Six minutes into an interview about South African ‘White Genocide’ with another young, female crypto-fascist Lauren Chen, and Lauren Southern let the mask slip:
‘The media spent years and years telling us South Africa was going to be the rainbow nation, the peak progressive, perfect example of a socialist, almost Marxist system that Mandela had implemented.’
After feigning concern for victims of South Africa’s astonishingly-high murder rate – significantly higher for the country’s poorer black majority than its white minority, it must be emphasised – she let slip the motivation of her obsession with tedious land reform legislation in a nation half the world away from her own country: to bash 21st multiculturalism and pluralism and tacitly convey how the Cape Colony has declined since its perceived glory days of apartheid in the eyes of the Western right.
In 2018, the ‘White Genocide in South Africa’ conspiracy theory exploded, culminating in the President of the United States tweeting to threaten sanctions on Cyril Ramaphosa’s government. The reason for this is pretty easy to decipher: that year a race war survivalist group called Suidlanders toured the United States, telling a cohort of far-right groups exactly what they wanted to hear.
It’s difficult to adequately describe the group’s views without using the word ‘batshit’, but all you really need to know about the Suidlanders is their philosophy is based on the writings of a Schizophrenic 19th century Boer ‘prophet’ referred to as ‘Siener’ who boasted of never reading any book in his life other than the bible.
Their spokesperson Simon Roche has appeared on YouTube with Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, American Renaissance, Infowars and Rebel Media with Faith Goldy in 2018, using the publicity to gain over 16,000 subscribers for his own channel. He took personal responsibility for Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton offering asylum to white South Africans. This offer was later retracted by the Foreign Ministry for quite clearly falling short of the anti-discriminatory nature of Australia’s refugee visa system, and Suidlanders claim that they would never leave their promised land regardless. Despite this, Roche thanked Dutton for putting the words White Genocide across global news cycles, ultimately catching the attention of cable news-obsessed President Donald Trump.
Roche is intelligent enough to know that the average far-right American doesn’t know what an Afrikaner is, less care about the situation in Bloemfontein. In every interview he is careful to offer a parallel to the issue of Mexican immigration to America, the growth of Islam in Europe, or the ‘imminent massive change in our Western circumstances’ as he told American Renaissance.
Try as the Suidlanders might to reframe the debate in terms of a human rights issue of objective concern to the international community, they inevitably fall back on their symbiotic relationship with European far-right anti-migrant groups and American ultra-nationalists in order to hash out a broader and clumsy theory of global anti-whiteness that is so demonstrably false that it will convince nobody apart from their own small group of deluded followers.
Lauren Southern capitalised on the hype a few months later by making a fascinating documentary called ‘Farmlands’, which at the time of publication was sitting on 2.2 million views. It was fascinating, however, not for the alleged race war she unsuccessfully contrives to construct, but for its portrayal of a decaying post-colonial nation being torn apart by environmental degradation, the societal fracture of absurd levels of inequality, and rampant corruption from an elite political class – problems that earned the ‘radical communist’ she derides, Nelson Mandela, a place on the CIA watchlist for trying to address.
At one point of the impressively-sleek two-hour production she meets a poor soul who is struggling to steer his family’s old farm through tumultuous environmental degradation and an economic situation that had similarly dried-up after colonial powers abandoned the newly-democratic country as its former racial hierarches were torn down. She half-heartedly links this to mismanagement by South African utilities companies since the apartheid area, when the South African government attempted to balance the demographics of its white-majority civil service. The link is tenuous and unevidenced but by placing it alongside her case study of the downtrodden farmer she establishes the connection between black Africans in government and agricultural decline in the minds of viewers who aren’t observing it critically.
Towards the end she highlights some bigoted rhetoric from relatively obscure black nationalist groups in South Africa, but fails to employ this same critique with the Suidlanders who feature as talking heads throughout and are partnered with Identity Evropa and the League of the South, nor the famous all-white town of Orania in the Northern Cape in the final scene which discriminates against potential settlers based on skin colour and sexuality – something which clearly goes against her moral code when whites are the victims rather than the culprits. The documentary’s contradictions such as these pop up again and again as you are admiring some of the stunning wildlife filler footage they use between interviews. You are ultimately left feeling hypnotised by a stylish and immoral work.
Fascist propaganda always highlights a legitimate victim, strips down the social and economic reasons for their woes and recontextualises it as a simple struggle between ‘our own’ and a nefarious other. The vile farm robberies in South Africa are the result of broken and astoundingly unequal former colonial gem struggling to exist as the thankless breadbasket of the global capitalist system like every other African nation. The solution, despite the efforts of Southern, will never be a race war.