The Politics of Murder.

December 9, 2010

Recently, in the Free State, a family of white people was murdered by black criminals. The white people lived on an isolated farm and it was comparatively easy for black criminals to attack the farm in confidence that by the time any police or neighbours could arrive, they would have done their work. It is thus natural that criminals consider farms a comparatively safe target — the safety is, however, balanced by the obvious fact that there is not a lot of portable profitable material to be found on farms. One cannot easily carry off a tractor or nip down to the local Cash Crusaders with a truckload of hay. The most commonly stolen things on farms are firearms, cellphones and vehicles, which you can usually get quite as easily by hijacking in the city.
So farm attacks are not clever crimes. On the contrary, they are very often crimes of passion, in the sense that a labourer gets ill-treated (truly or in his dreams), decides to take revenge, and invites his chums to participate in the revenge. Jonny Steinberg has written on the subject (oddly enough, more lucidly in The Number than in Midlands) and while we should not take everything Steinberg says as gospel, the indications from the trial of farm attackers is that more often than not they include someone who has worked on the farm. Apart from anything else, such a person knows the regime in the farm, knows when the farmer goes to bed and has a shrewd idea of which labourers might help and which might not, and where the sporting rifles are.
Significantly, the murderers seem to have been rounded up quite quickly by the police, who have been obliged to put a lot of effort into finding the culprits in farm attackers, if only because the end product of successful farm attacks would be to drive farmers off the land and thus reduce national food security. But also, a little effort usually brings reward, because the culprits are often pathetically easy to find in a rural area where there are few suspects and few places to hide or make use of one’s loot.
What was interesting, however, was that the court appearance of the captured suspects brought with it the appearance of a great herd of white supremacists, mainly from the Freedom Front Plus (significantly, they have never been able to figure out what their new improved ingredient should be) who decided to blame the existence of farm murders upon the ANC. Yes, it makes perfect sense that a government which had nothing to do with the farm attack, and which has in fact collaborated in a most distasteful way with white supremacist movements, and which after all was responsible for the arrest of the suspects, should be blamed. The existence of crime in South Africa is the ANC government’s fault; it certainly cannot have anything to do with the white supremacists who organised the apartheid regime.
One sighs. Then up spake brave Sir Hofmeyr: “Dis al die skuld van die fokken kaffirs!”. Thus his Facebook page proclaimed, and everybody with any capital to be made out of the episode scuttled up to denounce this bad singer for holding racist opinions, in the same way that the Mail and Guardian was recently denouncing a mediocre novelist for holding racist opinions. (All such denunciations are intended to distinguish these overt racists from the covert racism held by the white ruling class.) So, in short, it is in the nature of blacks to commit crimes against whites, because they feel entitled. There is a clear connection between the existence of black people in government, the existence of affirmative action, and the mass murder of whites. Brandon Huntley, thou shouldst be living at this hour. Unfortunately, he is.
White supremacists express racist opinions and exploit murder to promote racial hostility. My goodness, whatever next in South Africa? Semper aliquid novi, eh? Next thing, we’ll discover that the Pope’s a Catholic. (Given his decision to allow male prostitutes to wear condoms while they bugger him, perhaps Papa Goodword isn’t really a Catholic at all — though he wasn’t speaking ex cathedra, which means “from the chair”, and when he sits on the throne perhaps the Holy Nazi’s gonorrheal bum may pain him.)
Anyway, that isn’t what the Creator came here to talk about. Came to talk about murder and how it gets used by scumbags, like everything else, to further the interests of scumbags.
That got the Creator thinking when a woman got murdered in Gugulethu. Wow, again, shock, horror, nothing like this ever happened before in Gugs, eh? Hmmm — actually, Gugs isn’t exactly the crime capital of Cape Town. Not a lot of gangsterism there (by comparison with Mitchell’s Plain, say, not with Sandton or Bishopscourt where the gangsterism is purely capitalist). The murders which do happen there are, very often, household crimes of passion, or murders committed in armed robberies.
