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The Rank(ed) Evil of Socialism

Under Ian Smith (remember him?), only 5% of the population of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) had votes that counted (and all but one in twenty of them were white) but the other 95% of the population did eat: Mugabe inherited a country where their prosperity was rising. By 2016, only Mugabe and a few cronies had votes that counted, and Zimbabwe produced not the 300,000+ tons of grain per year that it once did, but 20,000 tons. Or, as the poet did not quite put it,

My other enemy is such
As you too should abhor:
Who justly hates white racists much,
Hates socialists yet more.

It seems so superflous to add that non-white racism (between the Shona and Ndebele tribes) was also a feature of Mugabe’s rule; he was a Shona as well as a socialist.

15 comments to The Rank(ed) Evil of Socialism

  • Ljh

    Rubbish the qualified franchise in Rhodesia was based on property and education not race, criteria which obviously favoured whites but were achievable by ambitious urban blacks.

    [Niall: you are right and I’ve rephrased the post to be more informative (see my comment below for details).]

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    My knowledge of the awfulness of socialism has kept me from racism. Some people, comparing the high hopes for Zimbabwe at the time of independence with the wretched way the country has turned out under Mugabe say, well, that’s the blacks for you: incapable of running anything. Observing that the new dawn of socialism has been followed by starvation among white men in the USSR (multiple times), yellow men in China, Cambodia and North Korea, and black men in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Somalia, I think the common factor is a lot more likely to be socialism, particularly (a) confiscation / collectivization of land and (b) price controls.

    Here is an article from the Atlantic dating from 2003 describing how (a) and (b) impoverished the country once known as “the breadbasket of Africa”: “How to Kill a Country”.

    It makes me sad to remember how heartened I was in 2000 when the people of Zimbabwe wisely voted in a referendum not to adopt a new Constitution proposed by Mugabe that was

    notable for giving power to the government to seize farms owned by white farmers, without compensation, and transfer them to black farm owners as part of a scheme of land reform.

    Mugabe instituted his “land reforms” anyway.

  • Ljh (February 3, 2018 at 4:18 pm, you are correct that in Rhodesia (as in the Cape Province of South Africa before the Afrikaaner party – with great difficulty – changed it in the 1950s), the franchise was not restricted to whites. After reading your comment, I rephrased the post to include your point.

    The whites were 5% of the population and 95% of the A roll voters, the other 5% being blacks and asians. Before Rhodesia seceded, the official line was that majority rule would come, albeit slowly, as blacks progressed economically. A constitutional change after UDI technically capped the ultimate situation at 50:50, but what would actually have happened if that had been reached in a (somewhat distant) future time is debatable.

    However I did say “votes that counted”. Under Mugabe, lots of people had votes in theory but only Mugabe and his immediate circle counted. I therefore felt obliged similarly to note that the ability of black votes actually to influence events during Ian Smith’s rule was quite restricted (albeit, not as much as under Mugabe).

  • Rich Rostrom

    “Under Mugabe, lots of people had votes in theory but only Mugabe and his immediate circle counted.”

    Not actually true. Mugabe was a pioneer in the practice of “soft dictatorship”. Traditional dictators (Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Castro) banned all political opposition, controlled all mass media, and maintained networks of informers and thugs to detect and suppress any dissent. They feared that if the people were accurately informed about conditions and the actions of the government, the mass of the people would turn against them, and their own security troops would desert or turn against them.

    In a “soft dictatorship”, the regime allows opposition political organizing and uncensored media, and holds elections where votes are cast freely and counted fairly. The regime leverages its control of state media, use of state funds and state agencies of all types for political operations, and a major dose of thug intimidation to ensure electoral majorities, which provides legitimacy.

    It works when the regime has enough cash to pay its goons, and tribal or other loyalty from a substantial element of the population that doesn’t care what the regime does to others. Mugabe had that had going for him.

    (But it can fail if the regime generates too much hostility, and enough voters break off. It happened to the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in 1990. Mugabe had a close call in 2008; the opposition candidate actually led after the first round of voting.)

    What makes it a dictatorship is that the regime effectively rules by decree, ignoring the constitution and statutes.

