The Economics of the Colour Bar
W.H. Hutt
This is a summary of William Hutt's 1964 study of the economic origins and consequences of racial segregation in South Africa, supplemented with generous extracts from the text. Written with malice towards none, Hutt described the disastrous outcome of a combination of racial prejudice on the part of the Afrikaaners, unprincipled electioneering in Britain, white trade union exclusionism and socialist central planning on the part of various South African governments. Hutt's outspoken views on these matters aroused official alarm as early as the 1930s when he wrote letters to the press to warn that clauses in the constitution which were originally designed by the British administration circa 1900 to entrench the voting rights of coloured people were under threat. In 1955 his passport was withdrawn by the Department of the Interior but it was returned after the matter was raised in Parliament.  In 1961, as South Africa was seceding from the commonwealth, he suggested in The Times that all South African citizens, regardless of race and colour, should be offered British citizenship.


Eventually apartheid came to an end. Did it fall or was it pushed? And what pushed it?  At the end of his book Hutt referred to market forces, reinforced by world opinion, which he thought demanded far-reaching political changes. The communist saboteurs and terrorists would no doubt claim a share of credit. The worldwide movement of protestors would point to the contribution of international public opinion, denial of sporting contacts and the trade boycott. A very different explanation has been advanced along these lines: the Afrikaaners put in place a program of affirmative action for the benefit of unskilled, semi-literate, racist white Afrikaaner refugees from the countryside who were threatened with the status of poor white trash. As the decades went by, thanks to the colour bar they consolidated themselves in supervisory, semi-skilled and skilled trades positions. Eventually those Afrikaaners with more to offer in the way of talent and initiative moved on into the professions, into the managerial classes and even into ownership and entrepreneurship. Those who achieved positions of power and influence in commerce and industry discovered something that Hutt explained over and over in his exposition (some would have even passed through Hutt's Faculty of Commerce at the University of Capetown). The colour bar was a crippling impediment to the functioning of the private sector and the economic growth of the nation (and their commercial interests). As Hutt pointed out, it was always in the interests of the owners to liberate non-White labour but it took a long time before there were significant numbers of Africaaners among the owners. In addition to this realisation, no doubt many Afrikaaners picked up a sense of justice as they became more educated and cosmopolitan, moving out of the small world of fundamentalist religion, the white ghetto and the back-veldt village. Then a white leader of remarkable courage and determination came forward (rather like Gorbachev in Russia) to put in train irreversible forces of reform, with tacit backing from a sufficient number of influential Afrikaners to forestall the kind of fanatical resistance that could have kept the Whites in power for a few more decades of squalor and degradation.

The state of play in the current situation is too close to call, short of a research project to reconcile the various confused and contradictory reports that come from the new Republic. On one hand there are claims that crime is out of control as unemployment pushes 40% under the destructive influence of aggressive affirmative action to favour the Africans (as opposed to the Afrikaaners). On the other hand there are claims that things are getting better all the time. There are apparently even-handed accounts that some government departments are doing a good job and others are adrift with favoritism and corruption. Presumably time will tell...

Hutt on the Colour Bar

"Those who have observed, as I have, the natural friendliness of children of vastly different colours and racial characteristics playing happily together unless reprimanded by their parents and teachers, are unable to regard colour antipathies as inherent human characteristics. After 36 years of observation, I have been led to believe that colour prejudice has persisted through economic factors - through the perpetuation of the economic inferiority of the non-while peoples. In the pages which follow, I shall try to explain why I regard the economic colour discriminations in the Republic as an independent cause rather than a symptom of colour injustices."

"In this book I am concerned with influences that are hindering the dissolution of prejudice and anachronistic custom, that is, with factors that maybe held to be responsible for the injustice presently endured by some - if not all - of the non-white peoples of the world."

" I shall illustrate by thesis almost entirely by reference to experience in the Republic of South Africa where I have been living whilst my ideas were forming...I shall try to identify (a) the forces that have tended to dissolve the economic and social inferiority of the non-white classes, and (b) the opposing forces that have tended, deliberately or otherwise, to perpetuate this inferiority".

Hutt was aware that his interpretation of the situation and his views on the appropriate policies would contradict many sincere and outspoken people who opposed the colour bar. He did not wish to question their motives but he could only see profound dangers arising from their blindness to the dangers of unchecked majority rule and their limited understanding of the history and details of the situation in South Africa.

"May I assure hasty critics that I deplore colour discrimination no less than they do; the difference is that I believe it can be eradicated without bloodshed or the worse injustices that would accompany their methods".

The South African Background

At the time that he wrote in the early 1960s the whites made up about one fifth of the population. Among this group, about 60% spoke Africaans at home, and about 40% spoke English. Africans (officially but not appropriately called 'Bantu") made up two thirds of the population. The Coloured (half-castes) accounted for about 10%; Asians, mostly Indians, 2 or 3%.

The fundamental problem was the profound prejudice towards non-whites among the Afrikaaners, originally of Dutch extraction, who split from the British-administered Cape colony because they detested the official policy of tolerance with regard to colour, language and religious belief. The Great Trek northward started in 1836 and ended with the Voortrekkers in control of large tracts of the interior after defeating various tribes on the way. They created two new independent republics, Orange Free State and the Transvaal.

The trekkers also moved into the province of Natal but an influx of British colonists after the 1840s made this the most homogeneous English-speaking part of South Africa. The British recruited indentured labour from India for the sugar industry between 1859 and 1911 and their descendents, with Indian traders who followed the workers, established a settled Indian community in Natal and beyond.

The following part of the book describes the 1910 constitutional entrenchment by the British of political rights for non-whites and the way that the entrenchment was undermined by the British Parliament in 1931, opening the way for the eventual policy of separation which began in earnest when the National Party won the elections of 1948.

Union and Disunity (pp 18 to 21)

"At the end of the century, the Boer War, with the rights and wrongs of which we are not concerned, brought the Orange Free State and the Transvaal under British sovereignty. At the settlement in 1902, the victors granted self-government to the vanquished, subject to the safeguarding of political rights for non-Afrikaners, which the war had ostensibly been fought to bring about. In 1910, all four colonies, the Cape, Natal, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, were merged into the Union of South Africa. “

"Under the Act of Union, political independence was conferred upon the four colonies, which were joined under a unitary constitution; but non-white franchise and language rights were reserved by the British Crown. The British connection remained important henceforth for two main reasons only: first, sentiment, which had made the transfer of power acceptable to the British electorate; and second, because of the attempt to entrench constitutionally (a) the political rights of the non-Whites – which had traditionally existed only in one part of the new Union, the Cape, and (b) equal rights for English and Dutch (later Afrikaans) as 'official languages'. Nevertheless, the Afrikaaners' fight against 'British imperialism' continued and was inspired by the generation and maintenance of an atmosphere of dogged resistance against forces which were held to be threatening 'die Boerenasie' (the Boer nation). The Nationalist Party achieved power and have sought to maintain themselves permanently in power by indoctrination through education, by exploitation of nationalist emotions and by the maintenance of a continuous atmosphere of emergency and struggle against 'external enemies'.”

