First a global South Africa, then a global Zimbabwe
This is the original, full-length version of this essay published on IM-1776. I have held off publishing it immediately, so that the search engine optimisation algorithm won’t see theirs as a duplicate, to give it prominence of appearance in search results.
We are Progress and the New Age. Nothing can stand in our way. Don’t you see? The world is already ours; it is our world now, because we are of the Present.
- Emperor Seth of Azania, in Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief.
By now, the spectacle that is South Africa’s insurrection has been dominating the attentions of just about every political junkie on twitter, drawing the best minds from every corner of the world to bear witness to the fall of the rainbow nation into a predictable quagmire of irresolvable chaos. At home, the pessimism comes in many flavours, and the denialism in many, many more.
The brute facts are now well-known. After dodging prosecution for extreme corruption for over a decade, the former president Jacob Zuma was finally arrested for the relatively minor charge of contempt of court, for not appearing when summoned. While he held out for several days as his supporters (who comprise about half the ruling party including several senior cabinet ministers) picketed outside his palatial compound (bought with the UK foreign aid budget of 2017) and blocked police from entering, he eventually handed himself in. So concluded a long factional battle between Ramaphosa and Zuma that claimed hundreds of lives in burned freight trucks, assassinated councillors, and billions of Rands in legal fees, patronage and PR. Or so it appeared.
On the 8th of July, the president disbanded the Umkhonto weSizwe Veterans Association, essentially the continuation of the old military wing of the ANC, and fiercely loyal to Jacob Zuma. The next day, together with assistance from elements within state intel and security, they deployed to major transport routes, food depots, retail outlets, police stations, power stations, water treatment plants, and ports, to shut down and burn what they could, crippling the Johannesburg-Durban trade artery that carries 65% of our trade volume and half our economic capacity.
After encouraging looting targeting white-owned businesses or “white monopoly capital”, the MK vets could watch as riots burst out to take advantage of the chaos and everything was stripped to the bone by opportunistic looters. In the shadows, organised and disorganised elements blurred together, as even the wealthiest elements of black society got in on the fun of looting, packing luxury sportscars with groceries and appliances before watching the flames tear down the shops and factories.
The police and the military did nothing, and the president was silent, paralysed. Soon the violence spread to the suburbs, and residents cobbled together militia to guard their homes. Proof of address was required to buy groceries. This received wails of agony from the press class and black social media. Slogans calling for the slaughter of Indians (who form a large minority in Durban) and whites became common, and soon the newspapers were joining in on the scapegoating, accusing the citizens’ militia of racism.
While Johannesburg has mostly calmed down, in Durban, stores are bare, and all food and fuel is rationed. Police, who did nothing to assist citizens, often took part in looting themselves, and had to rely on civilians to protect their police stations and supply them with bullets, are now tearing down the barricades and forcing citizens self-defence to stand down, without having provided the requisite security. The state has (too late of course) deployed the army to the fullest of its capacity for three months, leaving the entire rest of the country, which is twice the size of France, undefendable. Whether the insurrectionists have the sense to take advantage of this window, or the wits to stay out of prison, remains to be seen.
Everyone here saw this coming, but for decades now, it has been an unacceptable thing to do, to remark upon the inevitable future we find ourselves in. Why it came to all this, and why it matters to Americans and Europeans, is the point of this essay. It will be uneasy to stomach, but it must be swallowed. We live on the brink of barbarism, and the West is following us every step of the way.
A nation may have a lot of ruin in it, but a poor nation has less ruin in it than a wealthy one. When a state collapses or undergoes revolution in the distant reaches of Africa or Asia, there is a certain social distance which prevents Westerners directly apprehending the significance of the social dynamics, the closeness of the dangers, the universality of the lessons, the pain and the tragedy of the loss.
But South Africa is different. South Africa is at once Western and alien to Westerners. Our constitution is Western. Our revolutionaries and our reactionaries and our racial cosmology is Western. Our highest aspiration is that of the West at large – a universal state which recognises no difference of class, race, or creed. And that is why when we observe South Africa, we stare into the abyss of Western civilisation and its global future. Each Westerner sees himself reflected in that void, from the national-socialist, to the anarcho-communist, to the black-nationalist and the bleeding-heart liberal.
And they are right to.
Watching any graph of any indicator in South Africa sees every resource drying up, every indicator of health taking a nosedive, and the population booming beyond control, kept in check only by the enormous and perennial pandemic of AIDS and tuberculosis that take many times the number of victims supposedly taken by the SARS-CoV2 virus, every year. We are the rape capital of the world, have seen over half a million homicides since 1994, and the state has not replaced any of the infrastructure built by the Afrikaner nationalist government. The graphs just spell doom in their trend lines, and have for years now, as the Centre for Risk Analysis’s I-told-you-so’s often repeat.
When they came to power, the ruling party was a coalition of communists, black nationalists, organised criminals and common thugs. However, their patrons in the Soviet Union were disbanded, and the Western state apparatus was still composed of law-abiding institutions and competent civil servants. So they purged the minorities, and placed party members at all key posts throughout, to ensure ideological and partisan loyalty – this was called cadre deployment. This crippled the institutions. When the last of the old guard experts were ushered into the wilderness in 1998, they made several systematic departmental reports, which declared the need for replacing infrastructure immediately, to cope with the increased dependent population. This was ignored, largely because the experts were white.
