This is an interesting view:

The now-defunct apartheid system of South Africa presented a fascinating instance of interest-group competition for political advantage. In light of the extreme human rights abuses stemming from apartheid, it is remarkable that so little attention has been paid to the economic foundations of that torturous social structure. The conventional view is that apartheid was devised by affluent whites to suppress poor blacks. In fact, the system sprang from class warfare and was largely the creation of white workers struggling against both the black majority and white capitalists. Apartheid was born in the political victory of radical white trade unions over both of their rivals. In short, this cruelly oppressive economic system was socialism with a racist face.

I’m not sure I agree (I would describe it more as a racist form of corporatism) but interesting….

39 comments on “This is an interesting view:

  1. I dunno Tim.

    Apartheid was obviously an iniquitous and unpleasant system.

    However, I notice we’re still talking about apartheid rather than how Zimbabwe and South Africa are faring under what we are pleased to call “majority rule”.

    Perhaps that’s telling.

  2. There’s nothing in the least contentious about that account. That’s what happened: both Apartheid and the White Australia Policy were the product of British-style trade unions.

  3. The black homelands were set up by the Nationale Party govt as part of their program of ethnic socialism.

  4. Not the first time socialism and racism have been very comfortable bedfellows. Think I’ll add this nugget to the ‘Hitler was a socialist’ meme in the folder marked ‘light red touchpaper and grab popcorn’.

  5. We have ‘apartheid’ in Europe… we call it borders… and we have ‘pass laws’ but call it Passports.

    Immigrants do not automatically get the vote.

    And look what happens when anti-apartheid measures take effect and the apartheid/borders are removed… Romanians, Poles – O calamity!

    Most, maybe all, those who discuss ‘the Apartheid Regime’ never visited South Africa nor know the history of that land.

    All its dwellers, Black, Brown and White are immigrants. The land was largely empty when early re-victualling stations were set up for the Dutch East India Company.

    Movement of Blacks into the area followed the prosperity which came with European farmers and settlements.

    The Whites built South Africa… the Black population is now dismantling it.

    The true racisms is to believe right of abode, rule and that a particular location belongs/doesn’t belong to people according to the colour of their skin.

    The ‘Apartheid Regime’ certainly was not pretty and badly behaved, but that is not the whole story of South Africa, and there is never an affect without a cause.

    Class warfare? Racist form of corporatism?

    How about something more simple and basically Human… survival and preservation of what had been built?

    Is that not precisely what any social group does of it feels threatened by incomers?

    And where in history has any strict, ruthless, minority group, governing regime with control of all levers of government, police, military, the economy voluntarily, not under duress, handed over complete power (with popular approval) and all institutions intact, leaving itself at the mercy of a large majority with good reason to resent, hate, seek revenge?

  6. The land was largely empty when early re-victualling stations were set up for the Dutch East India Company.

    It’s not credible that there should have been readily accessible, fertile, but empty land. In fact the area around the Cape was inhabited by the Khoikhoi – that’s who the re-victualling stations got their victuals from. Hence the series of Khoikhoi-Dutch wars as the settlers took over the land, which continued until the Khoikhoi had been largely wiped out by European diseases. Further east were the Xhosa, hence the Xhosa wars, also known as the Cape Frontier Wars, as European settlement expanded eastwards.

    Tim adds: As Jared Diamond tells it the various Bantu tribes came down from the north over running the various Khoi and San peoples, reaching S Africa perhaps 1,000, 1200 sorta time. And the Dutch and Portuguese turned up 1500 and on. The Bantu crop package didn’t work over the Fish River, so that was the bit that the Khoi still had left, having been driven out everywhere else by the Bantu. The European crop package did work over the Fish River so that did for the Khoi again.

    Which leaves us with the interesting observation that both the blacks and the whites are interlopers in the region.

  7. It’s one of those interesting things; the “blacks” we associate with Africa are in most of the continent recent arrivals due to the Bantu expansion; the Khoi-San are the real “natives”.