"Of the four colonies merged, it was in the Cape alone that the non-Whites had any sort of effective political rights; and in order to get the consent of the Cape for unification it had been essential that there should appear to be no risk of these rights being removed. Moreover, the entrenched clauses (which were believed to eliminate the risk) were probably an equally necessary condition for the acceptance of the South Africa Act (which constituted the South African Act of Union) by the British Parliament. Indeed, in the debate on the Act British statesmen confidently expressed the view that the 'liberalism' of the Cape would gradually spread to the other provinces. But the march of time belied this faith and proved the entrenchments to be quite ineffective.”

"In 1931, mainly in the hope of appeasing Afrikaaner Nationalism, the British passed the Statute of Westminster which quietly removed (although this was not clear at the time) the authority of the British Crown to veto any dis-honouring of the entrenched clauses. The Status Act, passed by the South African Parliament in 1934, took a further step in this direction. What confused the leaders of the coloured people and their friends at this time was that the provision requiring a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament to amend the entrenched clauses remained in the constitution. Moreover, even the Nationalist leaders gave the most solemn assurances that they would regard the entrenchments as binding. Indeed, they expressed deep resentment at those who ventured to suggest that the clauses in question might not, in fact, be honoured. The Speaker of the House of Assembly went so far as to assure the Africans (who, through a resolution of the Transkeian General Council, had expressed grave concern at the move) that the entrenchments had been strengthened. Public opinion was temporarily reassured. Gradually, however, the implications of the change began to sink home and grave perturbation developed...

"When the Afrikaaner Nationalists eventually obtained the upper hand in 1948, they immediately took steps to prove that the Constitution had been torn up By various manoeuvres, which included an attack on the judiciary, an attempt to transform Parliament into a High Court, and finally packing the Senate with their own representatives, they secured the two-thirds majority needed for the abolition of the existing non-white voting rights. Far from the 'liberalism' of the Cape having spread to the rest of South Africa, as the British Parliament had been led to expect before Union, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State traditions of 'no equality in church or state' had been forced on the whole community, and the Coloureds had been deprived of a political status they had held for a century. Of course, political representation of a minority is no guarantee of economic justice for that minority. The Minister of Coloured Affairs argued recently in defence of the abolition of the political rights which the coloured people had enjoyed, that these rights had left 80 per cent of them 'backward and poor, with leaders deserting them and trying to gain admission to the white masses'. But their removal from the common roll has been felt as a humiliating deprivation of status. “

In addition to the injustice handed out to the Africans in this instance, Hutt had grave misgivings about the future of white minorities in the course of time when Africans in South Africa and other states achieved voting rights and gained the opportunity to take revenge for past foul play on the part of whites.

"Lurking in the background of the complex of custom and prejudice which the power of the state has been used to appease is genuine alarm at the prospect of ultimate domination of the Africans in the political sphere, with the spoliation of the Whites. These misgivings cannot be dismissed as illusory. They may not justify the means adopted to protect the future of the white minority, but they do, at any rate, help to explain it. And although the natural fears of the Whites have been exploited by machiavellian politicians concerned mainly with winning the votes of a badly misinformed and indoctrinated electorate, the fears themselves are wholly well-founded. The determination to preserve 'white civilisation' is not ignoble. But the unwillingness to share it is incapable of defence and the methods used expose that 'civilisation' to contempt. It is the cause of resentment among the non-Whites. And it is the consequence both of colour prejudice and of the not unfounded fear of ultimate domination by the Blacks."

Hutt noted that there was no shortage of colour prejudice and colour resentment, though this assumed complex forms in such a mixed-race population. He disputed claims by liberal-minded white leaders that "the non-whites no more wish to mix with us than we wish to mix with them", claiming that there was little resistance to inter-marriage among the Africans, Asiatics and Coloureds. He reported that the African intelligentsia generally adopted English models of manners and dress, especially under the influence of the cinema.

He considered that the effect of a sudden improvement in the material well-being of a socially subordinate race seems to be at first the intensification of prejudice. The poor Afrikaaner Whites in South Africa hated to see well-dressed  Africans, or to hear them speak in an educated manner. They regarded this as a violation of the proper order of things, as taught by their church and their education system. But he insisted that "equality of aspect" which persists for any length of time slowly promotes social respect unless propaganda successfully prevents the abandonment of traditional attitudes.

Religion and Politics (p 40-41)

It seems that the Afrikaaner form of Calvinism, preached by the Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa, was dominated by the idea of predestination and original sin. Hutt noted that this encouraged the Africaaners "to cling to the ancient superstitions, long discarded in most other creeds, which associate white with goodness and purity, and black with sin, evil, dirt and death. His naive sincerity on this issue has tended to sanctify for him what would otherwise appear to as an unchristian and unashamed discrimination against those of non-white skin pigmentation...The Afrikaners have been taught to believe that in maintaining the inferior status of the non-Whites they are fulfilling the will of God." Hutt noted that a resolution of the World Council of Churches in 1960, 'no man who believes in Christ may be excluded from any church on the grounds of his race or colour', was explicitly, rejected at all five synods of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1961, and the Church left the World Council.

Hutt described the close alignment of the churches with the Nationalist Party (the party of the Afrikaaners):

"Not only do they pray for victory at elections, but afterwards, when there has been a victory for the Party, there have actually been prayer meetings to thank the Almighty for having answered their supplications. A powerful influence in ensuring that the Afrikaaners' religious institutions shall serve the Party seems to be the activities of a secret society known as the Broederbon. Members of this society, bound by a disciplined secrecy, are believed to have obtained all the key posts in the three Calvinist churches, and more than 40 per cent of the clergy are believed to belong either to the Bond directly or to its "Youth Wing" , the Ruiterwag. The Communist parallel is obvious. It is widely rumoured also, in spite of emphatic government denials, that the Broederbond is the controlling influence in determining promotions in the public service, whilst the Ruiterwag is said to have acquired effective control over the composition of students' representative councils in the Afrikaans language universities. The methods used against independent-minded Afrikaners are said to be whispering and smearing campaigns."

