When Smuts Goes
When Smuts Goes is a dystopian future history of South Africa (which now can be considered a kind of retroactive alternate history), published in 1947 by Dr. Arthur M. Keppel-Jones, a historian at the University of Witwatersrand.
At various points in the decades following its publication, South Africans mentioned the book with the apprehensive feeling that its dark predictions were indeed coming true. However, from the 2007 point of view "When Smuts Goes" seems to have been unduly pessimistic about South Africa's prospects.
Successful and Unsuccessful Predictions
The book correctly predicted the end of the long tenure in power of the United Party of Jan Smuts and the rise to power of the National Party, followed by a rupture with the British Empire and the proclamation of an "Ox Wagon Republic".
In Keppel-Jones' prediction, however, the National Party institutes a totalitarian Fascist-style dictatorship and completely suppresses all dissent, by Whites as well as by Blacks - to a far greater degree than the actual Apartheid regime was to implement even in its most repressive phases.
Keppel-Jones further predicts a mass exodus of English-speaking Whites; a Black uprising led by the Zulus, which is suppressed with much bloodshed; a totally intransigent attitude by the Afrikaner leadership leading to increasing tensions with the rest of the world, culminating with an international military intervention - which leads to the toppling of the regime, followed by the killing or expulsion of the remaining White population, much of it migrating to Argentina; and an economic collapse and social degeneration, with the Blacks proving unable to maintain the political and economic structures which were handed over to them by the International Community.
The book, with both its predictions which were proven true by events and those which were disproven by events, can be considered as reflecting the outlook and anxieties of English-speaking White South African liberals at the time of writing.
Researcher Gary Baines compared the book's deeply pessimistic message and its looking forwards to a disastrous future to the tone of J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians several decades later (1982).
- Arthur Keppel-Jones: When Smuts goes : a history of South Africa from 1952 to 2010 : first published in 2015. London, Victor Gollanz Ltd, 1947. (232 pag.)
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