South Africa: Crisis for the West. Colin and Margaret Legum.

Pall Mall Press, Cloth 35s. Paper 12s. 6d.

This is a good book and should be widely read. Its thesis is that there is no hope of inter-racial agreement without intervention in South Africa, that external intervention is already a reality (un resolutions, the International Court’s impending judgment on South West Africa, the Organization of African Unity’s commitment to overthrow ‘white supremacy’ in South Africa), and therefore in order to protect ‘its own proper interests’ the West must act speedily in bringing about controlled change—by means of some form of economic blockade—perhaps an oil embargo.

Addressed ‘primarily at Western opinion and leadership’ (p. 2), the argument is vitiated at times, however, by the Legums’ desire to appear ‘reasonable’: in particular, if their brilliant analysis of Afrikanerdom is correct, one would expect a rightward movement within the Nationalist party, rather than a swing towards compromise, in the event of a blockade. They describe Afrikanerdom as being in a ‘pre-psychotic’ state, with apartheid’s ideological justification destroyed and the substitute Bantustan policy economically unviable, but fail to take seriously enough the possibility of total opposition, of complete retreat within the laager.

The only hope is seen to rest (though this is not too clearly stated) with organized Capital—both English and Afrikaner. Apartheid is now a hindrance to rapid economic development, and the present boom has depended to a large extent on the breakdown of industrial legislation keeping the races apart. But as Capital must prefer the status quo to revolutionary change, economic expansion, of its own, can provide no solution. The issue can only be forced by means of external pressure, when, in order to save itself, Capital will oppose all extremism and violence.

Although the only plausible result of sanctions enforced with western backing would be to establish a (vaguely) liberal capitalist regime, one cannot but support sanctions as a means of defeating the Nationalist Government—a defeat which is essential before the liberation struggle can come into its own.

Martin Malek