Source: Mises Wire
Yes, it has happened. A mere 23 years after the 1994 transition, in South Africa, to raw ripe democracy, six years following the publication of a wide-ranging analysis of that catastrophe, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, a Beltway libertarian think tank has convened to address the problem that is South Africa.
The reference is to an upcoming CATO “Policy Forum,” euphemized as “South Africa at a Crossroad.” One of the individuals to headline the “Forum” is Princeton Lyman, described in a CATO email tease as having “served as the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa at the time of the transfer of power from white minority to black majority.” At the “Forum,” former ambassador Lyman will be discussing “America’s original hopes for a new South Africa and the extent to which America’s expectations have been left unfulfilled.” (Italics added.)
The CATO Institute’s disappointment in the South Africa the United States helped bring about is nothing compared to the depredations suffered by South Africans, due to America’s insistence that their country pass into the hands of a voracious majority. Unwise South African leaders acquiesced. Federalism was discounted. Minority rights for the Afrikaner, Anglo and Zulu were dismissed.
Aborted Attempts at South African Decentralization
This audacity of empire is covered in a self-explanatory chapter of Into the Cannibal’s Pot, titled “The Anglo-American Axis of Evil,” in which Lyman makes a cameo. (It’s not flattering.) From the comfort of the CATO headquarters, in 2017, the former ambassador will also be pondering whether “growing opposition will remove the African National Congress [ANC] from power.” The mindset of the DC establishment, CATO libertarians included, has it that changing the guard —replacing one strongman with another — will fix South Africa, or any other of the sites of American foreign-policy interventions.
So, what exactly did Princeton Nathan Lyman do on behalf of America in South Africa? Or, more precisely, who did he sideline?
Ronald Reagan, who favored “constructive engagement” with South Africa, foresaw the chaos and carnage of an abrupt transition of power. So did the South Africans Fredrick van Zyl Slabbert, RIP (he died in May 2010), and Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The first was leader of the opposition Progressive Federal Party, who, alongside the late, intrepid Helen Suzman became the PFP’s chief critic of Nationalist policy (namely Apartheid). The second was Chief Minister of the KwaZulu homeland and leader of the Zulu people and their Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). At the time, Buthelezi was the only black leader with any mass following who could act as a counter to the ANC. These men were not “lunch-pail liberals” from the West, but indigenous, classical liberal Africans — one white, one black — who understood and loved the county of their ancestors and wished to safeguard it for their posterity.
Both Buthelezi and Slabbert had applied their astringent minds to power-sharing constitutional dispensations. Both leaders were bright enough to recognize democracy for the disaster it would bring to a country as divided as theirs; they understood that “a mass-based black party that received enough votes could avoid having to enter into a coalition and could sweep aside the minority vote.” Thus, Buthelezi espoused a multi-racial, decentralized federation, in which “elites of the various groups” would “agree to share executive power and abide by a system of mutual vetoes and spheres of communal autonomy.” Paramount to Buthelezi was “the preservation of the rights of cultural groups and the protection of minorities.” Slabbert studied a “new system that entrenched individual rights, encouraged power-sharing through a grand coalition of black and white parties, and gave a veto right to minorities in crucial issues.”
Although he eventually threw his intellectual heft behind simple majority rule, in better days, Slabbert had spoken with circumspection about “unrestrained majoritarianism,” expressing the eminently educated opinion that, were majority rule to be made an inevitable corollary of South Africa’s political system, the outcomes would be severely undemocratic. It’s worth considering that even Zimbabwe for its first seven, fat years of independence, allowed “white members of parliament [to be] elected on a special roll to represent white interests.”
Washington Destroyed South African Federalism Before It Began
In his tome, Partner to History: The US Role in South Africa’s Transition to Democracy (2002), Princeton Lyman, the American Ambassador to South Africa from 1992 to 1995, records the active role Americans performed in the transition to democracy, especially in “dissuading spoilers” — the author’s pejorative, it would appear, for perfectly legitimate partners to the negotiations. One such partner, introduced above, was Buthelezi; another was military hero and former chief of the Defense Force, Constand Viljoen.
Categories: Financial/Societal Collapse and Dependence