King Charles III was crowned in his mother Elizabeth’s place on Saturday. What an affair. What would this have to do with Afrikaners, especially if we want to look at it in a Christian believing way?
History is important, not just what Charles’s mother’s role was, but also his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Afrikaners’ republican history is back on the radar with the British royal house’s new coronation. The Republic of South Africa is currently part of the British Commonwealth, after returning to this body after the 1994 transition.
Two types of burgers
What specifically is so important now? The answer: citizenship – especially what kind of citizenship is experienced by Afrikaners today. Afrikaners’ republican history brought them into conflict with the British Empire. The British Empire caught a gold rush after the discovery of minerals, such as diamonds, at Kimberley. The gold rush was carried out by force and the British Empire in the time of Queen Victoria forced a new kind of citizenship on the republican Afrikaners, formally in 1903 as subjects of King Edward VII.
Community citizenship was replaced with British subject citizenship within the territorial state whose borders were drawn with the Union in 1910. This British subject citizenship passed in 1994 into the rainbow South Africanism citizenship of the nation-state.
The coronation of King Charles III reminds us as Afrikaners that our historical republican DNA has been changed and replaced. We who were used to and were formed as community citizens, where we choose our authorities ourselves and hold them accountable by oath, have been replaced via the British Empire’s subject citizenship with a submissive state citizenship of the RSA.
President Paul Kruger saw things well at the time when the British requested suffrage citizenship for the English miners on the mines. He said: “It’s not voting rights they’re looking for, it’s my country.” Currently, Afrikaners are experiencing a struggle between these two citizenships: our community-oriented republican roots and our current nation-state-oriented identity. Afrikaners are currently being discriminated against in many ways, including in the field of employment. South Africanism has a confusing effect on Afrikaners’ community orientation.
How should we address this discomfort about our two citizenships, if we want to think from our Christian historical republican citizenship? One way is to go back to one of the sources of our republican traditions, how a community orders itself from the bottom up. This is called federalism. We would like to appoint our authorities ourselves through democratic elections and also hold them solemnly responsible in their governmental duty. Why are we currently unable to do this effectively as is our tradition? The father of federalism, Johannes Althusius, may have the answer to the current Afrikaner crisis about what kind of citizenship actually suits us.
Johannes Althusius on true community
Althusius referred to the community as people who are connected as collaborators by a common accord, agreement or implicit covenant. Within this common appointment they share with each other what is necessary and appropriate for a pleasant life. In other words, they are partners and participants in a common life. This general undertaking involves three things – and this is the core of what Afrikaners’ response should boil down to. These three things that are mutually transmitted and shared are: goods, services in shared civil rights.
Althusius does not only work with the usual goods and services, as we know them. He adds shared civil rights. In short, a federal, republican approach means – according to Althusius – that Afrikaners’ confusion about citizenship arises from his view of seeing citizenship as separate from labour. The Afrikaner’s problem about citizenship arises as a result of his view of labour. If you are not a community citizen, goods in services – in civil rights – do not want to share with the others, then your experience of responsible citizenship is compromised. Meaningful experience of friendly community ties with other communities then becomes artificial, strained and even hypocritical.
Make labor part of the federal conversation
What does this mean for the new federal debate that is currently underway in South Africa, but is also starting to gain momentum especially in Afrikaner ranks? If Afrikaners’ view of labor does not begin to form a substantial part of the federal conversation, any attempt will be futile. The submissive nation-citizenship which we inherited from the British Empire, apart from the labor issue, will not produce any results other than the green grapes that give us as republican community citizens blunt teeth.
Labor and community citizenship
Back to King Charles III and the Kimberley’s train. The new issue that the republican Afrikaners should deal with in their search for meaningful community citizenship is work. If you are willing to share labor in your community, you must be willing to share citizenship as well. The Afrikaners’ traditional view of labor and its traditional republican roots are here out of step with each other. The reform of Afrikaner labor is essentially essential to any form of federal enforcement that wants to regain the Afrikaner community’s sense of freedom. If you are not prepared to share a community life with the people with whom you work and live, no nation-state citizenship will be able to restore your imbalance, according to Althusius.
Where does the Kimberley’s train go? Does it just stop at the big diamond hole again, where nation-state citizenship and labor do not form a community life? Or does the federal train also go past Kimberley, to Orania, where goods, services and shared citizenship want to be set in republican balance with each other?
Own labor and own republican authorities are directly linked to each other for Afrikaners. King Charles III is crowned and we may sing federally falsely: The Kimberley’s train, the Kimberley’s train, hear how it steams, how it steams, the Kimberley’s train – back to the diamond hole. However, if we make labor reform part of the federal debate, the train can pass Kimberley’s hole – republican and free.
 One of the core concepts with which Althusius (1557-1638) summarizes his view of community is “association” in his standard work on this Poltica Methodically Digested, and Illustrated by Sacred and Profane Examples. In general, it is briefly referred to as the Politics. Various translations of the word “association” appears in English, and in Afrikaans it can best be rendered as compassionate community citizenship. An English translation of that first part of Politics his: “The symbiotes are co-workers who, by the bond of an associating and uniting agreement, communicate among themselves whatever is appropriate for a comfortable life of soul and body. In other words, they are participants or partners in a common life. … This mutual communication, or common enterprise, involves (1) things (2) services and (3) common rights (jura) by which numerous and various needs of each and every symbiote are supplied, the self-sufficiency and mutuality of life and human society are achieved, and social life is established and conserved.” Vgl. bv. Kennedy, S.P. 2019. Rethinking association in Althusius’s Politics. Journal of Markets & Morality. 22(2):305-316.
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