of considerable importance in determining future policy developments. Nearly all the Afrikaans-speaking Verligtesin our sample continue to support the National Party. This means that within the National Party, the most conservative and the most white-dominance-oriented of the three major white par­ties, there exists a minority which would be willing at least to accept fairly radical changes of policy and perhaps even to work for such radical changes of policy.


Assuming that the white group decided to react to increasing black pressure by attempting to find compromises that would improve the situation of blacks and at the same time maintain white rule, what strategies are open to them? There are two.

The first is to speed up the development of the rural homeland areas and perhaps increase them in size geographically. This might have the effect of splitting the homeland politicians from the urban proletariat, whose interest would not be met by such a policy, and thereby dividing the black community and decreasing the numerical advantage that blacks have at present over whites. It would leave the essential institutions of economic exploitation still in the white areas and still untouched.

The second strategy would involve an attempt at out­right co-option of black leadership into the white group. If such a strategy were tried, the class divisions within the black community would be an important factor. As we have seen there is a growing middle class, which is capitalist oriented and attracted in many ways to the western cultural model. The policy of the Progressive Party, which envisages extending the franchise to this group and at the same time removing much of the discriminatory legislation that prevents them from integrating with the white community, might have the effect, once more, of splitting the black community and, at the same time, depriving the working class of potential leadership among the disaffected black middle classes. Such a policy would also leave the essential institutions of economic exploitation intact and maintain the society as highly unequal, but with inequalities determined in purely class terms rather than in racial terms. However, this policy would perhaps require a degree of lucidity that at present most white voters do not have, since it would require a very low level of race prejudice in order to work. The Progressive Party is likely to slowly increase its support among English-speaking voters in the next few years, but it is very unlikely to become a dominant force. 8

Another policy, which is something of a cross between these two, is also a possibility: This would be the attempt to integrate the two minority black communities, that is the Coloured community and the Indian community, into the white group, and at the same time speed up the development of the homelands to make some concessions, short of a sharing in political power, to the African urban middle class. This policy would play on at least three different potential divisions within the black community: the ethnic division between Coloured and Indian on the one hand and African on the other; the class-geographical division between the interests of the urban proletariat and the interests of the rural peasantry; and finally the purely class division of interests between the urban middle class and the urban proletariat.

Three points should be made about these strategies. First, none of them would radically alter the fact that South Africa is a highly unequal society. Second, nevertheless, any one of these strategies would make South Africa a much less harsh and a much more livable society than it is at present. They would move South Africa toward the model of other types of unequal societies but would decrease some of the more searing indignities of a racially stratified society. Third, al­though each of these strategies can be seen from the white perspective as an attempt to maintain power by playing on potential divisions within the black group, there is no guarantee that any of these strategies would actually succeed.

Heribert Adam has described present-day South Africa as "a pragmatic race oligarchy," and he comments on the capacities for adaptation of present-day leadership as follows:

They are not, as often viewed by the outside world, blindly fumbling toward their inevitable end. They are effective technocrats, who are establishing an increasingly unshakeable oligarchy in a society where the wealth of an advanced industrialization in the hands of the few whites coexists with the relative deprivation of the nonwhites. If this is to be cemented by a gradual deracialization and economic concessions, South African's white elite is capable of achieving this in spite of internal contradictions (Modernizing Racial Domination [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971], pp. 181-82).

I think that Adam here perhaps slightly exaggerates the present rationality of the white elite, but nevertheless the quotation adequately sums up both the kinds of change that can potentially come from the whites and the significance of those changes for the overall society.


Within white society and particularly within the English-speaking community, there are three institutions that are avowedly much more liberal and that one might expect to play some role in moving the whites toward a far more liberal position than that described above. These institutions are the English-language press, the English universities, and the Christian church. These three institutions are all particularly sensitive to overseas pressure and overseas opinion, and all three claim to be playing an important liberaliz­ing role within the South African society.

