There is a bullshit line coming out of the supporters of the former apartheid regime in South Africa, mostly the Afrikaners (Afrikaners are 60% of South African Whites, and English speaking South Africans are 40%) that South Africa was some sort of an agricultural wonderland under apartheid. After all, they exported crops!
Big deal, Guatemala exported crops from 1954-1970, and it had a poverty rate of 90%. Who cares how much food you are shipping out of the damned country if you can’t even feed your own people?
Of course, this is typical capitalist thinking. When we socialists look at the agricultural sector, we want to see if it is producing enough food to feed the people. If not, if we need to import food. If we are producing food for export, should we instead by cultivating food for our own people. Capitalists care only about agricultural production, and whether or not it is making any money.
Capitalists only care about feeding the people of the nation insofar as the people have the cash to buy their typically overpriced food. If you ain’t got the cash, you can starve. Capitalists never place any weight in making sure that everyone in the country gets enough food to eat, because, really, that’s a money-loser. So the only way populations typically get thoroughly fed is through socialist programs.
Capitalists, of course, care nothing about any of this. They don’t even care about importing food. They’ll import the entire nation’s food supply as long as they can make money off of it.
Capitalist Latin America has long exported almost all of its agricultural produce (think bananas in Latin America) while importing almost all of its food (mostly overpriced canned food from the US). This arrangement is particularly acute in the Caribbean.
This is great for US capitalists. They make a bundle importing the bananas or whatever, and then they turned around and sell Jamaicans overpriced Beefaroni in the can. The average Jamaican ends up spending almost all their spare change for overpriced US canned food, while they could eat homegrown food much cheaper. The Caribbean elites don’t care, as they make money exporting bananas, etc, and then again importing the Raviolis from the US.
No country is ever going to develop that way. But Latin American elites have never tried to develop their countries. They only care about increasing their own wealth, to the detriment of their countrymen. Those two sentences explain the whole history of Latin America since independence. You don’t need to know much more than that.
Hence, it was with a grain of salt that I read White nationalist / Afrikaner and sadly enough, increasingly, the MSN’s version of the South African wonderland. I wondered how were the Blacks faring under this apartheid utopia?
Turns out that in 1973, the malnutrition rate among South Africans was 25% (Patrick 1973). I doubt if it got any better in the next 20 years. Why would it? And presently? The present rate of malnutrition in South Africa is 30% (IUNS 2005). So one can argue that the transition from White to Black rule has possibly increased malnutrition from 25-30%, while the population exploded. That’s lamentable, but it’s hardly the picture portrayed by the anti-ANC liars.
South Africa has many problems with its food supply. First of all, it is arid, and only 13% of the land is really arable in any real way. Beyond that, climate change, which 100% of White nationalists support to the hilt, is starting to cause some serious problems in South African ag. So the White nationalists are cheering on the very environmental catastrophe that is ruining their beloved Afrikaner farmers in South Africa.
The corn crop is declining, in part due to climate change, but also due to depletion of the soil. Soil depletion is complicated, but in part it was caused by Africans having their land taken from them while they were herded onto disastrously overcrowded homelands with marginal soil that become progressively eroded with the decades. South Africans have tried to switch to sorghum, but there have been some problems making the transition.
It is true that the South African White farmers are currently victims of some horrible violence. But much of the crops produced by these farmers go out of the country as exports. In a nation with 30% malnutrition in its young, what’s the point of that?
Paradoxically, in addition to malnutrition, South Africans now deal with overnutrition. ~41% of South Africans are now overweight, including many Blacks – 1/3 of men and 1/2 of women (Sibbel 2004).
The ANC regime, to their credit, is trying to formulate a program to distribute nutrient-fortified bread to all South Africans in order to combat widespread nutritional deficiencies. Of course only a socialist government would ever do such a thing, and no White apartheid regime would have ever done anything like this.
When Tea Party kooks scream about socialism, this is the sort of thing they are protesting: South Africa is trying to make sure it’s children get the calories and nutrition that they need, since capitalism has proven incapable of doing so. Isn’t socialism terrible?
Next time someone breathlessly tells you about how South Africa was the breadbasket of Africa and a food exporter under apartheid but now imports food and is running the risk of major famine under Black rule, take it with a grain of salt.
- International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS). September 2005. Malnutrition Task Force Bulletin.Patrick, Doreen. October 18, 1973. Malnutrition: Fact or Fiction.
Sibbel, Greg. 2004. South Africa Malnutrition – The Changes of Urbanization. Kuemper Catholic High School, Iowa.