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Parallels and results of the underlying motives generating ‘racial animus’

2016/11/13

The Rhodesia Syndrome

For those born after 1980 (Millennials, that is), Rhodesia was an African country led by a white anti-communist militant regime (1965-1980), in a region dominated by black Marxist administrations and military factions self-titled “liberation armies.” Its unique case — during a short-lived existence and especially after — shows us what happens when a social construction led by competent elites is sacrificed on the altar of political and racial correctness, in the name of some utopian ideals shared by the majority of the local population.

The “Rhodesia Syndrome” is a term that I coin in order to describe the degeneration of a society, partially anomic, whose administration camouflages its perverse socialized communist-type policies through its ethnic narrative overtones about the so-called “racial injustice.”

The phenomenon is vividly present here, in America, from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi Delta, and from one coast to another. The same expired theories and bankrupt economic solutions, consistent with the left-wing party activist lines and doubled by racial components, have made today part of communities from Detroit to Atlanta and New Orleans, and from San Francisco to Chicago and Baltimore, to look more like Zimbabwean microcosms.

Like the United States, Rhodesia was a British colony. On November 11, 1965, Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front (a white conservative party) issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom. The act repudiated the British policy of granting independence without majority rule. Basically, this was the first act of its kind taken by a British colony since the 1776 American Declaration of Independence, which Smith claimed provided a suitable precedent to his actions. Unlike the United States though, the British did not send troops “to subdue the first national treason against the Crown since the American War of Independence” but opted — through their then Labor prime minister Harold Wilson — for sanctions instead.

By that time, Rhodesia – in comparison with the United States at the time of their independence – was a more integrated state, socially, militarily, and electorally. Rhodesian society was not shaped after the American segregation system of the pre-70s, nor the South African apartheid system of the pre-90s. The nonsegregated military and police forces were well-equipped and operationally efficient. The electoral system involved qualifications and paying taxes, with no overt racial component to the franchise.

Ian Smith (1919-2007) was a man with a Victorian vision of the world, both in moral standards and in the belief of British primacy that characterized the empire. His task – of keeping Rhodesia afloat – was almost a “mission impossible.”

Given the impact of economic and diplomatic sanctions, including from the United States, the country was still able to develop and maintain a significant and professional military and police capability. On the domestic front, Smith cracked down hard on the two black nationalist Marxist parties – ZAPU and ZANU — and their guerrilla movements, in what is called “the Bush War” (1964-1979). Since both groups (self-considered “national liberation movements”) were operating from the outside – ZAPU from Zambia (sponsored by Soviet Russia), and ZANU from Mozambique (sponsored by Maoist China) – Rhodesian authorities treated them as external communist threats. The Rhodesian army was able to maintain the control in the theaters of operations, despite a 22 to 1 black-to-white ratio.

In the international arena, Rhodesia’s early counterinsurgency successes were neutralized to a great extent by the Western powers themselves (some of them early allies), like United Nations, the United Kingdom (called the “Perfidious Albion” by Smith in his memoirs), United States, South Africa, and Portugal. The United States, although it refused to recognize Rhodesia, allowed its Consulate-General to function as a communications conduit between the American government in Washington, DC, and the Rhodesian government in Salisbury.

In 1974, as a result of socialist Carnation Revolution in Lisbon, Portugal withdrew its political and economic support for Rhodesia. At the same time the South African prime minister Vorster pressured Smith into accepting a détente policy with Rhodesia’s frontline states, outlining South African interests (the apartheid policy, that is). In 1976, the U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger pushed for a deal of his own, involving the principle of majority rule, which Smith reluctantly conceded to, in exchange for an “internal settlement” with more moderate black leaders (like bishop Abel Muzorewa).

Once Zimbabwe had become an internationally recognized independent state, as a presidential republic (April 18, 1980), the degeneration of society began. The ZANU leader Robert Mugabe, an avowed Marxist-Leninist, became president, and paved the way toward a one-party system. The destruction of society continued in the following decades. The country was marked by poor life standards (reportedly, 25% of the population had been infected by HIV in 1997), an abusive land reform (involving compulsory land acquisitions and confiscations from the white farmers), and hyperinflation. In 2002, as a result of the continuing degradation of the society – white farm seizures, gross economic mismanagement, electoral and human rights violations – the country is suspended from the (former British) Commonwealth of Nations. Mugabe was a diehard fan of printing money, as was President Obama in the same fatidic year of 2008 and after, when the U.S. national debt had peaked to several trillions of dollars. The only difference between the Rhodesian dollar and the U.S. dollar was that the latter one still had credibility on the market.

Another visible effect in the post-independent Zimbabwe has been the rapid decline of the white community. The white population dropped from 7% (1960) to 0.20% (2012) (see: ZIMSTAT, 2012, p. 22). Between 1980 and 1990, two-thirds of the white émigrés (nicknamed “Rhodies”) left the country: 50% for South Africa, 30% for United Kingdom and Ireland, and 20% for United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The other third consisted in non-émigrés (nicknamed “Zimbos”), who were either wealthy and/or skilled, or poor and unable to emigrate. Most of the remaining white Rhodesians are elderly. For them, and the old elite of the country, the slogan has become “Farewell, Rhodesia! Hello, Zimbabwe!”

The phenomenon has also characterized the last decades of some large American cities. A more recent trend shows a discreet reversal, but some are skeptical that this reversed trend will hold.

In 2014, while in Rhodesia the white community is becoming progressively extinct, in the neighboring Zambia (former Northern Rhodesia), a white acting president becomes breaking news.

Some striking resemblances between Rhodesians and Americans deserve to be pointed out: the sense of belonging to a great nation, carrying the same solid values and frontier spirit (vis-à-vis the American pioneers and minutemen, and the early Rhodesian Englishmen settlers); collective upholders of principle and defenders of values against both decadence of Britain itself, and communism worldwide; front-line states against communist expansion (in Africa, for Rhodesia, in the world, for the U.S.); retaining their own economic prosperity through a gradual progression to other racial/ethnic groups; and Christian heritage of their pioneer ancestors in “defending the free world”.

Unfortunately for Rhodesia, all these sets of values gained little international recognition during its existence. The gradual progression to black majority rule was seen by the international community as a rationale perpetuating policies of racism. The attitude of the Western powers was rooted in a larger decolonization context, during which countries like United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium hastened to grant independence to their colonies in Africa.

There are some factors that explain why the white rule in Rhodesia lasted for so long (1895 to 1980). First, Rhodesia was long considered the Africa’s breadbasket. White farmers were skilled, and after the 1980s the black farmers’ low skills or lack of incentives have led to a disastrous farming policy. Second, the country’s two main ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, were more in conflict than in partnership relations. It was said that, in a way, Rhodesia’s white administration was the black majority’s chance for a balanced approach, toward prosperity and the creation of a solid middle class.

There are also some lessons to be learned from Rhodesia’s case: domestically (nationally and locally), going along racial lines and political convenience against the expertise of the few can be the sure recipe for economic disaster; regionally, your neighbors can be both good and bad, but in the end they can all turn up being even worse; internationally, your allies’ diplomacies of duplicity, followed by treachery, will be pursued for their own pure self-interest, and later justified by “principles and requirements” of Realpolitik.

But in the end, even if you remain alone with your pride, standards, and values, you can rest assured that your place in history has been secured. Or to put it in Ian Smith’s own prophetic words: “I told you so!”.

[Byline Tiberiu Dianu]

June 11, 2016
American Thinker

See Also

Think again before you call yourself a supporter of the ‘New’ South Africa

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