    IIRC, the view of some of the now-disapproved of “racial” anthropologists (e.g. the unfortunately named Coon) considered blacks to be a recent evolutionary development compared to the bushmen (and whites, and asians etc) due to an absence of stereotypical negroid skullls in the archaeological/paleontological record, in Africa. AFAIK it’s in modern theory generally accepted that the Africans we’re all descended from are the Khoi, not the blacks.

  8. Dunno about the anthropology, but it strikes me as unsurprising that a political philosophy that elevates group identity over the individual should be most closely associated with apartheid.

  9. “both Apartheid and the White Australia Policy were the product of British-style trade unions”: how very wise of me. But, I ask myself, what in God’s name have British-style trade unions go to do with Socialism? The connection is tenuous.

  10. John B, we certainly have apartheid in Britain. Every time I go to the dentist or fill in an application for employment, I have to fill in forms requesting my ethnicity. I had similar forms to complete when I lived in South Africa.

    The difference here is that it is the white English that are the second class citizens.

  11. Lenin called anti-Semitism the socialism of fools. But socialism it was. And racism has been the only form of socialism that has worked.

    Look at Malaysia’s New Economic Policy. Or Affirmative Action anywhere. Picking out a politically powerless minority and taking their money away from them to give to others (more or less the definition of socialism) does work.

    It also creates a solidarity among both groups. Which is usually a good thing. Maybe not so much in every case.

  12. The difference here is that it is the white English that are the second class citizens.

    Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

    If you want real racism in today’s world, go to Russia. It’s kind of sad that the country that did so much to fight racist-fascism is now the world stronghold of it.

  13. Matthew L – “Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”

    What he said is over-stated but there is a core of truth to it. It is strange that the White majority of Britain has chosen to elect people who despise everything they stand for and are working hard to undermine them – as well as making sure virtually all government-sponsored Affirmative Action works against the White majority – but perhaps that is just part of the pathology of the day.

    “If you want real racism in today’s world, go to Russia. It’s kind of sad that the country that did so much to fight racist-fascism is now the world stronghold of it.”

    Russia did a damn thing to fight Fascism? You mean, apart from help it to power and then ally with it until forced to defend themselves? Russia is a stronghold of racism? Do they do monkey chants like the Italian and Spanish football fans? Do they beat up Jews like Europe’s vibrant Muslim communities? Do they call Blacks slaves as Arabic still does? Do they have a system of de facto apartheid like virtually all of South America?

    Russia’s real crime is to refuse to embrace the Gay agenda. Thus they have to be brought down.

  14. Do they do monkey chants like the Italian and Spanish football fans?

    Yes.

    Do they beat up Jews like Europe’s vibrant Muslim communities?

    Yes.

    Do they call Blacks slaves as Arabic still does?

    When they’re not calling them monkeys.

    Do they have a system of de facto apartheid like virtually all of South America?

    Yes.

    Russia’s real crime is to refuse to embrace the Gay agenda.

    That sad old line again?

  15. Here‘s a picture of some second-class citizens.

    Paul, you’re (deliberately?) using a flawed class analysis in that. It’s the old fallacy of confusing “All X are Y” with “All Y are X”. In reality the statement “All privlleged persons are white” does not mean that “all white persons are privileged”. To point to the high status of some white males tells us nothing about the status of other white males. You would need to know the whole distribution.

    An interesting example of this flaw was Nazi Germany, in which the perception that a very high proportion of both Communists and Capitalists were Jews was used to conclude that most Jews were either Communists or Capitalists (both classes portrayed by the Nazis as undermining the volk) which led, as we all recall, to a rather unpleasant State policy.

    In practise, in Western countries, most privileged persons (the euphemised “Middle Class” who are actually the Upper Class)- politicians, bureaucrats and, crucially, academics, are whites. They, like you, conclude that the source of that privilege is whiteness rather than accept that it their own (social) class’s networking, etc. They are therefore, through guilt, inspired to introduce policies which discriminate against the class of “white persons”. This results, in practise, in persons of the “white” class who have no privilege suffering a negative State discrimination.

