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THOMAS MOLNAR, COMMUNICATION: South Africa Reconsidered - Ralph Raico, New Individualist Review 
New Individualist Review, editor-in-chief Ralph Raico, introduction by Milton Friedman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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In our Vol. III, No. 4 issue, New Individualist Review carried an article by Professor Denis Cowen, of the Law School of the University of Capetown, “Prospects for South Africa.” Professor Cowen is a confirmed and outspoken opponent of the Nationalist Administration’s policy of apartheid. A reply to Professor Molnar’s communication will appear in a forthcoming issue of New Individualist Review.
THE TONE OF WRITERS against South African apartheid policies is generally so vituperative that one must welcome Prof. Cowen’s article in the Spring 1965 issue of New Individualist Review (Vol. III, No. 4) for its relative moderation. As one example of the usual “approach” to South African affairs in our press, I wish to mention only the document, published in March 1965 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Under the title, Apartheid and the UN: Collective Measures, the Carnegie Endowment, supposedly devoted to peace on earth, recommends the most drastic aggression against South Africa, including naval blockade, combat operations by small naval, air, and land forces, and military occupation. The authors of the document go so far in their warlike enthusiasm as to set down in advance the probable casualty figures, dead, wounded, and prisoners: close to forty thousand, although they thoughtfully add that “a percentage of these personnel would be returned to duty.” That they expect a war of no small scale and violence is indicated in their closing sentence: “The statistics are based on experience gained from World War II and Korea. These estimates will vary based upon intensity of combat, enemy capabilities, training of troops, etc. Consequently they should be used with caution.”
I mention this monstrous instance of warmongering by an organization nominally devoted to peace in order to suggest the difficulty Prof. Cowen, mindful of world opinion, must have faced in writing his article—in a climate of clamoring demagoguery in which common sense is practically suppressed, or at least suspected. Yet Prof. Cowen himself seems to me to yield to ideological pressure and consequent unrealistic thinking in too many passages of his text. In what follows I wish to point out these passages.
Cowen shares his premises with the ideological liberals when he assumes that all South Africa must do is to comply with the demands of “world opinion” and the United Nations for peace to descend on that beautiful country and its population. His arguments are surprisingly naive, although he himself warns the reader against the views of liberals and do-gooders. Everything would turn out all right, he says, and the world would turn its attention elsewhere if a non-racial democracy were established in South Africa in the framework of a federal form of government in which the courts would enforce a bill of rights protecting the minority races.
This is, of course, not a new formula; indeed Mr. Cowen, under the disguise of impartiality, has taken out a leaf from the Progressive Party’s program, backed in South Africa exclusively by starry-eyed liberals and misguided intellectuals. I would point out to Mr. Cowen, as I did to Mrs. Helen Suzman, sole parliamentary spokesman of the Progressive Party, that almost the totality of the South African electorate is violently opposed to this program, hence that it is simply not enforceable except by military action such as that outlined in the above-quoted document.
Furthermore, it should also be stated (and Mrs. Suzman, in private conversation, found no counter-argument) that in recent history very few bills of rights, or other legal guaranties, proved more than fragile paper barriers when the (racial, national, religious, etc.) majority wanted to have its own way. After all, what good did the Bill of Rights do for the American Negro in the last one hundred years, since Abraham Lincoln emancipated him and restored him to full citizenship? There is every reason to believe that if full parliamentary democracy is introduced in South Africa, with universal suffrage for all races, the majority which is black, will in no time submerge the entire country. To everybody who tries to view the South African situation with some clarity of judgment it is evident that the white, Indian, Chinese, Griqua, and Coloured minorities would be swept away by a triumphant black majority and by the one-party State.
BEHIND PROF. COWEN’S faith in the “federal” or “democratic” solution (incidentally: democracy has not survived even the first years of independence anywhere in Africa), there is his equally unrealistic belief that the UN is, now or potentially, an impartial enforcement agency of human rights wherever they are threatened. It would be tedious to list the examples of UN failure to act (Budapest and Tibet come easily to mind), except when the two great powers which dominate it, the United States and the Soviet Union, decide to push it in the direction they occasionally favor together. But it is nothing less than scandalous to suggest that Africa, which has witnessed horrible UN atrocities in Katanga, amply documented by the International Red Cross, should again be the scene of “peace enforcement” by that organization I know that among liberals in South Africa there is the same ideology-spawned faith in the moral superiority of the UN as among members of the Western intelligentsia; but the dream of a few utopian minds ought not to become the platform of a country’s policies.
The fact is that the UN, and a number of other agencies and countries whom Mr. Cowen implicity trusts and quotes, are irrevocably hostile to South Africa because it is a bulwark of anti-Communism, hence of Western defenses in the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. (Taiwan cannot be accused of “racial discrimination,” yet the same circles are hostile to it.) Displaying a strange naiveté, Mr. Cowen admits the fact of this hostility, even though he and I would disagree on its motives. He admits, namely, that even if South Africa were to comply with the UN claim, now debated before the World Court at The Hague, on South West Africa (which Pretoria has administered since 1920 under a League of Nations mandate), other issues would be found to attack it. He also quotes Kwame Nkrumah who lays claim, in the name of “Africa,” to the South African mineral wealth. He also argues that since the American Negroes hold now “the balance of political power” in the United States (!), Pretoria had better change its racial policies before Washington, pressured by Negro groups at home, intervenes with pressures of its own.
Like an irresponsible Santa Claus, Mr. Cowen chooses to hold out some rewards for the South Africans in case they become good children and obey the UN’s solicitous advice. If South Africa solves its race problem, Mr. Cowen writes, it will provide the world with a beautiful example of racial peace. More than that: Since the ratio of races (white to non-white) in the world is roughly the same as in South Africa, the example would become truly convincing! This is not exactly a scholarly argument, nor does it mention that racial strife exists between all races (in Africa: between blacks and Arabs, Indians and blacks), that it is not an invention of those devilish whites.
In this rather long, yet incomplete, comment on Mr. Cowen’s text I did not wish to introduce a counter-analysis of apartheid and other related matters, domestic and foreign, in the light of which they must be viewed for the sake of intelligibility. I merely wanted to point out that behind Prof. Cowen’s apparently objective and sweetly benevolent arguments one finds the same assumptions, based on the quicksand of illusions, which have so far created tragedy and bloodshed for African whites and blacks alike.
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[* ] Thomas Molnar is Professor of Romance Languages at Brooklyn College. He is the author of a number of books, among them The Decline of the Intellectual, The Future of Education, The Two Faces of American Foreign Policy, and Africa, A Political Travelogue.