As South Africa, So the World

First a global South Africa, then a global Zimbabwe: An Essay

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.
— Nick Land, Fanged Noumena, 1989

Over the past few weeks events in South Africa have been dominating the attention of social media, drawing observers from every part of the world to witness the accelerating fall of the rainbow nation into a quagmire of chaos.

Evidently, the situation carries lessons beyond South Africa. When a state collapses or experiences a revolution in distant parts of Africa or Asia, cultural distance prevents Westerners from directly apprehending the significance of the social dynamics, the intimacy of the dangers, the significance of the lessons, the suffering of the people and the nature of the loss. But South Africa is different. Both Western and alien to Westerners, it reflects the West back to itself.

South Africa’s constitution is Western; its revolutionaries and reactionaries and racial universe are semi-Western; its highest political ideal is the ideal of the West at large — a universal state which maintains no distinctions of class, race, or creed. And it’s reality is also Western: aggressive affirmative action, asymmetric hate speech laws, and a state-mandated policy of ‘equity’ which compels redistribution to politically connected racial groups. The distinctions between South Africa’s governing principles, and the principles of every corporation and state in the Western world are vanishing. In the United States, the CIA and other Federal, state and corporate agencies endorse Critical Race Theory (CRT), and focus their recruitment on racial and sexual minorities. In US allies, color revolutions follows whenever the rainbow flag or the black fist appears, and violence follows every policy and gesture undertaken in the name of protecting or emancipating the ‘disadvantaged’. 

In the same way that the African National Congress (ANC) finances influxes of black voters into minority areas to build shacks on squatted land (and the CCP encourages migrations of Han Chinese into Tibet and Xianjiang) the West facilitates mass migration from the third world to weaken the political and cultural power of the native population. Not coincidentally, the recent wave of iconoclasm which has swept statues from their plinths and ‘colonial’ texts from libraries was first tested in South Africa: ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ began at the University of Cape Town.

South Africa, America, Europe and the UK are all part of the Atlantic Empire, a shared political space with common priorities and problems. Today, the Democratic Party in the United States looks to South Africa for inspiration in neutralizing and eventually eliminating any possibility of political opposition. Once conservatives are purged from every institution, through a vast cadre deployment program, the core of the establishment becomes untouchable. Last summer the Democrats used the same tactics used by the ANC: deploying mobs to destabilise cities ahead of election season.

As the nation and the state decouple, liberal democratic institutions redirect toward the concentration of power and wealth to create a cannibal economy. When they incited the riots leading up to the US Presidential election, the Democrats and their media allies knew what they were doing. The leftist protest tradition involves not only ideological symbols, but organisational tactics.

South Africa’s violent protests follow a consistent pattern. Sponsored by different factions using misappropriated public money, mobs are bussed in en masse, and supplied with food, water and free t-shirts. Fundamentally a method of pursuing internal party power struggles that can’t be fought in public (since one cannot criticise the party openly) irregular mob violence becomes the means through which competition for power is pursued. If you can mobilise more people, you have a greater democratic mandate. To force the old apartheid regime to the bargaining table, the ANC aimed to make the country ungovernable, and for a time, they largely succeeded. But it was a demon that couldn’t be recaged once loose. Everything is now a fight for spoils, all the way down.

While President Ramaphosa promised investors liberal reforms to secure political power, in reality he has only employed pseudo-privatisation. Meanwhile, he has begun prosecutions proceedings into the faction of former President Zuma for ‘state capture‘ both as camouflage, and to eliminate a rival. Zuma’s faction is not exclusively Zulu, but is overwhelmingly so, and so despite decades of black solidarity propaganda, each tribe knows his own.

