rds, and the Creator shall smite Dr. Bond with even worse haemhorrhoids than he currently possesses. The Creator is happy to debate with anyone who is genuinely interested in debating. Since Dr. Bond is concerned to deny everything negative which is said about his work, including much that is self-evidently true, there is not much purpose in debating with Dr. Bond.
However, some clarification is in order and for this post the Creator will stop being polite.
Dr. Bond apparently spends a substantial portion of his day searching the Web for “patrick bond”. This suggests either egomania or a level of insecurity requiring therapeutic aid. When he, the Director of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and author of numerous books, Web articles and newspaper articles, found that a virtually traffic-free weblog twitted him for using fake statistics to fool John Pilger, he launched into a pompous rebuke and, receiving no apology, repeated this with an extended dishonest rebuttal, the kind of thing which arouses howls of “Get your own blog, asshole!” on better-attended weblogs. This is pathetic.
More to the point, it hides the fact that Dr. Bond did make up statistics.
Dr. Bond falsified statistics for water and electricity cut-offs, first in Elite Transition and then in subsequent research and in publicity material thereafter. This was exposed by the editor of the Mail and Guardian, Ferrial Haffajee, in that organ around 2003 if memory serves. Dr. Bond never refuted the exposure because he could not. Dr. Bond’s claims referred to millions of households and there are only a few millions of households in South Africa. A brief night drive through rural areas, or through black townships, witnessing the lights on, proved that Dr. Bond was lying; Ms. Haffajee’s revelation was only the icing on the cake.
Dr. Bond does not only falsify statistics. He writes pieces for webzines on a regular basis, and in a recent Counterpunch article, the Creator discovered (simply by using Google) one quotation from a government official which had been edited to change its meaning, another “quotation” which appeared to have no valid source, and another which had been uttered by someone different (and much less important) from the person to whom Dr. Bond attributed it. This kind of behaviour would not be tolerated at an undergraduate level.
Why does Dr. Bond lie?
Because it suits his propaganda standpoint, but also because he can. Dr. Bond operates in a cossetted academic environment. He does not submit his material to peer-reviewed journals — why should he, when he edits a well-funded journal and can be assured of being published in prominent webzines like Counterpunch and ZNET? His falsification — academic fraud, as it would be termed if anyone else did such things — has not kept him off the editorial board of Alternation; his externally funded CCS brings money in to his UKZN, which is all that institution cares about.
Dr. Bond can also lie because he is not addressing informed people. His primary audience is liberal white South Africans who never venture beyond the suburbs and loathe the African National Congress, and radical foreigners who trade on neoliberal catastrophe and, with no understanding of South Africa’s actual struggle, loathe the ANC for selling out their own fantasies of what it ought to have done. (Dr. Bond is one of those foreigners, and thus he speaks to them with more than ordinary authority.) His message also matches the message desired by white South African big business; he attacks the government and rich blacks, rather than the plutocracy and rich whites, and this is why his lies are forgiven — Haffajee hired Dr. Bond to complete her newspaper’s smear job on the iconoclastic writer Ronald Suresh Roberts. (Dr. Bond told a lot of lies in that smear, too.)
Well, as the Creator said earlier — is it really so bad to tell lies? Doesn’t the government do that all the time? Yes, which is why leftists should not do it. “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories” is a good watchword, not only a signifier for Amilcar Cabral. It is dangerous to take one’s lies too seriously. Poor Trevor Ngwane of the late and unlamented Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee swallowed Bond’s propaganda until he seems to have lost contact with reality, began making up the membership of his own organisation (in New Left Review), and suffered catastrophic embarrassment when he tried to stand for election in Soweto. Perhaps that could be a warning not to engage with reality!
Lying is not necessary. A solid perspective should be built on the truth. Electricity cuts and water cuts need no exaggeration; even if only ten thousand people have their water cut off it is ten thousand too many. But (as with HIV/AIDS) it is easier to pursue the problem if the numbers are smaller. The larger the problem, the less responsibility one feels for clearing it up, and the greater the temptation to abandon hope. Then, if you are convinced by false or decontextualised quotations that your opponent is insane or irredeemably evil, you will see no hope in engaging with them (which legitimizes any subsequent lies you tell about them). Dr. Bond’s covert message is that the Left cannot win.
Slovenliness, lack of scholarliness and lack of intellectual honesty are only part of Dr. Bond’s story. Dr. Bond (as the Creator has observed) cannot perform valid political analysis because of his disastrously distorted viewpoint. Originally he could not see that his “solutions” would have disastrous consequences. More recently he refrains from offering “solutions”, and hence his (very often mendacious and misleading) criticism can serve the interests of any powerful force challenging the present structure — which at the moment means the plutocratic right wing. Nothing that he has written in the last decade provides grounds for altering this opinion.
The targets whom Dr. Bond has chosen to assault happen to be the same people who are hated by actual South African plutocrats and neoliberals. The media which give Dr. Bond a hearing are controlled by these plutocrats and neoliberals. Received middle-class white wisdom endorses Dr. Bond; he is surfing an artificial wave generated by neoliberalism’s machinery. Hence, in a sense, Dr. Bond is “objectively pro-neoliberalism”, to use Orwell’s phrase which was misused by Christopher Hitchens to justify Bush’s War on Terror. It is dangerous to use the methods and the media of the people whom you are supposedly opposing. Dr. Bond claims to be anti-capitalist, but his real target happens to be the Mbeki wing of the ANC, which was the only powerful force in South Africa today with the slightest chance of hampering the activities of capitalists. Thus in the name of leftism, Dr. Bond is tearing down the prospects of social democracy. (No doubt because he lives in KwaZulu-Natal and is a coward, Dr. Bond has offered no significant criticism of Zuma or his plutocratic, neoliberal cabal.)
This is not all. Here the Creator feels a little uncertain. The following seems a little like a smear, and yet in view of Dr. Bond’s behaviour it should be aired. There is an organisation called Global Research. They have a website; Google it if you will and search for a person named Michael Barker. He has been wandering the maze of Western corporate and government support for the Zimbabwean opposition. He discovered that Dr. Bond had recently worked closely with a man named Kapuya, who was a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy — a front-organisation for the U.S. government’s meddling in Third World affairs. Dr. Bond had taken money, said Barker, for that work with Kapuya from George Soros’ Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, a conservative organisation (funded by international currency speculation of the kind which Dr. Bond pretends to oppose) also linked with Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, the Afrikaner conservative and fan of the apartheid military. Barker identified other problems, such as a member of Dr. Bond’s advisory board who was linked with Action-Aid International, apparently a British government front-organisation.
One may, of course, say that Dr. Bond is entitled to work with such people. On the other hand, it is intriguing to see someone who pretends to such purity and integrity (although practising so little of what he pretends) lining up with right-wing foreign agents without a murmur of self-criticism. Is it possible that Dr Bond is knowingly taking the Western neoliberal shilling? Who funds his lavish lifestyle, anyway?
In short, there is no reason to debate with Dr. Bond; he is not himself interested in debate, as his rejection of valid criticism demonstrates. There is, however, good reason to expose him to the truthful scrutiny which he fears. If anyone learns to read his work with a critical eye instead of believing everything he says as gospel truth (as people like Pilger, Roy and Ali do), the Creator’s purpose in mentioning him will be justified. Since the Creator has discovered all that need be known about Dr. Bond, pardon the Creator for not wishing to mention him again for a long time.