What Westerners can learn from South Africa
“Small nations. The concept is not quantitative; it points to a condition; a fate; small nations lack that felicitous sense of an eternal past and future; at a given moment in their history, they all passed through the antechambers of death; in constant confrontation with the arrogant ignorance of the mighty, they see their existence as perpetually threatened or with a question mark hovering over it; for their very existence is the question.”
— Milan Kundera
The populist wave in the West, which crested in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the successful Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, and victories for populist political parties across Europe in the last few years have lost momentum. What was once a confident, dynamic movement now more closely resembles a shadow of its former self – a tattered and tainted flag. Increasing numbers of Western conservatives and people on the Right are consequently now becoming disillusioned with the party political system and are beginning to look elsewhere for guidance for the challenging road ahead.
What insights can I share on this situation from South Africa? Being part of a minority community with a Western heritage, living on the edge of Western civilization, arguably offers a useful perspective to see things that Westerners in bigger countries sometimes miss, as Czech writer Mikan Kundera eloquently puts it above.