All Commentary
Sunday, February 1, 1987

A Visit to South Africa

John Hospers is a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous books, several anthologies, and more than one hundred essays in journals and encyclopedias.

      This article recounts experiences from Professor Hospers’ six-week stay in South Africa last summer.

The media create a misleading impression of life in South Africa. It’s not that what they report is untrue; it is what they decline to report that distorts the picture.

I spent part of July and all of August 1986 in South Africa, under the auspices of the Free Market Foundation of South Africa, giving lectures and seminars at a dozen universities in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Stellen-bosch, Durban, and Pietermaritzburg, as well as Namibia (Southwest Africa) and Umtata (in the “independent republic” of Transkei). I spoke with many people of various races and walks of life, and visited numerous areas, from rural black school districts to the private palace of the Anglo-American Oil Company. I walked the streets of cities for hours, meeting people and talking with them, trying to capture the ambience of each place and to sort out what were the sources of strife as well as of harmony, who was to blame for what, and how the problems could be solved or ameliorated.

Economic Inequality

To the outside world, the key word to describe what is wrong in South Africa is apartheid, which means simply that the races live apart. But apartheid by itself has very little to do with the current unrest in South Africa. If members of various races live apart by choice, little can be said against it; it is forcibly living apart that is objectionable. This still occurs in South Africa, notably in suburban enclaves like Soweto near Johannesburg: blacks work in Johannesburg by day but must return to their dwellings in Soweto at night. Yet a great deal of apartheid has been changed since my earlier visit in 1983.

• A few years ago, theaters, some shops, and all restaurants were segregated. Now they are integrated, and few people seem to think anything of it.

• The mixed-marriage laws and pass laws have been repealed.

• Black families live in apartments in Johannesburg and other cities alongside whites, going to the same shopping places and films and living their lives much as whites do. When you walk the streets of the posh northern suburbs of Johannesburg, you see almost as many blacks as whites, going to work and entering and leaving their homes. This is strictly illegal, but nothing is done about it.

• Formerly the government built tract-housing for black settlements and rented them to black families. Now those families for the most part have 99-year leases, and for all practical purposes the homes belong to them. The result is a great increase in beautification—lawns, gardens, trees and shrubbery, newly painted houses—which always accompanies private ownership.

Yet the legalization of mixed marriages, integration of public places, and the abolition of the pass laws have had a much less positive effect than the white population assumed they would. This, I think, is because the basic cause of unrest has not been touched by these measures. Blacks do not give first priority to social relations with whites. What affects them most is the unfairness of the laws and regulations which do not permit them to compete economically on an equal basis with whites or even with Indians. The desire to rise in life, and to provide adequate support for one’s family, is constantly frustrated by the legal system. If apartheid were continued but economic opportunities for the races were equal, the current unrest would largely subside. But blacks are held back by government controls:

“If a white person wants to open a fish and chip shop in a white area, all he has to do is fill in a form, find a zoned business site, and sign a lease with the landlord. If he complies with health regulations, he is entitled to sell fish and chips. No one must approve of him as a person; no questions are asked about his nationality, competence, resources, or language. No bureaucrat decides if there is adequate ‘need and desirability’ for such a shop. Simply because he is a white in a white area, he is entitled as a right to run a fish and chip shop or almost any other business or industry.

“For a black, the situation is very different. Before he can open a fish and chip shop in Soweto, he has to ask an official for a site. The official may or may not grant his request, for reasons which he need not disclose. He may say “yes” because he likes the applicant, or is related to him, or because he has received a sufficiently generous bribe. He may say “no” for equally subjective reasons. Once the site has been granted, the potential entrepreneur has to apply to another official for a license. This may or may not be issued, for similar reasons. Then on to the health officials. And the building inspectors . . . until, many months and hundreds of rands later, he might be turned down for unspecified reasons.

“South African blacks today have no experience with laws which are equally applicable to all regardless of sex, creed, or color. What they experience now, from day to day, is arbitrary rule by men, a system which by its nature is rife with both real and suspected corruption. No self- respecting human being can be subjected to such a system without feeling frustrated or angry.” (Leon Louw and Frances Kendall, South Africa: The Solution, pp. 61-62. Amagi Publications Ltd., 1986).

An end to such discriminatory legislation would solve a large part of South Africa’s problems in one stroke. Whether the government is at the moment prepared to do this is doubtful; but circumstances may yet force its hand.

The result would be beneficial to whites as well, for it would remove the enormous tax burden of caring for blacks at government expense. Six million taxpayers in a total population of 32 million sustain the entire remainder in a huge welfare state. South Africa is a ¾ socialist state, providing (however inadequately) for the daily needs of black housing, health, and education, at an enormous and ever-increasing cost. The facilities are far from equal, of course: black education is markedly inferior to white, in spite of vast increases of money spent on it—an increase of 2600 per cent for next year alone, I was told in Pretoria, enough to bankrupt the national treasury in a few years. (There are, of course, some black taxpayers as well, and the 12 per cent sales tax, up from 6 per cent three years ago, is imposed equally on everyone who buys goods.) Many urban blacks, however, are tired of being “cared for”—they want to make it on their own. What they suffer from is black socialism—being treated like children who cannot take care of themselves.

The irony is that blacks tend to associate the present system with capitalism, and therefore condemn it, often embracing socialism as the system that will cure their ills—little realizing that it is socialism that they have been suffering from all along, and that capitalism is their only means of rising out of their present situation, creating industries and jobs and allowing persons to rise to the limit of their abilities.

The government educational system is enormously frustrating to both whites and blacks. A school building is built in a black development; soon the windows are broken and the building vandalized. The government rebuilds it, and the same thing happens again. How often are the taxpayers of South Africa supposed to repeat this procedure? Whites are inclined to argue, “If that’s what they want to do, let them stay in their own mess.”

But why do blacks do this? Because they see education as largely irrelevant to their needs. If at the end of schooling you can’t get a decent job, the argument seems to be what’s the use of education? Then one might as well destroy the buildings which are the symbols of what is being forced upon them. These actions are a response to black socialism, to which they have been subjected by the white government; but socialism is not the way they identify it. They identify it as a manifestation of white capitalism. Therein lies the tragedy.

The Clash of Cultures

The outside world pictures the blacks of South Africa as one unified force, opposed to whites and Indians. In fact, however, blacks are deeply divided along tribal lines. The Zulu dislikes and is suspicious of the Xhosa, the Xhosa dislikes the bushman, and so on, far more than any of them fears or dislikes the whites. Were it not for police intervention, there would be tribal wars and massacres as there have been for thousands of years.

Most blacks are quite non-political; they are much more interested in meeting their daily needs than in political action. They will not rise up against the whites unless they can be whipped into a frenzy by outside agitators. They are inclined to be easy-going, fairly passive, “mellow”—quite unlike the “edginess” experienced between the races in America. Violence is usually initiated by teenagers and children, whose parents are ashamed for them and apologize in the strongest terms for their behavior.

Most blacks who work for whites tend to be content with their lot. They are employed, and at much higher wages than they could obtain elsewhere. They will defend the whites against blacks of other tribes, toward whom they are openly hostile.

I was a guest at a dinner at which a black man was seated, and the black cook, after inquiring where he was from and what tribe he belonged to, refused to serve him at table. She continued in this refusal even though her job was on the line. She considered serving whites to be her proper place, but she would have no truck with blacks of other tribes. She was somewhat reminiscent of the housekeepers in the old American South, as in Gone With the Wind.

One might say, of course, that blacks should not be in such a servile position. But economic non-discrimination would be the cure for that: as opportunities increased, fewer would accept servile jobs. But at present, with limited training and job opportunities (thanks to black socialism), the arrangement appears to be quite acceptable, indeed advantageous, to both blacks and whites.

