Sometimes conspiracy theories can be useful.
This week [this post has been somewhat delayed], the Sunday Times published an extract from the autobiography of Tony Leon. Leon was the gutless reactionary blowhard parachuted into the Progressive Federal Party by Anglo-American; a vapid corporate lawyer and apartheid propagandist who worked for the corrupt Johannesburg City Council before being installed, against the will of the local constituency, as Member of Parliament for Houghton. Leon rose without a trace — he accomplished literally nothing, but he was so obviously more right-wing than anyone who did accomplish anything that he was the logical successor to flabby Anglo-American corporate bureaucrat Zach de Beer to take over the “Democratic Party” (the ultra-right cabal which stole the PR of the PFP after it disintegrated under its own contradictions) after its dismal electoral defeat in 1994. By doing absolutely nothing positive, and by consistently adopting the principles of the apartheid National Party, Leon was able to lead the Democratic Party into becoming the National Party’s successor, the Democratic Alliance in 2000.
Perhaps the Creator is being too kind to Leon in this. He was always loathed by everyone who knew him, and as a result, when the DA reached its ceiling, Leon was the victim of the palace coup he had feared for so long and was replaced by Helen Zille, equally right-wing but slightly more intelligent. So now he has written an autobiography. It illustrates all he has learned in his life, which is nothing.
The Sunday Times extract was a repeat of what Leon has been saying since 1993; namely, that everything has gone wrong since the National Party betrayed the country by letting the blacks take over. If only they had fought harder and not let the blacks take over, if only justice, peace and democracy had not prevailed, everything would have been better for the whites whose interests Leon has been paid to serve. Note that Leon is, like his counterparts on the far left, saying that someone else should have done the fighting. As in his military career, where he sat in a Pretoria office writing propaganda articles while other people died to defend the toxic principles he promulgated, Leon believes firmly in the suffering of others on his behalf. He is, obviously, talking bullshit. If the National Party had not given in to the inevitable the result would have been catastrophic, most particularly for the whites who got the best deal possible. However, self-delusion is wired into the brain of the average white South African, especially those whose self-delusion leads them to call themselves liberals when they are reactionaries.
This is interesting, but as some light-minded people complain, so what? Who cares what some deadbeat failed politician thinks? What difference does it make that some people are today still firmly standing up for the virtues of the apartheid state? Haven’t we moved on, inexorably, from those horrible times, and aren’t those people just fossil dinosaurs?
The Creator thinks otherwise.
For one thing, why Leon? Obviously, someone at the Sunday Times thinks that he deserves to be hyped. Also, why select the most egregiously anti-democratic part of Leon’s whole discourse, which should remind anyone reading it that Leon is an enemy of everything good about South Africa or the world? Presumably, someone at the Sunday Times thinks that this is what needs to be promoted. It’s not the man, it’s the message, and the message is that blacks shouldn’t have been allowed the vote. Implicitly, the message is that since they have the vote, something needs to be done to ensure that their vote doesn’t mean anything. Given that this must have been approved by Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya, this suggests what Makhanya’s real agenda is.
Makhanya, remember, was trained and groomed for stardom at the Mail and Guardian back when the neoliberal, serial liar and possible British secret agent Howard Barrell was running it. Interestingly, the Mail and Guardian‘s awful weblog, Thoughtleader, carried a puff-piece on Leon written by Charlene Smith. Smith is interesting; she’s a self-promoter of Leonine status who was skyrocketed to stardom when her ex-boyfriend raped her and thus made her an expert on gender issues. In customary South African fashion, she was immediately pronounced an authority on antiretrovirals, proving this by her enthusiasm for the poisonous rubbish nevirapine, especially when given to victims of rape in order to immunise them against HIV (which it does not do, by the way). As a result, Smith was given the contract to write a book propagandising serial liar, media darling and corporate puppet Patricia de Lille after the latter set up a political party attempting to draw coloureds away from the ANC in the Western Cape and thus pave the way for a Democratic Alliance victory there. The book bombed, but made headlines when Smith illegally outed two women as HIV+; of course South African “journalists” despise the law almost as much as their corporate masters do.
Hmmm. Interesting connections there. Smith’s cooing propaganda on behalf of Leon had no more substance than anything else which Smith writes, but it was notable that she once again focussed on Leon’s hatred of the South African Constitution. It gets so in the way of what rich people want to do (sometimes, anyway). Again, someone must have thought that the Constitution needed trashing and that promoting Leon was the man to do it.
