To what extent were the politics of Southern Rhodesia influenced by the threat o

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To what extent were the politics of Southern Rhodesia influenced by the threat of communism? The most successful settler colonies throughout Europe’s imperial history are primarily connected to both the exploitation of native populations and intense capitalistic enterprise. The Ian Smith government, the Rhodesian Front, certainly employed both to varying degrees. How much of the post-colonial identity was shaped by industry facing the encroachment of communism from the Soviet supported ZAPU and the Chinese supported ZANU, or was communism a scapegoat that the white political minority used to justify its continued hold on power? The main economic output of Rhodesia was agriculture and mining, specifically tobacco and chrome. Colonial progress in the region was defined by transferring economic output into both political and cultural dominance. Once referred to as Africa’s “breadbasket,” this capitalistic identity became apart of the public consciousness that made its way into the political strata, the defence of which led to a highly controversial and scrutinized break from the British Crown in 1965 and a violent bush war that later followed. Was there a communist threat at all? If there was, was it recognized by all members of Rhodesian society equally? If it was politically manufactured, what implications did it have on the cultural landscape that was so heavily focused on race relations? This paper will explore these questions as they fit into the larger settler-colonial pattern of Southern Africa. Examining the degree to which Ian Smith and other white settlers strategically embraced a Turner-esque capitalist language (or private property, individualism) to defend their settler position might be a good way to examine the settler culture forged by capitalism.

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