Going Under The Press.

March 23, 2010

It begins, of course, with the smear campaign against Julius Malema.
“Wha-at?” one might legitimately ask. “How can anybody smear Malema? That’s like a campaign to make a sewage worker stink!”
Heh, indeed. In fact, however, Malema’s noxious speeches have, in the main, simply put in plain words what was implicit in the statements of the whole Zuma entourage and the whole press posse which embraced them. Malema’s odious remarks about the victim of Zuma’s notorious sexual assault were no worse than what Jeremy Gordin has said repeatedly in print, but Jonathan Shapiro has never drawn Jeremy Gordin farting in the face of the public. Shapiro knows that Gordin is “one of us”, and therefore exempt from criticism. (If there is ever a reason for the establishment to nail Gordin, we will know this because his face will appear hostilely caricatured in a Shapiro cartoon.)
So Malema was made a media scapegoat, which was convenient for everybody. Most South Africans tend to take political stances which are the opposite of what the newspapers tell them to take, so Malema’s vilification made him popular. Meanwhile, during the period when the ruling class was laying off Zuma and forbade the press from launching attacks on him, the general memes to be ultimately deployed against Zuma could be tested on Malema, who was in many ways Zuma’s unofficial spokesman.
Then he went too far, and said something serious about the nationalisation of the mines. Not only was this something which upset the ruling class because it threatened their profits, but it upset the Communist Party and the trade union movement (because it threatened the profits of their leaders, and also because it outflanked them from the left — and if they lost their monopoly of left-wing rhetoric it might have become widely known that they never actually pursued or supported truly left-wing policies). So Malema was attacked from all sides, booed at a carefully-choreographed rally, and denounced by the usual tame corporate politicians and pundits.
But Malema did not back down, having perhaps become accustomed to being insulted (which is part of the problem with smear campaigns; if the victim is not destroyed, the experience strengthens).
So a different tack was taken; Malema had to be politically discredited. Hence the “lifestyle audit” campaign, under which Malema and (increasingly) a number of other ANC leaders were “investigated” and found to be living beyond their means. There was, of course, plenty of evidence to be found that Malema was a high-living businessman whose pretensions to working-class or socialist principles were pure fabrication. As such, of course again, Malema’s situation was identical to that of his opponents in the Communist Party and the trade union movement. Indeed, it is probable that it was the Communists and the trade unions using their corporate connections to find out damaging information about Malema and leak it to the press, because this is how “investigative journalism” works in South Africa (and pretty much everywhere else).
But Malema was not discredited. Part of the problem is that it is rather hard to discredit a Zumaphile; everybody knows that they are all a bunch of crooks and therefore revealing that one of them is dishonest is not going to make anybody fall over backwards with surprise. (“I’m shocked! Shocked to see gambling going on here!” “Round up the usual suspects!”) Another part of the problem is that there is no evidence that Malema has done anything criminal. If his companies received tenders unfairly (which is extremely likely, of course), we have yet to see any hard evidence.
It is also striking that the two newspapers which have most desperately pursued Malema and which have invented a good deal of the smears about him (if he owns a mining company, surely this is not obviously good reason for him to call for the nationalisation of mining companies?) are City Press (controlled by Media24, the Afrikaner apartheid press) and the Sunday Times (controlled by Avusa, and thus ultimately by Tokyo Sexwale with Anglo American behind him). And both newspapers are edited by alumni of the Mail and Guardian. Well, well, plenty of room for conspiracy theories here, not so?
Now, something quite unusual has happened. This is that one of the City Pressj ournalists, named Dumisane Lubisi, engaged in attacking Malema, has undergone his own “lifestyle audit” at the hands of the ANC Youth League, as revealed by the League’s PR man, Floyd Shivambu. The unusual thing about this is that politicians seldom hit back at smears, certainly not at the level of the smear artists themselves. Shivambu claims that Lubisi is living beyond his means, and suggests that this has something to do with Lubisi’s behaviour.
Well, the press has of course got their collective frilly panties in a hideous bunch and is squeaking with horror and terror. Editorial after editorial poured out proclaiming that it was utterly unacceptable for journalists to be treated in the way that they treat everybody else. This is a threat to press freedom (a chant delivered whenever journalists are gathered together, as meaningless as the Latin phrases memorised by illiterate medieval priests).
What does this mean? Nobody is defending Lubisi, which is strange. Surely journalists cannot all be familiar with the private life of a senior journalist at another newspaper. It presumably means either that Lubusi is guilty, or that the journalists are assuming that he is guilty. Instead, everybody is simultaneously declaring that journalists should be above scrutiny. Nobody should have the right to threaten to expose them if they do not stop criticising and exposing the formerly private lives of politicians. This is presented so unanimously that it is obviously orchestrated (and indeed we even know how it is being orchestrated — nominally through the National Editors’ Forum, though presumably it is also happening through corporate channels).
It is, however, complete nonsense. Threatening to expose a journalist’s private life is a completely empty threat unless there is something dirty in that journalist’s private life. Shivambu is not threatening to beat up journalists who attack the Youth League, he is threatening to tell the truth about them. The only reason why a journalist could be afraid of this, or be in any way discouraged from printing the facts as the journalist sees it, is if that truth contains something damaging to the journalist.
But if that is true, then we, the public, need to know that. If a journalist has a dirty secret, that means that the journalist can potentially be blackmailed. If the Youth League, not exactly famous for its brilliant investigative techniques, can find out that dirty secret, it must be fairly widely known. In that case, the journalist is a biddable person and can be controlled. We, the public, deserve to know that.
Furthermore, there is an excellent chance that the journalist’s dirty secret has something to do with journalism. Perhaps the journalist has accepted bribes in exchange for favours (running one story, suppressing another), or has run someone else’s story under the journalist’s name (which is apparently a very common practice; according to Nick Davies, some 80% of the news in Britain derives from PR releases, spin-doctors or wire services (themselves dominated by special interests) and 70% of news stories are run without corroboration). Perhaps the journalist has knowingly lied on behalf of economic interest, personal or corporate. There is no way of knowing unless the truth comes out.
The fact that the journalists are united in proclaiming hostility to the truth coming out is unsurprising. It does, however, create the impression that all the journalists have something to hide, which is probably the case. Very likely, behind the scenes, all South African newspapers are colluding, just as all supposedly independent South African corporations in a given market collude. No doubt the collusion is ideological.
However, the newspapers cannot openly admit this, for to do that would be to shatter the carefully-constructed illusions of white liberal superiority which they foster and to surrender to the black South African sense that everything is rigged against them. What they have done, however, is to tacitly admit this. The newspapers have basically behaved as if they are guilty, and demanded that they not be prosecuted — very like Jacob Zuma’s behaviour in the run-up to his non-trial. Everybody can see this, and therefore the newspapers are discredited. (Probably not completely discredited, because hardly anybody believed them in the first place, and anybody who did believe them will no doubt be ideologically prepared to believe their preposterous disclaimers.) The question one has to ask is, why is it that the newspapers have blundered so clumsily into a far from well-constructed trap?
The answer seems to be that South African newspapers have not had to confront anyone liable to hit back for a very long time. The Mbeki regime learned early that the judges would uphold the press’s right to smear and lie. For unknown reasons, they decided not to use the same techniques as the press, and did not smear and lie in return (although this did not stop the press from denouncing them for trying to tell the truth). The Zuma regime, however, has a different approach and is under different circumstances; they are prepared to smear, and lie about, each other, and falsify their policies, so they obviously have no scruples when it comes to dealing with the press.
Their only handicap — and it is significant — is that they have been able to make use of the press for their political purposes in the past, so many in the Zuma regime do not want to alienate it. On the other hand, they are aware, thanks to their friendly relations with many journalists, that the press is every bit as internally divided as the ANC. Therefore they can pick and choose journalists to smear, and use innuendo to attack the rest (who can easily be intimidated into docility, for they have no courage or moral standing). Thus the method of divide and rule can be applied against the press. It is for this reason that the editors and managers have panicked; their fear is that if the Youth League’s policy succeeds then it will surely be taken up by the rest of the ANC, and then journalism will spin out of the exclusive control of editors and managers. It could become a little like the situation under Bush II in the United States, when, thanks to judicious lobbying, bribing and bullying, the Republican Party’s spin-doctors were in almost complete control of the national press.
The panic is because the editors and managers have no real idea of how to deal with this. Their control of their journalists is extremely feeble; how can you fire a journalist for running a story that you don’t like, given the ideology of freedom of the press? Backed by the formidable financial resources of Chancellor House, such a journalist could destroy an editor’s career with great ease. The Youth League has thus shown the ANC how to break the logjam in South African political journalism — which would be a desirable thing if it were not that it would simply replace the sclerotic reactionary ideology currently dominating the press, with a differently sclerotic subservience to Luthuli House.
But fortunately, Jacob Zuma says he doesn’t want this to happen. He has attacked the Youth League’s activities at the National Press Club, in exchange for being declared Newmaker of the Year again. (In other words, Zuma is trading a fake subservience for the possibility of real control.) One might ask why he is doing this. It is probable that he simply wants a quiet life; if he allowed the ANC to attack the press, the press would hit back at him and he would have to stand up for something, and he lacks the self-discipline and intellectual resilience which carried Mbeki through his long period of being smeared. Besides, Zuma has no real capacity to deal with the press, and therefore if the ANC takes on the press and wins, this would place more power in the hands of people who are not necessarily beholden to Zuma. Lastly and not least, the press would undoubtedly try to destroy Zuma by revisiting his criminal record, and it is possible that Zuma is not certain that he would be able to survive such a direct attack; it was the press’s efforts to cover up his criminality which made it possible for Zuma to suborn the judiciary and escape prosecution.
Of course, there is another problem here. Zuma is basically siding with the white ruling class against his own party’s interests. Those who would like to take on the press will be unhappy. Those who dislike the press’s incessant sniping at the ANC — probably most of the electorate — will also be unhappy. It is possible that Zuma is storing up trouble for himself in future.
But if Zuma has one certain characteristic, it is that he never worries about what his present actions may lead to in future.

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The Creator Acknowledges Unexpected Confirmation.

March 19, 2010

We know that we are being lied to. Actually, almost everybody except the people telling the lies know that. (The people telling the lies are under the false impression that they are being told the truth; they are deceiving themselves.) It is not a sign of extreme cleverness to know this. The matter requiring some effort, however, is to distinguish truth from lies — for most lies contain truths embedded in, or buried beneath, them. This is difficult, because the best lies include a secondary lie behind them, in case someone manages to see through the cloudiness. What is even more difficult is to put those truths together and endeavour to work out what to do about them. This is all an uphill struggle and it is tempting to let go, stop changing your underwear or brushing your teeth, and slide slowly, ignominiously but comfortably to the bottom. Where almost everybody is today.
So this explains why the Creator devotes so much time to boring matters of analysis. Analysis is more important than knowing. How you get to work something out is more important than reading something in Noam Chomsky and punching the air and going “Yes!” and then feeling smug that you now know Tha Trooth. Unfortunately, none of us has a continual hot-line to Noam, and, not being superhuman, even Noam is wrong sometimes.
Which is a long way of accounting for the two previous posts which many will find unmitigably boring but which actually need to be considered quite seriously (unless you already are familiar with the concepts). And, judging by appearances, most South Africans, and most people in the world are not familiar with the concepts. The Creator, thus, is here to help. (No, don’t get up, it’s enough that you keep quiet while the Creator opines.)
Evidence for this is provided by Mazibuko Jara, who for a brief period dared to criticise Jacob Zuma and was kicked out of the Young Communist League for this, after which he remained in the Communist Party entirely because the SACP was too inept and lazy to remove him — also, probably, did not want to draw any attention to the fact that its immense membership figures are partly fabrications and partly refusal to remove people from lists when they are either inactive or hostile to the party. Jara, of course, is not hostile to the SACP; he just wants it to do what he tells it to do. That is why he edits Amandla, a magazine without power.
Jara has an article in the Mail and Guardian, “Begin at the bottom left”. If one instead begins on the front page and two following pages, one finds prominent journalists from the newspaper alternating slipping their lips around Jacob Zuma’s phallus while he alternates gasping with pleasure with telling lies. So, no change there. Except that Jara’s article is not an inoculation against that, it is, in a sense, an exploitation of it, a sign of how the ruling class may exploit surviving ideological divisions within the party, either to undermine Zuma or to sustain him, depending on how far the ruling class wishes to do either. Jara has had a number of articles in this paper recently (and also in some Avusa newspapers, which have links both to big business and to the big business comptrollers of the SACP). It reminds one a little of the days when Dale McKinley was Howard Barrell’s poster-boy for promoting neoliberalism through Trotskyism.
It also reveals that Jara has finally been kicked out of the SACP.
Let us go through this article carefully to find out what it tells us about the state of the South African left. Let us begin by acknowledging that Jara is probably sincere in his leftism. In this he is different from almost everyone else in his party. Let us then continue by suspecting that Jara suffers from a delusion or a cluster of delusions, and that we may discover these by investigation. The object is to protect ourselves from such delusions, and not to politically psychoanalyse the unfortunate Mr. Jara.
It opens with the statement that asking the SACP/COSATU whether the “Zuma path to power . . . was worth it . . . . would amount to cheap politicking”. Ah, so sensible questions are cheap politicking. And, besides, this is what the entire article is about, so Jara is being disingenuous. Or maybe, we have here our first contradiction; Jara does not want to admit that he is a politician, and Jara cannot decide whether he wishes to criticise his party or not.
An unpromising start. He contends that this path “was not about the reconfiguration of capitalist power or a break with ex-president Thabo Mbeki’s neoliberal and technicist approach”. Now, that’s interesting, because of course that is what the left said it was about. He is, quite rightly, noting that they were lying. There are implications in this, but instead, Jara cannot admit these implications; he merely attributes them to his friends having “ignored . . . the conditions under which political elites in capitalist societies have been forced to advance developmental programmes”.
Get serious for a moment. If you are a trade union or a Communist Party trying to intervene in politics, especially if you are planning to change the leadership of the ruling party, that is precisely what you are going to focus all your attention on assuming that you wish to make political gains from such a change. Indeed, such conditions are all that you will think about most of the time if you wish to intervene in politics. What Jara is saying is not that the SACP/COSATU had a blind spot, he is saying that they were politically blind.
Jara then quotes Adam Habib, the conservative-liberal academic administrator, saying that “Individuals . . . reflect the institutional constraints of the balance of power”. In other words, if Mbeki was “neoliberal and technicist” (the latter is certainly true, the former less so) then he was this because of the balance of power. In other words, getting rid of Mbeki changed nothing. Except that Jara immediately contradicts himself, saying that “the removal of Mbeki could have opened up a space . . . if a mass movement . . . had accompanied it”. OK, so in other words, if the “institutional constraints of the balance of power” were different, then things would have been different. But in that case, why remove Mbeki? Why not work through Mbeki, once the balance of power had changed?
Jara acknowledges that the Zuma presidency “is not about to challenge the inordinate power of capital”, and cites examples which show that this is a preposterous understatement. Then, he continues saying “the global crisis has also cut Zuma’s space to manoeuvre” (it is not clear what Jara means by this, since the global crisis has actually provided Zuma with more potential space had he chosen to use it) and that this nevertheless is not an excuse because Mbeki was also affected by this problem (which is false, because GEAR was begun before the Asian markets crisis, and the loosened spending policies which brought ASGISA and the free antiretrovirals programme came over a year after the 9/11 economic crisis ended). These attempts to obscure the issue, however, do not succeed because Jara is too honest; the Zuma presidency is acknowledged to be a tool of capital, and it was placed in power by the left under the pretense that it would be something else.
Jara also admits that the alliance is “besieged, unstrategic and unstable”. Unstrategic is clear enough from Jara’s earlier point (and yet what was the reason for going into the struggle to overthrow Mbeki without a strategy?). But why are they unstable? Why is there conflict between the alliance partners, and also, obviously, conflict within these partners (or Jara need not have been fired)? Surely this must mean that there is no common agenda, or worse, that there is a common agenda but the alliance partners and their members pay no heed to it. As for “besieged”, who is besieging them? The forces of capital whom they serve? The people who elected them last year? Or is this just paranoid psychosis?
Jara actually acknowledges that this unstable situation is promoted by capital for its own purposes. He observes, correctly, that the National Health Insurance programme is now aimed at serving corporate profits. He fails to note, however, that this was always the case; there was no reason to set up a National Health Insurance scheme when what was needed was a National Health Service, so right from the get-to this was intended for corporate profit, and was pushed by corporate profiteers, particularly ones in the SACP and COSATU. Jara, in short, was stupid to ever support it, so he now pretends that he was not stupid, and that it has changed in some way so that he is now right to oppose it. This helps to explain, actually, how left-wingers are co-opted; they are too blind to recognise this until it is too late to meaningfully go back, and they are too cowardly, and too sheeplike, to stand up against their leaders and parties when their leaders and parties betray their principles and interests for the sake of personal profit.
Ouch. That’s hard. But true.
What is not true is Jara’s next claim, which is perhaps the big lie in his entire argument. He first describes the Zuma path as being that of “managing a more legitimate capitalist society”, which is true only if you define “legitimate” as being “deceptive”. What Jara perhaps means, but cannot directly acknowledge, is that the Zuma path is a way of fooling the public into accepting capitalist, and particularly neoliberal, society as legitimate. The critical views of corporate capitalism sometimes expressed under the Mbeki government, and even by Mbeki himself (honestly or not) have now disappeared. But then Jara says something which cannot be excused; that this process is “keeping the SACP and COSATU outside”.
Sorry, Mazibuko, but there you deserve a kick in the pants. The SACP and COSATU were integral to the victory of Zuma. Zuma would not be where he is today but for the SACP and COSATU. In return, the SACP and COSATU cadres received jobs at all levels of government. Today, as under the Mbeki government, there are Communists and unionists in Cabinet and in Province. However, in those days the SACP and COSATU pretended that it had happened by accident, that these people had been somehow co-opted by Mbeki, and that they remained pure and separate. Now this excuse has vanished; the two organisations are as linked with Zuma as if they were Siamese triplets and the Communists and unionists in the Cabinet are the same people who denounced their comrades in the Cabinet before. The SACP and COSATU are openly promoting (no longer merely enabling or tacitly supporting) neoliberalism, anti-democracy and corporate control in South Africa, and if Jara pretends otherwise, he is deceiving nobody but himself.
But is Jara so stupid as to try to fool the public with obvious nonsense? No, Jara is not stupid. The object of the exercise (apart from doing a native Trotskyite dance before an audience of appreciatively amused white neoliberals) is indeed to deceive himself. If he were not engaged in this self-deception, he would have to admit that his membership of the SACP, and his support for its policies and for all sorts of related left-wing organisations, has been a hideous waste of human endeavour. Jara has been pissing into the wind for more than a decade, and he is frantically trying to persuade himself that the yellow stains all over his trousers are nothing worse than lemon juice and Chardonnay.
More creditably, Jara is trying to persuade himself that the SACP and COSATU are mistaken (with their little blind spots which happen to cover their entire fields of vision), and victims of the ANC (in an operation and with a membership which they planned and whom they hand-picked). If this were not so, if the South African official sanctioned left is now a front operation for neoliberal capitalism, then how in blazes is anybody to get a serious left-wing alternative to neoliberal capitalism going? Jara has enough experience of South African Trotskyism to know that they are pedalling without a chain or any wheels either, so he has (despite his essentially Trotskyite world-view, which is not in itself discreditable) hitched his star to Stalinism. And Stalinism has failed him, and he cannot afford to acknowledge this any more than Joe Slovo could acknowledge the failures of glasnost and perestroika.
So, instead, Jara must pretend that the ANC alliance could “improve the dire conditions of the people”. Well, yes, it could, but is that part of its agenda? If Jara’s analysis is correct, probably not. So he hastily turns away in search of a “very necessary anti-systemic transformation”, which allows for a longer delay. Rather like Rob Davies (no relation to Ray Davies of The Kinks, unfortunately) promising two and a half million jobs in four years, which is a much more effective lie than Zuma promising half a million jobs in one year; by the time Davies is shown to be a liar he will have retired to his directorships.
But failing that, what about the left outside? Here, he suggests “the need for a serious class project that would begin at the bottom”. Well, that sounds great. The Creator has no problem with that — indeed, it has been the Creator’s line for over a decade. How, however, is a bourgeois academic living in a white suburb going to set that up? With great care, Jara refuses to say. He also doesn’t say what he means by a “serious class project”, which sounds ominously like something which has to be handed in after a month and will determine whether you pass on to Form 11 or not. Or maybe it is a class project undertaken while frowning a lot. Actually, this is probably a reference to the mythical “1996 class project” which the SACP-COSATU left has been attributing to Mbeki. But whatever power Mbeki gained was gained by working hard within the structured political system of the ANC in the 1990s. No such structure exists in the South African dispossessed urban and rural working class today. It’s a completely different task to mobilise the workers today, especially to mobilise them in opposition to the ANC and its allies.
Pathetic, then? Of course. Empty? Most probably. Once again one realises that people like Jara are simply not to be trusted; too corrupted, too hollowed out, to be friends of the workers or the poor, despite any good intentions which surely still survive. Sad indictment of the South African left, and surely, also, sad indication of the broadest failure of the global left.


And Is It True? It Is Not True! And If It Were It Wouldn’t Do! (II: What the Pips Squeak About)

March 12, 2010

Let’s consider the errors of the two Tweedlers, Bonfond and Toussaint, and their relevance to the rest of us. Essentially they consider themselves to be promoting the World Social Forum as an organisation struggling against capitalist imperialism. That is surely no bad thing in itself, for capitalist imperialism needs to be struggled against.
Now, in order to make use of an organisation to pursue a purpose, it is necessary to understand what that purpose is. What is capitalist imperialism? Surely, it is the construction of an empire, a region within which imperial authority can be exercised, for the purpose of serving capitalist interests. Imperial authority means that the inhabitants of this territory are not consulted in the way in which the metropolitan population is consulted.
For instance, recently elections have been held in Afghanistan and Iraq. These elections returned to power governments which are committed to serving American interests. Certainly in the Afghan case, the elections were rigged. In both cases, since the elections took place under foreign occupation, it is reasonable to assume that the occupiers were the real determinant factor in who won the election. In both cases, the President of the United States heartily congratulated the winner of the elections. In the case of Iraq, President Obama went so far as to declare that the election was a sign of national independence and sovereignty, and that he would warn anyone against trying to influence the independent Iraqi people by violent means. He was referring to the Iraqi resistance, which responded to the election with truck-bombs and with murderous rocket and mortar fire. He was certainly not referring to the 100 000 American occupation troops, the 100 000 American military contractors serving American interests in Iraq, or the Iraqi armed forces which were trained and funded by the United States and which operate predominantly under American command and control.
That’s imperialism. One may say it is imperialism in an extreme form, but in a sense it is also imperialism in a clear form.
There is, of course, subtler imperialism. There are the 15 000 U.S. combat troops deployed to Haiti after the earthquake there. 15 000 U.S. Marines are not useful as relief workers, as the Somalis discovered in Mogadishu, although doubtless they were helpful in digging graves for the 200 000 killed by the earthquake. All the same, they were sent there, presumably to ensure that nobody did anything in Haiti which would irritate U.S. interests, and also to show that whenever there was a problem, the U.S. was still capable of sending the Marines to ensure its control.
Well, how is the World Social Forum responding to this? The answer made by Bonfond and Toussaint is shameful; hardly at all to Haiti, and ineffectually to Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps the World Social Forum is afraid to make a fuss about such an egregious set of examples. Perhaps it feels that there is nothing it can do. And yet, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq are areas about which an enormous level of fuss has been made, and about which the general public in the West (and almost everywhere else, actually) is immensely concerned. There should have been a gigantic flood of support which the components of the World Social Forum could have tapped in expressing indignation at how imperialism was manipulating Iraq and Afghanistan and shamelessly exploiting the victims of Haiti. No such flood was mastered or channelled. One should ask why not.
Perhaps the reason is that the World Social Forum might be considered strongest in the Global South (which is not really South, since it embraces the Asian mainland which is north of the Equator, and the northern half of Africa and much of and Central America). It is, however, South if seen from the United States and Europe.
Within these territories, Bonfond and Toussaint point to what they call “peripheral imperialist powers”. They cite as an example Brazil, and suggest that South Africa is another. These, therefore, would be countries which would be arguably easier to challenge than the imperialist power of the United States. Presumably, in challenging them, one is challenging imperialism.
Very well; where does imperialism come from? The United States, most obviously. However, the United States has allies. Britain assisted it in the invasion of Iraq. Many NATO countries assisted the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan. Canada and France assisted it in the invasion of Haiti which followed the coup against the Aristide government (and which was eventually followed by a UN occupation force mostly provided by Brazil). Evidently, in these countries where there is recognisable U.S. imperialism, this imperialism is aided by other forces. However, it is quite clear that Brazil is not a significant factor in this, having only been brought in thanks to U.S. control of the United Nations.
Are there other similar “sub-imperialist” forces elsewhere? Israel springs to mind; its military presence in the Levant provides not only a massive force which has been used against the Lebanon and Syria, but also a pretext for U.S. aggression in the region, protecting plucky little Israel. Pakistan has been expected to assist U.S. operations in Afghanistan (including the tribal regions between the states which are nominally Pakistani but probably deem themselves Afghan). Nigeria gave assistance to Western interests in taking advantage of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars. Uganda and Kenya have helped the United States by occupying Somalia ever since the U.S. and Ethiopia destroyed that country’s government in early 2006. One could also argue that some other African countries, such as Chad, have served French imperialist interests, but this seems to be less a matter of direct control and more a matter of doing what oil and mining companies want.
One country which the Creator hasn’t mentioned is South Africa. It’s worth remembering that before 1994 South Africa served American imperialist objectives with great vigour, ensuring the dependence of Angola on American oil companies, of Mozambique on the UN and European aid, and preparing the ground for the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy later. It developed nuclear weapons with which to threaten aggression, and launched direct attacks on every state on its borders, while occupying Namibia in defiance of the United Nations. That’s imperialism for you, and there is no doubt that this was happening to facilitate American economic interests.
But it is not happening any more. Apart from the invasion of Lesotho in 1997, the only major South African military deployments abroad since 1994 have been peacekeeping operations in Burundi and the Sudan, and in both cases, while there were dubious aspects to the operations, there is no real reason to contend that either deployment had any imperialist content either for South Africa or the United States. (In the Sudan it was fairly clear that South Africa’s involvement in promoting peace between Khartoum and the SPLA was not favoured by the United States, although it delighted China.)
So then, what is the “peripheral imperialist” nature of countries like Brazil and South Africa? On close inspection their subjection to the United States is not great. Both countries enjoy cordial, close relations with American bogeymen in Cuba and Venezuela. South Africa has also developed fairly friendly relations with Iran. Brazil is a significant partner in the BRIC informal coalition of powerful developing countries (much more significant than South Africa) who, while they do not genuinely challenge American imperialism, at least posit a critique of it by their mere existence (much as did the Soviet Union before the Second World War). So this “peripheral imperialism” obviously does not mean alliance with the United States, although some (such as Patrick Bond) have certainly endeavoured to pretend that it does.
What seems to be meant here is that since Brazil and South Africa are both immensely more powerful than their neighbours, they are in a position to use their power to compel their neighbours to do what they wish to be done. This is not done by military force (neither country poses a real military threat to its neighbours — although South Africa has established a modestly powerful air and sea force, its army is feeble, and Brazil’s military is much weaker in comparison to its economic power than South Africa’s). It is done by diplomacy and by corporate penetration. South African mining companies are active across much of Africa, and retail and service industries have expanded into SADC and beyond. Brazil has done much the same in Latin America. In both cases the government has done what it can to protect and promote corporate expansion in these areas.
Now, it is probably true that South African corporations would have done better, in most cases, to invest more wisely within South Africa than to build fast-food joints in Maun or hotels in Livingstone. On the other hand, most African countries lack the capacity and the capital to develop their own mineral sectors effectively. Therefore, they need foreign investment. Is it necessarily worse that this investment comes from another African country? It could be worse, if the South African investment is crassly applied and focussed purely on short-term exploitation, but if the investment is made wisely then South Africa has a substantial interest in seeing southern African countries stabilise and receive “multiplier effects” from investments. This is more or less what Thabo Mbeki was talking about when he endorsed NEPAD and the African Renaissance, and there is no reason to assume that he was talking nonsense; he had considerable experience with inept, corrupt and maladministered African countries making promises on which they could not deliver. Hence the South African government can, and should, oversee such investments.
The same is true to a lesser extent of the Brazilian government (and, it should be noted, the relative strength of Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela or Chile as compared with Brazil is far greater than the relative strength of Namibia, Zambia, Burundi or Mozambique as compared with South Africa, so Brazil simply has less capacity to behave in an imperialist fashion in those countries even if it wanted to).
None of this means that Bond is, and to a lesser extent Bonfond and Toussaint are, wrong in being suspicious of South African or Brazilian intentions. Nation-states are not saintly institutions. However, they are also nationalist entities, and in that sense they are liable to act on their own behalf. It is surely when they become ruled by governments which are more concerned with the wishes of foreign powers, or when they are run by rentier oligarchies whose chief concern is to sustain the flow of foreign wealth into their private bank accounts, that they are most dangerous to their peoples and to those people inhabiting their neighbours. One should not be particularly frightened of countries which invest wisely in their neighbours, because at least such countries are behaving predictably. They are not conspicuous imperialist dangers; on the contrary, if they build themselves and their neighbours up, they actually make imperialism less likely. It was the enfeeblement of Iraq as a result of Saddam Hussein’s foolish rentier policies which eventually led to the recolonisation of Baghdad. Iran, more nationalistic and selfishly greedy, has contributed less, ultimately, to the success of imperialism in the region than either the Iraqi or Saudi governments have.
Of course, one may say, these countries are capitalistic. If one equates capitalism with imperialism, then it is perhaps legitimate to argue that one must attack capitalism at its weakest point. Possibly South Africa and Brazil are weaker links in the chain of capitalism than the United States, or Britain, or France, or Israel, or Nigeria, or Uganda, or — well, the list of capitalist collaborators with imperialism is fairly long, and a number of those countries might seem vulnerable to critique or even political attack. But Bonfond, Toussaint and Bond insist that the WSF (the Creator nearly said WTO, an unfortunate Freudian confusion) should focus its critique on South Africa and Brazil.
The problem with this focus, though, is that it places the critique of capitalism ahead of that of imperialism. With imperialism currently behaving in a far more brutal fashion than it did in the mid-1990s, this is problematic. Of course, if capitalism in Brazil and South Africa is promoting ever-increasing suffering, and if the governments of those two countries are conspicuously facilitating this suffering, and if it is possible to develop mass movements in defiance of this suffering, then these two countries could be effectively targeted by the WSF and its ancillary organisations.
Unfortunately, this is not happening so simply or in a way which is easily taken advantage of. The Lula government in Brazil is popular and the Workers’ Party is strong. The fact that it has many corrupt and neoliberal elements has not undermined it to any substantial extent, and in broad terms it is a government which is more desirable than any likely successful alternative, which would have to be backed by conservative big business and probably by the military as well. The Zuma government in South Africa is popular and the ANC is strong. It has been weakened by splits and purges, and it is certainly less popular than it was under Zuma’s predecessor, largely because it represents a substantial shift to the right as compared with its predecessor (as Lula’s government does not).
However, the South African worker movement, while it is critical of Zuma and his allies, does not see an alternative to them. What is more, the South African worker movement and the ANC would undoubtedly be extremely hostile to attacks upon the ANC and the Zuma government coming from what they would perceive as outside forces. South African Trotskyites like Patrick Bond have made no impression with their attacks on the ANC; it’s unlikely that the World Social Forum would have any more success. On the contrary, if the WSF denounces Zuma and his allies, the most likely consequence would be to modestly increase Zuma’s public support while cementing Zuma’s conspicuous links with big business and neoliberal intellectuals.
Thus, it seems that the current leadership of the WSF is devoted to precisely the wrong struggle. Unerringly, they focus their attention away from vulnerable targets which are also major dangers to the global Left, and devote their consciousness to much less vulnerable targets which pose little danger to the global Left and are not really a danger to the Left even in their own countries. It is almost certain that this absurd position has been created by the fact that people like Bonfond, Toussaint and Bond are uninterested in political reality, or in the positional warfare which the global Left must engage in, but only in promoting their personal ideological fantasies.
This helps explain why the global Left is where it is today, and why such people are not likely to help heal the diseases which are killing off the WSF.


And Is It True? It Is Not True! And If It Were It Wouldn’t Do! (I: Ranting Pipsqueaks)

March 5, 2010

This is going to be a rather long one, reminiscent of the “Jeremiad” written by Jeremy Cronin before he became a sleazy fat-cat minister, except different because based on facts and containing some logic. It’s all about how, slowly, people are starting to figure out how stuffed-up we are on the global Left, and in the grand traditions of the global Left, are casting about for some leftists to kick in the pants by way of blaming them for the problem we have created.
It all started when the Creator wandered into a room with a functioning computer and logged onto the Internet. Eventually the Counterpunch website flashed across the screen. The Creator is not crazy about Alexander Cockburn’s smugness and global warming denialism, but still Counterpunch is better than nothing, and there on the screen appeared an article about the World Social Forum by a person named Marga Tojo Gonzales from Brazil.
Now, again the WSF is not something which the Creator views with favour. The idea of a global forum where people opposed to imperialism can meet, discuss issues, and energise each other is not so bad, but what’s wrong with the Internet? Why do we have to burn up air-miles on such junkets? We can’t all get to fuck Arundhati Roy (although Judge Desai, not to be confused with Ashwin, is apparently quite eager to act as a substitute). Is it not possible that this is simply a way of justifying spending money on private entertainment instead of political activism? Say yes, and let’s move on, because this is what the interview is subtly hinting at.
Of course the problem is that both people being interviewed are members of the International Council of the WSF (heilige scheiss, does it also have a Secretariat and a Planning Commission and do they all have personal assistants?). Bonfond claims that the WST has “played a positive part in the construction of a power relationship more favourable to the exploited and oppressed”. Jeez, you coulda fooled me. How has that power relationship changed in the last ten years in favour of those with boots in their necks? Get specific, maroons.
Toussaint says the WSF has succeeded in “delegitimizing neoliberalism”. That’s balls, of course. For most of us, neoliberalism never had legitimacy. If there was something we hated about politics, on investigation it was almost invariably one of the tentacles of neoliberalism. So that’s like claiming that the WSF has succeeded in keeping the moon in the sky. However, neoliberalism is now stronger than ever before; the processes of neoliberalism are, across most of the world, more intrusive and more sustained. That’s not as true in Latin America as elsewhere, but it’s still a reality. Toussaint then says that the WSF has been “strengthening . . . international networks”. And . . . what precisely have those networks done? Where are their victories over the enemy? Do all of them exist outside the imagination of their creators? The capacity to mobilise a thousand puppeteers on the streets of Munich does not negate the neoliberalism of the German government or the EU administration.
Bonfond does get real. He admits that the WSF has been glove-puppeted by big NGOs, that many delegates treat the WSF as a junket, and that delegates do not collaborate, but break up into hundreds of mutually competing organisations, while the WSF is heavily funded by big business. Gaaah! If all this is true — and why should he lie? — the Creator’s view of the WSF is altogether too positive.
However, Bonfond explains. The problem lies . . . with the Lula government in Brazil, and the Prodi government in Italy! Because these governments have not been socialist enough, the WSF has failed! (The Prodi government was eventually driven from office by an electorate impatient with its lack of radicalism, who then wisely instead voted in Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, but Bonfond doesn’t mention this for some mysterious reason.)
Bonfond nevertheless claims that the struggle against the Free Trade Area of the Americas was partly a WSF victory. Maybe, but you have to ask how much of a part. The FTAA negotiations were undertaken by governments like Lula’s, and the WSF opposes governments like Lula’s. But he admits that “on an international level the movement has been unable to achieve any victory [which] has resulted in many who were expecting prompt tangible results feeling discouraged”. Yeah, right. Total failure has a way of doing that — but only if there’s something wrong with the organisation. Can it be that the problems which Bonfond identified are contributing to this?
Toussaint admits that the WSF is completely disunited and has no agenda or goal. It is not “an instrument of mobilization”, which is fair enough — is it practical to have such an organisation? He insists that it should be, and therefore that such an organisation needs to be constructed, such as Hugo Chavez’ call for a Fifth International. Given that the Third and Fourth Internationals failed in every imaginable respect, having a Fifth should at least be thought through. Would an international front of disparate quasi-leftist organisations have any coherent meaning? Toussaint thinks so, but given that he insists that it would not entail any obligations on the parts of its members (since otherwise, given the way that all the organisations within the WSF seem to hate and compete with each other, it would not be set up) he is probably mistaken in thinking that it would be any different from the WSF.
There is, says Bonford, a solid campaign against foreign military bases in Latin America (of course this means U.S. bases). Has this led to the closure of any U.S. bases or the refusal of basing rights? Apparently not — at least, he mentions none. Simply beginning a campaign (especially a single-issue campaign which is not automatically left-wing; even though it has the potential to be anti-imperialist, the Latin American military is so saturated with U.S. ideology that the U.S. hardly needs bases there apart from prestige) is not an achievement. As to a call for mobilization around climate change, duh!
Toussaint defines Brazil as a peripheral imperialist power, by which he means that it is “able to decide on a political course without asking for Washington’s consent”. This, of course, makes Allende’s Chile a peripheral imperialist power. He adds that Brazil has investments in other countries, which enables it to “influence the political decisions of foreign governments”. Surely the problem here would be whether Brazil abused that power. He cites Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, all of which have evolved left-wing governments without any conspicuous intervention by Brazil. He also claims that Brazil is acquiring a military force capable of intervening abroad, for which evidence he cites the Brazilian involvement in the UN occupation of Haiti. This is obvious tosh; one might as well say that Botswana is capable of intervening abroad because it joined the South African occupation of Lesotho in 1998. Toussaint is scrabbling for evidence to support a preconception rather than working from evidence which he could present.
