An Inconvenient Apartheid Truth

black_vs_white_pepperThis is a short follow-up post to our June 24th post “Apartheid didn’t benefit whites“, which has got under the skin of a few people.

As readers will have noticed by the general lack of reader comments on this site, HA is not the most widely read blog on this planet, but our Apartheid post certainly seems to have generated a little ripple in the Twittersphere (definitely not a wave yet:)).

Now it appears that for some black South Africans in particular (and possibly some folk in Oranje) the truth that whites didn’t benefit from Apartheid is a rather uncomfortable one.  It seems to shatter their sense of injustice and sense of blame.  It needn’t do this.  White supremist nationalists perpetrated Apartheid and blacks got the raw deal of raw deals because of it. Period.

But it does remove from blacks their monopoly on Apartheid victimhood, which blacks have clung to rabidly for 17 years and more.  The brutal truth is that ALL South Africans were victims under Apartheid, and our post simply showed that whites, the most privileged of unfree classes by far, were also victims of the Fascist-Socialist state.  In fact, whites were peculiar victims, because they for the most part didn’t even know it at the time, such was their brainwashed, darkened stupor.

So we mustn’t conflate separate issues.  It is two completely different things to talk about who was worse off under Apartheid and who actually benefitted.  As far as I can tell, the genuine beneficiaries of Apartheid, as under any dictatorship, were a narrow state-centric elite, and even those of this clique who lived to see the democratic revolution in 1994 have had to live their days out in the greatest of shame, which must have rendered a fairly considerable psychic loss for all but the most callous bittereinders.

One Tweeter indignantly tried to argue…”it still doesnt mean that whites didn’t benefit in comparison to blacks.”  By this we take this Tweeter to be arguing that somehow being relatively better off than someone else confers an absolute benefit.  By that sloppy logic Indians and Coloureds also ‘benefitted’ from Apartheid right?

Our post was actually less about Apartheid and race, and more about economics, which is what this blog is about.  It was about showing people that if you apply sound economics to our history you can start to draw different and interesting conclusions that can change your perspective to a truer one.  Having a clearer and more accurate perspective of our history means we can live more constructively in the present and make better decisions about our future.

It’s high time we de-racialise and de-ethnicise economics and economic policy.  Racio-ethic groups are always blabbering on about how they don’t want x, y, or z culture’s economics foisted upon them but want to forge their ‘own’ economy.  So we hear about a uniquely ‘Latin economy’ suited to the ’specific culture’ of the Latinos, or we hear about a uniquely ‘African economy’ for African’s (which 9 times out of 10 you can take to mean “for blacks”), or about how unique and special ‘Chinese economics’ is.  Usually this is nothing but a cheap front for adopting get-rich-quick-rape-your-capital-base economic policy.

This is nothing short of nonsense, pure nationalistic and cultural pride and, quite frankly, arrogance. Good and bad economics transcends race, culture and nation. Doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, pink or purple, saving more than consuming is still a good idea, free trade is still a good idea, individual liberty is still a good idea, freedom from state oppression is still a good idea.

If you want to disagree with our Apartheid post, prove with good economic argument that whites benefitted from Apartheid.  We doubt you will be able to though with any credibility, because whites most certainly didn’t benefit.

In fact, in a great and tragic irony, many blacks, by arguing that whites benefitted from Apartheid, are actually doing the freedom they fought for such a great and debilitating disservice.  They are arguing that state subjugation of certain identity groups benefits to the broad identity group of the state perpetrating the subjugation.  It might not be a far step to use this logic to enact a ‘reverse Apartheid’ (some would say already well under way in a ‘lite’ form), in the hope of redressing the injustices of the prior Apartheid.  All this would do, and indeed is doing, is keep blacks mired in their own mud puddle of poverty.

To the dissenters among the Twitterati, please stop conflating your retro-anger over Apartheid, with blacks getting the worst deal by far, with relative suffering between races, with sound economic reason.  These are distinct issues and confusing them is getting in the way of your better judgement on these matters.

Cheers, and here’s to a better present and future where hopefully all race groups in SA can be allowed to steward their own property freely without interference, reap the full fruits of their own labour, take advantage of and create economic opportunities freely, live free of state oppression, trade feely, associate freely, and ALL BENEFIT from the fruits of genuine liberty.

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