45 Years, 45 Days: Economic Liberty vs. South African Apartheid


For the next 45 days, we'll be celebrating Reason's 45th anniversary by releasing a story a day from the archives—one for each year of the magazine's history. See the full list here.

Writing in Reason's July 1989 issue, Andrew Clark explains how the push for economic liberalization challenged South Africa's apartheid regime:

The potential has always been there, but recent cracks in the edifice of apartheid have unleashed an entrepreneurial energy that is forcing the 40-year-old National Party government to successively abandon its racial policies and rethink its options regarding the future. It is against this background that "black economic empowerment," a phrase on the tips of so many South African tongues these days, can be seen for what it is: a truly revolutionary force that could finally push South Africa into the developed and civilized world, eroding the laws that deprive its people, black and white, of prosperity and freedom.

Within the past year or so, black economic power has forced major changes in the way the South African government and business establishment act and think: Through consumer boycotts that brought to a standstill towns controlled by the right-wing Conservative Party, blacks have crushed the neo-apartheid group's attempt to vigorously reenforce lapsed ordinances calling for segregation of public facilities such as libraries, parks, swimming pools, and civic centers.