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Will South Africa Split Apart?

The Dangers of the ANC’s Decline

Making matters worse, there is little evidence to suggest that the opposition parties are on the whole less corrupt—or more competent—than the ANC. It is true that the Democratic Alliance has had some technocratic successes in the Western Cape. But that party has never had to manage the Bantustans. Its potential to integrate their local politicians into a cohesive national program is untested; that it could do so while simultaneously stanching out patrimonialism seems far-fetched.

In this sense, the greatest danger of fragmentation is that it will threaten the very cohesion of the South African state. Civil war is certainly not on the horizon, but as the ANC is consumed by infighting, regional party leaders will likely choose to bolster their fiefdoms over complying with orders from the top.

Many will celebrate the ANC’s decline, but fragmentation would mark a turn to a disconcerting second phase in South Africa’s young democracy—and it may lead to a government that is even worse at serving its citizens.

 

 

Small is Beautiful

Cape Independence is a drive towards a smaller country, something EF Schumacher would have advocated. It is both an economic as well as a political movement.

Richard H Stephenson

 

Small is beautiful – an economic idea that has sadly been forgotten

Madeleine Bunting

EF Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful was the first book on politics I ever read; it was the only book about politics I ever saw my father read or heard him talk about. It arrived in our cottage in rural North Yorkshire as a manifesto from a radical countercultural world with which we had no contact. Re-reading its dense mixture of philosophy, environmentalism and economics, I can’t think what I could possibly have understood of it at 13, but in a bid to impress my father I ploughed on to the end.

Looking back over the intervening almost four decades, the book’s influence has been enormous. “Small is beautiful” was a radical challenge to the 20th century’s intoxication with what Schumacher described as “gigantism”. For several decades, mass production methods were producing more cheap goods than ever before; the mass media and mass culture opened up new opportunities to a wider audience than ever. It was creating bigger markets and bigger political entities – his book came on the eve of the vote on the European Common Market in 1975 – but he believed such scale led to a dehumanisation of people and the economic systems that ordered their lives.

One of the recurrent themes through the book is how modern organisations stripped the satisfaction out of work, making the worker no more than an anonymous cog in a huge machine. Craft skill was no longer important, nor was the quality of human relationship: human beings were expected to act like adjuncts to the machines of the production line. The economic system was similarly dehumanising, making decisions on the basis of profitability rather than human need: an argument that played out most dramatically in the 80s coal miners’ strike. What Schumacher wanted was a people-centred economics because that would, in his view, enable environmental and human sustainability.

It was a radical challenge which, like many of the ideas of the late 60s and early 70s (feminism is another example), were gradually adopted and distorted by the ongoing voracious expansion of consumer capitalism. Niche brands such as The Body Shop in the UK or Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in the US attempted to build a “small is beautiful” model of economic enterprise that put relationship, craft and environment at the heart of their way of working. They were later snaffled up by corporate giants. Small became cool but only as part of a branding strategy which masked the ongoing concentration of political and economic power. Gigantism has triumphed.

The power of the global multinational and the financial institutions was beginning to become apparent in the early 70s, but it has grown exponentially since, unaccountable to national governments. Schumacher warned that a city’s population should not rise above 500,000, but we are now living in an era of the megapolis and several cities around the world are heading towards 20m. Schumacher would be weeping over his herbal tea at the fate of his big idea.

However, small is beautiful is an idea that keeps reappearing – the latest incarnations are farmers’ markets, and local cafes baking homemade cup cakes – because it incorporates such a fundamental insight into the human experience of modernity. We yearn for economic systems within our control, within our comprehension and that once again provide space for human interaction – and yet we are constantly overwhelmed by finding ourselves trapped into vast global economic systems that are corrupting and corrupt.

Many of the issues Schumacher raises we are still wrestling with. He questioned the shibboleth of economic growth as the central preoccupation of politics; he talked of resource constraints on economic development. Above all, he insisted again and again that human happiness would not be achieved through material wealth. He had a vision of human need that would strike a 21st-century reader as oddly puritanical, and his frequent references to Burma as a model jar badly.

But his point is still valid as the wellbeing debate today demonstrates; despite our increased wealth since the 70s, we are no happier. Schumacher warned against exactly the issues we are now dealing with as levels of mental illness – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress – rise and the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second most common health problem in western developed nations by 2020. This was what Schumacher feared, and his answer was “small is beautiful”. Go back to the human scale: human needs and human relationships, and from that springs the ethical response of stewardship to the environment.

What is most striking about the book now is its bold idealism. No one writes like that now; reading Schumacher’s bracing prescriptions for our future, it is chilling to realise how so many thinkers, politicians, academics have all signed up to a deadening pragmatic consensus and our thinking has been boxed into a dead end of technocratic managerialism. Small is beautiful is the cry of the romantic idealist, and there seem to be none left.

