Globalization, Revolution, And Democracy

This article* studies the issue of democratization of countries within globalization context, it points to the unreasonably high economic and social costs of a rapid transition to democracy as a result of revolutions or of similar large-scale events for the countries unprepared for it. The authors believe that in a number of cases the authoritarian regimes turn out to be more effective in economic and social terms in comparison with emerging democracies especially of the revolutionary type, which are often incapable to insure social order and may have a swing to authoritarianism. Effective authoritarian regimes can also be a suitable form of a transition to efficient and stable democracy. The article investigates various correlations between revolutionary events and possibilities of establishing democracy in a society on the basis of the historical and contemporary examples as well as the recent events in Egypt. The authors demonstrate that one should take into account a country’s degree of sociopolitical and cultural preparedness for democratic institutions. In case of favorable background, revolutions can proceed smoothly (‘velvet revolutions’) with efficient outcomes. On the contrary, democracy is established with much difficulty, throwbacks, return to totalitarianism, and with outbreaks of violence and military takeovers in the countries with high illiteracy rate and rural population share, with low female status, with widespread religious fundamental ideology, where a substantial part of the population hardly ever hears of democracy while the liberal intellectuals idealize this form, where the opposing parties are not willing to respect the rules of democratic game when defeated at elections.

Keywords: globalization, Near East, Egypt, democracy, revolution, reaction, extremists, counterrevolution, Islamists, authoritarianism, excessive expectations, military takeover, economic efficiency.

Sociopolitical destabilization may be produced by rather different causes. However, sociopolitical transformations may be considered as ones of the most powerful among them. This may look paradoxical, but attempts of transition to democratic forms of government may lead to a very substantial destabilization of a society in transition. The present article analyzes the relationships between revolution, democracy and the level of stability in respective sociopolitical systems.

There is a widespread opinion that globalization contributes to the spread of democracy. Besides, there is a conviction, which is more widespread among the politicians and ideologists than among the scholars that democracy contributes to a faster and/or more adequate economic growth. The following quotation passionately expresses this conviction: ‘For the past three decades, globalization, human rights, and democracy have been marching forward together, haltingly, not always and everywhere in step, but in a way that unmistakably shows they are interconnected. By encouraging globalization in less developed countries, we not only help to raise growth rates and incomes, promote higher standards, and feed, clothe, and house the poor; we also spread political and civil freedoms’ (Griswold 2006).

In this context, many supporters of democracy consider extremely disappointing that sometimes democracy does not work properly and the waves of democratization get weaker. Samuel Huntington (1993) called the period of a fast spread of democracy in the 1970s – early 1990s ‘the third wave of democratization’. On the threshold of the twenty-first century, many researchers noted that the number of democratic regimes ceased to grow and that it would be a dangerous intellectual temptation for the democrats to consider that the world is inevitably moving towards some final natural democratic state (see Diamond 1999, 2004, 2008). In this situation, the trend has strengthened which promotes democracy in all countries with non-democratic or partially democratic regimes. This trend, on the one hand, is based on the global geopolitical goals of the USA and the West (see, e.g., Brzezinski 1998), and on the other hand, relies upon an active support of a broad ideological and informal movement. And this justifies the efforts to support democracy and to encourage democratic opposition for the purpose of increasing chances of victory of democracy in case of the crisis of authoritarian regimes (Diamond 2000). The intensive efforts led to a number of interventions and color revolutions. Read more

Reshaping Remembrance ~ Critical Essays On Afrikaans Places Of Memory

Albert Grundlingh & Siegfried Huigen (Eds.) – Reshaping Remembrance. Critical Essays on Afrikaans Places of Memory – Rozenberg Publishers 2011 – Savusa Series 3 – ISBN 978 90 3610 230 8 – Editing: Sabine Plantevin.