    We see this generally in progressivism; for instance, privileged males introducing laws which are harmful to non-privileged males at the urging of the privileged females with whom they socially network. It is a fundamental and catastrophic logical error to assume that a privileged white male shares his privilege with a white council estate lumpenproletarian.

  16. Actually legislating apartheid was the triumph of the Boer vote which was actively not the capitalist section of society – that was the English.

    This is not surprising since lots of very cheap unskilled workers is a threat to the slightly skilled not to the rich.

    So apartheid can indeed be blamed on class war but not a class war it is permissible to mention in “leftist” circles.

  17. Ian, I didn’t say that all white people are privileged. I strongly implied that it’s not true that “it is the white English that are the second class citizens.” Because we’re not.

    You’re right that loss of privilege is felt more keenly by the less privileged and less able.

  18. “Do they have a system of de facto apartheid like virtually all of South America?”

    An ignorant and stupid remark.

  19. Back to the point, which is less about whether white minority rule was better for SA than the current mess than how it came about, the white saffers lost the moral argument for their system by systematic discrimination against the disenfranchised section of society.

    I think some credence has to be given to the “socialist” argument – it wouldn’t be the first historical example of “socialism” that worked simply, and well for some people, by defining a (in the case of SA, very large) proportion of people as not part of your society.

  20. Paul,

    Are you or are you not of the opinion that all whites have, or previously had, privilege by virtue of their whiteness? Your first sentence denies that you asserted that, but your last sentence assumes it.

    So which is it?

  21. but your last sentence assumes it.

    No it doesn’t…

    Regarding the picture of second class citizens, I thought at first he was referring to the Lib Dems in cabinet.

  22. It’s kind of sad that the country that did so much to fight racist-fascism is now the world stronghold of it.

    Communism was, and always will be, a morally wicked system of totalitarian collectivism. The Soviet Union was also particulary racist in the way it sent ethnic Russians into places like the Baltics to dilute Baltic nationalism. Or the way it created political boundaries (Transdnistria, Karabakh) with the express purpose of creating ethnic strife. And that’s when they weren’t deporting ethnic minorites like the Crimean Tatars.

    The notion that totalitarian collectivism is somehow more palatable if it’s perceived to be coming from the left is pernicious nonsense.

  23. Peter S. – “An ignorant and stupid remark.”

    How is it either? Not that I am much concerned. But please feel free to list all the indigenous Mexican billionaires.

  24. PaulB – “Ian, I didn’t say that all white people are privileged. I strongly implied that it’s not true that “it is the white English that are the second class citizens.” Because we’re not.”

    We may not be, but the odd thing is that this country is still run by White men, and yet White men tolerate a system that despises them and their values. Muslim men get a free pass. Asian and Caribbean men are not routinely denigrated in the media or by the government. But White men are. What Affirmative Action we have worked against White men. White men are being driven out of profession after profession, most recently teaching. And all the time, they vote for the governments that do it.

    It is bizarre.

    “You’re right that loss of privilege is felt more keenly by the less privileged and less able.”

    Indeed. Affirmative Action is supported by the Upper Middle Class because they will never suffer from it. Poor Whites do.

  25. The notion that totalitarian collectivism is somehow more palatable if it’s perceived to be coming from the left is pernicious nonsense.

    Which is why I never said anything of the sort. The Russian people suffered disproportionately in the fight against Naziism. The fact that they’re now slipping down a very similar path to 1930s Germany is even sadder considering that they suffered under an equally vile communist dictatorship for so many years.

    By the way, by racism-fascism I meant “fascism combined with racism”, as opposed to the Italian version which was far more nationalist than ethnically based.

  26. White men are being driven out of profession after profession, most recently teaching. And all the time, they vote for the governments that do it.

    How are governments doing that? The Equality Act permits discrimination on the basis of a “protected characteristic” in only a few specified cases. not including the selection of teachers.

  27. Are you or are you not of the opinion that all whites have, or previously had, privilege by virtue of their whiteness?

