Brilliantly written, densely researched and referenced Each page brings another shocking revelation about cronyism, corruption, nepotism and the dereliction of duty of the ruling class South Africa s poor have been abandoned the struggle was not for the rights of the masses, it was for the money and power that lay at the helm of the country One small group of rich bigots and race haters was simply replaced by another The only difference is their skin color The author has excellent journal Brilliantly written, densely researched and referenced Each page brings another shocking revelation about cronyism, corruption, nepotism and the dereliction of duty of the ruling class South Africa s poor have been abandoned the struggle was not for the rights of the masses, it was for the money and power that lay at the helm of the country One small group of rich bigots and race haters was simply replaced by another The only difference is their skin color The author has excellent journalistic and liberal credentials Some other reviewers simply dismiss him as an embittered white, as an Afrikaner which he clearly isn t who s opinion is no longer required They clearly didn t read the book The real losers in this whole sorry tale are the black poor Ignoring this and playing the race card is just standard South African illogical head in the sand thinking and just perpetuates the ex colonial victim mindset How many years must pass before the black political elite are held accountable The only take home lessons I can get from this sad history is that power corrupts absolutely and that the truth is mostly irrelevant The book is 700 pages of liberal bovine dust It is an unmitigated polemic assault on the African society in general e.g he says black journalists don t read R W Johnson is an embittered author who uses words to bash the South African body politic He skilfully portrays European as victims of the new political order in S.A as though they were not complicit in the making of this epoch. The universal jubilation that greeted Nelson Mandela s inauguration of South Africa inand the banishment of apartheid is one of the most thrilling, hopeful stories in the modern era This book tells the story of South Africa from that magic period to the bitter disappointment of the present Johnson does a great job of revealing the ANC s shift from a party defined by its militant Marxist activist base to a party defined by its rent seeking, patronage chasing members of the black bourgeois Unfortunately, Johnson displays tone deafness that reveals why the DA will be a viable opposition party to the ANC in KwaZulu Natal or Mpumalanga When he tries to downplay the tragedy of Apartheid and the structural barriers created by the NP to good governance by the ANC, he expresses a tone Johnson does a great job of revealing the ANC s shift from a party defined by its militant Marxist activist base to a party defined by its rent seeking, patronage chasing members of the black bourgeois Unfortunately, Johnson displays tone deafness that reveals why the DA will be a viable opposition party to the ANC in KwaZulu Natal or Mpumalanga When he tries to downplay the tragedy of Apartheid and the structural barriers created by the NP to good governance by the ANC, he expresses a tone that is felt by South Africans whenever a DA politician speaks a certain nostalgia for times before the ANC came to power This nostalgia, while faint and unspoken, drives South African politics Racial politics perseveres and increasingly the country is unraveling The ghost of apartheid lingers on in the form of ANC s destructive governance and a lack of relevant opposition outside of the Western Cape I can t say that I have much appreciation for Johnson s neo liberal ideology but his journalistic style is thoroughly enjoyable and well done He clearly displays an intense and broad knowledge of his nation yet I can t agree with his prescriptions On the whole, this is a worthwhile read but be warned if you are on the left, you will find yourself constantly shaking your head The author s chief complaint, overall, is the ideological pretensions underpinning most of the library of South Africa literature and he certainly adds to it with this big volume R W Johnson s God that failed critique of the ANC has its merits but smashing clay feet only begs the question of original faith Johnson himself seems associated with the Democratic Alliance and the Helen Suzman Foundation, bastions of middle class liberalism in the old South Africa and also the home of Alan Pa The author s chief complaint, overall, is the ideological pretensions underpinning most of the library of South Africa literature and he certainly adds to it with this big volume R W Johnson s God that failed critique of the ANC has its merits but smashing clay feet only begs the question of original faith Johnson himself seems associated with the Democratic Alliance and the Helen Suzman Foundation, bastions of middle class liberalism in the old South Africa and also the home of Alan Paton of original Beloved Country fame As partisans of the free market they were also they hoped the Liberal Answer to Communism A radical resolution of South Africa s ills alarmed them no less than their rightwing opposition, even as Helen Suzman maintained her lone liberal vigil in the Nat run parliament But can middle class white liberalism show the way to impoverished black millions Only if it can deconstruct its intellectual opposition and gain hegemony over the benighted fools at its feet in practice, embracing the Reagan Thatcher TINA Doctrine of unfettered monetarism, showing how conditional liberalism still remains in the South African context For this reason I argued with the author at some point on virtually every page, so my reader s response is going to get