In any society in the throes of transition, there is a particularly acute need to reflect upon aspects of the past that used to represent firm beacons enlighting the way ahead. This inevitably involves a broader re-appraisal of the processes which contributed to the formation of a specific historical memory in the first place.
Reshaping Remembrance includes a number of critical essays on dimensions of collective Afrikaans historical memory in South Africa. In the light of radical changes in the country, scholars from various disciplines reflect on the dynamics of historical consciousness symbolically present in various areas: the ‘volksmoeder’ image, historical events and monuments, language and music, rugby and architecture.
This work hopes to resound with a well-established intellectual tradition in Europe dealing with ‘places of memory’ or ‘lieux de mémoire’.

Contents
1. Siegfried Huigen & Albert Grundlingh – Koos Kombuis and Collective Memory
2. Elsabé Brink – The ‘Volksmoeder’ – A Figurine as Figurehead
3. Gerrit Olivier – The Location
4. Hein Willemse – A Coloured Expert’s Coloured
5. Kees van der Waal – Bantu: From Abantu to Ubuntu
6. Ena Jansen – Thandi, Katrina, Meisie, Maria, ou-Johanna, Christina, ou-Lina,Jane and Cecilia
7. Albert Grundlingh – Rugby
8. Marlene van Niekerk – The Eating Afrikaner: Notes for a Concise Typology
9. Lizette Grobler – The Windpump
10. Hans Fransen – Glorious Gables
11. Lou-Marié Kruger – Memories of Heroines: Bitter Cups and Sourdough
12. Lize van Robbroeck – The Voortrekker in Search of New Horizons
13. Christine Antonissen – English
14. Siegfried Huigen – Language Monuments
15. Rufus Gouws – The Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal
16. Luc Renders – And the Greatest is … N.P.van Wyk Louw
17. Albert Grundlingh – Why have a Ghost as a Leader? The ‘De la Rey’ Phenomenon and the Re-Invention of Memories, 2006-2007
18. Stephanus Muller – Boeremusiek
19. Stephanus Muller – Die Stem
20. Annie Klopper – ‘In ferocious anger I bit the hand that controls’: The Rise of Afrikaans Punk Rock Music

Read more

Reshaping Remembrance ~ Koos Kombuis And Collective Memory: An Introduction

As the year 2006 gave way to 2007, a song and an accompanying music video about the Boer general Koos de la Rey caused quite a stir in South Africa. When this song was played in bars and at barbecues, young white Afrikaners would stand with their fists clenched against their chests and sing along: ’De la Rey, De la Rey…’ And tears would flow. According to news reports, the ‘De la Rey thing’ had made many of them ‘proud’  of their roots. Worried ANC politicians expressed concern because they saw this as the start of an ethnic revival that could disrupt South Africa. The phenomenon even made it to the world press.

One of the more balanced reactions to the De la Rey song is an article by the Afrikaans beat poet Koos Kombuis on Litnet, ‘Bok van Blerk en die bagasie van veertig jaar’ (Bok van Blerk and the baggage of forty years).[i] In this article Kombuis confesses his conflicting reactions to the song. Rationally, he rejects the song and the Boer War elements in the music video. He sees it as ‘a call to war, a sort of musical closing of the ranks’. Some months before Kombuis had distanced himself publicly from his Afrikaner identity in a Sunday newspaper, from the ‘baggage that has been forced on me by people who have now been trying to prescribe for forty years who and what an Afrikaner is. What an Afrikaner is supposed to believe in. Whom he should vote for, which shit clothes he should wear and how he should spend his public holidays’.[ii] This notwithstanding, Kombuis is unable to offer any resistance to the emotional appeal of the song: ‘Why, if I experienced my resignation from Afrikanerdom as such a gloriously liberating step, do I feel so inexplicably profoundly touched by the De la Rey song? It is embarrassing’.

