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Civil Resistance and Violent Flanks


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Civil Resistance and Violent Flanks

  1. 1. It’s the Politics, Stupid!Civil Resistance and Violent Flanks – The Case of South Africans‟ Struggle against Apartheid Howard Barrell
  2. 2. Southern Africa, 1984 Ronnie KasrilsANGOLAANC militarytrainingcamps Main ANC military infiltration route
  3. 3. ..
  4. 4. Civil resistance, South Africa, 1912-1960 •Gandhian tradition • ANC develops base • Freedom Charter • Defiance Campaign • Treason trial • Sharpeville massacre • Resort to arms, 1961 • MK Manifesto
  5. 5. Early ANC thinking on armed struggle• Ambiguous: – Defensive – (Guevarist) offensive• Key issue: relationship between political and military forms of struggle• Other choices in its new strategic discourse: – Trotsky-Lenin Insurrectionist model – Mao‟s protracted people‟s war model• ANC disregards political struggle by political means• 1969: ANC says armed struggle “only” way open to it• 1965-1976: No armed struggle inside SA• Black Consciousness Movement & Trade Unions
  6. 6. 1976 uprisings: military frustrations…• Thousands of youths leave country; put in ANC military training camps;• Armed struggle stays at very low level of intensity;• Politico-military commission;• Vietnamese response: must revisit issue of relationship between political and military struggle.…but political advances…• Militants inside South Africaorganisepolitically across almostevery imaginable form.…as ANC leadership argues
  7. 7. Exiled ANC leadership argumentscontinue, people form united front• Chronic arguments in ANC leadership over relationship between political and military and shape of operational structures• But ANC leadership agrees role of political mobilisation is ultimately to serve military campaign.• Anti-Republic campaign, 1981.• Formation of UDF, 1983• Character of UDF – Umbrella – Strong local pre-existing and new organisations – Organisation around concrete issues – Provincial leaderships – Small, mobile national leadership – National political focus
  8. 8. Perpetual mass action, 1985-1990• Forms: – Demos, local + general strikes – Rent and service boycotts – Students‟, womens‟, other protests – Mass rallies, leafletting, etc., etc.• Iconography of violence at UDF rallies (see right)• Economic, diplomatic and security• costs of CR for state: defections• States of emergency declared• UDF outlawed, UDM formed• SA intelligence calculates options• ANC leaders recalculate options• „Signals‟ become talks• ANC unbanned, 1990
  9. 9. It‟s the politics, stupid!Paradoxes:1. The ANC‟s obsession with armed struggle from 1960s to 1979 undermined itsability to mount not only civil resistance; it also subverted the ANC‟s ability tomount armed struggle itself!2. Civil resistance in South Africa displaced and supplanted an armed struggle ofwhich, powerful political forces intended, that civil resistance should be a meretributary.3. An iconography of violence did, at a particular point in the South Africanliberation struggle – between about 1983 and 1989 – help advance the strugglebeing waged by non-violent means.4. It is possible for an organisation that has exhibited at some point an unrivalledwill to struggle against an unjust opponent, such as the ANC did, eventually towin power on the back of energies, organisations and forms of resistance it hadonly a tangential role in generating.