Now this murder was the murder of — a white person. Gaah! Obviously, this was the ANC’s fault. Or the fault of the murder genes which black people have inherited from baboons, or perhaps imposed upon them by God after they fiddled with Noah when he got drunk. Or whatever your local white holy roller fascist screams from the balcony this week. Not only this, but a white foreigner! On her honeymoon! Obviously this innocent virgin had been dragged from her limousine and repeatedly violated by the immense phalluses of these half-animal baby-rapists in the townships!
Well, no. Firstly, although she was whitish, she was also part Indian. And married to an Indian. And not raped, nor beaten or stabbed, but shot. OK, that tones things down a bit. Perhaps.
But perhaps not. For the weirdness came in from much the same source as the Freedom Front Plus. Those paragons of apartheid and neoliberal propaganda, the South African Institute for Race Relations, called on the government not to investigate the murder of this person. They said that there had been a lot of murders in Gugulethu that year, and therefore there was no big deal about another murder. This was rather rich, coming from an organisation which devotes much of its energy to declaring that crime is the Big Issue which proves that blacks can’t run a country and that the Democratic Alliance should take over instead. (Meanwhile, and in contrast, the Democratic Alliance does its level best to pretend that it cares deeply about the suffering blacks, apart from the ones who need to go to the toilet in Macassar. As before, the ruling class has its hands full trying to discourage its white supremacist supporters from alienating rich blacks from its project.)
Now, what the hell was going on here? One could argue that rich foreign victims of crime don’t deserve special treatment, and one would be right. But the gist of the SAIRR’s approach was that the crime should not be investigated at all — that murder was commonplace and therefore no fuss ought to be made about it. Huh? What was the SAIRR’s case? More to the point, why was the SAIRR not condemned for such rubbish?
What has turned up since clarifies the position quite a bit. Firstly, the murdered woman was the “wife” of a rich British businessman. (“Wife” because although he had organised an immense mock-Indian marriage service with photo opportunities, it turned out that he had never bothered to legally marry her.) Aha, one might say. The SAIRR is a tool of neoliberalism, and neoliberals understandably don’t want the lives of businesspeople investigated.
Secondly, the “honeymoon couple” had been on their way from Cape Town airport to a City hotel in a sedan taxi. The route takes you along the N2 freeway, from which there is less than no reason to turn off into Gugulethu. Therefore, since the “hijacking” happened in Gugulethu itself (it is impossible to hijack someone on a freeway driving at 120 kilometres an hour) the driver of the taxi was obviously in on the hijacking. Well, OK, this could have been a clever trick to rob foreigners. However, it was a no-brainer to ask what the hell the taxi-driver was doing in Gugulethu at that hour, so, not such a clever trick (far smarter to slow down on the freeway for a car, then have another car force you off the road, dump the foreigners and the taxi-driver at gunpoint and speed off with taxi, luggage and whatever).
Thirdly, the driver and the “husband” escaped safely, but the wife was taken away. Not, perhaps, so odd — she was quite good looking. However, if you’re ruthlessly planning to murder somebody, not a smart idea to leave witnesses alive. That was a little bit weird.
So, combining all these weirdnesses, we see something which appears less weird. The most plausible suspect in the murder of a partner is always the other partner. Did the “husband” hire people to murder his “wife”? It at least makes a degree of sense. South Africa, in British propaganda borrowed from white supremacist propaganda in South Africa, is filled with blacks plotting to murder whites. Unsurprisingly, then, the “husband” might have hoped that the murder of his “wife” would be written off by the South African police as just another murder of whites, nothing special. Had he not been such an assiduous Daily Mail reader he might have realised that the South African police are particularly touchy about the murder of tourists, let alone white ones, because since our government is rapidly wrecking the manufacturing and mining industry, tourism is about all we have left.
The politics of the murder are thus quite interesting. Perhaps the most interesting question, of course, is whether the SAIRR was tipped off (possibly by the neo-fascist spin-doctor Max Clifford whom the “husband” hired to protect himself against the consequences of the murder, which is a bit odd if the murder was committed by Gugulethu gangsters) beforehand, and if their demand that the murder not be investigated was based on the knowledge that a rich person had something to lose by such investigations.
But that’s not the kind of thing that could be investigated, is it?

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Beyond Good and Evil.

