Where Are the Black Knights?

The motivation for would-be pro-individual rights activists within the racial group in political power to speak out is therefore far less than before.

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Black Knights Chess

During Apartheid there were groups of staunch white advocates for individual rights – initially small, but large in number in the end – who were willing to give up positions of privilege to achieve a more just society with a government that treated people as individuals not members of racial groups, ignoring irrelevant characteristics such as race. Now, as was the case many years ago in a different guise, we have racist policies such as BEE and land expropriation that are rhetorically premised on advantaging some race groups over others. Where are the fearless, morally zealous black advocates for individual rights? Where are the black knights?

When white anti-Apartheid activists rallied against Apartheid, an inexorable tide of individualism, emanating from the West, was sweeping the globe – spreading individualistic, Enlightenment ideas of freedom of speech, property rights, and equality before the law. Countries that resisted the trend were viewed as backwards and primitive, and were morally condemned and economically sanctioned by the world’s leading states. This placed enormous pressure on developing countries to evolve and recognise their citizens’ individual rights. The result is today’s world: the freest, wealthiest, and most individualistic in all human history..

It was in the context of the sweeping tide of individualism that white anti-Apartheid activists fought. They weren’t purely motivated by moral zeal and conviction in the truth of individualistic, Enlightenment ideas; tremendous international pressure was on their side, they were fighting for a winning cause, the risks were (relatively) low. If the government hadn’t succumbed, South Africa would have been left behind as the world continued to progress rapidly socially and economically.

Fast-forward to today and we have a new racist government setting laws that try to advantage some races over others, a new group of social engineers who have tossed aside principles of individual rights to achieve their racist ideals. Their racism is not as systematic; but it exists, and it is growing. What is the global context this time around that will affect how South African politics evolve?

No longer is the West the source of inexorable individualism, with Westerners united by their common human characteristics, content with their basic individual rights. Instead the West is becoming (if it isn’t already)  a driver of an international regression towards collectivism – fragmenting into new tribes demanding for special privileges. No longer is the individual – the smallest, most vulnerable minority on Earth – the focus of rights, but rather ‘groups’ are the focus.

The West still has massive global cultural and political influence; however it is not merely no longer driving international progress, but actively driving regression away from a world of individuals – who create their identities through free will choices and judge others by the content of their characters – to a fragmented tribal world in which individuals find identity in superficial, unchosen characteristics and morally judge others based on theirs’. Therefore, in today’s context, with critical race theory being the ascendant ethical system driving Western politics that places ‘oppressed’ groups at the top of the virtue pyramid, racist ideologues in South Africa promoting privileges for black people would sooner be applauded than condemned.

The motivation for would-be pro-individual rights activists within the racial group in political power to speak out is therefore far less than before. They don’t have the enormous pressure of a global cultural and political trend on their side – in fact they have to contend with it. Furthermore, there are far fewer such would-be activists, since the individualistic ideas of the Enlightenment have evaporated from university lecture halls and civil discourse; primitive, collectivistic notions and theories are now completely dominant.

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  1. Rory Short Reply

    When humans emerged into individual consciousness it gave the individual the power to choose how they responded to the events that effected them and automatically along with that went the individual responsibility for the consequences of those choices. This latter consequence, although unavoidable, is something that many people would rather avoid if possible and politicians, in their search for followers, offer them collectivism as that escape. It is a false exit however because a collective entity is not naturally a conscious entity so taking responsibility for anything is not what it does.

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