In the little rural village where the Creator incarnates — a sylvan tarmac-smothered tourist-infested alcohol-and-drug-ridden paradise — there dwells a doctor. And this doctor, since there is no clinic for 20km in any direction and virtually no public transport, runs an AIDS project. Nothing fancy, just a way of getting antiretrovirals to those who need it. The kind of thing which is supposed to make the TAC clap their hands and sing, so the Creator is instinctively suspicious, but sometimes one has to override one’s assumptions. The project appears to be a good thing.
But, you may ask, how is a simple barefoot country doctor able to afford such a thing? The locals donate a little, of course, mainly to provide food for the unemployed people with AIDS and their children. (Providing food for people with AIDS is of course something which the TAC does not endorse, but let us not go down that mean street.) The main problem is that no normal individual, and really no intermittent stream of casual donations from half-concerned middle-class quasi-hippies, can provide the money to provide antiretrovirals for a significant handful of people.
The money comes from the United States. O hooray, you will say. Globalisation works. Thank you, Bill and Melinda, and George (Soros and Clooney) and all the other nice Americans. Thank you for giving us the money to keep a few people alive. Could you, possibly, give a little more? No? Too bad, but didn’t think so —
Well, stop saying that, because the Yanks have decided to concrete the pipe over. The doctor received an email telling her that, alas, the economic crisis and downturn has had an impact on her funders’ capacity to fund. They are not going to give money to her any more. There will be no more American cash to keep people with AIDS alive, not in this village, anyway.
Take a deep breath. This money is being donated to one of the most responsible people in the village. There is no question, none whatsoever, of either misappropriation or inappropriate expenditure. More to the point, the money is being donated for the specific purpose of buying antiretroviral drugs of the sort available in South Africa for ongoing use. That means AZT. AZT is manufactured by an American company. Hence, when they give money, they are not actually giving money to the doctor, or the village, or South Africa, or the Developing World. They are giving that money to the United States, to employ Americans to make drugs to give to the poorest of the poor who badly need them.
And now they are not going to do that any more. It is a little like stopping at a traffic-light, rolling down your window, and when the man with the cardboard sign reading “No Job No Hom No Famly Pleese Help” staggers over, saying “Fuck you!” and rolling the window up again and flooring the accelerator, roaring through the red light. Into the path of a speeding eighteen-wheeler, the Creator devoutly wishes.
Recently some Americans have been squawking about the bankers’ benefit package passed by the American ruling class. They have pointed out that the down-payment of $800 000 000 000 is an awful lot of money. It is $2,666 for every man, woman and child in the United States, which many of those men, women and children would have quite appreciated if it had not been earmarked to keep America’s needy bankers in top hats, Scotch and elegant whores. But there is another, rather un-American way of looking at this. If the entire planet divided up that dosh, it would amount to $166 each.
Not a huge amount of moolah, you might think as you don your top hat and, Chivas Regal in hand, head off for your rendezvous with Madame Fifi. I spend more than that on public toilets each month, you may say. But for a huge amount of poor people in the world, this would increase their income by a half. It could make the difference between life and death, or between a better life and a worse life, anyway. But it is not going to do that because the American ruling class have other priorities. As does the ruling class everywhere in the world which is pulling the same stunt; borrowing money on no security in order to give it to the richest and least honest people in their societies so that they will not suffer the consequences of their corruption and incompetence in the past and will have more opportunities for corruption and incompetence in the future.
In short, the global ruling class is saying “Fuck you!” to the global poor (and also to the global middle class, but they are the grooms and enablers for the global ruling class, so they deserve it).
For the last couple of decades we have been told that the present system of thievery works for us all. The thieves have been paying their grooms and enablers — journalists, you could call them — to write paeans to the prosperity which was just around the corner once they had stolen enough. They were creating wealth which would trickle down to the rest of us. (Gradually that image became a little discredited and stopped being talked about, just as the International Monetary Fund stopped referring to its Structural Adjustment Programmes and instead introduced Poverty Relief Packages. However, all the practices remained exactly the same.) As a result they took over the entire burden of administration of the world and turned us all into their serfs.
And then they lost all the money and are now demanding more. This is, of course, a very bad thing. But it is much worse that they are actually getting it. People talk about angry mobs attacking the bankers. But this is not happening, even though it should. (It happened in Argentina when the public finally realised that the ruling class and their pet governments had been lying to them for all those decades; apparently Argentineans, contrary to Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, have some moral basis somewhere in their hideous bodies.) Apparently we are all bootlickers now.