The English-language press. The press is certainly frequently critical of government policy and even of the policies of the opposition United Party. Nevertheless the press caters to the needs and interests of a predominantly white readership and the picture of the world it purveys is of a predominantly white world. The news columns frequently clash with the opinion columns, in that stories are written from a white perspective. The press is also, of course, unquestioningly capitalist. While the degree of labor exploitation might be debated, the principle of labor exploitation is not. Of course, the press operates within both legal and economic constraints, and it may well be that these constraints make the present policy of the press inevitable. But the fact remains that the press is essentially a white capitalist press.

The English-language universities. Leaders in the English-language universities have on the whole spoken out strongly against infringements of academic freedom and have backed the right of students to pro­test government action. But their protest has been purely verbal: They have never risked any direct con­frontation with the government over the principles that they claim to hold sacred. Furthermore, the content of their teaching is such as to help prepare white technocrats for their positions within the white elite. There are perhaps a handful of departments in which it is accepted that an academic discipline has a critical role to play within society, and that what is taught has to be seen in its overall social perspectives; but this is rare. Architects, engineers, doctors, scientists are all going to exercise their skills within their particular social structure, within their particular configuration of interests. And the effect of the exercise of their skills cannot be separated from the interest structure of the society. This fact is virtually ignored by South African universities. Their pose of virtuous academic neutrality in fact means that they are efficient servants of the existing interest structure. And they do in fact have the freedom to behave differently if they wished to; there is the potential for a much more highly critical approach in all disciplines at these universities. The English-language universities argue that if they did adopt a more critical stance, the government would take away their subsidies. This may well be true, but it must be made clear what this argument means: Faced with the choice between academic honesty and the continuation of government subsidies that enable the staff to draw salaries more than ten times higher than African workers, the English-language universities unanimously choose the higher salaries.

The church. Of the three groups, the church is perhaps the most significant, for two reasons. First, it is much more closely integrated into an international community and therefore even more sensitive to pressures from this community. Second, it is the only one of the institutions in which there are very large numbers of blacks. It is therefore the only multiracial institution in South African society in which blacks could come to take up leadership positions in proportion to their number in the outside society. The church hierarchies, having a Christian training which their congregations lack, have on the whole been far more liberal in approach than have the white congregations. Nonetheless, the majority of church leaders seem content to continue to operate within the framework of the status quo and see Christianity as what I have described as an internal morality rather than as a transcendent morality that challenges the status quo. They think it more important to ensure that their white congregations continue to come to church than to ensure that they begin to behave in a Christian fashion.

It has to be concluded that within all three of these institutions white liberals remain whites first and liberals second. They are offended by the barbarities of South African society but not sufficiently outraged to be willing to risk sacrificing their own privileged positions. This is not merely a question of cowardice; it also represents both a lack of imagination and ignorance. University lecturers or clergy may well be unaware of the extent to which their incomes or lifestyles are based on the exploitation of black labor. Furthermore, they may be quite unaware that it would be possible to live differ­ently from the way in which an average white South African lives. But I must repeat that this does not mean that white liberals are unimportant or that the task of attempting to further liberalize white attitudes is in itself either unimportant or impossible. White liberals and liberal institutions of the type I have described can at least help to inject a greater element of rationality into white thinking.


Over the last twenty years, important changes in the international situation, in particular the ending of the European colonial dominance over Africa and Asia has led to increasing criticism of racism in South Africa. The criticism is beginning to turn into action, and various forms of pressure against continued white dominance are either being practiced or being envisaged. These forms of pressure have at least some impact either positive or negative on the internal situation in South Africa; so it is important to evaluate them.

Sport. Sport is the area of greatest visible impact so far. The widespread boycotts of South African sporting teams have achieved three things: (1) They have brought home in an unavoidable form the fact of changed racial attitudes in the rest of the world. (2) They have led many non-political whites to attack the gov­ernment, thereby helping to change the climate of fear that has inhibited political action over the past decade. (3) Many athletes have now expressed their willingness to play mixed sport and presumably, if the pressure is kept up, will actually find ways of doing so, since mixed sport is, in certain circumstances, not illegal. Once they do begin to do this, it is likely that this form of contact will have some impact on their race attitudes and on their voting behavior. Presumably it can only have a positive effect, although by itself, of course, this would be of relatively minor significance. There seem to be no negative effects whatsoever due to the sport boycott.