long.From the first paragraph of p 4 alone are several debatable assertions South Africa s sophisticated economy and infrastructure , far from being simply handed over intact to the ANC, instead absorbed the ANC into just another Western model political corporate machine, as was the once radical rightist Nationalist Party before it If South Africa was anything but a war torn country for whites, many residents of KwaZulu Natal and Soweto would disagree A veteran reporter like Johnson tells us as much in his take on the Truth Reconciliation Commission later, so why prevaricate in his opening chapter The ANC s 30 year military struggle against white power was largely ineffective in the field, but it did create paranoia in the apartheid establishment, and that was enough Uttering the name Joe Slovo even today brings forth fear and loathing If propaganda and sanctions be included as forms of guerrilla warfare, the dent made was serious indeed.Making common cause with Regis Debray, another recanted God that failed leftist, Johnson flails the South African liberation movement for its creaky hidebound Stalinism seemingly unaware that the late Joe Slovo embraced glasnost in his 1989 essay, Has Socialism Failed , a very thorough self critique of the SACP s ideological rigidity In the heat of high struggle as in WW II introspection was not a virtue Johnson also quotes that anointed prophet of triumphalist smuggery, Francis Fukuyama, at great length Fukuyama s urging South Africa to embrace the German unity model in uplifting its backward sector nicely ignores that East Germany was a developed industrial society any resemblance it bears toward the depressed state of township SA arose after the former GDR s de industrialized integration into market democracy But why spoil a good read with facts I also disagree with Johnson, in that South African apartheid was comparable to Nazism, even if Helen Suzman remained free and in parliament In South Africa the dirty work of native conquest had already been done during the previous century, making the imposition of apartheid possible at all in 1948 The Nazi plan of settling the steppes was directly modeled on the Herrenvolk conquest of the veldt, and if left alone for 50 years would have settled into a vast Aryan South Africa in Europe with the same amnesia, no doubt I therefore could only blink at the page 315 when Johnson writes that parties representing the least educated achieve successful dominance over the better educated andsophisticatedonly when the party was backed by terror, surveillance, and political constraints of every kind Surely even he doesn t swallow this High Tory snotticism Only rarely has history deviated from the norm of the educated and sophisticated maintaining class rule by terror, surveillance and political constraint over the dark masses below No doubt this alleged deviance is the ANC s real crime.True to his conversion from progressive activist to mordant liberal rightist is his insistence that the cure for S.A s ruinous unemployment is neo liberal wage slashing, attracting new investment and higher employment through coolie labor This worked in the 1890s in establishing the mining industry, so it must surely be valid for today Why, if it wasn t for noisy organized labor S.A wouldn t even have had apartheid So D F Malan and Joe Slovo were on the same side the TINA Doctrine in practice Yet the new black bourgeoisie s take the money and run ethos is hardly a leftist ideological hangover and its racism is but a sure sign that a genuine, patriotic, upstart middle class is on the rise The 50% rise in shack dwellers since Mandela s successor, President Thabo Mbeki, embraced free market reform and the central bank s structural adjustment surely must be material proof that ANC is on the path to prosperity.Johnson s broad analysis of post 1960 African nationalism as a great historic mistake likewise overlooks certain fundamental facts however debatably benevolent European colonialism was still alien rule imposed from afar, exactly like the captive nation satellite regimes of Eastern Europe after WW II I doubt Johnson would be much moved by claims of benevolence in East Berlin or Bucharest like any sound Fukuyamist he quotes the prophet that socialism was revealed to be an obstacle to social and economic modernization Irrelevant is the socialist transformation of peasant Russia into the largest industrial power in Europe and No 2 global military force or the basket cases of so many post socialist new democracies If township South Africa resembles Uzbekistan, Johnson might write, at least its ragged tzotzis were spared collective farms in the native reserves, so all is well Johnson speaks of either case as a First World white male, who s been neither Uzbek nor Bantu Re his overview of colonial British India said subcontinent possessed an order, unity, and modernity of its own before the British corporate conquest, Marx to the contrary Though cheered on by Winston Churchill, General Reginald Dyer thoroughly murdered the Raj s clay footed moral foundations at Amritsar If African nationalism is as passe as its Boer and Anglo predecessors, like them it will not simply go away nor is Democratic Alliance liberalism any likelier than before to serve as successor.In his swipe at Gramscian hegemony theory Johnson accuses himself Free Market Democratic intellectual and cultural hegemony over the ANC s failed nationalist leftism is exactly what he seeks The cry of the Western Right for decades has been the Left s alleged intellectual and cultural hegemony over the subject of South Africa and virtually every other issue, which Johnson echoes along with Chicago School economics all the while deriding the intellectual paucity of the ANC and friends If he was really up against so flabby an enemy his book