The Poor Whites

The problem of the poor whites was essentially a problem of poor rural Afrikaaners moving from farms to the towns. They were not well equipped for the transition, as they were mostly illiterate, had high birth rates and despised manual work. The situation could have been eased if they had been prepared to enter industry as labourers and work their way up to better positions according to their capacities and motivation, as many black Africans had done, more or less surreptitiously taking on skilled and responsible tasks. But the Afrikaaners had been taught to regard any form of labouring as 'Kaffir work' and so beneath their dignity. The outcome of this situation was a growing class of relatively impoverished whites, resentful of their low social standing but unfit for any kind of urban employment other than that of overseer of unskilled African or Coloured labour.

A sideshow to the main event was the issue of "Chinese slavery" which became an issue in the British elections of 1906 when the ignorance of the electorate was exploited by the so-called "Liberals". During the Boer War 50,000 Chinese workers were contracted by the mines to replace African labour which was not available during the hostilities. They did not regard themselves as slaves, however they were turned out of their jobs and deported when their contracts expired in 1907. "The next step of the 'Liberal' British Government which had been responsible for this noble action was to grant self-government to the Transvaal, where the whole political and religious tradition was known (by the politicians, not the British voters) to have been based on the principle of 'no equality between Black and White'. Of course, the British 'Liberals' were wholly well-intentioned. They sincerely thought they were restoring rights to the poor, simple, pious Boers, who had been innocent victims of Chamberlain's imperialism. But the Boers made no secret of their intention to perpetuate the subordination of the non-Whites." (p 45)

The Africans in the Mines

At the start of the mining industry the wages offered to unskilled African labourers was not far short of the wages of white overseers, due to the difficulty of recruiting African labour. The men had to leave their families for months on end and travel by foot for long distances, often hundreds of miles, with many perils on the way, especially the danger of robbery when they returned with their earnings. (Later this story of long distance travel was repeated by Africans in neighbouring countries, eventually as many as  800,000 African workers at a time came from outside the Republic). By the 1880s the supply of black labour had increased to the point where their wages were only a fraction of the wages of skilled tradesmen and foremen who were overwhelmingly white.

This decline did not mean that the black workers were being exploited because they made great efforts to take on the work and the level of wages reflected supply and demand. Hutt noted that the shareholders and administrators of the mines were not responsible for the colour bars which prevented the Africans from achieving promotion by merit into better paid jobs.

Commentary by Rafe Champion
The mine-owners were quite prepared to permit the Africans to advance into more productive and more valuable work, as happened during the two major wars when labour was in short supply. They probably perceived that this would tend ultimately to reduce race friction. Their motive of 'profit-seeking' or 'loss-avoidance' was not advanced by the barriers to African skill-acquisition that were enforced by the white-run miners' union. These barriers rendered the low-grade, marginal mines, and the low-grade seams in all mines, unprofitable. However they were not in a position to "rock the boat" by suggesting revolutionary changes. They probably envisaged a gradual relaxation of the colour bars because much of the semi-skilled work which was performed by Whites could have been efficiently performed by Africans after a period of training. That would have been a huge benefit for the mines, for the economy of the nation, for the Africans, and even for the white overseer and tradesmen classes if they had been prepared to equip themselves with the skills to move upwards themselves on the wave of prosperity that would have been unleashed by the more efficient use of the African workforce.

The First Colour Bar Act of 1911

Militant unionism appeared in the mines in the 1880s, essentially to maintain the large differential between the rates for labourers and white overseers and to ensure that the Africans remained in the former category. It was obviously in the economic interest of the mine management to permit Africans to take on more skilled and responsible work, but that was a clear threat to the white tradesmen and supervisors. Most of the union officials followed the British model "hard, ruthless but scarcely Marxist" however other leaders were more radical, notably a young British fitter from Suffolk, W H Andrews, who eventually formed a local chapter of the International Socialist League and later became the first secretary of the Communist Party in South Africa. A radical organisation called the Knights of Labour, based in the US, was also involved in sabotage, including blowing up the De Beers offices in 1890. Andrews was a prominent organizer of violent union activities, at times amounting to armed uprisings, until in the 1920s the state took over from the labour unions the task of protecting white privilege.

Another period of industrial violence and sabotage commenced in 1907 and persisted until 1911. The Smuts and Botha government took the remarkable step of taking White Afrikaaners into the mines as trainees, although they were “scabs” in the eyes of the predominantly British Whites who ran the Miners Association. By way of compensation the government introduced an ordinance to protect skilled Whites from competition from the Chinese, many of whom still had some time to run on their contracts before they were deported. In 1911 the Mines and Works Act of 1911 was passed. This was ostensibly a concession to socialist and labour union pressures, but it was also recognised as an appeasement of Afrikaaner sentiment, and it was commonly termed 'the Colour Bar Act'.

"Whilst the provisions of the Act were superficially innocuous, it authorised arbitrary governmental action through delegated legislation. The government was given power, in the interests of safety, to make regulations relating to the issue of certificates permitting certain kinds of work to be undertaken. But the regulations actually promulgated (against which it was thought there could be no appeal) provided that a large variety of mining occupations, which outside the former Boer republics (for example, in the Cape and Natal) could be performed by artisans of all races, could not legally be performed by Africans in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. At the same time a ratio was specified between foremen (Whites) and mining labourers (Africans) who could be employed in the activities covered. (If the Transvaal had been under British rule and administration from the outset, the old Cape tradition may well have prevented either the passing of the Mines and Works Act of 1911 or the regulations issued under it.)” (p 62)

"The general secretary of the white workers' labour union, typically blaming 'the capitalist class', explained that whilst he was 'a Socialist as far as all the workers in the globe are concerned', he believed that his union had the right to fight against and oust the Africans if they were 'used as semi-slaves for the purpose of keeping others down'. The paradox was that the employment of white miners depended upon what he called the 'semi-slavery...of...dirty, evil-smelling Kaffirs'; for without their unskilled work the great majority of the mines would have had to close. What he was in fact objecting to was the desire of 'the capitalist class' to achieve economies by bringing better remunerated and more responsible work within reach of the Africans. The fact that this would disturb the relative earnings of the skilled Whites appeared to him to be a sufficient justification for insistence upon the colour bar." (p 63)

The Industrial Conciliation Act and the Wage Act of 1926

Another round of strike activity occurred in the early 1920s. The members of the miners union were overwhelmingly Afrikaaners by this time and this action was virtually an armed uprising to re-assert white dominance in skilled positions which had been eroded during the war when the shortage of labour enabled some blacks to move upwards into semi-skilled trades such as drill-sharpening. Many of the union leaders were Marxists, including W H Andrews.

In 1924 the Labour Party formed a coalition government with the Nationalist Party, a socialist party representing the Africaners. The combination of socialism and racism resulted in the Mines and Works Act of 1926, essentially to satisfy the demands of the 1922 strikers. Hutt wrote "This was probably the most honest and most drastic piece of colour bar legislation which the world had ever experienced, just as the 'civilised labour policy' - which they inaugurated immediately on attaining power- was probably the most dishonest and yet most effective plan for enforcing a colour bar the world has ever experienced". Among other things the new Act entrenched the colour bar imposed by regulations under the 1911 Act.