Culture. It is difficult to assess what effect a boycott in the cultural sphere has; certainly it is a minor irritant to some whites at least, and particularly when it concerns pop singers. It probably alienates some otherwise non-political people from the government. The suggested negative effect of such a cultural boycott is that it deprives white audiences of intellectual stimulation which might lead them to question themselves and the present situation in South Africa. There is probably something in this argument. The objection that playwrights filmmakers have to having their products shown South Africa must be that audiences are uniracial. It is important to remember that this only applies to professional shows; there is at present no legislation preventing private film clubs from being multiracial, nor is there any legislation preventing private theater clubs from being multiracial. Therefore if critics of South Africa were to lay down the single criterion that all performances should be before multiracial audiences, this would place the onus on South Africans themselves to find ways of making this possible. Since this would mate it difficult for plays or films to be commercial successes, it would face whites with the choice between culture and money. If they chose money, they would have nobody but themselves to blame.

The academic boycott. It is particularly difficult to evaluate the impact of the academic boycott. There are two spheres here. By improving what one might call technical education, visiting academics are merely giving whites more skills and confirming their position in the power structure. However, in the sphere of the arts and social sciences, there is at least in some respects the possibility of teaching in a way more directly critical, by showing the liberating potential of social sciences.

Diplomatic pressures. The increasing diplomatic iso­lation of the South African government has undoubtedly had a positive effect on change in South Africa. This occasionally creeps through in government pro­nouncements. Dr. Verwoerd made this clear when he introduced the Bantustan policy, which was an advance on pure baasskap; 9it was in part, at least, an attempt to meet foreign pressure. The same applies to Vorster's outward policy and to some instances of internal liberalization that have come along with the outward policy. When such diplomatic pressure comes from the western countries, white South Africa's most likely allies, it is of particular significance.

As far as black Africa is concerned, it is argued that the presence of black diplomats in South Africa and spectacular tours of South Africa by black leaders, like President Banda of Malawi, make useful cracks in the apartheid structure. 10The objection to this argument is first that if African states adopt a soft position toward white rule, it is likely to encourage the western states to adopt an even softer one. Second, the proponents of dialogue seem to assume that it is crucial to bring about a change in white attitudes toward blacks. The assumption is that if by talking to white leaders and by parading distinguished and successful blacks in South Africa one can get white South Africans to see that blacks are not as bad as they thought they were, then the whites will give up discrimination and apartheid. But this is obviously an oversimplification of the problem of change in South Africa. As we have seen, black-white relations in South Africa are not merely a question of prejudice; they are also a question of power and exploitation. These three factors interlock: Whites are not willing to change the situation in South Africa, because they enjoy the economic fruits of their monopoly of power and because they still believe that they can hold on to power indefinitely.

Foreign pressure must therefore be evaluated in terms of (1) its effect on actual power relationships; (2) its effect on the whites' confidence in their ability to maintaining power indefinitely; (3) its effect on their beliefs about the consequences of losing power. It is here that their attitudes toward blacks are of great significance.

It is under the second point that the effects of diplomatic pressure are most significant. Isolation from the western block and from military ties with that block, as well as consistent African hostility, can only decrease the white sense of security and hence, I think, increase their willingness to make concessions in response to the growth of power on the part of blacks within South Africa.

Economic sanctions. The same three criteria must be used in evaluating the likely impact of various economic measures. Economic sanctions are the most problematic, both in terms of their likelihood of occurring at all, and in terms of their likely possible impact. I shall con­sider here the second problem. There are two main alternative strategies: The first is to place pressure on foreign-owned firms in order to get them to improve the conditions of African workers here. The second is to attempt to enforce total withdrawal of foreign invest­ment from South Africa.

Which of these would contribute toward the changing of the power relationships?

Let us assume that either occurred on a significant scale. It might be argued that total withdrawal would create unemployment and political unrest, and at the same time weaken the whites' economic power and so their capacity to hold military and political power. The reformist solution, on the other hand, would strengthen the economy. But it would also provide more blacks with organizational and economic skills. Also an expanding economy, although it does not have the automatic rationalizing and antiapartheid effect that some groups believe it to have, nevertheless does, in one important way, as we have seen, strengthen the power of the blacks. The urban blacks have one potential source of power: their organization in trade-unions. The major obstacle to unions up to now has not been their illegality, since in fact they are legal, but rather the existence of very many unemployed and the easy exchange­ability of unskilled laborers. An expanding economy, reducing the number of work-seekers by drawing blacks into skilled and semi-skilled jobs, would bring about a situation where an employer could no longer afford not to negotiate with black workers. Thus trade-union organizations and the possibilities of large-scale industrial action are both likely to increase in an expanding economy.

In this perspective, it can be seen that pressure for internal reform can have most effect if it includes, as its absolute minimal demand, the condition that foreign firms should agree to recognize black trade unions, to negotiate with them over wages and conditions of employment and, if necessary, to protect these trade unions from police action. It must be stressed that law does not forbid this; it is the white-owned and foreign-owned firms themselves who have the power to decide whether or not to deal with black trade unions. Unless a system is introduced whereby black workers in the firm are given, through trade-union rights, some real say in determining wages and conditions, the reformist solution remains on the level of paternalistic charity. Also, with only one party, that is, the company, making decisions and possessing information, it will in practice prove impossible to check up on whether firms are actually reforming wages and workers' conditions. But the central issue is one of power: Unless some means is provided for giving blacks more power to determine the conditions of their daily lives, programs of reform are virtually meaningless.

What effect would either of these strategies have on the whites' confidence in their ability to continue to maintain power?

It seems to me that the whites' sense of their power is very much tied up with their own particular perceptions of the international situation. They believe, for two reasons, that in the last resort western powers would not permit a black takeover in South Africa. First, white South Africans still perceive the world in terms of a communist conspiracy being fought by the western powers, and they argue that white South Africa is a strong bastion against communism and hence a major factor in the struggle against this worldwide communist conspiracy. As such, it would not be let down by the other anti-communist forces. Second, they believe that the fact of very large-scale British and American investments in South Africa is itself a guarantee that the western powers would, in the last resort, intervene to protect their investments in a revolutionary situation. Thus withdrawals on a significant scale would undoubtedly produce a powerful psychological shock for the whites, and would illustrate far more sharply than the sport boycott the increasing hostility of the world to apartheid. It would be made clear to them that they do not have a friendly power that would intervene to protect them in the last resort, thereby making clear to them the necessity of reaching compromises with growing powerful black groups in South Africa before it is too late. Although economic withdrawal or a refusal to continue investments might slow down economic growth and so slow down the likely indirect political effects of economic growth, it is probable that it would; on the other hand, of itself speed up those political processes and thereby perhaps hasten the desired change.

In evaluating these two contrary arguments, it is also important to try to assess precisely what kind of impact on the economy an ending of foreign investment in South Africa would have. South Africa has already long since passed the take-off stage, and now generates most of its own surplus for capital investment. The percentage of total annual investment that comes from foreign sources varies from year to year, but it is at times as little as 10 percent. Ten percent can of course mean the difference between growth and stagnation, but, on the other hand, it is likely that we re investment to be ended, South Africa would retaliate by making repatriation of profits abroad much more difficult, and this money would take the place of at least some of the foreign investment. From this it might be argued that in fact an ending of investments would have no impact whatsoever. But this would be incorrect, in the sense that the main advantage which South Africa derives from foreign investment lies not so much in the amount of money made available, but in the high level of skills and technology that are introduced both in the forms of personnel and knowledge. The significance of such high level skills and technology may be that they continue to move South Africa further and further in the direction of a capital-intensive economy. But the ending of in­vestment might not mean so much an ending of growth as rather the necessity of choosing a different strategy for growth. Such strategy would probably be more labor-intensive, hence increasing employment, and would at the same time require a much more rapid development of the skills of African workers if the con­tinued importation of white skilled workers, either in connection with foreign investment or independently by immigration, were to be ended. These considerations mean that we cannot conclude-without a much more detailed study of the nature of the South African economy and the role of foreign investment within that economy than has yet been undertaken-that the end­ing of foreign investment would in fact have a disadvantageous effect on black employment in South Africa.

One further point that needs to be made about the relationship between investment and employment opportunities in South Africa is that the labor market from which South Africa draws its work force is not limited to the geographical boundaries of South Africa Large numbers of migrants come from Botswana Lesotho, and Swaziland, and also from further afield, in Mozambique and even Malawi. There are estimated to be about six hundred thousand such migrant labored from outside South Africa. It is obvious that such a large influx in relation to the total work force must play some role in keeping the wages down. On the other hand, the territories from which the workers come are in many ways dependent upon this flood of migrant and cannot afford simply to stop their workers from going to South Africa. Although some territories, such as Zambia and Tanzania, did do this when they attained independence, they were not so dependent upon migrancy as are countries like Lesotho and Swaziland.

We have seen that the dilemma facing investment is roughly as follows: On the one hand an increase of investment involves an increase in black employment and hence perhaps an increase in potential black bargaining power. On the other hand, the whites benefit disproportionately from investments as they benefit dispropor­tionately from everything else in South Africa, and so, although blacks are made slightly richer, whites are made much richer, and hence much more powerful and able to maintain their repressive system.

For those who claim that they wish to invest in South Africa in order to assist in bringing about social change here, this dilemma can be avoided by the simple mechanism of investing in those countries bordering South Africa, from which South Africa draws large numbers of immigrants. A factory employing five thousand workers in Lesotho draws five thousand workers out of the pool from which South African indus try acquires its labor; at the same time, it creates wealth within a black-controlled area, creates taxation which is under the control of a black government, and thereby does nothing at all to strengthen white power in South Africa.

A somewhat similar argument can be made in favor of investments directly within the Bantustans. Investments in these areas, assuming that the Bantustan governments have taxation powers and hence are able to ensure that some of the wealth created is reinvested within the Bantustan areas, would similarly improve the labor situation and at the same time strengthen the economic power of the Bantustan governments. Similarly economic aid for the agricultural development of the homelands would enable them to support a slightly larger population and hence, also, improve the employ­ment situation and strengthen overall black bargaining power. An argument often advanced against such a strategy is that it would be helping to make National Party policy work and that it is therefore bad. This ar­gument is misplaced because, in fact, the National Party policy of separate development cannot work: The Bantustans can never become politically or economically independent entities and the bulk of African workers will always be working in the white-controlled cities. But what the Bantustan development can hope to achieve is to increase marginally the bargaining power of African workers in those areas. The development of any black area in South Africa helps to improve the overall position of blacks vis-a-vis whites in the power struggle.

What effect would these alternative strategies have on the whites' attitudes toward Africans?

This is almost impossible to assess. The reformist so­lution, if it led to an increasing number of black skilled and educated workers in contact with whites, would perhaps help in the decline of prejudice among whites, but this is not at all certain. The withdrawal of investment might increase social tension of various sorts and hence increase prejudice. It might, on the other hand, face whites with the necessity of rapidly re-evaluating their attitudes and hence encourage the decline of prejudice.