In reply to Kombuis’s question ‘why’, it can be surmised that both the song and the video, with their images of the leadership, a concentration camp and Boer fighters, draw on the collective memory of white Afrikaners, on something they learned within the family and, especially for the older ones, at school and in church. Kombuis’s reaction already points in this direction when he says that when he hears the song, he longs to be back at Sunday school and ‘feels like rejoining the army on the spot and shooting the hell out of the Kakies and other K stuff’.[iii]

The role of collective memories was first investigated seriously by the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs in his ground-breaking works Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire (The social frameworks of memory) and La mémoire collective (The collective memory). These publications from 1925 and 1950 were rediscovered in recent years by historians doing research on memory. According to Halbwachs, every one of us obviously has his own memories, but at the same time we also share group memories. Read more

Reshaping Remembrance ~ The ‘Volksmoeder’: A Figurine As Figurehead

The ‘Volksmoeder’ is the Afrikaans manifestation of the universal Mother of the Nation phenomenon. In South Africa she cuts a fine, statuesque figure; she is a figurehead, a figure of speech, an idealised figure of womanhood as well as a petite bronze figurine. During the course of the twentieth century this figurine became a figurehead which marshalled Afrikaner women and girls to commit themselves in the service of their families and their ‘volk’ – a nation in the making. With this call to arms, the Volksmoeder was appropriated as an evocative and emotionally laden site of memory to which several generations of Afrikaner women readily responded.

As a site of memory, the bronze figurine of the Volksmoeder still carries her years well even now in the early 21st century. One of about twenty copies of the Afrikaans sculptor Anton van Wouw’s 1907 figurine ‘Nointjie van die Onderveld, Transvaal, Rustenburg, sijn distrikt’ (Maiden from the Upcountry, Transvaal, Rustenburg district) has found a home on my bookshelf. This little Volksmoeder – rather a petite girl – has a round face, a fine, sharp little nose, downcast eyes, a tiny mouth and a somewhat cheeky fringe escaping from her bonnet. Her small shoulders are pulled downwards under the weight of her shawl and her hands are neatly clasped in front of her. At barely 40cm she resembles a fourteenth century Virgin Mary, with eyes submissively downcast, waiting pensively, patiently, politely and passively to be dusted. She is the visual shorthand of the ‘nobility and the beauty of the young Afrikaans girl which should inspire many to simplicity and greater spirituality’.[i]

Figure 2.1 A Boervrou. The ‘Noitjie’ as she was used as logo of the Afrikaans women’s magazine Die Boervrou

Between 1919 and 1932, this figurine became the trademark of the first successful and widely read Afrikaans women’s magazine Die Boerevrou, and a symbol of the idealised Afrikaner woman and of national motherhood.[ii] The motto of the magazine, an extract from a poem by the Afrikaans writer Jan F.E. Celliers – which goes, ‘I see her triumph, for her name is – Wife and Mother’, complemented the visual message that the figure was fragile yet strong, and could and would emerge triumphant in the face of adversity.

Seen against the background of the trauma of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), of the great loss of life of women and children, as well as of the material destruction of the rural areas, Celliers’ triumphant woman makes sense. Women needed the encouragement and reassurance that they would be able to overcome the dire post-war conditions.

Like Celliers, his poetic counterpart, Van Wouw was intimately involved in the postwar project of visualising the Volksmoeders as ultimate victors in the struggle for life and survival. In a vein similar to his figurine’s, Van Wouw’s 1913 majestic group of three women in bronze at the Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein, commemorating the suffering of women and children during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), depicts Afrikaans women as patient and long-suffering Volksmoeders. Larger than life, elevated on a podium at the base of a sandstone obelisk, they transcend the death and suffering commemorated by the Memorial. They survey the landscape and the future, fully conscious of their assigned calling to struggle on behalf of the nation. Rather than remaining victims of war, women’s dignity and worth needed to be restored by portraying them as heroines who made great sacrifices at the altar of the nation. In this manner, an attempt was made to deal with the trauma of war and the huge loss of civilian life, especially that of children.[iii] The Boer woman needed to be reassured that despite the grievous loss of her children she remained a good wife and mother, and that indeed she was the mother of the future nation. The Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurverenigings (Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Organisations (FAK)) contended:
‘Despite the humiliation, the wretchedness and suffering, she keeps her head held high as if she sees the unseen – the resurrection of her nation’.[iv] During the first half of the twentieth century the Volksmoeder became an important component in the propaganda arsenal of Afrikaner nationalism. The formal description – her verbal image – appeared just after the Afrikaner Rebellion (1914) and the end of the First World War (1914-1918). In 1918, the women of the Free State Helpmekaar Kultuur Vereniging, (Free State Mutual Aid and Cultural Society) commissioned Dr Willem Postma (aka ‘Dr Okulis’ – Oculis) to write a book Die Boervrou, Moeder van haar Volk (The Boer Woman – Mother of her Nation). His description of the Volksmoeder is closely correlated with the visual representation of both the figurine and the bronze composition at the Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein. He echoes the need to provide reassurance and positive reinforcement to the Boer woman:

