South Africa is not, as Cicero would have it, a natural commonwealth - its people see no common political interests or a shared understanding of the nature of law. It has no common language, no common culture, no common religion. In every way it is fractured. At least in the Cape there is a common language, legal tradition and a gradient of common heritage. At least in KwaZulu, there exists a cohesive nation. But for the country as a whole, it is an unnatural chimera desperately crying for release, yet none of its elites can bring themselves to relinquish a claim on the throne of Pretoria, that sterile promontory from which all perverse edicts flow.
This territory exists for no other reason than the inertia of domestic law and international relations. We began as a colony, and we remain a colony. No longer of the British Empire, but yet of the Abstract Empire, the neoliberal order of the Anglo-American establishment, a progressive beacon of universal humanity reaching for ever-more perfect union, beneath the guiding, groping, grabbing hands of foreign diplomats, billionaires, supply chains and financial institutions.
The far left are right, in a peculiar sort of way, since the fundamental structure of the country is still what it was created to be by Cecil Rhodes - a vassal state of the Anglo-American establishment (albeit now with some Chinese encroachment) where only elites bearing the intellectual scorchmarks of internationalist progressivism on their brains can participate in politics. Jacob Zuma, crooked though he may be, was not punished for his crimes, but for shunning English Liberalism and its technocratic-progressive governing strategies, a tradition flexible enough to embrace black nationalism and Leninism, but not flexible enough to forgive an attachment to subnational identity, traditional morality, or any substantive opposition to NATO-controlled institutions like the ICC.
Much like the Soviet Union, who sought to stitch together “Soviet Man” from the myriad ethnicities at its fringes, by stocking its civil service with minorities, so the South Africa elite attempts to use imported American ideologies to hammer South Africans into a deracinated Anglophone mash. But the result is not a nation of noviops, but rather a vicious inversion of the pre-existing caste system, inscribed into every symbol and syllable, while stripping all difference and heritage from every institution and universalising the cosmic dichotomy of black and white. Any attachment to a local identity stronger than mild affection is forbidden, our souls banished to the cold firmament of the Western imagination.
Who came to South Africa? Who settled her? Who are these haunted-eyed dogs who languidly stalk the shores in her blasted twilight? Where do their strange bloodlines begin? Certainly among those who alighted her shores were some extremely rough and capable men, but the bulk were offcasts, dismal drunks, waterlogged and gin-soaked flotsam, below the requisite calibre for dock-work in Amsterdam and London, dishonourable discharges, penal wards and prostitutes. Huguenots may pride themselves on their having escaped persecution, but the best of their number went to America.
The deep South has been, and still is to some degree, treated as a stinking backwater which attracts the worst breed of thieves, smugglers, layabouts and degenerates, and whose native people have dejectedly born witness as sequential waves of lowbrow opportunists have trickled relentlessly, like an eternal pisplegtigheid to immiserate and crowd out what remains of their sacred territory. We have diluted their bloodline and scrubbed their tongues of native flavour, so that what remains is barely a memory of a shadow.
What remains of the adventurous conquerors who pitted the land with mines and clearing houses, jewelled its limbs with chains, perforated its hillocks with lead and dressed its soil with blood? They have departed, deterritorialised their wealth, to leave the hardy and weatherbeaten puritans pearled with sweat like thorny fruit in the dawn of their dreaded apocalypse. And from afar, these beneficiaries, who sacrificed our ancestors to water the land with our blood so their mines could run deep and undisturbed, will lecture us for resisting when we are left with the bill for their crimes. Oxford always had some fine stentorian lessons to hand down.
In the Cape, there remain a cursed welter of simpering bureaucrats and housewives, delicately clutching their wineglasses, wrapping their class warfare in pseudomoralisms which melt like the snow on the highveld when the cost of equality comes calling. Oh how they bow and scrape and pity and patiently smile as the lessons of the “black experience” waters their souls with ritual absolution. Yes, they say, we whites must pay. But they mean those uncouth and superstitious roughnecks whose hides are sewn into the soil, the lower-class philistines who cannot quote the latest rhetorical fashions, they do not mean themselves. They are above guilt, they tell themselves through their nervous sweat; they are simply standing up for “justice”, while making double-certain their passports are where they left them.
New excuses and convoluted causes are invented with every political cycle, to evade accusations of hypocrisy inherent to the cowardly nature of their class – that Englishman who believes that he civilises the savage, and exterminated the Boer families to give the African a better, kinder master. The modern liberal who brazenly clamours for the ideological and economic domination of the United States while paying lip service to humanitarian criticisms.
Like the cowardly Saul Musker, who billows his spiteful breath into the furnaces of black vengeance, only to desperately claw back a case for his own stay of execution. One may only vaguely speculate why he would be so eager to see Afrikaners dispossessed, but believe that despite the extraordinary advantages of wealth and (yes) privilege he enjoys, he does not fall under the category that requires expurgation because he is participating in the scourge.
Some prodigal whites understand that their ideological purity will not save them, and have returned bruised and reluctant to the bosom of their own to claim the universal human entitlement to self-preservation. Waiting in the shade of the family stoep lie those bearded men who sip their brews and eye them in bitter disappointment, waiting to say “I told you so”. Cold comfort to all who watch the tides of law and order, civilisation and culture, receding like the grass verges in a drought.
Black Africans writhe and wince in pain at their embarrassing failures, rages at their impotence, lashing out at each other out of a desperate struggle for a solution. Some believe that once the blood sacrifice is made, when every last streak of insufficiently black humanity is cleansed from the rocks, that the new Eden will blossom in the gore. Most secretly know this will not come to pass, the great powers of the world waiting with the slavering teeth and dripping claws of their hedge funds, philanthropic foundations and private military consortia to reap the whirlwind like a great vacuum for mineral resources.
And shielding from the cast-offs of these disreputable tussles in the mud and murk of moral obfuscation sit the Coloured peoples, divided in their identity, hardly knowing which side to choose. They know their nativity, their primary claim to the soil, and yet every possible road to grasping it back is beset by some devil – black, white, or faceless globalist – who demands a piece of their soul to access their sovereign birthright.
Would they rather adopt a Calvinist coalition of rainbow Afrikaners, the pseudo-equality of Bikoism, or the United-Nations path to indigenous recognition, and all the sacrifice of sovereignty and economic independence that would entail? Would they follow the path of a positive Coloured identity wreathed in the flames of German National Socialism, stirring the brimstone of the old armed struggle into their blood and soil?
We ask whether the land question can ever be settled. Why yes it can – if we are willing to document in detail every single transaction, expropriation, extraction and dereliction, and trace its heritage through the annals of the undead colony which still chains us together, we blighted devils. Only then can recompense be made, and every score settled. But there is anxiety and impatience – what if justice does not satisfy? 1994 said, let us postpone the reckoning until we can seize victory and bury justice beneath hefty spadefuls of vengeance, and no whisper of caution, pity, balance or temperance can escape the silence of the grave.
Let us forgive now, so that we do not have to be forgiven for what we did, and let us punish later so that we do not have to receive punishment now. Such is the logic of Truth and Reconciliation. Bend the defeated man’s spirit, and then even if he is strong enough to survive, strong enough to appear as if the victory was incomplete, he soon won’t be.
Because the defeated pale dogs, tails between their legs, who growl and snap at the glint of the panga in the sunset, whose mutt-like admixtures do not suffice to give them native status, not for all the rays of sun that have beaten new shaped into their hides for these four centuries. Not for all the tea in China, not if they could sing like a bird, not for all North Carolina, not for all their little words.
And yet that simpering bureaucratic class is not without its wiles. And as the morass becomes ever-deeper, the tendrils of the colonial master, obfuscated behind layers of holding companies and philanthropic outreach projects, latch on ever deeper, preparing to seize the nation anew, but now swept clean of any troublesome soilbound minority who might use their wealth and security to mount a defence for local interests, nothing left but the faustian pact that always was – sell the rights, put it to a vote, and wash your hands.
In this way, the colony never dies.