Or worse. The Sunday Times has just profiled some of Zuma’s financial supporters. They are — well, the photographs show fat stupid-looking people with more money than taste. Each photograph bears under it a short piece of prose, allegedly written by these people, which indicates either that they are evil, corrupt vermin, or that they have no more taste in copywriters than they have in suits and ties. Rich crooks, the bunch of them, and not one of them having ever apparently worked for a living or done anything useful for any human on the planet. This should not astonish, since such qualities are rare in the corporate capitalist world.
Yet these fat stupid crooks are the people who supposedly stumped up the money to put that fat stupid crook in power. Well, birds of a feather, you know. Most probably, of course, they are no more their own men than Thomas Friedman or Mark Gevisser are their own men; most probably they are working for someone else who is paying the bills and expecting to real the actual rewards. The real rulers of the ruling class in South Africa are not, for the most part, black people, but they have learned to hire black people to sit near the front door and speak on their behalf.
Which raises the question of whether this is also Zuma’s status. After all, the same newspaper ran a puff-piece on Zille, the white leader of the mainly white Democratic Alliance (who recently paid a courtesy call on Zuma’s tame Interim President, Motlanthe, whom Zille once said was her favourite ANC member — ’nuff said there). Zille was recently in the news because a right-wing white organisation announced that she was the Best Mayor in the World. The second-Best Mayor was a right-wing white gnome of Zurich, and the third-Best Mayor was a right-wing white anti-Chavez activist in Venezuela. It’s pretty clear that the ruling class who have ripped off the planet and don’t want the poorest of the poor to have antiretrovirals are running the show in certain quarters. To what extent are they running the show everywhere around here? To what extent are we the unwitting bumsuckers of globalised corporate capital?
Well, look at the Tripartite Alliance. It has recently been announced that they are getting new advice on how to be nice to newspapers. How to suck up to ruling-class propagandists, that is. There was no point in having such skills before because all the newspapers were hostile to them. But now, assuming that the newspapers and the government are all tools of the ruling class, it is advisable to know how to behave in the presence of the agents of your unelected corporate overlords. (Actually, having newspapers hostile to the government would have been quite good for democracy, had the newspapers not been so free to tell lies.)
The Alliance supposedly includes Marxists and workerists. They leaked their economic plans to the Mail and Guardian for it to use against the proposed new party which some ANC dissidents are talking of forming. These plans were also promoted by a made-up “NGO” which marched to the Union Buildings demanding these plans, led by Zuma stalwarts pretending to be independent figures. The plans include the idea to extend Child Support Grants up to 18 years of age (this is a waste of the money — it would be far better to use it to expand the existing grants which go up to 14) and to make all education free (many would benefit, but not the poorest of the poor who get free education by default — meanwhile, the middle class who can afford to pay would no longer be subsidising their poorer brethren’s schooling). So there are problems with these plans, but they are not in principle evil.
But now they have completed their three-day Economic Summit held at vast expense. They sat at the summit for three days, wining and dining, and now they have come down the mountain and they are waving a gerbil which they claim the mountain brought forth, though the Creator knows that they pulled the little creature out of their arseholes. Nothing whatsoever that they are saying reflects anything to do with economics. They say, for example, that they intend to set up committees to see what they should do next.
Wow. Can we re-run Polokwane, please? With you people using the slogan “Vote for us — we don’t know what to do next!”? Oh, you’d rather not, eh? No surprises there.
And what, one might ask, will happen after those committees report? “Things which are not working we shall change, and things which are working, well we won’t change those.” Ah, yes. So much better than breaking things which are fixed, or just changing everything everywhere at random. Is there some place where these people are cloned? It’s inconceivable that so much stupidity could be concentrated at one place by natural forces. Watching this government is like reading a Dilbert strip-cartoon entirely populated with pointy-haired bosses.
Oh, but there are some actual plans. For one thing, to take authority for the Budget away from the Treasury and pass it to Parliament. Now, you might think that this is democratic (since the same system works so bloody well in the United States). But in fact the ANC membership in Parliament is determined by the NEC, who rig the provincial and national selections. So all it means is that the leaders of the ANC can fiddle with the Budget and then, if things go wrong, hide behind a few luckless MPs. It’s about irresponsibility and plausible deniability.
On the other hand, a plan to create a National Council of State. That is, to make the Cabinet much more centralised. Some Cabinet members would be in the Council, some not. That is, Zuma cronies get to run things, everybody else gets to do what they are told, at Cabinet level. Wow, what a wonderful place to be!
In short, the Tripartite Alliance are saying “Fuck you” to their membership especially (the ones who wanted democracy or socialism) but also to every human being in South Africa, and with their hostility to democracy and to wealth redistribution, this is a proxy “Fuck you” from the South African ruling class to the ruled.
If only the ruled classes knew how to pronounce naughty words in return.