The Militarisation of South African White Society, 1948-1990

McGill Alexander


The extent to which white South Africans were subjected to enforced militarisation, and indeed acquiesced to it, during the second half of the twentieth century could be seen, at least in part, as contributing to the apparent reluctance of some whites to commit themselves to the democratising process in the country.

In this paper the laying of the foundations for militarisation are outlined, the subsequent growth of this militarisation is examined and its possible effect on the transformation currently taking place in South Africa is indicated.

In doing so, the political actions of the National Party are considered, insofar as they succeeded in legislating military obligations on the white populace and utilising the Defence Force as a vehicle to impose the Afrikaner culture on all sectors of white society. This is seen in the context of growing black nationalist resistance and the international isolation of South Africa. The impact on white society of an increasing military burden and of direct involvement in repression of black resistance is considered as having a braking effect on the subsequent commitment by some whites to the democratising process in South Africa.


The Post-War Ambience in South Africa; The Militarisation of South African White Society; growing black nationalist resistance; enforced militarisation; National Party; repression of black resistance

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Copyright (c) 2018 McGill Alexander

ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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