A Flawed Freedom

A Flawed Freedom

Rethinking Southern African Liberation

By John S. Saul





Twenty years on from the fall of apartheid in South Africa, veteran analyst and activist John S. Saul explores the liberation struggle, placing it in a regional and global context. Saul looks at how initial optimism has given way to a sense of crisis following soaring inequality levels and the massacre of workers at Marikana.

With chapters on South Africa, Tanzania, and Mozambique, Saul investigates the reality of southern Africa’s post-“liberation” plight, drawing on the insights of Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral, and assessing claims that a new “precariat” has emerged.

Saul examines the ongoing “rebellion of the poor,” which has shaken the region and may signal the possibility of a new and more hopeful future.

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Saul combines in his person much of what is best about the international political culture of the left.

– Aijaz Ahmed, Indian Marxist scholar and activist

Saul’s greatest contribution has been sharing ideas, criticizing and giving advice—reminding us that we should base our ideology on the concrete realities of our country and people, not on ready-made manuals…that we should always ensure the participation of the people in decision-making, and make socialism not just a slogan but a real objective.

– Jorge Rebelo, poet, long-time Frelimo militant, and cabinet minister in the first government of a liberated Mozambique

This book covers a great deal of ground in an accessible and lively fashion. Concisely and tightly argued, it is a powerful rebuff to “Afropessimists” and neoliberals alike.

– Leo Zeilig, author of Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa (2008)

Saul’s writing is as much the fruit of many decades of struggle and commitment to the cause of the working class in Africa as it is of careful scholarly work. Both as a scholar and as an activist he has taught and inspired many revolutionaries, myself included, and has been part of bold practical efforts to go beyond capitalism.

– Trevor Ngwane, leading South African activist


Introduction “Globalization Made Me Do It” vs. “The Struggle Continues”
Chapter 1 The Failure of Southern African Liberation?
Chapter 2 Tanzania Fifty Years On (1961–2011): Rethinking Ujamaa, Nyerere and Socialism in Africa
Chapter 3 Mozambique—not Then but Now
Chapter 4 On Taming a Revolution: The South African Case
Chapter 5 The New Terms of Resistance: Proletariat, Precariat and the Present African Prospect
Conclusions The Struggle Really Does Continue in Southern Africa
Appendix “More Comfortably Without Her?” Ruth First as Writer and Activist