How the West was Lost

Via Instapundit comes a link to a James Kirchick article which contains this paragraph:

It has become de riguer among the press to call on South Africa, the regional power and, at present, Zimbabwe’s lifeline, to act. Newspapers ranging from the Los Angeles Times to the Wall Street Journal have reprimanded South Africa for its silence and complicity in Mr. Mugabe’s crimes. These remonstrations are necessary and right, but no matter how much international outrage there is over the horrors of Zimbabwe, there is little hope that South Africa will ever do anything close to what the West wants it to do.[emphasis added]

I’ve seen this usage before recently. When did South Africa stop being part of the western world?

During Apartheid, everyone very much identified South Africa as western nation, but now that it has black majority rule it seems to have slipped out of the category. I wonder why?

South Africa still retains its western legal and political system. Do we so strongly associate Westernism with European culture that we do not believe that non-Europeans can qualify for inclusion even if they retain the attributes of a western nation?

How different people talk about South Africa might reveal a lot about their underlying models of the relationship between the West and the rest of the world.

7 thoughts on “How the West was Lost”

  1. It seems perfectly natural to me. When control was passed back to the indigenous peoples the symbolism placed them back into the African sphere. Likewise with Rhodesia, India, or Hong Kong.

  2. RE,

    I suppose so but I would point out that Europeans have lived in South Africa as long as they have lived in the Americas. Most of the peoples of South Africa have lived under Western law and political systems for centuries. I just wonder how much it has really changed in 15 years.

  3. It’s easy to forget, as we congratulate ourselves on the success and power of the anglosphere, that western political traditions include some godawful collectivist nonsense, and dictatorial practices that were not all discredited with the defeat of the nazis in WW2.

    Bad government, corruption, and tribal politics placed above national interests are not strangers to western political history and practice.

    Having said that, the disastrous regime in Zimbabwe, among others, is a glaring example of the value of “world opinion” and “international values”, and a sad commentary on the decline of the SA government from a position in which it had at least some moral credibility.

    When Mandela declined to be just another African “President for Life”, ala Mugabe, and so many others, I had some hopes for the effort SA was making. Most of those have been dashed, I’m afraid.

  4. The reason why South Africa is no longer regarded as part of “The West” is precisely because it no longer retains the attributes of a western nation.

  5. South Africa is ignoring calls to lever Zimbabwe into some sort of economic reality mainly because that once well-muscled country is going exactly the same road as the Zimbabwe basket-case.

    Ever checked out the crime statistics, especially for corruption, murder and plain theft in South Africa? With a murder rate of 25,000 and rising, it has turned from an economic power-house to a crippled giant; with power-cuts expected as normal, official corruption being almost endemic, foreign investment at an all-time low; and this is the country some want to nudge to clowns in Harare?

    Do me a favour!

  6. Huntington would say that the religious background is definitive. But the predominance of Christianity in South Africa has not changed much since 1994.

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