Liberals and progressives who joined the ANC from the other side of the colour bar soon found themselves heartbroken, as all the liberal-constitutionalist checks and balances on corruption and abuse of power were trampled right out of the gate. Thabo Mbeki destroyed parliamentary and prosecutorial independence to suppress a vast corrupt arms deal in 1999, and the cadre deployment program created a vast untouchable patronage network.
The culture of the ruling party, created during the Peoples War, a vast totalitarian wave of violence that crushed all black competition for the title of liberation movement, is one of omerta – all disputes are settled internally, and any appeal to the rule of law or the press is dealt with ruthlessly. So no matter how bad the problem got, nobody ever came out to criticise the party from within and kept their career. When a factional battle arises within the ANC, it is as the Russian state was once spoken of – two dogs fighting under a blanket, the victor is only known when he surfaces.
This complicity allowed Mbeki to pursue only very gingerly the 700+ charges of corruption and racketeering against his Zulu deputy Jacob Zuma, whose promotion was partly to appease a powerful ex-head of struggle-era party intelligence, and partly to boost control over the Zulu regions, which comprise the largest ethnic bloc at 22% of the population. Zuma ousted Thabo Mbeki in 2008 via an internal party coup, and rather than use the power of the security cluster and the prosecution authorities to seize Zuma and protect his position, he chose to preserve the party and stepped down.
Zuma’s candidacy was a radical change. Being dominated by the Xhosa nation (8% of population) since its founding in 1912, the ANC’s patronage gave preference to Xhosa elites. But Zuma ran on a ticket of “100% Zulu”. He favoured traditional authorities, has multiple wives, expanded the powers of the chiefs and kings, and pushed back against the Western-educated elites and their farcical international institutions, refusing to send Sudanese president Al-Bashir to the Hague. This nationalism and traditionalism drew hatred from the international community.
Zuma took the reins of the patronage networks set up under Mbeki with gusto, and enriched himself even more shamelessly. A cynic, he saw through the thin veneer of ideological concerns that shaped globalism, and reached out to China. He let a family of Indian businessmen, the Guptas, seize vast swathes of the civil service for financial gain, end even appoint cabinet ministers and charter their own flights. As this unprecedented level of corruption grew, a new term was invented – state capture. To battle this PR nightmare and the enmity of the elites and journalists, he turned to a British PR firm Bell Pottinger, who drowned social media in blood libel against whites, introducing the term “white monopoly capital”, to claim that apartheid never really ended, and whites are the real state capture. They demanded “Radical Economic Transformation”, and are thus called the RET faction.
He sang genocidal struggle songs in public, but felt no urgency to fulfil the communist/black-nationalist revolutionary plans. He felt invulnerable. But international investors, who might have looked the other way for all of his shenanigans like they did for his predecessor, could not abide how deep the corruption had become. Mbeki’s Black Economic Empowerment program, designed by the Brenthurst Foundation of the Oppenheimer mining dynasty, had made it difficult for minorities (who tend to be well-qualified) to get hired, and forced investors to hand over 26% of their equity to blacks who had never done a lick of work in their lives, usually some member of the ruling party. South Africa soon became one of the hardest places to do business in the world.
But Zuma was not done. As the Western Cape province, home to mostly Coloureds, fell to the liberal party the Democratic Alliance, Zuma reacted by forming a protection pact with the Cape gangs in 2011, and bussed thousands of people in every year to dilute voting constituencies and transform the Cape from an affluent minority stronghold to an ocean of shacks. This continued a longstanding trend.
While many see the doom as setting in after 1994, it in fact began much sooner. The means by which the ANC gained power was not through civil disobedience, but through a long and sustained campaign of totalitarian violence called the Peoples War, which raged from 1979 until 1993. Black wage increases increased faster than white until this period (51.3% vs 3.8% since 1970), economic growth was over 5%, inequality was falling and blacks enjoyed the highest standard of living of any black population on the continent.
The addiction to cheap black labour meant that industry was irritated with state policies, and in the end, it was the local plutocrats like Harry Oppenheimer and the old secret societies like the Afrikaner Broederbond who opened secret negotiation to end apartheid. And while SA may have had a robust economy once, nothing survived the People’s War. It aimed to “make the country ungovernable”, and largely succeeded. Controlling migration from the black homelands became impossible, and maintaining law and order as the bodies piled up became harder and harder.
The state was forced to write a new constitution in 1983 giving the State Security Council free reign over its own budget. Having already been forced to find new technology (syngas) to convert coal into petrol under embargo, the SSC’s budget ballooned to nearly 50% of GDP, and the state began printing money to offset its debts. Inflation jumped, and the Rand was never the same again. Capital controls were insufficient. Even as the economy bounced back after sanctions were lifted, the chaos established a new normal for violence, and the employment statistics never recovered. Today, it stands at over 42%. This is no surprise, as our education system is among the most expensive in the world, and just about the worst on the African continent. Add to this the fact that our minimum wage is far higher than the average income, it begins to look deliberate. Unemployment drives the poor into the arms of the state, and welfare dependents outnumber taxpayers 2:1.
