When America Becomes South Africa

By ilana mercer

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.

America’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.”

“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).

ILANA Mercer is a paleolibertarian based in the U.S. Her acclaimed, weekly column, begun in Canadian newspapers, has been going strong since 1999. (See Articles Archive.) ILANA is the author of The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June 2016) & Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa  (2011). Follow her on Twitter & on Facebook. Subscribe to ilana’s new YouTube channel. This shy, retiring writer/thinker promises to get better at it.


  1. I don’t give a hoot for what Obama has been saying to the ‘Black Caucus Foundation’. He would say that wouldn’t he? All Obama’s trying to do is drum up votes for Hillary by exploiting Black people’s quite proper sense of identity. Whether Black people will respond to a half white/half black man telling them that they must vote for a White woman in order to preserve his legacy, is another matter.

    And even if Obama was offering some thoughtful philosophical analysis. I wouldn’t regard him as the font of sociological wisdom.

    On the specific point in the thesis however, the writer doesn’t need to look to South Africa for an example of ‘immigration’ resulting in’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’

    There’s a far more pernicious and convincing example, on the USA’s own historic doorstep.
    The immigrant settlers from Europe, did exactly this, to the Native Americans.

    America (North and and South)’s ‘demographic composition’ has been predominantly of European descent for less than 300 years. America’s ‘historic demographic composition’ goes back for tens, even hundreds of thousands, of years before that. The Black population were introduced into North America very recently in historic terms, and almost entirely against their own will, when they were transported from Africa as slaves.

    Memories of this enslavement are still fresh in the minds of the individuals concerned. They need only look back to recent generations to find a family member who was a slave. US elections, in the relatively short time that Black People have been able to register in any significant numbers, have been as racially based as South Africans ones. As high a proportion of US Black people vote Democrat, as Vote for the ANC and similar parties in South Africa.

    Black people, like all of us, instinctively, choose a party with which to collectively identify. Like all of us we look for the party that ‘people like us’ are voting for. Historically the Democrats have (allegedly) represented poor disadvantaged people, so Blacks have chosen the Democrats, because Black people think of themselves as poor and disadvantaged.

    None of this is surprising. Why would Black people in either South Africa or the USA vote for candidates predominantly of a race which has, in very recent history been their oppressors? Even now in, for example Northern Ireland, people still vote along fairly well defined religious lines. Eventually this sorry legacy of race and religion will break down. But it will take hundreds of years, not decades. People, do not forgive and forget that easily. ‘Identity’ whether racial, religious or National, is a powerful and deep seated force.

    The issues created by ‘tyranny of the majority’ is not so much a fault of democracy as a consequence of the artificiality of the demographic composition of States in which the West is attempting to impose it. All of these States, where one community is violently oppressing another, are artificial States created by outside authority, by some anti democratic force from within, or by some other circumstance which has brought about a mass population movement.

    It is the composition of the State itself not democracy, which is fault. Many countries in the world have, usually following a great deal of bloodshed, long since resolved these issues. Others have yet to resolve them. The presence of Black people in the USA is entirely a product of the forced introduction of Black people as slaves into a society which itself consisted of relatively recent immigrants from Europe The consequences have been disastrous and is bound to have consequences for the functioning of democracy. The US has to live with it.

    I disagree with the writer’s suggestion that there is a permanent political majority and a permanent political minority in South Africa and and a similar situation developing in America. The USA body politic does not consist simply of ”White people’ on the one hand, and poor immigrants on the other’. The USA is a community of communities.

    The poor ‘immigrant. (sic) community (in fact all Americans are immigrants), is as diverse from each other as each is from the various ‘White’ communities or from Native Americans. Over time, when they have all found their settled place in the world they will function alongside one another more smoothly. But it might take centuries.

    It will be the same in South Africa. Although it’s very early days, South Africa has turned out much better than some feared. White people increasingly identify with the ‘New’ South Africa, and amongst Black people voting for the ANC has started to fragment, with some voting for alternative parties, whose origins although in the Black communities are, nevertheless capable of attracting more support from younger white voters.

    ‘Multiculture’ is here to stay. But I’d drop the ‘ism’. ‘Multiculture’ isn’t an ‘ism’ It’s a statement of fact. Societies and States have always been ‘multicultural’. We all have varying overlapping dimensions to our ‘cultural’ identities.