The prima facie purpose of the 'civilised labour policy' was to prevent exploitation of the workers (regardless of colour) by protecting 'civilised' or 'European' standards. The de facto purpose was to protect the position of the whites. Part of the 'civilised labour' deal was the 'rate for the job', used by trade unions elsewhere to maintain the wage rates of the stronger and better organanised groups of (employed) workers against those who were un-organised and unemployed, as described in Hutt's books on collective bargaining and the strike threat system.

The new Act of 1926 entrenching the racist regulations of the 1911 Act and the more aggressive racism of the Labour/National alliance mobilised the discriminatory powers that were latent in the Factories Act of 1918, the Apprenticeship Act of 1922 and the (pre-Pact) Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924.

The 'civilised labour policy' was built on a recognition of the following realities:
(a)the prejudice on the part of white employees against equal opportunities for Coloureds or Africans;
(b)the inferior educational facilities and sociological background of the non-Whites;
(c)the fact that the above factors would effectively but unobtrusively keep the non-Whites out of the Whites preserves if the "standard rate for the job" was applied;
(d) the apprenticeship system would exclude non-Whites from qualification in the trades because few could attain the educational standard laid down, and these few could be rejected by (racist) boards of selection;
(e) even where educational and sociological disadvantage backed up by prejudiced selection panels failed to exclude non-White apprentices, the insistence (under the Factories Act) upon separate facilities would often make their employment impossibly expensive.
(f)the labour union movement was already operating on the principle of the 'closed shop'.

The 'Rate for the Job'

"The 'rate for the job' was the vital principle in the most powerful yet most subtle colour bar that has ever operated...When the standard wage-rate is forced above the free market level (whether through legal enactment or the strike threat), thereby reducing the output which can be produced profitably, it must have the effect of preventing the entry of subordinate races or classes into the protected field or of actually excluding them from it.[Hutt cites the gradual and eventually complete exclusion of female typesetters from the craft in Britain as an illustration. The elimination of Aboriginal stockmen from the cattle industry in Northern Australia following an "equal pay" decision by the central wage-fixing authority is another.]   This has been by far the most effective method of preserving white privileges, largely because it can be represented as non-discriminatory.” (p 72)

"The group that has suffered most by the barring of non-Whites from the better economic opportunities has been the Coloured people, who make up about one-tenth of the total population of the Republic. In an article published in 1938 I referred to certain aspects of the 'civilised labour policy' as 'an insuperable obstacle to the achievement of Coloured aspirations'. For instance, in 1960 less than a thousand Coloureds were indentured in the Western Cape out of a total of over 13,000. Yet last century there had been more Coloured than White artisans in the Cape. Coloured apprentices are now confined almost entirely to building and furniture. If a trend started recently under 'job reservation' continues, they may be gradually ousted from the building industry." (p 73)

Implication of the 1920s Colour Bar Legislation

The policy developments heralded by the Mines and Works Act of 1926 under the National-Labour Pact made full use of the "colour bar" potential of a raft of previous legislation and greatly extended the discretionary powers of the Minister for Labour. He could withdraw various benefits from firms that did not apply the colour bar and his inspectors could insist on the provision of  separate facilities such as wash rooms and canteens for whites and blacks, a major financial disincentive to put on black labour. Even the provisions for training whites to accept more responsibility (in keeping with their wage rates) were perverted in their application.

"The Apprenticeship Act (of 1922) was genuinely believed by many, including some well-meaning educationists who helped draft it, to have had the purpose of encouraging white youths to acquire industrial skills. In practice, the Act has probably had the opposite effect. Certainly, administered in the spirit of the 'civilised labour policy', it has assisted in reserving the better-remunerated employments for the Whites, but in such a way that it has weakened the incentive for self-improvement among them. Thus, whilst it developed facilities for training in technical colleges and made attendance compulsory for apprentices, it never insisted upon them passing the examinations in order to qualify. Consequently, the majority have never treated seriously the expensive facilities provided; they become journeymen merely by the passage of time. The only material amendment in this respect, introduced in 1963, has the effect of delaying by one year the period of qualification of apprentices who do not pass the examinations, although whilst waiting passively for qualifications they will be paid 70 per cent of the journeyman's wage, a policy the Minister of Labour described as 'tough'." (p. 74)

Racial Integration and Industrial Growth

Two factors became effective from the mid 1930s to promote Black and Coloured advancement, despite the barriers put in place by the "civilised labour" legislation. One was the increase in the price of gold which increased the profitability and exporting capacity of the whole of South African secondary industry.
"Encouraged by the increased gold price, investors sought out new fields of industrial employment (such as the clothing industry) which had not been monopolised by white labour unions. To obtain labour cheap enough to permit the product of this employment to be priced for mass consumption, managements began, broadly speaking, by successfully competing with the occupations of housewife or domestic servant and attracting first white women and then Coloured women into the new factories. The resulting expansion of real income caused a general expansion of demand for the product of all industries, which made it possible for many Coloured employees who had been working as mere labourers to progress by stepping into jobs from which Whites had been promoted, whilst Africans took over the jobs from which the Coloureds were promoted." (p 82)

"The Second World War enhanced the stimulus. The impetus to economic development which has so often occurred in wartime has puzzled some economists. In spite of the destruction and patent waste of resources in war, the real income of a nation has often been larger at the end than at the beginning of the conflict. One reason is that the emergency forces the abandonment of scarcity-creating practices by such policies as 'dilution' which overcome restraints on labour utilisation and reduce the valuation of leisure (and of services such as those of the housewife). In South Africa after 1939, not only were non-Whites admitted to better-paid (and hence more productive) kinds of industrial employment in private industry, but even in government activities they were permitted to take on many jobs previously performed by Whites." (p 83)

