The life expectancy of males has dropped from 60 years to 37, and for women, to 34 years. Unemployment stands at over 80 percent. In 2005, the government decided to embark on a program of "urban renewal," and demolished the shantytowns and black markets that had sprung up around Harare (formerly Salisbury) and other towns and cities as a consequence of the systematic impoverishment of farm workers and city dwellers by the government. New housing was promised but never built.
Private schools were marked for extinction through the regulation of tuition, and government-run schools, when they are open, are worse than even the worst American public schools. Over more than a generation, since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, adult literacy has fallen from 90 percent to about 40 percent.
Occasionally one will see brief reports on the morning or evening news of the arrest and beatings of opposition leaders, of journalists, of long queues of people waiting to buy scarce commodities from the bare shelves of stores. Inflation is currently measured at 150,000 percent and climbing (after the issue of new paper currency, it is a "mere" 1,700 percent, but that does not disguise the true inflation rate); it takes a wheelbarrow of paper money to buy a small bag of flour, when it is available.
President Robert Mugabe's Marxist government has banned foreign journalists, and the few who have ventured into the country have broadcast their reports with hidden cellphones. BBC News, Sky News, and CNN have been banned from the country. Independent newspapers were bombed and not permitted to reopen. The government controls the television and radio stations and its remaining newspaper is state-run.
It is interesting to note that Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, originated decades ago as a solely Marxist rival to other "black power" guerilla factions. After a short flirtation with "free trade" when it came to power, the party returned to its founding ideology, one of whose goals was to redistribute white-owned farmland to the black poor. This campaign began in violent earnest in 2000, when mobs of squatters and "war veterans" (who purportedly fought in the guerilla war against Ian Smith's Rhodesia) invaded white-owned farms. Whites were murdered, raped, beaten, driven from their homes. Paramilitary patrols of whites attempted to protect lives and property rights and to ensure the safety of the farms. But a Marxist government determined to impose racial "justice" (or any kind of collectivist "justice") is inherently lawless and renders such efforts hopelessly doomed to fail.
The production and export of the chief crops of tobacco, soya, and maize plummeted dramatically after the farms were expropriated by government-supported squatters and cronies of Mugabe's.
The economy followed suit. Once second only to South Africa as the most prosperous economy in Africa, Mugabe has reduced Zimbabwe to a condition only a slightly better than the Darfur region of the Sudan.
A presidential election was held on March 29, and in spite of the best efforts of Mugabe's party to rig another "unanimous reelection," all indications are that he lost it, just as he did in 2000. Several Western newspapers prematurely wondered how he would make his exit after this defeat, where he would settle, and how much he would take with him. The Zimbabwean court, doubtless under pressure from Mugabe, has postponed revealing the election results.
Several election officials were arrested and charged, reported the Daily Telegraph of April 8, with "under-counting votes cast for Mr. Mugabe." An election run-off is scheduled for April 19. Whether or not it will occur is a matter of speculation. Voters suspected of casting ballots for Mugabe's political opponents - whose solutions for turning the country around are not much better than the policies that are destroying it - have been accosted by soldiers and youth gangs and beaten up, or have been threatened with death if they vote against Mugabe in the run-off.
To distract attention from his apparent loss, Mugabe, reports the Daily Telegraph, in an attempt to extend his 28-year rule, has dispatched new gangs to invade and expropriate the country's remaining 200 white-owned farms. Once there were 1,500 of them. He also blames "British imperialism" (Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are imperialists? British imperialism is dead, and Britain itself is under siege by the European Union), United Nations sanctions, foreign bankers and other external factors for the country's state.
The original plan was to buy the farms with foreign aid under a "willing buyer-willing seller" land reform program, the "willing buyer" being the government. But when the money never materialized to buy the farms, or when farmers were not willing to sell, Mugabe's solution was simply to resort to force.
Recall the government's staged riot to justify the "nationalization" of Readen Steel in Atlas Shrugged, or its expropriation of Ellis Wyatt's oil property in Colorado. It is as though Mugabe and his government were following a playbook of the novel with the express purpose of destroying the country. That, however, would be giving Mugabe and his cronies too much credit. In the face of the destruction of the country with policies that do not "work," they still "believe" in the efficacy and justice of collectivism.
So do the Western critics of Mugabe, who believe that the idea is noble and feasible, but that he was the wrong man to apply the idea. This is the same rationalization that many Western communist and socialist intellectuals made when they saw the consequences and horrors of collectivism in Soviet Russia, Red China, and other communist regimes.
Western and African politicians have little to say about what is happening in Zimbabwe. "Zimbabwe situation 'embarrassing' - AU [African Union] chief," reads a Reuters headline from March 14. They are more or less mute. What is "embarrassing" is that their collectivist dreams are being exposed for what they are: prescriptions for destruction, collapse, death and near civil war.
