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The 3rd Way

07 May 2014, 14:26

What we all want is a bloodless revolution

Change, we all want change in South Africa. I do not know of anyone who is satisfied with what is happening in our country, in terms of what our government is doing/not doing.

Traditionally, political change can be achieved in one of two ways: either at the voting station, or by bloodshed.  

Ever since the euphoria of our passage into the new South Africa wore off 15 or so years ago, there has been growing contempt for the government. South African citizens are met with incompetence, lies, corruption and failure at almost every level of government.

You just have to read the articles and comments on this website to see the discontent there is with our rulers. The amount of anger and frustration boiling just under the surface in our nation grows with each passing day.

But our complaints hadn’t been very specific, they had been all over the place, there was no specific manner in which we the people could direct our dissatisfaction. Until now.

At this time in our all-inclusive democratic history, we are in the midst of the Nkandla scandal and the e-toll fiasco.

The official reason given for e-tolls is that the relevant roads need to be paid for, and fair enough, they do need to be paid for, but then what are all the other countless taxes paying for? Why do South Africa’s working citizens still have to pay over 20 to 40% or more of their personally earned income to an oversized, corrupt, inefficient and unaccountable bureaucracy known as government, and then pay e-tolls on top of that? I thought our taxes were to be used for things like roads in the first place.

The e-toll debacle is the perfect opportunity for civil disobedience. Simply refusing to participate in numbers is a grass roots movement; it will be us the people expressing our will.

Then of course there is the Nkandla scandal. I can’t remember when last those in power showed such utter contempt towards the public they serve.

Politicians forget that they work for the electorate, they are not here to ‘lead’ us, we can lead ourselves. They are also not here to fleece us of our earnings.

We look to government to solve all problems; it is how we’ve been brought up in this country. In South Africa it is unpopular to question our fundamental political system (a constitutional liberal democracy) and what the role of our government should be.

From an early age, our parents, our politicians, our media and our public schools glorify the concept of democracy. It verges on the radical to suggest that maybe we should reassess the characteristics of a democracy, and what it has brought us.

I have written an article about democracy here:

The formula for power in a democracy is simple. Convince a group that they are being discriminated against, and that life is not fair for them. Offer legislation that will make things "fair", and get a large proportion of their vote. Of course, on paper, all these new laws and policies make sense, and seem fair. But in reality, policy outcomes are rarely what had been intended in the first place. And in most cases, these policies harm the people they were intended to help. A simple example would be the minimum wage issue, which is simply a barrier to entry into employment that keeps millions in poverty (I have also written an article on unions and the minimum wage: ).

All of the big parties basically offer us the same things. They all promise less corruption, better education, more jobs, less crime. But there seems to be no difference whatsoever in the philosophy on what the role of government should be. The DA, the ANC and AGANG are all for big government. They all say taxes should remain high, they all seem to say that businesses need to be more restricted, and that certain markets must be regulated. They all make promises with regards to education, welfare and health that they can’t possibly keep. And there is a very good reason why they do this. If they didn’t no one would vote for them. The average South African is more likely to vote for a party that promises them free amenities now (but free only means that someone else is paying for it), than for a party which says ‘hold on, let’s rather create an environment whereby people can keep a larger chunk of their resources (lower taxes) and make it possible for business to operate in a market which is not overly regulated, thereby creating economic growth, and long lasting wealth for those who are willing to work for it, instead of giving hand-outs’. Making such a drastic change, and fighting the bureaucracy and inefficiency inherent in our system will be tough, but will incentivise productivity, investment and growth. Economic growth is what will create jobs, and uplift people from poverty, not government’s promises. And throughout history, without exception, the environment, which creates the greatest prosperity, is a free society, where individuals are free to trade as they please (as long as they aren’t coercive, or infringe on the freedom of others).

There are very few instances in history where any government has solved any problems without creating unintended consequences, or imposing the costs on others through coercion.

Every country gets the government it deserves. We have an incompetent, dishonest, and fundamentally immoral government. This is merely a reflection of us as South Africans. On the whole we too are incompetent, dishonest, and fundamentally immoral if we elect such a government. And no, everything won't get better if we just 'stay positive and pray hard'. Unless people find the courage and dignity within themselves to stand up for what's right pretty soon, this country will end up a typical dependent 3rd world African nation. Nothing will change unless the people change.

So we can vote for change or we can have a violent revolution.

Voting won’t bring change, not this time around anyway, as almost everyone can predict this election’s outcome. And even if a different party wins, the changes won’t be too drastic. If the DA were to win, we would probably have less corruption, and more efficiency, but the fundamental nature of government won’t change.

For obvious reasons, a violent revolution won’t lead to a preferable outcome, since no bloody revolution has ever created lasting benefits.

But there is a 3rd way: an intellectual revolution. A renaissance. People changing en masse. How do we do this? Start thinking, become aware, and educate ourselves to become enlightened. We should find dignity within ourselves, and start appreciating quality in the wonderfully diverse world around us.

So in conclusion, simply making a cross next to a face on May 7 won’t bring any change. Rather we must reassess where we are going and focus on trying to change ourselves, and have the positivity rub off on those around us. The X on its own is meaningless if there is not a conscious personal urge to change circumstances driving the person drawing that X.

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