South Africa: Dreaming of a Cape Republic - Secession May Promise Liberal Salvation, but Faces High Hurdles

Photo: Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa.

Amid growing pessimism about the economic and political prospects of South Africa, liberty-minded people have two options: stay and compromise with a social-democratic or democratic socialist order, or leave. But could they stay - and leave?

"You will not sell liberalism to black people. Stop trying to," said Piet Croucamp, senior lecturer in Political Studies and International Relations at North West University to an audience at the 34th annual Libertarian Spring Seminar (LibSem) held last weekend in Velddrif. "Libertarians are living in a dream world. South Africans will never vote that way. They won't even vote for liberalism."

Painful though this might be to hear, it is hard to dispute. Supporters of libertarian or classical liberal principles (like me) have good reason to believe it leads to objectively better outcomes for all, including the poor, and holds the moral high ground compared to ideologies that place less value on individual freedom and more trust in governments. However, the electoral record of the Democratic Alliance (DA) shows this kind of thinking has limited appeal to the masses.

Some attribute the DA's recent decline in popularity to its abandonment of classical liberal principles in favour of identity politics under Mmusi Maimane, the...

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