When you think about what led up to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, the Soviet Union under Stalin or Mao in China, it’s easy to look back and wonder: how did their people fall in line and allow it all to happen?
Surely, there’s no possible way anything like that could happen today. We’re too smart... People aren’t that gullible.
What’s going on currently in South Africa mirrors the rise of every fascist or Marxist totalitarian over the past 100 years. Last week, the South African Parliament voted to confiscate land from white farmers without compensation. White farmers in South Africa are about to have their property forcibly seized by a government rapidly headed toward racism and bigotry.
Much like the violent antisemitic rhetoric from the German Workers Party back in the early 1920s, no one in South Africa over the past decade took the issue of land redistribution from white people seriously. A man named Julius Malema began proposing it around 2011, but back then, he was considered more of a thug and racist rather than a legitimate politician.
In 2010, Malema was kicked out of his political party and indicted in court for inciting violence toward white people. At one particular political rally, he led the masses gathered in the streets in a song called “kill the white man.” He would later be convicted in court for hate speech.
In 2013, Malema put all that behind him and created his own political party called the Economic Freedom Fighters. Malema’s EFF is a Marxist-Leninist group that also advocates Black Nationalism. You might think, “there’s no way something like that could go mainstream,” but today, they are the THIRD LARGEST political party in South Africa. Their political pull has grown so much, they were able to convince the entire parliament to do something EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM had scoffed at just seven years prior.
If only the people of South Africa had a modern-day historical reference available to show how horribly this is going to go for them --- MAYBE they would reconsider. Oh wait, their neighbors in Zimbabwe literally tried this JUST EIGHT YEARS AGO. Let’s see how that worked out for them.
The farm seizures were seen as long overdue by the war veterans.
Here's what Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, said in 2000, when his government began seizing the farmland of white citizens of Zimbabwe without compensation:
If white settlers just took the land from us without paying for it, we can, in a similar way, just take it from them without paying for it.
The “land reform” effort (such a nice way to put it) started as a populist movement organized by disgruntled Zimbabwean war veterans. It was a carefully-coordinated effort in which 3,000 large, white-owned farms were taken over by 170,000 Zimbabwean families.
Taking over white-owned land was something the people had been promised by Mugabe’s government ever since the country gained independence in 1980. The farm seizures were seen as long overdue by the war veterans who considered dispossession of their ancestral land to be the fundamental reason they fought a war for independence.
At first, Mugabe said he was opposed to the violent farm seizures, but when he saw how popular the takeovers were, he reversed his position. He legalized the farm seizures, then used the government to widen the effort. The farm seizure law, written by Mugabe himself, stipulated that Britain was obligated to pay for the land seized from the African people during the colonial period, and that if Britain did not pay, the Zimbabwe government could seize the land without compensating the white farm owners.
A few of the seized farms were owned by black Zimbabweans, most of whom were critics of Mugabe.
Once farms were confiscated by the government, they were parceled out in smaller plots and given to black citizens. Officially, no family was allowed to have more than one “land reform” farm, but Mugabe’s political allies each took several large farms.
Courts were so inundated with cases, it would have taken decades to resolve all of them.
Commercial farmers took the government to court over the land seizures. Courts were so inundated with cases, it would have taken decades to resolve all of them. So, in 2003, Mugabe amended their constitution to nullify all those cases.
Before the farmland was confiscated, that land provided 40 percent of the country’s export earnings. Those farms were also the largest single employer in the nation, supporting two million workers.
If for no other reason, the Zimbabwean experience clearly shows that taking land without compensation is a very bad idea --- because of the resulting economic nightmare.
In 1997, three years before the land seizures began, Zimbabwe’s economy was one of the strongest in Africa. Fifteen years later, its economic growth rate was lower than any of its neighbors. Between 2000 and 2009, agricultural revenue declined by $12 billion. Zimbabwe had eight consecutive years of economic decline, job loss and deindustrialization.
Zimbabwe was once called “the breadbasket of Africa.” Now it relies on international aid to feed one-fourth of its population.
Economists estimate Zimbabwe’s “land reform” cost the country $20 billion.
Zimbabwe consistently has unemployment rates over 90 percent. Now, the Zimbabwean government is considering retroactively compensating white farmers with $11 billion.
Several years after the farm seizures in 2000, with Zimbabwe’s economy in ruins, and agricultural output a disaster, black landowners quietly reached out to white farmers who were thrown off their land. Now, there are a growing number of partnerships in which black landowners retain their rights to the property but share the profits with whites, who live and work on the farms as managers or consultants, sometimes bringing their equipment as well.
Today, there are roughly 300 whites still operating their own farms in Zimbabwe. In 2000, there were 4,500.
Mugabe’s government seized 35 million acres of white-owned land. But he didn’t give the land to the poor black Zimbabwean masses as their “rightful inheritance” like he had promised. Instead, he gave 40 percent of those 35 million acres to loyal cabinet ministers, senior army and government officials and judges. He also gave himself 14 farms totaling 6,500 acres.
Late last year, the 93-year-old Mugabe finally resigned from office after ruling for 37 years. He resigned under pressure because the Zimbabwe Parliament was set to impeach him. Before he resigned, he negotiated a generous pension and security deal for himself and his family.
Horror and slaughter always follow.
Seizing land and demonizing a select group of people has been the playbook to power for fascists and radical leftists for decades. Horror and slaughter always follow.
After Mao seized farmland and went on a mass killing spree, his starving people had to resort to cutting the flesh off their inner thighs and feeding it to their children. One of Mao’s greatest admirers, Che Guevara, marveled at the way land redistribution led to the furthering of social justice. Che’s social justice to Cuban farmers often ended up with them staring down the barrels of a firing squad.
This is the direction South Africa is going in.
On Sunday, Julius Malema gave a speech where he voiced his plans to begin deposing white politicians. He said, “we are starting with this whiteness. We are cutting the throat of whiteness.”
If you’re in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world, and you see your country going down these dark paths, take a stand. Speak up. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man that saw his OWN country deteriorate into evil and hate said it best:
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
The same thing COULD happen again.