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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 29, 2024

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South Africa's Election

Since the 1994 election, the ANC (African National Congress) has been in power, and been running South Africa into the ground. Unemployment is sky-high, crime is rampant, power outages are now common (and usually scheduled), by the name of "load shedding", corruption is ubiquitous.

For the first time, in the election occurring one month from now, the ANC risks losing power. But this may not be a good thing, as more radical groups will be eager to form a coalition.

Some background on racial history may be needed.

There are four racial categories used by the government for people in South Africa:

  1. White people are of European descent, of course. There are two main populations: people of British ancestry, who more frequently speak English, and Afrikaners, who are descended mostly but not entirely from a mix of Dutch, German, and French ancestry, and speak Afrikaans, a language descended from Dutch. White South Africans have a distinct group identity. They don't think of themselves as European imperialists, or something. Afrikaners in particular see the Great Trek when they traveled inland after the coming of the British as important ethnic history.

    Currently, white people make up about 8% of the South African population. This is the largest population of European descent anywhere in Africa. Demographically, they are relatively older and have lower fertility rates, so expect this percentage to shrink. Per wikipedia's data, they make up about 5% of those in the 2011 census who were under 15.

    Also of note is that white South Africans are disproportionately wealthy. South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. Some portion of this is due to legacy from Apartheid, as whites were privileged economically and lived in regions closer to economic activity, by statute. And, of course, European institutions were better set up to lead to economic prosperity.

    (To prevent economic competition with black workers was actually one of the driving factors behind the establishment of Apartheid.)

  2. Unlike in the US, where colored is taken to be a slur of sorts, in South Africa, coloured is a distinct racial classifier. Coloured people are mixed race, descended from a variety of groups. They are the most ethnically and genetically diverse ethnic group on earth. Among the genetic influences are: the Khoekhoe pastoralists that once lived in western South Africa prior to the arrival of the Europeans, white European ancestry, ancestry from the black Bantu groups, both from eastern South Africa and from slaves imported from elsewhere in Africa, and east and south asian ancestry, especially Malaysians. This population is not homogeneous; different places may have different ratios. Coloured people primarily speak Afrikaans, and make up a large portion of the population in the Northern and Western Cape, the two westernmost provinces. They make up about 8% of the population.

  3. Black refers to the portion of people who have ancestry primarily from the Bantu ethnic groups of Africa. South Africa has many such groups—of the 11 official languages, 8 are Bantu. The largest and most important Bantu populations are the Xhosa and the Zulu peoples, who together are about half of the black population. (The Zulu have existed in their current form for surprisingly little time: the Zulu empire was built in the early 1800s, when the small Zulu clan, under Shaka, violently conquered and incorporated all their neighbors, before being conquered by Britain decades later.) About 81% of South Africa is black.

  4. And Asians, who make up about 2% of the population.

I'm not really entirely familiar to what extent more fine-grained ethnic distinctions matter to group identity and decision-making, as I don't live in South Africa.

Some Relevant History

Apartheid (pronounced uh-par-tate, not -tide) is infamous, of course. Running up until 1994, the Afrikaner National Party was in power, and had regulations keeping racial separation and government-backed privilege of whites in place. Among the key causes in its formation was white Afrikaners wishing not to compete for employment with black people in the early 20th century.

1994, with the end of Apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela was a key moment. South Africa managed to transition relatively peacefully and democratically, as these things go, though not without incident.

The ANC, or African National Congress, was formed under Apartheid. It was communist (the Soviets trained them), and participated in violence. Nelson Mandela, though a peacemaker late in life, was much less of one earlier. And his wife, Winnie Mandela, was far more violent: she was known for necklacing, that is, drenching tires in gasoline, putting them around the necks of victims, and setting it on fire. But nevertheless, the transition in the 1990s was generally peaceful, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and so forth. Since then, the ANC has remained in power. The ANC remains economically left-leaning. It has implement several racial programs, including Black Economic Empowerment, a form of affirmative action, which pushes black ownership and management, especially, among companies. (You may think that this would lead to whites struggling to find work, but this seems not to be the case; white unemployment is far lower than the national average, though still higher than in the US). The ANC has struggled with high levels of corruption.

Under the ANC, South Africa has struggled. Among the more visible parts of this is the electricity situation. Eskom, the state utility apparatus, has had pervasive issues with corruption. Contributing further to this is issues with crime: stealing electricity (that is, illegally hooking up lines to the power grid, to get free power) is common in the slums, increasing the load on the system, and people have been known to steal the copper from the power infrastructure in order to sell it.

Further, much of South Africa is doing poorly economically more broadly. The unemployment rate is somewhere around 32%, which is the highest in the world, slums exist, roads are often poorly maintained, and overall things aren't great. There has been some inflation of the rand (their currency), though certainly nowhere near hyper-inflation levels.

