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We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people1 We, the people of South Africa … Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.2 Among the most consistent threads in the discourse of liberation in South Africa was a commitment to non-racialism. How strong that thread was – unbreakable3 according to some, distinctly fragile according to others4 – can be debated. But from the 1955 Freedom Charter to the 1996 Constitution non-racialism has featured significantly in the canon of all anti-apartheid organisations. The same applies internationally. But it has also become clear since democracy was ushered in, in 1994, that a critical weakness was the failure to define non-racialism, to give it content beyond that of a slogan or a self-evident ‘good thing’.5 It made intuitive sense, uniting races where apartheid divided them. But beyond that, what was the meaning of non-racialism? The 1996 Constitution implicitly defined it as a democratic state where the rights of every citizen are equally protected by the law. But is non-racialism the same as formal equality? Is there no more to it than that, nothing to do with the actions or moral base of individuals? Is it a passive or an active state? Are there specific types of action required of a non-racialist, or is it all left to the state or political parties or courts to resolve? For example, should the erstwhile non-racialist follow the advice of Warren Beatty (in Bulworth) when he suggested that non-racial democrats should pursue ‘… a programme of voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended procreative racial deconstruction’, Introduction PNR_FMch1_4:Layout 1 9/10/09 1:59 PM Page 1 by which was meant, he explained, ‘… everybody just gotta keep fuckin’ everybody till we’re all the same color’6 ? If for some reason this fails to appeal, does non-racialism require (some other types of) pro-action on the part of the would-be non-racialist? And if so, what form should this take? Is equity or redress involved, whereby the non-racialist can or should make amends for the racialism of the past? How, and to whom, and for how long? Who decides when enough is enough? And most importantly, how can this be done at an ethical level? How do we move beyond repentance and redress – the latter currently the focus of much state activity – and look to building new citizens and a new society on a new moral basis, where individuals are not immediately pigeonholed socially, economically , psychologically, intellectually or morally, by their race? How do we create spaces where citizens can leave behind the trappings of race and engage as fellow South Africans? There are no guidelines for being a genuinely non-racial citizen of the new South Africa. Worryingly, no one – including the African National Congress (ANC)-led government – seems to know what a ‘normal’ post-apartheid state looks like, or how we will know when we reach it. South Africa has been in a transition or undergoing transformation since 1994 – overwhelmingly, and appropriately, based on racial redress. But how will we know when South Africa has stopped becoming and has arrived? There is a more compelling philosophical question underpinning the issue, namely is it possible for non-racialism to be realised under a nationalist government? Is nonracialism compatible with nationalism at all? Non-racialism was crafted by the African nationalist resistance movement in response to apartheid, itself a nationalist-fuelled ideology; but it remains questionable whether that same African National Congress is able to throw off the constraints and racial blinkers of nationalism and truly embrace non-racialism. Much of this book analyses the warnings – of radical Marxists, liberals, socialists, humanists and others from the 1950s – that nationalists, in the words of Moeletsi Mbeki (brother of the more famous Thabo), were not militant democrats: African nationalism was a movement of the small,Westernised black elite that emerged under colonialism. Its fight was always for inclusion in the colonial system so that it, too, could benefit from the spoils of colonialism.7 Ever since the African and Indian congresses formed an alliance, the approach has been ‘equality under African leadership’. Post-apartheid experience to date suggests that this is incompatible with...


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MARC Record
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