Divide and Conquer

On the way to and from work every day, I’ve been listening to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. He’s a wonderful storyteller, and the narrative segues smoothly between his experiences growing up in South Africa, running away from home to avoid a forced marriage, and settling in Johannesburg, finally becoming an attorney. He describes the rise of the Nationalist Party in 1948, and its institution of racist policies to keep blacks and whites separate in South Africa.

What’s disturbing is the parallels between the rise of the Nationalist Party in South Africa and the present day machinations of modern Mephistopheles Steve Bannon in the guise of Donald Trump. (South African History Online is my major source here, http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/national-party-np).

The rise of the Nationalist Party (NP) in South Africa was first focused on the establishment of the Dutch identity and Afrikaans language in South Africa. Where before there had been cooperation between the British and Dutch societies in the city, now the British were increasingly targeted by the NP, with the goal of distinguishing the Dutch culture, and making Dutch identity supreme. Blacks were targeted in order to keep them working for farms in the North; one of the functions of Apartheid was to limit the ability of black South Africans to live and work in the cities, with the goal of creating a stable work force for the northern farmers.

During WWII, South Africa worked on the side of the Allies, to the consternation of members of the NP, who wished for neutrality or to support Nazi Germany. Members of the Broedersbund and their militant Stormjaers (stormtroopers) conducted terrorist acts throughout South Africa, targeting power lines, railroads, etc. After 1948, these elements were incorporated into the NP.

Of note, the racist ideology of Apartheid and the NP was tolerated and encouraged by Britain and the US. Black Africans were seen as too primitive by Western minds to run their own government, and the South African government was supported in order to shore it up in the fight against communism.

Of note: identity politics, seeking to define a separate national identity from former allies. See: 2017’s alienation of US allies such as Australia, Mexico, Japan . . . and the declaration of American supremacy and its identity, standing alone. Note the targeting of the black population in South Africa, designed to keep them working at cheap prices, especially in farming and mining. Note the deliberate division between the activist Indians and activist Blacks through legislation. See: 2017’s current stoking of animosity against Muslims, and the increasing acceptance of white nationalists.


An NYPD officer wearing a hijab is attacked in Brooklyn. Muslims are detained at airports across the country. Pillars of American society – doctors, police, teachers are made to feel excluded and unwelcome. The goal is not to strengthen our country. The goal is that the people who are angry feel vindicated. It’s not a question of justice, it’s scapegoating, and the goal is to reward supporters, not to redress any true wrongs.

Trump gives the appearance of complete ignorance of history, and seems oblivious to the import of his actions. Politicians in general obey Skinner’s laws of behavior, being shaped largely by the reinforcement they receive for their behavior. Trump watches television and reads his phone constantly, and is happy when everyone is talking about him, and if the coverage is negative it makes no difference to him. He’s a blank, a factotum, he could do anything as long as people pay attention to him.

Bannon is different.





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