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Against Racial Capitalism

Against Racial Capitalism

Selected Writings

by Neville Alexander

Edited by Salim Vally and Enver Motala

Series: Black Critique

A collection of writings from one of the anti-Apartheid struggle's major revolutionary public intellectuals

Neville Alexander is not a household name, but he should be. As a revolutionary public intellectual, activist and former political prisoner, he is among the most important theorists of racial capitalism to emerge during the struggle against Apartheid.

Alexander's writings engage with some of the important debates in South Africa from the last 50 years, many of which have international resonance today: from the unresolved national question and the relationship between 'race' and class; the continuities of racial capitalism in post-apartheid South Africa; the role and purpose of schooling and higher education; and the importance of nation building and multilingualism. An opponent of the neoliberal trajectory embarked upon by the post-apartheid establishment in the 1990s, Alexander was always reflective and humble but never wavered from his own self-description: a non-dogmatic Marxist, pan-Africanist and internationalist.

This carefully curated collection brings his incredible body of work to an international audience for the first time. It features a comprehensive introduction, a timeline of key events in the life of Alexander, selected articles, speeches, op-eds, book chapters and a bibliography of his writings.

Neville Alexander was a revolutionary scholar, educator and activist in the struggles against Apartheid and in post-Apartheid South Africa. He spent ten years (1964-74) as a political prisoner on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela and others before emerging as one of South Africa's foremost public intellectuals. His writings are a key reference point for understanding some of the most important debates in that country over the past half-century.

Salim Vally is Professor and Director of the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation (CERT) at the University of Johannesburg and the National Research Foundation’s South African Research Initiative’s Chair in Community, Adult and Workers Education (CAWE). He is co-editor with Enver Motala of Education, Economy and Society, and with Aziz Choudry of Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements: History's Schools.

Enver Motala has worked in education for five decades. He has worked in the labour movement, an education NGO, in government and at various universities. He is currently an Associate of CERT and CAWE and of the Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training at the Nelson Mandela University.

'A treasure chest for all opponents of racism and capitalism, introducing key writings of the late South African revolutionary Neville Alexander on the workings of racial capitalism in his country. More than that, it shows us Alexander the grassroots organizer for liberation. Throughout these pages, we encounter a great radical thinker profoundly committed to changing the world. This is a vital resource in the struggle for global justice.'

- David McNally, Director of the Project on Race and Capitalism, University of Houston

'Amidst all this talk of racial capitalism and abolition, there is one thinker we should all be reading: Neville Alexander. He is a revolutionary intellectual for our times and for our planet. For anyone committed to abolishing, not just studying, racial capitalism, this is the book to read.'

- Robin D. G. Kelley, author of 'Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination'

'Understanding and dismantling racial capitalism is one of the foremost challenges of our time. Not too often seen by international audiences is the brilliant work of South African revolutionary, anti-Apartheid activist, intellectual, and 10-year political prisoner, Neville Alexander. This amazing collection remedies that.'

- Steven J. Klees, Professor of International Education Policy, University of Maryland

'Both profound and provocative. Grounded in history, engaged with revolutionary theory, and informed by a lifetime of practice, Neville’s intellectual acuity and passion for freedom shine through in every page. Read, learn, and join the growing global struggle 'Against Racial Capitalism', and for the just future that Alexander dreamed of and fought for.'

- Barbara Ransby, historian, writer, longtime activist, author of 'Making All Black Lives Matter'

'Much of the contemporary debate around racial capitalism owes an acknowledged debt to Neville Alexander’s path-breaking interventions in the midst of the South African anti-apartheid struggle. This new collection of writings, superbly curated by Salim Vally and Enver Motala, reveals the extraordinary relevance of Neville’s thought for activists and scholars today.'

- Adam Hanieh, Professor of Political Economy and Global Development, University of Exeter

'By reading writings like these, we Palestinians can learn from the South African condition in recognizing apartheid as both a system of institutionalized racial discrimination and a system of racial capitalism. A must-read for all those believing in a future vision of a secular-democratic state in Palestine that is based on a critical understanding of the limits and pitfalls of transformation in post-apartheid South Africa.'