Crime rates are high in South Africa. Several South African Cities are listed as among the cities with highest murder rates in the world. Of course, the same could be said of the US cities, and it requires that you have a government capable enough of tracking and releasing those statistics even to show up, so that may not be the best measure. Nevertheless, crime rates are still high by any standard. People have gates with bars in front of their doors, and often fences around their property, at least, among the well-to-do. Many live in gated communities, with private security. There is four times as much private security as police officers.

All this said, South Africa is still among the most prosperous African countries, so there is illegal immigration.

Since 1994, South Africa has had four presidents, all of the ANC. First, and most famous, Nelson Mandela. Second, was Thabo Mbeki. Under both of these people, corruption was common, but it was under the third, and most controversial, Jacob Zuma (president 2007-2017), that it became the most extensive and well known.

While most of those in leadership in the ANC were Xhosa, Jacob Zuma is Zulu, which has made him fairly popular with much of the Zulu populace. He has been known for sexual license, for more rampant and open corruption, most notably, with the India-born Gupta brothers, and pushed for left-wing economic populism and racial grievance.

Since 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa has been in power. While some were hopeful that he would be better than Zuma, South Africa has not done especially well. Controversy has continued with Zuma, with him spending some time in jail, before being released early.

The ANC is currently polling at around 40% nationally, under 50% for the first time since 1994. This makes this election a little unstable, as some coalition will have to be formed.

Enough of history of South Africa and the ANC, now to the opposition parties.

Opposition Parties and the Election

The largest such party is the Democratic Alliance (DA). The DA has long held power in the Western Cape province, where there are fewer Black Africans, and has also managed to govern some cities in the province of Gauteng, where the largest city (Johannesburg) is, and one of South Africa's three capitals. Otherwise, though, it has been the largest opposition party.

The DA is generally considered to be much more competent. The Western Cape has been doing the least badly of all the provinces. The DA is fairly centrist, economically, and opposes affirmative action and the radical redistribution programs suggested by more extreme elements within South African politics. Unfortunately, it also has something of a reputation of being the "white people's party." Its base is certainly not entirely white, as it has been getting around 20% of the vote, of late, which is more than double the entire white population, but that is not entirely unfounded. The leadership is more white, at least, and white people are disproportionately likely to vote DA. It's also relatively popular among the Coloured community. But this isn't good for getting elected. Helen Zille, the leader of the DA from 2009 to 2019, also had the scandal of saying that colonization was a net good for South Africa, which, while maybe true, is probably something you should try to avoid saying when you're a minority party trying to hold together a coalition of like-minded people. The DA would like to have more power less centralized, and more at the provincial level, presumably so that they can get to manage more of the western cape and be less hamstrung by the national government.

The EFF (Economic freedom fighters) was formed in 2013, when Julius Malema and his friends broke off from the ANC. The EFF is very far left wing: they advocate for confiscating land and wealth from white people. If you saw online the discourse about the "Kill the boer!" chants, these were those people. Malema has said that he is not calling for white people, for now. (Yes, the "for now" was part of what he said.) They are communist in ideology, like the ANC. Malema has advocated for aid to Hamas. They wish to (quoting wikipedia here), "expropriate White-owned farmland, nationalise the mining and banking sectors, double welfare grants and the minimum wage, and end the proposed toll system for highways." (Remember, South Africa is at 30% unemployment, and economically relatively stagnant.)

It would be bad if the EFF ended up in power. Because in this upcoming election, the ANC is likely to fall belower 50%, the DA has been worrying about a "doomsday coalition" between the ANC and the EFF.

The EFF has drawn most of its voting from young black men. It received about 11% of the vote in 2019, and was feared to be polling at maybe 17% of the population for this upcoming election, up until a few months ago, but is now back down to around 10%.

A few months ago, Jacob Zuma announced the formation of the MK, (uMkhonto we Sizwe), named after the old paramilitary wing of the ANC. Zuma has wished to be eligible, which is constitutionally questionable because of a 2021 conviction. Nevertheless, he still has had courts rule in his favor, though the process is ongoing.

The EFF and MK are fairly aligned, and seem to be willing to cooperate after the election. The MK supports such things as "expropriating all land without compensation and transferring ownership to the people under state and traditional leadership custodianship," change to a more African-based legal system, replacing the constitution, making college (including through post-graduate) free and compulsory, and providing permanent jobs to everyone capable and willing.

MK is most popular among Zuma's base, so it is doing best in KwaZulu Natal, the Zulu homeland. It has been polling overall at about 10%, taking votes primarily from the ANC and EFF.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is affiliated with the Zulu monarchy. Historically, they've done well with Zulus, though that was less the case when Zuma headed the ANC. They support power being transferred to provincial governments rather than the national government, and don't seem crazy. They are polling at only 5% or so.

