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Chapter 3 Building Settler States: Foundations in Rhodesia and Northern Ireland
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Chapter 3
Building Settler States:
Foundations in Rhodesia and Northern Ireland

The development of stable settler states depends on three conditions: the settlers must secure political and military autonomy from the metropole; they must build an effective system of control to preempt or crush native resistance; finally, they must cultivate internal solidarity on vital issues facing the settler community and minimize conflicts along class, generational, or political lines that weaken their control over the subordinate population. The shattering of one pillar of settler rule can rock the entire house, although it may take some time to crumble—as in Rhodesia in the 1970s. The decay of all three is likely to hasten the collapse of the system—as occurred in Ulster from 1969 to 1972.

Securing Independence from London

In 1889 London granted Cecil Rhodes and his British South African Company (BSAC) a charter to occupy, exploit, and govern what became Southern Rhodesia. The settlement of the area was part of a British strategy to establish a territorial counterbalance to the regional claims of Germany, Portugal, and South Africa. In this instance, rather than direct involvement Britain preferred absentee expansion through its BSAC proxy, because it simultaneously extended Britain's sphere of influence in Africa and avoided the expense of formal colonization.[1]


Britain retained nominal jurisdiction over the territory, including the power to revoke the company's charter; behind this facade, the BSAC exercised de facto control over the territory. London was prepared to assert itself only "if Company action was likely either to result in diplomatic difficulties, to involve Britain with powerful chiefs, to involve exploitation of the British name, or to occasion adverse parliamentary or press comment"[2] In practice, intervention was rare and the company enjoyed extraordinary quasi-state autonomy and latitude from 1890 to 1896.[3]

Conflicts over land and labor provided the initial source of hostilities between settlers and natives. For the blacks (or "Africans"), company rule meant summary land expropriation, forced labor, and physical abuse.[4] In reaction to this mistreatment a massive African revolt broke out in 1896–1897. The rebellion was of such magnitude—10 percent of the settler population died—that London could no longer turn a blind eye to the colony's race relations. A Legislative Council was introduced wherein power was divided between representatives of the company, the settler community, and a British commissioner.

Britain's slightly increased involvement after the rebellion was designed to mitigate the oppressiveness of BSAC rule; yet the metropole avoided drastic steps such as abolishing the company's charter, because it was unwilling to assume the financial burden that such action would require.[5]

Although the British South Africa Company retained control over internal affairs, its position was eroding as British involvement rose and the settler community grew bolder in asserting its interests against BSAC power.[6] Discontent mounted over disputed mining claims and over the company's expropriation of unalienated land, and the settlers began to press for the replacement of the charter with devolved government. The center of political gravity shifted from the company to the settlers in 1922, when settlers voted in a referendum for devolved government rather than incorporation into the Union of South Africa.[7] Southern


Rhodesia officially became a "self-governing colony" in 1923. (Hereafter, references to Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia are interchangeable; Northern Rhodesia, which became independent Zambia in 1964, was a separate colony.)

London retained sovereign authority over the territory, but Rhodesia enjoyed virtual dominion status.[8] Britain retained "reserved powers" over native affairs and foreign relations but almost never vetoed legislation passed by Rhodesia's all-white Legislative Assembly.[9] Prime Minister Godfrey Huggins boasted in July 1951 that "the British Government know that in practice the reservations are not worth the paper they are written on"[10] Unlike other British colonies—including those with sizable settler populations like Kenya, Zanzibar, and Northern Rhodesia—Rhodesia was not subject to the administrative or military authority of the British Colonial Office (a resident governor performed largely ceremonial duties). By 1923 the settlers had at their disposal both the political and coercive levers of state power. In achieving de facto autonomy from Britain, Rhodesia mastered the first imperative of a settler state.

Northern Ireland is often depicted as the scene of a deep-rooted, if archaic, religious conflict. But religion is only part of the problem. Civil strife tends to occur along religious lines, but the essence of the conflict lies in the distribution of political power, disputes over national identity, and the constitutional status of the territory. Northern Ireland contains "two nations" with diametrically opposed national identities, Irish and British, which render the survival and integrity of the state problematic. In this it is like Israel and Taiwan but unlike Rhodesia and South Africa. In both Israel and Northern Ireland, religious cleavages are secondary to, but clearly exacerbate, conflicts on fundamental constitutional and existential questions.

Unlike its Rhodesian counterpart, the Northern Ireland state was forged in the heat of a meltdown of order and authority that accompanied the partition of Ireland in 1920. The Anglo-Irish War of 1919–1921 was followed by a civil war in the south in 1922; in the north continuing political violence by the Irish Republican Army was coupled with sectarian attacks between rival groups of Catholics and Protestants. Between


June 1920 and June 1922 in Ulster, 428 people were killed and 1,766 wounded.[11]

After decades of frustration in dealing with unrest and violence in Ireland, Westminster not surprisingly became the prime mover in founding this settler state, whereas in other cases the settlers often took the initiative. Since London wished to extricate itself from its exhausting entanglements in Ireland, it rejected the alternative of direct rule over Ulster.

Before partition, British efforts to grant home rule to all of Ireland (in 1886, 1893, and 1912–1914) were fiercely resisted by Protestants, who feared that home rule would mean "Rome rule"—that is, that Catholic doctrines would become state policy and that the Protestant minority would lose its political and economic privileges. Unlike settlers elsewhere, they campaigned against devolved power, convinced that their paramount interest in remaining outside a Catholic Ireland was best protected under the mantle of full incorporation in the United Kingdom.

Faced with stiff Protestant opposition to home rule, British political elites sought a compromise. In an effort to placate both northern Protestants and southern Catholics, Britain granted home rule or dominion status to the south (the Irish Free State) and devolved separate power to six of the nine northern counties of the province of Ulster (which remained within the United Kingdom). Decades later Britain would find that partition had been a colossal mistake. But before 1921 it seemed the best solution for northern Protestants and southern Catholics alike, just as it promised to free the Crown from its "Irish problem" once and for all. In order to ensure that Protestant preferences would prevail in Northern Ireland, Britain deliberately drew the boundaries in a way that guaranteed a Protestant majority enclave.

After power was devolved on the new northern state in 1921, the Unionists quickly discovered distinct advantages in reducing their vulnerability to the vicissitudes of metropolitan policy shifts. A candid 1936 report by the Ulster Unionist Council revealed its primary fear:

Had we refused to accept a Parliament for Northern Ireland and remained at Westminster, there can be little doubt that now we would either be inside the [Irish] Free State or fighting desperately against incorporation. Northern Ireland without a Parliament of her own would be a standing temptation to cer-


tain British politicians to make another bid for a final settlement with the Irish Republic.[12]

The Government of Ireland Act of 1920 established the constitutional relation between Britain and Northern Ireland whereby Westminster remained the supreme authority. Matters concerning the United Kingdom as a whole—including foreign relations, defense, revenue and taxation, and external trade—were excluded from the powers of the new Ulster parliament. All other matters became the concern of the settler state. The Protestant government had control over the civil service and internal security forces. Under the constitution, defense of the border was a metropolitan responsibility and a small contingent of the British army was garrisoned in the province for this purpose. But the principal instruments of law and order were answerable to the settler regime alone: the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Unlike Britain's conventional unarmed police, Ulster's forces were armed and militarized, almost totally Protestant, and fierce champions of Protestant supremacy. Control over the forces of order put the settlers in much better stead than their counterparts in conventional colonies, where metropolitan-controlled forces handled both internal and external security. London initially armed and financed the Protestant security forces.[13] The Unionist Government was aware that the British might prove unreliable allies and took steps to ensure that it would not have to depend on them or face London's interference in the future. (Settler groups elsewhere were much slower to take such steps.)

Overt Catholic resistance to the new order was crushed in the early 1920s; thereafter, the minority became rather passive. Yet Catholics, like Israeli Arabs after 1948, remained opposed to the new state and dismissed it as an artificial creation designed to perpetuate domination by a factitious majority. To the respective settlers, therefore, Ulster's Catholics and Israel's Arabs seemed to constitute an "enemy-affiliated minority." Catholic alienation from the northern state,[14] coupled with the


perceived threat from southern Ireland, perpetuated a siege mentality in Unionist quarters and helped justify sectarian discrimination against the minority.[15] A two-thirds majority in Ulster, the Protestants are a minority in Ireland as a whole (one-fourth of the population) that remains important in light of the Republic of Ireland's constitutional claim of sovereignty over Ulster.[16] Driven by chronic insecurity, the Protestant regime organized to arrest minority political mobilization, cement the border against an irredentist neighbor, and consolidate settler supremacy in the province. It was not so much a question of whether Catholics were actually plotting or engaged in subversive activity but instead what they might do if given the opportunity, that is, if controls were relaxed. Rather than seek accommodation with the disaffected Catholic community in the wake of the early disturbances, successive Unionist regimes took steps that exacerbated communal divisions and thus reinforced Protestants' sense of insecurity.[17] The logic was clear: since Catholics were beyond the pale as incorrigible fifth-columnists, any official accommodation would be suicidal for the state.

Catholic opposition to partition and disloyalty to the settler state had unique advantages for the Protestants. MacDonald argues that the continuation of Protestant domination required, and thus encouraged, Catholic disloyalty in order to legitimate settler privileges, amplify the salience of Protestant "loyalty" to Britain, and reproduce class solidarity among Protestants.[18] Catholic legitimation of the new state might have shattered the arguments justifying the Protestant monopoly of power: that Protestants alone could be trusted by London to maintain order and the union.

Public order and political stability were from the beginning and remain today London's overriding concerns in Northern Ireland. The integrity of the political system and the extent to which Ulster's political culture deviated from British standards were not—until the late 1960s—


serious concerns in the metropole. During the formative years of the new state, Britain did attempt to temper the Unionist Government's largely confrontational approach toward Catholics, but once order had been restored in the early 1920s, metropolitan interest receded. In May 1923 Westminster adopted a convention that Ulster's domestic affairs were not to be discussed in the House of Commons and turned a blind eye to the province's political and internal security arrangements. In this same year Britain devolved political power to the Rhodesian settlers.

Over the next several decades, "the policy ... was to minimise British involvement politically and militarily. Action was taken only where the alternative appeared ultimately to entail a greater degree of involvement."[19] Britain retained the power to suspend or abolish devolved government in the province, but this ultimate sanction also posed the greatest risk of a backlash and would have required the very involvement that London was concerned to avoid.

Members of Parliament in Westminster showed no interest in the affairs of the new settler state. As in Rhodesia, the resident governor almost never exercised his veto power over legislation. Similarly, the premier agency responsible for Anglo-Ulster relations, the Home Office in London, played a minimal role in the province.[20] Its skeleton staff for Northern Ireland affairs operated under the (incorrect) assumption that "questions of law and order are entirely for the Government of Northern Ireland"[21] As one Home Secretary admitted, "I had no occasion to seek more work or to go out and look at the problems of Northern Ireland, unless they forced themselves upon me."[22] With respect to internal affairs, the metropolitan government in effect treated Ulster and Rhodesia as if they were independent states.

Finally, the fact that the Unionist regime was based on majority rule gave it a measure of moral capital that settler minorities elsewhere could never claim. That this majority status depended on an artificially created Protestant enclave was beside the point. The contested origins and problematic existence of the Ulster state were irrelevant to metropolitan elites as long as political stability and the trappings of democracy were visible. Majority rule was at that time identified with democratic gov-


ernment in the United Kingdom. No alternative political system—such as power sharing—seemed acceptable in the Ulster context. London assumed that majority rule would operate satisfactorily and the 1920 act contained no special protections for the Catholic minority or inducements for their political participation.[23] In practice, majority rule in Ulster was a recipe for permanent settler rule and "majority dictatorship."[24]

Settler Unity and Native Subordination

In the absence of serious pressure from the metropole, Northern Ireland and Rhodesian settlers had little incentive to incorporate the Catholics and blacks into the polity, elicit their consent, or nurture relations that would bridge the ethnic or racial divide. Indigenes fared somewhat better where the presence of imperial authorities diluted the settlers' power, such as Zanzibar and Kenya. De facto or de jure independence in Rhodesia, Northern Ireland, Liberia, and South Africa in effect allowed the settlers to construct the political, social, and economic arrangements best suited to consolidating their supremacy.

For all the differences between Rhodesia and Northern Ireland (e.g., minority vs. majority domination; geographical relation to the metropole; racial vs. ethnic and religious divisions), settler rule rested on similar foundations. Common to both was a commitment to build and sustain one caste's solidarity and institutionalize the other's subordination.

Fissures within a settler population can prove disastrous in two ways: they may provide an opening for native mobilization and they may undermine the state's capacity to defend settler rule. Settler cohesion is not inevitable considering the potential for class, generational, and political differences within most settler populations. There is always the possibility that enlightened segments within the settler enclave might decide to champion the rights or forge political alliances with leaders of the subordinate population—either from genuine humanistic concerns or a conviction that political and economic concessions would advance, not hinder, the long-term survival of settler supremacy. (This belief motivated moderate settlers in Liberia and Zanzibar to seek the political incorporation of indigenous blacks.) When modernizing elites in Rhodesia in the late 1950s and Ulster in the late 1960s made such initia-


tives, they were promptly thrown out of office by traditionalists. Hardline settlers in both cases were convinced that even minor concessions—although posing no immediate threat—would precipitate a revolution of rising expectations that would ultimately endanger settler power and privilege. Both political systems displayed a "built-in tendency towards illiberalism" that doomed all experiments with reform.[25]

It is also possible that working-class settlers will enter into alliances with workers in the subordinate population, based on their common class affinities. In settler societies, however, class interests are often neutralized by caste interests. Working-class settlers, typically feeling the most threatened by competition and advancement of individuals from the subordinate caste (because of their socioeconomic proximity to its top echelon), often become the fiercest champions of unadulterated settler supremacy. This pattern is evident in Rhodesia, Northern Ireland, Algeria, and South Africa.

In our two cases, both material incentives and symbolic threats reinforced the dominant caste identity of working-class settlers. Materially, they enjoyed the privileges of a labor aristocracy: formal or informal mechanisms prevented natives from competing with working-class settlers for particular jobs. Symbolically, the settlers' cultural "superiority" was counterposed against the "primitive" ways of the indigenes, which reinforced their conviction that settler supremacy was morally justified. Caste unity was presented as vital to avoid the dire consequences of capitulation to native interests. Protestant elites in Northern Ireland routinely insisted that any concessions to Catholics would ultimately lead to "Rome rule" and "papist domination" in a reunited Ireland; white elites in Rhodesia pointed to the specter of "black barbarism" and a host of other evils associated with premature African advancement. In both cases, working-class settlers not only accepted these claims as articles of faith but became their most committed exponents.

This ideological glue was reinforced with political cement. A strong one-party or dominant-party state, for example, may help to unify a settler community, as it did for the True Whig party in Liberia; its full century in office helped contain factionalism. The dominant-party systems of Ulster and Rhodesia similarly minimized intrasettler conflicts. How did the settler power structures contribute to control over natives?


The fact that state power was based on majority rule in Ulster and minority rule in Rhodesia accounts for some of the variation in the organization of politics in general and of the franchise in particular. As a small minority of the population, Rhodesian settlers (like those in South Africa and Liberia) depended on rigid, de jure political exclusion of the majority. Natives were denied voting rights and their political parties were harassed or proscribed. Having the strength of numbers, Ulster Protestants (like Israeli Jews) had little need to disenfranchise the minority population. They could maintain settler domination through ostensibly democratic institutions.

Nevertheless, Ulster's electoral and parliamentary order was de facto exclusive. The political culture allowed little democratic accommodation of those whose loyalty to the state was deemed suspect. Thus, Catholics were excluded from top executive positions—a pattern of exclusion that, according to Rose, was "matched nowhere else in the Western world."[26] Ulster's uniqueness is dimmed, however, once it is placed in proper comparative company with other settler states.

The national franchise was formally open, but circumstances made Catholic representation hollow and reinforced a "tyranny of the majority." Party representation in the Stormont Parliament did not fluctuate markedly over time (there were few floating voters);[27] the Catholic vote was systematically underrepresented after the plurality system replaced proportional representation in 1929; property and other qualifications in local elections served to reduce the votes of the disproportionately disadvantaged Catholics (about one-fourth of those eligible to vote in Westminster elections were ineligible in local elections).[28] These devices helped ensure that Catholics would not win control of Londonderry or the three border counties—where they constituted the majority—in local or parliamentary elections. Finally, political parties did not circulate in and out of power. The Unionist party's grip on power lasted for the state's entire fifty-year life; in England no party has remained in power for more than twenty consecutive years since the early nineteenth century.

