THE MIND IS DECISIVE BATTLEGROUND –
LESSON OF RHODESIA
BEHIND THE NEWS APRIL 1980
ARTICLE BY IVOR BENSON
We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life….This is the real crisis.
What has happened in Rhodesia has so many lessons for South Africa that it is hard to know where to begin to list them. All these lessons, however, can be compressed into the statement that the Rhodesian drama is an almost exact rehearsal of what will happen to South Africans unless enough of them wake up in time to the reality of our country’s situation.
Precisely the same forces, operating from inside and outside the country, have already begun to intensify pressure against South Africa, and precisely the same motives are at work. Nor is there any difference between the methods used against Rhodesia and those already being used against South Africa.
Like Rhodesia, since long before the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of November 1965, South Africa will find herself increasingly involved in a struggle with what the London DAILY TELEGRAPH’S brilliant columnist, Peter Simple, has so aptly described as “a world of lies”.
This is only another way of saying that the struggle is of a kind that will be won or lost on the battleground of the mind; the role of the armed forces, for the losing side, being no more than that of extending a process of piecemeal surrender, possibly at great cost in lives and treasure – which is exactly what happened in Rhodesia.
And the Rhodesian experience should have taught South Africans that the major weapons used in modern psychological and political warfare are the news media, both foreign and local, whose main strategy it is to prevent a threatened people from finding out what the quarrel is all about, who is the enemy, and what are his real purposes.
Without such knowledge, no effective defense and counter-attack can be planned, morale declines for lack of a firm foundation in truth, and the battle can then be said to have been lost by default even if it takes years for the people to realize that they have been beaten.
Techniques of Persuasion
Rather than generalize any further about political warfare, let us examine one or two examples of the confusing and demoralizing propaganda with which the minds of South Africans are being increasingly assailed, all the more pernicious for being supplied by journalists who, as in this case, are no doubt convinced that what they write is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
We refer to a leading article in the Johannesburg STAR of March 5, the day after the announcement of the Rhodesian election, all summed up in the opening paragraph, as follows:
“The message for South Africa from black Africa has never been spelt more clearly than it was by the surprising result yesterday of the Rhodesian election. It is that the whites in this country have the straight choice of talking to the blacks here, of discussing real power-sharing now, or eventually having to fight them”.
There are two falsehoods in that paragraph, not stated in a way that might invite scrutiny and challenge, but only implied, therefore liable to escape notice. One is the idea that the Rhodesian election was a genuine expression of the political will of the Black population. The other is the idea that it was a struggle between Blacks and Whites with victory going to the Blacks.
Peter Simple, who was in Rhodesia recently with scores of other observers from the United Kingdom, summed it up so well, when he said that the election was “as jokey and farcical a concept as can possibly be imagined.”
And the real victory was not as indicated by the STAR, that of Blacks against Whites – it was a victory for external power, as represented by Lord Carrington and Soames,* against a purely local power – whether exercised by Whites alone or a combination of Whites and Blacks.
The whole of the STAR article could be taken paragraph by paragraph and refuted in the same way. Here is another example, taken almost at random:
“The real leaders are those whose power and influence are genuinely political and not tribal, and some of these are still in prison, detained or banned. The first lesson from this is that the South African Government must negotiate immediately with the real black leaders of the country.”
Our comment: The falsehood in the above is not merely implied; it is bluntly stated: the “real leaders: are the so-called “politicians” or “nationalists”, including the ones who have been locked up for revolutionary activity. The simple truth is that the STAR’s “real leaders” have never had any power in Rhodesia, South Africa or anywhere else in Africa except that which they were able to exercise as proxies of external White power.
It should be plain to the lowest intelligence that Mugabe and Nkomo could not have achieved anything in Rhodesia without massive White backing in every imaginative form.
How does the STAR, that powerful instrument of mining finance, get over the problem of Mugabe’s Marxism? No problem! – “Despite his stated Marxism (a principle of highly flexible definition in Africa), Mr. Mugabe has already demonstrated his intelligence and pragmatism by declaring a policy of peaceful co-existence with South Africa….”
No mention now, it will be noticed, of the fact that Mugabe and Nkomo were placed in power in Rhodesia by means of Soviet arms, training and revolutionary know-how, and that the Kremlin appears to be perfectly satisfied with the result – surely an example of “flexible definition” on the part of the STAR! Later on, we confidently predict, the STAR will exhibit the same skill in “flexible definition” in accepting, without even a murmur of protest, the expropriation and nationalization of all their newspapers in Rhodesia.
The lessons for South Africans are not yet past learning, is that the human mind is the main battleground in the struggle for all Southern Africa, and the same Press and the forces behind it are bent on producing in South West Africa and South Africa exactly the same results that we have seen in Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia.
