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Namibia, Marxists, and Peaceful Transitions

At 5:02 PM 9/24/96, [email protected] wrote:

>People have been imposing their will on others in Ireland for 800 years,
>and killing off the more prominent members of the opposition has been
>a long-term policy of the thugs who've been doing it.  Today there are
>at least three competing gangs of thugs trying to impose their will on
>others by force.   The Protestants are afraid that the Catholic majority
>on the island will enforce their rule on them, and the Catholics in the north
>are afraid that the Protestants will enforce their rule on them,
>both with good reason as near as I can tell.  At least a few years ago,
>the IRA were spouting Marxist rhetoric and wanted to impose their
>Marxist thuggery on the whole island.  The Queen's Empire's army

Apropos of this (but not apropos of mathematical cryptography :-}), I read
an amazing article, an uplifting article, a few years ago in the WSJ. The
article was about Namibia, the country to the northwest of South Africa.
Also known at times as "South-West Africa."

(Being a Pynchon fan, Namibia and its Hereros had always had some interest
to me.)

South Africa was involved in a war/occupation situation with Namibia for
many decades, with hit teams deployed to Windhoek to kill off opponents,
etc. A bad situation all around. Some similarities with the situation in
Northern Ireland.

The leader of the opposition--which I think was called SWAPO, though that
might have been Angola...anyway, some alphabet soup name like SWAPO--was a
U.S.-trained college professor-type dyed-in-the-wool Marxist theoretician.
He lived for years in Harlem and wrote articles about the coming Marxist
paradise in Namibia. Rhetoric about driving out the parasites that prey
upon the body of the people, seizing the means of production, yadda yadda
yadda. All the usual Marxist stuff.

Well, South Africa pulled out. Some sort of "peaceful transition" was
arrived at, and the Marxists moved in. Except they almost immediately
abandoned their Marxist rhetoric (which was approximately coincident with
the collapse of Communism and the Berlin Wall, U.S.S.R., etc., so this may
have had something to do with their loss of Marxist faith).

The long and short of it is that the Namibian economy is doing well,
relations with South Africa are good (also helped by changes in RSA's
government one has to assume), the citizens are happy, AP-type killings
have stopped, and both blacks and whites appear to be getting along fine.
After reading the article, and seeing an interesting Namibian-made movie
called "Dust Devil," I decided I would one day visit Namibidia as a

(The article was a stunning one, the kind that the WSJ is able to sometimes
do so well. I clipped it out, but have long since lost track of it. If
anybody finds it in any online archives, I would appreciate getting a

Whether Northern Ireland could be handled so felicitously is not clear,
though I suspect the North could be absorbed into the Republic of Ireland
easily and without "summary executions" of Protestants. Ireland--the
Republic--is doing pretty well, has lots of high-tech plants (including a
massive Intel chip factory near Limerick) and I think even the Northern
Ireland Protestants would end up better off under Irish rule.

(While many of us dislike the basic notion of "Irish rule," surely the
nonlocal rule by a country across the Irish Sea is less appropriate than by
the historical and geographic "landmass" of Ireland per se?)

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."