In the first election to the Stormont Parliament in May 1921 the Unionists won forty seats and the Catholic parties won twelve, underrepre-


senting the Catholic population. Expressing the minority's general reluctance to cooperate with the new regime, Catholic MPs refused to take their seats. For Protestants, this action was proof positive of Catholic disloyalty to the state and justified the state's reluctance to aggregate Catholic interests. In later decades, Catholic representatives vacillated between participation and abstention at Stormont.

The Rhodesian and Ulster Parliaments had some of the trappings of British parliamentary democracy but little of the substance. Neither parliament was a genuine center of power, aggregator of interests, or arena for political struggle over law and order. Members were typically either uninterested in or incapable of challenging security legislation and policy. In this most vital area of state power, these parliaments gave the executive carte blanche, delegating to Cabinet much broader powers than is customary under the Westminster system. In Britain, the political culture permits freer debate and encourages opposition parties to take an active role in reviewing proposed legislation. Ulster and Rhodesian legislatures functioned primarily to endorse executive policy.[29]

The judiciary in settler Rhodesia and Northern Ireland was an equally ineffective constraint on executive power, for several reasons: judges identified strongly with the basic precepts of settler domination and were demonstrably inclined to favor the claims of settlers over natives (some judges were directly affiliated with the ruling party); and the narrow scope of judicial authority in the security field reduced opportunities to issue decisions against the executive. In divided societies, a vigorous tradition of judicial review can be a particularly valuable, if partial, corrective to abuses of state power.[30]

The exclusivist character and settler orientation of the Ulster and Rhodesian states were predictably most pronounced in the Cabinet and the upper reaches of the civil service. The state bureaucracy was a settler citadel, despite the presence of a few Catholic or black officials at lower levels.

The branches of the state tended to act in concert on security matters because of the executive's dominance over other agencies and the shared institutional commitment to uphold settler rule. In Northern Ireland and Rhodesia, divisions within the state and within the ruling party


were generally secondary to and overshadowed by the great divide between settlers and natives. This remarkable intrastate cohesion was shaken only during crises, that is, periods of metropolitan intervention or native mobilization (examined below and in Chapters 4 and 5).

States lacking the active consent of the governed are not necessarily precarious; they may survive for long periods. An effective apparatus of control may produce sufficient popular acquiescence for relative stability. Regimes in Rhodesia and Northern Ireland placed the consent of the subordinate population secondary to the premium of maintaining the regime's legitimacy among the settler population—a value that concessions to Ulster Catholics or Rhodesian blacks would vitiate.[31] The confidence of the settler population could not long survive attempts to win the support of the native population through serious reform of the system; conversely, natives were hardly likely to support a regime steadfastly committed to undiluted settler supremacy. Although this formula of sectarian legitimacy cannot be elevated to a general law of settler domination—since some regimes have attempted to strike a balance between native and settler consent—it applies to them more than to some other forms of authoritarian rule, which place a somewhat greater emphasis on securing popular or corporatist legitimacy.[32]

If building native consent was not high on the agenda in our two cases, how then did they maintain order? Control over Catholics was achieved in part through the enforcement of security laws, electoral gerrymandering, police harassment, and periodic intimidation by Protestant vigilante groups. These controls helped perpetuate Catholics' acquiescence and served to discourage organized resistance.

Coercive and administrative controls were less severe and extensive in Ulster than in Rhodesia, because as a minority the Catholics were easier to handle, and highly repressive control in a province of the United Kingdom risked unwanted attention from London. Compared with


Rhodesian and South African blacks, Ulster's Catholics were less dependent economically on the dominant group (having an independent economic base), had more autonomous institutions (parties, churches, media, schools), and were not subjected to formal apartheid restrictions (though informal segregation existed in housing, jobs, and education).

The fact that in Rhodesia, as in South Africa, the difference between settlers and natives was racial and that the settlers were a tiny minority made an elaborate and rigid infrastructure of control necessary to inhibit black mobilization. From the beginning, extralegal coercion—exercised by white farmers and mining companies to acquire and exploit cheap black labor—coexisted with discriminatory legal instruments. At least twenty-four statutes applied solely to blacks and many others aimed primarily at control of natives.[33] Most important were the 1930 Land Apportionment Act and the 1934 Industrial Conciliation Act. The first act legalized the extant system of land inequality (by 1930, the white population controlled 51.7 percent of the country's land, the Africans 29.7 percent; by contrast, settlers owned 7 percent of the land in colonial Kenya, 14 percent in Algeria, and 87 percent in South Africa). The second act legalized an industrial color bar that segmented black and white laborers into different reward structures and disallowed competition between them and mobility across this racial chasm. (Among whites unemployment was almost nonexistent; for blacks joblessness and underemployment were facts of life.)

In addition to being denied rights of political participation and equal economic opportunities, Africans were caught in a web of "petty apartheid" restrictions in Rhodesia as in South Africa. Caste norms prevented interracial marriages, discouraged interracial friendships and recreational activities, and exacted deferential behavior from blacks. Pass laws existed from the beginning of the state. A 1902 statute required that blacks carry a registration certificate at all times, and the Native Registration Act of 1936 stipulated that urban Africans carry additional identity papers. Racial segregation was instituted in housing, education, health care, public transportation, and other public facilities; government spending in these areas systematically discriminated in favor of whites. As they did in South Africa, whites varied somewhat in their attitudes toward specific caste restrictions, as Rogers and Frantz found in a 1958 survey (responses ranged from relatively tolerant to rigidly con-


servative).[34] But subsequent events (discussed below) showed that the majority of the white population was not prepared to endorse reforms of the caste system.

This comprehensive structure of inequality and social control fragmented the African population and ensured that any resistance would be sporadic and ineffective.[35] For the first half of the twentieth century, Africans were "politically inert, passive, and virtually powerless," and were "acted upon rather than acting to a degree unusual even in a colonial situation)."[36] The effectiveness of the extensive system of control meant that the authorities rarely needed to resort to arms and that internal security laws were few—until the late 1950s, when black political ferment began in Rhodesia as the winds of decolonization swept the continent. Only then did blacks' "resigned acceptance of white rule" begin to erode, which made innovations in the system of law and order seem necessary.[37]

Ulster's System of Law and Order

Rhodesia's internal security system evolved gradually after 1923 to preempt the rise of African opposition but was galvanized as nationalist opposition intensified after 1958 (discussed below); Northern Ireland laid the institutional foundations of its security system in the settler regime's first year, at the height of political violence. Both cases lend support to Alves's argument that "the character of the national security state can only be understood in relation to its interaction with ... opposition movements in civil society."[38] Alves's argument exaggerates, however, the role of opposition movements in two respects. First, the development of a repressive internal security enterprise does not logically require manifest opposition but may be designed to prevent its growth. Second, in a nation where civil society is undeveloped, the impact of opposition forces is understandably much less salient than in nations (such as Bra-


zil, the Philippines, or South Korea) where civic institutions provide a rich source of resistance to repressive policies.

Northern Ireland's internal security institutions were from the beginning blatantly sectarian in outlook and operation: security powers were vigorously applied to Catholics, whose slightest protest was defined as "treachery," while Protestant political crime was treated leniently or with impunity, under the rubric of "Loyalist activity."[39] According to Farrell, "The Unionists did not accept the basic assumption of British democracy—that the public administration and the security forces should be neutral between the contending parties in the state."[40] "Between 1920 and 1968," writes O'Dowd, "Unionist 'law and order' remained inviolate from the modernization of repressive apparatuses in Britain."[41] Had the regime taken steps to reduce the security system's sectarian orientation, it might have signed its own death warrant, for such action would have violated the raison d'être of the settler state: namely, the defense of specifically Protestant interests. As in Rhodesia, the hegemonic forces within the dominant caste never accepted that their long-term interests might best be served by some accommodation with the subordinate community; they conceived power as a zero-sum matter, ruling out concessions. In this deeply divided society, the settler community would almost certainly have defined universalistic enforcement of law and order as betrayal and resisted it—precisely what has occurred since 1972 under the more modernized security system imported into Northern Ireland by the metropole, as Chapter 7 shows.

