South Africa Land Theft: Crappy Constitution All But Allows It


Up until, or on the day, a predictable calamity unfolds in South Africa, you still find Western Media insisting that,

* No, there’s no racial component to the butchering of thousands of white rural folks in ways that would make Shaka Zulu proud.
* No, the mutilated, tortured, white bodies of Boer and British men, women and children aren’t evidence of racial hatred, but a mere artifact of good old indigenous crime. No hatred crimes. No crimes against humanity. Move along. Let the carnage play on.

And the latest: To listen to leftist, counterfactual, ahistoric pabulum served up by most in media, a decision in South Africa’s Parliament to smooth the way for an expropriation without compensation of private property came out of … nowhere.

It just so happened—pure fluke!—that the permanently entrenched, racialist parties in parliament used their thumping majorities to vote for legalizing state theft from a politically powerless minority. Didn’t see that coming!

And still they beat on breast: How did the mythical land of Saint Nelson Mandela turn into Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”?

How did that country’s “vaunted” constitution yield to “the horror, the horror” of land theft?

Easily, even seamlessly—as I’ve been warning since the 2011 publication of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa,” which provided the analytical edifice for what’s unfolding; and the only viable solutions before a metaphorical Masada. Or, a last stand. You can pile more murders, more corruption, more horror atop the same analytical foundation; but, distilled to bare bones, the truth about South Africa remains unchanged.

To wit, there’s a reason the South African Constitution is loved by US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg! “If I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she told Al-Hayat TV, “I might look at the constitution of South Africa ….” The woman who’s spent her years on the Bench trying to make the US Constitution more like South Africa’s should know a thing or two.

An abiding truth studiously finessed by the news cartel is that Cyril Ramaphosa—the latest Sexy Beast to regale the West from the Sacred Grounds of South Africa—promised to be gentle about land theft. Oh, yes: One of Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign promises was to finally get down to the business of the people: stealing private property, an inherently aggressive, coercive act.

Since replacing Jacob Zuma as president, Ramaphosa has endeavored to “speed up the transfer of land from white to black owners after his inauguration two weeks ago.” (It used to be that “conservatives” viewed stealing a man’s property as a crime and a disqualifier of sorts. But Breitbart’s Joel Pollak, a fellow South African, gets behind the notion that Ramaphosa has been “a moderate throughout his career, whose negotiation skills helped bring about a peaceful end to apartheid.”)

Before Ramaphosa, Zuma too had “called on parliament to change South Africa’s Constitution to allow the expropriation of white-owned land without compensation.”

Unlike so many celebrity journos involved, both men know that said constitution is no bulwark against state expropriation. Or, against any “public” or private violence, for that matter. As a protector of individual rights to life, liberty and property, the thing is worse than useless—a wordy and worthless document.

Take Section 12 of this progressive constitution. It enshrines the “Freedom and Security of the Person.” Isn’t it comforting to know that in a country where almost everyone knows someone who has been raped, robbed, hijacked, murdered, or all of the above—the individual has a right to live free of all those forms of violence?

Here’s the rub: Nowhere does the South African Constitution state whether its beneficiaries may defend their most precious of rights. Recounted in “Into The Cannibal’s Pot” is example after example, and attendant analysis, of innocent victims of crime punished and prosecuted by those who swore to uphold the constitution. These victims are punished for merely and minimally defending their so-called constitutionally enshrined rights.

The African National Congress (Mandela’s party) has always, not suddenly, disregarded the importance of private property, public order and the remedial value of punitive justice. Innocent victims of crime under its regime are regularly forced to defend themselves in their own homes on pain of imprisonment.

A right that can’t be defended is a right in name only. Implicit in the right to life is the right to self-defense.

It’s why I contended that South Africa’s Constitution is descriptive, not prescriptive—full of pitch-perfect verbal obesities that provide little by way of recourse for those whose natural, individual rights are violated.

