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Chapter Ten— External Pressures
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Chapter Ten—
External Pressures

No analysis of South African society is complete without an account of the numerous external pressures to which it is subject.[1] Not only is South Africa ridden with tensions and conflicts originating from within, but it also faces a hostile world as a result of government policies. Condemnation of apartheid is one of the few international issues on which all countries (except Portugal) find themselves in agreement. In an ironic way, South Africa thus contributes to international understanding by being the skunk of the world.

The South African government itself has implicitly admitted that it has acquired this unenviable distinction. It now avoids the unsavory term "apartheid," which it used as a slogan for more than a decade, and coined a new euphemism for its racial policy: "separate development." When Chief Albert Luthuli received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961, Afrikaner Nationalist newspapers, the radio, and the government vilified the recipient, and interpreted the award as a "deliberate slap for the South African Government."[2] However much the government pretends to ignore international censure, or attempts to escape it by coining new euphemisms and retreating into ever greater isolation, one can


safely predict that external pressures will steadily increase, and eventually help in bringing about radical change in South Africa.

Of all foreign countries, Great Britain has probably had the longest and the most complex relationship with South Africa. As we have seen earlier, the two countries have a long history of close but uneasy contact. The clash between Boer expansionism and British imperialism dominated most of the nineteenth century, and was finally resolved in 1910. From 1820, the settlement of English colonists in South Africa, by putting in presence two settler stocks, complicated relations between the two countries. Starting in the 1860's, the development of mining, and, later, of secondary industry, made for close financial and commercial ties between the United Kingdom and South Africa. Even today, Britain remains the major source of foreign capital, and by far the most important trade partner for South Africa.

The settlement of Union in 1910 opened a new phase in British-South African relations. For nearly forty years, a relatively stable modus vivendi was reached on the basis of mutual cooperation. The only outstanding bone of contention between the two countries was the control over the three High Commission Territories of Swaziland, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland. While the South Africa Act provided for continued British sovereignty over these territories, it also contained a clause on the eventual transfer of power to South Africa at an unspecified date. As Britain consistently adopted the position that the transfer could only take place with the consent of the indigenous population, such a transfer is totally excluded. The three territories are now slowly moving towards independence, and Basutoland and Bechuanaland will most probably adopt a hostile policy towards White South Africa.

Starting with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, and the coming to power of the Nationalists in 1948, South Africa's position in relation to Britain and the Commonwealth began to change once more. Two separate and opposed developments led, in 1961, to the final break in the compromise of Union.


On the one hand, the Nationalist government steadily undermined South Africa's already mostly symbolic ties with the British Crown, while, on the other hand, the Commonwealth changed its character through the admission of independent Afro-Asian members. To these two factors must be added Britain's abandonment of her traditional policy of White supremacy in much of South, Central, and East Africa which became unequivocal in early 1960 with Macmillan's famous Cape Town speech. Since then, the Tory government is busily liquidating its imperial responsibilities, and turning its remaining African colonies and protectorates over to majority, i.e., Black governments. All these developments arrived at their logical end-result during the London Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference of 1961. The Nationalists fulfilled their Republican dream by winning the Referendum of October, 1960, and pressure from the non-White members of the Commonwealth forced South Africa's withdrawal from the "Club" in May, 1961.

Whether the government intended to provoke South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth by declaring a Republic is an open question. The fact is that, from the government's point of view, the breaking of Commonwealth ties is a mixed blessing. To be sure, the Nationalists rallied the enthusiastic support of Afrikanerdom by exploiting the Republican issue; and increasing isolation from hostile forums of international affairs may give the government a spurious sense of security. At the same time, however, Britain becomes freer to adopt a stronger anti-apartheid position in the United Nations, and is saved the embarrassment of trying to restrain other Commonwealth members who want to take drastic sanctions against South Africa.

By far the greatest source of external pressure comes, of course, from the Afro-Asian countries. This pressure has steadily increased since the end of World War Two, as one country after another became independent. Since 1958 the meteoric collapse of European colonialism in Africa has isolated South Africa at the tip of a hostile continent. While South Africa is still protected


from the "winds of change" by a cordon sanitaire of colonial or White-settler controlled territories to the north (Angola, Mozambique, and Southern Rhodesia), such a protection will certainly be short-lived. The disintegration of the Central African Federation is now an accomplished fact, leaving only Southern Rhodesia under precarious White control, and the breakdown of the Portuguese empire appears imminent. The liberation of Southern Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique, and the High Commission Territories will leave South Africa with a wide-open, hostile frontier of over two thousand miles.