During the formative years of the new state, grass-roots Protestant pressure was an important catalyst in the creation of a political and security system that would tolerate no opposition from the Catholic minority.[42] Protestant supremacist forces were particularly influential in the passage of the draconian 1922 Special Powers Act and the creation and preservation of the sectarian, paramilitary Ulster Special Constabulary. Popular Protestant demands were generally consistent with the Government's interests in the development of repressive security policies and institutions: the Unionist regime sought to maximize its control over the minority, nurture Protestant solidarity, perpetuate the party's incum-


bency, and achieve the level of stability required to keep the British Government at bay.[43]

These interests shaped the development of the core executive organizations, ranging from the Cabinet to the various security agencies. Former British Prime Minister James Callaghan once wrote that he "found it difficult to take seriously the idea that the Northern Ireland Cabinet and Prime Minister bore any resemblance to what we in Britain understood by those offices."[44] Like Unionist MPs, almost all Cabinet ministers were members of the bitterly anti-Catholic Orange Order and they were sometimes unabashed in expressing their sectarian, antiCatholic views.[45] The first prime minister, James Craig (1921–1940), proclaimed: "All I boast is that we have a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state."[46] The third premier, Basil Brooke (1943–1963), cautioned against employing Catholics and declared, "Ninety-seven per cent of Roman Catholics are disloyal and disruptive."[47] Such views colored the thinking of the Cabinet and other state elites at least until the late 1960s.[48] Generally, the more moderate Cabinet members were eclipsed by hard-liners, but the moderates sometimes tempered extreme policies that might have invited problems with the British Government.[49]

The Ministry of Home Affairs was the center of gravity within the security establishment. In league with top police officials, it was instrumental in shaping a sectarian security policy, targeted almost entirely against Catholics.[50] In addition to policing, the ministry had responsibility for the controversial areas of local government, electoral affairs, and general law and order. Those in charge of Home Affairs were strident defenders of Protestant and Unionist interests. The first Permanent Sec-


retary, Samuel Watt, doubted in 1921 whether "it was ever contemplated that these extraordinary powers [in the existing emergency legislation] should be used against those who are loyal to the Crown [i.e., Protestants]."[51] He suggested that the ordinary criminal law be used against Loyalists. Dawson Bates, minister from 1921 to 1943, regarded all Catholics as fifth columnists, and kept them out of his ministry. All in all, Home Affairs displayed what one historian calls a "contemptuous" attitude and a "hostile spirit" in its dealings with Catholics.[52]

The top levels of the police were closely linked to the Unionist establishment, and the rank and file fervent defenders of the Protestant state. It is thus not surprising that the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Special Constabulary developed a reputation for sectarian law enforcement. Not only did the forces of order operate with bias, but there were no independent mechanisms of accountability.[53] Completely lacking was a body—representative of the entire community and detached from the Home Affairs ministry—with a mandate to scrutinize contentious police matters and hear public grievances, an entity that seems vital in communally divided societies.

In the event of the slightest hint of unrest, the police were prepared for paramilitary action.[54] Indeed, the general lack of disorder during the half-century of Unionist rule was in part a function of the fact that "Catholics did not wish to challenge a police force and a para-military service that were ready to die or kill to maintain their constitution."[55] Members of the Ulster Special Constabulary, in particular, had a reputation among Catholics as state-sponsored Protestant vigilantes. One former Chief Constable told me of the USC's serious problems: "They were not trained in normal policing, were not subject to discipline, and tended to be a law unto themselves."[56]

One of the first pieces of legislation passed by the new Parliament was the 1922 Special Powers Act (SPA). Its harsh features were officially justified as a welcome departure from Britain's previous "inept" and "vacil-


lating" security policy in Ireland.[57] The act's provisions probably went further than necessary even in the midst of the serious unrest and violence of 1922.[58] It prescribed punishments of whipping and death for the possession or use of explosives or weapons, and the Minister of Home Affairs was given power to issue regulations of wide latitude that were exempt from parliamentary scrutiny and judicial review: to "take all steps ... as may be necessary for preserving the peace and maintaining order." In due course, a host of executive regulations were promulgated. These included, inter alia, police powers of arrest and search without a warrant, the proscription of clubs and organizations, censorship of publications, imposition of curfews, and seizure of property. One sweeping regulation criminalized "doing or attempting any act calculated or likely to cause ... disaffection among the civilian population or to impede, delay or restrict any work necessary for the preservation of peace or maintenance of order."

To cover any unforeseen activities, a blanket provision was included in section 2(4) of the act:

If any person does any act of such nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order in Northern Ireland and not specifically provided for in the regulations, he shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence against the regulations (emphasis added).

This provision clearly violates the principle of nulla poena sine lege (no crime without violation of a specific law).

During the formative years of the state, the measure was used frequently against suspected Catholic rebels, political opponents, and "innocent and law-abiding people"—but rarely to suppress Protestants' sectarian crimes against Catholics.[59] The SPA was used to ban Republican publications, proscribe meetings and marches, crush labor protests in the 1930s, intern suspects, and facilitate general police harassment of the Catholic minority.[60] From 1938 to 1945 and from 1956 to 1961, the


act was used for internment without trial. During periods when its use was more restrained, it continued as a general deterrent to organized opposition.

By assenting to the SPA, Stormont in effect surrendered its power to make and revoke security legislation and authorized rule by executive fiat. Although the act was designed as a temporary measure, it was made permanent in 1933, when—paradoxically—serious unrest in the province had long abated. According to Buckland, the timing of its legal entrenchment was an attempt to preempt parliamentary debate over renewal of the act at a moment when Catholic opposition MPs had decided to take their seats at Stormont.[61] But the official reasoning highlighted the act's effectiveness: the statute was responsible for the peaceful conditions that prevailed and the "slightest relaxation of the law" would enable sinister forces to "plunge this Province into a welter of bloodshed."[62] A 1936 inquiry by Britain's National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) disagreed: "Despite occasional disorders it cannot be said that the special circumstances alleged to have existed when the Act was passed in 1922 prevail today."[63] By the 1930s, the Irish Republican Army had become a spent force and the external threat from southern Ireland had essentially vanished.

But the act had proven a convenient and effective instrument for disorganizing opposition political forces. The NCCL concluded that "the Northern Irish Government has used Special Powers towards securing the domination of one particular political faction and ... towards curtailing the lawful activities of its opponents." The act had become the keystone of "a permanent machine of dictatorship" in the province.[64]

If manifest disorder had ceased in the early 1920s, the Government could readily define deep Catholic disaffection from the Protestant state and southern Ireland's irredentist claims to Ulster as latent security threats. Yet those "threats ... had no independent significance" in explaining the character of the political system and the sectarian structure of law and order.[65] These latent threats interacted with abiding settler interests in upholding Protestant supremacy in the province. Catholic dis-


loyalty served Protestant interests insofar as it could be used to remind London of the imperative of "Loyalist" rule in Ulster. MacDonald stresses the functional consequences of Catholic alienation from the state:

Protestants had a vested interest in sustaining the Catholic disloyalty that, first, legitimated Protestant privileges; secondly, accentuated the salience of Protestant loyalty to Britain; and thirdly, provided the threat that maintained Protestant solidarity.[66]

The exceptional outbreak of disorder that punctuated the half-century of settler rule—such as the abortive IRA insurgency from 1956 to 1962—suggests that the Catholic minority did not threaten security to the extent the Protestant population imagined. In order to end British occupation and to reunify Ireland, the IRA in 1956 launched a campaign of sporadic sabotage and armed attacks. Ultimately the campaign lost momentum for two reasons: it encountered swift police action and it failed to generate support within the Catholic enclave. Catholics were simply not willing to endorse a violent frontal assault on the state. When the IRA called off its campaign in February 1962, it lamented this very lack of popular support: "Foremost among the factors motivating this course of action has been the attitude of the general public whose minds have been deliberately distracted from the supreme issue facing the Irish people—unity and freedom of Ireland."[67]

The central features of this politico-security system developed in a context of deep communal and political cleavages. The system of majoritarian democracy facilitated the political subordination of the minority—a majority dictatorship under the veneer of British parliamentary democracy. The security sector was well insulated from potential checks both inside and outside the state. And it displayed a patently sectarian slant in defense of the narrow interests of the Protestant community.