Most rural blacks live much as they have lived for centuries, their tribal customs unchanged, the principal change in their lives being white medicine, modern homes, and the sale of their crops and wares to white customers. At the other extreme, a small percentage of blacks have become quite Westernized; these are the ones we see on American television. Between these extremes are the semi-urbanized blacks, with one foot in each culture—a background of tribal customs which goes with them constantly even while they are attempting to compete with white laborers in the job market. The lot of this third group is the most painful and trying—somewhat Westernized, yet unable to compete successfully in the white man’s world.

Given a free enterprise economy, many of them would become able entrepreneurs. Some of them already are, in spite of the system: 1 met black landscapers and construction men who hired other blacks to lay tile and build swimming pools and maintain lawns and gardens, and these were affluent by any standard. These, of course, were the rare excep-tions-and they had no use for political agitation. Most blacks, however, are still victims of the system, unable to make a good life for themselves. They care about their own chances of achieving a decent living much more than having a vote: When I asked “What would you rather have, the right to vote or an extra thousand rand a year?” the answer was always the same, and perfectly obvious.

The degree of tribalism, and the strength of tribal customs, are quite unfathomed in the West, and are never shown on American television, although tribalism is the most potent force in Africa. The following are only a few examples of many (purposely diverse in character), told to me by white university professors, white missionaries and social workers, as well as by urban blacks.

• A man disappears from his home in a black settlement. The opposing tribesman who has killed him conceals his body in the refrigerator and each day he cuts off a piece and eats it. (Often he eats only the heart and the liver.) This is a common practice called “muti.”

• A man comes home to find himself suddenly accused by other tribesmen of theft or adultery (whether truly or falsely). He is pummeled to death or fatally stabbed on the spot, while others dance over his corpse. Life is very cheap in Africa.

• A girl has had two sons, strong healthy children. A third son is born, but is dead within a few days. “What happened?” asks a white missionary. “He just died.” The next year another son is born. “This time I will take care of him,” says the missionary, and does so till the child is six months old, at which time the missionary has to leave, and places the child carefully in his mother’s hands. When the missionary returns a few days later the new son is dead, again without explanation. The reason turns out to be that a third son is a liability to a family, and is killed. The first son takes over from his father; the second son is there to do so if something happens to the first son; but the third son if he later marries must present a dowry (unlike India, the dowry is contributed by the husband’s family), and this often breaks the family financially. It is easier just to kill him.

• Most black education is performed by rote: a teacher simply reads out of a textbook. One geography teacher decides to explain the text instead of just reading it. But his pupils still fail the matriculation test at the end of the term. The students get together and decide that it’s the teacher’s fault for not going strictly by the text. They take the teacher out and kill him.

• At the home where I stayed in Johannesburg, the black caretaker was quietly reliable, like most African blacks more interested in tending the house than in the future of South Africa. His predecessor in the job, however, had not been so fortunate: blacks from another tribe had seen him crossing a bridge one night, tied him up, lit a fire under him, and burned him to death.

White vs. Black?

Hundreds of tales like this are well known to both whites and blacks. They make many whites fear integration in the cities: with such tribal savagery so close to the surface, how could we but fear for our children going out at night? “Of course there has to be apartheid.” Yet the victims of these brutalities are almost always blacks, not whites. And people with a long oral tradition do not part in a few years with the thousand-year-old habits and customs of their ancestors.

The white man’s world is still strange and alien to those who live in the bush. “Let me take you to any black village,” one lady said to me, “and I guarantee you will be a hero—as long as you can keep telling them stories about the world outside. They will revere you and defend you, and for years afterward they will tell tales about their great honor in having a white visitor from another land.”

There is, indeed, a great reservoir of good will between the races in South Africa—much more than in the United States. I sensed this in the stories, on the streets, in endless conversations. Most blacks do not consider the white man their enemy. Some whites consider blacks to be slow and lazy—and of course some are; but a much more plausible conclusion is that the black is more deliberate, with less of a sense of urgency. He can remember incredibly detailed instructions without writing them down (the long oral tradition facilitates this).