As minorities with foreign passports or good CVs left, the country experienced a brain drain, and recently even the black middle class has joined them. National debt is sky high, as is inflation. The mining industry is dead, and no new shafts have been sunk for decades. The record profits logged in the past couple of years are almost entirely driven by mergers and acquisitions. The number of listed publicly traded companies has collapsed to 1994 levels. The air is leaving the balloon.
But the liberal establishment could not bring themselves to believe there were systemic reasons for this state of affairs beyond “corruption” or “inequality”, and the struggle to blame the status quo on the previous regime became ever harder. So they blamed Zuma. The lost decade, they called it. So when Cyril Ramaphosa, a man largely blamed for the Marikana massacre, finally took the party leadership in 2017, after a long, expensive battle of assassination, bribery and skulduggery, he billed himself as a liberal reformer and anti-corruption campaigner, and the international community fell for it hook line and sinker, and local liberals worshipped him like the coming of a new Mandela. He promised the 4th Industrial Revolution. He promised the reigning in of BEE. The Economist endorsed him over the liberal DA.
But he was lying.
Smokescreens and petrol bombs
Why is it so hard to get real criticism of South Africa’s political system? Why don’t we ever hear about any of this? Our state is a crumbling torture chamber, but what we keep hearing instead is that everything is just fine, we just need to fix the inequality. This stuck record strikes a chord with international audiences, who like the good feel-good story our rainbow nation promised, and adore the knowledge that, no matter who you are, you are better than those horrid white South Africans. But at home, the climate of mandatory optimism is beginning to invoke an allergic reaction. And yet so many struggle to locate the cause of the itch.
South Africa is a Socialist country. Perhaps not in its current economic arrangement, which is a complex mixture of socialism, welfare-liberalism, idiocracy-style technocracy, neo-patrimonialism, feudalism and organised crime. But in the culture of the elites, and in the spirit of the constitution, we are indeed socialist. The preamble of our 1996 constitution itself dedicates the purpose of the document to the achievement of social justice, that strange and pernicious incantation that transforms the universal yearning for the transcendent value of justice into a scythe to sweep the tall poppies from the field. The recent insurrection was even cast as “counterrevolutionary” by the minister of defence.
The ruling party bases its governing ideology on a document known as the Freedom Charter, the aims of which are generally assented to by much of the population who are aware of its existence, and which promises free healthcare, housing, democratic ownership of industry and the right to settle on any piece of land one wishes – i.e., the abolition of property rights. As my colleague Paul Maritz has put it, the two major black parties, the ANC and the EFF (a rabid black-national-socialist party mainly formed from the ANC Youth League in 2013) are like a church schism, each recognising the same holy text, but differing on its interpretation.
There are only three sources for non-socialist print media coverage of politics in South Africa. Politicsweb, where all the old senior analysts go when they become persona non grata, the Institute of Race Relations (a venerable old classic-liberal institute with a daily paper, the Daily Friend, and a consulting business, Centre for Risk Analysis), and Maroela Media, an Afrikaans-language publication run by Afriforum, the civil rights activist organisation which sprung from the Afrikaner-national Solidariteit movement.
Aside from this, every other publication leans further to the left than a man with his left leg blown off, and due to a hangover of apartheid-era Cold War politics, “left and right”, terms only applicable among the educated classes, roughly align with a black-vs-white friend-enemy distinction. The Mail & Guardian, for instance (indirectly owned by the Open Society Foundation), has refused to cover any rural homicide committed against a white victim in nearly a decade, despite a global magnifying glass being placed on the barbaric torture and murder spree that has slowly been smouldering across our rural hinterlands. When a white person commits a crime, it is milked dry every day until the journalists get carpal tunnel. But against the ocean of violent depravity committed by the racial majority, which has taken half a million lives since the fall of apartheid, we receive virtual silence. Swaziland, seeing the same kind of violent uprising as KwaZulu Natal is, is treated as a democratic revolution against a tyrannical absolute monarch, despite the opposition being mainly violent communists receiving support from South African parties like the EFF.
Our historical amnesia is extraordinary. The highlights of the apartheid state’s violence against the black population include the Sharpeville Massacre, which the ANC takes credit for despite it being the work of a rival party called the PAC, and is remembered as a peaceful protest despite the protesters being rounded up at knifepoint and driven at a police station, armed with spears and clubs and firearms. Steve Biko, an ardent segregationist whose writings are openly black-supremacist, is claimed by the ANC despite the ANC having tortured and killed his movement’s members in their largely unacknowledged struggle-era gulag system for refusal to pledge loyalty.
I was a communist when I was at university. I was delivered a faithful belief in progressivism, nonracialism, revolution and universal democracy, through the national curriculum in South Africa. I was introduced to Marx and Mill as an A Level student in the UK, and when I returned to my native country, I was exposed once more to the poverty and desperation and racial tensions. I assumed all the positions one would expect. More democracy, more repudiation of Christianity and white people, more redistribution, more socialism. But the political waters were calm in those days, and this was mere posturing. Then in 2015 my friends began a campaign to topple the statue of Cecil Rhodes overlooking Cape Town from the university his will founded.
