March 7, 2009

The Boers Were Not Racial Imperialists.

During the course of the 20th cent a number of mythologies were promoted recasting the humble insular Boers as neo-imperialists driven by a racial based worldview when in fact the Boers were always anti-imperial [ hence the root of their republicanism ] & were often in alliances with other local tribes or groups. While many Boers of the era could be considered to have had paternalistic racial views they were far from the racial chauvinists in the western sense as sometimes depicted. The following is a relevant excerpt from Colonial South Africa & the Origins of the Racial Order.

    Throughout the subsequent decades, it was (very anti-humanitarian) British settlers, and not Boers, who developed a rhetoric of racial and cultural superiority to justify ongoing imperial subversion of the Xhosa. Boers increasingly resented this imperial militarization of the frontier districts, proved unwilling military conscripts, and even on occasion showed some fellow feelings towards the African Chiefdoms. Certainly when new frontiers of imperial aggression were opened up north of the Orange during the brief period of British rule there at mid century, Boer and Sotho were to throw in their lot together quite openly at crucial junctures against the British presence.

    But the Trek cannot be said to have been motivated by a desire to conquer and subjugate. If anything, as that prominent (Boer) frontiersman born and bred, Andries Stockenström, pointed out, Boers were indifferent, if not hostile, to the acquisitive machinations of British settlers and rogue governors bent on military expansion. As Stockenström wrote, ' The theory which makes the black irreclaimable savages, fir only to be exterminated, like the wolves, was not of Boer origin' - implying ( correctly ) that explicitly racist notions about the Xhosa and other African peoples were a British innovation.

    The predominant ideology of the colonial frontier was thus decidedly predicated on the ideal of racial exclusiveness. But this did not imply that subjugation of the great mass of African farming peoples encountered beyond the Khoisan frontiers was either a practical possibility or even a desired ideal. This is were the earlier liberal interpretation breaks down. The power, the desire, the need to impose racial supremacy on a sub continental scale at the level of the state and its institutions was an impulse that had other origins at other historical junctures. White supremacy as a total system of hegemony and subjugation grew from the centers of power - meaning (in the main) centers of imperial power - outwards, and not the other way round. It was not on isolated frontiers that such an ideal took root.

From the author Timothy Keegan. Chapter: Dutch Beginnings: pages 35 & 36.

This salient fact contradicts the erroneous assertion often made that the Boers were somehow responsible for the institutionalization of racial policies which later emerged under the British controlled macro State of South Africa which in fact marginalized the actual Boer people in the process as they were now just a minority section of the general macro White population.

No comments: