[OPE-L:3184] Re: Re: Race and Justification

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Sun May 14 2000 - 11:24:01 EDT

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Nicky, why did you not check into the February referendum before you cited
its defeat as reason for why we should oppose the war veteran land grabs as
an act of solidarity with the Zimbabwean masses?

Not only was this the real destructive step taken in this discussion, it is
a serious ethical breach. It's one thing for us to get pissy on this list
about our favorite theorists (Sraffa, Dunayevskaya, Althusser, Grossmann,
etc); it's another thing to get people to intervene, however superficially,
into an actual struggle on the basis of unconsciousably manipulated
accounts of real events.

As for race, all whites are not being attacked as all Jews were or all
Indians in Uganda were--you are trading on this confusion; only those
whites who have the best land solely due to their race are being
expropriated or are being threatened with expropriation. The attempt to
seize land which was stolen during colonialism does make the land reform
race specific only because land was allocated on the basis of race during
colonialism, but it does not make these attacks racial in the sense of
impugning an entire people solely on the basis of their race.

Indeed it has been racist to allow these landowning whites to keep the most
arable land for 20 years since they only got it due to their race; it has
been to put the interests of a priviliged minority who have no legitimate
claim to the land whatsoever over the needs of the mass of the people.

The problem may now be that those whites who have agreed to withdraw
support from the MDC may not now be expropriated and that Mugabe may try to
rein in, using his characteristic terror, the war veterans again after his
political agenda has been met. The problem may well be very much the
opposite that you say. The problem is that he was never serious about
playing the race card to use your unfortunate language.

You may call the mass of Africans racist for wanting to retake specifically
those lands that were seized during colonialism and for which they fought
to regain, but you should understand that your opposition is not to my
"racism" but then to probably the majority of the people in "your" country.

You have evaded this issue--that is saying outright that the mass of
Zimbabweans and the majority of South Africans who seem to support the
squatters are anti white racists--simply by claiming that the February
referendum proves that people are on your side on the issue of
re-expropriation of lands taken during colonialism. Do note that in this
last sentence "race" per se does not enter as a justification for the
re-expropriation, but colonialism does. Of course since colonialism was
racial--that is,only whites could have the best land--the overcoming of its
legacy requires anti colonial action that only seems targetted at whites.
You choose to call this racist, I call it a completion of the anti colonial
struggle which will be thwarted again by Mugabe.

 Alternatively, we might discuss
>problems around motivating land reform at a grass roots level in Zimbabwe -
>e.g. the current inequities in communal land title - should communal land
>title be abolished as part of the reform process?

Unfortunately I do not know enough to determine whether this question is
framed well, much less to offer an answer.

Yours, Rakesh

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