#RhodesMustFall mushroomed rapidly, and became the romantic darling of not only us horny little revolutionaries, but leftists worldwide, who exported the new iconoclasm to Oxford and South Carolina. It is now remembered as #FeesMustFall, a campaign to make tertiary education free (for blacks). But I watched it grow from the inside, and partook in the occupation of admin buildings, touring other college protests in the Cape out of solidarity. But it became clear that it was first and foremost about racial hatred and the purging of Western influence, under their holy trinity of Steve Biko, Franz Fanon and Kimberlé Crenshaw – segregation, national-socialism and a metaphysical racial hierarchy, in new nation called Azania, synonymous with the basketcase fictional nation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Black Mischief.
This movement, while it began as nonracialist, soon became openly genocidal. Student leaders who called for genocide went unpunished, even praised by the VC of the University of Cape Town. This movement spread to every single university in the country, and despite prominent student leaders praising Adolf Hitler and calling for whites to be swept into the sea, singing genocidal songs at every protest, white students still offered themselves as human shields before police. Dining halls were segregated, classes were violently shut down, nonparticipants in some universities were beaten in their dormitories, staff were chased with buckwhips, buses were burned, paintings were burned, even security guards were burned, and more recently, so was the continent’s largest library. But no big newspaper offered moral criticism, just worries about whether the tactics were effective.
These young people defined a new era, and a new consensus – all struggles are one, and all are about black vs white, and whites must hand over everything and beg for their lives. The only lecturer in the entire country who stood up in public against this cultural revolution was the antinatalist philosopher David Benatar. All others kept their heads down, dithered, or joined the fray, calling for the heads of their less enthusiastic colleagues. Now the Fallists’ ideology is the official pedagogy of the entire university system. But this agitation had been the nature of political life at the poorer “bush colleges” for years now, just without the presence of minority students to trigger resentment or the ideas to build ideology: shut down every exam season to extract more lenient standards and increases in student grants.
And much like the explosion of violence seen at the national level today, South Africa’s poorer areas have been an unremitting hell for all those living in it below a certain class divide. 15% of all women are prostitutes, and the homicide rate is among the highest in the world, and some areas experience permanent civil war level violence. The old apartheid era town planning meant that black areas and minority areas were clearly separated, and this has meant a geographical buffer, where violent protest, which is again among the highest in the world, has largely left the middle classes out of it, even while it occasionally diverts traffic. Protests flare up constantly, as rival factions of the ANC, hamstrung by a corrupt internal promotions process and forbidden from dragging out dirty laundry in public, instead mobilise violent protests to contest wards and civil service posts, often burning down public infrastructure while the mob on the ground chants for “service delivery”.
But now the power plays are not for economic sectors, and they are not for local admin blocks. They are for the heart of the state. And that means shutting down everything, starting with the Johannesburg-Durban economic corridor, which forms the core of our economy, and the central artery to the mining industry at its heart. The state provided no defence, and the Minister of Defence has spent the past week contradicting the president in public. The army, corroded by decades of mismanagement and poorly implemented integration with the revolutionary guerrilla forces, are not capable of much, and are considered a joke by the whole nation.
The police had to be rescued by the impromptu civilian defence forces. In the current storm, everyone is finally feeling it – there is no shelter from the winds of change.
First a global South Africa…
Whatever else Nick Land writes, the lasting impact he had on me was in the very first essay at the opening of Fanged Noumena. He wrote it in 1989, when nobody beneath the highest reaches and darkest recesses of the Atlantic power structure had any awareness that South Africa was about to change forever.
Apartheid still seemed undefeatable to outsiders. The NP had recently smashed the heart of the ANC’s military campaign, creating a bloody hurting stalemate that observers at the time had no expectation would result in any pleasant outcome. Tens of thousands had already been massacred in the Peoples War to give the ANC a monopoly over the black liberation movements, but they seemed to be running out of steam. And so did Pretoria – influx from the Bantustans was unstaunchable, dependence on black labour was firm, and confidence in local cultural hegemony collapsed in 1976.
Nick Land, watching this, noticed something peculiar.
For the purposes of understanding the complex network of race, gender, and class oppressions that constitute our global modernity it is very rewarding to attend to the evolution of the apartheid policies of the South African regime, since apartheid is directed towards the construction of a microcosm of the neo-colonial order; a recapitulation of the world in miniature. The most basic aspiration of the Boer state is the dissociation of politics from economic relations, so that by means of 'Bantustans' or 'homelands' the black African population can be suspended in a condition of simultaneous political distance and economic proximity vis-a-vis the white metropolis. […] My contention in this paper is that the Third World as a whole is the product of a successful - although piecemeal and largely unconscious - 'Bantustan' policy on the part of the global Kapital metropolis.
Before long, the Cold War was over, and so was the Afrikaner nation-state and its poor attempts to compromise between the separate-development system of Bantustans and the caste system of baasskap which structured petty-apartheid. The entire global system was smashed wide open, and the influx of migrant labour that was once a trickle became a tsunami, resulting in the mad crisis of identity and security that characterises the contemporary West.
The internal migrations that created modern South Africa were a strange phenomenon. South Africa is not a nation, but a kind of experimental chimera. When Europeans settled it throughout the 17th-19th centuries, it was sparse enough (a couple million people across a territory 3 times the size of Germany) for each community to live well apart from each other, despite the occasional clashes that would erupt over territorial expansion. Nelson Mandela would write in his autobiography that, if one did not venture from the fertile soils of the homeland provinces into “white” South Africa for higher-paying work, one would hardly know white people existed.
When the British seized the Boer republics in 1900, they drew up the limits of control of the native African tribes where they already lived, and displaced a few thousand of them to tidy up the borders. These eventually became the Bantustans. Immediately, a long slow trickle of immigration was encouraged, not just from the Bantustans, but from British possessions in Asia. The migrant labour created a dense network of diffident ethnicities who demanded fences between them and their neighbours, while attempting to pursue economic exchange.
Black men, who could achieve far greater material wealth from working in the white economy than raising cattle and sorghum in the homelands, flowed steadily into white farmland areas and mining towns. In 1922, the South African Communist Party launched a general strike to demand the enforcement of a colour bar – “CPSA for a white South Africa!”. They were put down in a hail of gunfire by Jan Smuts, the architect of the unitary constitution, which allowed no devolved powers for regional self-governance.
Smuts was a member of Cecil Rhodes’s Round Table club, and shared Rhodes’s ambition to create a grand state where all literate English-speaking men and women south of the Zambezi would have the vote regardless of colour, and all the resources would belong to one grand cartel controlled by a British-American elite of enlightened natural aristocrats. Rhodes used money from his diamond empire and loans from Nathan Rothschild to fund the Jameson Raid and other means to instigate war with the Boer republics, which eventually resulted in the second Boer War and the creation of the Union of South Africa.
The influx was resisted at first, but the black migrant from the homeland areas was for a time resisted, by the South African Communist Party, who attempted to seal in a a colour bar to preserve a white South Africa on the Rand. But Smuts wasn’t about to let the universalist imperial project of Cecil Rhodes, his senior at the Round Table group, go to seed. So it was put down. After several decades of mass influx, the Afrikaans nationalists attempted to stem the tide with the use of a more serious segregation plan, and the independence of the black homelands. Verwoerd wasn’t a radical reactionary, he was a liberal reformer, who attempted to find a compromise between the demands of industry, who were addicted to cheap labour, and the general population, who wished to preserve their white colonial nation. But didn’t have the gall pay the cost required to give the Bantustans contiguous territory or expel the black population living in South Africa.
Smuts, architect of the Union of South Africa, also had a grand philosophy not unlike Nick Land’s – Land treats all matter and life as being ontologically the same, driven by “machinic desires” – all tendencies to motion and behaviour, whether in living or non-living material being fundamentally the same. All matter seeks more complex and integrated forms over time as a result of the force of entropy. Smuts’s grand philosophy, of which he wrote at length in Holism and Evolution, envisaged a means of looking at the world in which all of nature and society could be apprehended and governed as a single holistic system – all organisms, all cultures, all individuals, were destined to evolve into a greater whole, in which each part had its natural place, and that the common teleology of all matter and spirit was the global state, embodied in the League of Nations, the constitution of which he penned himself. Together with his extensive biological knowledge, Smuts and his London interlocutor Arthur Tansley gave birth to the modern systems theory of ecology, and hoped to see a central global technocracy overseeing a holistic ecological management system.
The aims of the United States since the Second World War have some remarkable similarities in approach. The post-war order saw the US employing a philosophy of “defence in depth,” controlling a defensive frontier from the China Sea in the East to the very edge of the Warsaw Pact countries, to ensure freedom of trade throughout this entire region. But this extended beyond military control. The use of embedded CIA operatives meant that those democratic representatives who resisted the grand plans of Atlanticism were swiftly dealt with under insidious operations like Gladio.
Germans were exposed to an OSS operation which boosted the ideas of the Frankfurt School as the basis for denazification, a stigma Herbert Marcuse struggled to shake off for years, being accused of being a CIA stooge at public lectures to the end of his days. In order to challenge the Marxist model in Western Europe, the CIA also promoted the works of the postmodernists in France, and more paradoxically, the postcolonialists in Africa, like Ngugi wa Thiongo and Wole Soyinka. While the US intel infrastructure had a reputation for “fascism” among left radicals for years, the truth is that they promoted affirmative action in foreign operations as early as 1975, and showed anti-white propaganda to black South African youths in Soweto.
As these ideas bled into the old left, who were increasingly disillusioned from the failures of the Soviet Union. They turned, as Laclou and Mouffe did, to the notion of using sectional grievances to deconstruct the nation state, leading to the birth of intersectionalism under Kimberlé Crenshaw. The very foundations of nationhood and capitalist Christian civilisation could be toppled if only we united our struggles by leveraging our historical grievances, creating acrimonious divisions in the body politic on the basis of sex, sexuality, race and religion. Thus, the universal loyalties of the nation state that supposedly upheld capitalism would fall, and revolution would arise. This fell right into the plans of the American ruling class.
However, when the social morality of the postwar American colonial project in Europe met the plans of the military and the Malthusian tendencies of the RAND corporation, everything took on a far more ambitious character, with the help of a concept called “environmental security”. The first reference to ES in the sense of protecting the natural environment comes from the US EPA Technical Committee in 1971, as part of an ambitious attempt to quantitatively measure total social wellbeing. This EPA committee was the first to make environmental regulation part of a comprehensive plan for social wellbeing, driven by Holism and cybernetic ecology. They were exceeded in scope by the UN’s 1972 Stockholm Conference, where the idea of “comprehensive” (today, “human”) security emerged, and further, the Palme, Brundtland and Brandt Reports.
Influence from Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring, who made the first popular articulation of environmental deterioration as an existential threat, and Richard Coase’s book on the legal ramifications of externalised cost, shaped early US environmental law, laying the foundations for policy on the basis of unbounded systemic risk, which Anthony Giddens later reframed as the “Risk Society”, a concept which justifies turning the liberal harm principle into a universal straitjacket, the model for Blairist Britain.
Under American influence, ES took on a new flavour, as the context of environmental damage and resource competition, and metric evaluation by the Development Bank. This committee saw the US treat the environment as a National Security topic for the first time. Not yet having Global Warming to rest on, the committee used exaggerated Malthusian logic to justify dramatic expansion of existing programs (p344). The Americans’ ever-expanding use of National Security was, as Bill McSweeny put it, “a political decision in search of a theoretical foundation”, specifically with the aim of redistributing international wealth. The bureaucrats and academic sought to shift focus to international institutions, and make a strong break with Realism and national sovereignty.
Under these new umbrella concepts came “human security” and environmental security, the Social Sciences Department of UNESCO and the SSRC found the unifying principles and programs they had sought since the 1950s, and pushed a proselytising program grounded in cross-discipline application of avant-garde ideas to seek “new ways of knowing”, promoting not scientific objectivity, but a synthesis of diverse perspectives. A wholesale transformation of the rules and discipline of social sciences followed, in service of global governance (see the works of Perrin Selcer).
UNESCO even deliberately set about creating a new world religion, in the words of its founder Julian Huxley, and formed the United Religions Initiative, to mould the world’s spiritual beliefs in line with international Anglo progressivism. Feminism and sexual libertinism formed a crowbar against the community cohesion that couldn’t be attacked by means of anti-nationalism, and into this soup of value inversions (erosion of disciplinary distinction, inter-subjectivity [i.e., truth-by-consensus over objectivity], and utopian welfare ideals like “freedom from fear”; “freedom from want”), dropped three wonder pills: Poststructuralism, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Global Warming. Now the great power-narratives of the Atlantic empire were consolidated – Malthus-by-proxy, anti-traditionalism, international diversity-and-inclusion, and the free-trade, open-borders paradigm of the 90’s.
In the same moment as de Klerk gave up on apartheid, the West gave up on the nation state, and handed control to the internationalists, under hegemony of the Atlantic community. A new empire was being consolidated from the territories captured by the Allies in WWII. Thirty years later it is becoming transparent – the new centralised global tax regime has cemented it. Just as the ANC funds the influx of black voters into urban minority areas to build shacks on squatted land, the West welcomes mass migration from the third world, total open-borders, to transform the electoral system against the interests of the native population who might have their own desires, against the grain of global empire. Every corporation and state in the Western world discriminated against whites in hiring. The CIA peddles Critical Race Theory and actively recruits sexual minorities. Colour revolutions can be spotted whenever the rainbow flag or black fist makes an appearance.
Today, the Democratic Party in the US openly looks to South Africa for inspiration in dealing with what Yarvin called the “outer party” – all conservatives are being purged from every institution, in a vast cadre deployment program to ensure the core of the establishment becomes forever untouchable. On the streets they have even begun to use the same tactics for control – deploying huge mobs to destabilise cities when election season is approaching.
Minimum wage rises funnel employment into companies in public-private partnerships with the state, like Amazon, who is part of the Enduring Security Framework partnership of the CIA (which includes Facebook and Google). The analogies between their experimental management strategies and collectivised central-planning are no accident – any company that aims for a total retail monopoly through state-subsidised negative-profit growth is merely another route to total control.
And as the nation and the state are decoupled, the liberal-democratic institutions are being geared toward the concentration of power and wealth, and a strategy of divide-and-rule, to create a cannibal economy. Only a few, like Denmark, have realised what they have gotten themselves into.
…then a global Zimbabwe
There is a particular logic inherent to any democratic country, that many reactionaries have observed. There is a systemic incentive in party democracies to compete for spoils for electoral blocs, which leads to a spiralling costs in welfare and specialist state functions, which serve to bribe the masses, the corporations and the civil service. Because the global system has been running on a 100 year plan under a stable class of elites, this ship has far too massive a turning circle to avoid the iceberg. But the financial and governing elites have an incentive to shield themselves from the consequences of this, which means building lifeboats from the hull of the cruiseliner.
Much as Aristotle said, a democracy can only function beneficially when steered by the middle class, as it was in Rhodesia and the old Cape, which restricted the vote to property-owners of all races. The middle class’s needs are the core of the productive community, and as Marx observed, they are loyal to the requirements of productive industry and local trade. With the combination of the proliferation of the welfare state and globalisation, the middle class has been whittled away in the West, just as it has here in southern Africa.
Reliance on the state for services means they can’t be sacrificed – in the UK, the NHS has become essentially a religious cult, feeding the civil service, medical contractors, immigrants and the poor alike, in a financially unsustainable way, for decreasing returns. As Philip Bagus observed, the democratic pressures to maintain institutional support via this sort of patronage forces modern western states to take on ever more debt and expand taxation to the limits. This then must be offset by QE, which must be guaranteed by the central state at a rate that benefits the most fragile provinces of any empire so that the whole system does not collapse.
Finance and corporations benefit through the Cantillion effect, and corporate profits become easier through asset acquisition and mergers-and-acquisitions than productive development. Consequently, capital formation declines. A tiny ruling class who shares no real values with the ordinary people forms, forced to leverage sectional grievances to wield and consolidate power. This creates an entirely new class system. A client class of dependent poor, a state-employed class, a managerial class, and the vampire elites. And as the vertical loyalties erode and disappear, the need to concentrate power ever more in the hands of the elite accelerates, and the economy is plundered, liquidated to keep a grip on the bailey as the motte catches fire.
And in the world:
What Robert Mugabe did was pursue the universal extension of a first-world welfare state to every peasant in the hinterland, praised by the global left. This required taking on an enormous amount of national debt. Once the IMF tried to impose austerity, Mugabe found this politically unsustainable – his support depended on the handouts, corrupt and legitimate, that he was delivering. So he had to switch to printing money to pay the debts. When inflation became too much to handle, they replaced the core of the economy with dollars, and only elites could survive, much like Venezuela today. As the national treasury ran dry, the military and the civil service became restless. To placate them, they were fed the farms and businesses of the remaining white minority, as well as many areas formerly occupied by black peasants. The state had to cannibalise itself to sustain the predatory ruling class.
During this time, Mugabe attempted to control every aspect of the environment and economy through price and capital controls, suffocating every aspect of social life with red tape. It only accelerated the process. While the vast global network of UN subsidiaries extract compliance from the US client states
In South Africa today, the state coffers are empty. Even the ruling party is feeling it, as their headquarters Luthuli House was attached by the court to pay for a crooked PR contract they refused to deliver on. We have since taken out an IMF bailout, which is being poured into infrastructure, mostly Durban’s port, which is now choked by smoke and looting. Our president’s advisors are pushing for land reform, and remarkably, one of them, Ruth Hall, was advising Robert Mugabe how to liquidate his pale kulaks back in 2002. Other advisors, like Thembeka Ngcukaitobi, call for the fulfilment of the genocidal prophecy of Makhanda, and have whites deprived of all land and all moveable and liquid assets. This is deliberate Zimbabwefication.
The same economic dynamics are present in the world at large – the share of GDP spent on welfare keep increasing, as does the debt-GDP ratio. Capital formation has been falling for decades, and chronic inflation is treated as a static phenomenon, which nobody dares reign in, because the entire system is dependent on low interest rates to keep the constant corrosive consolidation of the global market going full steam ahead. This arrangement results in the inflation of property prices as along term hedge against inflation which, when the plebs followed suit resulted in the 2008 bubble, when they tried to play the elites’ asset accumulation game with borrowed money.
Aside from asset accumulation, another way to seek profit and a hedge against inflation is through mergers and acquisitions and liquidations – an easy option since many tax codes incentivise this by encouraging investment. Most sought investment in emerging markets. But in these countries, the same factors are present, only more advanced. They experienced their own crises of sovereign debt, and the same printing sprees and capital flight to into hard assets followed. The ceiling on global growth in 2008, a result of the final stage of globalisation, has finally forced the elites to pursue investment in the lowest rung of Mazlow’s hierarchy – primary resources.
For years now, China and the Atlantic elite have been pouring money into commodities markets and land. This is no new trend. It was spotted by the infamous Michael Burry back in 2010 – the future is no longer in the construction of anything new, but in the hoarding of static resources. The elites are assembling their life rafts from the hull of a sinking ship.
What has America been doing these past 18 months? It has been printing money so fast that it has kept pace with the plummenting Rand, and allowed Cyril Ramaphosa to tell investors that his economy is relatively strong – the Rand has “stabilised”. Error of parallax. Nor is it even just America printing money. While they certainly can afford to, as the holders of the world’s reserve currency, China is attempting to do the same, only they are directly funnelling the cash into commodities, rather than spreading it around a financial elite over which they have minimal control.
And yet their leverage is far worse than America’s – Kyle Bass, who has been shorting the Chinese market for years now, insists that the historically unprecedented levels of leverage in the Chinese economy are unsustainable, and that they cannot, even under miracle conditions, correct their shrinking population trends sufficiently to turn this ship around. But what many forsee in dreams of revolution and revolt, the breakups of massive crumbling empires, is not going to happen as they hope.
Instead, the state will protect the stability of the ruling class and its control over the levers of power at the core, bleeding everyone dry and terrorising them into submission. What happened to Zimbabwe is a warning, but it only happened the way it did because half the population could leave and send home remittances. The iron fist of a “democratic” government capable of rigging its elections and gagging the press and the courts is only as tyrannical as the cost of a bus ticket to the next country. After 900-member Zoom calls and election “fortification”, I shouldn’t need to gild the lily any more.
As many observers of China remark, an economic collapse of a country of its nature will not result in a breakup or a massive reform, but in the shrink-wrap tyranny of North Korea, an eternal sclerotic stagnation, fed by government dependency, held in place by state security. The West is losing control of its ability to provide the kind of total state security required for this however, and has been reaching for a far more sinister method of control – the financial system.
And this is where all analogies break down, because what is about to happen here is unprecedented. The international Bank of Settlements has recently announced that they intend to use Central Bank Digital Currency to control the spending of all global citizens, and have the tech and the power to control each and every expenditure, and to shut anybody out of the ability to feed themselves if they so choose. But this movement to kick away the ladder and consolidate total control follows the same logic as Zimbabwe’s – the poor can only be fed for so long, but the ruling elite must be fed forever, or else the whole house comes down.
The National Democratic Revolution was postponed in 1994 due to international pressure and the balance of forces between the ANC and the civil service and private sector. But now everything is captured, black economic ownership has tipped the 50% mark years ago and Ramaphosa has declared the “Second Phase” in motion. The national debt is bleeding the people with quantitative easing, and the IMF, who were contacted to bail out the broke treasury, are being cheated of their reforms. While he advertises reforms to the international community, there are no privatisations, except those which hand control to private cronies within the ruling party. Expropriation of minority property (and indeed all property, including intellectual property) is still in the legislative pipeline. Under Ramaphosa, the greatest wave of corruption in history has been unleashed under lockdown, and the prosecutions strike only his political enemies in the RET faction.
As a Venda (one of the smallest tribes), he has no ethnic base to bully the nation with, and has to rely on promising everybody what they want. He relies on the Communist Party, the bloated and overpaid civil service, and the urban liberals, and their overseas equivalents in the Atlantic community and China for support. The ANC has learned to communicate their desires in the language of both the CCP and the UN SDGs, ensuring that even as the ground washes away beneath their feet, they can say they are simply welcoming the rivers of global progress.
The twin systems of China and Atlantis are both attempting to consolidate total control over their economic and social environment. And in order to achieve the kind of reforms that he wishes to, Ramaphosa has reached for the help of both power blocs. China has colonised our northernmost province, and receives special treatment from law enforcement that must learn Mandarin. Chinese are registered as black, to benefit from the racial privileges blacks enjoy under Black Economic Empowerment. While the government’s reports usually look like a dog’s breakfast, their reports on the UN sustainable development goals are always crisp, professional, and detailed. SDG 10 justifies the expropriation of property, according to their logic.
Yet the internal understanding of the game at hand is still spelled out in African terms. During the lockdowns, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (guess which faction she’s a part of) heralded the lockdown as an opportunity to impose “class suicide” on the white economy. This concept is an invention of Ivorian revolutionary Amilcar Cabral, who noticed the native middle classes of recently decolonised African nations, western-educated, dependent on rule-of-law and property rights, were both essential, and apathetic-to-hostile to communism. He considered it a moral imperative for their ties to the capitalist economy to be liquidated, for them to see their class consciousness erased and join the revolution.
The Freedom-Charterist parties gleefully celebrated the destruction of the economy, as children were forced to eat grass to survive. Total control over the expenditure of citizens was achieved, by banning everything from roast chicken to flip-flops, and alcohol was banned, starving the Cape winelands, as was tobacco, as the tobacco cartels of the ruling party network profited off black market cigarettes.
The erosion of the middle class, the working class, the institutions of law and order and even the substance of the informal economy was dry tinder to the Zuma-faction’s firebrands. To fulfil his mandate to end corruption, Ramaphosa had begun prosecutions proceedings into the Zuma faction – tentatively of course, since any too-wide-ranging investigation would unearth the corruption of all. But lawfare isn’t enough. They were cut out of party patronage systems as big figures like Ace Magashule were expelled from the party. Judges ruled that the state would not cover their defence costs anymore.
When the Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans association was disbanded and cut off from “pension” money, they finally put into action something that they would have had up their sleeve for months. Police armaments caches had been going missing for months. Firearms training for youths had been going on at the local branches for years. Every storage depot and major highway was targeted, petrol stations, power stations, water treatment plants were hit. They needed to make the country ungovernable, and they did. But this time they didn’t have the support of the Swedish, the Russians or anybody else.
Complicit elements are even inside the SSA, our central intelligence agency. What it will take for Ramaphosa to clear the state and party of seditious elements will give him the power of a modern dictator, cheered on my the press and everybody else, who despises Zuma and his people for what they’ve wreaked upon us. But with three months left of military deployment, all of the military capacity in one province, and the president fearing wielding lethal force on black mobs for fear of his Marikana ghosts coming back to haunt him, the rebels have three months to decide whether to act.
That leaves three months to see whether we become a black-nationalist disctatorship, or a new Yugoslavia. The Zulu, who form the backbone of the rebellion, have cheered for Zulu independence before, though their forces are split – the Zulu nationalist/traditionalist party the IFP have stood firmly against this chaos. Zuma’s people are still pushing black identity over tribal. Zuma may have been a traditionalist, a defender of the Swazi royal house when in crisis, an expander of chieftains’ rights, but his time in head of the ANC death squads in Zululand in the 1990s makes Zulu solidarity impossible.
So chaos it is.
Th one upside of all of this is the emergence of a coherent Cape independence movement, backed now by local billionaires and (if the rumours are to believed) certain senior members of the Democratic Alliance. A small, semi-first-world enclave has the chance to break away and staunch the tide of decline, and with the thousands of eastern minorities fleeing to the Cape, it just might take off. Polling groups are optimistic, but the DA will need to be more aggressive. Without a unilateral declaration of independence on the table, any attempt to follow electoral procedure could well be overcome by the forces of chaos and jerrymandering.
But the liberals are finally starting to feel what I felt in 2015. They know the end is coming. They can see the gaps in the rope bridge, and have gotten a glimpse between the fog, to the floor of the valley below.
Let us hope that vertigo is contagious.