MoboReader > Literature > Boer Politics

   Chapter 1 BOER APOLOGISTS.[2]

Boer Politics By Yves Guyot Characters: 11292

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


1.-Disregard of Facts and Subordination to the Vatican.

I notice with satisfaction, that people, who a short time ago would not listen to a word about the Transvaal, are now no longer animated by the same spirit of confidence, and are even beginning to wonder whether they have not fallen into the same mistake made by so many in the Dreyfus case, who only began to entertain doubts after the exposure of the Henry forgery.

I have been asked "Why have you not answered Dr. Kuyper's article in the Revue des Deux Mondes?" and it appears that Dr. Leyds has been heard to say in Brussels: "M. Yves Guyot has made no answer to Dr. Kuyper's article." As though it were unanswerable!

I might well retort with the question: "Why does the Pro-Boer press never reply to counter arguments save by vague phrases, and evading the real issue? Why does the French press, in particular, confine itself to lauding "the brave Boers" and the "venerable President Krüger," and to extolling the virtues with which it credits them, instead of studying their actual social condition, and giving its readers the plain facts? Why do we not find one word in our papers of the articles by M.M. Villarais and Tallichet, published in the Bibliothèque Universelle.[3]"

It is an exact repetition of the method employed by the Anti-Dreyfusard papers in the Dreyfus case. But the odd thing is, that many who were then exasperated by it, now look upon it as quite natural, and are not surprised to find themselves bosom friends of Drumont, Rochefort, Judet, and Arthur Mayer. The Transvaal question unites them in a "nationalist" policy, which, if it were to go beyond mere words, would result in a war with England and might complete, by a naval Sedan, the disaster of 1870.

The majority of Frenchmen have brought to the scrutiny of the matter a degree of pigheadedness that clearly proves the influence of our method of subjective education. We state our faith on words, and believe-because it is a mystery.

The Revue des Deux Mondes, in which Dr. Kuyper's article is published (February 1st), has become an organ of Leo XIII. Those free-thinkers, protestants, and Jews in France who take part in the Anglophobe movement, are thus naively furthering the aims of the Vatican and the Jesuits, whose endeavour has ever been to stir up Europe against England-England that shall never be forgiven for the liberalism of her institutions, for the independence of her thinkers, and for her politics, to which they attribute, not without reason, the downfall of the temporal power.

The apologetic portion of Dr. Kuyper's article shows the Boers in their true light. Far from refuting it, I will quote from it. The critical part obscures the points at issue. I will clear them up.

2.-The Boers, the Natives, and Slavery.

Dr. Kuyper's article begins with the words: "Once more the yuletide has sent forth the angelic message 'Peace on Earth,' even to where the natives gather at the humble chapels of our missionaries."

Dr. Kuyper then undertakes to show us how the Boers understand "the angelic message" in their treatment of the coloured race. He begins by waxing wroth with the English who, in 1816, in consequence of the representations of their missionaries, had instituted an enquiry as to the manner in which the Boers treated their slaves, "England humiliated them before their slaves," he says. The English also protected natives.

Dr. Kuyper says:-

"With little regard for the real rights of their ancient colonists, the English prided themselves on protecting the imaginary rights of the natives."

The italics are his own. This virtuous protester continues:-

"Deceived by the reports from their missionaries, little worthy of belief, and led astray by a sentimental love for primitive man, 'The Aborigines Protection Societies,' so drastically exposed by Edmund Burke, saw their opportunity. With their Aborigines Societies, the deists posed in the political arena as protectors of the native races, while, in religious circles, the Christians with their missionary societies posed as their benefactors."

Dr. Kuyper forgives neither the deists nor the missionaries. And what of the Boers?

"The Boers had introduced a system of slavery copied from that adopted by the English in their American colonies; but greatly modified. I do not deny that, at times, the Boers have been too harsh, and have committed excesses....

"The Boers are not sentimentalists, but are eminently practical. They recognised that these Hottentots and Basutos were an inferior race....

"The Boers have always resolutely faced the difficulty of the colour question so persistently kept out of view by the English."

And Dr. Kuyper goes on to speak of the multiplication of the blacks in South Africa. He dare not point to the logical solution, which would be to regulate matters by extermination, pure and simple; but he gives vent to his hatred of the English who, far from checking that multiplication, assist it by their humane treatment of the natives. He is especially wrathful with English missionaries, "those black-frocked gentlemen." He states that the Boers do their best "to keep them at a distance"; and he cites, as a fact, which fills him with indignation and alarm:-

"A coloured bishop has been appointed president of a kind of negro council in Africa."