Certainly, self-defense verges on an offense in the new constitutional democracy. For example, the Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act stipulates that, “Before you can act in self-defense, the attack against you should have commenced, or at least be imminent” (“Cannibal,” pp. 29-30). How is that feat calibrated? Wait until you feel the blade or the bullet before defending your life? Alas, to avoid incarceration, you must find a way to calibrate a defensive response within your own castle.

With the advent of the constitutional Firearm Control Act of 2000 (FCA)—the Safety and Security Minister unveiled “an arsenal” of stricter gun-control laws, decreeing that “non-threatening” home invaders would no longer face on-the-spot justice. Should a South African awaken to find a malefactor standing by the bed, he shall have to hold his fire and attempt to ascertain the intruder’s manifestly acquisitive—and almost certainly murderous—motives.

For dispatching an assailant in your home, with a licensed firearm, you will generally be arrested and charged with murder or with attempted murder, if unsuccessful. It’s pro-forma. To add to their woes under South Africa’s Constitution, acting in self-defense while white will often see a self-defense offender publicly shamed as a “raaaaaacist” (p. 29).

To repeat, in a country where almost everyone knows someone who has been raped, robbed, hijacked, murdered, an oleaginous ANC official decides whether a woman, black or white, truly needs a handgun for self-defense. This process can take years. Reasons the South Africa Police Service—revamped and thoroughly integrated, racially—gives for denying an application are: a “lack of motivation,” “your husband can protect you,” “the police will protect you,” “you are too young.”

Talk about an “eff-off” attitude!

As for equality before the law: The South African Bill of Rights is contemptuous of it. The Bill of Rights enshrines group rights and allows for compensatory and distributive “justice.” The state’s confiscatory powers may be used to redress “past injustices.” “… To promote the achievement of equality; legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.”

I told you: The Constitution already allows a good deal of mischief in the name of the “greater good,” including land expropriation in the “public interest.” Thus the Expropriation Bill of 2008: It is the precursor to the current land expropriation process. So where, pray tell, was the news cartel when it was floated as an impetus for land nationalization?

With the 2008 Bill, the dominant ruling party had empowered itself—and “any organ of state, at any level of government”—to take ownership and possession of property “simply by giving notice to the expropriated owner.” “The state would make the ‘final’ determination of the compensation due, subject only to a limited form of court review.”Both movable and immovable property has always been up for grabs—”livestock and farming implements, residential homes, business premises and equipment, patents, and shares.” The 2008 Bill was temporarily shelved before the 2009 elections, but not forgotten. It led naturally to talk about nationalization. (“Cannibal,” p. 74.)

In March 2010, a plan was tabled in Parliament for turning “all productive land into a national asset leased to farmers.” Such sentiments are hardly new. True to a promise made in Mandela’s 1955 communistic Freedom Charter, the ANC has already nationalized the “mineral wealth beneath the soil” and the water rights. (Has the mummified media ever wondered out loud why Cape Town has run dry?)

Thereafter, to supplement the Expropriation Bill, the Party had published a policy paper that warned, among other planned infractions, of the need to water-down the already weak property-rights provision in the Constitution.

All along had the entrenchment of a property clause in the South African Constitution angered judicial activists, who conflate the protection of private property with the entrenchment of white privilege. (Hence the subtitle of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot”: “Lessons for America …”) Their fears were overblown. Back then, I wagered that nationalization would necessitate but a minor tweak to the Constitution, since the latter already allows all the mischief mentioned.

The Hobbesian choice which the ANC had always planned to present to white farmers was between making them mere tenants of the state (by declaring all productive land a national asset under state control) and, on the other hand, “placing a ceiling on how much land individual farmers can own.”

Which, in practice, limits economies of scale, and with them successful commercial agriculture.

“One farmer, one farm” was how Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF thugs described this policy.

The South African government still asserts that it is merely putting in place a “mechanism for taking back failed farms from black farmers.” Echoing its claims is another great mind, Breitbart’s Mr. Pollak. He has dignified the excuse that the “target of land reform, … would be ‘unused’ land,” black and white—assurances even the liberal “South African Institute of Race Relations had exposed as ‘a red herring to conceal the State’s more plausible intention to wrest control of agricultural production from white commercial farmers.” (Citation in “Cannibal,” p. 74.)