On the day Zuma was arrested for the minor charge of contempt of court, Ramaphosa disbanded the Umkhonto we Sizwe (‘MK’) Veterans Association, a body loyal to the former President. The following day, along with assistance from elements within state intelligence and security, they used tactics learned from the armed struggle against the apartheid state to shut down and burn what they could, crippling economic capacity. Police and army present at the time didn’t move. Internally corroded by decades of political mismanagement, the South African military is now a joke. Eventually the police had to be rescued by impromptu civilian defence forces, meanwhile the state has (too late of course) deployed the army to the fullest of its capacity for three months. The entire rest of the country (twice the size of France) is now undefended.

Like the Biden regime in the United States, the ANC’s looting is done through family members and subsidiary companies. Dependence on leftward electoral mobility means securing protections for insecure working voters who don’t understand economics. South Africa’s unemployment figures are now 42%: taxpayers are outnumbered by welfare dependents 2:1, and infrastructure is being rotted away by cadre deployment and affirmative action programs against the background of a necessary density of looting required to balance elite patronage networks.

Ramaphosa, with no real ethnic base himself, so far has relied on promising everybody what they want — from the Communist Party, the bloated and overpaid civil service, the urban liberals and their overseas equivalents in the Atlantic community, and China. China has now colonised South Africa’s northernmost province, and receives special treatment from law enforcement which now must learn Mandarin. 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 tides of ‘global progress’. Chinese are registered as black, to benefit from the racial privileges blacks enjoy under Black Economic Empowerment. 

Still, internal propaganda is still spelled out in African terms. During the lockdowns, anti-apartheid activist and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma heralded the lockdown as an opportunity to impose “class suicide” on the white economy. As children were forced to eat grass to survive, the Charterist parties gleefully celebrated the destruction of the economy. Banning everything from roast chicken to flip-flops to alcohol and tobacco, they achieved unprecedented control over the expenditure of citizens. Loosened regulations on procurement using emergency legislation meant that money now could be appropriated by any branch of the government with no real oversight.

Today the state coffers are empty. Even the ruling party is feeling it. The country has taken out an IMF bailout which is being poured into infrastructure. The president’s advisors are pushing for land reform. One of them, Ruth Hall, was advising Robert Mugabe on how to liquidate his pale kulaks back in 2002. Others, 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. By legislating to outlaw possession of firearms for the specific purpose of self-defence, much like in the West, the South African government now seems to be preparing the ground for this. Except it has no real power to enforce it, or any other general law or policy.

South Africa, named the “rape capital of the world,” has had half a million homicides since 1994, an AIDS and tuberculosis plague that takes many times the number attributed to the SARS-CoV2 virus, every year, accompanied by a mathematically unsustainable population growth, driven largely by immigration. Its wide-open borders lead ordinary people to blame their economic woes on migrants from the rest of Africa, against whom a nationwide pogrom was organized ten years ago. The vast majority of South Africa’s immigrants are from its neighbouring basketcase, Zimbabwe. This migration is now being consolidated through an all-Africa passport by its pan-Africanist leadership. The ideological precursors, which favour revolution, anti-racism, white guilt, hatred of the past, moral libertinism, etc., are embedded in the country’s official school curriculum, directed from above.

There is a name for this process: Zimbabwefication. The riots were simply a match thrown onto a dry veld.


As conservatives and reactionaries from Aristotle onwards have observed, the political structure of democracies incentivizes the political elite to use the power of the state to bribe the masses for the sake of their own interests. With the extension of a universal franchise in a situation of abject poverty the conditions are created to make a fundamentally parasitic system into a principle of government. This means taking on enormous quantities of national debt. In Zimbabwe, after the IMF attempted to impose austerity, the party switched to printing money. Subsequent inflation led to the replacement of the core of the economy with dollars. As the national treasury ran dry, the military and the civil service became restless. In an effort to placate them, they were fed with 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. It was during this time that Mugabe attempted to control every aspect of the environment and economy through price and capital controls, just as South Africa is now attempting through “excess profits” legislation.

Global governance also is following this usury-democratic logic. Micromanagement of the global economy by environmental regulations and now health regulations represents an indirect price-control mechanism writ large. In the UK, the NHS has become essentially a religious cult, feeding the civil service, medical contractors, migrants and the poor alike, in a financially unsustainable way, for decreasing returns. As Philip Bagus observed, democratic pressures to maintain institutional support through patronage forces Western states to take on debt and expand taxation to the limits.