    • I’m not going to over-analyse what you say, as I think this is a good comment and I can see the general point you are making about the unsatisfactory nature of imposed political identities where mutually alienated populations are mixed together – and I think it is valid. I would add that I think the United States, from its beginnings, should be seen as the world’s largest capitalist enterprise. It was essentially about plundering a continent, but I don’t think white Americans should feel any guilt or engage in any self-remonstration about this. The Native Americans were removed, and so the stronger group won. The Native Americans themselves were, to borrow your phrase, a ‘community of communities’ – they were a multi-culture – and they will have practised their own conquest over weaker groups. This is just Nature.

      On that note, I can’t resist the temptation to comment about slavery. I must do so because I think your comments, while carefully-crafted, betray an underlying agenda, which is absolution of African-Americans for any responsibility for their own problems. I understand the context in which you introduce the history of African-Americans, in that you seem to be saying that the real reason for black dysfunction is that these different racial populations, blacks, whites and others, cannot live together within the same geo-political space. But I don’t think you can attribute black dysfunction to this. Other groups, such as Asians, largely do well in the United States and seem to live harmoniously alongside European-Americans. When was the last time you heard about, say, a Korean-American riot? Ethnic groups such as Koreans have low social status in America, and have been the victims of black dysfunction as much as whites (an infamous example being the 1992 LA riots), yet we don’t hear much about problems they cause. If there were such problems, I am very sure we would hear about them. I also think it probable that without blacks, there would not be some Asian group in lieu of this (‘Japanese Lives Matter’..??) marching and protesting on American streets. Why is that?

      It occurs to me that the word ‘slavery’ is itself a portmanteau and in any discussion about the plight of ‘blacks’ (whatever that word means, since ‘Africans’ aren’t really a single race), the invocation of ‘slavery’ simplifies things and often diverts us from seeking a fuller understanding of what were much more complex social relations than is credited. For one thing, whites were themselves slaves and penal settlers for a long time in North America, and even when slavery shifted its focus to Africa, most whites remained part of the poor labouring classes. White Europeans were also subject to long periods of organised slavery under the Romans, of course, and I believe, the Vikings and similar groups, and also the Berbers, a non-white group. I think we also have a tendency to look backwards at history and judge things in reverse rather than understanding that the way people thought about things back then could be fundamentally different. On matters such as individual conscience, rights and liberties, the existence of a human soul, race differences and so on, the thinking was light years from ours, even as recently as 19th. century America.

      To the meta-liberal mind, slavery is self-evidently barbaric, but that is a contemporary prejudice. In the past, many educated, liberal-minded men saw slavery as a civilised institution – a sort of welfare system. This was especially so in modern America up until the 1860s. It wasn’t seen as cruel. You could liken it to the modern welfare state, which is just a more humane-looking system of custody. Indeed, it seems to me that liberals in America have moved blacks from one relatively humane and civilised system of custody, slavery, into another, America’s massive federal welfare programmes. I hardly see the moral difference between the two, except that in one, blacks were required to work, while in the other, blacks are not so required.

      All that said, I agree with you that the root of America’s problems today is largely to be found in historic slavery, but that insight doesn’t help us with causation. ‘Blacks’ still mostly form an underclass in the USA. Why haven’t they succeeded where whites have? Remember that whites suffered as well, and were also slaves: so what is your explanation? What is the reason for this? And when will they, African-Americans, make good? Or do they forever get to blame ‘slavery’ for their collective short-comings?

      [quote]”‘Multiculture’ is here to stay. But I’d drop the ‘ism’. ‘Multiculture’ isn’t an ‘ism’ It’s a statement of fact. Societies and States have always been ‘multicultural’. We all have varying overlapping dimensions to our ‘cultural’ identities.”[unquote]

      I see your point, but I think the distinction you make deserves further explication. I agree that a multi-cultural world is just a human reality, and in and of itself, that is (or should be) a fairly mundane and uncontroversial observation. Each of us individually have over-lapping identities, but this is also a multi-cultural world globally in that different national and cultural groups exist in diversity. Indeed, nationalists (in the liberal sense) are believers in multicultural-ism in a global context. That is what we might call organic multi-culture.