We need not feel shame for the Boer woman. We have every reason to honour and love her. No better, more noble mother than the Mother of the Boer Nation has in a more complete and richer sense ever nurtured a nation. Her history, her life is beauteous, pure, honest and dignified.[v]
Read more

Reshaping Remembrance ~ The Location

1.
I must have been in about standard six when I first heard that the location in our town also had a name: Sandbult. I can’t remember whether I heard this by accident or whether I had asked about it, but I do know that I heard the word for the first time from my father. He was the mayor and could be assumed to know the names of the town’s suburbs: Harmonie, Buytendag and Murrayville, where the white people lived, and, at the edge of the town, the place I could never think of as a ‘suburb’ but which was later to become known to me as Sandbult. And that’s what it was: a sandy hill next to the Stormberg Stream. There was also a location for Coloureds, with a name reflecting higher aspirations or maybe just the name-giver’s mischievousness: Eureka. Names that were not known to many people apart from city planners and municipal officials, names which appeared on town maps in a dusty office, but nowhere else. For the rest of us, white and black, these were simply ‘locations’.

Such places are not supposed to exist anymore. Some circumspection has crept into the definitions provided by dictionaries – and soon the little sloppy research I start doing begins to feel like a rather scandalous undertaking. Boshoff and Nienaber[i] report in their Afrikaanse etimologieë that the word ‘location’ was, according to the New English Dictionary, first used in the United States as a name for the place where one lived. They trace the origin of the term to the Latin locus (‘place’) and locare (‘to appoint a place’). Jean and William Branford[ii] define the historical meaning as ‘the land granted to a party of Settlers’ – a meaning which is recorded in detail with reference to the United States of America in the Oxford English Dictionary. In A Dictionary of South African English the current meaning of the word (‘a segregated area on the outskirts of a town or city set aside for black housing or accommodation’) is marked as ‘obsolescent’.[iii] The Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (HAT) from 1965 is more matter-of-fact and succinct: ‘Residential area for Coloureds or Bantus, usually near a town or village’.[iv]

Thirty years later the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT) declares that the word ‘is felt to be discriminatory and derogatory, particularly in its application to the policy of apartheid’, and adds a meaning which I haven’t come across in other sources: ‘inhabitants of such a residential area’.[v] The WAT also refers to a meaning which deviates from the standard according to which the location is always situated close to or directly adjacent to a town or city: ‘Administrative area comprising land for Black people that includes, apart from residential areas, farm-lands and pasture, and which as territorial unit also forms a geo-political and administrative unit, usually under a headman.’[vi]

What real help does an Afrikaans-speaking person in his fifties get from these lexicographical sources, in a book on places of memory? The starting-points provided by the dictionaries are scanty, with too little history, too little inspiration, and research in historical and sociological works does not appear to me to be the right place to start. So I decide to go looking for help in the place where one can find the proverbial needle in a haystack: Google. Read more

Reshaping Remembrance ~ A Coloured Expert’s Coloured

‘I am hoping fervently and in faith that the divine resides in every living being; that  nobody is anybody’s superior or boss […] give us the strength to become South Africans’ – Jan Rabie[i]

One may indeed ask: with friends such as Jakes Gerwel, Allan Boesak, Hein Willemse and Neville Alexander, does the Afrikaner really need more enemies?’ – Dan Roodt[ii]

1.
In 1983, a Minister’s wife made the following off-the-record remarks during a campaign speech:
But traditionally the Coloureds have no history of nationhood. They’re a different group, i.e. all different types of people.