Mining finance and its Press must, therefore, be seen as the international wing of all those external forces (of which Marxist expansionism is only a facet) which are seeking an overthrow of local self-determination in South Africa, advancing as always, behind a screen of high-sounding ideals.
The most dangerous political warfare is sanctified in the name of “Press freedom” and “the people’s right to know”. Revolutionary change in South Africa needs an Nkomo or a Mugabe. So, now we have a vigorous Press campaign in South Africa demanding the release of one Nelson Mandela. Those who call meetings and draw up petitions can always be sure of the maximum of Press publicity for their activities.
We could give innumerable examples of highly important news which South Africans would read with great benefit to their understanding, but which is never reported, news of a kind that is rigorously and systematically excluded.
‘Behind the Scene’
While the newspapers continue to use “Marxism” and “Russian imperialism” as bogey man slogans with which to frighten South Africans towards “change”, who is this Nelson Mandela whom they are trying so hard to build up as a symbol of “Black liberation”? He is one of those (mostly Whites) who were captured when the police swooped the Communist underground headquarters at Rivonia, Johannesburg, some 16 years ago.
Mandela’s political views were set out in a 60-page booklet entitled HOW TO BE A GOOD COMMUNIST, in which he stated inter alia: “In our country, the struggle of the oppressed people is guided by the South Africa Communist Party and inspired by its policies. The Communist movement still faces powerful enemies which must be completely crushed and wiped out from the face of the earth before a Communist world can be realized. The people of South Africa, led by the Communist Party, will destroy capitalist society and build in its place socialism. Hence, the transition from capitalism to socialism cannot be effected by slow change or by reform, as liberals and reactionaries often advise, but by revolution.”
However, let us not be deceived by labels: Mandela is no Communist; although exhibited as the figurehead of Black revolution, it turned out that he was only a minor figure in the gang that controlled the Communist underground from that luxury mansion in Rivonia, the real bosses being Abram Fischer (later apprehended), Goldreich, Volpe, Slovo, Ezra, etc, etc – all of them Whites, all prosperous, and all, at different times, enjoying the bounty of sympathetic publicity from the Big Money Press.
The present ongoing propaganda in favor of the release of Nelson Mandela and others detained under South Africa’s security laws is, therefore, fully in character with what has been going on for years, not only in South Africa but wherever Marxist and Leninist techniques are used as instruments of financial imperialism.
Next question: How is South Africa shaping today in the great struggle on the battleground of the mind?
We believe that it is no part of our patriotic duty to try to conceal the fact that the South African response to the challenge is one of confusion, divided counsels and fragmented will; and we do not believe that any improvement can be expected unless the people of South Africa recognize the unpleasant facts, face up to them, and bring the necessary pressure to bear on their political leaders.
Know Your Enemy
The cause of all the prevailing confusion – of which the so-called “Information scandal” was only one of many obvious symptoms – must be sought in conflicts of interest, giving rise to conflicts of attitude and of opinion.
For example, how is the Government to control a hostile Anglophone Press which is joined by numerous bonds of shared interest to a supposedly nationalist Afrikaans Press in one National Press Union? When, indeed, this community of interest on the newspaper level merely reflects a vastly more important community of interest between nationalism and anti-nationalism on the plane of finance, commerce and industry – not to mention the Afrikaans universities, which are increasingly leftist.
We need a new concept, with a name we can remember, to explain what happens in these circumstances: it is called the Principle of Cognitive Dissonance – PCD for short – identifying and recognizing a weakness in human nature which an enemy can easily exploit. What PCD means, in a few words, is that people are strongly motivated to excluded from their minds anything that conflicts with what they already believe, or is in conflict – or dissonance – with their private interests.
In this way, people often acquire a personal vested interest in falsehoods which endanger their community and their own long-term interests. As PCD can affect people in different ways, and in different degrees, the result within a community can be one of appalling internal conflict and confusion.
In these circumstances, political requirements are not always easily reconciled with the requirements of national security, as we see in the present controversy over a confidential document circulated inside the army and leaked to the SUNDAY TIMES. Army and Prime Minister (who is also Minister of Defense) were evidently out of step, for Mr. P.W. Botha found it necessary to disavow the action taken by his military chiefs.
Again, why should it have been necessary to set up a commission of enquiry (Steyn Commission) to investigate the relations of the Police and the Army on the one hand and the news media on the other, if not because there is strong pressure from political quarters for some dilution or qualification of the right of the Army and Police to decide unilaterally what information they will supply to the Press and what, for security reasons, they will withhold?
We are sure that we speak for most well-informed South Africans when we say that although we know that policemen and soldiers make mistakes, we would rather trust them to decide what should and should not be published, than either the Press or the politicians.