December 5, 2010

The problems are there. We are spending ten thousand rand a head on electricity generators which we probably don’t need and are certainly overpriced, and we are handing the future governance of electricity generation over to foreign-owned private companies. Our road network is deteriorating, which would not be bad if we had not allowed our rail network to deteriorate still more. Our sewage treatment plants and water treatment plants are collapsing.
Our education system has deteriorated sharply at all levels and looks set to get worse. (The Creator was deeply impressed to listen to an education administrator on the radio saying “There were problems with providing examination scripts, some of the test papers were hijacked, and the power cuts prevented the IT students from using their computers — it was the best examinations period we’ve had in years”.) Our policing system is in a state of crisis, due to underfunding, low morale and bad leadership. Our healthcare system is in a state of crisis for the same reason, problems which are doomed to be made much worse by the appalling National Health Insurance project. Our judiciary is a standing joke. Our municipalities are almost all mismanaged and our provincial leadership is in disarray at best and in chaotic internal conflict at worst. Just to add to this, our financial system is growing steadily more corrupt while the national pensions are at risk by people who want to use the money for “development projects”, which probably means plundering the pension fund, in practice.
So this means that while we may muddle on, it seems quite likely that within ten years we shall be in a state without educated people, without more than a primitive access to healthcare, without effective policing, and with a public largely unemployed, with the unemployed often lacking any access to insurance, with retired people lacking pensions, without drinking water or reliable transport or electricity access, and with an unsustainable budget and trade deficit combined with a rapidly-declining currency and falling capacity to import the goods which we no longer make, even down to food which we no longer produce.
Under such circumstances — which may seem too worst-case to be credible, but a simple examination of current trends suggests that this is all too possible — we can expect riots and uprisings and blockades of such roads are still passable and petrol-bombs where petrol is still available, and a rapid change of government (Argentina had three Presidents in two days). However, under such circumstances, the problem is that there are no answers. The only thing that Argentina could do, in 2001, was a heavy dose of neoliberalism honestly applied, which at least made a change from neoliberalism applied by crooks for crooks, but it was still neoliberalism. There is no prospect, under such circumstances, of a meaningful political change with a desirable outcome.
Indeed, the prospects are rather undesirable. “Disaster capitalism” thrives on the chaos and misery which it generates, for it promotes desperation, and desperate people seek to apply the desperate remedies which are thrust into their hands by criminals. That is why Berlusconi and Obama and Cameron and Sarkozy and Zuma are where they are. So it is entirely possible that some of the calamitous prospects for South Africa are being put in place deliberately, in hope of creating conditions which will be profitable for the criminals who run our country behind the scenes. It has worked before for them; it may work again. And, since they own the judges, who is going to act against them?
So the time to act is not the time when things get difficult. This is the mistake made by the far left, insofar as the far left has any real understanding of its actions and any autonomy with which to take those actions. This is the “the worse, the better” notion made popular by the left in pre-revolutionary Russia, under which conditions had to get worse before there could be a revolution. Of course, conditions got worse and there was a revolution, but that was because the Russian ruling class did not understand what it was doing, or it would have allowed Kornilov to walk into power, shoot Lenin and Trotsky, and establish a Fascist dictatorship in the interests of the ruling classes, with or without a Tsarist screen. That is what would happen today under similar circumstances, because the ruling classes of the world have learned a lot more about revolutions than the Left have — the ruling classes of the world fail to suppress revolutions only in countries far away from where they live, countries where they inadvertently (but naturally) choose to work through local mountebanks who fail, like Banzer in Bolivia or Botha in South Africa. (Both, incidentally, rulers who did quite a good job of suppressing revolution for quite a long time.)
So the time to act is not in the future when things are bad and there is no space or energy to remedy them, but now, when things are good and we have plenty of opportunity for action. (No, things are not “good” now by comparison with ten years ago, but they will almost certainly look like the good old days in 2020.)
So the real question is, where is the outrage?
A good question is whether there is invisible, intangible outrage. This is the theory of the far Left, and while it is not a theory worth much for the far Left (who like to fantasise that they are the unacknowledged legislators of their lands, but they are not) it is still a possibility. Are there people out there who are angry at the way the system is treating them? Yes, surely there must be. The unemployed, particularly the newly unemployed, are angry. The workers, even the workers who actually have no cause to be angry about by comparison with the unemployed or the truly exploited, are angry. There are the service delivery protests which are at least a little risky, with the police firing shotguns and rubber bullets and suchlike, which suggests that some of the people are at least a little angry, even if they have been tricked into getting involved by unscrupulous politicians (which often seems to be the case — the existence of unscrupulous and dishonest politicians does not invalidate the perception of injustice).
