Violence, political strategy and the turn to guerrilla warfare by the congress movement in South Africa
Journal of Southern African studies, 2021, Vol. 47, pp. 1011-1028
STEVENS, Simon, Violence, political strategy and the turn to guerrilla warfare by the congress movement in South Africa, Journal of Southern African studies, 2021, Vol. 47, pp. 1011-1028 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/75042
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
The Congress movement in South Africa was transformed in the early 1960s from a movement committed to the exclusive use of non-violent means in the struggle against apartheid to one focused on rural guerrilla warfare as a free-standing and sufficient first step towards ‘all-out war’ and the armed seizure of power. But few, if any, of the participants in the Congress movement’s deliberations in 1960–61 on whether to ‘turn to violence’ had believed that this was the strategy that they were endorsing when they authorised the abandonment of exclusive reliance on non-violence. The choice facing the Congress movement after 1960 was not between mutually exclusive alternatives of ‘non-violence’ on the one hand and ‘violence’ or ‘armed struggle’ on the other. Rather, Congress leaders contemplated a range of different forms of violent action and considered their relationship to various forms of non-violent activity and to the kind of transition from apartheid that these actions could and should be intended to produce. This article analyses the range of strategic options that were canvassed within the Congress leadership in the early 1960s and the decision-making process by which those options were gradually narrowed. That process was shaped by ambiguity, unilateral action, unintended consequences and state repression, with the result that the Congress movement’s ‘turn to violence’ ultimately took a form that few Congress leaders had initially desired or anticipated.
Published online: 04 Oct 2021
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/75042
Full-text via DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2021.1974224
ISSN: 0305-7070; 1465-3893
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