From Reader Tony H. comes this little bit of realism, South Africa’s Brave New World. It’s a long but very clear-headed look at what has happened in post-apartheid South Africa since the sainted Nelson Mandela came to power, and his political descendants’ activities. Here’s a brief taste:
That whole “sophisticated economy and infrastructure” that got “handed over intact” now by and large no longer exists. Consider something as basic as running water: in 1994, South Africa had some of the most sophisticated water infrastructure on earth, with a whole system of dams, reservoirs, and long-distance inter-basin conduits working together to conquer the geographical challenges of having several major cities and mining centers located on an arid plateau. All of this water was safe, drinkable, and actually came out of the tap when you turned the handle. This picture was marred of course by poor delivery to black rural communities and squatter camps, but in the early 90s the government was making rapid progress towards serving more of those people too.
That water system is now basically non-functional. It’s estimated that something like 10 million people no longer have reliable access to running water. When the water does run, it’s frequently filthy and contaminated with human sewage. South Africa had its first urban cholera outbreak in the year 2000, and they are now a regular occurrence. Again, this isn’t for lack of money or effort. The state has spent billions on trying to fix the water problems, and the government’s water bureaucracy has tripled in size since 1994. Something else has gone wrong.
And that’s just part of the story. I urge you to read the whole review.
And now, part 2. With the above reading in mind, please read Victor Davis Hanson’s Life Among The Ruins. Again, a taste:
How did all of this so quickly erode our great country? Our crisis was not the next generation of foreign Hitlers and Stalins. It was not earthquakes, floods, or even pandemics. It was not endemic poverty and want. It was not a meager inheritance from past generations of incompetents. Nor was it a dearth of natural resources or bounty.
Instead our catastrophe arose from our most highly educated, the wealthiest and most privileged in American history with the greatest sense of self-esteem and sanctimoniousness. Sometime around the millennium, they felt their genius could change human nature and bring an end to history—if only they had enough power to force hoi polloi to follow their abstract and bankrupt theories that they had no intention of abiding by themselves.
Feel free to draw the many parallels between South Africa and the United States, as the two nations have become similarly degraded. The methodologies may have been somewhat different, but the outcomes are eerily similar.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range.