The state and its security wing had not only clear sectarian commitments but also the objective capacity to institutionalize them. The first decade of the new state's existence was a history of its successful efforts to secure autonomy from British interference, win the support of the various Protestant classes, extract financial resources from Britain, and


liquidate pockets of violent opposition to the state. Over the next decades, the Unionists were in a good position to maintain Protestant dominant-party rule, cement partition, disorganize both overt Catholic nationalist mobilization and perceived subterranean threats, and satisfy the Protestant electorate. These were simultaneously ends in themselves and means to guarantee a paramount interest: that of the state's very survival. Without autonomy from Britain, an inviolable border, the pacification of Catholic opposition, and broad-based Protestant support, the pillars of the settler power structure would have cracked. In the late 1960s they cracked irreparably, as Chapter 5 shows.

Rhodesia's System of Law and Order

Like that of Northern Ireland, the core of the Rhodesian state was essentially immune from oversight by the judiciary, legislature, and other agencies; the state displayed little concern for the consent or the human rights of its subordinate population and organized law and order around the narrow interests of the settler minority. A resourceful and intransigent settler bloc created an apparatus of control that was considerably more elaborate than in conventional colonies as well as some settler societies such as Northern Ireland and Liberia.

During most of Rhodesian history, the leading internal security institutions were the national police force and the Native Affairs Department. Until the late 1960s, the country maintained only a rudimentary territorial army. The proportion of public revenue earmarked for defense was small, and the army played a small role in domestic order and external defense until the outbreak of guerrilla war in the 1970s. Rhodesia's British South African Police (BSAP) was the de facto defense force. Formed in 1896, it performed both conventional policing and paramilitary tasks. The Ministry of Justice had (until 1962) responsibility for policing, as well as prosecution, the courts, and law-and-order policy.

The largest and most powerful branch of the state was the Native Affairs Department (NAD), which operated with considerable resources and autonomy and had broad geographical and functional jurisdiction. As a state within a state, the department successfully resisted interference from other agencies well into the 1970s. NAD officers in the countryside were the principal agents of social control and intelligence, largely free from interference by other state sectors. They governed rural blacks with a mixture of paternalism and coercion—formally embracing


the doctrine of Africans' gradual "advancement" in their "separate areas,' but skeptical that Africans could ever proceed very far.

The legal and institutional changes introduced in Rhodesia during the watershed years of 1959 through 1962 provided the cornerstone upon which the internal security enterprise would be further refined over the next twenty-five years. (As Chapter 6 shows, the essence of this system survives in independent Zimbabwe.) The post-1959 period analyzed here is not one of unmediated African resistance as portrayed in much of the literature on Rhodesia, in which African opposition appears to be the sole cause of repressive state responses and systemic innovations. Our analysis presents a more balanced, multicausal account by linking pressures from the African community to intra-white politics and the distinctive interests of the settler regime.

The 1959 State of Emergency

In a dawn swoop on 26 February 1959, the Rhodesian Government staged a surprise arrest of five hundred members of the African National Congress (ANC) and proclaimed a state of emergency. It labeled those arrested "agitators," "fanatics," and "extremists" bent on defying authority and causing pandemonium in the country. The official justification for the state of emergency was contained in a pamphlet written by the Chief Native Commissioner and Secretary of Native Affairs, Stanley Morris, and distributed to Africans and the press:

It is clear that these self-appointed leaders of Congresses in Southern Rhodesia, who come from the towns, are working to get rid of the tribal authorities, so that they can take control and force everyone to accept their power. These rabble-rousers ... could not even manage a business ... yet they seek to govern the people and recklessly disregard the harm they would bring to everyone in the country.... Abuse, threats and intimidation have crept into their words. Defiance and insolence have become their claim to leadership.... The people of certain districts have been called to meetings by these Congress leaders and exhorted to break the laws of the country and to ignore their Native Commissioners and Chiefs.... Government has decided to remove these agitators and trouble-makers—to remove from them the power to play with hot words, to make it impossible for them to collect more money from you, and if necessary to keep them in a place of detention until they mend their thoughts.... Now you can continue your peaceful lives in the Reserves and your work in the towns and on farms and on mines, secure in the knowledge that Government intends to preserve law and order, and to support the Chiefs in their status and their authority.... Settle down conscientiously to your work, you have nothing to fear. Use the proper channels for


addressing any grievances or requests that you may have to Government ... and not to a group of noisy boys who are not out to help you really, but are looking only to their personal aggrandizement and power at your expense.[68]

The pamphlet suggested that the African detainees were guilty not of violent conduct or specific criminal acts but rather of "hot words," intimidation, and defiance and disobedience—driven by a lust for "aggrandizement and power." In classic fashion, the regime branded political opposition subversive.[69]

Visible public support for African nationalist organizations challenged the regime's definition of the situation. Urban rallies were beginning to draw unprecedented crowds: five thousand at an ANC rally in December 1958, three thousand in January 1959.[70] While privately alarmed at the size of these meetings, the Rhodesian authorities (like the Pretoria regime today) publicly dismissed them as the result of "intimidation" by the few on the lunatic fringe. To have done otherwise would have been to accept that the ANC was generating broad support. The preamble to the 1959 Unlawful Organizations Act reflected the official construction of African nationalists' actions:

[they have] assembled meetings or gatherings of ignorant and unwary persons, whereat in violent and threatening language, the speakers have wilfully misrepresented facts, sown seeds of discord and racial hostility, excited disaffection towards established authority, urged civil disobedience and passive resistance to the law.

A former senior official in the Native Affairs Department reflected that blacks "were happy and content, otherwise they would have risen up long before they did. They were roused by agitators who told them the story that the whites had taken the best land."[71] But many were far from "content";[72] one official commission concluded that the government had


"generally underestimated" African "political consciousness and awareness of human rights."[73]

If in 1959 the prevailing tendency within the executive was to deny the existence of black discontent, a minority reformist faction held opposing views, which gradually won support in Cabinet (including that of the prime minister, Sir Edgar Whitehead). Moderates included the Minister of Labour, who reflected on his position:

In agreeing to the principle of the declaration of emergency and security legislation I made it very clear that my belief was that this could not provide a solution for the real grievances and disabilities of Africans. It could never substitute for or avoid necessary reforms. There were real grievances which had to be remedied in the quickest possible time.[74]

After 1959 the Government of the United Federal party (UFP) embraced the idea of granting minor concessions to moderate Africans—removing the so-called pinpricks of petty discrimination.[75]

The African National Congress sought more substantial changes, but less sweeping than the Government believed. Its platform advocated racial cooperation, the right of all to "permanent citizenship" in the country, and "equality of opportunity in every sphere," but it stopped far short of demanding land redistribution, majority rule, or independence from Britain.

Black discontent had been growing in the rural areas largely because of the disruptive impact of the 1951 Land Husbandry Act. It was designed to improve the rural economy in the African reserves, which experienced the pressure of a growing population within fixed areas, but its provisions violated traditional practices.[76] Rather than expand the size of the reserves, the act limited cattle grazing in specified areas and provided for the de-stocking of African herds; it allowed officials to dictate patterns of cultivation and crop growing and to fix dwelling sites on


farm land; it prohibited cultivating or grazing without a permit and imposed compulsory labor on unemployed rural Africans. Implementation of the act meant the depletion of highly valued herds, reduction of the land under cultivation, and the forced uprooting of families and entire villages.

George Nyandoro of the ANC called the act "the best recruiter Congress ever had,"[77] and the ANC capitalized on peasants' grievances over the measure. Tasked with implementing the act, the Native Affairs Department was acutely aware of blacks' resentment and the erosion of its authority, which two 1961 commissions of inquiry documented.[78] The prime minister understood the seriousness of the problem and feared "the development of the Land Husbandry Act and indeed the whole administration of the native areas would break down."[79]

Discontent with socioeconomic conditions was growing among urban Africans as well. A recession in 1957–1958 hit blacks hard; rising unemployment and inadequate township housing contributed to their sense of deprivation and provided ready-made issues for ANC organizers.