Since the dawn of “freedom,” in South Africa, and as a matter of daily practice, commercial farmers, mostly white, have been terrorized and threatened with land claims. As if this were not bad enough, they can now expect nationalization.

In case Zimbabwe is a distant memory, the nationalization of South Africa’s farms will increase unemployment in the agricultural sector, and with it, rural poverty. That will guarantee mass migration to the cities, with all the attendant problems which this exodus poses. Also, it will undermine South Africa’s ability to meet its food needs and deter investment in the country.

And these, so help us, are the positive aspects of land parity.

Most damningly, the country’s constitution has a clause devoted to “Limitation of Rights.” Apparently, the constitutional “scholars” who compiled the document saw no need to protect the rights of minorities “that [had] not been victims of past discrimination.” The possibility that the fortunes of hitherto un-oppressed minorities might change did not occur to the occupants of the Bench.


Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube


  1. But…..

    Isn’t South Africa an inconvenient demonstration to libertarians (of the dogmatic sort) that we do need states, as bulwarks against enemy and opposing tribal interests?

    • I think most (paleo) libertarians would be willing to support ethno-nationalist secessionist movements. Its seen partly as a means of achieving more organic and subsequently less coercive political units, while additionally breaking down larger federal or unitary states into polities which can be more directly influenced by their citizenry (where the centres of political power are more immediately affected by the opinions of the (ethnic and pre-political) people and therefore less capable of achieving arbitrary government).
      Indeed afrikaner secessionist movements arguably fit a libertarian ideal in comparison to other ethnic nationalist movements. A group of individuals voluntarily segregating themselves and entering into their own autonomous communities (such as Oranea), settling and homesteading the unkept wastes of the north-west.
      That being said many libertarians remain basically delusional in rejecting any political unit, which in my view is ultimately necessary in some form for existential questions surrounding national defence, and additionally for the internal protection of property rights. I suppose ideally a Volkstaat would have been established by the afrikaners as opposed to implementing the unrealistic policy of apartheid. The state would have been similar to the old rural calvinist republics, consisting of free white individuals, fighting peripheral conflicts with a rump black state.

      • I think I am in broad agreement with you, I am pleased to say. I think transactional libertarianism is naive. It’s neat enough on paper, and can be comprehended strictly as an academic exercise by those with the necessary imaginative capacity, but it can’t work in the real world. It rubs up against aspects of human nature – including, especially, generic tribalism (what I call ‘Orwellian nationalism’, per Orwell’s famous essay) – that lead axiomatically to political gangsterism and morally-privileged collectivism, and are antithetical to the pursuit of an anti-political society.

        But I am inclined towards practical libertarianism and I am minded to accept the more pragmatic angle that you enunciate. The reservation I have about ‘breaking down political units’ (Duncan Whitmore calls it ‘decentralisation’, see his essay on identity politics, if you haven’t already) is that it may lead to an entrenchment of division and instability. Some ethnic groups are not mutually-assimiliable, some are. If an unassimiable group has established a foothold in the British Isles, do the native British and Irish devolve a statelet to them on the principle of communal libertarianism? Aside from the aesthetic objection I have to that, I can immediately foresee practical problems – it will be unworkable, and it’s just a recipe for conflict and ultimately a street war.

  2. South Africa is a pretty good example of why white diaspora populations legitimately opposed accepting majority black rule; one can argue that European minorities should have sought territorial separation (and that’s a view I personally take), but once existence in shared political units became inevitable (and I would say that was the case by the 1970s really) the right of self-preservation dictated that the anglo-rhodesian and afrikaner populations had to seek limitations to the political franchise of the “native populations”.

