Struggle(s) for Self-determination: Afrikaner Aspirations in the Twenty-first Century

Visagie, Riaan (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The question of self-determination is not a new one. Struggles for autonomy have drawn interest both from within and outside academia, and as a phenomena is not confined solely to history. Contemporary examples abound, including the recent decision of British voters to support a negotiated exit from the European Union – known as Brexit – and the uncertainty caused by calls for Catalonian and Kurdish independence. Clearly this phenomena holds valid and real consequences for the global state system. Moreover, very few scholarly studies touch upon Afrikaner self-determination, not to mention provide an in-depth analysis of just what this concept entails. It is into this deficit that this study ventures, through an analysis of historical and contemporary Afrikaner self-determination aspirations and the conditions under which it exist. The research question this study investigates is whether the phenomenon of national self-determination can be identified in historical and contemporary Afrikanerdom, and what the broad trends and developments in Afrikaner self-determination aspirations are, as represented by key Afrikaner activists and organisations. In order to begin addressing this research problem it is first and foremost necessary to understand what national self-determination is, and what factors are conducive towards its emergence and/or decline. As will be shown, national self-determination is a chameleonic right that seeks to establish an independent domain of political control – in various forms. On the factors conducive towards the phenomenon’s emergence and/or decline, this analysis points toward discontent within deeply divided societies under democratic forms of governance that may accentuate these divides instead of bridging them – most notably majoritarianism – while other forms of democratic systems – such as consociationalism – may induce the opposite. Secondly, it is necessary to establish what, if any, are the broad trends and developments of Afrikaner self-determination efforts in an historical context. As will be made clear, the phenomenon of self-determination runs like a golden thread throughout Afrikaner history, from the anti-imperial and republican Afrikaner self-determination efforts of the nineteenth century to those in the twentieth century that mobilised Afrikaner Nationalism and the policy of apartheid to protect Afrikaner autonomy by denying others the same right. Thirdly, and closely linked with the former, a review of the broad manifestations of contemporary Afrikaner self-determination discourse and action as presented by key self-determination activists and organisations was undertaken, in conjunction with the factors which contribute to action in this regard. Here it was shown that Afrikaner self-determination is alive and well in South Africa, with Afrikaner centric organisations seeking the establishment of greater internal self-determination while not denying the possibility of grand self-determination – or the consideration of Afrikaner independence – in the future. Moreover, this analysis proposes that deep rifts within South African society – further worsened by the non-accommodation of majoritarianism and the resultant sense of political impotency – creates the conditions necessary to further Afrikaner action in this regard. Yet this need not be so. Indeed, there are alternatives to the attainment of Afrikaner self-determination on a grand scale, and none appear more promising than the group accommodation sought by consociationalist forms of democratic governance.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die selfbeskikking vraagstuk is nie ‘n nuwe een nie. Stryde vir outonomie lok belangstelling van binne en buite die akademie, en as ‘n verskynsel is dit nie net beperk tot die geskiedenis nie. Hedendaagse voorbeelde bestaan in oorvloed, insluitend die onlangse besluit van Britse kiesers om ‘n uittrede uit die Europese Unie – bekend as Brexit – te onderhandel, en die onsekerheid wat veroorsaak word deur oproepe vir Kataloniese en Koerdiese onafhanklikheid. Dit is duidelik dat hierdie verskynsel verreikende gevolge vir die globale staatstelsel inhou. Daarbenewens raak baie min studies aan die kwessie van Afrikaner selfbeskikking, om nie te praat van ‘n omvattende analise van presies wat hierdie konsep behels nie. Dit is in die navorsingsgaping wat hierdie studie onderneem word deur middel van ‘n analise van historiese en kontemporêre Afrikaner selfbeskikking aspirasies, en die omstandighede waaronder dit bestaan. Die primêre navorsingsvraag wat hierdie studie ondersoek is of die verskynsel van nasionale selfbeskikking geïdentifiseer kan word in historiese en kontemporêre Afrikanerdom, en wat die breë tendense en ontwikkelings in Afrikaner selfbeskikking aspirasies is, soos verteenwoordig deur belangrike Afrikaner-aktiviste en organisasies. Om hierdie navorsingsprobleem aan te spreek is dit eerstens nodig om te verstaan wat nasionale selfbeskikking is, en watter faktore bevorderlik is vir die opkoms en/of agteruitgang daarvan. Soos gewys word, nasionale selfbeskikking is ‘n chameleoniese reg wat daarop gemik is om ‘n onafhanklike terrein van politieke beheer te vestig – in verskillende vorme. Op die faktore wat die verskynsel se opkoms en/of agteruitgang bevorder, dui hierdie ontleding op ontevredenheid binne ‘n diep verdeelde samelewing onder demokratiese bestuursvorme wat hierdie skeidings kan beklemtoon – veral met betrekking tot meerderheidsregering – terwyl ander vorme van demokratiese stelsels – soos konsosialisme – moontlik die skeidings kan oorbrug. Tweedens is dit nodig om vas te stel wat – indien enige – die breë tendense en ontwikkelings van Afrikaners se selfbeskikkingspogings in ‘n historiese konteks is. Soos duidelik gemaak word, loop die verskynsel van selfbeskikking soos ‘n goue draad dwarsdeur Afrikanergeskiedenis, van die anti-imperiale en republikeinse Afrikaner-selfbeskikkingspogings van die negentiende eeu tot dié van die twintigste eeu wat Afrikaner-nasionalisme gemobiliseer het, insluitend die beleid van apartheid wat Afrikaner outonomie beskerm en bevorder het deur ander dieselfde reg te ontken. Derdens, en in noue verband met die voormalige, is ‘n oorsig van die breë manifestasies van kontemporêre Afrikaner-selfbeskikkingsdiskoers en aksie onderneem – soos aangebied deur sleutelbeskiktingsaktiviste en organisasies – tesame met die faktore wat bydra tot aksie in hierdie verband. Hier word getoon dat Afrikaner-selfbeskikking in Suid-Afrika floreer, met Afrikaner- sentriese organisasies wat die vestiging van interne selfbeskikking propageer, terwyl hulle nie die moontlikheid van volkome selfbeskikking in die toekoms ontken nie. Daarbenewens stel hierdie analise voor dat diep verskeurings binne die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing – verder versleg deur die nie-akkommodasie van meerderheidsregering, en die gevolglike sin van politieke impotensie – die voorwaardes skep wat nodig is vir verdere Afrikaneraksies in hierdie verband. Tog hoef dit nie so te wees nie. Inderdaad, daar is alternatiewe tot die bereiking van Afrikaner-selfbeskikking op groot skaal, en geeneen lyk meer belowend as die groep akkommodasie wat deur konsosialistiese vorme van demokratiese regering nagestreef word nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103344
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