The existence of African grievances and nascent politicization in the late 1950s—however unnerving to the authorities—posed no serious threat to public order or national security. Even the Director of African Administration for Bulawayo, E. H. Ashton, challenged the Government's line, "The Bulawayo detainees were generally responsible people, who did not fall into the category of 'rabble rousers' described by the Secretary for Native Affairs."[80] Another authority remarked, "What has happened is simply that African nationalism has become a lot more noisy ... but it is still not backed by anything more substantial than po-


litical aspirations alone.... Why let it frighten us?"[81] Organized political violence was not imminent, and most ANC members were hardly subversives.[82] The ANC had rather modest goals, few resources, and a rudimentary organization. Although black grievances were intensifying during this period, official controls prevented the movement from developing into a force to be reckoned with. Thus, as predicted by the resource mobilization school of social movements, African resistance remained a fledgling movement.[83]

The security panic of 1959—the official overreaction to perceived threats—is best explained within a framework that centers on the overriding concerns and interests of the ruling United Federal party. It was under pressure from several sectors of white society, including its own MPs and party loyalists, a press that had been clamoring for months for harsh action against "subversives," and the politically important white farming community.

Most disturbing to the UFP Government was the possible loss of support among a white electorate fairly evenly split in its support for the ruling party and the opposition Dominion party (DP). The white supremacist DP had been attacking the Government for nine months before the crackdown.[84] While supporting the emergency, the DP faulted the Government for not acting sooner or going further to quash African nationalism, and for having created the problem in the first place through appeasement of Africans. To DP supporters, like their counterparts in contemporary South Africa, reforms that might result in even limited African advancement were anathema. The opposition's clamor for an iron fist policy helped convince the regime to declare the emergency; as the general election of 1962 neared, this pressure became increasingly salient.

The concerns of the white electorate were abundantly expressed in local newspaper reports and letters to the editor from 1958 to 1960 that I examined. Their views were also reflected in a 1958 survey of five hundred whites that documented their mistrust of African nationalism, be-


lief that African political mobilization was inspired by outside agitators rather than a natural outgrowth of internal conditions, view of the ANC as a real security threat, concern that whites should have firearms, and support for tight police surveillance over African meetings.[85]

One pivotal constituency was that of white farmers. Terrified that they might lose their land, commercial farmers criticized the regime's "reluctance" to take firm action against unruly blacks who were "troubling" African farm workers. Drawing lessons from Kenya's Mau Mau disorders, they warned that "it is the farming and whole rural community which always has in Africa received the first shock of violence."[86]

Continental events provided a backdrop for the stirrings of Rhodesian blacks. In the late 1950s, nationalist movements were sweeping through other African colonies; in many, independence seemed imminent. Lurid press coverage of outbreaks of black violence elsewhere in Africa superimposed external developments on the Rhodesian situation.[87] Grisly descriptions of events contributed to fears in white circles that Rhodesian blacks would be encouraged to rebel. Such a demonstration effect was anticipated during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya and signs of that country's impending independence, the civil war in Algeria, and the violence against whites in the Belgian Congo and French Congo in early 1959.[88] The effect of sensationalized reports of these events was to deepen white Rhodesians' fears of murder, rape, and expulsion in the event of a black revolt or the transfer of power to the black majority.[89] In this larger context, the future of white supremacy in Rhodesia seemed to depend on the imposition of much tighter controls on the black population.

Closer to home, violence had broken out in Nyasaland, and tensions were rising in Northern Rhodesia as blacks demanded independence. (Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and Southern Rhodesia had formed


the Central African Federation in 1953.) Southern Rhodesian security forces had been sent into Nyasaland in February to help quell disturbances. In the regime's view, this external operation required the tightening of screws at home. Lord Malvern (former prime minister of Rhodesia and the federation) stated, "It was decided that the Southern Rhodesian African Congress must be put behind wire so that they could not create a diversion and prevent the sending of necessary police to Nyasaland."[90]

Disturbances within the federation thus precipitated the introduction of emergency rule in Rhodesia. The prime minister admitted that "there is a real emergency not in Southern Rhodesia at the moment, but in the Federation."[91] The security crackdown in Rhodesia was largely a preemptive strike against further nationalist organizing of blacks and against potential African unrest.[92] Disorder seemed likely because of the sinister construction authorities placed on both continental pressures and domestic black politics. Such linkage of external and internal threats is common in deeply divided societies.[93]

The embryonic challenge from Rhodesian blacks was only one factor contributing to the declaration of the state of emergency. The Whitehead regime's political interests also played a role: it attempted to gain political capital among the white electorate, steal the thunder of the opposition party, and thus secure its incumbency. The Government sought in one stroke to undermine the ANC to the left, curry favor with DP loyalists to the right, and retain the support of its own constituents in the middle. Already evident in 1959, these interests grew increasingly salient as the 1962 election approached.

Normalizing Emergency Rule

The emergency episode proved counterproductive in several respects. It ruined the prospects for genuine racial partnership, made heroes out of the detainees, and alienated moderate Africans from the Government.[94] To deflate the crisis atmosphere of the state of emergency and yet pre-


serve its sweeping powers as insurance against the future, the regime sought to normalize the exceptional measures by incorporating them in statute law.[95] Thus institutionalized, the official emergency came to an end.

The 1959 Unlawful Organizations Act (UOA) was novel in that it outlawed certain organizations. The act proscribed the African National Congress and provided for the banning of additional organizations if their activities were deemed "likely" to disturb public order, "prejudice" the tranquility of the nation, endanger "constitutional government," or "promote feelings of ill will or hostility" between the races. Furthermore, the UOA outlawed any organization that was "controlled by or affiliated to or participates in the activities or promotes the objects or propagates the opinions of any organization outside the colony" (emphasis added). The executive's banning of an organization was "not open to question in any court of law," and the burden of proving that one was not a member of a banned organization fell on the accused. Attendance at a meeting or possession of books, writings, accounts, documents, banners, or insignia "relating to an unlawful organization" were prima facie evidence of membership "until the contrary is proved." Prosecution of such offenses could be held in camera. Finally, the act provided for the complete indemnification of police and civil servants for actions connected with enforcing the measure. Between 1960 and 1965, 1,610 Africans were prosecuted and 1,002 convicted under this law.[96]

The Preventive Detention Act (PDA) was introduced to continue the detention of ANC members who had been arrested and held without charge during the state of emergency.[97] During parliamentary debate on the bill, the prime minister argued that the nationalist detainees had made a "mockery" of the law, had stirred up rural discontent, and had established connections with those outside the country who were intent on "bringing about a complete change" in Africa. He admitted that these activities were not "in any way contrary to the old laws" unless violence could be proved—hence the need for the PDA.[98]

The act authorized the detention of persons "concerned," "associated," or "supporting" "any of the activities of any organization which


led to the present state of emergency" and persons considered "potentially dangerous to public safety or public order." The decision as to whether individuals were "potentially dangerous" was left to the governor, which in practice meant the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs.

Lest the act give the appearance of completely unchecked executive power, it established a Review Tribunal—composed of a judge, a magistrate, and a Native Commissioner—to review annually the case of each detainee and recommend release or continued detention. Tribunal proceedings were held in camera; deliberations depended heavily on the evidence of the police Special Branch; and the minister was not obliged to follow the tribunal's recommendations. The tribunal rarely advised the release of detainees, and its lack of objectivity was reflected in its general report on the emergency and detention exercise of 1959, which completely whitewashed the regime's actions.[99]

A third measure, the Native Affairs Amendment Act, was introduced in 1959 to prohibit any "native" from making statements or acting in a way "likely to undermine the authority" of, or bring into "disrepute," governmental officials, chiefs, or headmen. The act abolished meetings of twelve or more "natives" without the permission of the Native Commissioner. Hence, the rural areas became much less accessible to black nationalist organizers.