"The sociological effects over the space of three decades have been far-reaching. The Coloureds have become incomparably better dressed, better fed, better housed, better behaved, more literate, more efficient, more articulate and more resentful. Indeed, following the quiet circumvention from 1933 onwards of the restrictive laws of the middle 1920s, a social revolution has occurred among the urban Coloured people – a change expressed in the most striking manner in the achievement of a large measure of 'equality of aspect'. Within the space of a decade or so, Coloured women, formerly drably or poorly dressed on the whole, have become pleasingly, neatly and even fashionably dressed. With Coloured men, who still mostly perform various kinds of unskilled or rough manual work, this revolution in dress and aspect has been rather less obvious. (The change was facilitated because the Coloured women largely worked in the new clothing factories from which they could buy cheaply. The progress of Coloured women preceded that of Coloured men, creating some curious sociological problems in the middle 1930s, when Coloured women were often earning more than their husbands). The general appearance, as well as the health, of this group has improved remarkably since entrepreneurial enterprise, under the stimulation of the 'profit motive', succeeded in dodging the state-imposed barriers. Increased income made possible other forms of social progress unimagined three decades ago. For example, the phenomenally successful 'Eoan Group', a multi-racial but mainly Coloured organisation, has produced excellent operas, ballets, musical comedies, plays, oratorios, etc. (In the case of opera and ballet, due credit should be given to the College of Music and the Ballet School of the University of Cape Town). And non-white participation in sport (officially segregated) has increased rapidly although facilities are still markedly inferior. All these developments have created a growing feeling of respect for the urban Coloured communities and, what is even more important, growing self-respect among them. The revolution in aspect, the astonishing improvement in the general standard of dress, coupled with improved health from childhood, seems to have caused Coloured women to grow in attractiveness for white men. It has I believe, provided an important motivation for the Immorality Act (which forbids sexual relations, within marriage or otherwise, between Whites and non-Whites), whilst the continued economic progress of Coloured man and women has, I feel, been one of the main motivations also for the 'job reservation policy' and labour direction on the Communist model inaugurated in 1955." (p 83-85)

This demonstrates how the intransigent opposition of the Africaaners to non-White advancement resulted in drastic action whenever the latter made any kind of progress. The advances made during World War I indirectly triggered the armed uprising of the white miners in the 1920s, followed by the "civilised labour" legislation. In the same pattern, Hutt described how the advancement of African entrepreneurs was thwarted.

"One field of African advancement that legislation did not originally discourage was business enterprise. Since the last war, a few thrifty and energetic Africans, perceiving opportunities for profit, have opened shops, dry cleaning establishments, filling stations, garages, cinemas, and simple businesses of that nature. The government has not failed to recognise this tendency to capitalistic development, and has (in 1963) begun to use its arbitrary powers to suppress it. Directives from the Secretary for Bantu Administration and Development have forbidden the opening of any new African owned or directed businesses even in African urban areas. Existing African businesses are to be allowed to continue temporarily, but it is the intention to 'persuade' or 'encourage' their owners to transfer them to the reserves (the Africans' 'homelands'), that is, far away from the areas where most African income is earned and spent. The explanation given is naturally the paternal concern of the government for the welfare of the Africans themselves! Their enterprises are, it is said, 'frequently not successful' and the black public does not, for instance, 'obtain a proper cinema service'. But the real object has clearly been that of preventing the inauguration of African enterprise with its powerful educative influence and its stabilising tendency among the urban Africans.” (p 98)

The later part of Hutt's book contains a mixture of descriptive material on the increasing complexity and thoroughness of the separation of Whites and non-Whites after World War II and his meditations on the kind of legal and constitutional safeguards that are required to protect the rights of all people, especially the members of minority groups. In this summary the descriptive material will be treated first, followed by a presentation of Hutt's constructive proposals.


Apartheid (in English 'separateness') appeared under that name after the Nationalist Party won the 1948 elections. There was nothing essentially new about it at first, but in its subsequent enactment it took on some odd changes of emphasis. It succeeded as an election gimmick because it placed stress on white 'baasskap' ('mastership'). However increasing emphasis was placed on "separate development", partly to counter criticism from the international community.

The first significant legislation to entrench apartheid was the Group Areas Act of 1950 which aimed to enforce segregation in place of residence, property and business ownership. As a group, the Indians were the most adversely affected at first because they had built up their businesses and goodwill in white areas, especially a part of Johannesburg where they had been trading for the better part of a century. At the time that Hutt was writing the lives of 5,000 Indians faced disruption and 200 Indian businesses faced ruin by a forced move to a location over 20 miles outside the city. They would leave behind two mosques, five Indian religious schools and various other Indian amenities.

Hutt described the bitter legacy of segregation in the wide range of facilities and activities where apartheid was put into practice.

"The resentments aroused by such imposed territorial segregation are due only partly to any economic injustice so caused. Well-to-do and well-educated Coloured people, Indians and Africans, are mostly convinced that the aim has been deliberately to humiliate them, to express contempt by a measure intended to emphasise, to them and to society, their inferiority and subordinacy. Thus, the various non-white races have almost invariably been moved or confined to the less pleasant districts. Explicit amendments of the original Act have laid it down that the facilities provided for non-Whites need not be 'separate but equal' - merely 'separate'. In coastal towns, the beaches made available to the non-Whites have been the unattractive and least accessible ones; indeed, they have been banned from beaches and public parks they previously enjoyed whenever the Whites have coveted them. On publicly-owned transport they have been segregated into separate compartments, separate entrances, separate ticket offices, separate cloakrooms, etc. In the Cape Province where, before the enforcement of the Group Areas legislation, there had been no colour bar on the state-owned railways, on the local services, segregation was clearly intended to demonstrate that the non-Whites were regarded more or less as social lepers likely to contaminate the Whites if they travelled in the same buses, or on adjacent seats in buses, or in the same railway compartments. A further discriminatory rule implying disparagement concerns the right to use African domestic servants: the employment of Africans in this capacity is permitted in white areas only. And in the same spirit, the Factories Act was amended in 1960 to confer even more sweeping powers on the Minister of Labour to enforce the physical separation of the different race groups employed in any undertaking.” (p 112-13)
“The humiliation of non-Whites through the Group Areas legislation has been further emphasised in (a) the Immorality Act, which makes sexual intercourse or intimacy between Whites and non-Whites (even if the couple have married since the Act was passed) a criminal offence, although relations between, say, Coloureds and Africans, or between Indians and Africans, constitute no crime; (b) the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, which forbids intermarriage between Whites and non-Whites yet permits intermarriage between the other non-white races; (c) the exclusion of non-white students from those universities which had formerly accepted them (which is being vigorously resisted by the universities), separate university colleges under stringent state control being provided for the non-white races; (d) governmental pressure to enforce apartheid even in scientific and learned societies (learned societies will lose state subsidies if they have non-White members); (e) the enforced segregation of non-Whites and Whites in the Cape Town city libraries which, until 1963, were open to all races; (f) the Population Register Act, in terms of which the registration cards which all are supposed to carry specify one's race. (p 113-114)

Job Reservation

Overt colour-based job reservation came into play with amendments to the Industrial Conciliation Act introduced in 1956 and 1959. This was designed to accelerate the process of non-White exclusion that had been proceeding by stealth under the "standard rate" principle and the other more obvious modes of exclusion that have been noted so far. The scheme was, amazingly, promoted under the rhetoric of anti-exploitation.

