democracy

When America Becomes South Africa

If African-Americans didn’t get out and vote for Hillary Clinton, they would be dissing him and his legacy. So warned President Barack Obama, in a speech at the Black Caucus Foundation in Washington DC, on September 17.

The woman whose election promises portend a war on whites, Walmart and the wealthy has nothing to fear. Obama’s political cant notwithstanding, there isn’t much of a chance blacks will side overwhelmingly with Hillary’s rival.

Like never before, the 2016 election has been characterized by “a muscular mobilization of a race-based community, coercive control of territory and appeals by powerful charismatic leaders.”

What do I mean by “coercive control of territory”? Consider what would transpire if Donald Trump were to campaign “big-league” in Birmingham (Alabama), Charlotte (North Carolina), or South Los Angeles. Riots would erupt. (Incidentally, the thing where private property is invaded and looted is not called a protest.)

As sure as night follows day, the American democracy is destined to resemble that of South Africa, where a ruling majority party is permanently entrenched, and where voting is characterized by what has become Barack Obama’s signature tactic, a “muscular mobilization of the race-based community.”

The last, twice-repeated reference is out of “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South-Africa.” In 2011, the book used the tragic example of post-apartheid South Africa to forewarn Americans of the effects of a shift in their country’s founding political dispensation, a shift being achieved stateside through immigration central-planning.

tryannyAmerica’s political class has been tinkering with the country’s historical demographic composition for decades. The consequence of the mass importation of poor, Third World immigrants is that America, like South Africa, is headed to dominant-party status, in which a permanent majority intractably hostile to the minority consolidates power, and in which voting along racial lines is the rule.

It used to be that the Democratic Party was this nascent majority’s political organ, offering a platform of preferential policies for a voting bloc whose “interests are viewed through the prism of racial affiliations.” Obama’s Dreams from America are for a country in which the historic majority is destined to become a marginalized minority, consigned to the status of spectator in the political bleachers. Ditto Clinton’s dreams. But, as election year 2016 has shown, the Republican Party is vying for a similar mantle.

That South Africa is riven by race is indisputable. Each election is “a racial census as far as whites and blacks are concerned.” In the much-ballyhooed, historic election of 1994, “only two to three percent of whites voted for historically black parties and perhaps five percent of blacks voted for historically white parties. The ANC relied for ninety-four percent of its vote on black support. The historically white parties had been barred from campaigning in the black townships.” Yet elections since 1994 have had the blessing of every liberal alive, and that includes many of the world’s self-styled conservatives.

“The rule of the people, demos, and the people’s ethnicity, ethnos” invariably clash, argued Michael Mann, “one of the leading historical sociologists of our time.” In “The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing” (2004), Mann contends that in the earlier, more formative stages of their development, democracies are prone to carrying out murderous ethnic cleansing, which in extreme forms can become genocidal.

“The growth of popular sovereignty, the institutionalization of universal citizenship, [and] the creation of mass society” have often seen “ethnic groups laying claim to the same territory resort to the use of force, and, when frustrated, to murderous ethnic cleansing and even genocide.” Examples of this phenomenon in modernity: the ethnic expulsions and massacres in the democratized former Yugoslavia and Rwanda during the 1990s, the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire under the Young Turks (particularly in 1915-1916), and the mechanized mass murder of the Jews in Nazi Germany. While the infant South-African democracy fits snugly within his thesis, democracy devotees [the writer is not one] have accused Mann of twisting like a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to stretch the definition of democracy in making his case.

Where Mann is at pains to prove the murderous nature of young democracies, the arguments against democracy for South Africa, which have been propounded by Duke University scholar Donald L. Horowitz, have considerable force. Finely attuned to “important currents in South African thought,” Horowitz offered up an excruciatingly detailed analysis of South Africa’s constitutional options.

In “A Democratic South Africa?: Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society” (1991), Horowitz concluded that democracy is, in general, unusual in Africa, and, in particular, rare in ethnically and racially divided societies, where majorities and minorities are rigidly predetermined.

Prone to seeing faces in the clouds, the new South Africa’s Anglo-American cheerleaders were impervious to such sobering pronouncements. It remained for students of democracy such as Horowitz to hope only that “the probability will … recede that one person, one vote, one value, and one state will degenerate into only one legal party and one last election.”

quote-the-one-pervading-evil-of-democracy-is-the-tyranny-of-the-majority-or-rather-of-that-lord-acton-0-15-01“Elections to be meaningful presuppose a certain level of political organization. … The primary problem is … the creation of a legitimate public order. Authority has to exist before it can be limited, and it is authority that is in scarce supply in the modernizing countries,” warned Samuel Huntington in “Political Order In Changing Societies.” Little did Huntington consider that, with enough tinkering by its ruling elites; a modern and mighty country like the U.S. could devolve into an atavistic and dangerous place.

Not nearly as hopeful as Horowitz was that “noted student of nationalism” Elie Kedourie. “If majority and minority are perpetual, then government ceases to have a mediatory or remedial function, and becomes an instrument of perpetual oppression of the minority by the majority,” concluded Kedourie. It was after a visit to South Africa that he wrote the following, in the November 1987 issue of the South Africa International:

The worst effects of the tyranny of the majority are seen when parliamentary government on the unalloyed Westminster model is introduced into countries divided by religion or language or race. Such for example was the case of Iraq … where an extremely heterogeneous society came to be endowed with constitutions which made no provision for diversity, and where the result was tyranny of one groups over the other groups in the society.

A prerequisite for a classical liberal democracy is that majority and minority status be interchangeable and fluid in politics; that a ruling majority party be as likely to become a minority party as the obverse. By contrast, in South Africa, the majority and the minorities are politically permanent, not temporary.

America’s Founding Fathers had attempted to forestall raw democracy by devising a republic. Every democratic theorist worth his salt—Robert Dahl and Elaine Spitz come to mind—has urged that the raw, ripe rule of the mob and its dominant, anointed party be severely curtailed under certain circumstances fast approaching in the United States of America. These are “whenever people of different languages, races, religions, or national origins, with no firm habits of political co-operation and mutual trust, are to unite in a single polity.”

In other words, multicultural America.

Adapted from “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South-Africa (2011).

Please leave your comments below

Facebook Comments

Disqus Comments