In January 1960 the National Democratic party (NDP) emerged out of the ruins of the ANC. Its goals included universal adult suffrage, higher wages, improvements in African housing and education, and abolition of the Land Apportionment Act and the Land Husbandry Act. Like the ANC, the NDP had a rudimentary organization, limited resources, and no access to the press; many of its would-be leaders remained behind bars. Given the far-reaching security restrictions passed in 1959, the party's activities were bound within tight parameters. Organizing in rural areas was virtually impossible. In urban areas, however, it was attracting up to ten thousand people to its rallies, and by mid-1961 it had over two hundred fifty thousand dues-paying members.[100]

Intended to paralyze black opposition and prevent political violence, the state of emergency proved a self-fulfilling prophecy. State repression deepened black alienation from the regime and suggested to some that


peaceful political organizing was a dead end. With the black leadership in detention, the political vacuum was filled by the more militantly inclined. As in Kenya during Mau Mau, violence in Rhodesia "derived from the conditions of the Emergency itself."[101] In July and October 1960 large-scale demonstrations and rioting broke out in black townships. During one riot, the police killed eleven Africans. The rioters were selective: they "destroyed everything that had anything to do with the central or local government."[102]

In reaction to the disorders and to the outcry of a shocked settler community, the Government introduced more comprehensive legislation: the 1960 Law and Order (Maintenance) Act (LOMA) and the Emergency Powers Act (EPA). LOMA banned publications; criminalized "subversive statements" and "intimidation," which it defined broadly; restricted persons without trial to designated areas; empowered police to search and arrest without a warrant; and summarily prohibited meetings. It outlawed the publishing of "false news," boycotting, creating "disaffection" in the police force, and using or encouraging violence, sabotage, and terrorism.

The Emergency Powers Act enabled the Minister of Justice to make "necessary or expedient" regulations for public order, safety, peace, and the maintenance of any "essential service." It provided regulations for summary arrest, detention, and restriction. It also gave the executive power to suspend or modify "any law" to make way for emergency regulations.

Although couched in race-neutral language, LOMA and EPA were applied almost entirely to Africans. Very few whites were sympathetic to the nationalist cause, and the rights and liberties of the white population were largely unaffected. Blacks were arrested, detained, or restricted; political meetings on Sundays and holidays were proscribed (in 1961, 1,028 Africans were arrested for violations of LOMA, and 1,084 in 1962).[103] The NDP was banned in December 1961 and its successor, the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), was outlawed in September 1962. By these actions the regime hoped to curry favor among the white electorate as a national election approached.[104]


The events of 1959 through 1962 helped to fortify the institutional power of Rhodesia's internal security agencies. The new security legislation greatly expanded the arbitrary powers of officials in the Native Affairs Department, the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs, and the police force; just as their manpower and financial resources were substantially enhanced.[105] New police stations were erected in black townships; the Special Branch of the police was established in December 1960 to provide intelligence on nationalists at home and on "sinister" forces elsewhere in Africa.[106] In late 1962, a powerful Ministry of Law and Order was created, with responsibility for the police. This new department specifically concerned with law and order was designed both to expand control over blacks and, once again, to give an alarmed white electorate a sense that the Government was being firm.[107]

As in contemporary South Africa, officials described repressive measures in Rhodesia as necessary to establish a bedrock of stability upon which a superstructure of reform could be built. The UFP regime gradually came to the view that it ought to balance repression with a package of concessions to Africans—a shock-absorber effect. It aimed concessions mainly at the moderate African "majority" and repression at the extremist "fringe," in order to drive a wedge between the two groups and weaken their potential for broad based political resistance. Improvements took place in African education, wages, and amenities; plans were made to dispense with some "petty apartheid" regulations the regime considered superfluous to maintaining white supremacy. The repeal of certain kinds of racial discrimination stopped far short of forced integration, as Whitehead made clear in 1959: "We will not legislate to force people to integrate who do not want to and we will not force people to meet socially if they do not want to."[108]

The use of both the carrot and stick reflected growing disagreement at the commanding heights of the security sector, some of whose elites called almost exclusively for reforms, some for undiluted repression, and others for a mixture of the two. Police chiefs and the Secretary of Native Affairs pushed strongly within Cabinet for repressive solutions, while others like the Ministers of Justice and Labour took a more "en-


lightened" view.[109] As one minister in the Whitehead Cabinet later confided, conflict within the Cabinet and the ruling party over the balance between reform and repression "was a split which became deeper as the years went by. The greater the attempt to reform, the greater the reaction."[110] Despite the increased legal powers given to the police, Justice, and Native Affairs, hard-line factions within these agencies remained frustrated by the Cabinet's apparent weakness in curbing unrest. A significant number of state personnel were covert supporters of the Dominion party and its hard-line program. The 1959–1962 period was significant, therefore, not only for the growing black unrest but also for the unprecedented discord within the state over both security policy and reform of the racial order.

Breakdown and Restoration of Settler Cohesion

The increasing strain within the state over specific forms of repression and reform and over the proper mixture of the two coincided with a backlash within the dominant caste and heightened protest among the black majority. Reforms fueled white anxiety and opposition; repression further alienated African opinion. Of most consequence for the future of the Whitehead regime was its diminishing credibility within a settler population that had never given its leaders a mandate to open, even slightly, the window of social and political opportunity to Africans.

Serious electoral competition among settler parties was rare in Rhodesia. The only period in Rhodesian history when a white opposition party had any appreciable impact on security legislation was that of 1958 through 1962. During those years the United Federal party held a slim majority in Parliament and precarious support among the electorate. Unlike contests both earlier and later, the struggles over security policy from 1958 through 1962 were significant precisely because the Dominion party presented a serious challenge to the UFP's incumbency. The DP, not the African nationalists, had the capacity to bring the ruling party down. Champion of undiluted white domination and the fierce repression of African opposition, the DP sought to make political capital out of the UFP's "weakness" by stirring the pot of white fears. According to a minister in the Whitehead Cabinet, in the field of law and order, the Dominion party "influenced the UFP quite a bit."[111]


In 1959 Prime Minister Whitehead boasted that 99 percent of the whites and 85 percent of the blacks supported his administration[112] —a gross exaggeration at the time, and the UFP's legitimacy in both quarters had all but collapsed by 1962.

The Government's new security measures did not assuage the white electorate, disturbed both by the regime's inadequate use of the iron fist and its experiment with conciliation and gradual African advancement. Staunch advocates of settler supremacy considered Whitehead's reforms treasonous: for example, plans to extend the franchise, appoint African Cabinet ministers and increase the number of African MPs, remove petty apartheid restrictions, and repeal the cornerstone Land Apportionment Act.[113] In October 1962 the prime minister made the mistake of telling the United Nations' Trusteeship Committee that Africans "will have a majority [in Parliament] within fifteen years." Although the premier did not mean majority rule, his prediction was too much for the settler community to bear.[114] A 1958 survey revealed that whites believed the franchise was already too generous toward Africans, and 86.5 percent opposed repeal of the Land Apportionment Act.[115]

One barometer of white morale, migration rates, registered the falling confidence in the Government: in 1956 the country had eleven thousand immigrants; in 1961, it had two thousand emigrants. But the extent of white concern was most clearly evidenced in the December 1962 election when the DP's heir, the white supremacist Rhodesian Front (RF), won a surprise victory over the UFP.

The 1962 election was the first in which a white ruling party sought to broaden its base by enlisting African support. It failed. Of the 10,632 registered African voters (a fraction of voting-age blacks), only 2,577 voted.[116] In a context of increasing racial polarization, Africans withheld support from a Government that had arrested their leaders, banned three of their political parties, and attempted to break their spirits. The use of the stick had canceled out the desired effect of the carrot. Similarly, the white electorate was not prepared to endorse a Government


that seemed ready to capitulate to black pressures. In the election, the African boycott combined with a shift of white voters to the RF to defeat the UFP. The Rhodesian Front won 56.5 percent of the total vote and 35 seats; the United Federal party received 26.

Whitehead's predecessor, Garfield Todd, was removed in a Cabinet revolt in 1958 for his own slightly reformist gestures, which his colleagues considered altogether premature. But Whitehead's Cabinet could not bring itself to do its own housecleaning when he embarked on a more serious reform program than anything Todd had contemplated. It was thus left to the settler electorate to purge this deviating regime. The result of the 1962 election was convincing proof that a ruling party could attempt to reform this settler state only at its peril. A majority of white Rhodesians was simply not prepared to allow political leaders to modernize state institutions and promote serious racial conciliation. The year 1962 can thus be regarded as a "point of no return" in Rhodesia, one that soundly rejected an accommodationist solution and sharpened racial polarization.[117] The RF victory signaled a dramatic return to the traditional Rhodesian pattern, in which "power tends to gravitate towards those who are least ready for change."[118]

The coming to power of the Rhodesian Front under Premier Winston Field had a salutary effect on settler unity and state cohesion, which had so troubled the Whitehead Government. In Rhodesia, the transfer of power to an ultrarightist settler Government helped to ease strains within the state well into the 1970s. (It did not have this effect in Northern Ireland, discussed in Chapter 5.) Reunified, the Rhodesian state was better able to defend the cause of settler domination, which increased the whites' confidence in the country. The balance of power within the state shifted in favor of the hawks; moderate elites from the old regime were purged, converted, or ignored—much as occurred in South Africa after the National party's victory over the United party in 1948. In both cases the former ruling party lost all influence on security policy, ceased to offer a viable political alternative, and gradually faded from the scene.

