Level-headed and politically-conscious individuals around the world of all races, but in South Africa in particular, should all be aware of the phenomenon of ‘white privilege’ by now.

White South Africans, and to a considerable extent, black South Africans who disagree with the narrative, have been bombarded with accusations of white privilege, white monopoly capitalism, and white supremacy over the last decade. This has not come from ordinary South Africans, but from the intellectualist elite who walk the halls of South Africa’s universities and press media outlets.

With three recent events, however, I am convinced that reasonable people can finally put this nonsensical twaddle behind them and, with confidence, just roll their eyes when it is brought up again.

Before I get into those events, however, let me explain why the ‘white privilege’ argument is in itself problematic and void by default.

White privilege is a kafkatrap

According to feminist Wendy McElroy, accusations of ‘white privilege’ amount to a kafkatrap.

Kafkatrapping – named after Franz Kafka – occurs when someone is accused of some or other kind of bigotry, be it racism or sexism, to which they respond by, obviously, denying it. The denial in itself, however, is then construed as a confirmation of guilt. Writes McElroy, “You are now trapped in a circular and unfalsifiable argument; no one who is accused can be innocent because the structure of kafkatrapping precludes that possibility.”

By denying the guilt of white privilege, one is simply ‘showing’ how they are ‘blind’ to their own privilege. And privilege is never proven, mind you; the mere fact that one happens to be white is what gives them their privilege. Even if they are poor, they still benefit because, apparently, society is structured in such a way that whites can escape their poverty easier than those unfortunate enough not to be white.

An accusation of white privilege is inescapable. McElroy lists some of the things people usually say to deny their guilt, but all of those will be thrown back as a ‘confirmation’ of either bigotry or white privilege. So my advice: never deny white privilege. It is a concept that was specifically designed to entrap you. Engage your opponent on whatever else they are saying, but let the accusation of white privilege flow like water down your back.

Institute of Race Relations study

The first event which signaled the death of the white privilege narrative in South Africa was a study conducted by the SA Institute of Race Relations (IRR) asking ordinary South Africans, broadly representative of our racial makeup, what they were concerned about in life. Predictably, the results indicated exactly what I wrote above: the obsession with race is the domain of South Africa’s intellectualist elite (and their Twitter handles), not the man on the street. Writes the IRR (2017):

“The views of the overwhelming majority of South Africans are very different from the damaging vitriol to be found on social media and that often seems to dominate the race debate. Contrary to what many commentators claim, the 2016 survey shows that some 72% of South Africans report no personal experience of racism in their daily lives. In addition, more than half of respondents (55%) believe race relations have improved since 1994, while a much smaller proportion (13%) think they have worsened. Few South Africans regard racism as a serious unresolved problem, with 3% of respondents identifying it in this way. An overwhelming majority (84%) agree that the different races need each other and that there should be full opportunities for people of all colours.”

The study goes on to show that ordinary South Africans simply want to get on with life. They are concerned about crime, joblessness, and a lack of service delivery by an inept government.

Accusations of white privilege and white supremacy do not come from a majority of South Africans, even though the intellectualists would have you believe that they speak on behalf of the repressed masses. In effect: nobody cares – ignore them.

White privilege is apparently circumstantial now!

According to the purveyors of the white privilege myth, white privilege follows one around and permeates everything one does. This, however, does not appear to be true anymore, which upsets the very foundation upon which the privilege narrative is built.

La Sha writes for HuffPost: 

“… another young white man who went to an Asian country and violated their laws, and learned that the shield his cis white male identity provides here in America is not teflon abroad.”

This was written in response to the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of American Otto Warmbier in North Korea.

As an aside, Sha, for some bizarre reason, assumes Warmbier was justly found ‘guilty’. However, North Korea’s criminal justice system is nothing to admire.

There is no reason to think that just because Warmbier was found guilty by such a kangaroo court that he was, in fact, guilty. The North Korean court system does not adhere to any respectable standard of evidence, nor is it quite as independent from political interference as one would like it to be.

Otto Warmbier has since died as a result of injuries sustained while he was hosted by the North Korean justice system.

But back to white privilege.

According to Sha, white privilege is circumstantial – which is a reasonable thing to suppose. It did not follow Warmbier to North Korea, and, based on that principle, there might be circumstances in America and South Africa where white individuals similarly have their privilege ‘revoked’.

It is obvious that in some circumstances, white individuals tend to be treated better than others, but in other circumstances, black or colored individuals are treated better. South Africans of all races have experienced both of these phenomenons. But this is not saying much: it’s just life, which is dynamic. I am glad the social justice left is waking up to this reality.

It’s a public relations scheme to help government save face

The most important one for last.

It is now trite that ‘white monopoly capital’ in South Africa is not an actually-occurring phenomenon, but a concept dreamed up in the bullpen of the British public relations firm, Bell Pottinger. Bell Pottinger is closely associated with the controversial Gupta family, which has been accused of ‘capturing’ the South African state and high-level politicians.

I won’t blame the firm, however. They are doing what they are being paid to do, and that is to shift attention away from the political catastrophes orchestrated by South Africa’s political class.

According to BizNews:

“The strategy to highlight the beast of white monopoly capital in the media and at political rallies is designed to build animosity towards critics of President Jacob Zuma and his clique and shift blame for the country’s economic woes away from those in political control.”

It has also been theorized strongly on the Rational Standard that Andile Mngxitama, the intellectualist doyen of radical anti-‘whiteness’ and the founder of the political party Black First, Land First, is also on the Bell Pottinger payroll in their effort to divert attention away from government.

Mngxitama is also heavily involved with (and likely the founder of) the racist publication Black Opinion where much of the more radical white privilege and white supremacy accusations are thrown around.

These revelations about Bell Pottinger undermine the whole white privilege/monopoly capital/supremacy narrative.

Conclusion

Next time you hear someone invoke “white privilege!”, your most appropriate response would be a chuckle. In light of all the above, it should be clear that this narrative no longer holds any intellectual or practical legitimacy anywhere, but particularly in South Africa.

Martin is the Editor in Chief of the Rational Standard. He is the Legal Researcher at the Free Market Foundation, the Academic Programs Director for Southern Africa at Students For Liberty, as well as the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian. Martin holds an LL.B from the University of Pretoria. His articles represent his own views and beliefs, and not that of any of the aforementioned organizations.