The general argument against any form of overseas pressure, that such pressure will lead to a defensive reaction and hence to increased white solidarity, is demonstrably false. There is not enough clarity and certainty of purpose within the governing party for such a reaction to occur. The confusion and debate within white politics is real. But the contrary argument, recently advanced by the U.S. Secretary for African Affairs, David Newsom, that, because whites are now be ginning to think about change the pressure should be decreased, is probably false. It is likely that a decrease in external pressure now would mean a decrease in one of the main stimuli that has led to this rethinking.

What is the likelihood of a change in the kind of external pressure now being brought against white dominance in South Africa? This is partly a question of changing attitudes, but it is also very much a question of power relationships among various interest groups in the outside world. From the attitudinal point of view, it would seem reasonable to assume that there will be a continuing decline in race prejudice in the main western bloc countries, but whether this change of attitude gets translated into increasing strong action against white dominance in South Africa is a function of further factors. These western countries all have capitalist socio­political systems in which the dominant economic interest groups play a disproportionate role in decision-making, so we have to consider the interests of these groups. The first question is how long some of these groups will consider it to be in their interest to have ties with South Africa. The second question is how long these groups will continue to be dominant within western society. How long will western societies remain essentially capitalist?

The answer to the first question depends upon an analysis of the complex interrelationships on both political and economic levels between Africa, South Africa, and the West, and between power groups within all three of those zones. It might be argued that there will be a gradual long-term shift of interests from South Africa to the rest of Africa. Given its great population, black Africa, even though relatively slow growing, will eventually provide both market and investment oppor­tunities far greater than those available in white-dominated Southern Africa. When such a situation arises, the western powers will have strong economic interests in maintaining friendship with black Africa, even if this has to be done at the expense of existing ties with South Africa. In this case, they might well be willing to support more strongly calls for action against the dominance of whites in South Africa. However this does assume that political leaders in black Africa will have both the will and the power to force western interests to make such a choice. It depends very much on internal political developments in those countries. At present, it seems reasonable to characterize most black African governments as both elitist and neo-colonial in nature. It may well be that rhetorical attacks on white domina­tion in South Africa are strictly for internal consumption only. The ability of black African states to bring to bear both direct pressure on South Africa and indirect pressure on the western bloc depends very much on the extent to which balanced socialist political and eco­nomic development replaces the present situation. The possibility of this occurring is in turn, at least in part, dependent upon developments within the major west­ern powers, which exercise a variety of forms of direct and indirect control over development in their neo-colonies. There have been sustained public campaigns against white dominance in Southern Africa in both the United States and Great Britain, and to a lesser extent in a number of European countries. But it seems to me un­likely that such campaigns will have any further impact unless there are also changes in social structure in those countries. Strictly speaking, it would probably be possible for the British Parliament or the United States Congress to introduce measures obliging firms registered in those countries either to cease investing in South Africa or else to conform to specific codes that included such things as equal pay for equal work and the recognition of trade-union rights. Factually, however, when these bodies-even if, as in Britain, there is a labor-party majority-have great difficulty in controlling the behavior of corporations within their own territories, it is very unlikely that they would be able to take action on the much less socially salient problem of the behavior of the big corporations in South Africa. The principal source of pressure is the trade-union movement, which could take direct action against firms that behave in ways considered undesirable in South Africa. But the power of the unions is dependent upon the continued development of strong and politically conscious trade unions and on changes in the balance of power between trade unions and capitalists.


I began by arguing that white dominance in South Africa is so militarily entrenched that it cannot possibly be threatened by violent overthrow. However, some of the banned and exiled political organizations hare adopted the strategy of guerrilla resistance, and there are guerrilla movements active in other white-dominated territories in Southern Africa. It is therefore necessary to analyze both the military and the symbolic significance of these groups.