And yet, it also seems that the bulk of these people, when given a chance to do so, vote for the ANC. One can hardly be surprised at this, given the alternatives. Notwithstanding, a number of them seem to believe in the ANC’s promises even though they have plenty of good grounds not to. They have, after all, seen good things done by the ANC in some places in the past. Why should it not do good things here and now? These are not people who are familiar with the public utterances of ANC leaders, and if they were, they would probably discount them, either because they are said by people in suits, or because they are said to people in suits. “Of course they have to talk like that, that’s what the people in suits expect, but down here, we experience it differently; when they come here, they will help us in our hour of need.” It is feudalism: “Yes, the barons oppress and exploit us, but His Majesty the King is a good man and when he comes here, he will give us what we need.” With techniques like that you can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time.
And besides, everybody knows that the DA or the IFP or the UDM would do much, much worse, and nobody knows what CoPe would do, least of all CoPe themselves, so what’s the point of voting for anyone but the ANC? And in that case, why not support the people you are voting for? Didn’t they liberate us?
So the outrage seeps away, and the knowledge of oppression is tempered by apathy and making-allowances and sheer ignorance.
But part of the problem is a lack of political education, and where are the masses to get their political education from? The business of the ANC in the branches is to legitimate, justify and make excuses for the conduct of the leadership of the ANC, in order that the branch chairs may someday get on the gravy train. Political education there is simply education for subservience and self-deception.
Yet there is a world elsewhere, is there not? There is the press, and there is COSATU. Hoorah for them, who uphold the great traditions of South African dissent and freedom of speech. Oops — there are no such great traditions. So what is going on there?
Bluntly, what is going on is education for subservience and self-deception. COSATU does criticise the ANC, quite violently. So does the press, slightly less violently but perhaps somewhat more profoundly. Both the press and COSATU base their criticism, however, on the same features of the ANC, and these are that the ANC is not doing enough for their constituency (respectively, the white minority and the employed unionised minority). The scale of the audience of the press and of COSATU are quite similar, and their objectives are essentially the same: Gimme. Neither COSATU nor the press bothers to come up with a challenge to ANC policy other than the notion that the ANC should give their constituents more. There are pretenses to serve the cause of freedom or of employment, but in both cases this is transparent balderdash meant to distract their audiences from the real issue, which is that there must be more corruption, more accurately passing money to COSATU leadership or to the businesspeople who back the press.
And so, COSATU tells us to believe COSATU and to see their leaders as the great perfect shining lights of truth, and the press tells us to believe the press and to see their editors (and, increasingly, the businesspeople who pay their salaries) as the great perfect shining lights of truth. And to do that, they have to pretend to be hostile to someone, and they are hostile to the government, and they are hostile to the ANC, because that is the way to get public attention and to create the illusion of radicalism and principled support for the masses. But that is all an illusion; the problem is that it is not an illusion which anyone can dispel, because the press does not criticise COSATU, and COSATU does not criticise the press. Admittedly both the ANC and the SACP criticise the press and COSATU on trivial issues, but neither of these bodies wishes to criticise the press or COSATU for being covert supporters of the ruling class, because the ANC and the SACP are also covert supports of the ruling class. So this is a puppet-show operated by a corporate octopus behind the scenes; the characters flog each other with inflated bladders making a great thumping noise, but nobody is actually harmed, and none of it means anything. And the mere act of paying attention to the process automatically means that we are not paying attention to reality.
So that is why we cannot expect a revolution in South Africa. The people with the most reason to launch a revolution have no wish to do so or understanding of the issues, and the people who are talkin’ ’bout a revolution are actually counter-revolutionary lackeys of capitalism. And by their action, those latter people do what they can to crush what few thin shoots of political understanding remain in the South African working class. While the working class cannot distinguish between the green shoots of understanding and the flabby weeds of false consciousness.
Let us go forward together . . . just don’t ask where we are going to . . .