 

Restoring our Municipalities

Some valuable insights into what can be done and how we envision the future.

Richard H Stephenson

RESTORING our MUNICIPALITIES

“I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.” Proverbs 24:30-34

Crime and Grime
If dirt and decay describe your municipality, then it is time to change the mayor and town councillors. Crime and grime go together. “Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.” Ecclesiastes 10: 18

“He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.” Proverbs 18:9

“Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts.” Proverbs 22:25-26.

Foundations for Freedom
For communities to be strong, their families need to be strong. For city councils to be good, the citizens need to be good. Those who cannot control themselves are not capable of ruling over a city (Proverbs 16:32). Those who cannot manage their households well are not qualified to lead others (1 Timothy 3:4-5).

Civil Governments are Meant to be Civil Servants
Our Lord Jesus taught that “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” Matthew 20:26. Our Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that civil authorities are to be public servants (Matthew 20:25-28).

A Public Service
It is for this reason that officials in civil government are called ministers, or servants, of God (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14). The word used here is deacon. Just as a minister in the church is to be a minister of Grace, so a minister in government is to be a minister of Justice. Both serve God and man. The concept that civil government is a servant of its citizens is a uniquely Christian idea that originated from these verses. Hence the concept of cabinet minister and a prime minister as the first servant. I still remember when cabinet ministers used to sign their letters: Your humble servant!

Sacrificial Service to the Community
When I was growing up, city councillors and members of parliament were not actually paid for their service. They received only basic expenses and needed to have real jobs to sustain themselves. For example, my History teacher in high school was a member of the Rhodesian parliament. He was not absent from the school often, as parliament only meta couple weeks of the year. Even then I remember him saying that they received free train tickets to travel to parliament in Salisbury, and if they wanted to fly, it was at their own expense.

Not a Scheme for Personal Enrichment
At that time, the kind of people who offered themselves for public service as town councillors and members of parliament, tended to have been successful job providers in the community and able to donate their time to city council or legislative duties. Certainly, entering politics at that time was not a get rich-quick scheme! Civil servants were sacrificing time and talent for the common good.

The Curse of Corruption
Today, unfortunately, it would seem that all too many, in what was meant to be “public service” see it as an opportunity for self-serving criminals to loot public resources. The African Union reports that over 25% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Africa is looted every year by government corruption. That means more than a quarter of the total wealth of Africa is stolen by so-called civil servants! That is ten times more than all the foreign aid to Africa combined!

Corruption Steals from Everyone
Some have tried to say that corruption does not hurt anyone. Actually corruption steals from absolutely everyone. It chases away tourists, investors and job creators. It devalues currency. It reduces the value of everyone’s savings, earnings, and pensions. It erodes and implodes any economy. Corruption more than any other single cause, is responsible for most of the poverty and joblessness in society!

What Can We Do About It?
Now, many people may say that there is little that they can do about this. Actually there is much that each one of us can do. First of all, we need to rediscover the Christian work ethic and Biblical Principles for Africa. We should be studying what the Bible teaches on economics, free enterprise and honest money, the Biblical solutions to crime, Biblical commands to a nation, political principles in the teachings of Christ, Biblical solutions to crime, and how we can be salt and light, applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life. Education is foundational. The philosophy of education in this generation will become the philosophy of government in the next generation.

Restore Biblical Christian Principles to Your Community
Secondly, we can all do something to reclaim and restore our communities. The Biblical principle that each community has the God-given right and responsibility to elect their own leaders, from among their own people, was established during the Evangelisation of Europe over 14 centuries ago. It has been recognised in the Common Law of England, established under The Dooms of King Alfred, and in Magna Carta of 1215, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, and other foundational statutes. No taxation is lawful unless it has been approved by representatives of the class and community who are being taxed. The right for every community to govern themselves and to determine who are to be entrusted with the stewardship of their resources has been foundational for over a millennium of Christian civilisation.

“You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” Nehemiah 2:17

Learn from the Past
Those of us who are old enough remember a time when our communities were clean, neat, safe and attractive. When I was growing up we had no knowledge of, or need for, high walls, barbed wire and razor wire fences, electric fencing, security gates, burglar bars, motion sensors, steering locks and armed response companies. Indeed, none of these concepts were even known among us. There was no need.

Before Burglar Bars and Security Gates
I never needed to worry about finding myself locked out of home, because the front door was seldom locked and even if it was, I could always walk around to the back door, which would be open. In the unlikely event that the back door was locked, one could always climb through a window, as we never had burglar bars in those days.

