On the heels of the South African Parliament’s decision to allow the confiscation of white-owned property without compensation, one question that people ask is: could it happen here in the United States? Even with all of the political and legal hurdles, the fear of this kind of policy strikes at many people. With current political attitudes, such a proposal would have a small, but meaningful base of support that could generate a large amount of agitation. However, I believe several factors make a direct confirmatory scheme unlikely to happen in the United States in the near or long-term. Existing redistribution and affirmative action policies are likely to continue to exist or accelerate, to the detriment of the bottom three-quarters of white Americans, but I do not believe that confiscation is in the cards.
The first reason is that land ownership and wealth hardly go hand-in-hand in the United States. The kinds of people radicals would want to target don’t own large farms, they own suburban houses. The typical white American would be more easily and effectively bled dry though increased taxation than to have his home and 401K given to someone else. In addition, the low status associated with owning a self-run farm in modern America makes it undesirable for would-be confiscators.
That nature of American agriculture makes farm seizure unlikely as the biggest farms are held by large corporations who can be better controlled through regulation than through confiscation. Affirmative action policies at corporations ultimately serve the same function as confiscation does in South Africa: placing Africans in high-status positions.
More broadly, the difference between South Africa’s and the United State’s demographics, now and in the future probably prevents confiscation from being a viable political platform. Currently, African-Americans are just one in eight Americans, and that fraction is expected to hold firm in the coming decades, although a greater share of those African-Americans will not be the descendants of slaves. The possible exception to this projection is if hundreds of millions of Africans are brought into the United States by immigration policies as Africa’s population explodes in next few decades. That would represent a major change in immigration projections, even under the current systems. As it stands though, even if a super-majority of the African-American population supported such a measure, they do not have the electoral clout to push naked confiscation.
America’s demographic future seems to lie in becoming more and more Hispanic, rather than more and more African. Increased Hispanic influence means blurrier racial lines, and an increased difficulty in targeting specific groups without collateral damage.
In addition to a future where distinguishing between white and Hispanic is increasingly difficult, America’s white Christian population will hold a smaller portion of the possible wealth to confiscate. America’s wealth is increasingly held by Jews, Indians, East Asians and other groups of people who won’t accept collective punishment for the sins of someone else’s ancestors. That’s why I think income-based redistribution policies are likely to stay and possibly be expanded. That isn’t to say these programs don’t have a racial tinge, the ethnic makeup of the top 25% of Americans is certainly different from the ethnic makeup of the lower 25%, but I doubt America will see something as explicit as what is currently going on in South Africa.
For these three reasons: the lack of electoral clout of those who would push for confiscation, the increasing blurriness of race in America, and the increased share of wealth held by post-Civil War arrivals makes direct confiscation unlikely to happen in America. However, that is not reason to celebrate. The demographic and cultural tides may spare the Amerikaner from the fate of the Afrikaner, but at the cost of their historic homeland.