However, it is not as though Mugabe were looking for answers to why the country is in a state of economic, political and social free-fall. He is a psychopathic tyrant; reality is his enemy, and his answer to it is force. "Liberation,' in any political sense, is basically theft, by legerdemain or by naked force.
The chief subject here is the racist nature of this brand of collectivism. Before being "colonized" by mostly British whites (under the aegis of Cecil Rhodes in the 19th century), the region was just another African backwater populated by people who had no drive, reason or imagination to exploit the region's potential. Their cultural glory, such as it was, lay centuries in the past. It is not as though blacks there were inherently unable to generate Western ideas and reason and profit by them. The historical fact is that those values originated and thrived in the West. Conversely, whites are not inherently susceptible to those values; Nazi Germany and other disastrous and costly European collectivist movements explode that myth, as well. Reason and rational, pro-life values are a matter of choice, of volition. Race is not a determinant of anyone's character or the contents of his mind.
Mugabe's own "liberation" ideology is fundamentally the same as that of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's spiritual guide and mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, which is to make whites "pay" for "exploiting" blacks. It is surprising that Wright has not made a pilgrimage to Zimbabwe to see his malicious ideology in action. He might observe that it is chiefly blacks who are suffering, starving, and dying under Mugabe's regime. Perhaps if he did travel there, his mind would be shaken and he would emulate Eldridge Cleaver, who, as a fugitive, lived in a few "third world" countries, but returned to America a changed man.
But, having watched Wright's performance as a rabble-rousing, emotionalist preacher, I doubt that his fundamental malignancy could undergo an epiphany. I believe his mind is so poisonously venomous that he is beyond correction. He consciously appeals to looters, thugs, and killers. He appeals to a desire for the unearned. He appeals to racism.
Kyle-Anne Shiver, in an article in American Thinker, "Obama's Politics of Collective Redemption" on February 11, observed that
"Little has been made in the mainstream press of the brand of black liberation theology preached by Obama's pastor and spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., who holds a master's degree on world religions with a focus on Islam, and who has traveled to Middle East countries in the company of Louis Farrakhan. Rev. Wright created and presides over the Center for African Biblical Studies, whose mission is African-centered Bible studies: "We are an African people, and we remain true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization."In short, Wright contends that blacks are born with certain uncorrectable attitudes and dispositions and should remain loyal to them. Blacks who reject racism, who wish to act as individuals and to be treated as individuals, are the equivalent of Muslim apostates, to be despised, reviled and ostracized. Note how prominent pro-reason, "conservative" black intellectuals, thinkers, teachers and columnists are shut out of any kind of 'discourse' about race, how they are treated as non-persons by the liberal/left black establishment. Reason, rationality and self-respect as individuals in blacks are deemed corrupting instruments of "black exploitation" in a "white" culture.
Do Obama's undefined notions of "change" and "hope" and "bitterness" differ in essence from any from Hitler's notions of them? Hitler's chief siren song was how the "pride" of Germans and Germany was injured by the Versailles Treaty, how Germans, as a race, were "victimized" by a conspiracy of international bankers and financiers, all controlled by the Jews, to keep Germany poor and dependent.
Wright, for his part, is as much a racist as was Hitler. The hysterical shrillness of his speaking style is reminiscent of the Fuhrer's. Obama, as a member of Wright's church, must have witnessed this vociferous brand of religious/political demagoguery countless times, and read the racist propaganda that appeared in the church publication.
Barack Obama is a much more soft-spoken and articulate public speaker. His smooth sophistry has charmed and inspired the unwary and the unthinking; it is no less calculated than is Wright's to appeal to emotions, not minds. If he wins the White House in November, soon after his swearing in - but not before that -- we should expect to hear again calls for "black reparations." Never mind the fact that the blacks who lived in slavery are long dead, as well as their enslavers; never mind the fact that no American black has lived in slavery for generations, and that, logically, living blacks today cannot be "owed" anything by any living white (nor by Americans of Asian, Latinos, or European descent). Reason is not his oracle, not his guide, not on the issue of racism nor on any of his other policy positions.
Fact-based logic is the enemy of racial or collectivist "logic." As the sins of white ancestors are "inherited" by living whites, regardless of whether or not they are descendents of slave owners, the suffering and injustices endured by black ancestors are likewise inexplicably transmitted to or "inherited" by living blacks, regardless of whether or not they are descendents of slaves. Ergo, they must be "compensated." That is a form of Hitler's demand for lebensraum, that is a yearning for liberation from reality.
For this reason alone - aside from whatever other irrationality he is the symbol of - because Obama has not publicly and without qualification repudiated that brand of ideology, but merely papered it over with sentimental, excuse-laden apologies, he cannot be absolved of complicity in its advocacy by the likes of Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan - and Robert Mugabe.