Ten years ago all truck drivers in South Africa were white; today they are virtually all black, and doing a better job of it. There are many black trade unions, black mining engineers, black doctors and dentists. More South African blacks own cars than there are privately owned cars in the Soviet Union. Even so, the African black is still new to the technological civilization that the whites have built around him: South Africa’s incomparable roads and skyscrapers, its mining and processing technology, its system of distribution and supply, are the equal of anything in the West. Blacks have been the beneficiaries of this civilization in the form of a higher standard of living and medical care than they would have had otherwise, but thus far they have not been sufficiently permitted to participate in it.

What of those who do not want to participate in it, but to remain with their tribal customs in the bush? One is surely inclined to say, “Then they should not be forced to be a part of the white man’s civilization.” They should not be forced to adapt to the white man’ s world if they choose not to. But there is one touchy problem here: what part should the white man’s law, derived from Europe, play in the black man’s culture? To a large extent the white man’s law lets tribal custom go its way without interference. Yet in known cases of ritual murder or human sacrifice, shouldn’t the perpetrators of such acts be arrested and charged with murder?

If the law does not intervene, the world will say that white law enforcers do not care about human lives as long as they are the lives of blacks. If the law does intervene, headlines will scream round the world, “White policemen molest blacks in South Africa.” Whether the law takes the attitude of “let it be” to tribal customs, or whether it attempts to intervene at least in the clearest cases of tribal savagery, either way it will be the loser in world opinion.

The Solution?

Perhaps the greatest mistake in South African history was the creation of one nation, the Union of South Africa. With such deep cultural and moral divisions, how could one nation ever be generated from such a mix? Those who came to America came largely from Europe, and shared a European culture and morality. But those who came together in Africa had no such common bond.

What then is the solution? A very plausible one has been proposed by Leon Louw and his wife Frances Kendall in their book South, Africa: The Solution, which is now the No. 1 best seller in South Africa and has been read by cabinet ministers and referred to by the Prime Minister himself, and is creating a great ferment in the entire country. Many whites who had planned to leave South Africa have stayed because of the book. They now see hope in the book’s proposed canton system, like the one Switzerland has had for eight centuries.

The nation would be subdivided into semi-autonomous states or provinces, divided along roughly tribal boundaries. There would be a very limited central government concerned only with a few matters such as currency and national defense, but the laws would vary from province to province. Some whites, of course, would have to move if they didn’t like the laws of the largely black province they were in, and the same with blacks. But moving about is preferable to civil war.

Provinces with a free enterprise economy would soon be more prosperous than socialist provinces that might exist nearby, and would attract more people toward them. Meanwhile a national constitution would prohibit discrimination on grounds of race, color, gender, or religion, would ensure a universal franchise, would protect property rights and civil liberties, and guarantee freedom of movement and association.

“One person, one vote” is chanted by many Westerners who know little about South Africa. Those in the bush do not know what a vote is. For those who do, it means going along with what the chief says: a black lady I spoke with had been wronged by her chief, but kept insisting “You can’t go against your chief,” indicating that I simply did not understand. Many whites fear that with a five-to-one majority blacks will vote for anyone who promises them the advantages that white civilization has achieved, without knowing yet how to sustain it. They fear a future of “one man, one vote, once.”

What most whites fear is that, given unlimited and centralised political power of the kind that whites have held and abused, blacks will evict whites from their homes, nationalise their businesses and loot their property in an orgy of redistribution and revenge. But there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that this fear is more imagined than real.

True, there are many articulate political leaders who speak openly about the day of reckoning when AZAPO would restore the land to its “original owners,” and the ANC to “those who work it” in terms of the Freedom Charter. A handful would like to see a fully-fledged Marxist dictatorship with no private property at all. But the majority of blacks seem to want no more than the removal of all barriers to black advancement and enfranchisement. . . .

None of the four independent homelands have adopted the policies whites most fear. They have all repealed all race laws, but none have espoused Marxism. Bophutha-tswana and Ciskei have recently taken major steps to free their economies. . . . (Louw and Kendall, South Africa: The Solution, pp. 168-9.)

