In many respects, the Boer War resembles the struggle toward globalization a century later that Friedman describes in The Lexus and the Olive Tree. The British, with their more advanced industry and technology, attempted to pull the Boer Republics away from the Olive tree and into the new global economy, golden straightjacket and all. The British Empire had much at stake in the conflict, and eventually achieved its main goals. It protected its holding at Cape Town, which was essential in order to control the southern trade route to India, and resisted the threats of increased European presence in South Africa as well as the threat of Afrikaner nationalism in Cape Colony and in the Boer Republics that bordered it. British investors held about half the stock of the mining industries in the Boer Republics, so the protection of the industry was vital not only to the interests of those particular investors, but more indirectly for the protection of free global trade, which Britain’s economy relied upon. With mines running as efficiently as possible, more gold could be produced and put into circulation in the world market, which favored Britain as the primary leader in the global economy.
But just as Friedman must address the concerns in the 1990s of those who are late entrants into the global economy, so we must address the concerns of those who represent the Olive Tree in South Africa; namely, the Boers and the native black Africans. While Friedman insists that globalization ultimately empowers individuals through the democratization of technology, political processes, finance, and information, Boers and Blacks seem, in different ways, to be very limited in their empowerment in the short term. Friedm...
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...but after the war Blacks were cut off from economic empowerment because Boer racism became legally protected. Friedman’s identifications of the players in the struggle of late twentieth-century globalization applies to the players in South Africa around the time of the Boer War, but Friedman’s optimism is not confirmed by the facts. While South Africa became an increasingly industrialized society, certain social elements overpowered economic shifts to prevent the full empowerment of Blacks especially that Friedman predicts. The long-term outcomes in South Africa—the resurgence of Boer nationalism in the 1940s that brought apartheid, and the movement forty years later to end apartheid—reveal that racism and conservative political ideology were stronger forces than globalization and industrialization were in shaping the lives and futures for Blacks in South Africa.
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