Parallels between Amazon’s management strategies and collectivised central-planning are not accidental; monopoly through state-subsidised negative-profit growth is another route to total control. Minimum wage rises funnel employment into state-favoured monopolies like Amazon, just as it serves to funnel labour into state-controlled unions or welfare in South Africa. Both represents means of the centralisation of labour. Finance and corporations benefit through the Cantillion effect, and corporate profits come to depend on asset acquisition and mergers and rather than productive development. Capital formation declines.

A tiny ruling class, alienated from the people consolidates, now directed towards leveraging sectional grievances to retain power. A social formation based on a client class of dependent poor, a state-employed class, a managerial class, and a vampire elites now develops. As the vertical loyalties erode and disappear, the need to concentrate power in the hands of the elite accelerates, and the economy is plundered. Chronic inflation comes to be treated as a static phenomenon, impossible to address, because the entire system is now dependent on low-interest rates to keep the consolidation of the global market going. For years now, China and the Atlantic elite have been pouring money into commodities markets and land. This is not a recent trend. The future is no longer in the construction of anything new, but in the hoarding of static resources. The effect end of global growth in 2008, a result of the final stage of globalisation, has forced the elites to pursue investment in the lowest rung of the economic hierarchy: primary resources.

Over the last eighteen months America has been printing money so fast that it has kept pace with the plummeting Rand, and allowed Cyril Ramaphosa to tell investors that his economy is strong – the Rand has “stabilised.” Error of parallax. Nor is it even just America printing money. China is doing the same, only China is directly funnelling the cash into commodities, rather than spreading it around a financial elite.

Yet their leverage is far worse than America’s. Kyle Bass insists that the historically unprecedented degree of leverage in the Chinese economy is unsustainable and uncorrectable. But the endgame is not going to play out as more romantic revolutionaries hope. Instead, the state will protect the power of the ruling elite, bleeding everyone else dry and terrorising them into submission. What happened to Zimbabwe is a warning, but it only happened the way that 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 subverting 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.

What is about to happen is unprecedented. The Bank for International Settlements has recently announced that they intend to use Central Bank Digital Currency to control the spending of all global citizens. They have technology and power to control each and every transaction and to shut anybody out of the economy 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 house comes crashing down.

In order for President Ramaphosa to clear the state and party of seditious elements he would need the power of a tyrant. Cheered on by the press and everybody else who despise former President Zuma and his people for what they’ve wreaked upon the country, perhaps he can wield this power for a time. 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 Marikana ghosts coming back to haunt him, the rebels also have time to decide whether to act or not: Three months to see whether South Africa becomes a black nationalist dictatorship or a new Yugoslavia.

The only upside of all of this is the emergence of a coherent Cape independence movement, backed now by a few local billionaires and (if the rumours are to believed) certain senior members of the Democratic Alliance (DA). A small, semi-first-world enclave has the chance to break away and staunch the flow of decline. But the DA will need to be more aggressive. Without a unilateral declaration of independence on the table, any attempt to follow electoral procedure will be overcome by the forces of chaos and gerrymandering. Worse, without a means to consolidate a loyal economic nationalism and a firm moral and political order that creates stable and beneficial conditions for the middle class and law-abiding citizens, one that offers security to all ethnic groups within it and not state dependency, it will follow the same route.

Either break into pieces or collapse into dust, the end of South Africa is inevitable. This will undo every myth of the global governing ideology except for one: Malthusianism. But that is a fight for another day. For now, let us take heart liberals are finally starting to feel what I personally felt in 2015 when my university rang out with genocidal slogans. They know the end is coming. They can see the gaps in the rope bridge, and now have a glimpse between the fog to the floor of the valley below. 

Robert Duigan is a South African writer based in Cape. His substack is:

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