In the course of these commemorations [of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution], the SACP noted the absolutely central and selfless role played by the Soviet Union in the struggle against colonialism and white minority rule in Southern Africa." — SACP annual augmented central committee statement, December 3 2017. Colonialism featured prominently in 2017 as a great historical evil and, remarkably, the argument goes, as a very real contemporary threat. So ubiquitous is the idea, in general terms it seemed to enjoy more prominence than even apartheid itself, long since rebranded as "colonialism of a special type". Helen Zille did most to heighten debate on the subject. In a series of clumsy tweets she argued in March that some benefit stood to be accrued from the legacy of colonialism, infrastructure-wise, if only one were able to look past all the accompanying pain. Unfortunately, no-one was willing to look past the pain, both real and imagined, and the public mind melted down into goo in re...

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