One advantage of Louw and Kendall’s solution is that economic freedom would come first—hopefully at once; and then, when there are a number of prosperous black entrepreneurs, they will not vote to Sovietize South Africa, for by that time they will have a stake in their country and will have too much to lose.

Threats from the Outside

White South Africans have watched closely the fate of the “developing nations” of Africa. They have seen one nation after another turned into a one-party state—dictatorships in which the fruits of white civilization were promised to all, property confiscated, billions going into the dictator’s Swiss bank account, the rest redistributed in a vast welfare scheme in which there was no “welfare” because without incentives there soon was nothing left to distribute.

Successive dictatorships in Uganda, Tan-zania, and other central African nations have killed millions of people. Mozambique, once a prosperous nation under Portuguese rule, is now an economic basket case. In the midst of rich natural resources and good soil, hunger and starvation are now rampant, the economy totally destroyed, and hordes of starving families cross the border into South Africa to find food and sanctuary.

Zimbabwe is already in effect a one-party state, whose dictator, Mugabe, is systematically exterminating the minority tribe, the Matabeles. In Zimbabwe today there are no jobs to be had: I talked with several illegal aliens from Zimbabwe who worked as gardeners and small tradesmen in Johannesburg, sending their wages back to Zimbabwe to support a dozen or more family members and relatives.

Refugees from other nations continue to pour into South Africa; even with racial discrimination they can earn many times ‘what they can in their home countries, when they find employment there at all. Without South Africa many of these people literally would starve.

South Africans wonder why the world has a special animosity towards them. Every time there is even a small amount of violence—often genuine but sometimes staged for the benefit of cameramen who have placed themselves in a convenient location—it is highlighted that night on the world’s television screens.

When thousands are slaughtered in Uganda or Zaire, no cameramen are there to record it, and it passes almost unnoticed. “If there are no pictures, there’s no news”—and thus America knows nothing of Soviet labor camps or Vietnamese “re-education centers,” for no one is permitted to come close enough to photograph them.

Yet it is South Africa, still a relatively open society in spite of censorship, that comes in for selective indignation. Perhaps it is because “more is expected” of white people than of black. But is that not itself a form of racism?

Why should nations in the Soviet orbit receive preferential trading conditions while South Africa is punished? Why does Zimbabwe, a police state in which a single comment against the government can result in imprisonment incommunicado for six months or more (we were warned before entering Zimbabwe to think what we wished, but to say nothing), still receive American aid, while sanctions are imposed on South Africa? Racial problems in the United States took centuries to resolve, and are not entirely resolved to this day, yet South Africa is expected to solve its problems by tomorrow morning.

A professor from the Netherlands gave a series of lectures at the University of the Witwatersrand when I was also lecturing there, and was notified by his home university that because he had spoken in South Africa his academic tenure would be broken. South Africans cannot get passports to many European nations because of its “racist policies,” but dignitaries from other nations which are slaughterhouses have no troubles in this regard. “If you impose sanctions,” I was asked, “why don’t you do it across the board, first to countries that systematically kill all dissidents?”

I spent a week in Namibia, where everyone is officially in favor of independence from South Africa. (Namibia has had no apartheid for ten years, but this has made little difference: only economic opportunity can offer advancement.) Yet more than half the Namibian economy is sustained by transfusions from South Africa.

The Namibian Minister of Transport in Windhoek showed me a huge map projecting his favorite dream: a railroad going from Walvis Bay on the west coast, east through Namibia and Botswana, ending in Zimbabwe: “then we could be independent of South Africa.” Unfortunately the building costs of this project would amount to well over a billion rand, and where would such an infusion of capital come from but South Africa, whose G.N.P. is more than that of all the other nations of Africa combined? Similarly, the impressive University of Umtata in the black republic of Transkei, where I gave three lectures, was built entirely courtesy of the South African taxpayers.