Another contemporary writer on the same weblog, Sentletse Diakanyo, wondered why the Zuma cabal was using so much revolutionary rhetoric when it was so obvious that they were none of them revolutionaries and had no revolutionary agenda. The question is so obvious that a more interesting question would be why nobody has asked it before, and especially not in the press, in connection with much-publicised figures such as the preposterous Julius Malema, President of the laughable ANC Youth League. After all, the Zuma cabal use “revolutionary” to mean “anything which serves our scramble to wealth and power”, and “counter-revolutionary” to mean “anyone who challenges our right to wealth and power”. Is Diakanyo the only South African to find this a little bit odd?
Some of the comments gave a large part of the game away. White South Africans, being well aware that their affluence rests on thin ice, are violently hostile to any favourable discussion of any kind of redistribution of power or wealth away from themselves. Hence, someone like Tony Leon is desirable because he wishes to see the potential redistribution of power implicit in the 1994 settlement annulled (even though he knows it is impossible). Diakanyo was criticised for discussing the possibility of revolutionary change as conceivably positive. The commentators wished to see it as necessarily negative; Diakanyo’s suggestion, that Zuma’s cabal were debasing the concept of revolution, antagonised people who want to see the concept of revolution dead and buried, and who presumably see debasing the concept as a big step in the right direction. In the same vein, attacks on the Constitution and on the democratic settlement of 1994 are important because those are widely seen as “steps in the right direction”, and if these steps can be discredited, it might be possible to seal off the whole pathway to justice, peace and democracy, which seems to be the agenda not just of the Democratic Alliance but of the white South African corporate community.
The extent to which the black South African corporate community endorses this inhuman agenda is anyone’s guess, but it’s quite clear that they don’t oppose it — and therefore, that Zuma’s cabal is working towards much the same goal (even if unconsciously) as that of the white right wing. Which means that the white right wing is implicitly more important than it seems.
Paranoia? Perhaps. But consider a seemingly different matter, the Zimbabwean negotiations. The Creator knows perfectly well that Zimbabwe’s problems will only be beginning when ZANU (PF) steps aside. On the other hand, it seems impossible that anything useful can be done with the present bankrupt leadership, or to find any alternative other than the MDC. Hence, the situation is very like the situation in South Africa in 1993, when it was necessary to get rid of the apartheid government and the only possible replacement for them was the ANC. This is a simple point, made in the Daily Dispatch (though not by a journalist) a couple of weeks ago.
The interesting thing is, however, that the official media line is very different. The media line is that there should be no negotiations; to be precise, they are all hoping that the negotiations will fail. (Tsvangirai’s obstructionism, almost as great as ZANU (PF)’s obstructionism, suggests that the Western powers share this hope.) This is widely endorsed by white respondents to the articles, some of whom are denouncing Tsvangirai for talking to his opponents. No doubt some of the fear is that ZANU (PF) will somehow pull its chestnuts out of the inferno and leave the MDC dangling. No doubt some is also due to the psychotic hatred for Mbeki felt by most journalists and pundits, leading them to feel that Zimbabwe’s crisis should not be resolved if such a resolution makes Mbeki look good. (This is probably why COSATU and the SACP are trying to disrupt the talks by antagonising Mugabe at the impending SADC summit.) However, the Creator wonders if there is not something deeper.
Of course, many white South Africans hate Mugabe for the simple reason that he overthrew a white racist regime and played a modest role in the overthrow of apartheid. Racism lies in the background of a great deal of anti-Mugabe rhetoric, not only in South Africa. That certainly helps explain why such people do not want a negotiated settlement. For such people, negotiations mean compromise, and like Tony Leon, they want everything their own way, all the time.
On another level, however, Mugabe is a very convenient permanent scapegoat. He redistributed borrowed wealth to the poor, and drove his country to the verge of bankruptcy. He sent troops to defend African states against apartheid and Western aggression, but wasted lives and money to no profit for his own country. Eventually he tried to rob the affluent in his own country, supposedly to help the poor, and failed at that, too. He is a splendid stick with which to beat the people who support justice, peace, and democracy. Just as people like Malema are splendid sticks with which to beat every kind of idealism — and particularly revolutionary idealism.
Eventually, it would seem, people like Zuma and Mugabe will be cast aside. For now, though, there are people who find them useful as tools to crush idealism. What a wonderful world!