ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Crisis of Settler Hegemony in South Africa

Crisis of Settler Hegemony in South Africa Neera Chandhoke THE central theoretical concern of this paper is the nature of the relationship between the political, cultural and ideological superstructures of the South African state and the imperatives of capitalist accumulation. As such, it is argued that the contemporary crisis in South Africa is primarily political, i e, a crisis of legitimacy involving the breakdown of the ideological superstructures. This crisis threatens to paralyse the indefinite perpetuation of conditions under which capital and labour can be mobilised into profitable commodity exchange. The state with its ideological baggage train of nineteenth century racism is acting as a brake upon the interests of capital. On the other hand, the state by failing to respond to the trajectory of demands thrown up by an increasingly radicalised population is becoming irrelevant, A two-fold dichotomy has emerged (a) between the economy and polity and (b) between the state and civil society. The settler state is incapable of resolving the contradictions inherent in the society, since it is at the root of these contradictions. Recent events have proved that statist strategies of societal transformation are unrealistic. It is the arena of 'polities' where the struggles of the various contending groups are taking place, which is emerging as the final arbiter of the situation. The crisis of the settler state is thus three-fold:

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