Born Free
I do not think my parents drove me to school more than a couple of times in my whole life. It was safe to catch the bus, or train, or walk, or cycle, across town. Today, parents may be thought derelict in their duty and irresponsible if they would allow their children the kind of freedom that we had growing up. When I was just 12 years old, I remember walking to Khami Ruins, (about 20km outside of Bulawayo) on a Saturday, alone. On the way I could see zebra, kudu, giraffe, rhinos and wildebeest. This was not in a game park, this was just beyond the city limits. My parents didn’t need to know where I was wandering, as long as I was home when the sun set, and that was while our country was at war!

Children at Risk
Our children today, who are often called born free, know little or nothing about such freedom. Now, children are targeted by drug dealers, rapists and paedophiles. Children are in danger of being mugged on the way to school and sold drugs at school.

The Secularisation of Society
To a large extent the reason for this drastic deterioration in our local communities has come from the secular humanist worldview, news media and entertainment industry, which has been undermining Christian foundations and promoting situation ethics, glorifying violence and glamourising crime.

The Curse of Centralisation
It has also, to a large extent, been the inevitable result of the amalgamation of municipalities, and the centralisation of power in unicities.

The Crisis that Confronts Us
Instead of local control over own municipalities, often with our own local municipal police to protect the interests and property of each municipality, we now have professional politicians who neither know about our community, nor care. Rates and taxes have sky rocketed, while services have plummeted. The beautiful gardens and verges of our suburbs have been allowed to decay and die. The streets are now often strewn with rubbish, litter and graffiti. The countryside has been polluted and filled with plastic bags and broken glass. Litterbugs, loiterers, beggars, opportunistic thieves, and gangsters prowl the streets, breaking into vehicles and homes, turning what used to be close-knit communities into areas resembling a war zone, with zoo-like bars over the windows and high electric and razor wire fences surrounding what used to be friendly neighbourhoods.

“…Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:14

What is Needed if We are To Reclaim and Restore Our Communities?
1.    For God’s honour and glory, and as faithful stewards of resources to serve our neighbours and God’s creatures, only ratepayers should be allowed to vote in municipal elections. Only long-term residents who have excelled in serving the community should be eligible to stand as candidates for any municipality.

2.    In order not to attract professional politicians and those with a  looting mentality, no salaries, beyond basic expenses, should be provided for town councillors and mayors. There should be no opportunities for civil servants to loot the resources so painstakingly built up over generations, by residents and ratepayers.

3.    Decentralisation is absolutely essential. Each local community should have direct control over their own municipalities.

4.    Each local municipality should be enabled to maintain their own local police force to protect the interests and property of each community.

5.    No litter, or pollution, is to be tolerated. In order to eradicate the crime, the first priority is to eradicate the grime that so often encourages it. No littering, pan-handling, beggars and opportunistic thieves are to be tolerated in any community.

6.    Charitable work is to be supported and every opportunity given to care for those less fortunate through ministries such as the Salvation Army and the Ark.

7.    Parks for children must be carefully maintained, be kept clean, safe and protected from broken glass, drunkards, drug dealers and paedophiles.

8.    Municipalities must become drug-free and crime-free, with zero-tolerance for crime.

9.    Municipalities should set a high priority on restoring the gardens, verges, and traffic islands and beautify the inner cities, reforest the suburbs and set up lights in public areas to discourage crime.

10.  Municipal taxes may only be used for the local community. The unicity plundering of rates and taxes ostensibly to “serve less privileged communities”, have proved to only be a cover for massive corruption on a colossal scale. When each local municipality administers their own taxes for their own areas, it will bring down the burden on everyone and make available far more for charitable, person-to-person, congregation to congregation, community to community, responsible giving that will go along with restoration and upliftment.

Responsible Residents
The best way to restore pride, responsibility and ownership of residents and ratepayers is to give them back control over their own municipalities.

Self-Determination
We need to support political parties and municipal candidates who will work for self-determination and self-government with self-supporting and self-regulating municipalities.

Protecting our Families
Families are the basic building block of every society. It is of the highest priority to protect the family by protecting children from all threats and bad influences. This includes ensuring that loiterers, who are often drug dealers or paedophiles, are kept away from any community and particularly near schools and areas where children walk to and from their homes, schools and sports, to scouts, guides and youth groups. Local authorities should ensure that no liquor stores or sexually orientated businesses are near schools, or where children travel past. By re-establishing local municipal police forces which are entirely drawn from the community concerned, who know the people and are known by them, we can work to eradicate threats to our communities. “Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless.” Proverbs 23:10

Mobilise the Community to Take Back their Municipality
Community clean-up drives are needed. To ensure that all are committed to fighting litter, pollution and grime, it is important to involve all the residents, clubs, societies and community. Churches, youth groups, women’s groups, men’s groups, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Guides, Rotary Clubs, schools and businesses can set a standard by planting trees, bushes and flowers, painting over graffiti, providing water bowls and fountains in public places for the birds and pets, restoring the play parks, jungle gyms and skate ramps for youth, undertaking Neighbourhood Watch patrols and being good neighbours to those in need. “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” Isaiah 58:12.