Afro-Asian pressure against South Africa is exerted on several fronts, foremost among which are the United Nations. Ironically, the country of General Smuts, one of the architects of the United Nations, is now the principal defendant in that organization. Two main issues open South Africa to attack in that international forum: racial discrimination and the status of South West Africa.

India and Pakistan were among the first nations to protest against South Africa's racial policies (one of the few issues on which the two Asian governments agree). Indeed, the treatment of Indian immigrants to South Africa has been a source of international tension long before Indian independence. Starting in the 1860's, the British-controlled government of India protested at the indignities to which indentured "coolies" were subjected in Natal, and temporarily stopped Indian emigration to South Africa. Since 1947 India and Pakistan have introduced in the U.N. General Assembly yearly motions of censure against South Africa's racial policies. In recent years, however, the African countries have taken the lead against South Africa at the U.N. The growing tide of world indignation is reflected in the increasingly condemnatory language of the anti-apartheid resolutions, and in the growing unanimity with which these resolutions have been passed.

In October, 1958, for example, the General Assembly adopted by 70 votes against 5, and 4 abstentions, a resolution expressing "regret and concern" over South Africa's governmental policies


which "impair the right of all racial groups to enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedom."[3] Three years later, in November, 1961, a lengthy and vigorous onslaught against apartheid in the General Assembly led to a vote of 97 to 2, with 1 abstention, against South Africa.[4] The resolution called apartheid "reprehensible and repugnant to human dignity," and urged member nations to take "separate and collective action" to force its abandonment. African states are quickly intensifying their maneuvers to bring about South Africa's expulsion from the world body, and these pressures are likely to be successful in the near future. In November, 1962, a much stronger resolution requesting member states to break off diplomatic relations with South Africa, to boycott her goods, and to consider her expulsion from the U.N. finally received the necessary two-thirds majority (67 to 16, with 23 abstentions) after several unsuccessful tries in previous years. In August, 1963, the Security Council, by a vote of 9 in favour, none opposed, and 2 abstentions (Britain and France) called upon all states to "cease forthwith the sale and shipment of arms, ammunition of all types, and military vehicles to South Africa."[5] For the first time, the United States stated its willingness to impose sanctions against South Africa, and the American representative, Adlai Stevenson, called apartheid "an evil business," "abhorrent," and "calculated retrogression."[6]

The South African government's position on the issue of apartheid is, of course, that its racial policies are strictly an internal concern, and, hence, that U.N. interference or censure is a violation of the Charter. All other countries, except Portugal, take the position that racial discrimination against non-Whites constitutes a blatant disregard of Article 55 of the U.N. Charter, and, hence, is a matter of international concern.[7] The moral weakness of


South Africa's stand is clearly revealed by the fact that the government's main line of defence lies in attacking other countries for alleged discrimination against their minority groups.

The South West Africa issue, while a more legalistic one, threatens perhaps more directly the Nationalist government. The administration of that territory, which was formerly a German colony, was granted to South Africa in 1919 under a Mandate of the League of Nations, and as a consequence of its participation in World War One operations against Germany. The United Nations consider themselves the successor of the defunct League of Nations, and all colonial powers, except South Africa, have accepted the transformation of their Mandates into U.N. Trusteeships. South Africa, on the other hand, denies the U.N. any jurisdiction over South West Africa, and has, for all practical purposes, annexed that territory as a fifth province of the Republic. In 1960 Liberia and Ethiopia brought the issue to the International Court of Justice in a bid to expel South Africa from her Mandate. At the time of writing, the matter is still sub judice , but the final judgment is unlikely to be favourable to South Africa.

