Lessons from Marikana? South Africa's Sub-Imperialism and the Rise of Blockadia

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jasper FINKELDEY, University of Essex, United Kingdom
The Marikana massacre on 16 August 2012 was a cynical act to silence South Africa’s notorious industrial labour disputes. Instead of silence, mining companies had to subsequently deal with unprecedented strike waves intended to radically alter apartheid-like working relations throughout the country. However, South Africa’s highly exploitative and resource depleting political economy has remained in place. What is more, the political elite has tried to ensure global markets that South Africa’s extractive industries will remain a cheap labour, business-friendly profit haven (Bond, 2013). Also South Africa’s admission to the BRICS countries has lubricated rather than altered the governments’ neoliberal aspirations and uneven development in the country (see Harvey, 2006). In concert with its new BRICS allies, South Africa is aggressively promoting the expansion of carbon markets that will very likely put poor ‘underpolluted’ communities at risk of losing their livelihoods as they know it (see Böhm et al., 2012). South Africa’s ‘mineral-energy complex’ is indeed well and alive. Numerous new high-emission mining and energy projects already worsen the social and environmental conditions of the most vulnerable communities (Bond, 2013). This paper will offer a critical analysis of the current ‘resource cursed’ trajectory of South Africa’s political economy. In order to make sense of South Africa’s embeddedness in the world economy, we are looking in more detail at new sub-imperial structures (BRICS) and not so new imperial structures (World Bank, IMF) (Marini, 1972; Bond 2013). To come to grips with the everyday contestation of high-emission mining and energy projects, we are exploring the implications of ‘blockadia’, a concept that prominently features Noami Klein’s new book (2014).