Hegemony, 'common sense' and compromise : a neo-gramscian analysis of multilateralism in South Africa's post-apartheid foreign policy

Taylor, Ian (2000-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study attempts to overcome past failings in the analysis of post-apartheid South Africa's foreign policy. In contrast to "explanations" offered by most previous analyses, this work demonstrates that the behaviour exhibited by Pretoria is not immutable or simply subject to the global "realities", but is derivative of the specific historic conjuncture of forces that joined together during the transition from apartheid, and which remain open-ended. The changes in the African National Congress' economic and political policies during the transition period are seen as the key to any attempt to understand Pretoria's post-1994 foreign policy behaviour. This is intimately connected to the structural changes in the international political economy and the change in the balance of international class forces brought about by the neo-liberal counter revolution. Deploying a theoretical framework derivative of the work of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, this study situates South Africa's foreign policy in a world where the ideology of neo-liberalism has achieved hegemonic status amongst the transnational elite class - fractions of national elites, representing and reflecting the interests of money capital. Such a hegemonic project informs the beliefs of the Government of National Unity and the subsequent foreign policy activities postured by Pretoria. This study attempts to understand how and why the ANCacceded to the dominant discourse of neo-liberalism and why this must be contextualised within the structural constraints brought to bear upon the GNUin an increasingly globalised world. This accession to neo-liberal beliefs has gIVen nse to contradictions within the domestic polity between contending class fractions and within the ANC'sown ranks. This has provoked a fundamental tension in Pretoria's overall foreign policy, where on the one hand South Africa accepts the fundamental normative world order, whilst on the other pushes various reformist initiatives which seek to re-negotiate Pretoria's standing within this framework. Specifically, South Africa's behaviour in multilateral organisations has been marked by a tactical middlepowermanship role, essentially problem-solving, which seeks to smooth out the international system so that the ongoing world order may function as "efficiently" as possible. Such behaviour has been qualitatively different from the activist role that was expected from an ANC-led administration. Indeed, the activism exhibited by South Africa has been largely centred around the promotion of the liberalisation of markets and free trade, albeit tempered by an awareness of the need to reconcile its acceptance of the hegemonic order, with that of the appeals of a historically important fraction of its support constituency: the Left and labour. Attempts to reconcile these two positions, of promoting "free" trade whilst at the same time demanding "fair" trade for example, mirror the broader contradictions that have been evident in South African foreign policy. They reflect the historic compromise that saw the ANCcome to administrative power, and also the desire by the government to balance its neo-liberal credentials with certain reformist convictions. This has been most evident in Pretoria's behaviour in multilateral organisations. SLXmultilateral initiatives, and Pretoria's role within each, are examined: the World Trade Organisation, the Cairns Group, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Implications for future South African foreign policy are drawn out, and a critical eye cast on whether such roles played out by Pretoria are immutable, or subject to change.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie poog om vorige tekortkominge in die analise van post-apartheid Suid-Afrika se buitelandse beleid te oorkom. In teenstelling met die "verduidelikings" wat deur meeste vorige analises gebied word, illustreer die werk dat Pretoria se buitelandse gedragspatroon nie onveranderlik is en bloot onderhewig is aan die globale "realiteite" nie, maar voortvloei uit die besondere historiese tydsgewrig van magte wat saamgevoeg is gedurende die oorgang van apartheid na 'n onvoorspelbare era. Die veranderinge binne die African National Congress se ekonomiese en politieke beleid gedurende die oorgang periode word voorgehou as die sleutel tot enige poging om Pretoria se post-1994 buitelandse gedrag te verklaar. Strukturele veranderinge in die internasionale politieke ekonomie en die veranderinge in die magsbalans tussen internasionale klasse as gevolg van neo-liberalisme, het 'n fundamentele impak op die aard van hierdie buitelandse gedrag. Met behulp van 'n teoretiese raamwerk gedistilleer uit die werk van die Italiaanse Marxis, Antonio Gramsci plaas die studie Suid-Afrika se buitelandse beleid in 'n wêreld waarin die neo-liberale ideologie hoogty vier veral onder die transnasionale elite klas - fraksies van nasionale elites verteenwoordigend van die belange van finansiële kapitaal. Sodanige hegemoniese projek onderlê die oortuiging van die Regering van Nasionale Eenheid (RNE) en voortvloeiende buitelandse beleidsaksies. Die studie probeer vasstel hoe en waarom die ANC toenemend gehoor gegee het aan die oorheersende neo-liberale diskoers en waarom hierdie toetreding gekontekstualiseer moet word in terme van die strukturele beperkinge waaronder die RNE onderhewig is in 'n immerglobaliserende wêreld. Hierdie toetrede tot neo-liberale oortuiginge het aanleiding gegee tot teenstrydighede intern, tussen strydende klasfraksies asook binne die ANC se eie geledere. Hierdie teenstrydighede word ook weerspieël in Pretoria se buitelandsebeleids aksies in die algemeen. Aan die een kant aanvaar Suid- Afrika fundamenteel die normatiewe basis van wêreldorde, terwyl daar ook aan die ander kant gepoog word om Pretoria se posisie binne hierdie wêreldorde te bowe te kom. Suid-Afrika se gedrag in multilaterale organisasies in die besonder word gekenmerk deur 'n taktiese intermediêre rol ("middlepower role") hoofsaaklik van 'n probleem-oplossende aard, wat daarop gemik is om die internasionale sisteem so glad moontlik te funksioneer en teenstrydighede binne die wêreldorde te oorkom. Hierdie rol konstitueer 'n fundamentele wysiging van die aktivistiese rol wat van 'n ANC-regeerde Suid-Afrika verwag is. Die aktiwiteite wat wel deur Suid-Afrika geopenbaar is, sentreer hoofsaaklik om die bevordering van vrye en regverdige handel, alhoewel gerigsnoer deur 'n bewustheid van die behoefte om sodanige posisie te versoen met die aanvaarding van die bestaande hegemoniese orde aan die een kant en die eise van arbeid en politieke steun aan die Linkerkant van die politieke spektrum. Pogings om hierdie twee posisies te versoen - om "vrye" sowel as "regverdige" handel te versoen byvoorbeeld, weerkaats die algemene teenstrydighede waardeur Suid-Afrikaanse buitelandse beleid gekenmerk word. Die paradokse is tekenend van die historiese kompromie wat tot die ANC se bewindsoorname aanleiding gegee het asook die regering se behoefte om sy neoliberale orientasie te balanseer met bepaalde hevormingsoortuiginge. Hierdie patroon is besonder merkbaar in die geval van multilaterale organisasies. Ses multilaterale inisiatiewe en Pretoria se verhoudinge met elk van die volgende internasionale organisasies word van naderby bekyk, veral ten opsigte van die Wêreldhandelsorganisasie, die Cairns Groep, die Verenigde Nasies Konferensie oor Handel en Ontwikkeling, die Onverbonde Beweging, die Statebond en die Kernspêrverdrag. Daar word gewys op die implikasies vir Suid- Afrika se buitelandse beleid, terwyl daar krities gevra word of sodanige rolle wat deur Pretoria gespeel word, 'n bepaalde onveranderlikheid geniet of ook onderhewig is aan veranderinge.

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