Yet South Africans are well aware of international threats. Armed insurgents from Angola continue to harass the residents of northern Namibia, though the influence of SWAPO seems to be on the decline: the Ovambi tribesmen (over 60 per cent of the population of Namibia) don’t want their property nationalized, and the word has finally got through that that’s what SWAPO is all about. Today an Angolan infiltrator into their midst can figure on a life-expectancy of no more than a week (So I was told in a military briefing in Windhoek to which I was invited, along with French and German diplomats.)

But conditions along the border with Mozambique have not similarly improved. Soviet-financed terrorists continue to make armed raids into South Africa. In the northern province of Venda, the chief fear of native families is not from South Africa but from Mozambique: terrorists capture children in school or on the way home, kidnap them and take them back into Mozambique, and they never are seen again. When the South African army retaliates by raiding terrorist bases in Mozambique, it is excoriated in the international press for venturing outside its borders.

South Africans follow closely the progress of Soviet trouble-making in Africa—the killing of dissidents and minorities (to fan racial hatreds), the slaughter and systematic starvation of innocents, the random imprisonments, and the kidnaping of children, taking them through Dares-Salaam to Siberia or North Korea to give them training in terrorist tactics against South Africa.

The African National Congress (ANC) is a divided organization. Some of its members desire only racial equality in South Africa. But the majority—so believe most of those with whom I spoke—do not want any improvement of conditions in South Africa: They want things to get worse, so that the entire social fabric of South Africa will be destroyed in a civil war and a new communist nation founded on the ashes of the present one. As for Nelson Mandela, the usual view was “if he is released he won’t last a week unless he turns to Butholezi” (the moderate Zulu chief, who may be the main hope for South Africa, but is seldom mentioned on American television)—because Tambo (head of the ANC) would not tolerate any competition for his leadership.

If civil war should come, it will be instigated by outsiders bent on the destruction of the entire society (including all races), not from within—this was the verdict of virtually everyone with whom I spoke.

As one surveys the thousands of people walking the streets of Cape Town and Durban and Johannesburg, one finds it difficult to imagine how a black take-over would ever be attempted, or how it could succeed if it were. Here are thousands of black faces expressing no hatred or resentment or malevolence; these are people going about the daily business of life, under conditions which in spite of world headlines are gradually improving. Further improvements, such as deregulation and the abolition of discriminatory legislation, could be initiated tomorrow by act of Parliament. Others, such as satisfactory education for black youths, would take many years to achieve, and probably cannot be achieved at all through the public school system.

Reflecting on all this, I thought of the black shopkeeper in nearby Randburg, with whom I talked often, helpful to a fault, who bore no ill will toward anyone: ten years ago a white customer would have been unlikely to shop at a store serviced by blacks, but no more. I thought of the white plumber I spoke with, who still goes alone to Soweto every working day to install pipes and bathrooms, with no fears for his safety. I thought of the white South African soldiers on leave entering a bar in Durban, not joining other white soldiers from the Transvaal for a drink because they preferred to drink with their black Durban friends.

The world underestimates the residual good will between the races in South Africa, which makes the streets of South Africa safer than those of any large American city. The very existence of this benevolent attitude is difficult to believe by those who are the victims of selective reporting by the American media, but theawareness of it is inescapable once one has tasted everyday life in South Africa as it is actually lived, not as it is contrived by reporters who report only the outbreaks of violence.

The Effects of Sanctions

Many nations have imposed sanctions against South Africa in a show of moral indignation against apartheid. The sanctions are an attempt to punish South African whites; in fact, however, it will punish principally South African blacks. As one foreign company after another pulls out of South Africa, there will be massive unemployment—and who will be the first to be unemployed? The unskilled laborers, of course—and at the moment these are mostly blacks. They are the ones who will suffer the brunt of the foreigners’ indignation.

Many foreigners know this, of course, but they appeal to what they think is the will of their constituencies (fanned by selective media coverage). Talk is cheap, and the foreigners will be no worse off because of black poverty in South Africa which their actions will cause. They may even feel a pleasing tinge of moral righteousness for doing what they do—they have spoken their piece, and the consequences will not fall on them. The very persons they officially wish to help are the ones who will suffer the most. Many people will starve because of the imposition of sanctions.