      But there is also a multiculture-ism, which is more intrusive than the more passive, benign concept mentioned above in that it is an imposed ideology that demands of an indigenous people that they should allow entry of foreign or alien populations across their national borders. The new populations are expected to assimilate into the host society. This ‘assimilationism’ is the methodology of multi-culturalism and is what we have now throughout most of the West – i.e. different racial and cultural groups living in a ‘community of communities’ (to borrow your phrase), but negotiating shared meta-values and a common civic in the form of an overarching political identity. Assimilationism is the sine qua non of the proposition nation, and on that basis ideological multi-culturalism and racial liberalism re-mould what were once organic nations into technocratic states.

      Related to this, but distinct, is the alternative methodology of integrationism, which is a phase beyond mult-culturalism advocated by many people on the political Right, including lots of conservatives (for e.g. I would regard Roger Scruton as an integrationist). This demands that the newcomers and their descendants integrate. Integrationist arguments have been very prominent but also highly controversial – see, for instance, the Ray Honeyford affair, in which a headteacher was professionally hounded and taunted simply for demanding that immigrant families socially and culturally integrate. He was aggressively opposed because he was arguing against the orthodoxy of multi-culturalism.

      In the nicest possible way, Ray Honeyford was as wrong as the multi-culturalists. Indeed, integrationists like Honeyford and Scruton are just as bad as the assimilationists – if not worse.

      To compare and contrast:

      Assimilationism leads to the United States more or less as it is today, with ‘democracy’ in which different racial groups compete and fight over a political spoils system.

      Integrationism leads eventually to something similar to a typical South American country, and can be seen as a phase after assimilation.

    • Well since you brought the topics up, these videos are interesting…

      Whether or not South Africa turned into Zimbabwe 2.0 (and there are certainly people in the ANC who want it to be), it’s not doing fantastically well, either.

      On “native” Americans…

      On segregation and slavery…

      Though I’ll agree, they should never have hauled off the Africans to the US, and it is perhaps a shame that Lincoln never got round to repatriating the slaves.

  2. I rarely concur with Ilana. But here we’re in agreement on something; that the state and democracy have failed.

    Large scale democracy could only work if everyone is the same. But that’s simply not so. Even when they’re all from the same race. Even when they’re all of the same political persuasion. Even when – if? – they all have the same individual capabilities.

    And when those “equalities” cease to be so? Or were never so in the first place?

    A world of smaller and voluntary communities is, I think, the first step to a solution.

    • [quote]”Large scale democracy could only work if everyone is the same. But that’s simply not so. Even when they’re all from the same race. Even when they’re all of the same political persuasion. Even when – if? – they all have the same individual capabilities.”[unquote]

      I think what complicates matters is that it depends what you mean by ‘democracy’ and ‘what works’. The capitalist version of democracy is not really democracy at all, it’s just a plebiscitary system. A true democracy would involve democratic control of the economy as well as the political system, which in turn would necessitate a radically-different political economy. I would argue that democracy isn’t possible without either socialism or, at the very least, some kind of distributist system of private property.

      What we have at the moment is just a notional veto over which group of parasites are appointed to office every few years. Economic power remains unchanged. Thus, I don’t see the problem as ‘large scale democracy’, but rather the lack of democracy per se – though I admit that the question of whether democracy is desirable at all is ripe. I would prefer to live under a remote dictatorship over which I have no vote and no say, so long as in return I can have maximal practical liberty.

  3. Democracy cannot work. It never has. Slavery, segregation or apartheid are just cheap excuses to hide the obvious tribalism of blacks. There is little point going along with the pretense that blacks have any memory or trauma of history. They are pig ignorant of history. Their obvious hatred of other races that had no historic grievances with them like Koreans shows its just tribalism of blacks which cause any racial animus.
    Whites have been conditioned constantly that they have some horrible racial guilt they need to apologize and pay for, but of course this is bullshit, all of it. Whites didn’t invent slavery, they ended it. The real hatred by globalists and internationalists for Whites is due to their love of freedom and hatred of slavery.
    Politics is war by other means. Personally I find it foul. Its sophistry and lies sicken me. War is much more honest and permanent. When politics fail, War can remedy previously intransigent issues quite quickly and permanently.

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