Essay: South African Apartheid System

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¶ … South African Apartheid System

Many countries have had systems of racial separation, but perhaps the most widely known and widely reviled system was South Africa's Apartheid system, which separated black Africans from whites. However, like most systems of racial separation, the origin of apartheid was initially far more about economic concerns than social concerns. "The conventional view is that apartheid was devised by affluent whites to suppress poor blacks. In fact, the system sprang from class warfare and was largely the creation of white workers struggling against both the black majority and white capitalists. Apartheid was born in the political victory of radical white trade unions over both of their rivals. In short, this cruelly oppressive economic system was socialism with a racist face" (Hazlett, 2008).

In order to understand apartheid, one must understand the colonial history of South Africa. The Dutch established a settlement in South Africa in 1652, but were conquered by the British in 1796. The British initially established a relatively liberal government, which conflicted with the pro-slavery government established by Afrikaners. After Britain abolished slavery in South Africa in 1834, the Afrikaners moved north to escape from British rule, and established a very racist system of legal institutions, which actually conflicted with a relatively racially liberal 19th century Capetown that had integrated schools and permitted nonwhites to vote. However, when gold was discovered in the 1871, an intense rivalry developed between poor whites and blacks, as blacks developed the skills and communication abilities to take on coveted leadership positions in European-owned companies. White laborers formed labor unions, and, while black labor unions were not prohibited, they did not achieve the same recognition. This led to de facto differences in the treatment of the black and white labor forces. Within a short period of time, these de facto differences became actual legal differences. "The state instituted an array of legal impediments to the promotion of black workers. The notorious Pass Laws sought to sharply limit the supply of nonwhite workers in "white" employment centers. Blacks were not allowed to become… [END OF PREVIEW]

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