ActionSA, my vague sense is, like the DA, but more black, and is polling at maybe 3% or so. They left the DA in 2020.

The VF+ (Freedom Front plus) are right leaning, and most popular with Afrikaners. They are in favor of the rights of minority groups, such as Afrikaners and Coloureds, and are against affirmative action, and in favor of free markets and small government. They are in favor of Cape Independence. I think they may have something of a reputation of right-wing racist extremists, because they're Afrikaners disproportionately, and Apartheid was a thing. This perception is funny, because they are policy-wise one of the parties least in favor of racial discrimination. I think they're currently my personal favorite, but I haven't looked excessively deep. They're only polling at 2% or so.

There are more parties.

Of course, all the parties are also gesturing at how Their One Plan Will Work to fix the electricity situation, reduce crime, lead to more jobs, etc.

The DA has organized a Multi-Party Charter to work against the ANC, EFF, and MK, including all the other parties listed above. I haven't yet worked out what exactly that's supposed to accomplish.

It is still unclear what coalition will be formed, and what policies that will result in. I could imagine the EFF or MK being in a ruling coalition could lead to many whites seeking to leave the country.


A few provinces are also up in the air. The Western Cape, governed by the DA for the last 15 years, looks like there is a chance that it loses control of the province, or at least has to enter into coalition. This would be bad, as the Western Cape is the province doing least badly. The Referendum Party was recently formed, and is running in the Cape, in the hopes that the DA will need them to enter into coalition to run the province, in order to hold a referendum for cape independence, to get the Western Cape to secede from South Africa. The VF+ also supports cape independence. There were polls not long ago indicating that it is also relatively popular with the people of the cape, with at least a referendum agreed to be worthwhile by the majority. If any such thing happened, it would be strongly disliked by most of the country. The referendum party and VF+ support it, under the right of self-determination, and in order to stop South Africa from dragging down the Western Cape. The Western Cape is the only province that is not majority black, which means that many think cape independence is racist. Of course, even if a referendum occurs, and passes, which are both not especially likely, it's still probably unlikely South Africa just lets them go, and international politics isn't going to want to help the white-coded people by the imposition of pressure.

KwaZulu-Natal, the Zulu homeland, is also uncertain. The MK is doing well, but the ANC, DA, and IFP will all also be relevant.

Gauteng, the most populated and most urban province, containing Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, etc. could also end up governed by a coalition other than the ANC. It was barely won by the ANC in 2019, so it will probably need to be some coalition after this election, but who knows the constituents.

All the others should be taken by the ANC, I imagine.

I guess I'll have to report back later (no idea how long coalitions will take to sort out) how that all turns out. It's looking like we will have a situation where the ANC, DA & co., and MK+EFF will each have enough of a block that any two of them would be able to coalition, but none on their own. I'm not sure what will be most likely to form from that.

If anything radical happens, like the Western Cape seceding, or South Africa Zimbabweing itself, that'll be sure to have an effect on the discourse around the country. (And of course, more importantly, on the people themselves.)

The DA is generally considered to be much more competent. The Western Cape has been doing the least badly of all the provinces. The DA is fairly centrist, economically, and opposes affirmative action and the radical redistribution programs suggested by more extreme elements within South African politics. Unfortunately, it also has something of a reputation of being the "white people's party." Its base is certainly not entirely white, as it has been getting around 20% of the vote, of late, which is more than double the entire white population, but that is not entirely unfounded.

If you're a bayesian reasoner, you might have a hypothesis - "white people have a higher average IQ than black people for genetic reasons, and this is a large contributor to political stability and economic success". You might have other hypotheses with other explanations for poor political and economic conditions in Africa. And, reasoning about history is hard, there's a lot of contingency and it's hard to determine causation, but if you add up all the small updates it the probability for the first hypothesis seems to steadily move up. So, as a genuine question from someone who isn't confident either way - what are some pieces of evidence against that hypothesis? Not about IQ and genes, that's been done to death , but specifically it as a contributor to political and economic stability. Similar anecdotes to the quote are fine.

This isn't evidence, exactly, but it seems pretty plausible that western institutions and culture (e.g. having more individualistic and high-trust societies) made it easier for those of european descent to flourish, making their success greater than the effects of the IQ gap alone?

Apartheid is almost universally derided. But was it better for South Africa? This is a variation of the Ian Smith argument.

It was clearly better for the whites. Perhaps it was better for the non whites (less crime, better functioning government).

It raises the question of what the purpose of government is (ie is it about creating a good life or is it about self determination). If the latter, then what is the SA argument against allowing the Boers to form their own separate country. There isn’t even the anti colonialism argument.

In both cases, doing some reforms but not going in the direction of black communist nationalists would definetly be much better than handing power to black communist nationalists like Mugabe and the ANC. Indeed, if you want to avoid racism, you not only don't handle power to them, you suppress them by force and not allow them to have organizations. What we got now, is liberal parties worldwide trying to copy the ANC agenda. Global liberalism supporting ANC coming to power is also condemnable. Modern new left liberalism is a very radical ideology that doesn't get sufficient negativity for it.

Even if you have a multiethnic country that isn't going to seperate, you should supress by force this kind of ideology and politics on the basis of protecting a group, in this case whites, either as minority, or as a larger demographic. Democracy as it is understood does not necessarily imply allowing all sorts of policies and the tyranny of progressive supremacists. But in any case, it is the better choose to suppress the choice of voters for black communist nationalists, and even of elites who bypass agenda of voters and are even more supportive of such ideology as has been the case in some european countries. Or even of very influential NGOs of this ideology which become a state within a state.

A South Africa that didn't allow parties like ANC and those more extreme, and such politicians found themselves in prison, and parties and organizations with such agenda banned, would be both a better governed one, and one that seeks the common good and respects the rights of its people, over following an agenda to screw whites, for blacks and promote communist nationalism which is also horrible policy in general. Doubly so when it is black communist nationalism against whites, that pretends their contributions to the economy is due to legacy of apartheid and racism. In both a democratic, and non democratic system you should suppress this ideology and its organizations.

Of course, if a significant part of a different ethnic group population has an agenda that is about screwing over the other ethnic group and pretend they are antiracist when doing so, then I don't see why separation is necessarily the wrong choice. Less problem of inequality between blacks and whites in the same country, if they are in a different country.

It raises the question of what the purpose of government is (ie is it about creating a good life or is it about self determination). If the latter, then what is the SA argument against allowing the Boers to form their own separate country. There isn’t even the anti colonialism argument.

Absolutely valid point, for which the answer is that the movement that is against Boers having self determination is a hypocritcal antiwhite black nationalist and other intersectional alliances movement. It isn't a consistent movement that consistently follows principles for, or against self determination, or for, or against racism. It is who/whom that animates this movement. Even though there are definitely supporters of it who don't see themselves that way.

Modern new left liberalism is a very radical ideology that doesn't get sufficient negativity for it.

No it isn’t. The world bank, WHO, rules-based-international-order of neoliberalism? That’s about as nonradical as you can get. Aggressively not radical. It files the sharp edges off the communists and the reactionaries in order to keep things running a little more smoothly.

A South Africa that didn't allow parties like ANC and those more extreme, and such politicians found themselves in prison, and parties and organizations with such agenda banned

How do you think that’s enforced? How do you make sure the right people get suppressed? For every apartheid SA there’s a lovely Cambodia or North Korea or Rwanda descending into bloodshed. The best situation we’ve found, empirically speaking, is to weaponize tolerance. That’s liberalism.

No, its not liberalism, since liberalism includes more than that, especially modern mainstream liberalism.

New left Liberalism is supporting supression of those most stongly opposing such agendas while promoting itself mass migration of foreign groups, hate speech laws, discrimination and propaganda against the replaced non progressiv demographics (creating future electoral politics also more in line with agendas like black communism nationalism) while concern trolling people who oppose this. Of course new left liberals have supported the trajectory South Africa has followed and promoted similiar policies to their own countries. Including hate speech laws and propaganda that demonizes white people and elevates progressive favored grousp as superior. The new left does have a radical progressive supremacist and authoritarian agenda which is implementing in practice. The ADL that you support and your politics are radical in fact. This idea promtoed by various people that try to seperate this new left agenda from liberalism, is simply not respectful of both present situation and of history. There is not in fact a clear border seperating liberals from the far left.

That is a core aspect of what modern liberalism is in practice. Even if we have supporters of it who try to present it as something else.

As for suppressing black communist nationalists leading to tyranny. Of course it is a core aspect of a free democratic society, and even a free non democratic society to have a constitution and not let just any pollicy run as it goes against the rights. New left, tribalist favoritism in favor of blacks and demonization against. The idea that democratic societies should suprress north korean like extremists is a sound one and we live in a world where far leftists suprress those more even handed than them under the pretense they are suppressing far righters.

The only way we avoid inevitable hardcore bad consequences is to suppress far left extremists. It does not lead to tyranny to do so, it helps us avoid their tyranny to keep them down. And in fact, supressing far left extremists whose agenda is to oppress for example both political opposition and often the case whites, with their policies, propaganda and false history, and authoritarianism, is a core element of getting the promise of democracy. Plus avoiding the enormous problems of decline and corruption from their far left politics that have helped bring south africa enormous decline. So the promise of democracy is a society that protects the common good and respects the human rights of its people, not just whatever elites who pretend represent public opinion says, applies, nor mob rule. The promise of democracy has failed because instead of doing this, we have far left extremists persecuting others.

And in countries like South Africa it was going to be indeed a much more difficult proposition due to demographics. This doesn't change the fact that the best option at play was not to give the power to black commnist nationalists. And the difficulties also relating not just to demographics but global left and liberals pushing things in that direction when they could have been adamant to push for some reforms but not to give power to black communist nationalists. Not to accept the radical premise that inequalities are just due to racism.

The tribe new left liberals and what they believe is bad and should be suppressed but the general philosophy of liberalism, or what is associated with that before or excluding the new left, is not perfect but has important flaws. But there are certain elements/virtues that are valuable. A bit like with the enlightenment, we had reign of terror and far left extremists, with the French revolution, but there were some valuable elements in the enlightenment. Ultimately liberalism philosophically becomes inevitably this radical far left, hypocritical authoritarian dictatorship of progressivism monstrosity, if not combined with a healthy dose of conservatism and also, since a core part of the problem is also extreme favoritism and tribalism for progressive associated tribes and hatred and contempt for the rights while virtue signaling how they are antiracists, also to aknowledge the group rights of non progressive groups, so a certain nationalism in combination with certain internationalism that respects nations, both their own and of foreign ones is also a component of the only thing that has worked well as international justice which is ethnopluralism where different nations have reciprocoal rights. So, things like checks and balances are valuable, but so are laws against treason and not letting far left extremists taking over. I actually do think that this is a compromise on liberalism because it does exist as a purity spiraling ideology that transforms into something more far left. There is an inherent element of whigish progressive doubling down in historical liberalism, that can lead to it becoming far left as it has done. Just like non new left western societies were a compromise between liberal, conservative, nationalist and even in some cases internationalist elements, within them the radical part that saw them following the liberal and progressive doubling down trajectory, also existed.

And today modern liberal organizations instead of applying international justice consistently, we have organisations like Amnesty international pretend that Europeans are not indingeneous in their own homelands.

So yeah, modern mainstream liberalism is completely rotted with cultural marxist, authoritarian agendas and extremely machiavelian. It is a part of the far left. With liberalism as a philosophy contra to liberals as a political tribe and their political philosophy of modern liberalism where things are much more negative because the later are have been supporting something more extreme, what I am suggesting is throwing out the bathwater without throwing out the baby. Successful modern western societies were a mixture of liberal, conservative, nationalist and internationalist elements and which are something more sophisticated, wiser and greater fulfills the high minded promises of concepts like democracy, or positive associations of liberalism. They failed to keep down far left extremists whose agenda is as I described however, and the world is now experiencing the consequences and is on a radicla path of transformation to south africa like agenda.

Of course another element of far left extremism part of liberalism is extreme tolerance for far left extremists and even ethnic authoritarian supremacists, of a more left wing hue, which destroys their society, in combination, in new left liberalism with a hypocritical sharing and being the authoritarian supremacist movement that through law and practice implements a cancel culture to any dissent and enforces the demonization, discrimination, double standards in the justice system too of course and even deliberately follows policies that will lead to the extinction and replacement of their ethnic outgroup. While also tolerating radicals who want something worse and transforming society in a direction where it made possible that eventually they may get their way. Not to mention the race targeted violence and criminality that ensues in a society that has this kind of policies and rhetoric.

The fact that modern new left liberalism denies this nature and tries to present itself as an anti-authoritarian movement, doesn't change the fact that is an authoritarian movement in fact. Indeed, it is a part of its negative element that makes it deserving of a more negative reputation.

This ideology is the problem. I certainly am not suggesting we purity spiral dismantle anything that might seem to fit into liberalism, when I argue that communist nationalists should not have the political power to run South Africa and Rhodesia/Zimbabue to the ground. Wiith murderous consequences especially for the later. In your case the extremely authoritarian and highly influential ADL, brings such objections, but you have sided with them.

And I can't but wonder if you bring such objections because you do think such far left extremists should successfully do what they want and persecute dissent, and not because you genuinely oppose tyranny, but the opposite where you sympathize with black communist nationalist agenda. Because, actually it is the fact that new left liberalism implements similar agendas and sympathizes with them, and allows state within a state NGOs to run riot and both in private sphere, and within goverment, persecute people. Its not a fringe movement but mainstream in modern liberalism and even supposed rightist parties like Torries which aren't right wing, which have adopted modern liberalism have done. And there are few organizations more emblematic of this kind of politics than the ADL.

