The New Radicals: A Generational Memoir of the 1970s

By the end of the 1960s, opposition to apartheid was in disarray. Yet in the space of a few short years, major and radical challenges developed that would set the country on a new path.

This lively and original book tells the story of a generation of activists who embraced new forms of opposition politics that would have profound consequences. In the process it rescues the early 1970s from previous neglect and shows just how crucial these years were in the struggle to transform society. It explores the influence of Black Consciousness, the new trade unionism, radicalisation of students on both black and white campuses, the Durban strikes, and Soweto 1976, and concludes that these developments were largely the result of home-grown initiatives, with little influence exercised by the banned and exiled movements for national liberation. 

‘A much-needed and engrossing personal account of the embryonic student and black trade union movements of the early seventies, and how this younger generation of activists, both black and white, battled to wage struggle at a time when apartheid was at its height, and the liberation movements at their weakest. Through their actions, the radicalism of this generation defined a new politics of opposition.’ – Barbara Hogan, former Minister of Health and of Public Enterprises and political prisoner

‘In the dark days of the early seventies, when the news filtered through to Robben Island of a campaign to release political prisoners, waged by a small group of left-leaning, white students, it buoyed our spirits immensely. This book provides invaluable and illuminating insights into how the next generation of activists took up the struggle against apartheid under very difficult conditions, a story that has not often been told.’ – Ahmed ‘Kathy’ Kathrada, Rivonia trialist and Robben Island prisoner

‘Fascinating and important insight into the emergence of a brave young radicalism of the early 1970s embracing white campuses, black consciousness and trade unionism, which raised questions and challenges not only for the apartheid-capitalist nexus but also for the mainstream liberation movement.

‘Those in exile and in prison strove then to discern what was new and possible. Whilst hope for change was reinforced by these developments, there was also a degree of concern and prejudice. This was compounded by lack of clarity from afar, as to whether such emergent forces would be loyal to the ANC-SACP alliance and how to provide leadership to them. 

‘Looking back, there is much need for honest reflection and the author does us a service with his well-worked research and writing. It leaves one with tantalising thoughts as to whether the incipient democratic left challenges from civil society and trade union circles in South Africa today might fundamentally change our political landscape.’ – Ronnie Kasrils, chief of intelligence for Umkhonto we Sizwe and government minister from 1994 to 2008

About the author

Glenn Moss was a student leader at Wits University in the 1970s. Detained and charged under security legislation in the mid-1970s, he was acquitted after a year-long trial. He went on to edit Work In Progress and the South African Review, head Ravan Press, and then work as a consultant to South Africa’s first post-apartheid government.

Author: Glenn Moss
ISBN: 9781431409716
d-PDF 9781431409723
ePUB ISBN: 9781431409730
mobi file ISBN: 9781431409747
Size (mm): 235x155mm
Pages: 296pp
Format: Paperback
Colour: Black and White
Rights: World
Language: English
Publication Date: April 2014