Between us and [our] small group when the press aren’t present. You know, they’re a separate group. The definition of a Coloured in the population register is of someone who is not a Black, and not an Indian, in other words a non-person. He is not … not … not. They’re leftovers.

They’re people who were left over after the nations were sorted out. They’re the rest. When Ida [?] had the Cape Corps here in Vereeniging last week or two weeks ago, I looked at them and my heart bled because not one of them had the same facial features.

You know we all at least look European, but they … some looked Indian, some looked Chinese, some looked white, some looked black. And that is their dilemma. They have no binding power.

Their binding power lies in the fact that they speak Afrikaans, that they’re members of the [Dutch Reformed] Church. That is their binding power.

The Indians are a small group, also a splinter group of a nation somewhere in Africa (sic) and, between us, […] they need a bit of supervision. And the supervision [and] our authority (baasskap)[iii] of the white [man] are built in the whole system.[iv]

The person who expressed her self so categorically was Mrs Marike de Klerk (1937–2001) – for what it is worth, a Miss Willemse – the first wife of F.W. de Klerk, former Minister of Internal Affairs and later State President. Her remarks were made during a referendum campaign speech to persuade white women to vote for the National Party’s 1983 policy reform that entailed the creation of a tricameral parliament to accommodate people classified as ‘Coloureds’ or ‘Indians’. Fifteen years later, she described her motivation for the speech as a plea for ‘the acceptance of the Coloureds who, for so many ears, had been marginalised, humiliated and excluded by an unjust system of racial classification’. By the end of the 1980s, and again during 1993 when these marks surfaced again De Klerk endured much public criticism. Her defence was that the version, transcribed from a secret tape recording, contradicted her intentions; that her intended ‘nuances were lost’ and that she ‘was struggling desperately to convince friend and foe that I intended the opposite.’[v]

In 1993, the office of the State President issued a statement in which Marike de Klerk declared that there existed ‘a warm and cordial co-operation between [myself] and the coloured community’; that as a consequence of ‘our close cultural bonds I – as an Afrikaans-speaking South African – have a special appreciation of the contribution by the Coloured community to South African society.’[vi] In a separate declaration, F.W. de Klerk, as the State President, indicated that his wife fought a titanic struggle against the negative and narrow-minded racism of the far right in white politics. From every platform she promotes the concept of reform and renewal.’ About her use of the nonperson’ notion, he said that she used this concept with respect to the Population Registration Act 30 of 1950 in which Coloureds are described in negative terms as nonblacks and non-white and therefore ‘in quotation marks and by definition non-person’. She had, according to the statement, ‘in no way reflected negative opinion, feeling or attitude towards coloureds as a population group. Anybody who so alleges is malicious and attaches an inaccurate interpretation to my wife’s comments.’[vii]

Even if one accepts that Mrs de Klerk’s sympathetic nuance was lost or that the excerpt was taken out of context – and I have no reason to doubt her sincerity – she presented to her intimate gathering – ‘among us and [our] small group’ – a reflection of deep-seated ideological opinions. Views that, in the 19th and 20th centuries, had gained social acceptability in South Africa, and views that still persist in our current discourses on South African identities and social differences. Especially her inelegant and awkward formulation, free from the subterfuge of Party Speak, points to how deeply apartheid patterns of thinking were entrenched in popular thought. Despite the vehement criticism levelled at De Klerk, particularly from the ranks of English language and leftist Afrikaans newspapers, she – clumsily – articulated views that were at the core of social relationships in South Africa. Read more


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