The Creator Acknowledges Unexpected Confirmation.

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.


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