So no, we should give an accurate reputation of what new left liberalism is doing, instead of this fraud of a consistent movement for tolerance, that is even handed, following international justice and consistent rules. It is a cultural marxist movement that shares plenty with black communist nationalists they supported taking over in South Africa and is increasingly trying to bring more south africa politics in western countries. However, excessive tolerance to such far left extremism in western societies has also been an unwise course that has let to the tyranny of the far left. The reality is that machiavelian hiding their power level far leftists, under the banner of liberalism have been pushing in such direction, but there have also been people who have been more unwisely gullible, who were manipulated by the machiavelian far leftists who concern trolled tolerance and didn't understand how tolerating far left extremists to march on institutions and take over is ruinous and unwise, and not a virtue. That they weren't tolerating an ideology of tolerance and restraint, but a radical ideology.

It goes against a free society to not be in the sweet spot of tolerance, to not have rules against treason and criminals, and not consider treason and criminality when certain agendas that do qualify are implement and factions do take over. The right to accurately label treason as such, is one eroded by far left extremism when it comes to labeling their agenda at such, but this isn't because the end result it seeks is a tolerant society, but the opposite. The only free and just societies that have ever existed are those who make wise trade offs and yes do show a restraint, but still keep criminals down. Obviously, if you don't keep totalitarian political comisars down, if like the Russians 100 years ago, you are passive in the face of radicals trying to take over your country and slow to react, the end result is one that is worse than if you did act.

Another aspect of this, was not tolerance, or be guilible but passivity and lacking will for confrontation, even though this was an important issue that a stand ought to had been made, and also should be made today. Especially for countries which aren't yet South Africa. Letting things go further in a South Africa direction, is going to be another mistake.

In any case, we don't live in an age of consistent extreme tolerance, and we have no reason to let far left extremists ruin things, due to a principle of tolerance that nobody follows consistently and certainly is not seen as incompatible with democracy. Modern liberalism is a movement for tolerating its far left extremists which include actual self identifying liberals and people they sympathize with, with pretense of universalist tolerance they don't follow because they are being incredibly intolerant of others. Western democracies that operate under this ideology are rather intolerant to what they perceive often inaccurately, as too far to the right. Which is categorized broadly in a manner that brings us far left tyranny. This is the time where the pressing need is for taking seriously the enormous problem of far left extremists who are actually a fatal danger to a free, non tyrannical society. And then not letting such ideology destroy countries, both through tyranny and through the other negative consequences of cultural marxist regimes.

At least in Zimbabwe, the black citizens now have less economic prosperity and less political freedom than they did in Rhodesia.

But the whites don't have it any better, and that's what's important, right?

I’ve really come to admire Ian Smith. It is a hard thing to “go it alone” but he was of course right. And not in a cartoonish “white people are always superior” way but in an obvious “look around and see what is happening in Africa with these shitty leaders” way. It was a deeply unpopular position but one that actually was best for both blacks and whites. That requires strength of character.

If Smith had followed the British strategy also used in Botswana, Zambia and to some extent Namibia then the white population of Zim would be better off. That’s not to say he could have anticipated how Mugabe’s rule would go but if you look at all three of those countries they still have white farmers owning and running most of the most valuable/productive farmland and relatively little ethnic hostility toward them. A white farmer almost became president of Zambia pretty recently even. Rhodesia abolished strict racial segregation (where Salisbury etc was reserved for whites only) in the mid-1950s. By the early 60s it could have gone either way, but each side was slowly radicalized until the whites panicked at the plan to slowly allow educated blacks to become the majority of the electorate and then the UDI was inevitable.

It depends what you mean by "better". A lot of older black folks look back on it wistfully given the current state of the country (I've had them joke to me about asking if they can vote for de Klerk), but for young black south africans the general attitude is that opportunity for aspiration is worth the price.

The real problem with apartheid is just that it didn't work very well. It was a bureaucratic mess dominated by a small group of hardline Afrikaner Calvinists who wished they could repress whites as much as they repressed blacks. The army was stronger than Rhodesia's in terms of size and equipment, but far less well-run and well-led. The "deep state" acted with complete lawlessness, dabbling in everything from illegal medical experiments to rhino poaching. The government blocked the introduction of TV until 1976, in large part for religious reasons. The system's fundamental contradiction between the desire for separation and the need for cheap black labour created a class of displaced single male labourers who would then become the foundation of modern townships. The racial classifications in mixed cities made no sense - Japanese were white, Chinese were coloured, Muslims were coloured unless they were Turks, in which case they were white, and god help you if some bureaucrat decided to screw with your classification. Generally, things ran on Kafka's playbook with a side of hypocrisy.

Now, could apartheid have worked if it had been set up properly from the beginning by some visionary genius and run efficiently? Yes, I suspect so, given the example of Rhodesia only folding to external pressure, or the possibility of simply jettisoning the "bantustans" as genuinely separate countries (though once SA was addicted to cheap labour, that became impossible). Did apartheid deliver many extremely valuable things, like basic safety, that SA no longer does? Largely yes. Could actually existing apartheid have survived, even without sanctions, without ending up collapsing into a race war? Only, in the long run, by becoming a genuinely totalitarian police state with all that implied - and, ultimately, that would have been a sad fate for a country founded by some of Europe's most freedom-loving children.