It took time for the new regime to subdue African unrest. In August 1963 several leading nationalists broke with the banned ZAPU to form a new organization, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). Between August 1963 and August 1964, widespread violence between


ZAPU and ZANU supporters occurred in African townships. By 1965 this internecine rivalry had abated within the country (but continued between the exiled wings of each party), and domestic political violence had declined.

In line with the new regime's break with multiracialism, it made little attempt to cushion repression through reforms. The Government made full use of the inherited repressive machinery and introduced amendments to make the legislation even more severe; it also created an important new security agency in 1963, the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO). CIO became responsible for gathering external intelligence (and the police Special Branch then focused on domestic matters). The need for a special intelligence agency was growing with the possibility that the regime might soon unilaterally declare independence from Britain, and the international fallout that this might create.[119]

Unilateral Independence

The Central African Federation came to an end in 1963, after a decade of life. The federation had been an attempt to shield Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland from British interference by incorporating them under Southern Rhodesia's protective umbrella, but it left open the possibility that London would unilaterally grant independence to the black majority in all three territories. The end of the federation meant that Rhodesia had successfully shed one more layer of London's formal authority over the colony. Regarding Britain with suspicion after its "sell-out" of Kenya's settlers, Rhodesia's whites realized that without full independence from the home country they would have no guarantee against a similar fate. Although British officials had seemed rather indifferent to the cycle of unrest and repression in Rhodesia after 1959, the lingering possibility that the metropole might intervene against the interests of the settlers caused tremendous anxiety within the white community. Consider this candid communiqué from Prime Minister Field to a British Secretary of State:

so long as the last remaining links remain and the impression persists that the United Kingdom has the right to interfere in our internal affairs there is the danger of a series of serious incidents of disorder [among blacks] being en-


couraged from outside in order to compel such intervention by the British Government.[120]

Field's Cabinet colleagues, however, judged him too weak to give Britain an ultimatum on independence. He resigned in April 1964 and was succeeded by Ian Smith, an ardent advocate of unconditional independence. In the 1965 election, Smith received his mandate to pursue independence vigorously and if necessary illegally and unilaterally. The Rhodesian Front swept 79.3 percent of the vote (up from 56.5 percent in 1962), and its victory confirmed that the old UFP—now the Rhodesia party—was a spent force.

Refusing to grant Rhodesia unconditional independence, the British Government stipulated six preconditions: (1) unimpeded progress toward majority rule; (2) guarantees against retrogressive amendment of the 1961 constitution; (3) immediate improvement in Africans' political status; (4) progress toward ending racial discrimination; (5) evidence that independence was acceptable to the entire Rhodesian population; and (6) formal prohibitions against racial oppression either by the minority or the majority. The settlers responded to these conditions with a litany of noes. They were most prepared to resist the first principle: majority rule was to them a euphemism for a "racialist black dictatorship," which would be suicidal for white power and prosperity and would erode "civilized standards" in the country.

The impasse between the two governments had lasted more than a year when Smith announced his country's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in November 1965. British Prime Minister Harold Wilson immediately denounced UDI as an "act of rebellion against the Crown" and predicted that the illegal action would be short-lived. British officials took quite some time to realize that Rhodesia was no longer within their sphere of influence and that the Crown's authority over Rhodesia was, in large measure, a constitutional fiction. The home country had no military or civil service personnel in the country, only an impotent governor; it was in no position to intervene with force.[121] Whitehall eventually convinced the international community to apply economic sanc-


tions and diplomatic isolation to bring Rhodesia to its senses. When this failed, Britain made several attempts at a negotiated solution. Yet, as neither party would compromise on basic principles, the discussions came to naught. It became increasingly clear that the Rhodesian settler state was immune to metropolitan leverage.

One week prior to UDI, the Rhodesian Front regime declared a state of emergency: it has been in effect ever since. The timing of the declaration clearly anticipated the constitutional crisis between Britain and Rhodesia and the possibility that blacks might launch an insurrection against the regime. They did not, but already in 1964 ZANU and ZAPU resolved to pursue an armed struggle against the regime from exile in Zambia. Rhodesia's security forces swiftly crushed their first attempts at guerrilla infiltration in 1966, and the campaign remained ineffective until 1972.

Although the country was peaceful in the later 1960s, Rhodesia retained the state of emergency and used the security arsenal to harass and subdue black political opponents, not simply those few involved in crime and violence. Almost all the principal nationalist leaders of the early 1960s languished in detention, restriction, or exile for several years.[122] The lack of leaders, organization, and resources to challenge the regime made this a time of disarray and frustration in the nationalist movement.

The settlers were in a different mood altogether. The rebellion against Britain and resultant international isolation cemented the settlers' political and ideological unity. The whites stood solidly behind the Government and its commitment to resist social and political change. In the general elections of 1970 and 1977, the Rhodesian Front won 77.8 percent and 86.4 percent of the vote. Settlers also broadly accepted the need for severe security powers. In one small 1971 survey, 88 percent of the whites questioned approved of the regime's handling of security; only 3 percent disapproved.[123]


The pillars of settler rule had weathered several storms. Britain and the international community had failed to affect the Rhodesian situation;


settler solidarity had been restored; peaceful black opposition had been quieted and armed struggle seemed futile.

When a maverick regime tampered with absolutist settler rule, it succumbed to a backlash consistent with the prediction that state power would "gravitate towards those who [were] least ready for change."[124] Hard-line settlers saw the most modest concessions to the natives as threatening the sacred pillars of settler rule.

Not all settler castes have displayed the political intransigence of the Rhodesians. The Arab elite in Zanzibar tried another strategy in the 1950s:

to preserve its position by gaining the acceptance and political support of the African majority. This method was fundamentally different from the usual technique of dominant racial minorities which have attempted to retain power by coercive means elsewhere in Africa.... The Arab oligarchy of Zanzibar actively sought to bring about the introduction of a representative parliamentary system based on universal suffrage, and tied its political future to the idea of gaining sufficient [African] electoral support to win a majority of constituencies.[125]

But Zanzibar's experiment with gradual native incorporation was motivated by the same underlying concern as Rhodesia's UDI: to preempt a British move to grant independence to the black majority.

When Clapham wrote that "Liberia is not a sort of black Rhodesia," he had in mind the Liberian regime's efforts during the final decades of settler rule to win the compliance of the indigenous African population through partial social assimilation and political incorporation.[126] In the late 1960s and 1970s Liberia extended the franchise to Africans, relaxed coercive sanctions, and set in motion a "Unification Policy."[127] These genuine efforts at accommodation went further than anything Rhodesia contemplated, but they were nevertheless designed to streamline, not dissolve, settler rule. Liebenow notes that "the more the central bastions of settler privilege were threatened, the tighter the restrictions imposed upon significant entry of tribal persons into the upper echelons" of the


state and economic order.[128] At the time of the coup d'état in 1980, settlers still dominated the Cabinet; the True Whig party, under tight settler control, had held power for a full century; and the native majority still had little influence on state policy.

That settler rule came to an abrupt and violent end in Zanzibar in 1964 and Liberia in 1980 illustrates the difficulties inherent in a reformist solution to settler domination. Contemporary Taiwan may prove that incremental democratization and liberalization is indeed an alternative to protracted settler rule. But most settler populations will not endorse the kinds of changes that would satisfy native interests, just as natives are normally unwilling to rest content with the modest concessions offered. Unwilling to reform themselves out of power, enlightened modernizing regimes often walk a tightrope between irreconcilable settler and native demands. This delicate balancing act is currently occupying South Africa.

Northern Ireland and Rhodesian settlers held steadfast to their power and privilege as communal divisions deepened and instability grew in the 1960s and 1970s. In those decades, they mobilized the full force of their respective security systems to defend settler supremacy. Ultimately, the repressive apparatus proved unequal to the task, as the next two chapters show.


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Chapter 3 Building Settler States: Foundations in Rhodesia and Northern Ireland
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