By Anthony Butler
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Extra resources for Democracy and Apartheid: Political Theory, Comparative Politics and the Modern South African State
Afrikaners, however, secured access to power in a way that reinforced their sense of collective identity and rendered meaningful the historical stories that had traced their rise. Afrikaners could understand themselves to be acting as a collectivity. By contrast, even where other groups developed emerging senses of commonality of experience, culture and interests, they were always politically vulnerable and unable to apply what might seem to them a collective will to shape events. Buffeted by change, and engaged predominantly in defensive political strategies, Indian, Coloured and African histories could not be written as the tales of advances secured.
Just as Coloured youth culture turned to the symbols of a distant American Black culture, its political resistance gravitated towards the detached analyses of Trotskyism or the rarefied analysis of the meaning and significance of racial difference. The diverse experiences of Indian South Africans led to equally complex collective orientations towards history. Lacking religious, cultural and political unity (despite the presence of many commonalities) and composed of descendants of quite different groups of indentured labourers and descendants of low Hindu, high-caste Hindu, Muslim and Christian from the Indian subcontinent, South Africa's Indians have no unifying narrative by means of which to comprehend a collective past.
By the 1950s, the Bond was in control of the heartlands of executive power in the South African state, and the Native Affairs Department (NAD) had grown to be a state within a state. It was within NAD that the policies of the 1960s fomented. Statism was a defining theme of 1950s politics. Bonner et al. comment that the Nationalists were convinced that 'most of the problems [the state] confronted in 1948 could be solved effectively by simply expanding the scope and intensity of state intervention on the social, political, and economic fronts'.