The Cape Times’ Subaltern Studies

The Cape Times’ Subaltern Studies
Note: This is part of the Liberal Nazi’s thread, a copy has been sent to the newspaper concerned.(from

The Cape Times’ Subaltern Studies

Patrick Laurence’s pathetic attempt to exhonerate the nazi sympathiser Van Wyk Louw, in a piece published (and more than likely commissioned) by the Cape Times yesterday falls into a division of subaltern studies (the study of subordinate, dominated, marginalised or excluded “races”, castes, ethnic and linguistic groups, classes, genders and cultures) that looks at demagogues and the way their supporters contest power.

If Hitler wasn’t all that bad, the logic of Laurence’s argument goes, then Himmler and Goering could be forgiven for what they perpetrated against the Jewish people. It is easy to fall into the trap of equating the Nazi Holocaust with the apartheid state, but the real travesty is if we ignore the history of our nation, brushing aside growing concerns that we have not been fully reconciled as a people, nor totally in possession of the truth about the perpetrators of hate-crimes, especially when it comes to poets and writers.

Laurence manages to turn a “brief flirtation with Nazism” into an eloquent defence of Grand Apartheid and Separate Development. And while not a “devotee of Verwoerd” N P Van Wyke Louw, it is admitted, contributed to theories about racial superiority, and indeed, as Laurence recognises, justified Verwoerdian notions of seperate development in his own, unenviable way. It would take a grant from the Helen Suzman foundation to produce a closer reading of the texts in this debate, but from what I can gather, Laurance is dangerously close to prevaricating on the crime against humanity (known as Apartheid) and indeed, fabricating history.

If Apartheid wasn’t all that bad, goes Laurence’s own monologic, because it carried within it, the seeds of its own demise, then Nazism was even better, since only Hitlers suicide ended World War 2. It is impossible to retrace history, to correct mistakes and deviations in thought — all we have to go on is the solipsism of hope that future generations will not make the same mistakes as those of our forefathers, some of whom went to the grave denying that such a strange notion as non-racialism could ever exist in reality.

Before SIze Became an Issue

Before Size Became an Issue

SHORTLY after the election in 1994, South Africa joined the Commonwealth and in return for various guarantees, most notably the Sunset Clauses negotiated by SACP leader Joe Slovo that protected white interests, the wholesale discounting of various elements of the old regime began. Most notably the privatisation of state assets such as Telkom (Telephone), Transnet (Transport), Iscor (Steel), Sasol (Petrol) and more recently the pending sale of Eskom (Electricity).

The preditory capitalism unleashed by the forces of transformation had created a strange new ball game that would reshape the economic landscape, effecting consumers for decades to come. In the brief months preceding the epochal 1994 elections, and in a climate of uncertainty before size became an issue, Tony O’Reilly’s Independent Group seized control of the Argus Group, formerly owned by the South African Associated Newspapers, “a radical transformation had begun in the newspaper industry,” records Gerald Shaw in his informal history of the Cape Times.

In March 1994, after buying titles like the Argus, Weekend Argus and Star, the group went on to poach the jewel in Times Media’s crown, the Cape Times: “Before the deal could go through, [Independent] had to satisfy the Competition Board that the continued existence of the Cape Times and the continued editorial independence of both the Cape Times and [renamed] Cape Argus were not in jeapardy, and that the need of all sections of the community served by these newspapers to have a ‘meaningful voice’ in the running of them would be respected.”

Shaw observed wryly that “as far as the Competition Board saw it, a monopoly system already existed among English language newspapers at the Cape, and a change of control of the Cape Times and Argus from [Anglo-JCI] to Independent Newspapers would not alter the situation in the city.” In other words, whatever the deal, Anglo-American interests still appeared to be be served.

Next: Big is well, Bigger…log onto The Size Issue to find comments on the Independent Group and South Africa’s Supersized Media: