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If Inequality Is Increasing, Are We Likely To See More Armed Conflict?

1596 words - 6 pages

Part II: South Africa from the 1950s to the present
To understand how apartheid could have been sustained for decades, it is important to know its ideological backgrounds. By shaping the perception of the population and by creating an ideological discourse favourable to white minority rule, discriminatory policies were legitimated. Apartheid was about the maintenance and protection of pure Afrikanerdom, both politically and socially. Human difference was considered as part of the natural order of things, with whites representing the superior race (Dubow, 1992:210). Mass-segregation of races and separate political, economic, cultural, religious and educational development was propounded not only as an ideal but as a practical necessity (Dubow, 1992:211). Inequality was thus institutionalised in nearly all conceivable forms: racial discrimination, unequal pay, unequal access to social services, education or medical care, restricted professional opportunities, extreme economic inequality, disenfranchisement, etc. The population registration act brought about formal racial classification, relocation of individuals, and torn-apart families with mixed racial set-up. It was perceived as extremely degrading and caused great emotional confusion and misery (Beinart, 2001:140). Pass laws compelled blacks to carry identification with them and treated blacks like illegal immigrants. They were subjected to debasing police controls and their freedom of movement severely curtailed. (Beinart, 2001:158). The Group Areas Act effected the removal of 600,000 people over three decades, property expropriation and a relegation of blacks to Bantustans (‘homelands’). Those were hailed as potential separate nation-states but they were effectively only an amalgamation of small unconnected pieces of territory without economic infrastructure. Other discriminating economic policies included labour control, in which access to job opportunities was restricted in favour of whites. (Beinart, 2001:155). Inequality of opportunities was institutionalised through the Bantu Education Act which created a inferior, less-funded education system for black youths which produced a cheap but not entirely illiterate workforce and severely disadvantaged black intellectual elites (Beinart, 2001:160) - arguably that part of black society that could have become a significant ‘political entrepreneur’ (see Tilly, 2003).

How political actors engaged with this base condition of inequality will be outlined below, starting in the 1950s. In the 1952 Defiance Campaign, Africans, Indians and a small number of whites united under the common leadership of the ANC. The campaign demanded the repeal of various discriminating apartheid laws and sought to achieve this goals through boycotts, strikes and civil disobedience. The hope was to cause mass arrests with which the apartheid government would be unable to cope. During the campaign, more than 8,000 people were arrested while violating apartheid legislation,...

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