South Africa right now is consumed by rioting and looting on an almost unimaginable scale. Entire malls have been cleaned out, vehicles torched, and factories assaulted. Real fears of total economic collapse are being voiced.
It is a tragedy. It is also a glimpse at one possible dystopian future for the United States.
To the extent most Americans think about South Africa at all, they have some sort of golden-hued image of Africa’s “success story.” In the wake of the collapse of the abhorrent apartheid system, South Africa emerged as a place where whites and blacks lived together, things worked, and the future was bright.
If that were ever true, that was a very long time ago.
The African National Congress (ANC), the party that took control of South African after apartheid is a Marxist party. It has governed as all Marxist parties do. Real political participation by average people has been stifled. Corruption has been rampant. The system has worked for the benefit of a small party elite and those connected to it. Everyone else has been walled out.
These tendencies were there from the beginning. Under now former President Zuma they reached epidemic proportions. South African became a Marxist kleptocracy much on the model of Venezuela. Experts watching the nation closely have warned for years all of this would inevitably lead to economic collapse and mob violence.
They were right.
As of the beginning of this year, the unemployment rate in South Africa was 32.5%. It has certainly only risen since then. There are in excess of 15 million unemployed persons in a country with a population of 58 million.
Hunger has become widespread. A recently published survey showed that in April 2021 – 47% of the adults surveyed – had at some point in the month run out of money with which to buy food. Twenty-one percent of adults said that in the preceding seven days at least one person in their household had gone hungry, and fifteen percent said that a child had gone hungry in the same period.
An estimated 27% of children under the age of 5 in South Africa are stunted. This means that they experienced a lack of nutrients in the womb. They will as a consequence suffer lifelong health impacts.
Increasingly, to survive, people who can have been returning to the land and practicing subsistence farming just to avoid starvation. In part, this has also been a reaction to fears of widespread violence in urban areas and growing concerns of total societal collapse.
Violent crime has exploded. South Africa is now classified as the most dangerous nation in Africa and one of the most dangerous in the world. Murder rates have exploded and continue to rise.
South Africa is regarded as one of the world’s most unequal societies. Over half the population lives in poverty while a select few enjoy enormous wealth and power. The Marxist elite that runs the nation has not redistributed wealth and eliminated class divisions – it has stolen the country’s wealth, enriched itself, and left the great bulk of the nation to scramble to survive.
South Africa once enjoyed cheap and reliable electricity. No more. Corruption, incompetence, and inefficiency have seen to that. The grid is now unreliable and electricity is expensive. Forced blackouts are common as the power company tries desperately to prevent total system collapse. These blackouts impact not just residential customers but also key industrial sectors like the mining industry.
Meanwhile, as the nation has slowly disintegrated, the ANC has focused on lavish self-enrichment. The top political leaders drive expensive cars and live in huge, luxurious homes. Billions are stolen via contracts given to friends, family, and associates. Much of the COVID aid given to South Africa in the past year has simply been stolen outright. When former President Zuma left office, he was facing 783 charges of graft, fraud, and money laundering.
We would once have looked at such a state of affairs and thanked our lucky stars that we lived in a nation devoid of such problems. We can do so no longer. We may not be at the point where our economy may literally collapse, but we may be well on the road to such a future.
South Africans are desperate. They are hungry. They have no hope. Perhaps most importantly they no longer believe in the system.
South Africans have been lied to, betrayed, and abandoned. A small elite – mouthing Marxist platitudes – enriches itself at the expense of all others and plays by its own rules. It is unaccountable. It is above the law.
We see the same tendencies increasingly displayed here. A regime grounded in Marxist ideology and claiming to be fighting injustice and inequality is instead focused only on consolidating power, destroying its enemies, and enriching its supporters.
Joe Biden sells favors to the thuggish oligarchs of the world and is never held to account. Nancy Pelosi and her husband enrich themselves through insider trading and the illegal use of information Pelosi gains in the course of her job as Congresswoman. Nothing happens. Small businesses go under and factories close, while Amazon sees record profits and Nike climbs ever deeper into bed with the Communist Chinese.
Just as the people of South Africa have been betrayed by those who claim to be their representatives, we have been abandoned as well. In South Africa, the seething anger at this injustice has finally boiled over and threatens now to unravel the entire social fabric of the nation. South Africa as we know it may not survive what it is now experiencing.
We are not there yet, just as we are not yet Venezuela. We have time to right the ship, change course, and avoid such a fate. Let’s hope we do. The glimpse we have now of one possible dystopian future for America is sobering and terrifying.