In Mozambique, and to a lesser extent in Angola, it is clear that the guerrilla movements have managed to occupy large tracts of territory and to tie down large parts of the Portuguese armed forces. It may well be that some form of military stalemate has now been reached, but even military stalemate is probably more advantageous to the guerrillas than to the Portuguese, since the economy of metropolitan Portugal is not strong. The continuous drain on economic resources as well as the necessity for conscripting Portuguese to do long spells of duty in Africa can hardly help to stabilize the relatively shaky Portuguese regime. Further, Portugal's military reliance on NATO is the most vul­nerable element of the whole Southern African white military structure. Although the Portuguese control over Angola and Mozambique is at present fairly complete, it is unlikely that it will remain so for the indefi­nite future.11

The 5 percent white minority in Rhodesia is also fairly vulnerable to guerrilla activity. It would appear that the guerrilla movement is just beginning to establish itself in some rural areas, and once it is established it only needs to hold on in order to affect drastically the level of morale among whites in Rhodesia and in order to handicap the relatively small military forces that the white Rhodesian regime has available. However, given the relative vulnerability of both Portuguese control over Mozambique and white control over Rhodesia, it has been argued that the South African government could be likely to intervene militarily to defend either of those regimes if they were really seriously threatened by guerrilla uprisings. Once more, it is difficult to assess whether this would actually occur, since from the South African government's point of view there are strong arguments both for and against such a measure. Against is the fact that it would dramatically increase outside pressure on South Africa if it were to take such a step; second, South African troops would be placed in a situation where they would have to fight an already entrenched guerrilla force operating in its home territory. Under these circumstances, even great military superiority is often not enough to eliminate the guerrillas and South Africa could therefore find itself involved in a very long and costly war with unpredictable conse­quences upon the development of the South African economy and South African society itself. The main ar­guments for the intervention are, first, that if either Rhodesia or Mozambique came under the control of black nationalists, this would immediately threaten South Africa's extensive borders with these two ter­ritories, and, second, it would have an enormous negative impact upon white confidence in South Africa while giving a boost to black morale.

However, even assuming that either or both Rhodesia and Mozambique came under black nationalist control, it is arguable that the real military situation in South Africa itself would not be fundamentally altered. Here the white army would not have to root out an already entrenched guerrilla force, but would have the much easier task of preventing guerrillas from establishing an organizational infrastructure; and the mechanisms of control referred to earlier are probably sufficient for this.

In this case what is the significance of the exiled African National Congress and the Pan African Congress? These bodies have clearly played and continue to play an important role in mobilizing world pressure against white domination in South Africa. But they remain essentially exiled groups and, to judge from a number of recent political trials, have signally failed to establish themselves, or to re-establish themselves, in any way within South Africa itself. Under these circumstances, it is inevitable that there would be a growing alienation of the exiled leadership from past and potential future followers inside South Africa. It is also arguable that the sporadic attempts of the exiles to infiltrate groups in South Africa has an important function in permitting the present government to legitimate a wide variety of oppressive measures in South Africa. In a situation where rapid revolutionary transfer of power is not possible, it may be that groups using the rhetoric of revolution and organizing doomed attempts at insurrection actually play a counterproductive role. They confuse even further the already confused perceptions that the whites have of reality and inhibit the occurrence of fruitful compromises. This result is made more probable when people who cannot possibly be in touch with the day-to-day reality of a continuously changing situation lead them from exile. Nevertheless the existences of these organizations and even of their attempts at infiltration do function as one more visible sign of the essential insecurity of white rule in Southern Africa. It helps to remind whites that their rule is ultimately based on force and that the cost of the continual use of force is likely to be high.

White South Africans are not going to give up power voluntarily, either as a result of lessons in the meaning of race or as a result of lectures on Christian ethics. They are too powerful for power to be simply taken out of their hands. However, their power does not and cannot extend to a total control of the economic and social processes that generate and change the structure of power. As the economic significance of the urban African work force increases, so does the cost of maintaining control of that work force by brute strength. It is in terms of the changing network of power relationships implied by this fact that one has to construct a strategy for bringing about change toward a more just society in South Africa. Even if successful, the rate of change achieved by such a strategy is likely to be slow, and a model of an ideal society must remain a relatively distant hope. But it does have a function, both as a critical tool for analyzing existing social reality and as an ideal that can help to encourage South Africans to work toward a better future.