wouldn t have been half as long.Johnson s critique of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission raises valid points, but is worn down by the same ideological axe grinding of which he accuses the hatchet man judges of the ANC I wonder if his distaste for political and moral judgment over riding law and due process, and his concern for railroading defendants, extended to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia or to the political vindictiveness of unified Germany s Enquete Commission on the East German Dictatorship Likely not, even as he touts unified Germany as an economic role model He dwells exclusively on ANC aggression in the township battles with Inkatha that figured so prominently in the early 90s, after apartheid s semi dismantling, and easily dismisses evidence of Inkatha police collusion Yet however fumbling the TRC s fact finding, such cooperation between authority and vigilante thuggery was well known to township dwellers of all parties resembling Russian Black Hundreds ca 1905 no puns intended , subsidized and egged on by the Tzar s Okhrana to prove that the dark people weren t ready for democratic reform and still required the firm, guiding hand of law and order by sword and bayonet.I ll rate this book three stars for Johnson s fluid writing and reasoned arguments, despite their elisions, loopholes, and biases His personal wish to break free of the ANC s monolithic unity was successful, but as a corrective to leftist PC coverage of South Africa he s countered only with neo conservative ideological tropes that didn t fly even when used by the Nats and Ronald Reagan 25 years ago Whatever the failings of the black left nationalist agenda of the ANC, I can t see patronizing white liberalism and its very conservative class view as a viable alternative cure for the social ills of the South African majority This book portrays the un distilled reality of modern South Africa accurately portraying the nation s disillusioning road from high hopes, through the birth pains of democracy, right to the point where it stands today at the edge of the abyss Realism at its best will have you laughing and then chiding yourself for doing so such is the dark humour it is instilled with. mugabe did 9 11 says it all really.https www.theguardian.com books 200 mugabe did 9 11 says it all really.https www.theguardian.com books 200 coraggiosoUna spietata analisi dei primi 14 anni di governo dell ANC, in cui spaventa e preoccupa non tanto la corruzione diffusa, il negazionismo dell AIDS, lo sfacelo di istruzione e sanita pubblica, il deterioramento delle strutture, il peggioramento di tutti i parametri socio sanitari ed una crescita inferiore alle potenzialita , quanto la scomparsa della visione di Mandela di una nazione arcobaleno , sostituita da una nazione ad un solo colore dominante ed imbevuta di assistenzialismo, ma coraggiosoUna spietata analisi dei primi 14 anni di governo dell ANC, in cui spaventa e preoccupa non tanto la corruzione diffusa, il negazionismo dell AIDS, lo sfacelo di istruzione e sanita pubblica, il deterioramento delle strutture, il peggioramento di tutti i parametri socio sanitari ed una crescita inferiore alle potenzialita , quanto la scomparsa della visione di Mandela di una nazione arcobaleno , sostituita da una nazione ad un solo colore dominante ed imbevuta di assistenzialismo, marxismo terzomondista, centralismo democratico e revanchismo L A insiste giustamente sui danni derivanti dalle affirmative actions, che premiano l appartenenza etnica rispetto al merito Seppure i toni sono a volte eccessivi riflesso della frustrazione di un liberal bianco , viene giustamente sottolineato che scenari zimbabweani non sono verosimili in SA Nonostante in occidente la defenestrazione di Mbeki e l ascesa di Zuma siano state fonte di intense preoccupazioni, Johnson mostra un certo cauto ottimismo a seguito del cambiamento, anche se il libro termina prima dell insediamento di Zuma, evento oggetto di un appendice aggiunta in sede di pubblicazione Divagazioni Un po Rizzo Stella Ma esserlo in Sud Africa e molto piu coraggioso Molte verita sono perloppiu condivise da tantissimi sudafricani liberal ma taciute per ti di essere tacciati di razzismo R W Johnson ha le carte in regola pur essendo bianco per evitare tali accuse, dato il suo passato di attivista anti apartheid In compenso come in Rizzo Stella l opera e scarsamente e malamente strutturata, e la visione dell A e decisamente biased nel suo caso, anche dal fatto di vivere nel Kwa Zulu Natal, il che porta a conferire una certa aurea all IFP, che meno meritatamente viene estesa anche a molti Zulu dell ANC I got a bit carried away reviewing this book which I found utterly devastating in its effectiveness, and depressing too for reasons I make clear below Hence the length of this review and its nature Sorry Let me start by stressing that I was somewhat involved at a distance in the anti Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and knew people who were farinvolved, took real risks One of my late friends Andra was a South African psychotherapist, who treated some of the victims of torture by the I got a bit carried away reviewing this book which I found utterly devastating in its effectiveness, and depressing too for reasons I make clear below Hence the length of this review and its nature Sorry Let me start by stressing that I was somewhat involved at a distance in the anti Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and knew people who were farinvolved, took real risks One of my late friends Andra was a South African psychotherapist, who treated some of the victims of torture by the South African secret police, and one of her friends was assassinated by the latter I have no illusions about Apartheid Like almost everyone else, I celebrated