  • James Hargrave

    To simplify, the 1961 Southern Rhodesian constitution created two rolls of voters with most of the black Africans on the lower roll (it was, in theory colour-blind). The more who enrolled, the more their vote counted, not in terms of the numbers (50 A, 15 B) to be elected but who was elected, because there was a complex formula for cross-voting allowing the Bs to influence who was elected among the As, etc.). The tragedy is that their leaders advised boycott rather than participation. And we can assume that the influence of the Bs on the A roll seats would not have been directed in favour of the Rhodesian Front.

  • Rich Rostrom (February 4, 2018 at 1:59 am), Mussolini similarly handled himself as a soft dictator in his first years. This is the usual behaviour of those who come to power in some vaguely constitutional way. Even the nazis pretended that other parties were legal until after the 1933 election and the enabling act. (Though never as bad as Mugabe, the RF showed a similar tendency over time to erode constitutional boundaries, but in Ian Smith’s case I might be persuaded to blame the bush war he wanted to win more than innate dictatorial tendencies)

    The phenomenon you describe is indeed an example of what I meant by ‘votes that counted’. My general phrase was chosen to allow the situations under Smith and under Mugabe to be compared.

    James, I agree that the failure of black Rhodesians to make the best of their formally colour-blind constitution in the early 60s looks like a serious error. The virtue-signalling ineptness of Harold Wilson’s Labour government (which replaced the Tories in 1964 and kicked off the UDI situation in 65) was also no help. (Labour did a lot of stupid things in the empire in the 60s.)

  • Mr Ed

    Labour did a lot of stupid things in the empire in the 60s.

    You are so kind to them. In that era Captain Eric Brown RN asked the Labour Defence Secretary Denis Healey if he had stopped being a Communist.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes under Ian Smith there was a property qualification for voting – which is not racialist unless one makes the assumption that black people are genetically inferior and thus unable to achieve the status of property owners without state help. Would anyone here like to openly say that they agree with such a racialist assumption?

    Silence. Good so we can do away with the idea that Rhodesia was racialist – and, in any case, the property qualification for voting was abandoned under the internal settlement before Comrade Bob came to power. The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was already a BLACK man (Mr Smith was no longer Prime Minister) before 1979.

    The “international community” (“liberal” opinion – such as the American Democrats and the Fellow Traveller elements in Britain itself) were not really interested that the Prime Minister of Z-R was a black man (or that black people even without property, had the vote) what they wanted was a SOCIALIST Prime Minister – regardless of skin colour.

    Well they got what they wanted – Comrade Bob (first as Prime Minister and later as President) – it is hypocritical for “liberals” to support the coming to power of socialists in the country and then pretend they are upset by the starvation and so on.

    Sorry “liberals” – but if you support a policy (statism – collectivism) then you support the inevitable results of that policy (whether the ruler is black, or white, or purple with pink spots).

    There are also vile double standards at work in this area……

    If it is wrong (and IT IS WRONG) for a white man to shoot and injure African migrants to an Italian town, it is also wrong for a African migrant to rape, mutilate and kill an Italian women in that same town. Why has the first story been reported around the world and the second story (that actually happened first) not really been reported at all? As things have reported it is a bad Italian man just got up one morning and decided to shoot people – that his action was actually one of revenge against people he (and many others) regard as invaders, has been totally ignored. Of course to take revenge against people INNOCENT OF THE CRIME is wrong – but it is a vital part of the story.

    Also the “anti Apartheid” drum is still being banged. Apartheid was indeed evil (as W.H. Hutt pointed out as long ago as the 1950s), but it has not existed for decades – so why is the international “liberal” media(such as the Economist magazine) still obsessed with it? And why do they totally ignore what is happening in South Africa right now – for example the women who have been raped, had their breasts cut off and then been murdered? Or the children who have been killed – such as the little boy who was boiled alive so that his skin came off and had to be scrapped off the metal bath after he was dead?

    Yes (a thousand times yes) Apartheid was evil – but why the ignoring of what is going on South Africa right now? This is not “burglaries gone wrong” – this is a premeditated campaign of racial genocide, being conducted with incredible sadism, as the victims are not “just” murdered, they are horribly tortured and mutilated before being murdered. Why is international “liberal” opinion ignoring this?

    Hollywood has been making films praising the Mexican Revolution of 1910 for many decades – ignoring the fact that it involved mass murder, torture and rape, and that it so undermined the Mexican economy and society to-this-day (and there was often, not always but often, no real racial difference between the victims and the criminals – sorry the “noble revolutionaries”).

    I get the feeling (more than a feeling) that international “liberal” opinion rather likes what is happening in South Africa right now – and would, in the long term, like it to happen in Europe and North America (and Australia and New Zealand and…..) as well.

    Not because they really hate people with “white” (pinkish grey) skin – but because international “liberal” opinion is really disguised Frankfurt School Marxism (or French Post Modernist – which amounts to the same thing in practice), and sees skin colour as a good EXCUSE to exterminate the property owners (after nice rape and torture – of course).

    Lastly one gets the pathetic Fellow Travellers – such as the Economist magazine. They are NOT socialists but they try and “split the difference” the way that British “Social Reformers” have done for so long.

    “Do not take the land with compensation” they say (they leave out the cutting off of breasts and boiling young children to death) – oh so it is alright to take the land as long as you pay “compensation”, how nice.

    And where are these property owners supposed to go with their (token) “compensation”? The towns and cities of South Africa are no more safe than the rural areas are.

    “They come to Europe or North America Paul” – accept that these areas are also being turned into the Third World by mass migration (with the full support of the Economist magazine) from the Third World – and the new people are full of “Social Justice” (i.e. plunder and kill) ideas – ask the Latin American “Social Revolutionary” criminal gangs that are now active in the United States (I am sure they would be happy to explain their political philosophy – before they skin you alive).

    So Economist magazine and the rest of “liberal” opinion – where are the property owners (of any skin colour) supposed to go with their “compensation”? Where? The Moon?

    The Fellow Traveller waves a senile hand at anything that calls itself “progress” or “social justice” or “social reform” – not understanding that he is endorsing the murderers of not just himself, but also his friends and family. For “social reform” (“public services” and benefits) always, in the end, makes poverty WORSE than it otherwise would be. This is why clever Marxists support it (although Karl Marx was not interested in it) – for they know it will make class conflict MORE likely not LESS likely (as the Fellow Traveller foolishly believes).

    That was true of these “new liberals” in the 1930s – and it is, sadly, still true. “New Liberals” (which is what the Economist magazine and co really are – they are “Classical Liberals” in the same way I am Alexander the Great, i.e. they are not) believe that compromise with the left (even endorsing they know to have a Marxist background – such as Barack Obama) will safeguard their wealth and comfortable life – a little more on taxes, a few more regulations, but “we” (the “nice people”) will still basically be fine.

    One can trace it all the way back to the Walter Bagehot (third editor of the Economist) with his “concede everything that it is safe to concede” (“The English Constitution” – in relation to expected demands of the new voters under the Act of 1867 for benefits and public services), those few words “concede everything that it is safe to concede” were the death rattle of Classical Liberalism as it meant that liberalism was no longer about rolling back the state, but just trying to make the state expand slowly and in a “civilised way” (the collapse from Gladstone to “Uncle Vince” Cable – the latter being the hero of the modern Economist magazine).

    It is cowardly of course – but it is also intellectually wrong headed.

    Making concessions to the collectivists does not make them weaker – it makes them STRONGER. Till, in the end, the nice people (the “New Liberals”) get to see their children tortured to death in front of their eyes. A sensible person does not try and make deals with the forces of evil – he (or she) does not try and “split the difference” with them.

  • Paul Marks

    In reply to Mr Ed.

    Someone who supports a tax on private industrial investment of close to 100% (as Mr Healey did in both the late 1960s and the late 1970s) clearly has the long term objective of destroying all private industry – Mrs Thatcher got the blame for the collapse of British industry, but this collapse had been “baked into the cake” by the vast taxes on private investment imposed by Labour. Although the incoming government in 1979 hardly helped matters by accepting the out going government’s wage promises – which led to government spending going through the roof, yes there was no “cut” in government spending in 1979, government spending actually dramatically INCREASED due to the acceptance of the out going government’s wage promises.

    So when did the “moderate” Mr Healey stop being a Communist? Well as he supported a tax of nearly 100% on private industrial investment (which would, in the long term, destroy all private industry) the correct answer is “never” – he essentially remained a collectivist. Fabian socialism-by-the-instalment-plan is still socialism (still a wolf in sheep’s clothing – as the “Fabian Window” makes clear), and the leading Fabians supported the Soviet Union in the 1930s – so the distinction between Fabian and Marxist is (in the end) a distinction without a real difference.

    As for the present government – with its P.C. (Frankfurt School of Marxism) army adverts (basically “join the army – if you are a Muslim, homosexual, women, who hates white people, and cries a lot” I doubt there are many people who could tick all those demographic boxes – for example Islam condemns homosexuality, and Muhammed was a pale man) and its plan to gut the Royal Marines in order to keep up spending on Overseas Aid and give another 40 BILLION (BILLION) Pounds the European Union – well the less said about former “Equalities Minister” Theresa May and co, the better. Oh well let us hope “they know not what they do”.

  • Stephen Ottridge

    The state of Great Britain in the late 1960s caused me and my wife to emigrate to Canada.

  • Mr Ed

    The state of Great Britain in the late 1960s caused me and my wife to emigrate to Canada.

    The Trudeau family have done what they can to make you feel at home sir.

  • EdMJ

    South Africa does indeed look in bad shape, Paul. Some of those incidents you mentioned are too horrific to contemplate.

    I read an interesting thought experiment a few months that suggested that the embattled white South Africans might increasingly congregate in a distinct geographic area (Western Cape) and eventually push for succession and self-determination: https://capitalistexploits.at/2017/08/south-africa-crack/ (scroll down to the “And Now… As Promised” section.

  • Paul Marks

    The Trudeau family have indeed messed up Canada Mr Ed.

    EdMJ – succession and self determination in South Africa is not really practical (at least I do not believe so). I would advice both white people and black people (and there are many good black people) to leave South Africa – if they can.

    Still Cyril Ramaphosa may transform the situation – I doubt it, but let us hope so.

  • James Hargrave

    Niall. South Arabia was probably the worst under Labour, but the Tories under that ghastly fake Harold Macmillan with Macleod (‘too clever by half’ was probably a description too kind by half) and then Maudling at the Colonial Office, followed by the vodka-soaked Duncan Sandys (just the post for one of the leading ‘Europhiles’ of his time) and RAB Butler’s handling of Central Africa (the type of politician from whose speeches three people could take away four different interpretations) … One problem is that the brightest and best, so to speak, of Rhodesian politics were led up the garden path by the UK and by Federation (and the interplay of too rapid decolonisation with the internal and electoral dynamics of the Federation), leaving most of them as busted flushes by 1964.

  • The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970’s (NYT article, March 23rd 2005, h/t instapundit)

    The snark I was going to vent on journalist Nicholas Kristoff (for finding black praise of white rule more depressing than the sight of blacks dying) was sensibly diminished when I realised he had risked a two-year jail sentence to bring us the specific quotes from Zimbabweans that illustrated his point. Despite our vile ‘hate speech’ laws, I have not (yet) been threatened with two hours in jail for my post, and I suspect Zimbabwe’s jails are less pleasant than British ones.

    I do not care for the attitude that thinks the political correctness of a government more important than the amount of suffering it inflicts on the people it rules, but his attitude says he is reporting things that do not please his prejudices, and that is an act of honesty.

    I can also imagine that reporting such things in the NYT requires assuring your readers that your heart is in the right (i.e. left) place – as in my post ‘As long as you took no pleasure in it, my son’.

    An elderly peasant in another village, Makupila Muzamba, said that hunger today is worse than ever before in his seven decades or so, and said: “I want the white man’s government to come back. Even if whites were oppressing us, we could get jobs and things were cheap compared to today.”

    His wife, Mugombo Mudenda, remembered that as a younger woman she used to eat meat, drink tea, use sugar and buy soap. But now she cannot even afford corn gruel. “I miss the days of white rule,” she said.

    Nearly every peasant I’ve spoken to in Zimbabwe echoed those thoughts.

    Doubtless it consoled readers of the NYT that Makupila at least seemed to take no pleasure in it (“Even if the whites were oppressing us …”). In other circumstances, I would suspect that helped make him the one chosen to be quoted, but there are some obvious reasons why “nearly every peasant I’ve spoken to in Zimbabwe” might not have wanted to go on record (Nicholas himself was not without fear of what might happen to him if Mugabe found out he was a journalist before he left the country). Maybe Makupila and Mugombo were the only ones willing to risk being named.