- Professor Haidar Eid, al-Aqsa University, Gaza, Occupied Palestine

'Thoughtfully honours the writing and legacy of Neville Alexander and, in doing so, powerfully offers us coordinates for making a just society. In compiling this book, Salim Vally and Enver Motala inspire us all to continue Alexander’s profound work for racial justice.'

- Arathi Sriprakash, author of 'Learning Whiteness: education and the settler colonial state'

'Thanks to the tireless work of his comrades Salim Vally and Enver Motala, Neville Alexander’s moment is upon us. These careful selections from a half century of speeches and writings, many available here for the first time, are a crucial resource for activists mobilizing against racial capitalism today. This volume is destined to become a classic.'

- Professor Zachary Levenson, University of Texas at Austin, author of 'Delivery as Dispossession: Land Occupation and Eviction in the Postapartheid City'

'In our times of rising global fascism and predatory capitalism, Neville Alexander’s writings provide us with insightful ways of thinking through and beyond the present, and a must read for all of us who share his commitment to 'non-dogmatic Marxism and internationalism'.'

- Mario Novelli, Professor in the Political Economy of Education, University of Sussex

'Powerfully reignites the contributions of Neville Alexander and left organisations including the Black consciousness movement in South Africa, at precisely the moment when we most need its inspiration. Scholars, students, and activists committed to liberation struggles have much to learn from the writings  of one of the most significant revolutionary intellectuals of the last century.'

- Antonia Darder, Professor Emerita, Loyola Marymount University

'This must-read, expertly curated by Salim Vally and Enver Motala, offers a genealogy of Alexander’s political thought, insightful scholarship, and engaged praxis vis-à-vis issues of racial capitalism, multilingualism, education and more.Timely and relevant for scholars and activists concerned with advancing justice around the globe.'

- Monisha Bajaj, Professor of International & Multicultural Education, University of San Francisco

'Neville Alexander’s imaginative work remains profoundly relevant, both to comprehend the pervasive crises of our times and to produce new revolutionary politics and praxes.'

- Professor Noor Nieftagodien, Head of History Workshop, Wits University

'Situates Neville Alexander where he belongs, among the great revolutionaries of the 20th century. In Alexander’s political teachings, we discover strategies for the necessary work of challenging the oppressive racial capitalist order and, through his life of struggle, we inherit a model of radical intellectualism, which refuses the false boundaries between theory and praxis. An essential guide for all who are struggling toward liberated futures.'

- Krystal Strong, assistant professor of Black Studies, Rutgers University

'Whether the topic is education, race, housing, employment, displacement, violence, Neville Alexander’s beautiful writing patiently connects theory and method with purpose. Conceived in the volatile conjunctures of South Africa’s long struggle for self-determination, 'Against Racial Capitalism' is absolutely necessary for all who struggle to understand and change 21st century conditions.'

- Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author 'Abolition Geography: Essays Towards Liberation'

'The lucid writings of Neville Alexander - socialist, pan Africanist, internationalist, revolutionary – are charted against the history of the unfolding liberation struggle in South Africa. Essential reading.'

- Pam Christie, Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town

'Neville Alexander blazed a path among scholars and activists in understanding the entanglements of class and race. This rich collection traces his incisive commentaries as he insisted that theory as well as political action be rooted in the struggle to transform society in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa.'

- Joel Samoff, Center for African Studies, Stanford University


- 'Boston Review'

Preface by Karen Press
Timeline: Key events in the life and times of Neville Alexander
Introduction by Salim Vally and Enver Motala
Part I: Prison Writings: ‘The University of Robben Island’ 1964-1974
Part II: Reaping the Whirlwind: the 1980s
Part III: The Transition to Democracy: 1990 to 1994
Part IV: Post-1994 essays, talks and articles

Published by Pluto Press in Jul 2023
Paperback ISBN: 9780745348377
eBook ISBN: 9780745348384

140mm x 216mm