Fight Cancer in our Communities
The damage to monuments, museums and the environment throughout this country, testifies to the cancer of Crime, Arson, Nepotism, Corruption, Exploitation and Riotous behaviour, which has been tolerated for far too long. It is time to stop the looting and polluting of our communities. Let us restore to ratepayers and homeowners the control of the municipalities that administer their communities for the benefit of all and for the health and economy of our children and grandchildren’s generation. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

Resources for Reformation and Transformation
For further documentation and other relevant articles on Municipal and National Elections, visit www.SAvotersguide.org and www.christianaction.org.za.

Obtain Biblical Principles for Africa book from Christian Liberty Books.

2016 Biblical Issues Voters’ Guide
The 2016 Biblical Issues Voters’ Guide – detailing the positions of 7 leading political parties on 8 key Biblical issues – is now available from www.SAvotersguide.org  Download and email, or distribute quantities to your congregation, community and colleagues.

Quantities can be ordered from Africa Christian Action, call 021 –6894481 or email: info@christianaction.org.za.

The two-page version (with documentation) is available in English and Afrikaans. The one-page version of the Voters’ Guide is available in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.

The Savotersguide.org website also features relevant articles, helpful links,  downloadable Voter Education Powerpoints, plus view responses of political parties to the Christian Action Network’s Policy Survey.

It Is Time to Mobilise the Silent Majority
It is disturbing that more than half of eligible voters do not bother to vote in either national or municipal elections. Yet when you speak to many of these people, they say, “what difference can I make?” When more than half of the voters are saying that they don’t believe that their vote can make a difference, then there is something radically wrong! “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” Deuteronomy 16:18-19

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Dr. Peter Hammond
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Claremont
7735 Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481
E-mail: info@christianaction.org.za
Web: http://www.christianaction.org.za/
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Originally published here

 

One Nation Indivisible…?

This is an article about the United States of America, nevertheless similar principles apply here. The significant difference is that the RSA Constitution enforces the indivisibility of the South African State, which is problem for those who place blind trust in it.

The time has however dawned for those who can see the destructiveness of coerced unity to question the political bands that bind and seek to dissolved them.

Richard H Stephenson

 

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Declaration of Independence

I’ve lived through some turbulent years of American history, but I have never seen our country more polarized, more divided, more ripe for – dare I say it? – breakup, dissolution, a secessionist movement.

I admit I’m unafraid of radical ideas – if those radical ideas are just, righteous, moral and godly.

I believe it’s time for radical ideas – just as it was time in 1776.

Frankly, I don’t see a way to unite a people as divided as Americans are today. We are trying to pretend we’re one nation when we are really two.

One of those two nations clings to the promises and covenants of the past, the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, as the guiding principles. The other believes in and lives with no immutable standards.

It’s not a Republican vs. Democrat split – as the current election illustrates. I know many Republicans would find themselves more comfortable in the country of no standards. I also suspect many Democrats would actually find themselves more at home in the nation of the Bible, Declaration and Constitution.

Isn’t it time for separation? Is the breakup of the union really such a difficult thing to consider? When there are no new lands to discover, what choice do we have?

My vision of the world is one in perfect harmony with the Bible, the Declaration and the Constitution. But these standards have been run over, obscured, distorted, demolished, nullified, undone, vandalized. Since, historically, it was the Bible, the Declaration and the Constitution that held us together, what binds us today? Shouldn’t those of us who upheld the commitment to those standards have the right, in fact, the duty, to separate ourselves from those who have gutted them?

America was founded as a sovereign, independent nation. The vandals want to yield sovereignty to global authorities and make America interdependent.

America was founded with a federal government that was to be constitutionally limited in scope. The vandals have already succeeded in obliterating the enumerated powers.

America was founded as a nation of self-governing free people and sovereign states with significant authority reserved to them. The vandals have placed America under the shackles of a central government to which the states and people are subordinate.

America was founded as a nation of people “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The vandals deny the Creator, invent man-made rights and deny life and liberty are sacred values.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Order Farah’s prescription for radical renewal, “Taking America Back”

We already are two peoples with irreconcilable differences sharing one nation. It’s time for an amicable divorce – with each people free to pursue their own way.

I don’t know how to make this happen. But I think it’s time to start talking about it – start working toward it. I don’t want to live under the consequences of the actions of the vandals. I don’t want my children to do that. There ought to be a choice. Maybe we can live side by side in peace as two nations, but we can’t live freely as one people any longer.

