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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X

Historia vol.54 n.1 Durban  2009




Liberals, Marxists, and Nationalists: Competing interpretations of South African History



Merle Lipton



Full text available only in PDF format.



1 A paperback issue is available now of Liberals, Marxists, and Nationalists. Competing interpretations of South African History (Pan Books, Johannesburg, 2009) ISBN 978023061422 Price: R199 00
2 In papers presented at conferences at Sussex University in 2000 and at Copenhagen University in 2002, I pointed to the growing convergence between the liberal and revisionist analyses, and documented the revisionist shifts Far from welcoming my recognition of this shift, there was a 4-year delay in publication of the Copenhagen conference book, while attempts were made to force the editor, Hans Erik Stolten, to drop my paper Stolten refused, although the paper was eventually cut drastically
3 A similar claim that Liberals, Marxists, and Nationalists was "unsuitable" for students was made by an anonymous reader who urged Palgrave MacMillan not to publish it
4 On this claim, see Liberals, Marxists, and Nationalists, p 135
5 It seems not, for a couple of paragraphs later he reiterates: "by the time I wrote my survey ... there were no substantial responses to the core arguments of the revisionists, and some of those arguments were accepted by later liberal historians, as Lipton ... concedes" No, it was the other way round: it was the revisionists, not liberals, who shifted Saunders' survey was published in 1987, long after the publications by Bell, Kantor, Kenny and others, listed in Liberals, Marxists, and Nationalists Saunders also continues to misunderstand my point that, while Thompson, Davenport and others were always mainly focused on political issues, other liberal historians, such as Van der Horst, Horwitz, Frankel and O'Dowd continued to focus on economic issues throughout the 1950s and 1960s
6 Likewise, I do not, as Peires claims, describe Barney Pityana and Kader Asmal as revisionists, but as examples of political agents who were influenced by the negative stereotypes of liberals that were reinforced by revisionist history
7 The problems caused by Saunders' attempt to draw rigid lines between disciplines would presumably also apply to revisionists such as O'Meara, Davies and Kaplan, whom Saunders once described as among those "transforming" South African history, but whose background is mainly in Sociology or Political Economy, unlike mine, which is mainly in History
8 However Pretorius is over the top in claiming that I refer only "briefly" to Giliomee, with some "scattered references" to Van der Merwe There are over 15 references to Giliomee, including discussions within the text (pp 15f, 74f, 114, 145f), and Van der Merwe and J S Marais figure significantly in Chapter 2 on the pre-Union period Nor were the references to African historians, particularly Nolutshungu, as cursory as he suggests (see pp 74-75, 85)
9 Social Dynamics, 1977, 3(1), pp 63-66
10 Gelb's more recent work is also cited in Chapter 6
11 Peires is mistaken in claiming that I do not refer to any other work by Marks The bibliography lists half-a-dozen works written/edited/contributed to by her and relevant to my theme

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