Outside the forum of the United Nations, the independent African states have also spearheaded the international crusade against South Africa. The Republic is either excluded from all regional conferences of African states, or represented by leading exiles and opponents of the government. The latter is invariably the target of vehement attacks on the part of all participating countries. In 1958 the first All-Africa People's Conference of Accra urged all states to initiate economic sanctions against South Africa "as a protest against racial discrimination." The onslaught intensified at later Pan-African meetings, notably at the Tunis


All-Africa People's Conference of December, 1959; the June, 1960 Conference of Independent African States in Addis Ababa; the Casablanca Conference of 1961; the Freedom Fighters' Conference of Accra in 1962; and the 1962 Summit Meeting of Casablanca Powers in Cairo. In spite of the rift which, until 1963, separated the "moderate" Monrovia group from the more militant Casablanca powers, all African states are unanimous in their abhorrence of apartheid, and in their readiness to combat it by all available means. At the 1963 Addis Ababa Conference, all independent African states, in view of the failure to liquidate colonialism by other means of opposition, urged the use of force in South Africa and the Portuguese territories, established a freedom fund, and discussed methods of military co-operation and aid. Most African states have already taken action against South Africa. Between 1961 and 1963 twenty-one nations have declared a trade embargo against the Republic, namely: The Sudan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, the U.A.R., Mali, Algeria, Upper Volta, Rwanda, Libya, Cameroon, Senegal, Uganda, Tanganyika, Kenya, Niger, Dahomey, and Mauritania.[8] Cairo Radio broadcasts a steady stream of anti-apartheid propaganda. Ghana has, for some time, made the entry of South Africans conditional on a declaration of opposition to apartheid. Other states have denied transit facilities to South African ships and aircrafts. No independent country in the Soviet or Afro-Asian bloc has diplomatic relations with South Africa, except Japan.[9] In 1960 the United Arab Republic, which had been the only independent African state to keep a diplomatic mission in South Africa, broke off all relations with that country.


Since its independence in 1962, Algeria is actively training saboteurs to fight against Portugal and the South African government.

A wide range of non-governmental bodies has also initiated protest actions against South Africa. An opposition in exile constituted itself as the South African United Front with offices in London, Accra, Cairo, Dar-es-Salaam, and New York, and attempts to mobilize world opinion against apartheid. Mass anti-Nationalist demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, and a call for a British boycott of South African goods followed the Sharpeville incident of 1960. The International Commission of Jurists declared apartheid to be "morally reprehensible and violating the rule of law." World sport organizations, such as the Olympic Games Committee and the International Federation of Football Associations, have either excluded South Africa from participation, or threatened to do so unless racial discrimination in sports is abolished.

International religious bodies, notably the World Council of Churches, have unanimously condemned apartheid as contrary to Christianity and the laws of God. Even the Netherlands Reformed Church declared its abhorrence of racial discrimination and broke off relations with its South African sister churches. Labour unions have also threatened action. In December, 1959, the I.C.F.T.U. passed a resolution in favour of boycotting South African goods. German, British, and Scandinavian trade-union councils followed suit. South Africa was excluded from the 1961 International Labour Conference, and dockworkers' unions in East Africa agreed on a boycott of South African goods. In short, an imposing number of private international organizations covering most fields of human activity have taken an indignant stand against the racial policies of the Nationalists.

What have been the practical effects of such overwhelming anti-apartheid sentiment throughout the world? So far, boycotts and other sanctions have had little, if any, perceptible influence on the South African economy. It is likewise doubtful that the


United Nations, or even individual African or Asian states, will initiate any direct military action against the Nationalist government. Nevertheless, it would be fallacious to conclude that international pressures have had no effect on the internal scene, or that they will be ineffectual in the future. Let us first examine more closely the internal influence of outside antagonism, then assess the implications of the present world balance of power for South Africa, and, finally, attempt to predict future developments.

The most obvious impact of world condemnation on South Africa has been to force the latter to retreat into increasing diplomatic and military isolation. Supporters of the government pretend to welcome that trend, and to disregard world opinion. The growing menace of isolation to the South African government is, however, realized by the more intelligent Nationalists. When the tide of African independence will have reached the borders of South Africa, the Republic will be highly vulnerable to foreign-based terrorist organizations, and to economic sanctions (such as stopping the supply of foreign labour). Except in the unlikely case of direct Soviet or Chinese intervention, South Africa cannot count on any foreign aid against internal or external hostility. Several African states, notably Egypt, Algeria, and Ghana, have already offered and given financial support and training in sabotage and subversion techniques to South African exiles.

The present loose alliance between Portugal, Southern Rhodesia, and South Africa will not greatly impede the progress of African Nationalism, as two of the partners are already in a shaky political, economic, and military position, and as South Africa is itself too weak to extend military aid to its northern neighbours. Furthermore, this alliance between racialist South Africa and the supposedly "non-racial" Portugal involves ideological strains and international embarrassment for Salazar, who is already hard-pressed at the helm of his sinking ship. The closer the alliance is, the more openly its true colonialist and racialist character has to be admitted.


External hostility also affects internal opinion. World condemnation consolidates and accentuates the existing polarization of South African opinion into two irreconcilable camps. Any hope that overseas pressure may lead to a "liberalizing" of apartheid policies is, I believe, unrealistic.[10] At most, world opinion acts as a deterrent to large-scale killings of the Sharpeville type. The government recognizes that further shootings of this type would probably entail strong international sanctions, and therefore tends to become less indiscriminate in its use of firearms. But, far from deviating from its policy of apartheid, it constantly perfects its machinery of repression, substituting more efficient means of intimidation for the old-style shooting down of unarmed crowds. At the same time, the non-White opposition is turning away from peaceful mass demonstrations, which have proven ineffective, and evolving more efficacious means of protest.

As repeatedly stated by Nationalist officials, no amount of overseas stigmatization or castigation will lead to a reappraisal of racial policies. On the contrary, outside pressure can only confirm the government in its views and rally behind it the majority of the Whites. Indeed, the United Party opposition rightly views world opinion as hostile to all brands of racialism, and consequently supports the Nationalists against what it views as unfair and intolerable foreign intervention in the internal affairs of South Africa.[11] The English variety of White supremacist con-


siders any foreign attack against apartheid as an onslaught against South Africa as a whole, and views any appeal to world public opinion as treasonable or, at least, unpatriotic.

To the tiny minority of liberal Whites and to the non-Whites, world condemnation of racism gives strong moral support. Many democratic South Africans are disappointed with the lack of effectiveness of outside pressure, and become even bitter and cynical about the Western nations' unwillingness to adopt a firmer stand against the government. Yet world opinion confirms the legitimacy of democratic demands, and outside moral support for these demands enhances the prestige of the non-White and liberal White leaders among the masses. The tonic effect of Luthuli's Nobel Prize Award, for example, can hardly be overestimated.

In short, external pressures have, so far, accentuated the existing polarization of internal opinion, rather than effected a change thereof. At most, these pressures act as a brake on mass murder of Africans by the police, and lead a few well-meaning, "middle-of-the-road" Whites to reconsider their position, and to make a clean break with racialism. The latter phenomenon is particularly apparent among some leading Dutch Reformed Church ministers. Clearly then, outside pressures have, like internal forces, intensified conflict in South Africa, and pushed the country towards revolution. At the same time, however, these pressures have not yet reached the level necessary to precipitate the internal outburst. We shall return presently to the policy implications of these findings.

Rapid changes on the international scene suggest that, however ineffective outside pressures have been so far, these pressures are going to intensify in the future, and will help in bringing about the downfall of White supremacy in South Africa. Indeed, independent African states now hold well over thirty seats at the United Nations and constitute the largest single continental bloc in that organization. Together with twenty-two Asian countries, the African nations exert a strong influence on


the world body's policy concerning South Africa. The Afro-Asian group is unanimous in seeking to overthrow apartheid, and to prevent unilateral action by either the Soviet Union or the Western powers. The Soviet Union is unlikely to intervene directly, and to repeat thereby its Congo mistake of disregarding and antagonizing the neutralist nations for comparatively low stakes.

Afro-Asian solidarity on the South African issue, by neutralizing the threat of Soviet intervention, thus deprives the South African government of its last trump card vis-à-vis the West, namely that it is anti-Communist and strategically important in the Cold War.

Let us now analyse the position of the Western powers, and particularly of the United States. Until about 1960, the United States foreign policy towards Africa in general was characteristically wavering, although generally aligned with that of its colonial allies.[12] While verbally anti-colonialist and anti-racialist, the United States was caught in its great postwar dilemma of trying to antagonize neither its NATO allies, nor the emerging Afro-Asian nations. Due, however, to the existence of racial discrimination at home, and its indirect support of the French in Algeria (and now the Portuguese in Angola), the United States acquired a strongly pro-colonialist image throughout Africa.

