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The Dutch are as complicit to slave trading as most of the European powers of that time; and yes, Van Riebeeck at the Cape began buying slaves himself.

The mentality of apartheid eerily slots in with the late nineteenth, early twentieth century notion of race supremacy which was a dominant illusion raging practically everywhere through Europe. Though I disagree that the blame for apartheid should be put solely on the Afrikaners: the Pass Laws, a firm step towards segregation, were introduced as early as 1809 (the Hottentot Law), under British colonialism in South Africa. (And Pass Laws were no stranger in Australia as well). Although the request for the SA pass laws apparently came from the Boers... In history, it just all stacks up against the whole of western imperialism.

by Nomad on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 08:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The apartheid mentality was not just a matter of racial superiority -- it was an actual religious belief, the belief (supported until the bitter end by the Dutch Reformed Church) that Afrikaners were "the chosen people."

Yes, many of the practices of apartheid were in place before the National Party came to power in 1948, and yes the laws put in place by the British were discriminatory in the extreme, as they were in other British African colonies.  (And elsewhere, as you point out.)

But the degree to which the Afrikaner-led NP solidified and systematized (is that a word?) the separation of the races bordered on the pathological.  Actually, forget the border, it was pathological.  It was also long-planned and carefully orchestrated, based on an ideology of total domination.  (See Broederbond and baasskap.)

The "separateness" divided not just racial groups, but ethnic/language groups within racial groups, to the extent that the "white neighborhoods" were either Afrikaans-speaking or English-speaking or mainly Jewish, while the black "group areas" were ethnically segregated, so one area of a township was mainly Xhosa while another was Sotho and the single-sex hostels might have been Zulu, etc....

But back to the Dutch legacy in South Africa...  I don't think it was necessarily an isolated example (the Indonesians, after all, inherited a discriminatory dual legal system from the Dutch colonizers), but neither can you say that what the Afrikaner nation became is entirely a product of its Dutch legacy.  Yes, I think the Afrkaner apartheid pathology grew from European seeds (British and Dutch and Huguenot), but it developed domestically in South Africa into what it became, nurtured by an isolated (and, initially, largely illiterate) Afrikaner population, in much the same way that the Afrikans language evolved out of Dutch -- a product of both its ancestry and its environment.

In history, it just all stacks up against the whole of western imperialism.

Yeah, it does.  You should hear me rail on about the Belgian Congo, or what Germany did in Namibia.... Oh, and it's not quite analagous, but the Americo-Liberians' treatment of the Malinké was nothing to brag about...

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 12:46:49 PM EST
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That pathology, hmm. It got me thinking.

Most white-supremacists groups argue that white people are under the threat of being erridacted, that is they are arguing from fear of others doing to us white folks what white folks has done to others. This fear also goes further then just the white-supremacists groups, it is the same in all those movies white aliens attacking and slaugthering humans (a theme invented by H G Wells as a criticism of the way white folks were treating others) and it is the same source that Bush and Sarkozy taps into when they evoke fear of brown people.

Now, the Boers was once on the receiving end of an colonial army. Maybe that is what got them pathologically afraid of loosing control again.

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 05:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought it was Desmond Tutu who said he considered apartheid the worst crime against humanity after the exterminations in the concentration camps in the second world war. And hadn't they been necessary to uphold the construct of white capitalism, one wonders what would have ultimately happened to the black communities in SA.

Reading your comment, I can't help but think that the parallels to nazism still remain so many - and I don't think it's too far a stretch that also nazism held a belief - the one of the superior Aryan race. Though the religious aspect of the chosen Afrikaner people is new to me, and rather chilling. It does lift the self-righteousness of it all to a whole new plane of illness.

I chewed on the whole development of apartheid in the light of the Dutch and their much hailed (modern?) tolerance when I walked back home yesterday (I'm living in Killarney now, BTW). The Machiavellian divide and conquer set-up in Indonesia is not surprising to me in the light of the colonial history - I suspect it's a global trick.

This could turn into a psychological and completely incoherent ramble now...

For all their cultural heterogeneity, the Dutch are a relative homogeneous lot with a common set of values. If I can call that Dutchness for this moment, I really am starting to suspect that one of the basic tenets of Dutchness is that the Dutch prefer to stay in control of what Dutschness should look like. So even while they could be tolerant toward other cultures, the Dutch will not easily accept influences of other cultures seeping into their definition of Dutchness (even while it evolves with time). And it worked out nicely while they were the imperialists riding roughshod across other cultures up until the twentieth century.

Because then, the immigration of the foreign workers (who were expected to leave and of course didn't) into the Netherlands after the second world war has smashed the whole thing to pieces. Dutchness was "endangered" by the influx of different cultures. Which is why the multi-cultural model in the Netherlands has now been declared dead (courtesy to Pim Fortuyn) and interestingly the Dutch are moving towards the assimilation model of France, in an attempt to keep control of their Dutchness. I remembered that the very same discussion had taken hold in Great Britain, concerning "Englishness" or Britishness, also lauded for their multi-cultural approach.

Tolerate cultural diversity as long as it can't control you. Suppress when you no longer can't control it. All in all, it sounds very control-freakery...

Paraphrasing eecummings:

Where is this s
going. It's
going to


Returning to the development of apartheid, I agree with your very succinct sum-up: a product out of its ancestry and its environment - apartheid to me feels just as another version of nazism, stemming from the same seed of twisted ideology/belief, evolving differently in another cultural background.

by Nomad on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 01:44:12 PM EST
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All these things are part of a generic colonial mentality which shares much with slaver mentality. The apalling injustice requires that the slaver/colonist think of his victims as subhuman and the ever present danger of revolt generates an atmosphere of paranoia and violence.
by rootless2 on Sat May 12th, 2007 at 08:46:37 AM EST
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