I have been wondering how I would describe the unifying theme of my writing.
For a long time, I have considered myself a conservative. By that, I don’t mean the politics of George Bush, as some mistakenly think – but rather a politics that values tradition, the family, morality, and is sceptical as to how much a large government can achieve.
I think all politics is ultimately about an organic relationship between liberty and order, worked out in time and space by a people according to their own history and traditions.
I think when governments are too confident in their own ability to re-make society, to engineer society, disaster strikes. Think of the gulags, the social engineering of apartheid, the Terror of the French Revolution and its subsequent Napoleonic Wars.
A lot of white people are angry in South Africa. They are angry about being blamed for being privileged, for inequality, and for all the aftershocks of apartheid. They are angry about BEE, quotas in sport, and a terrible ANC leader.
They are also nervous – nervous about a lot of black people questioning the deals that took place around 1994, questioning land ownership, and white people’s whole sense of belonging in this country. That anxiety creates a lot of the anger.
But the key thing to remember is that this conversation, and these emotions, especially as it is played out on social media, can have no satisfying resolution. Just being angry or scared is not going to do anything for white South Africans, no matter whether those emotions are justified or not.
You can dabble in anger, and you should definitely process it, but you need to know that what you choose to do and how you choose to live will ultimately define not only your life but also the future of our society. And anger is not enough to live a meaningful life.
If you are still mystified about the rise of Trump, this is the article you need to read.
His critics dismiss him too glibly. But the fact that such a strange man like Donald Trump has so much popularity tells us something is shifting in the world.
And that shift comes as a result of a seismic aftershock to globalisation.
Globalisation is the process by which the world’s economies and cultures have become interlocked and inter-connected.
Two examples help us to understand it:
1. Money lenders in the US take gambles on risky mortagages and crash their economy. Here in South Africa people somehow lose their jobs as a result as demand is sucked up worldwide.
2. I remember travelling to Malawi a decade ago. Even in its quietest corners, I came across young children wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the images of American rappers.
The great hope after the end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism was this idea of a new global village, where democracy and free trade inspires a free and prosperous world, progressing under the auspices of a Pax Americana.
As human beings, we need to be valued as individuals and we need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. If an organisation can’t validate both needs, it will crumble.
The traditional churches are bleeding members. Almost everybody hates their bank. In South Africa, the ANC is falling apart. Parastatals are falling apart. Sports clubs are even dying. More and more it seems as though we live isolated lives, without our loyalty being inspired by any larger body.
In the US, the Democratic Party almost nominated a presidential candidate who is barely a Democrat (Bernie Sanders only joined the party a few months before he launched his campaign). The Republican Party actually nominated somebody who hates their party (Trump has continuously mocked the Bushes and other party leaders).
About a week ago, I wrote a post entitled “The ANC Will Die”. Some people told me this was a ridiculous notion. I think JZ’s proving those critics wrong today.
This week we have seen Number 1’s response to losing three major metros to the DA. He has taken charge of state owned enterprises, and is building a narrative to get rid of Pravin Gordhan, perhaps the most respected ANC leader right now internationally.
In short, he is looting our democracy.
In most normal political parties, the party structures would now just hold a vote of no confidence and move on with governing instead of these power games (which hurt the poor most of all).
I have been overwhelmed by the response to yesterday’s post. I don’t think we realise how we all go through the same experiences and fight the same battles.
I think that’s the reason we like those novels and films concerning survivors of shipwrecks and the like. When the survivors emerge on the beach, they realise they now have a bond, they owe each other a loyalty. In the words of Jack Shepherd, the main character of ‘Lost’ (the chief inspiration for which was Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”), either they live together or they will die alone.
This resonates with us because in fact we are, in our real lives, survivors of a cosmic shipwreck. We know, deep in our bones, that something has gone wrong with this world. We all fight a war. And so we have a certain loyalty to each other: to be sympathetic, to tell our stories, to have patience.
Four years ago, I wrote the piece below for the Mercury, a daily newspaper in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
It was written in the afterglow of Chad le Clos’s defeat of Michael Phelps to win his first Olympic gold, and Ernie Els’s stirring come-from-behind victory in golf’s British Open.
Re-reading this, after the inspirational performances of the likes of Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya, Sunette Viljoen, Luvo Manyonga, and Cameron van der Burgh at the Rio Olympics, the note it sounds still rings true.
Beneath all the problems of South Africa, the mismanagement of state bodies (including the shambolic Athletics South Africa among others), and the corruption, our country is not down and out. We keep picking ourselves up off the canvas.
The recent election results show people still want to fight for their country. Olympic sport is just sport, yes, but the love for country it shows is real and echoes beyond the arena.
Liberation movements do not generally survive. This will also be true of the ANC.
I recently read Albert Luthuli’s autobiography, Let My People Go, which detailed this moral titan’s involvement in the struggle.
Intriguingly, Luthuli did not believe the ANC would one day govern South Africa. He was of the opinion that the ANC would have to form smaller political parties out of the various ideological factions which were working together under their auspices.