More specifically, in relation to South Africa, the United States followed until 1960 the British policy of abstaining from censuring apartheid in the United Nations, while hoping for a gradual "change of heart" and liberalizing of the Nationalist regime. The United States government even condoned racial segregation in South Africa by not sending any Negro diplomats to that country, and by keeping a strict colour-bar in its embassy and consulates.[13] A crucial turn in United States, British, French,


and Belgian policy towards Africa took place in the 1957–1960 period. When Great Britain granted independence to the Gold Coast in 1957, she triggered off the rapid liberation of some two-thirds of Black Africa within three years. De Gaulle's 1958 Referendum led, within two years, to the complete independence of Madagascar and all of French West and Equatorial Africa. Within a few days of the January, 1959 riots in Léopoldville, Belgium promised independence to the Congo, and granted it within eighteen months.

The "decolonization" of British East Africa is now completed, and the White-settlers' stand in Southern Rhodesia presents the last major stumbling block to British colonial disentanglement on the continent. The 1962 Algerian settlement and the independence of Ruanda and Burundi in the same year marked the final withdrawal of France and Belgium from Africa (except for the small enclave of French Somaliland, where Somali-Ethiopian antagonism keeps the tricolore flying). Spain still holds on to the Rio de Oro and other insignificant enclaves, but, as she is not a member of NATO, she does not directly implicate the other Western powers. As to Portugal, the days of her presence in Africa are definitely counted, and she is too weak to be of any importance to the Western alliance system.

On February 3, 1960, Macmillan's "winds-of-change" speech in the Cape Town Parliament, though mild and courteous, gave South Africa its first warning that Britain could no longer refrain from attacking Nationalist colour policies. The following month, after Sharpeville, an official U.S. statement condemned the Nationalists in moderate but unambiguous language.[14] Thereafter,


the United States has consistently voted in favour of U.N. resolutions condemning apartheid. South Africa's membership in the Commonwealth restrained British condemnation until 1961. For the first time, in April, 1961 (i.e., less than a month after South Africa announced her withdrawal from the "Club"), Britain voted against apartheid in the U.N. General Assembly. Since then, the Nationalists can only count on the support of Salazar's regime.

To be sure, the Western nations are not yet prepared to adopt strong sanctions against South Africa, such as a trade embargo or a rupture of diplomatic relations. So far, the United States and Britain have made the mistake of hoping against all evidence that change in South Africa could be through gradual reforms within the existing framework of White supremacy. They have failed to realize that South Africa has engaged itself on the road of White oppression far beyond the point where racial policies can be peacefully and gradually reversed. If they now begin to realize it, they are still reluctant to draw the revolutionary implications of the present situation in South Africa. Only in August, 1963, did the United States belatedly approve an arms embargo, but, by then, its effectiveness was likely to be negligible, as France and other NATO countries did not follow suit, and as South Africa has considerably expanded her armaments industry in the last two years. By December, 1963, Great Britain seemingly followed the United States lead on the arms embargo, by barring the import of weapons which could be used to enforce apartheid. However, it reserved itself the right to supply arms to South Africa for defence against external aggression.

The stand of the United States and Great Britain on the South African issue is of decisive importance. Indeed, the two countries together account for about half of South Africa's foreign investments and trade.[15] Unless America and Britain join other coun-


tries in adopting sanctions against South Africa, these sanctions are unlikely to have anything but a moral effect. Of course, it is partly because of their sizeable trade and investments in South Africa that the United Kingdom and the United States are so reluctant to impose effective sanctions against that country. In December, 1961, for example, direct and indirect British assets in South Africa were estimated at £ 1,550,000,000, and United States investments at £ 290,000,000. American economic interests in South Africa have greatly increased over the years. In 1962 alone, United States investments have increased by £ 15,700,000. Profits from United States companies in South Africa have grown steadily from £ 15,400,000 to £ 25,700,000 between 1959 and 1962.[16] In 1960 nationals of NATO countries owned 93 per cent of the foreign investments in South Africa; the British share was 58 per cent, and that of the United States, 19 per cent; Western European countries accounted for another 16 per cent.[17]

