OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN STATE
first to thank the Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust for this opportunity to join you
and other partners as we acknowledge one of South Africa’s sages of social
science, Harold Wolpe, on this occasion of the 10th Memorial Lecture .
with many others of his generation, he contributed not only to the analysis of
the social manifestations of apartheid colonialism. He was also an activist in
the destruction and creation that revolution entails. It is due to both these
roles that the impact of his intellectual work was and remains that much more
profound, because it combined the development of theoretical constructs and
their testing and refinement in the crucible of struggle.
I was requested
to reflect on The State of the State in South Africa today, an
all-encompassing theme with sub-themes that would require lectures in their own
right. To make my task easier, I have selected a few issues to illustrate the
strategic challenges that South Africa faces as it strives to speed up social
from the premise that we are all familiar with these issues, I will not seek to
trace the evolution of the state as such – the Athenian and Spartan versions,
the pre-colonial manifestations of social organisation as in the Mapungubwe and
other African civilisations and the mfecane wars of nation-formation, or
the rise of the colonial state in the geography today called South Africa. Nor
will I attempt to interrogate the Weberian, micro-foundational and Marxist
theories of the state and their utility.
For purposes of our discussion, I will merely draw from this tapestry,
to extract some generalisations on the state of our state today; and the
actions required to ensure that it plays an optimal role in leading the efforts
to improve people’s quality of life. Presumptive as this may sound, I will draw
inspiration from Harold Wolpe’s methodology of approaching notions of social
organisation and the state as being undergirded by class dynamics.
To download a pdf of the full text, click below