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Chapter 10 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

This article originally appeared in Nation Review, 8 June 1973, p. 1042.

RHODESIA: IN DEFENCE OF MR SMITH



By John Ray

To MOST AUSTRALIANS, the Smith regime in Rhodesia is indefensible. They practice blatant racial discrimination, censorship, and imprisonment without trial. A more complete recipe for unpopularity would be hard to imagine. There is, however, more to the picture than is popularly supposed.

Why was Rhodesia not peacefully decolonised like the rest of Britain's African possessions? To answer this we must firstly ask ourselves another and quite basic question: Could white Rhodesians reasonably be expected to subject themselves to another Belgian Congo? Obviously not if they could help it. And in Rhodesia they could help it. They had been self-governing with their own parliament since the 1920s.

All the African decolonisations have been followed by mass slaughters and dictatorships. Some of these we hear little of in Australia because it is only blacks slaughtering blacks, but in Rhodesia all these things are right next door and the Rhodesians are acutely aware of them. If you were in their position, what would you do? Leave. That is certainly what many whites in other parts of Africa did before decolonisation.

In Rhodesia, however, the white community was relatively large (over 200,000 ) , self-sufficient and of long standing. It was their country, where they had been born and where they wanted to stay.

They were not going to throw in the towel and give their country over to another Amin-type dictatorship. But what then, were they going to do with the Africans? ,

The solution proposed was really a rather trusting one. They were going to put all their black people's children in schools and give them the vote as they completed primary education. Basically, only blacks with at least some education would be allowed to have a say in running their country. To cynics among us it may seem a trifle naive, but white Rhodesians were actually prepared to trust the power of education to avoid another bloodbath.

The world said it was not enough. Decolonise now. Give the blacks rule even if the only education they have had is how to use a spear. To the starry eyed idealists of Harold Wilson's British Labour government the realities of Africa didn't seem to matter.

It didn't even seem to matter that the good faith of the white Rhodesians was obvious. They had already succeeded in getting a higher proportion of their black population into schools than any other country in Africa. They had even shown themselves to be flexible on the education rule as the basic qualification for a vote. If an African adult did not have an education, but had shown his adaptation to civilised life by acquiring a certain amount of property or income, then he was given the vote nevertheless.

Since then the Rhodesians have been at war. A trade war, a war of nerves and an outside-sponsored guerilla war. As in all states at war, civil liberties have suffered. Instead of allowing to be tried the one solution that might have allowed the two races to live together in harmony, the outside world has ensured that Rhodesia must undergo that very bloodbath they sought to avoid. The world's Leftists must be proud of themselves.

The only solution now may be for the white Rhodesians to leave their homes, jobs, property and everything else that makes up a comfortable existence and emigrate en masse to some other part of the world. Naturally, they are reluctant to come to this conclusion -and they may yet be right. Despite nit-picking by outsiders, the Rhodesian economy is booming and South Africa has shown that black dissent can be controlled.

The big danger is, however, that if they do have to resort to South African methods to control terrorism (note that as yet there is in Rhodesia nothing like the apartheid system that reigns in South Africa), they may so alienate the blacks that even education will not make it safe to give them the vote. Already this has started. The Rhodesian government has felt itself obliged to raise the educational level which will earn a vote from primary to two years secondary education.

If the governments of the world were sincere in their desire to avoid both a bloody revolution and a South African style system in Rhodesia, they would surely desist in their policy of pushing the whites into a corner. What the whites need is not attack -- there is enough fear in their future already -- but international guarantees for their safety and the security of their property. That way they might be able to afford to run the risk that the rest of the world seems determined to force upon them.




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