Generally, things ran on Kafka's playbook with a side of hypocrisy.

Yes, I’d definitely gotten the impression of apartheid being a corrupt mess running off of cheap labor and limited central control of the state apparatus, which didn’t work as well as it’s thought to have. It’s nice to have that confirmed.

What I’d never heard was the description of it as being fundamentally bureaucratically arbitrary; most people who described living under the system- including one who was half Lebanese and I would have expected to suffer from bureaucratic probes into his racial classification- described the oppressive aspects as being aimed at other people- either blacks or dissident whites who couldn’t keep their heads down. I’m totally willing to believe it could be a problem for some people, though.

And BTW ‘Japanese are white but Chinese are colored’ and ‘Muslims are colored unless they’re Turks’ just seem like common sense to me, although I suppose that’s not the extent of racial arbitrariness.

From a South African: great writeup. A couple minor points:

  • "uh-par-theid" is a valid English pronunciation. "uh-par-tate" is the Afrikaans pronunciation, but even Afrikaans speakers (those without strong accents) will say apar-theid when speaking English.
  • The Zulu/Xhosa divide is extremely important, probably more than any other ethnic division in terms of determining backroom politics, given that it dominated ANC internal politics after Mandela. Mbeki's corruption/nepotism crew were nicknamed the "Xhosa Nostra" ("Xhosa" = "Khosa"), and when Zuma came to power the Zulu faction of the ANC saw it as their turn to eat. MK is essentially those parts of that faction who were kicked from the ANC trying to do their own thing. Ramaphosa, the current president, represents something of a compromise (he's from a small tribe, the Venda, not under either umbrella), but leaning towards the comparatively moderate and business-friendly Xhosa faction.
  • Both the IFP and VF+ may sound good now, but they were essentially forced into sanity by irrelevance - both started out as very immoderate parties. Back in the 90s there were very real concerns the IFP would start a civil war in the name of Zulu nationalism, and the original Freedom Front were a hard-right Afrikaans group descended from the pro-Apartheid opposition to de Klerk. Their brands are so tarnished that, realistically, they will stay very small.
  • The DA has done a surprisingly good job on the ground in the Western Cape - their main problem, apart from the central government, is that South Africa's problems are so intractable nobody can live up to campaign promises. Secession is far more popular than comparable movements elsewhere, and also imo a very good idea, but the basic issue is that there's very little organization or money behind it compared to the DA. This may well change if the DA fails or is forced into coalition with the ANC and therefore has to take responsibility for ANC failures. Western Cape opposition is, organizationally and financially, dominated by Respectable White People - but I find their impeccably liberal opinions can quickly change to secession talk after a few glasses of wine.

Thanks, that's really helpful.

Huh, the South Africans I know pronounce it the way I specified. Maybe that's unusual.

Could be a regional/linguistic thing, I haven't been up north to the more Afrikaans parts in quite some time, and most of the Afrikaners I know in the Cape are very Anglicized. Imo it would come across as either pretentious or trying to make some political point if a native English-speaking South African put emphasis on the Afrikaans pronunciation (for a foreigner, of course, it's just "ah, you actually know about South Africa!" South Africans, black and white, tend to be quite happy when people know them as more than a caricature - I've been asked by Westerners more than once "Oh, South Africa? Where's that?")

The one I know best is from the Cape, comes from an English-speaking family, but went to an Afrikaans-speaking university, and hasn't lived in South Africa for a few decades.

On Zulu/Xhosa tribalism- which faction headlines the ANC? Is the general public of the opinion that Zuma’s faction leaving puts the Xhosa nostra firmly in the driver’s seat?

So, the ANC has gone back and forth between the two, and there were always cliques moving in and out of the main Xhosa/Zulu power structures within the party. Money united governing factions just as much as tribe. Ramaphosa represents a mildly Xhosa-slanted compromise with moderate/business-friendlier Zulu factions, but there is definitely fear among Zulus that the old Mbeki way of doing things will come back (Ramaphosa is somewhat corrupt - he definitely pays bribes to get things done - but there's a general sense among business-friendly people that he's corrupt in the interests of the country. Mbeki wasn't as blatantly corrupt as Zuma, but he had some awful people, notable for AIDS denialism contributing to SA's horrific HIV/AIDS problem). It's not quite a Zulu/Xhosa crackup of the ANC yet, particularly because the MK is so Zuma-centric and nobody knows where it will go yet. Educated and better-off Zulus are often embarrassed by Zuma representing them, for obvious reasons, and South Africa has a long history of splinter parties which go nowhere. I'd speculate this is more likely going to be a split among Zulus between Zuma loyalists and those remaining with the ANC, which could well spell a decrease in tribal jockeying within the ANC rather than Xhosa dominance. Worth noting that Zuma seems to have significantly greater ability to organize street violence than the ANC, which is a potentially massive wild card. Johannesburg is iirc the largest city in the world without a natural water source, northern SA's economy is dependent on mining exports, and Joburg's lifeline to the coast runs through the Zulu regions...

providing permanent jobs to everyone capable and willing

I can't remember any examples of this system. Without the last word communist states would be close, though "permanent" is a stretch, but with the addition of "willing" it appears impossible. How such a thing would work?

East Germany had something like this. Because of its unique situation with continued flight to the West, many factories and other businesses were constantly begging for employees.

Interesting. Was that just for skilled jobs, or for everything? And why couldn't they just get employees from other Eastern Bloc countries- was it the language barrier, or was travel for work just forbidden?

They got a bunch of Vietnamese, whose descendants are still there today. The equivalent of the Turks in West Germany, though fewer and better-behaved, which is why you don't hear about them much. The same is true of some other ex-Eastern Bloc countries like Czechia.

But no, individuals couldn't just go and move of their own accord. (The exception to that was Yugoslavia, at least at some times, but given the choice, they'd rather go to West Germany obviously.)

It was for quite a range of occupations IIRC.

I know they did bring in some Cubans and even Vietnamese, but that may have been for propaganda value and "proletarian internationalism" points. Don't think they ever had Poles or Romanians.

From their manifesto, "The state will offer employment to everyone who is willing and able to work, at a decent rate above the minimum wage of R4500, with skills development and training opportunities."

You can see the rest of their suggestions there as well.

I might have taken it too literally, I read it as that a job must be provided to any applicant, nobody can be fired, and simultaneously people are not compelled to work. On second thought, this isn't impossible, it's just welfare mixed with LARP.

So there’s corrupt, banal and incompetent, reasonable but unpopular, and crazy and evil as the three basic blocs.

It sounds like the ANC can caucus with the EFF/MK if they have to; can they caucus with the DA and friends?

And regarding cape independence, I’d be interested in hearing from people with specific knowledge- how much of it is just people with whatever agenda hitching it to complaints about poor national level governance? Texas nationalism is basically that- people with some not-gonna-happen agenda(goldbugs, Russophiles, etc) convince themselves that Texas independence would be their best shot at implementing their agenda, and generate interest off of the fact that everyone in Texas except partisan democrats thinks the state can govern itself better than the feds can. In South Africa’s case one can easily see the same process going on.

It sounds like the ANC can caucus with the EFF/MK if they have to; can they caucus with the DA and friends?

Probably? I don't have too extensive of a sense of how any of the three coalitions would play out—how much each would have to concede, compared to what they're willing, or how much they'd demand.

Looking at the 2021 municipal results, wikipedia lists several coalitions including both DA/EFF and ANC/EFF coalitions, but no ANC/DA ones. I'm not sure how much predictive power that has, though.

I’d be interested in hearing from people with specific knowledge- how much of it is just people with whatever agenda hitching it to complaints about poor national level governance?

My impression is not really? The Referendum party is basically campaigning on "we'll work with the DA completely and entirely, we just want to force a referendum."

That said, I don't know how well independence would work. I'm sure it has some level of dependence on other parts of the country for things, and don't know what Cape Town's economy does mostly and whether that's separable.

(While I was checking its power situation, I ran across the quote that Eskom, as of 2010, produced 45% of all electricity in the entire continent, which was surprising to me.)

To be clear, I really don't think independence is likely, though a referendum is possible.

(While I was checking its power situation, I ran across the quote that Eskom, as of 2010, produced 45% of all electricity in the entire continent, which was surprising to me.)

This seems beyond belief. This USG page makes the claim, but this article deboonks it. IEA statistics back up the deboonking, putting South African generation at 27% of all Africa's generation.

That seems somewhat more plausible, although it's interesting to note that in PPP terms South Africa generates only 1/8 of Africa's GDP.

It looks like past production used to be higher from Eskom, and lower for the rest of Africa, but you're still right that that seems not to have been true.

The site cited by wikipedia puts Eskom at 230 terawatt hours, in 2008. (Eskom's own data puts it at 224 sold, 239 produced.) 2008 also looks to be the peak year of Eskom's power generation.

If Eskom were 45% of Africa's power, going with the more generous 239 figure, then Africa would be producing 531 terawatt hours. But your statistics site puts it at 625 gigawatt hours, meaning that Eskom was only 38%.

I haven't found what the source is for Africa's electricity production is yet.