In August, 1963, Sir Patrick Dean, the British U.N. representative, admitted that one of the reasons for Britain's abstention on the resolution calling for sanctions against South Africa was that "we have a considerable trade with and a considerable investment in South Africa. This is of great importance to the external economic position of the United Kingdom, and therefore has implications for world trade generally." Sir Patrick also mentioned three other reasons, namely South Africa's strategic position and her importance in Britain's special defence obligations, Britain's responsibility for the well-being of the High Commission Territories, and "long historical connection, ties of kith and kin forged in times of danger."[18]


My contention, however, is that the cautious Anglo-American position is contrary to Western interests, and will, in any case, prove untenable in the near future. Rather than be reluctantly forced to yield to Afro-Asian demands for stronger sanctions, the United States and Britain have a unique opportunity to take the lead, and stem the tide of anti-Western hostility among the "nonaligned" nations. The West has almost nothing to lose, and a great deal to gain, by taking an active stand against Verwoerd (and Salazar). This is true not only in the rest of Africa, but also in South Africa. Indeed, the longer the revolution is delayed, the more violent, long-drawn, and anti-Western it is likely to be. The Western allies have rarely had such a propitious occasion of leading the inevitable course of history, rather than reluctantly following it to the growing annoyance of two-thirds of mankind.

To conclude the empirical part of our inquiry, we may attempt to predict, or, perhaps better, to prophesy South Africa's future. Although the exact course of events is impossible to foresee in any detail, the likelihood of revolution seems high. Mounting internal strains and external pressures doom White supremacy and racial segregation within the near future; the entire evolution of race relations since Union, and even more since 1948, excludes the possibility of a peaceful and gradual reversal of the present situation. Far from making any concessions, the government moves faster than ever in the reactionary direction, and becomes more and more repressive. This course is, in fact, the only one left to the Nationalists in order to prolong their stay in power. Any retreat would precipitate the crisis, but every new repressive measure, while postponing the explosion, also increases its potential violence.

At present, repressive measures appear to have disorganized the African opposition, and the prospect of a successful revolt seems slender in the immediate future. Once the colonial territories to the north of South Africa will have become independent, however, the collapse of White supremacy will be imminent. With foreign bases of operation along a two-thousand-mile


frontier, and military assistance from outside, guerrilla operations in South Africa will be extremely difficult to counteract, as indeed any underground movement which has the passive or active support of the mass of the population. Furthermore, once the fight will have reached the stage of large-scale terrorism, Afro-Asian demands for international sanctions or U.N. intervention will undoubtedly be stepped up, and become much more effective.

Revolutionary change will thus probably result from a combination of several of the following actions: strong international sanctions, strikes and passive resistance in the urban centres, peasant revolts in the rural areas, and well-organized sabotage from a foreign-based underground receiving outside military assistance and training. Since late 1961, sabotage activities, while still sporadic, ineffectual, and amateurish, show signs of becoming regular features of the South African scene. The near-collapse of South Africa's colonial cordon sanitaire (Rhodesia, Angola, and Mozambique) suggests that conditions will become favourable for these developments within five years at most. As to the mounting international pressures, they have so far had little tangible impact on the internal situation, but they are likely to play a crucial role in the revolutionary changes to come.

The ideological course of the revolution is even more difficult to predict. Two major possibilities appear most likely: either a militant Black racialist movement along the lines of the Pan-African Congress, or a socialist, non-racist movement along African National Congress lines. An expedient, short-term alliance of African leaders with "progressive" White elements is possible, but unlikely to last long. Large separatist ethnic movements are unlikely in view of the advanced stage of Westernization, though local peasant Jacqueries are probable. Both the Coloureds and the Indians will probably remain on the sidelines of the struggle, except for a few individual leaders.

A South Africa divided against itself awaits the impending and inexorable catastrophe. The Whites claim a right to survival which hardly anybody denies them. But in claiming to assert


that right, they have set themselves against the course of history, and have become an arrogant, oppressive albinocracy. Their pride and prejudice may well be their undoing. Quos vult Jupiter perdere, dementat prius.


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Chapter Ten— External Pressures
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