This is a fantastic paper, one of the most coherent and visionary of texts I’ve read about the contemporary situation, showing full cognizance of the processes of capital accumulation, world system formation and ecological crisis, as well as mapping out some of the implications for South African Left praxis. However, in these brief comments, I hope to contribute to the debate in three ways.
First, I do have some minor quibbles with comrade Jeremy’s analysis; second, I’d like to forcefully agree and extend his description of foundational processes in crisis formation and displacement; and third, there are a few more substantial augmentations to suggest for prescriptions associated with South Africa’s independent left.This text (revised from a version in Umsebenzi last month) follows several from the SACP that appear to be ever stronger in their critiques of capitalism’s core processes, of which two are perhaps most important: the 1998 Alliance analysis of the economic crisis in which the deep theory of overaccumulation crisis was flagged; and the 2006 Bua Komunisi analysis of South African capitalism’s internal contradictions.
In both, the disappointments for diverse independent leftists (of which I count myself a member) were largely in the programmatic arena. But this was prior to the Polokwane conference at which a few major initiatives of the left were announced as ANC policies, leaving those arguing for a socialist project within the Alliance with increased confidence. Such confidence, as Cronin says, is ebbing because of the drum-beat of fiscal discipline that has accompanied the crisis. In this context, let me begin by taking up just a few points in the text to cajole and to applaud:1) What are we up against? QuibblesJC: “Once again, the inability to appreciate the dialectical character of world capitalism’s trajectory, was to lead Mbeki (like Seme before him) to gravely misread the global situation, to imagine an “African renaissance” based on catching-up and aligning ourselves to the “West”, with the promise of an ineluctable, evolutionary way forward – “today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today.””PB: I imagine the most hostile remark a Marxist given top marks at the Lenin Institute in Moscow could receive is “undialectical”.