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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 78


Firstly. There is that section of the general public which, knowing that we are governed by representative institutions, and that every citizen, however humble, is more or less responsible for the well-being of the State, yet regards public affairs with apathy; and, absorbed in personal interests, is absolutely ungrateful of its citizens' duties.

Secondly (and for this section it appears to me that no reprobation can be too strong). We have a party of men through- throughout page: 79 out South Africa, by education and natural bias, Liberals; by public profession, Progressives; men who on their own showing see clearly the evils of Retrogressive and Monopolist principles, and who constitute part of our so-called Progressive Party. These men, in spite of their profession, are continually found, as public men and leaders, using the subtlest methods of the Monopolist, coquetting with any and every party which appears likely to aid them to office and power. Without the genius of the Monopolist, they sink to his opportunism for the attainment of the smallest ends; as page: 80 private individuals they oppose such progressive measures which would entail inconvenience upon themselves, personally or locally, and connive at certain retrogressive measures when doing so confers benefit upon themselves, without the true Retrogressive's excuse of earnest conviction. It is these men, whether politicians, progressive farmers, or enlightened commercial men, to whom we should naturally look for deliverance from the evils which oppress the Colony; yet it is exactly these men who in some instances have made possible the despotism of the Monopolist, and the triumph of the page: 81 Retrogressionist, by their complete absorption in their own small aims, and their wilful disregard of impersonal obligations. The Monopolist may be organically incapacitated for seeing further; the Retrogressionist, in spite of his sincerity, cannot see further; the so-called Progressive sees further, but refuses to act at any cost to himself. Such men are the bane of the country.

There is, however, yet another section of our community distinct from all those we have noticed. It is to this section, I think, that we must look to inaugurate a truly Progressive movement in Colonial affairs. page: 82 And this brings us back to the question with which we started: HOW IS THE RETROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IN THE CAPE COLONY TO BE STAYED?