A Brief History of Dictatorships, Part 3

Gwede Mantashe, Secretary General of the African National Congress and Master of Metaphors, made a comparison between Economic Freedom Fighters commander in chief, Julius Malema, and the late Führer of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, expressing the belief that Malema is much like the German dictator who is held liable for the deaths of over 50 million men, women and children.

Many South Africans disagree with this fantastic notion. Many agree. What do you think?

The Prince of Wales recently made similar comparisons between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hitler. The origins of Charles’ ascendancy to the British throne are also contested.

julius the baas

In my last post, I began making comparisons between Italy’s Benito Mussolini, Spain’s General Francisco Franco and, indeed, Adolf Hitler. Insightful readings vindicate the belief that these dictators really had little in common.

In this post, I continue to explore similarities and differences between authoritative regimes and their dictators, but within a South African context.

Read on.

Franco’s last years can be compared with South Africa’s National Party regimes under BJ Vorster and PW Botha where moderate and compromising reforms were proposed and dictated in opposition to wholesale reforms and the complete displacement of undemocratic institutions which were complete failures in meeting the national populations’ aspirations and evolution.

PW Botha

The cult of leadership and his regime is characterised as dictatorial. The state is ruled by one supreme leader. Policies are formulated by the dictator himself and moderations are suggested by his cabinet, but are invariably dismissed.

The objection to the Soviet Union’s Communist manifesto remains the foundation of Mussolini and Franco’s dictatorships and that of Germany’s Third Reich. It was used as a stepping stone towards racial ideologies which were successful in its implementation under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.

Franco’s dictatorship was not characterised by an ideology based on racial purification, but by the establishment of a civilised nation ruled effectively by the state. In this sense, South Africa’s National Party regime has similarities to all three European dictatorships mentioned.

Similarities are found among the governments, leadership strategies and military, or militant, regimes of Mussolini, Franco, Chile’s Pinochet, Nazi Germany and the apartheid regimes of South Africa. Similarities, but of a different nature, can also be found in Winston Churchill’s wartime cabinet when referring to the British Prime minister’s ideological origins.

churchill in boiler

Like Franco’s regime, the National Party based their ideological strategies of separate development among South Africans and, in particular, the legislative discrimination of ‘non-white’ South Africans on selective Biblical narratives. While Franco relied on co-operation from the Roman Catholic Church, the (South African) Nationalists were anti-papist and based the formation of their ideologies on Protestant and Dutch-reformed religious ideologies.

Pinochet’s military regime, with its Latin and colonial roots, matches Franco’s regime closest. Hitler’s regime is characterised by an efficient programme of propaganda promoting racist and supremacist ideologies similar to those propagated by both Mussolini and the South African apartheid regimes.

Churchill’s opposition to allowing Indians self-rule is significant as he sought to maintain the Empire and its strength and influence over the territories that they ruled. And yet he expressed dissatisfaction at Britain’s inept rule of Palestine while lauding the manner in which the Zionists proceeded to occupy the Holy Land through guerrilla warfare. He later declared himself as a life-long Zionist.

malema in parliament

Also significant is his observation of Britain’s ‘scorched earth policies’ during the implementation of prison camps during the Anglo-Boer war in which thousands of women and children were harshly incarcerated.

The strategy of using prison camps to weaken opponents was also keenly studied by the Nazis. This method was not an original idea conceptualised by the British, but came from Franco’s Spain, as Churchill pointed out during his term as a military intern in Spanish-occupied Cuba which today borders the U.SA.’s own prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

John Keegan notes Churchill’s observation in his biography of the British statesman;

“The recruitment of local militias was one favoured riposte; the ‘concentration’ of rural populations into settlements controlled by the army was another. “Concentration camps’ were a Spanish invention of the Cuban war; the invention was repeated in South Africa during the Boer War. Both were ineffective as measures of control.”

Next week: Apartheid regimes from Malan to Botha, Julius Malema, BJ Vorster, PW Botha, the Broederbond.





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