17A042 Rhodesia by Jim Davies, 11/28/2017    


At long last, Robert Mugabe has quit. Whether his replacement in the government of what used to be called Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) will be any better, remains to be seen; but the guilt of this man is appalling. Not only did he preside over the worst hyperinflation in history, with apparently no remorse and probably little understanding of what caused it, he and his henchmen are covered in blood. Here's a post made by a reader "Valkyrja" to Taki's Magazine last week. I've tidied up the grammar and spelling, but the content is otherwise as presented:

Rhodesia was once the bread basket of Africa. My former husband's family migrated to the Rhodesian Territories in 1900, when it was inhabited by stone age people, who where dying of malaria & starvation. After 3 generations of back breaking work, the family had a successful wheat farm, employing 100's of natives.

Everything Mugabe learned was from the English school system and the British Rhodesian army. If it was not for European technology and science, Mugabe would never have survived infancy, as the infant mortality rate was 2 out of 3 before the English arrived.

My husband's family were lucky, as Mugabe's men came in the night and let them go with just the clothes on their backs. They sold the valuable farming equipment to China as scrap for a fraction of its value, but enough for them to stay drunk for month or so. Now the farm is a barren waste land.

What can you learn from this tale??

What I learn is not that the black race is inferior to the white one, but that while governments are always evil, some are more evil than others - and that this one was colossally stupid as well. It deliberately destroyed the capital base on which the society rested, and on which it depended for food. The white farmers knew what they were doing, because they had the big advantage of 10,000 years of experience of fixed agriculture behind them; the indiginous population of Africa had not, and has had to try to catch up in the two centuries during which such ideas were imported. Naturally, they need some more time.

But under Robert Mugabe, economic and agricultural education took second place to politics. Ruin usually follows when that is done. Ruin almost wrecked the Soviet Union, when Marxism was imposed after 1917; farmers declined to produce food when denied their profits, and when the same happened in Ukraine in the 1930s, about 11 million of them were starved to death. In two decades, what had been the bread basket of Europe was reduced to beggary.

Rhodesia was named for Cecil Rhodes, the sharp businessman who cornered the diamond market in 1888 as well as boosting Southern Africa's economy by developing gold mines, he believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was superior and fit to rule the world. The British government granted a "Royal Charter" to his British South Africa Company (BASC), which would actually rule Rhodesia rather as the East India Company had ruled India two centuries earlier; evidently, the solid lessons of Adam Smith against mercantilism were ignored. Southern Rhodesia then became a self-governing colony in 1923.

Then in the 1950s and -60s Britain shed its colonies, beginning with India, the crown jewel - having found that they were, after all, more trouble than they were worth and having been bankrupted by the utter folly of waging not one but two major, non-defensive wars. Northern and Southern Rhodesia were on the list to be shed. Then in 1964 came Ian Smith.

Smith's government represented the white farmers, the backbone of the country's economy, and they were not willing to surrender their life's work to upstart politicians who promised to take away their property by the force of law. So in 1965 Smith declared independence from the British Empire, much as the American colonies had done two centuries earlier. Both those cases had a large black population; in America they were an enslaved minority, in Rhodesia a non-enslaved majority. This "Unilateral Declaration of Independence" put the Brits into a tizzy, for it was Her Majesty's policy to make the colony independent, but on terms her ministers dictated, not those it chose for itself.

The newly independent country was nowhere "recognized" and the UN ran sanctions against it, with the UK , led for a time by the socialist Harold Wilson, blockading the nearest port, Beira in Portugese East Africa. Such blockading is an act of war. In the same period (1965-79) black communist rebels were fighting inside Southern Rhodesia to displace Smith's government. Eventually in 1980 those rebels were welcomed, with Smith, in London by Her Majesty - and by Margaret Thatcher - and a settlement was reached. Zimbabwe was recognized as independent, ruled by Mugabe, with Smith as Opposition leader until he retired in 1987.

The régime of Robert Mugabe was therefore made possible by the British-led sanctions prior to 1980, and explicitly approved by the British government in that year, even by the professing free-marketeer Maggie Thatcher. It may be argued that the Brits were heartily sick of the whole mess and were glad to get rid of it on any terms, but the fact is that its "government, even in its best state" as Paine termed it, was steeped in the evil of the Mugabe disaster. They had taken a centuries-old tradition of tribal organization (which, if like American natives, reached decisions by consensus rather than by edicts of their "chiefs") and foisted on it one form of central government after another. Had they left well alone and merely traded with the Africans as they were found, there would have been no levers of power for Mugabe to grab.

Racists like Rhodes believed that primitive blacks are incapable of ruling themselves, so need to be cared for by kindly, wise, white overlords. On the contrary, like all other human beings, such folk are very well able to rule themselves - individually; and the imposition of rule by anyone else is a denial of their humanity. Rhodes' gross error will soon be corrected, and Mugabe's record - arguably far more racist than Rhodes' ever was - will be consigned to the ashcan, as part of the history of the Government Era.

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