Sanctions will also seal the fate of the thousands of blacks who pour into South Africa from the economically depressed nations to the north. They will be sent back to their native countries, since there will be no more jobs for them in South Africa. What will happen to the starving hordes pouring in from Mozambique, who now flee into South Africa for food and sanctuary’? After sanctions, they will no longer be able to be absorbed into the South African labor force, and will be forced to return to the nations from which they have fled.

Dr. Christian Barnard of Cape Town, the originator of heart transplant surgery, recently wrote in the Sunday Times (Johannesburg, August 3):

Starvation means more than just pangs in the belly. It is the terrible agony of a body literally cannibalizing its own tissues as it fights off death. Perhaps you think you’ve seen it all on television documentaries of famine. Be assured that the reality cannot be captured on film. There is a stink to starvation that doesn’t show on a television screen, it assaults the nostrils and revolts the stomach—a smell you can never forget: the stench of obscenity. Never mind all the other uses of the word. Once you see a starving child you know the real meaning of obscenity—a condition which is an affront to all humanity.

It is then that another emotion takes over—anger; a kind of white-hot fury at the conditions which allowed this to happen. There is a need to look for a target—to find something to smash, someone to blame. . . . I feel that anger when I read of churchmen who call for economic sanctions. I try to believe that, like the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ, they know not what they do.

But belief comes hard when you consider that those who ask for the bread to be taken out of the mouths of other people’s children know their own will never suffer. No churchman’s salary will stop when trade comes to a halt. Priests and prelates, like the lilies of the field, toil not for their cash. It comes to them on a silver plate. And it keeps coming whether the stock market rises or falls. When the sanctions bite, no one will knock on the door to repossess the furniture. The cars in the garage will be safe and the church will not call in the mortgage on the rectory, the manse or the deanery. Bishops will be safe, too. Princes of the church live in palaces where sanctions don’t apply. Church walls are thick. Especially high church where they build monuments of dead stone to a living God. It’s hard to hear the cries of the unfed when you’re inside.

Southern Africa is home to more than 60 million people. A quarter of the population are below the age of 14. Let me spell it out. Sanctions, which is just another word for starvation, will place 15 million children under the threat of famine. Politicians throughout the world have voted for this appalling project, but nobody asked the children . . .

I can offer sanctions-loving churchmen a thought. It is a short step from being the Lord’s Anointed to believing oneself God’s Mouthpiece, but would the Almighty really risk the life of a single child—just to replace a white Caesar with a black one?

What is needed, of course, is an increase in the number of available jobs; but as long as sanctions are in effect, any such increase will be impossible. Without capitalism (including free trade) a nation cannot enjoy the fruits of capitalism—prosperity. “The fruits we require,” wrote Barlow Rand chairman Mike Rosholt in the Pretoria News (July 11), “will have to be in the form of a very much larger cake than we have ever been able to produce, even in relatively good economic times, because it will have to fund the reforms already announced to produce a considerable backlog of jobs and to satisfy black demands for a more equitable distribution of national income. All this without permanently damaging the private sector and killing all individual initiative. We shall certainly not produce that larger cake in the recessionary conditions we now face.”

The Prospects

What South Africa now needs is economic prosperity, a prosperity that will be impossible as long as sanctions continue. With growing prosperity, an improvement in the lot of the blacks would come, particularly in the wake of deregulation and decentralization—something the government has not proceeded with fast enough, but which the necessities of peaceful survival will increasingly force upon it.

Meanwhile, the future is clouded. With foreign backing, the ANC will be strong enough to plant bombs in the cities and create conditions of terror which will bring all improvements to a halt. With enough foreign assistance, such organizations will in time be able to make South Africa at least as uncomfortable as Northern Ireland. Then there may be enough violence to satisfy even the international media—and the billion or so dollars per year that the Soviet Union spends on the disruption of South Africa may prove to have been well worth the price they have paid to bring it about.

  • John Hospers was the first presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party and stood in the 1972 general election.