Cape independence and immigration policy: a response to Martin van Staden

Martin argues Cape independence is only justified if it comes with an open borders policy. I believe the opposite.

Robert Duigan


Robert Duigan


Apr 4, 2024

Cape independence and immigration policy: a response to Martin van Staden

Today I read a thinkpiece on the Daily Friend from Martin van Staden.

I hold Martin in fairly high esteem for a number of reasons, but his position on Cape independence is an absurd one.

Essentially his argument can be boiled down to a single proposition - that Cape independence is only justified if it comes with an open borders policy.

He makes his argument exclusively on abstractions, with a single exception - the inevitability of black-nationalist/communist rule in South Africa. He rightly castigates those who have faith in the South African voter, but then insists that the Cape should have unquestioning faith in its own ballot box.

This, coupled with mass influx from black South Africa, entails a black-nationalist electoral majority within a decade or two at most.

That inevitability, as Martin well understands, is based on ineluctable cultural differences, and racial resentment, which have shown no change in any way in the history of electoral polling.

Black South Africans, by a margin of nearly 9 to 1, vote exclusively for socialism and black supremacy. They will under no circumstances settle for any politician or party that offers any program that does not embody both of these guiding principles.

They prefer not to vote at all than to vote for any party that gives considerations to the rights of minorities, or to fiscal prudence.

The 2024 figures are based on an average of available opinion polls as of a couple of months ago
This graph is based on a study conducted by Tony Leon and Ryan Coetzee of the DA

"Charterist" here refers to ANC + EFF. Coloured identity is PA + GOOD + NCC.

As research from the DA itself shows, the decline in ANC/EFF support in the Cape has not been the result of a mass conversion, but of mass voter apathy - this year's voter registration drive saw IEC officials driven from the townships. But this will not be a permanent state of affairs - when a sufficiently charismatic new leader appears some day, that dormant voting bloc will return, and woebetide the minorities who have not prepared.

Liberalism, with some small but honourable exceptions, is a non-starter in Black South African culture. This Martin knows well is empirically true, though I can fully expect him to deny it in principle.

His understanding of Cape independence as the only possible vehicle for achieving Liberal government under the rule of law in South Africa is correct - and yet he insists that this should only be allowed to occur provided that no measures are taken to prevent those who vote exclusively for racial domination and wealth redistribution to become the majority.

His defence of this position is essentially a sentimental one, and defends it on a sentimental basis. Apart from gestures to the coercive nature of national borders, he says that the Cape is culturally identical with South Africa.

South Africa itself has no culture to speak of besides racial competition - cultural continuity is only visible within ethnic groups. Minorities in South Africa share much in common in this regard, and some minorities share some sentiments and values with the black majority.

The Cape is dominated by groups who are the minority everywhere else, and while they disagree with the principles guiding the neverending progress of the prevailing order, are not present in sufficient numbers to have a measurable effect on the National Assembly.

As voting patterns from the last 30 years have shown, the minoritarian and majoritarian voting blocs have diametrically opposed and irreconcilable notions of how to govern, and who deserves to be afforded legal protection.

Liberalism is not a universal principle. It is a certain understanding of what liberty and political authority means, which is exclusively an Anglo-Dutch cultural tradition. And those ethnicities who cannot assimilate into this cultural continuum, or at minimum adopt its core political principles will inevitable vote for its destruction.

The Cape will have universal franchise, and Martin is willing to condemn the Cape to the same fate as South Africa, and deny liberty for anyone except warlords, oligarchs and Afrikaner syndicalists/separatists if it means he can claim a principled defeat.

As he put it himself: “any good liberal must ask whether a particular cause will serve liberty itself, in general, and not just the liberty of some.

What does this mean? In practice, in this particular case, it means that nobody should be allowed to escape majoritarian tyranny, because the only achievable liberty is liberty for those who reside in one province.

Every case of mass migration from a non-Western nation to a Western one loads the ballot with votes for socialism and racial privilege for newcomers. There are no exceptions.

When he puts “should” before “can”, as he explicitly does, he begins selecting strategies, not from what is desirable within the realm of possibility, but from what is the most attractive fantasy.

He is right to criticise Ryan Coetzee (former DA leader who opposes independence because it might require a bit of daring and hard work) for limiting himself to what is merely easy, rather than what is absolutely possible. But to completely strip all considerations of reality from one’s cost-benefit analysis is, to paraphrase a man wiser than myself, to hold the blade of naïveté to the throat of civilisation.

The most powerful unstated fantasy in his essay is that Xhosa people come to the Cape for cultural (liberal principles) rather than material (get money, access services) reasons. He believes, much like the DA’s leadership, that when Xhosa migrants see the pristine slopes of Table Mountain, they will be overwhelmed by a desire to abandon racial privilege and wealth redistribution.

The evidence is to the contrary. EFF support here is more is proportionally stronger relative to “moderate” ANC support than anywhere else - the migration patterns draw the most virulently racist Black people in the country, not the most moderate.

If we do not close our borders - no - if we do not manage to reverse the demographic flow entirely - the Cape will become a smaller, second South Africa, and Martin is happy to enable this; to let everyone suffer rather than let a few prosper.

I know he does not see it that way, not in those terms, because we have spoken on these issues before. But he is willing to disregard consequences when they represent unfavourable evidence against his abstract principles, and the empirical consequences of his principled position are inescapable.

Martin’s closing argument is that: “If it becomes clear that an independent Cape will be worse than South Africa in its recognition and respect for individual liberty and economic freedom, all good liberals must oppose it”.

Great principle in the abstract, but in context what this means is that simply having a culturally defined immigration policy is enough to outweigh the effects of communism and unrestrained black supremacy: if not every soul can enter heaven, then we must all be condemned to a common hell.

But every tradition since the dawn of time has recognised that the gates of heaven are only open to those who qualify, while hell has always had an open-borders policy.

What I would modestly propose to Martin is that liberty for some is better than liberty for none, and that closing the borders and using immigration policy to engineer a population of common values and interests is less coercive than expropriative redistribution or black supremacy, especially when there would be a state right on the borders of the Cape in which both of these principles reigns, and to which each who departs from the Cape would have a right to citizenship.

more articles by this author