The moral justification for secession was found in our Declaration of Independence. It says governments are created to protect our unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It also says, “Whenever a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”

I know it’s radical. I know it’s not a topic being discussed on the Sunday morning talk shows. I know it’s not a subject of op-eds in the New York Times. But, the more I think about it, the more I agree it’s the only political solution that makes sense for an America that has lost its sense of mission and the original intent of those who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

What choice do we have but to break the bands that tie us together? Actually, to be honest, those bands have already been broken – by those who have, over time, grabbed control of our lives in a thousand insidious ways over the last 200-plus years.

It’s time to move this debate forward – front and center. It’s time to begin asking the real questions. It’s time to restore liberty to America.

There’s only one way to recapture the greatness of America. That is to start over – with only those willing to play by the rules. Let those who don’t believe in rules have their own country to destroy.
Joseph Farah

The EU: Economically and Morally Perverse

For the EU read South Africa. Same problem, same solution.

Richard H Stephenson

An Interview With Hans-Herman Hoppe in the Polish weekly Najwyższy Czas!

What is your assessment of contemporary Western Europe, and in particular the EU?

All major political parties in Western Europe, regardless of their different names and party programs, are nowadays committed to the same fundamental idea of democratic socialism. They use democratic elections to legitimize the taxing of productive people for the benefit of unproductive people. They tax people, who have earned their income and accumulated their wealth by producing goods or services purchased voluntarily by consumers (and of course especially the ‘rich’ among those), and they then re-distribute the confiscated loot to themselves, i.e., the democratic State that they control or hope to control, and their various political friends, supporters, and potential voters.

They do not call this policy by its right name: punishing the productive and rewarding the unproductive, of course. That doesn’t sound particularly attractive. Instead, they tap into the always popular sentiment of envy and claim to tax the few ‘rich’ to support the many ‘poor.’ In truth, however, with their policy they make more and more productive people poor and a steadily increasing number of unproductive people rich.

But what about the EU?

Looking at the EU, the picture becomes even worse. The EU is the first step on the way toward the creation of a European Super-State, and ultimately of a one-world government, dominated by the USA and its central bank, the FED. From its very beginnings, and despite all high-sounding political proclamations to the contrary, the EU was never about free trade and free competition. For that, you don’t need tens of thousands of pages of rules and regulations! Rather, the central purpose of the EU, supported all-along by the USA, was always the weakening in particular of Germany as Europe’s economic powerhouse. To facilitate this, Germany was sent on a seemingly never-ending ‘guilt trip’ and thus pressured to transfer increasingly larger parts of its already limited (vis-à-vis the USA) sovereignty to the EU in Brussels. Especially noteworthy in this regard: Germany’s giving up its monetary sovereignty and abandoning its traditionally ‘strong’ currency, the DM, in favor of a ‘weak’ Euro, issued by a European Central Bank (ECB) composed overwhelmingly of politically connected central bankers from traditionally ‘weak’ currency countries.

The EU, then, is characterized by three main features: First: The harmonization of the tax- and regulation structure across all member states, so as to reduce economic competition and especially tax-competition between different countries and make all countries equally uncompetitive.

Second: On top of the economic and moral perversity within each country of punishing the productive and subsidizing the unproductive, another layer of international income- and wealth-redistribution is added: of punishing economically better performing countries like Germany and the countries of northern Europe and rewarding economically worse performing countries (mostly of southern Europe) and thus successively rendering the economic performance of all countries equally worse.

And third, of increasing importance especially during the last decade: In order to overcome the rising resistance, in many countries, against the steadily increasing transfer of national sovereignty to Brussels, the EU is on a crusade to erode, and ultimately destroy, all national identities and all social and cultural cohesion. The idea of a nation and of different national and regional identities is ridiculed, and multi-culturalism is hailed instead as an unquestionable “good.” As well, in promoting the award of legal privileges and of “special protection” to everyone, except white, heterosexual men, and especially married family men (who are portrayed as historic ‘oppressors’ owing compensation to everyone else as their historic ‘victims’) – euphemistically called “anti-discrimination” or “affirmative action” policy – the natural social order is systematically undermined. Normality is punished, and abnormity and deviance is rewarded.

Can one say, then, that the politicians running the EU are even worse than the politicians running national affairs?

No, and yes. One the one hand, all democratic politicians, with almost no exception, are morally uninhibited demagogues. One of my German books is titled “The Competition of Crooks,” which captures what democracy and democratic party politics are really all about. There is in this regard little if any difference between the political elites of Berlin, Paris, Rome, etc., and those running the show in Brussels. In fact, the EU elites are typically political have-beens, with the same mentality as their domestic counterparts, on the lookout for the super-lavish salaries, benefits, and pensions doled out by the EU.     

On the other hand, the EU elites are worse than their political cronies at home, of course, in that their decisions and rulings always affect a far larger number of people.

What do you predict, then, will be the future of the EU?

The EU and the ECB are a moral and economic monstrosity, in violation of natural law and the laws of economics. You cannot continuously punish productivity and success and reward idleness and failure without bringing about the disaster. The EU will slide from one economic crisis to the next and ultimately break apart. The Brexit, that we have just experienced, is only the first step in this inevitable process of devolution and political decentralization.

Is there anything that an ordinary citizen can do in this situation?

For one, instead of swallowing the high-sounding blabber of politicians about “freedom,” “prosperity,” “social justice,” etc., people must learn to recognize the EU for what it really is: a gang of power-lusty crooks empowering and enriching themselves at other, productive people’s expense. And secondly, people must develop a clear vision of the alternative to the present morass: not a European Super-State or even a federation of nation States, but the vision of a Europe made up of thousands of Liechtensteins and Swiss cantons, united through free trade, and in competition with one another in the attempt of offering the most attractive conditions for productive people to stay or move. 

Can you give a comparative assessment of the USA and the situation in Europe?

The difference between the situation in the US and Western Europe is much smaller than is generally surmised on either side of the Atlantic. For one, the developments in Europe since the end of World War II have been closely watched, steered and manipulated, whether through threats or bribes, by the political elites in Washington DC. In fact, Europe has essentially become a dependency, a satellite or vassal of the US. This is indicated on the one hand by the fact that US troops are stationed all across Europe, by now all the way right up to the Russian border. And on the other hand, this is indicated by the steady pilgrimage, performed more regularly and dutifully than any Muslim’s pilgrimage to Mecca, of the European political elites and their intellectual bodyguards to Washington DC, in order to receive their masters’ blessings. Especially the German political elite, whose guilt complex has meanwhile assumed the status of some sort of mental illness, stands out in this regard by its cowardice, submissiveness, and servility.

As for US domestic affairs, both Europeans and Americans have it typically wrong. Europeans still frequently view the US as the “land of the free,” of rugged individualism, and of unhampered capitalism. Whereas Americans, insofar they know or claim to know anything about the world outside the US at all, frequently view Europe as a place of unhinged socialism and collectivism, entirely alien to their own “American way.” In fact, there exists no principal difference between the so-called “democratic capitalism” of the US and Europe’s “democratic socialism.”

To be sure, America has always had more and more vocal proponents of free-market capitalism, it still manages to attract many of the world’s best and brightest, and indeed, the US tax-take as a percentage of GDP lags behind that of most European countries – but not by very much, and it is actually higher than in non-EU-member Switzerland, for instance. And as for US government debt as a percentage of GDP, this is actually higher than in most European countries and places the US in the same league as an economic basket case such as Greece, for instance. True enough also: In the US you may still pretty much say whatever you want without having to fear criminal persecution, whereas taking the same liberty in most of the Europe may well land you in jail. However, the disease of “political correctness,” of “non-discrimination” and “affirmative action” that is currently sweeping the Western world like an epidemic actually originated in the US, with the so-called “civil rights” legislation of the 1960s, and it is the US, where it has been carried to the greatest excesses and the height of absurdity. And so, while saying the politically “wrong” thing may not land you in jail in the US, you will have your career destroyed there just as certainly, if not more so, than in any European country.

And as for US foreign policy: All the while the political elites of the US started to ‘invite’ the (third) world to come to the US, long before the same disastrous ‘multicultural’ policies were also adopted in Europe, the very same elites have pursued an aggressive policy of ‘invade the world’ and attacked, just in the most recent decades, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and spawning a wave of Islamist terrorism, mostly funded by Saudi Arabia, with whose political elites one entertains a most cordial relationship.

Finally, how do you evaluate the economic success of formerly communist countries such as China, that combine one-party-dictatorships with partly free markets?

The economic success of a country depends on three interrelated factors: the security of private property and property rights, the freedom of contract and trade, and the freedom of association and dis-association – and, of course, the diligence, intelligence and ingenuity of its people. Each and every State, insofar as it relies on taxation for its own funding, acts in violation of these requirements. But these violations can be less extensive and far-reaching, or more so, explaining the relative success of some countries and the failure of others. The internal organization of the State, whether it is a one-party-dictatorship or a multi-party-democracy, is essentially irrelevant in this. Indeed, as the present example of Venezuela vividly demonstrates, democracy and democratic elections can well lead to the almost complete abolition of private property rights and the freedom of contract and trade, and result in spectacular economic collapse.

