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Class versus Nation

A History of Richard Turner’s Eclipse and Resurgence

Ian Macqueen

This article explores the eclipse and resurgence of the influence and ideas of Richard Turner in South Africa between 1968 and today. The article does this by first exploring Turner’s historical context more closely. It provides an overview of the contributing factors to Turner’s eclipse, namely: government repression, generational differences and strategic disagreements within the New Left. Andrew Nash’s (1999) argument that the eclipse of Turner and the New Left was due in part to their failure to recognise the salience of nationalism is explored, but placed in historical context of these other important factors. The article points, however, to the concurrence of a resurgence of interest in Turner’s work with a broader crisis in the nationalist project in contemporary South Africa (Hart 2013), a development which seems to strengthen the view that the New Left’s fortunes lie on the convex of the ambiguous project of nationalism in South Africa.