Sunday, August 05, 2007

Observations, not judgements

Masiphumelele # 3
Originally uploaded by Frames-of-Mind.
The fundamental problem in South Africa today is that it is exposing a global fallacy. The fallacy is this : Everyone thinks that Democracy and Capitalism go hand-in-hand. Why this misconception exists, I am not sure. Probably largely because the two seemed united in their fight against Communism in the 70s and 80s.

But actually, Democracy and Capitalism work in opposite directions. Democracy is about political equality (POLITICAL being the operative word). Capitalism, on the other hand, promotes financial INEQUALITY. The rich get rich, the poor get poor. That's the way it works in South Africa; that's the way it works in every other Capitalist country in the world.

The result is that in South Africa we have a totally untenable situation. In 1994 we all rejoiced, political equality won. But look closely at South Africa today - the whites still live in the luxury houses, the blacks and coloureds still live in shacks (like the one pictured above which is actually our gardener's house in the local township). Go to most suburban Cape Town restuarants and it'll be black waiters serving wealthy white diners. Sure, affirmative action has created quite a few exceptions to the rule, but with 40% unemployment it can't go very far.

So more and more "non-whites" in South Africa are starting to see that political equality has been pretty useless at improving conditions in the kitchen. Nothing has really changed. The Apartheid oppressors still blow more on a Friday night restuarant meal than most blacks earn in a month.

And the masses are getting fed up now. That's why violent crimes in the last year have been taking a very morbid twist. People are getting boiled to death in boiling water. Others are getting their heads hacked off with pangas. One guy in Johannesburg was stripped and super-glued to his excerise bike for many hours. In many of these crimes, robbery wasn't even the main motive. It was more of a kind of revenge.

Personally I can feel it. The post 1994 honeymoon is wearing off. When I walk past blacks on the road now, many don't even greet me. And I can see hate in their eyes. Even the police force, largely comprised of "non-whites" is getting sick of being called out to white suburbs to protect the former Apartheid Oppressors from their brethren.

A lot of white South Africans, I believe, do not see this picture. They're all cocooned in their security villages, more interested in what car the neighbour is driving, and how to go about getting a better one. Quite honestly, they're living in TOTAL denial. Hence the tendency to lash out at any fellow whitey who dares to point out the Naked Emperor.

And that's why I'm leaving. Not because I'm making judgements one way or the other. But because I can see very clearly how the situation in this country is totally UNTENABLE. Something has got to give. It can't go on.

And I'm not going to get slaughtered to pay for the Sins of our Fathers. Just like the rest of this country, I was born into Apartheid. It wasn't my design. In fact, my whole teenagehood I was a vehemently oppossed to the Apartheid regime.

And, to tell you the truth, the legacies of Apartheid are not the sole reason for this country's woes. Rather, it is the ravages of Capitalism. And I can see that what's happening in South Africa today is slowly manifesting all over the globe. The have-nots are getting fed up with the haves.

Not sure where it's all going to lead. Communism, in my opinion, is definitely not the solution (although more and more of the South African masses are thinking that it is). But neither is Capitalism the answer.

Hope to FCK some bright spark comes up with something new...


  1. Totally understandable.

  2. Part of the problem in this country are the so called liberal whites who do absolutely nothing to help the situation except whinge. People who do nothing more than lie on the couch or sit in front of the TV and moan and groan. There are problems in every country in the world (except New Zealand)and personally I have great faith that we will go from strength to strength. The difference is that I get off my ass and get involved.

  3. In the US, the citizenry is basically rolling over passively. In this show-piece of plenty, deprivation and financial servitude are on the rise. There never will be a national health care system, because the private sector would lose money. The justice system targets people of color and shows lenience to wealthy whites. Our basic civil liberties are being clearly eroded. We don't have the rampant violence of South Africa, because we're too fat and diabetic. God, I want to emigrate to Canada!

    How is your move to NZ going?

  4. I would say our justice system tends to show lenience towards wealth in general.....OJ certainly wasnt white. Michael Jackson didnt used to be white. It amazes how those who already wealthy get all the "perks' that those who live in poverty would be so very grateful for.......I dont have any answers, but I see the same type of problems ( not as extreme) here. I dont think communism is the answer either but I think something is going to have change somehow...

  5. I have lived in a number of countries around the world.

    Once the decision to move has been made, I found comparing countries became a futile exercise. Each country holds something unique to that country and it's up to you to identify and find your level of enjoyment in that environment.

    I feel for you, because I think the most difficult period is the one running up to the point of departure.

    Capitalism vs Communism, complex as both have been born from each other. China possibly is the most recent example.Resources and the directing and reward of labour oil's this process.



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