As well, the comparison of the economic performance of India vs. China is instructive in this regard. While modern India, for almost seven decades now, has been ruled by democratic governments, modern China has been ruled throughout by a communist-party-dictatorship, roughly half of the time, during the Mao-era, by an orthodox all-out-communist party leadership, and the second half by a regime of ‘liberal’ reform-communists. The result? Both countries are still desperately poor as measured by Western standards, indicating that both governments showed little if any respect for private property rights. But: While the economic situation was about equally desperate in both countries until the early 1980’s, since then, with the onset of the ‘reform communism’ in China, the Chinese GDP per capita has well surpassed and risen significantly above that of India, indicating a comparatively greater scope of economic freedom in China and/or an on average brighter and more diligent Chinese population.    

In conclusion, then: Don’t put your trust in democracy, but neither should you trust in a dictatorship. Rather, put your hope into radical political decentralization, not just in India and China, but everywhere.

Why the DA cannot and will not support secession

It has been suggested over and over again, restated ad nauseum that one of the best ways to achieve the objective of Cape Independence is to work towards greater autonomy in a federal system by aligning ourselves with the DA and that over the process of time we will gradually gain more and more independence.

I have also seen repeated attempts to engage the DA, both officially and through the facebook group (the official group I think it’s called), but to no avail. There just seems to be a reluctance on their part to even entertain the notion and understandably so.

To ask the DA to consider the idea of an Independent Cape (for example) is to fly in the face of something they hold to very dearly. Something that they endorsed (albeit in their previous separate incarnations as the Democratic Party and the erstwhile National Party) and that is the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

Helen Zille’s recent comment on her facebook fan page bear witness to the fact that she regards the Constitution as the most powerful weapon in her war against ANC corruption.

The problem then, from the DA’s perspective is that to open debate around secession is to call the validity of the Constitution into question, something they are not prepared to do, believing, as stated that the Constitution is the best guarantee of freedom, justice and so forth.

The specific constitutional provisions, although providing for national, provincial and local governments also states emphatically that in:
3.41.1 All spheres of government and all organs of state within each sphere MUST
a) preserve the peace, the national UNITY and the INDIVISIBILITY of the Republic.

So to consider secession as policy is to reject the constitution (read the whole of Chapter 3 to get the full weight of what this means). It would also mean going back on their previous buy into the constitution in 1996.

The only Parties that could lay claim to rejecting the Constitution may possibly be the ACDP (although I only find references to their rejecting the 94 interim Constitution).

That leaves us with the current status quo and although we might win over increasingly large numbers of disaffected DA voters and possibly members, the organisation itself is trapped in a cage of its own making and one that, at least, its leaders are quite happy to fight for.

To conclude then, let us look at things the way they are, the DA are not going to change their policy stance and risk everything they’ve invested to date on a new venture towards freedom …. that task has fallen to us and to us alone, to pioneer a way towards an Independent Cape Country, unshackled by promises once made and free to chart our own path unencumbered, unashamed and unwavering.

Richard H Stephenson

The View from Catalonia: The Ins and Outs of the Independence Movement

By Carles Boix and J.C. Major

Over the past few years, the number of Catalans who wish for independence from Spain has skyrocketed. Until the early 2000s, a steady 10–15 percent supported independence; now, according to recent opinion polls, that percentage is closer to 50 (with 30 percent opposing and the rest either abstaining or offering no opinion). Support for independence does not wane even when those surveyed are told that it could result in exclusion from the European Union. And even those who don’t necessarily prefer a separate Catalonia agree that the question should be put to a vote: Four out of five Catalans favor holding a referendum, as do trade unions, most business associations, and hundreds of civil society organizations.

Many cite the global financial crisis as the proximate cause of Catalan discontent. From that point of view, the drive for independence is simply another manifestation of the populist movements sweeping across Europe. To be sure, the economic grievances that come from being a part of Spain may have persuaded many to support independence. But this is not their main motive. Instead, the desire to break away is a symptom of deep-rooted flaws in the configuration of the Spanish state.

For starters, Spaniards and Catalans disagree on the basic terms of the debate. Spain views itself as a pre-ordained historical enterprise, of which Catalonia is a mere appendage — one of several parts of an unquestionable whole. Catalans, on the other hand, have always defined themselves as a nation, one with a long and successful run as an independent polity until it was absorbed by a more powerful state with substantially different cultural mores and structures of governance.

