Accepted paper:

Class interests and formation in the de-industrialization of South Africa


Sam Ashman (University of Johannesburg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the impact of financialization upon post-apartheid capital accumulation and the system of accumulation. In particular it points to how two important sets of interests - those of old order white capital and new black capital - have intersected.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the impact of financialization upon post-apartheid capital accumulation, and the system of accumulation as a whole, the Minerals Energy Complex (MEC). In particular, it argues that two sets of interests have intersected to produce the de-industrialization of the economy: 'Old order' white capital and new black capital. The former has (with exceptions, of course) extensively internationalized and financialized its operations to be amongst some of the largest actors in the global economy. The latter, weak for historical reasons, has emerged heavily financialized and/or dependent upon state contracts and political largesse. The consequences for South Africa's political economy have been far reaching, with severe and ongoing crises of unemployment (which stands near to 40%), inequality (the highest in the world), poverty (at 65% of the population on a generous measure) and the cracking open of the political settlement of 1994. Attempts at more interventionist industrial policy have been ghettoized in a small corner of the state unable to shift the broader trajectory of economy and society. Financialization and, connected to it, neoliberal macroeconomic policy, and the patterns of class formation produced, have been significant obstacles to more broad-based development. Now, these factors combined with the end of the commmodity boom and extensive corruption, the crisis of the economy is the crisis of the MEC itself.

panel Econ13
Financialization and premature de-industrialization in the African context