I confine myself to quoting Dr. Kuyper. He shows too plainly the character, passions, and hatreds of the Boers, to render comment necessary. He acknowledges that the Great Trek, the emigration northwards, did not begin till after 1834, when, according to the manifesto of 188

1, known as the Petition of Rights, "in consequence of the enforced sale of their slaves, the old patriarchal farmers were ruined." This document represents that it was treating them "with contumely" to offer them money compensation, adding regretfully "that the greater portion of the money remained in the hands of London swindlers." The regret and the contumely are difficult to reconcile. Ancestors of the Boers had more than once acted in a similar manner towards the Dutch East India Company when dissatisfied with their administration, and unwilling to pay their taxes. But Pro-Boers have a curious habit of magnifying things. One would imagine, to hear them speak, that every Boer in the Cape had packed wife, children, and goods into ox-wagons and had trekked north. As a matter of fact, the greater proportion remained behind, and their descendants formed the majority of the 376,000 whites enumerated in the census of 1891. The Great Trek was really composed of various detachments which started one after another in 1836. Statistics of the numbers of trekkers vary from 5,000 to 10,000. I have not been able to trace whether these figures refer only to adult males, or whether they include the women and children. In any case, when discussing South African affairs, we must always bear in mind the small number of persons concerned, in comparison with the vast extent of the area in question.

Not only these trekkers, but all who, from the period of the seventeenth century onwards, had had the tendency to wander from the Cape, belonged to the most adventurous and warlike portion of the population. They had spread themselves over an enormous tract of country, and were in close touch with kaffirs and bushmen, cattle-lifters using poisoned arrows. Living in isolated families, they acquired, in the course of their unceasing struggle with their savage neighbours, not only their qualities of daring and warlike skill, but habits of cruelty and cunning as well.

3.-Essentially a Man of War and Politics.

Between the Dutchman of Amsterdam, Haarlem, the Hague, or Rotterdam, installed in his comfortable dwelling, cultivating his tulips, priding himself upon his pictures, and drinking his beer, and the Boer, pure and simple, there is not the slightest analogy.

This Dr. Kuyper acknowledges. The Boer population is a compound of Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Hugenots, Germans and Scotchmen. Krüger and Reitz are of German, Joubert and Cronje, of French origin. Here is what Dr. Kuyper, himself, says of the Boers:-

"The word Boer signifies 'peasant,' but it would be a mistake to compare Boers with French peasants, English farmers, or even the settlers of America. They are rather a conquering race, who established themselves among the Hottentots and Basutos, in the same manner that the Normans, in the XIth Century, established themselves among the Anglo-Saxons. Abstaining from all manual labour, they devote themselves to their properties, sometimes as much as 5,000 to 6,000 acres in extent, and to the breeding of cattle and horses. Beyond this, their object in life is hunting lion and big game. The Boer is essentially a man of war and politics."

Here we have the true Boer, and not the idyllic "small farmer" pictured to us by a contributor to Le Temps. He is essentially the "man of war and politics," the counterpart of an Arab chief, the sole difference being that the Boer is not a polygamist and has no tribe under him; on the contrary, the Boers swarm off in isolated groups or families. Their conception of life is, however, the same. I quote here from my treatise on The Evolution of Property (p. 46) on the subject of Pastoral Tribes:-

"It was at one time the fashion to hold up pastoral tribes and the patriarchs with their long flowing beards, as subjects of admiration. Long-bearded patriarchs were objects of veneration. Despite the quarrels of Esau and Jacob, and the story of Joseph sold by his brethren, pastoral life was pictured to us as mild as milk, as innocent as that of sheep in the fold, until Renan pointed out its qualities and defects. At the same time we were told of the Bedouins "with saddle, bridle, and life on the Islam," always mounted, always armed, always engaged in war or razzias and mutual pillage; of the Turkomans and their motto: 'Thy soul is in thy sword'; and those who thus celebrated the amenities of pastoral life, and the heroic adventures of the Arabs of the desert, never perceived the contradictions they had fallen into."

At the end of that Chapter I spoke of the Boers, according to Levaillant, "the most carniverous of men," as having turned out of their possessions the nomadic Hottentot and Kaffir shepherds. The Boers represent that form of warlike and political civilisation in which production is indirect, and obtained by utilising the labour of others. It is a type of that ancient pillaging civilisation which we call war-like, when its methods have been reduced to rules. In this stage politics mean the organisation of pillage. Mr. Kuyper is right. "The Boer is essentially a man of war and politics." He has employed his talents at the expense of Hottentots and Kaffirs; he has continued to employ them to the detriment of the Uitlanders; and he thought the time had come to realise his programme of February 17th, 1881, formulated by Dr. Reitz at the end of his official pamphlet,[4] "Africa for the Africanders from the Zambesi to Simon's Bay." We have seen what view, according to his apologist, "the man of war and politics" takes of his relations with the natives; we shall now see how he regards his relations with the whites.

* * *

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares