Residents of Lawley south of Johannesburg protes against land-grabs in the area, vowing to place the community on lockdown. File photo: ALON SKUY
Residents of Lawley south of Johannesburg protes against land-grabs in the area, vowing to place the community on lockdown. File photo: ALON SKUY

Western universities that are funding campaigns to investigate links between former leaders and slavery, fashionable movements declaring guilt before verdicts, denial that black people can be racist, independent thought censorship, use of the pejorative term Uncle Tom at its highest, portraits and busts removed in attempts to demonstrate that history can be destroyed and the overwhelming liberal-left positions of the majority of traditional and new media companies …. It in is this context of global contemporary social justice that land expropriation without compensation is occurring in SA.

Pity Robert Mugabe. Had he introduced "land reform" in 2016 as opposed to the late 1990s there would have been no condemnation — and no travel bans.

Faced with the gratuitous circumstances of today’s obsession with political correctness in the pursuit of social justice, I imagine he would have moved his office from Borrowdale to St James, where he could have held court with others in the aristocracy who shared his contempt for black peasants — and not have had to cringe at the images of teenage war veterans arguing over how to kick-start an abandoned combine harvester.

To justify the indefensible, Mugabe turned to the meaningless concept of social justice; this was not nearly the useful disguise for mischief it is today. While the official lines of Tony Blair’s Labour were condemnation and sanction, others on the western and northern European left silently cheered the moment Mugabe cast land reform as an issue of historical injustice. But by supporting the idea of social justice in this context, black members of the left were cheering the unemployment, hyperinflation and famine destroying other poor black people — something more ironic than a Labour government illegally entering a war.

"Der lange Marsch durch die Institutionen" ("the long march through the institutions") was a phrase coined by German student Rudi Dutschke regarding the infiltration of society and the subversion of order. This was all but complete in the West, interrupted to the agony and fury of the social justice liberal left by the election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016 and Britain’s decision to depart the EU. But these two events are not strong enough to protect title deeds from the ideological opportunism of the ANC as it embarks upon land confiscation.

By its own admission, land was never a priority of the ANC, ranking outside its top five objectives. So why is it doing this? Sound accounts have exposed the incompetence of its parliamentary concern under the previous minister and, like Mugabe, its fears of popularity decline. But neither of these answers reveal the flawed foundations central to its existence: the ANC is a product of the long march and the social justice worlds, with its stubborn views hardened by its exile in the Soviet Union. It is obsessed by useless theory and inherited privilege, and in today’s social justice culture being obsessed by history doesn’t necessarily mean you must learn from it.

Social justice has turned the West into cowards, and there will be no caution issued, irrespective of how fatal the idea. Unfortunately, the ANC has positioned itself not to be punished by sanctions or travel bans, but by things like the market forces responsible for so much of the world’s interdependence.

These are things advocates of social justice overlook or undermine. Unfortunately, if the ANC is unable to develop land expropriation as the means to food security it awkwardly claims it is, the party will be taught a lesson from which it is unlikely to recover.

Reader is an executive at financial technology firm Fourex in London. He is writing a book on British, South African and European politics.