Apartheid's Last Stand: The Rise and Fall of the South African Security State

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Apartheid's Last Stand: The Rise and Fall of the South African Security State

By Chris Alden
St. Martin's Press, 1996
333 pp. $69.95
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Responding to what they saw as a "total onslaught" by communist-inspired revolutionary forces opposed to minority rule, the leaders of South Africa's National Party in the late 1970s developed a broad counterrevolutionary strategy combining incremental social and economic amelioration of conditions for the black majority with tightly controlled political reform. This carefully researched and remarkably objective study analyzes the evolution of policies, institutional changes, and implementation measures associated with this strategy. Alden demonstrates that although South Africa's rulers successfully thwarted violent revolution, they badly underestimated the importance of winning international approval, failed to move fast enough to implement their designs for reform, and could not formulate political goals legitimate in the eyes of the suppressed and increasingly well-organized majority. No attempt is made to penetrate the political black box of the National Party's internal policy conflicts, which remains an under-researched area.