James A. Joseph is Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Public Policy at Duke University. Joseph served as the United States Ambassador to South Africa from 1996 to 2000, and as the Under Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior from 1977 to 1981. He was the President and CEO of the Council on Foundations, Vice President of the Cummins Engine Company, and served as Chaplain of the Claremont Colleges. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Order of Good Hope, South Africa’s highest award to a citizen of a foreign country. Joseph is also the author of
Debating Disinvestment: A Visit to South Africa
The calls for capitalism with an ethic were nowhere more pronounced or more passionate than in the 1970s debate about economic disengagement from South Africa. It was surprising to many that a black executive at a large Fortune 500 company was taking the “divestment” side of the debate rather than joining those calling for “constructive engagement.” This chapter reports on Joseph’s visit to South Africa to observe firsthand the apartheid system euphemistically called separate development. It is a description of both the business environment and the dehumanizing conditions of the time. Official statistics and myriad reports were readily available, but the country’s sociological state, its collective psyche, and the components that shape resistance and resilience needed to be grasped intellectually and intuitively. This chapter is a report on the people met, the conditions observed, the principles at play, and the action taken on the author’s return to the United States.