the overthrow of Apartheid, and the relatively peaceful transition to majority rule without civil war And Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes However, I have just finished anti Apartheid activist R W Johnson s account of South Africa since Apartheid South Africa s Brave New World It took some time and resilience to finish this brilliant, incisive and data based account by Johnson, because it is so depressing to see how the peaceful transition to majority rule was so totally thrown away Moreover, the post Apartheid Nelson Mandela comes out of the account as a relatively powerless figure head, who naively put ANC unity ahead of good governance, and whose ignorance of basic economics meant he had nothing to say on key decisions which were left to his deputy The result was disaster.The book is an absolutely devastating critique of what the ANC has done to South Africa in terms of corruption, appalling inefficiency and destruction of the industrial state It is told by a Financial Times journalist and the critique is from a liberal concerned with the Black South African working class, who have been very badly served by the corrupt African middle class that has pillaged the economy, the aid donations, not to mention their leader Thambo Mbeki s denial that HIV causes AIDS For example, South Africa s water supply system was the best in Africa but has been slowly destroyed by incompetence and in due course with climate change, this may kill hundreds of thousands, if there is a serious drought The power grid had 30% over capacity in 1994, and there are now frequent power outages because no new capacity has been built and existing capacity is not well maintained The railway system was the best in Africa, and is now so bad that Black South African customers have literally burned down several major rail stations in frustration The police are hopelessly corrupt and filled with incompetent senior officers, who have ballooned in numbers at the expense of the on the ground policing Approximately four times as many people die in police custody each year as happened under the tyranny of Apartheid And the violent crime rate is astronomic and South Africa is the rape capital of the world.Massive sums have been spent on defense, which can be corruptly contracted South Africa now has state of the art submarines for which it has no conceivable use and advanced jet fighters it doesn t have the pilots to fly South Africa simply doesn t have enemies that necessitate such equipment, but oh what pork barrel politics it provides Only the massive increase in mineral prices has saved South Africa from economic collapse And the victims of all this corruption and incompetence have, above all, been poor Black South Africans.What has happened is also an object lesson in getting the detail of any deal correct The deal between the ANC and White Afrikaner National Party provided for proportional representation with each party s organization deciding who would fill the proportion of seats they won in an election This has proved to be a catastrophe because it means the ANC, which gets 65% of the vote simply nominates its 65% of seat holders, and so there is no effective opposition within the ANC, as there might be if seats were geographically elected Democratic centralism indeed This has made the resulting government hugely corrupt The old Broederbond of white Afrikaners has been replaced by an even smaller ANC clique of incompetent, corrupt politicians and crony capitalists Black South Africans.Even the much vaunted, much emulated Truth and Reconciliation Commission was flawed by administrative incompetence, failure to follow the rules of evidence taking, bias towards Apartheid crimes and failure to uncover perhaps understandable ANC atrocities Farvictims testified than actual perpetrators of the crimes so the reconciliation was limited See The Truth about the Truth Commission by Anthea Jeffrey AIDS denialism by Thambo Mbeki, Mandela s successor, killed not only 2.5 million, largely Black South Africans because of appallingly ignorant health policy based on denying AIDS existed it also killed one of Mandela s sons The White, Colored Mixed Race and Indian South Africans ignored the government s delusions and largely protected themselves from AIDS Not so the Black South African population Imagine the uproar if this had been done by the white Apartheid government Cry the beloved country indeed And in case you think Johnson s case is racist, he points out how massivelysuccessful neighboring Botswana has been by taking a different tack This was not inevitable This was path dependent, was the particular tragedy of the incompetent ANC leadership Of course, Apartheid is partly responsible for this tragedy By failing to educate Black South Africans in large numbers in technical and other skills in the 1970 90s, the number of appropriately educated Black South African candidates for key positions has been minuscule compared with demand The skilled white population has been under utilized, increasingly driven into exile by the crime rate, but are often used as contractors to do the work because qualified Black South Africans don t exist, though under qualified appointments nevertheless made And the paranoia and reverse racism of Mbeki and other ANC leaders has a clear origin in their battle with Apartheid Apartheid has very dirty hands even after it has ceased to exist.I find writing this review extremely difficult all those activists died for this To be betrayed by a Black South African plutocracy and kleptocracy Is this what Steve Biko 1946 77 died for Is this what 700 schoolchildren were machine gunned to death for in the 1976 Soweto riots A great book Shame on the ANC Excellent Book Well worth the read if you want to know what is really going on in S.A.