"Their object, they claimed, was to protect the white man from exploitation by the other races - that is, by the less privileged classes with lower standards. Naturally they persevered with the hypocrisy of being equally concerned with the well-being of all. Under the Act, the Minister of Labour is given power to act in the interests of all employees, irrespective of their race or colour, to defend them from inter-racial competition. How obviously just and fair such arbitrary powers can always be represented to be! But the Minister is in fact authorised to reserve defined types of work for particular races alone; that is, he may forbid that any specified kind of job shall be performed by people of any specified race, or enact that it shall be reserved for a particular race. Within the discriminatory determinations so enacted, even the numbers of the various race groups who may be employed can be dictated by him. One provision actually authorises determinations which may remove the right of any race to a form of employment which it has long enjoyed. (The following are among some of the job reservations which have already been made in favour of the Whites in certain areas: lift attendants; drivers of transport vehicles in certain spheres; ambulance drivers (even when carrying non-Whites); traffic policemen (where non-Whites had rendered excellent service for some time previously, in Cape Town); firemen; barmen.) And the fact that the majority of the employees in the specific jobs reserved for Whites are at present Whites does not alter the fact that the reservation denies, on ground of colour not of skill, the right of non-Whites to qualify for some of the better-paid openings in an industry. The latest job reservation as I write has specified seven crafts in the building trade which (at the request of two all-white labour unions) may not in the future be undertaken by Coloured employees in the Western Cape (and certain other districts in the Cape and Natal). Yet the Coloured make up 75 per cent of the building artisans in the Western Cape. The Minister is advised in respect of job reservation by an Industrial Tribunal established by the Act but, as has become typical of legislation under the cult of state intervention, he and his advisers have been accorded the widest powers, including almost unrestricted rights of discrimination (i) between areas (which means, of course, between constituencies), (ii) between individual undertakings (which will make managements wary of openly opposing governmental policies), and (iii) between different industries (which may force industrial associations to feel that they must be obsequious or subservient to the Minister), etc. The Act goes so far as to declare that the tribunal 'may use any method of differentiation or discrimination it may deem expedient'.” (p 117-18)

It is apparent that the main effect of the job reservation system for semi-skilled and responsible jobs such as drivers, traffic police and firemen was to exclude Africans from the most obvious avenues that were available for their advancement in favour of whites, regardless of their ability and motivation.

Towards Apartheid

Legislation introduced in 1963 codified 11 previous Acts and advanced segregation wherever Whites and non-Whites have to co-operate in economic activity. Under the Bantu Laws Amendment Bill (which was expected to become law in 1964) the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development assumed dictatorial powers over the use of African labour.

"Thus, he will be able to determine the areas from which Africans may be recruited; the number of Africans who may be employed in any defined area; the location of industries in which they may be employed; and the specific employers for whom they may work. He will have the right to compel Africans who are displaced from jobs (so that their work shall be done by other races) to move to depots from which they will be allocated to labour camps, unless they happen to be migratory labourers who can be returned to the reserves. The Minister. will also have the right - delegated to an official in one of the labour bureaux - to detain in depots adult Africans who are unemployed or who refuse any job offered to them or who are convicted (without Court trial but by administrative process) of breaches of the pass laws, influx control regulations and Native Labour regulations. Further powers include the right to detain unemployed Africans under 21 in youth camps; and even to remove from a particular area Africans born in it or who have lived in it for long periods, provided they are declared 'surplus labour' or 'redundant' or 'idle' or 'undesirable' or provided that, in the Minister's opinion, it is 'in the public interest' that they shall be removed….

“If the Bill is passed no African will be allowed to work outside the reserves except as an employee of a white-owned company or person (otherwise than through special permission) and the self-employment of Africans will be virtually forbidden. Every contract of service with an African worker will henceforth have to be registered officially; heavier penalties will be imposed for employing an African without a permit; and no African will be allowed to live in a rural area outside a reserve or outside a 'Bantustan' unless he is employed by the owner of the land or is a labour tenant or squatter. “

“Not the least serious aspect of this Bill is the scope for corruption which it will create. 'At every essential point', commented the Cape Times during the debates on the measure, 'the decision is in the right of an underpaid official, without possibility of proper supervision and without the machinery of publicity and court proceedings with which intelligent communities protect themselves from subversion by bribery.”

“A major aim appears to be the deliberate destruction of such family life as the Africans have retained in the urban areas and the discouragement of Africans from sharing in Western culture (which means, incidentally, from sharing in Western values). The justification always put forward for these policies is that the Africans are, properly considered, merely temporary visitors to the areas in which they are employed. But as the Cape Times cogently explained recently, we are naming as 'temporary sojourners' or aliens 'the very people on whose labour our wealth depends', whilst 'these terms are used of people who help us rear our children, serve us with food in hotels, teach in Western type schools and even lecture in our universities'.”

“The administrative cost of all these controls is growing annually mainly because of the increasing difficulty of maintaining law and order (whether owing to the resentments aroused or the mounting influence of African nationalism). But in part the cost arises out of the necessity to appease world opinion by providing 'separate facilities'. Whereas in 1948 (just before the introduction of apartheid) the Department of Native Affairs had an annual budget of under £3.5 million and a staff of 185, in 1962 its successor, the Department of Bantu Administration and Development, already had a budget of nearly £13.5 million and a staff of 735." (p 131-33)

Abandonment of the Rule of Law

“The methods employed to prevent subversion and disorder are also based on the totalitarian model. The rule of law has been abandoned, so that those who are suspected of trouble-making may be deprived of their liberty (by being subjected to house arrest, confined to particular areas or detained incommunicado for 90 days for 'questioning') without normal court processes.  The principle that no person shall be punished unless judicial procedures have established the breach of some clear-cut law no longer applies. The fate of an alleged offender is determined not by a judge or a jury but by a politician or, under the '90 days' rule, by a police officer.” ( p 134)

“It is not necessary to my argument to assume that these powers have been abused or that there is any intention to abuse them. The weakness in the judicial process of the free society is that its satisfactory functioning may sometimes be defeated by unscrupulous stratagems, which the Pan-Africans have learned. The Communists, however, and their saboteur trainees in South Africa, are not attempting to subvert a free society. They are trying to undermine a country which may be regarded as free for the Whites alone, and even for the Whites in certain senses only. In the old Transvaal and Free State Republics, and since 1910 in South Africa, the non-Whites have never experienced what the educated among them could be expected to regard as justice or, indeed, the conditions of freedom, in either the economic or political spheres. Injustice is the food on which the communist type of trouble-maker thrives. The paradox of South Africa is that the proponents of apartheid are, on the one hand, feeding the subversionists and on the other hand trying to suppress them...It is, however, in the nature of extreme collectivist administrations that they welcome arbitrary powers; and it is perhaps for that reason that the methods adopted by the Government of the Republic have come to resemble so closely those of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. I hope it is not wishful thinking on my part when I record my belief that a truly democratic society, i.e., a liberal society, could resist the assaults of Communist-type intrigues without the crude injustices of administrative jurisdiction...” (p 135)