Toussaint also points out that Brazil has joined with Russia, India and China to contest U.S. economic imperialism, that Brazil’s socio-economic interests are not the U.S.’s interests, and that Brazil enjoys friendly relations with Cuba and Venezuela. These would seem to suggest that Brazil is potentially an ally of countries challenging U.S. imperialism (although, given Brazil’s support for the occupation of Haiti, obviously not an altogether reliable ally). What he thus fails to see is that there is potential for pressing Brazil towards a less imperialist agenda. Meanwhile, Toussaint identifies imperialism with capitalism, in a crude fashion which would have had Lenin rushing to the toilet to be sick. In actuality, Toussaint is trying to equate nationalism with imperialism, and thus destroying all capacity for meaningful analysis by breaking down useful categorisations. To justify this pernicious anti-political practice, he legitimates himself by saying that Patrick Bond agreed with him at the panel discussion, and that Bond had said that South Africa was just as bad, and that Brazil, Russia, India and China are not a “viable alternative” (to what, unspecified — to U.S. imperialism, presumably).
Of course one must not assume that because medium-sized powers are sometimes inclined to challenge U.S. imperialism within their level of capacity, those powers are necessarily forces of unquestionable good. One must examine their behaviour and critique it. This is not what Toussaint is doing here, and also not what Bond is doing.
Bonfond contends that the WSF, being financed (wholly, or just partly?) by transnational corporations, is tainted, but that it “still has a role to play as a place for discussing alternative ways of ensuring authentic human development”. One would have liked to think that after nearly ten years more would have been accomplished than the establishing of an impotent talking-shop. It is worth remembering that this is one of the bosses of the organisation speaking, who is unlikely to be profoundly critical of the body which pays his salary.
Bonfond, however, is more enthusiastic about an “Assembly of Social Movements”, such is supposed “to fight capitalism in its neo-liberal, imperialist and military phase”. One of the Movements here is ATTAC, which is supported by Susan George who is not a complete idiot, so perhaps not all the Movements are Trotskyite wallies. Nevertheless, the inclination seems clear. Bonfond talks about how this will “examine the new international conjuncture”, discuss “the multidimensional nature of the systemic crisis” and “dynamize mobilization for the next World Social Forum”. In other words, it is a talking-shop whose goal is to make its voice louder in another larger talking-shop.
Please notice; these two buffoons, with their bombastic, obfuscatory jargon which serves well to blind them to their own impotence, are the best that the anti-globalisation movement has to offer. They represent the official left-wing hope of humankind, the force that has lost us all our international battles on every stage since 1999.
The question which we must ask is, what has gone wrong? Why is the movement led by fools? Why has the movement failed to build itself as a movement? Why has all the talking led to no meaningful or effectual action? Is it that the very idea of an International has become pointless, or is it simply that it is being done wrongly, and by the wrong people?


Undeniably Pale, but far from Native.

March 2, 2010

It is a common phenomenon of failures that they live, psychologically, in the past. All whites who have had any contact with Rhodesians will know the “Whenwe” factor, and no doubt similar pathetic effusions litter the path of those preposterous ninnies who have run away from South Africa so as to dwell among their pink-cheeked equivalents in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
Max du Preez was once a semi-serious journalist. Then he became an editor, a definite false step. But he was editor of Die Vrye Weekblad, an Afrikaans “alternative newspaper” which attempted to tap into the very deep well of stories which all Afrikaans-speaking journalists knew about but dared not touch, such as death squads, financial corruption and the Cabinet paedophile ring. Unfortunately Du Preez was bad at the job (being a drunk didn’t help) and eventually destroyed the paper by losing a huge defamation suit against the police poisoner General Lothar “Doepa” Neethling. Perhaps this was intended; the Vrye Weekblad died at much the same time as all the other “alternative newspapers”, none of which left any offspring.
Du Preez went into TV, making a hash of it, and then began writing maundering reactionary opinion pieces for the Independent Group of newspapers. He published some nostalgic reminiscences about the days when he was taken seriously (Oranje Blanje Blues) and, having nothing better, then produced a collection of his opinions, Pale Native. This is a rough Anglo-South African translation of the Afrikaans term “wit kaffir”. It refers to a person who is white on the outside but black within. Some were so because they were culturally absorbed in the black community, like so many of the “trekboers” of the early nineteenth century (who are now mysteriously heroes of Afrikanerdom, although most of them would have been jailed under John Vorster, and some of them would have been endorsed out to tribal homelands). Others were so because they were democratic socialists and thus at odds with the feudal reactionary politics of Afrikaner nationalism.
In the latter context, being a wit kaffir could be something for an Afrikaner to brag about, since it entailed having the gumption to face down the hegemonic culture. However, doing it for money doesn’t count. More to the point, you actually have to do something; just saying you are a wit kaffir doesn’t make you one, as Leon Schuster could tell Du Preez.
Recently the book has been reissued. Anglo-American is casting about for reactionary opinions in this era when the ruling class hopes that the ANC may be in terminal crisis, and so its daughter propaganda company Avusa has decided to plug Du Preez’s book. Since Du Preez was originally working for the Sunday Independent, which is supposedly in competition with Avusa, the ruling class is here giving us all a magnificent example of pulling together in crisis.
One of the articles in the book was printed in the Daily Dispatch, and this is the reason for noting this otherwise unedifying spectacle: an attack on the ANC through the UDF. This is a very common practice in the Western Cape; only a week or so ago the Zuma propagandist and former Cape Trotskyite Ebrahim Harvey was excreting comparable pellets in the pages of the Weekly Mail. Zackie Achmat has tried similar balderdash, as has Tony Ehrenreich, the COSATU entryist. But nobody takes such people seriously as political pundits, so possibly Du Preez is deemed a bit more plausible, at least among people who confuse him with Breyten Breytenbach.
Du Preez opens by saying that the ANC destroyed the UDF, that the UDF was not an ANC body, and that he does not romanticise the UDF. (Well, if you say so, Max.) He proclaims that he liked the UDF, although he does not say that he liked it enough to join it (and, in fact, he did not join it, so he had no personal experience of what he is talking about, though he pretends to have this). He says that the UDF was integrally non-racial throughout the seven years of its existence, and then he says that it “brought more South Africans of the minority groupings into mainstream politics than the ANC did in nine decades”.
Hmmm. For Du Preez, non-racism is about serving the interests of “minorities” — by which he means whites, coloureds and indians. Now the very interesting thing about the UDF is that it was set up to challenge this very concept, because it was formed in August 1983 to contend with the tricameral parliament which was bringing “the minority groupings into mainstream politics”. If you had spoken in such terms in any UDF meeting between then and June 1986, after which UDF meetings became impossible, you would have been thrown out instantly. The whole point about the UDF was indeed non-racism, and this meant rejecting the concept that people with certain skin colours and cultural backgrounds had special rights.
Incidentally, during the forty-eight years of its existence, the ANC worked very hard to encourage those who were not africans to support the struggle against apartheid, via the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congresses, the Coloured People’s Congress and the Congress of Democrats, organisations which (like the racially-stratified organisations which made up the UDF) were racially identified not because of racist essentialism but because apartheid would not permit anything else, ultimately via the “Prohibition of Political Interference Act” which banned non-racist parties. (This Act was repealed before the UDF was formed, so that the apartheid state could bring coloureds and indians into the laager against the africans.)
So on one hand Du Preez is interpreting history in a narrow and racially focussed way, and on the other he is playing fast and loose with the facts. The UDF represented acknowledgement of the oppression of all races by the apartheid state, but also the need for the most obviously oppressed people to lead this struggle. Instead, Du Preez approvingly mentions the formation of a racist coloured organisation, saying that it is “ironic” that it is supported by people who once held positions in the UDF. Surely, if this were the case, it would be tragic, because it would mean that some people in the UDF failed to live up to their professed ideals of non-racism. (This does not seem to be the case; the Bruine Belange Inisiatief is run by a former head of the ATKV, the apartheid-era Afrikaans cultural organisation. This estimable person has just been appointed to the Human Rights Commission by President Zuma, so how can Du Preez denounce the ANC for not supporting it?)
But then, if UDF activists had been backing this BBI, Du Preez’s claims that the UDF was essentially non-racist is questionable, because evidently the UDF would have included covert racists.
Du Preez also complains about Julius Malema saying that the struggle was about freeing “blacks in general and Africans in particular”. This statement was canonical within the UDF, which accepted african leadership. It suggests that Du Preez never understood the UDF proper. Otherwise he would not say that the UDF “led only with the mandate of the members of the movement”. In fact, the UDF had to be a top-down organisation. At local level there was some democracy (though one should not exaggerate this) but the general leadership could not consult with the local membership, and often did not even try to. (Leaders of the UDF were often in detention, making it difficult for them to consult anybody — especially after February 1985 when the first State of Emergency was declared. The threat of detention drove leaders into hiding, making democratic practice very difficult even in local areas.)
After June 1986, of course, this was impossible with virtually the whole leadership in detention. This is what makes it so ridiculous for Du Preez to say that the South African “business community and agents of change”, as he dishonestly calls them, should have talked to the UDF. In reality, the UDF’s top 10 000 people were inaccessible in prison. Meanwhile, the UDF did not want to talk to anybody about anything except the two primary issues: lifting the State of Emergency and unbanning the ANC. That was why it was worth talking to the ANC; they had a longer perspective, and they were more able to consult their membership than the UDF were.
But the leaders of the UDF were often underground members of the ANC, which is easy to follow if you accept that the UDF and the ANC were the same. However, it is incomprehensible if, like Du Preez, you pretend that they were separate organisations. But then why did the UDF proclaim itself in support of the Freedom Charter, and why did UDF funerals always display ANC flags and emblems? Du Preez’s analysis cannot account for this, so he does not mention it. When Du Preez claims that “the internal resistance . . . forced the apartheid machinery to the negotiating table”, he forgets that this “internal resistance” was crushed in 1986 and was only beginning to rise again in 1989; without the other “pillars of the struggle”, the ANC underground, MK and the international supporters whom the ANC had mobilised, the UDF could have accomplished nothing.
Du Preez also claims that the ANC “gobbled up the UDF and all its structures” on its return. This is startlingly inaccurate. The ANC did not want the UDF’s structures, most of which were appropriate to the UDF’s special situation. However, neither the leadership of the UDF, nor the membership of the UDF, wanted the UDF to continue. Everybody wanted to join the ANC; as Jeremy Seekings, author of the official history of the UDF and no fan of the ANC, the UDF’s leadership acknowledged within months of the ANC’s unbanning that the UDF was at its weakest ever.
Only a few people whose sole power-base was the UDF felt any different. Significantly, Du Preez relies upon Allan Boesak, the UDF time-server and sometime pin-up — and also, an egomaniacal philanderer who stole from his own organisation, and from children, giving the money to his wife and then lying about it. The ANC speedily established branches and regions, and held its first internal national conference within less than two years of its establishment in the country. It was more politically democratic, in structure and culture, than the UDF had been. This was not the UDF’s fault (the ANC after 1990 had more scope for democracy than the UDF had possessed) but is a tribute to the democratic traditions of the ANC, which the UDF had absorbed.
For want of a concrete argument, Du Preez appeals to the well-established white right-wing hatred of Thabo Mbeki to make the claim that the ANC was bad. He says Mbeki alienated his constituency (the ANC’s electoral support rose by 10% between 1994 and 1999, and by a further 6% between 1999 and 2004). On the basis of this claptrap, he says that the UDF would have been totally different from the ANC, which, Du Preez says, is not a people’s movement and has done nothing for the people since 1994 and has seen “the minority groups drifting away from the mainstream”.
There we have it; this entire rigmarole allows Du Preez to reject the 1994 victory of the people over the whites. Like so many white racist reactionaries, Du Preez wants to reverse the results of our democratic election. He lies about the nature of the UDF and the ANC in order to promote an organisation which no longer exists (because thus he can claim to be a democrat despite his hostility to democracy). His concern for “minorities” ignores the Indians (who have not “drifted away”, whatever that means) and the English (who remain in their own reactionary “mainstream”). Du Preez’s concern is with coloureds (who have been coopted by the DA in the Western Cape) and Afrikaners (who largely control the DA in the Western Cape and elsewhere).
The UDF, claims Du Preez, would not have allowed the Afrikaners and coloureds to become reactionary. How the UDF (which was never supported by Afrikaners and was supported by only a minority of coloureds — the UDF was an overwhelmingly african organisation) could have done this, given the massive push by white racists to keep the Afrikaners reactionary and to fool the coloureds into supporting white racism, Du Preez does not say. Certainly it could not have done this without abandoning its principles, which seems to be what Du Preez’s whole article is about.
Du Preez fits perfectly alongside his fellow propagandists, such as Gumede and Mangcu and Gordin and Moeletsi Mbeki; so perfectly that one wonders whether they write their own stuff or just sign at the bottom of the column, in return for whisky coupons.