By Ernst Roets
I was asked during a recent liaison tour in Europe to address the first European Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that was held in Budapest, Hungary.
The CPAC is the world’s largest conservative conference and has been held since the 1970s in the United States. People the likes of Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump often spoke at the CPAC in the US. This conference is now taken to the rest of the world and has already been presented in countries like Australia, Brasilia, South Korea and Japan. It is attended by speakers and conservative leaders from across the world.
I participated in the session on the cultural battle in the media and could use the opportunity to speak about the extent to which the media is twisting news on South Africa. I made the point that, according to a new study, 125 new racial laws currently apply to society.
To the best of my knowledge there has never been a government that has enforced so many racial laws. If this is the benchmark, we can go as far as to say that the ANC government is the most racist government in history.
I could conclude my speech by talking about a few lessons that we as Afrikaners have learnt here at the southern tip of Africa. Obviously, there are many reasons why we can say that South Africa falls behind the rest of the world – South Africa is a developing country, after all. However, it is also true that we as Afrikaners are in many respects ahead of the world. We say this because we are already busy finding solutions to problems that will still hit rest of the world – particularly the Western world. I shared the following four lessons with them.
First: “Rationalism” is overrated. With this I mean that the world is not simply about sound arguments. Obviously, sound arguments are important, but even the soundest argument cannot keep the wolf in Aesop’s fable from tearing the lamb apart. Our arguments must be excellent, but there is something that is even more important than our sound arguments: our actions!
Second: Although things like politics and ideology are important, there is something much more important, namely culture. This is again very easily underrated. Thomas Sowell has said this already when he found that the way in which a group is treated by other groups does not carry as much weight as the culture and work ethics of that group. With this he means that groups who get the bad end of the discrimination stick will not free themselves through politics, but by working hard, by developing their skills and by saving before spending.
Third: Our strength lies in our community and in our institutions, much more than in the state. Afrikaners went to much trouble in the previous century to build and strengthen the state, simply to realise one day that this powerful state has been taken over and is now being turned against us. The lesson that we learned is that a group can still flourish in a hostile environment if they have strong community institutions, and that a group will not flourish if it only has the state and no institutions.
Last: The road to the future runs through history. Tradition can be described as a set of solutions to problems that we have since forgotten about. We cannot truly create a future if we are ashamed of our ancestors and our history, and we can only do this if we continue to build on what we received from our ancestors.
The wonder of an opportunity like this in not simply the fact that one can address an audience, but also because it is an opportunity to liaise with other speakers and role-players from across the world. What struck me first is that my speech – and the lessons that I mentioned above – offered a completely fresh perspective to many of the speakers.
The point is therefore that, when we liaise abroad, we do not have to beg other nations to solve our problems on our behalf. We must do the opposite! We must solve our own problems, but at the same time strengthen our friendships abroad and build new ones.
In this way, we ensure that we are not isolated. Instead, we participate in discussions abroad because we have something to contribute. We have value to add to the discussion. And when we add value, we can also talk about ways of contributing to help create a better future here at the southern tip of Africa.
The second thing that struck me at this conference is that it is no longer necessary for us to convince people that there is a crisis in South Africa. I obviously have to admit that this was a select audience and that I spoke to people who are especially informed – people who do not represent the ordinary man in the street. The point is, however, that everyone I spoke to – whether they hail from Australia, South-Korea, Israel, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Canada or the US – already knows that South Africa is not the miracle that we heard about in the 1990s. They already know about state capture and corruption, of farm murders and land grabs, of state deterioration and discrimination. The list goes on. Obviously, they don’t have all the details that we have, but it struck me that they have very well-informed questions about South Africa.
My point is that, even though we still must go to trouble to inform the world about what goes on here – and even though there is still a lot of work ahead to tell people about AfriForum’s #TheWorldMustKnow campaign – we must talk about a second phase of the campaign.
This second phase entails us convincing people who are already informed and who are already worried to take a public stand on what is happening in South Africa and to show publicly that they are friends of the Afrikaners. Taking a stand in public already helps, but we can do even more, such as applying diplomatic pressure in case of issues like the protection of property rights.
There is hard work ahead, but the good news is that we have already made good progress.
Ernst is Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum
Follow Ernst on Twitter at @ErnstRoets