For those born after 1980 (Millennials, that is), Rhodesia was an African country led by a white anti-communist militant regime (1965-1980), in a region dominated by black Marxist administrations and military factions self-titled “liberation armies.” Its unique case -- during a short-lived existence and especially after -- shows us what happens when a social construction led by competent elites is sacrificed on the altar of political and racial correctness, in the name of some utopian ideals shared by the majority of the local population.
The "Rhodesia Syndrome" is a term that I coin in order to describe the degeneration of a society, partially anomic, whose administration camouflages its perverse socialized communist-type policies through its ethnic narrative overtones about the so-called “racial injustice.”
The phenomenon is vividly present here, in America, from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi Delta, and from one coast to another. The same expired theories and bankrupt economic solutions, consistent with the left-wing party activist lines and doubled by racial components, have made today part of communities from Detroit to Atlanta and New Orleans, and from San Francisco to Chicago and Baltimore, to look more like Zimbabwean microcosms……
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There are some factors that explain why the white rule in Rhodesia lasted for so long (1895 to 1980). First, Rhodesia was long considered the Africa’s breadbasket. White farmers were skilled, and after the 1980s the black farmers’ low skills or lack of incentives have led to a disastrous farming policy. Second, the country’s two main ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, were more in conflict than in partnership relations. It was said that, in a way, Rhodesia’s white administration was the black majority’s chance for a balanced approach, toward prosperity and the creation of a solid middle class.
There are also some lessons to be learned from Rhodesia’s case: domestically (nationally and locally), going along racial lines and political convenience against the expertise of the few can be the sure recipe for economic disaster; regionally, your neighbors can be both good and bad, but in the end they can all turn up being even worse; internationally, your allies’ diplomacies of duplicity, followed by treachery, will be pursued for their own pure self-interest, and later justified by “principles and requirements” of Realpolitik.
But in the end, even if you remain alone with your pride, standards, and values, you can rest assured that your place in history has been secured. Or to put it in Ian Smith’s own prophetic words: “I told you so!”.
TIBERIU DIANU is a scholar in East European studies and author of several books and articles in law and post-communist legal reform. He currently lives in Washington, DC and works for various government and private agencies.