“The Africans, of whom about two-thirds are forced to work outside any conceivable reserve 'Bantustan' of the future, have been left with no more civil rights than they would have as labourers in totalitarian countries. Their lives have become almost wholly regimented by officials whose decisions cannot be legally challenged. Because they, the Africans, have no voice whatsoever in the choice of the government, they are placed in the same position as any other political 'minority' under 'omnipotent representative government'”. (p 136)

“I contrast 'omnipotent government' with what some Americans are beginning to call the 'libertarian' tradition (because the socialists have taken to describing themselves as 'liberal') but which I still prefer to call 'liberal'. Under the liberal tradition, the powers of governments are restrained by rigid constitutional entrenchments which (1) protect minorities from spoliation by majorities, (ii) guarantee the independence of the judiciary, and (iii) prohibit delegated legislation (unless subject to immediate and effective parliamentary review) and administrative jurisdiction. (The traditions of judicial independence, within the diminished sphere left to the Courts, appear so far to have survived in South Africa, in spite of the suspicion that some appointments to the bench have been politically motivated.)" (p 137)
From about 1955 the government started to pursue a really serious policy of separateness by setting up border industries near the African reserves as step towards the establishment of native homelands were the Africans could have a measure of political autonomy. Under the growing pressure of world opinion this was depicted as an attempt to do justice to the Africans, quite the  opposite of the motive offered to the white voters. Enabling legislation for this move was passed in 1961 but the scheme lacked any sense of reality because it would have meant two thirds of the population of the republic occupying 13% of the land area with virtually no industry or infrastructure in place. At the same time, the white-owned industries in the remainder of the republic would have collapsed for want of labour.

The Tyranny of Parliamentary Majorities

In addition to the vivid catalogue of injustice and thwarted opportunity for the non-Whites, Hutt embarked on a critical appraisal of the institutions and practice of supposedly representative democracy which permitted such things to happen.

"This is, I feel, the most vital point of my whole thesis. Unless parliaments are restrained by iron-clad constitutional entrenchments, political majorities, as defined and distorted by electoral laws and voting procedures, will almost always be tempted to exploit their power tyrannically, that is, without true regard for the rights or feelings of political minorities or for those who lack effective political representation. The majorities in the white constituencies to which the authors of the Group Areas programme have successfully appealed, have wanted to humiliate the non-Whites. Let us be under no illusion on that point. This is partly because one of the parties found it profitable to deliberately foster racial pride, racial prejudices, racial fears and racial hatreds. But do not the almost sadistic aspects of the laws I have been discussing expose the undemocratic weakness of certain forms of representative governmental machinery?" (p 115-16)

The Market is Colour-blind

“THROUGHOUT the description and analysis of South African developments the reader will have perceived the interaction. of two sets of opposed forces, the first tending powerfully to liberate the non-white peoples of the world from inertias and coercions which would otherwise perpetuate historical inferiorities of occupation, training and status, the second tending to maintain or strengthen the coercions which hold the non-Whites in economic subjection. The liberating force is released by what is variously called 'the free market system', 'the competitive system', 'the capitalist system' or 'the profit system'. When we buy a product in the free market, we do not ask: What was the. colour of the person who made it? Nor do we ask about the sex, race, nationality, religion or political opinions of the producer. All we are interested in is whether it is good value for money. Hence it is in the interest of business men (who must try to produce at least cost in anticipation of demand) not only to seek out and employ the least privileged classes (excluded by custom or legislation from more remunerative employments) but actually to educate them for these opportunities by investing in them. I have tried to show that in South Africa it has been to the advantage of investors as a whole that all colours bars should be broken down; and that the managements of commercial and industrial firms (when they have not been intimidated by politicians wielding the planning powers of the state) have striven to find methods of providing more productive and better remunerated opportunities for the non-Whites.” (p 173)
Unlimited Government Exploits the Politically Weak

“The subjugating force is universally exerted through what we usually call, when writing dispassionately, the interventionist, collectivist, authoritarian or 'dirigiste' system or, when writing tendentiously, by euphemisms like 'the planned economy'. Unchecked state power (or the private use of coercive power tolerated by the state) tends, deliberately or unintendedly, patently or deviously, to repress minorities or politically weak groups. Thus the effective colour bars which have denied economic opportunities and condemned non-Whites to be 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' have all been created in response to demands for state intervention by most political parties (although in some of the most blatant cases, to pressures from those who have claimed to be 'syndicalists' or 'Marxists'). Of course, the extension of state control need not necessarily involve discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, caste or creed; yet in practice it does seem always to discriminate against the politically weak; and by reason of history, the non-Whites have (so far) usually fallen into this class.”

“ Experience of coloured minorities in Britain today seems superficially to contradict the principle just stated. That is due to an illusion. It is true that, except through state tolerance of the occasional private use of coercive power by labour unions (in order to keep out non-white interlopers), a deeply-rooted tradition of fair play has prevented conspicuous discrimination against the advantage of a small non-white political minority. (Exceptions to this include the exclusion of West Indians as bus drivers and conductors, and efforts by Labour unions to prevent the employment of Italians or Poles in mining). But this is because the minority is at present so small that there is no political advantage to be won through the promise of legislative discrimination against it. What appears now as a powerful ethical convention hostile to racial discrimination will, I fear, prove precarious under the traditions of omnipotent representative government. Until the Courts are empowered to declare unconstitutional and void all laws or collective agreements. which contain colour discriminations, open or disguised, minority rights will be insecure. (p 173)

Competition Liberates Minorities

“The virtues of the free market do not depend upon the virtues of the men at the political top but on the dispersed powers of substitution exercised by men in their role as consumers. In that role, a truly competitive market enables them to exert the energy which enforces the neutrality of business decision-making in respect of race, colour, creed, sex, class, accent, school, or income group. The reader will have noticed that at no time have I claimed that the free market which releases the 'liberating force' has been motivated by altruistic sentiment. (p 174)

“For omnipotent representative government (i.e., constitutionally unchecked government, without enforceable rules for making rules) to claim a similar neutrality, we would have to have absolute faith in the virtues of the men who hold, seek or wish to retain power, against the temptations to buy the support of majorities by discriminating against minorities. Virtue may triumph; but in the light of the realities of vote-catching pressures, it demands that the camel shall pass through the eye of a needle. In a book published nearly 30 years ago, I argued that competition is essentially an equalitarian force. In a country of racially homogeneous population, it tends, unless obstructed by sectionalist law and administration or the use of private coercive power (as by labour unions or business monopolies), to bring about the classless society. In a multiracial society, it tends, because of the consumers' colourblindness, to dissolve customs and. prejudices which have been restricting the ability of the under-privileged to contribute to, and hence to share in, the common pool of output and income. This is because business decision-makers -'entrepreneurs' - have an immensely powerful incentive to economise for the benefit of their customers, who collectively make up the public. Their success depends upon their acumen and skill in acquiring the resources needed for production at the least cost, and especially in discovering underutilised resources. Yet in some backward countries it is still regarded as a weakness that private industrialists should put their wealth 'into speculative and high profit-making enterprises, into manufacture of consumers' goods, rather than into basic industries'. It is hardly surprising that the rate of economic development has most disappointed the hopes of rulers in countries where such opinions are influential. Labour is the most striking example of under-utilised resources which the economic interests of private profit. seekers would attract to more productive uses. Even in countries of homogeneous population, large classes of people will have been confined to work of avoidably low productivity and hence of low value as a result of custom reinforced by deliberate restrictions on competitive markets. (p 174)

“In a truly free enterprise society, however, it is the duty of the state not only to refrain from legislation which raises the income of favoured groups by making certain wanted things scarce, but to prevent private arrangements having the same effect by enforcing laws and procedures which are usually known as anti-monopoly or anti-trust. Indeed, the basic distinction between a competitive enterprise or free market system and a restrictionist system is that, under truly free enterprise, the contrivance of scarcity for the private or sectional interest is prohibited, whereas the only limit to the creation of scarcities by 'central planning' is the discontent which may be expressed through the ballot-box or, where free elections are suppressed, through the potential intrigues of groups manouvering for control of the armed forces and exploiting popular discontent in the process. In referring to 'truly free enterprise', I have obviously envisaged a form of society which the course of history has never allowed fully to emerge. In every country of the world, economic self-rule by the people is frustrated to some extent by state intervention to protect sectional interests. By 'economic self-rule by the people', I simply mean the democratic exercise of consumers sovereignty. Under a free market system, income receivers as a whole control the economy through the discipline they exercise over decision-makers, through buying or refraining from buying the services and commodities offered in the market. The present is a restrictionist, not an equalitarian or liberal age; and I know of no country in which the state forbids all creation of scarcity, that is, all action for the benefit of at least some politically powerful sections. There is, for instance, no country in the world in which anti-trust legislation, although widely and rightly applied to industrial and commercial activities, has been effectively applied to organised labour and organised agriculture. In a free market system, however, in which the state has not been prevented (through the political power of sectional groups) from performing its co-ordinating role, the detailed pattern and rate of progress of economic development is set by responsible entrepreneurial planning. The form in which the community's resources are replaced or accumulated is then the result of responsible foresight and decision-making on the part of the business men who seek to avoid 'losses' and to make 'profits' in catering for the freely expressed preferences of the sovereign consumer. “ (p 176)

State Planning Puts Sectional Interests Above Social Interests

“The ultimate motive for 'central planning' decisions is political – the exercise of state power for sectional interests - and the trouble about any system under which politically powerful groups are favoured is that the social interest is ignored. As Professor P. T. Bauer has remarked (of India today): 'The increasingly close governmental control of social and economic life in recent years has tended to strengthen separatism by enhancing the prizes of political power and thus the intensity of the struggle for it, and for this reason it has accentuated concern with ethnic differences between the rulers and the ruled.' When democratic precepts are honoured, political power confers no rights beyond that of determining non-discriminatory rules. Once the ability of political majorities to enrich themselves at the expense of political minorities is excluded by iron-clad constitutional entrenchments, motives for central planning of the type which we have had South Africa (for 'separate development') would disappear.(p 177)

Limited Government the Answer

“Some argue that the defect of central planning in South Africa is simply that non-Whites are without effective political representation. If all races were properly represented, they believe, the power of the state could be used for the benefit of all, instead of  for the benefit of the Whites. But this is a partial truth. Universal suffrage would merely mean the transfer of power to a new political majority, with no constitutional limitations to prevent retaliatory abuse. If there to be a bloodless solution to South Africa's race problems it will, I suggest demand the acceptance of the philosophy of free enterprise, better described as 'liberalism' in its 19th century sense. The ethos of this philosophy is that it denies the right of the state to discriminate. Whilst many laws can be made only by majority decisions, the liberal insists that all the laws so determined must apply to all members of the community in the same sort of way. Under such a precept, as J. S. Mill acknowledged, the state may legitimately treat classes and races differently if, as a result of history they happen to be primitive and uneducated. But the precept creates no justification for any apartheid ideal. Differentiation is justified only if it is being accompanied by genuine steps to remove the causes of the backwardness which has temporarily justified the differential treatment. “

“The truth is that parliamentary institutions (not only in South Africa, but in many other countries of the Western world) have been allowed to develop in a manner which the great protagonists of democracy, J. S. Mill, von Humboldt and Tocqueville, would have deplored. Decisions by parliamentary majorities may conflict headlong with the democratic ideal unless the powers of parliament are rigidly limited and defined by powerful tradition or appropriate constitutional checks so as to exclude discriminatory laws. But the so-called democratic world accepted the form of government advocated by the apostles of a free parliamentary system without remembering or understanding the conditions necessary for it to function without injustice or tyranny. In any good society a ruling majority can be allowed no rights (a) to enrich itself at the expense of a minority or an unrepresented class or race; or (b) to attempt to maintain any historically determined status or privilege at the expense of a minority or the unrepresented. The rule of law must be a rule of non-discrimination and a rule, therefore, of limited state intervention in the sphere of markets and free contract. The survival of apartheid is, indeed, the survival of a kind of socialism - often altruistically motivated - whilst the dissolution of colour injustice has been continuously assisted by competitive capitalism. The persistence of colour injustice has been a triumph, perhaps temporary, for the ideologies of 'dirigisme'. The age-old determination of white South Africans to continue to be both white and supreme can be observed today to be in process of transformation. The white intelligentsia are thinking more and more in terms of how to avoid black supremacy (a mere turning of the tables). For market forces, reinforced recently by a world opinion inflamed at reports (sometimes true and sometimes untrue) of colour injustices, are now making far-reaching political adjustments expedient. The Bantustan policy, so far enacted concretely in Transkei 'self rule', has been a reluctant, improvised, clumsy move in the required direction. But it is only the first move. If a bloodless solution is to be found, subsequent moves will, I suggest, have to be framed in an understanding of the need for effectively entrenched rules for making rules - a constitutional check on the power of politicians who accept the responsibilities of government.” (178)

William H HuttRevivalist 4