    There’s not a lot of privilege to be had by discriminating against smallish minorities. But I am of the opinion that men in the UK previously had privilege by virtue of their maleness.

  28. Apartheid was introduced by a coalition of the Afrikaner “National” and the Labour Party.
    It is quite clear that it was in the interests of the capitalists to promote blacks who were better at their job than white colleagues but this was blocked by the white trade unions. The annual reports of most gold-mining companies in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s made it clear that they were working to ameliorate the conditions of their black workers and periodically finding ways around the prohibition on a black worker being promoted to a position where he could give an order to any white worker. Both were in the long-term interests of the capitalists. Helen Suzman, for many years the only Progressive MP in the South African Parliament was mostly funded by rich anglophone whites.

  29. PaulB – “How are governments doing that? The Equality Act permits discrimination on the basis of a “protected characteristic” in only a few specified cases. not including the selection of teachers.”

    By creating spectacularly hostile work places as far as I can see. Most men do not want to work where the default assumption is that they are a child sex offender and where the slightest misinterpreted comment is basis for disciplinary action.

    “But I am of the opinion that men in the UK previously had privilege by virtue of their maleness.”

    Not sure what that would look like. It looks more to me like women have had privilege by virtue of their femaleness. Privilege when it comes to law – a woman can hunt down and kill a boyfriend with few if any legal consequences in a way that a man cannot. Privileges when it comes to most social assumptions – women are always victims.

    But each to their own.

    john77 – “Apartheid was introduced by a coalition of the Afrikaner “National” and the Labour Party.”

    It is easy to distance ourselves from this sort of thing by blaming the Boer. But in fairness, places where Afrikaners were in short supply had very similar systems – Rhodesia and Kenya for instance.

    It is just as much an English thing as a Boer thing.

  30. Russia did a damn thing to fight Fascism? You mean, apart from help it to power and then ally with it until forced to defend themselves?, yes, apart from those, you must have heard surely, Moscow,Stalingrad,Leningrad,Kursk,Bagration …

    Russia is a stronghold of racism? Do they do monkey chants like the Italian and Spanish football fans? yes.

    Do they beat up Jews like Europe’s vibrant Muslim communities? yes.

    Do they call Blacks slaves as Arabic still does? Dunno, but my sister was called a slave by an italian a few weeks ago (she watered her plants in Rome, and the water dripped onto the balcony below). The italian was neither russian nor arabic.

  31. To avoid any confusion in post above, the italian’s slave reference was in reference to her north europeaness, not her blackness.

  32. johnny bonk – “you must have heard surely, Moscow, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Kursk,Bagration …”

    Notice where those battles took place. Stalin hoped to stay out of the war until he was ready to stab Germany and the West in the back. He miscalculated. He was forced to fight those battles. He did not choose to. He was not resisting Fascism until Fascism came to visit him at home. Indeed the only policy he *wanted* to follow was an alliance with the Nazis.

    “Do they beat up Jews like Europe’s vibrant Muslim communities? yes.”

    I bet they don’t. Anti-semitism is clearly dead in Russia. Look at the looting of the Soviet state by mainly Jewish oligarchs. It would be a national outcry anywhere for a tiny minority of people over-represented in the Communist system to turn around and steal everything of value, using their party connections, once the system collapsed. But the Russians have not used it as an excuse to attack all Jews once more.

    “Dunno, but my sister was called a slave by an italian a few weeks ago (she watered her plants in Rome, and the water dripped onto the balcony below). The italian was neither russian nor arabic.”

    You mean she was called a Slav, surely? Not quite the same although the same origin. As is the Italian Ciao.

    Matthew L – “That sad old line again?”

    It seems to be true. Russia is friendly to many of the people who hate the West. It does things they like. Such as host Snowden. But if it turns on the Gays, the Left will be mildly conflicted. Still, it hasn’t stopped the Left’s embrace of Cuba even though Cuba has mandatory HIV tests for Gays and jails them if they test positive.

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