Beyond Good and Evil.

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 . . .

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One Response to Beyond Good and Evil.

  1. Nokwindla says:

    Happy New Year Mr Creator! Perhaps you might enjoy this article:

    http://www.regressiveantidote.net/Articles/Happy_New_Year,_2030.html

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