    “Freedom” in a multiracial context meant Europeans submitting themselves wholly to the arbitrary whims of a largely poorly educated and ethnically disparate black population ,which could only be held together by a populist appeal to anti-white animus. The entire existence of rooted historical communities was made contingent upon the good feeling of majority populations, once universal franchise came into effect, who were obviously susceptible to the chimeric politics of racial resentment. When you have a sizeable market dominant minority they are inevitably going to be the focus of resentment from comparatively materially impoverished majority populations.

    Realistically how was this going to end up? Even if whites had relinquished political control earlier on, there’s no absolute guarantee that a mugabe or a malema would not have emerged at a later point. Black nationalism was always a latent tendency within the black population, not because “oppression”was real, nor because the economic conditions were particularly deleterious, but rather because the comparative wealth and success of Europeans and Africans was always going to be a source of tension, regardless of how racially “progressive” whites could affect to be.

    • I think we are also in accord on this point. I agree (assuming this is what you mean, you don’t spell it out but you seem to imply it in your last paragraph) that ‘identity politics’, as such, is not something simply to be taken at face value, but is a politically-efficient representation of perceived interests. Tribalism can be understood generically – it works on different levels and comes in different forms, some more vital than others.

      This is why in my exchange with Duncan Whitmore on the identity politics thread, I am rejecting his dismissal of the Left’s approach to identity politics. I think the Leftist conception of identity politics is essentially correct, and if we’re honest about this, it’s shared by ethno-nationalists – and rightly so, in my view.

      To take the theme further, there IS white privilege. Western countries have become white-privileged racial caste states on account of mass immigration and imposed diversity. This, not apartheid, was the root of the problem in South Africa, and the solution – both for South Africa and for the West – is the restoration of apartheid (apartness) in its truest expression, that is to say, racial and ethnic separation. Hermeneutically, that is the only way that “freedom” can begin to take form as a meaningful concept, at least for white Europeans (but I also think this is true for other races as well). It follows that maximal political liberty (libertarianism) requires internal tolerance and external intolerance, which is why we used to have borders – not just private property boundaries, but recognised national and cultural boundaries that can defend the internal freedoms of populations and allow for separate development and evolutionary hedging across different human groups.

      • I certainly agree with you in that the preservation of internal freedom requires an ethno national separation along historical boundaries; I don’t think (and I believe this addresses some points you raised about the practicality of political decentralisation in your previous response) that the formation of distinctive ethno-political units can spontaneously occur, without reference to prior historical delineations of the different boundaries of distinct peoples. Interestingly there have been some such as Alain de Benois who have advocated for the granting of political separation to predominantly muslim areas in Europe, but I don’t see that as a realistic solution to the problems we are currently facing.

        The issue of political balkanisation is perhaps most applicable to the US (where paleo-libertarianism dovetails with WN and neo-confederate sentiment) and south Africa. I don’t know whether such a position could be applied to the current context of Europe, not only for reasons of practicality (geographical proximity, dispersal of groups ect) but perhaps more importantly for matters of principle as well. It would seem to be a dangerous precedent to establish the right of both of migration and subsequent ethnic self-determination. It would in effect be tantamount to embracing a continual process of demographic displacement followed by piecemeal political secession, a gradual parcelling out of a previously integral homeland, to all newcomers.

        So perhaps I should have qualified my original thoughts by saying paleo-libertarianism should support homogenous political units as a matter of principle, while taking into account the varying historical and material practicalities of different nations when thinking of achieving this goal, and the subsequent form the unit will take (e.g. partition of larger multi-ethnic nation states vs the preservation of the initial demographic integrity of nation states).

      • Additionally yes I was saying that different ethnic groups to some extent have different ethnic interests, and that tribalism is simply a political manifestation of that. That certainly doesn’t necessarily entail conflict by any means, but as long as people retain a sense of instinctive group consciousness, and retain ethnicity as their primary social unit, then inevitably people will identify with perceptible different interests. A multiethnic polity will have to contend with and manage that fact (usually by increasingly central control and using an administrative state as a means of ameliorating inter-communal tensions-as we already see in Britain today in some respects).

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