03 June 2014

The Local State

Induction, Part 8

Garden City

The Local State

The “Local State” is that part of the state apparatus that is apparent in the localities where people live and work, and with which they interact on a daily basis.

It is not a precise term, but it is a useful one when considering the environment that a branch of the SACP or of the ANC, or a COSATU Local, operates in.

In political terms, the local state, taken as a municipality, is historically the first form of (limited) state power that the bourgeois class (the ruling class of the towns) created under feudalism.

Garden City: Ward and Centre

Still, today, the municipality is for the bourgeoisie a natural habitat and a convenient and comfortable home. The ordinary bourgeoisie of the country makes most of its money at this level.

For our text we are going to use the third part of the ANC Branch Manual. It ranges somewhat wider but it contains many references to parts of the “Local State”; and it proposes a correct attitude of study and research into the local state as it exists in every locality, with a view to representing the interests of the people of the area.

The ANC’s class position, as always, is ambiguous. The ANC Branch Manual of 2010 does not mention the SACP, or the Alliance, as a factor at local level. In the section that we are using (Part 3, attached), it takes on a social-welfare guise, which does indeed reflect the character of the ANC as it often appears in the localities. Of course, this is not the totality of the ANC; the ANC, among other things, is a political party of power; and it is a liberation movement. It is all of these things, at once.

In the remainder of this Part 8, we will proceed to look at the electoral demarcations and then at local and national elections, in a general way.

Here, in this item, we will be content to take an overview of a typical local environment, as reflected in the attached ANC document.

In the next part (Part 9) of the Induction Course, we will be dealing with the building of the different components of the Alliance as subjective, free-willing political agency, with revolutionary potential, as well as with quasi-state institutions that exist at local level that compete directly with the voluntary mass-democratic organisations. These include the Ward Committees, Community-Police Forums and School Governing Bodies.

Illustrations: Two of Ebenezer Howard’s diagrams from “Garden Cities of To-morrow”, 1902 – an idealised municipality - an imaginary bourgeois paradise.

·        The above is to introduce an original reading-text: ANC Branch Manual, 2010, Part 3 of 3.