When Catalonia came under the rule of Spanish monarchs at the turn of the sixteenth century, an uneasy balance was established between the Catalan tradition of self-governance and the crown’s desire to wield absolute power over its possessions. What began as a political confederation among equals gave way to a gradual takeover of Catalonia by Spain. In 1714, as a result of war and occupation, all Catalan institutions were finally suppressed and Catalonia became, for all practical purposes, just another dependency of a global empire run from Madrid. Rather than building a multinational community in which diverse peoples could share a political structure while freely developing and enforcing their own rules — as was the case, for example, in nineteenth-century Austria-Hungary, or as is the case in Switzerland today — Spain has always chosen to pin its survival on a policy of imposition and uniformity. This has meant playing down, and ultimately denying, the national identity of Catalans.

SUBORDINATE TO SPAIN

Having struggled to preserve their collective identity against a relentless effort to water it down — and, at some critical points in history, wipe it out — Catalans’ place in Spain has never been a comfortable one. Conflicting interests and worldviews have been permanent features of this relationship. Following each of the two transitions to democracy that took place in twentieth-century Spain, Catalans hoped that it would be possible to work out an arrangement that would respect their interests and cultural identity. The establishment of a republican regime in 1931 involved the creation of an autonomous Catalan region. But that was cut short by Franco’s military coup in 1936. With Franco’s death and Spain’s second transition to democracy in the late 1970s, Catalans and Spaniards struck a deal that gave the former a degree of self-governance with respect to culture, language, and education. On paper, it sounded reasonable. But in practice, old tensions quickly reappeared: Catalan services, relying on resources allocated by Madrid, remained systematically underfunded, and the central government kept infringing on the powers that had been nominally transferred to Barcelona.

In 2005, the Catalan regional parliament, with the support of 88 percent of its members, put forward a revised self-government charter to better spell out the terms of its relationship with Spain and to protect the region’s political powers against the central government’s repeated encroachments. What Catalans saw as a carefully balanced proposal was heavily amended by the Spanish legislature and then ungraciously struck down by Spain’s politicized constitutional court. Worse, the charter provoked a fierce campaign in the Spanish media against so-called Catalan “insolidarity.”

In light of Spain’s reaction to this quasi-federal proposal, many Catalans gave up hope of reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement with Spain and began to seek new political alternatives. Beginning in fall 2009, Catalans started organizing, at the grassroots level, local referenda on independence. These were largely symbolic but nonetheless involved more than 800,000 voters, and would be followed by massive pro-independence demonstrations in July 2010, September 2012, and September 2013. With opinion polls consistently revealing a shift toward self-determination, Catalan politicians agreed to schedule a referendum for November 9, 2014, to find out the exact measure of support for secession.

International opinion tends to support this referendum, just as it has supported the one that will be held in Scotland this September or those that took place in Quebec a few years ago. Indeed, finding out where everyone stands would appear to be a necessary step to make an informed decision on how to proceed. And yet the Spanish government has not granted the Catalan authorities the power to conduct what would be a non-binding referendum — something that would be perfectly legal according to articles 92 and 150.2 of the Spanish constitution. The Catalan government has nevertheless decided to press ahead and organize a vote anyway, since Catalonia’s self-government charter grants the regional authorities the right to organize “popular consultations.” The Spanish government has vowed to take that decision to the constitutional court. If the constitutional court were to block Catalonia’s vote, the Catalan government would have two choices: to go ahead with the consultation on November 9, or to call for parliamentary elections, which would become a de facto referendum on independence.

A WAY FORWARD
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In Catalonia, the pros and cons of independence have been and continue to be thoroughly debated by politicians, academics, the media, and the public. Studies produced by international institutions have attested to the strength and viability of the Catalan economy, and Catalonia can already count on a solid and effective institutional structure that could be put to work immediately.

By contrast, the Spanish government, backed by much of the political opposition, not only denies Catalans the possibility of a vote, it also refuses to present a proposal that could make Catalans and Spaniards more comfortable with each other. Except for a minority of Spanish nationalist diehards, maintaining the status quo is not an option in Catalonia. As for the rest of the unionist camp, some proposal from Madrid would have the virtue of reaching out to those who want to vote against independence but would also like to know what they are voting for. A proposal from Madrid would also introduce balance into the current political debate. Refusing to engage the Catalans is a poor way to deal with a problem that won’t simply go away. Even if the independence movement could be defused one way or another, it would eventually resurface again, and likely more forcefully.

If at the end of the day Catalans do indeed choose independence, either because they believe it is the best solution or simply because no other option has been put forward, it would be in the interests of all — Catalonia, Spain, and Europe — to ensure that the transition is swift and smooth. A referendum would make possible an orderly process of separation, agreed to by Spain and monitored by the international community, which should not cause undue disruption. Not allowing Catalans to express themselves, on the other hand, would create a chronic source of unrest in a part of the world — the south of Europe — that is in serious need of stability.

from Foreign Affairs magazine

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