South Africa's transition revisited: Globalisation as vision and virtue

I. Taylor*, P. Vale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Positioning the South African transition within the ongoing discourse of globalisation-a discourse that has had profound effects on the post-apartheid polity-is a vital prerequisite for any coherent analysis of South Africa's change and the country's prospects for peace. By this, we mean the ideology of globalisation: the subjective as opposed to the objective processes currently reconfiguring the global order. Certainly, there has been a qualitative turn in economic operations that has radically transformed the balance of power between states and markets-between national administrations and firms. These processes have stimulated a race to the bottom as states restructure themselves so as to appear the most 'competitive'. Yet the objective actions pertaining to global transformation has been accompanied by an active-and successful-campaign to advance globalisation as an ideology. In doing so, there has been advanced the thesis that 'there is no alternative', that common sense demands that liberalisation and privatisation are global norms which only economic illiterates would dispute. This is of fundamental importance, for 'once established as common senses, theories become incredibly powerful since they delineate not simply what can be known but also what it is sensible to talk about or suggest'. Having achieved hegemony amongst the global elites, globalisation and its concomitant ideology, neo-liberalism, serves to stake out the limits of the possible. This has had, as will be demonstrated, a profound impact on the transition in South Africa, helping to constrain options available to any post-liberation administration and helping perpetuate inequalities, rather than contribute to change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-414
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2000


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