“Black shirts of the revolution! Men and woman of all Italy! Italians spread throughout the world, beyond the mountains and beyond the seas! Hear me! A solemn hour is about to sound in the history of the fatherland. At this moment twenty million men occupy the public squares of all Italy. Never in the history of mankind has there been see a more gigantic spectacle. Twenty million men, but one heart, one will, one decision.” – Benito Mussolini, 2 October 1935, Invasion of Abyssinia.
Revolution and comrade are two words so often used in the sphere of South Africa politics. The origin of these words though is decidedly not South African. They were born in Russia and Italy under communist rule, under the rule of men like Mussolini and Stalin, men who are considered by many as some of the most evil in history. It is interesting then, that in a fight for a democratic South Africa and in the more recently the fight for “economic freedom” of the masses, that the iconography that our government have chosen to adopt has a less than bright past.
When, as a country, we were fighting the scourge of the Apartheid government and its leaders it was necessary to adopt the iconography of groups that were known to not accept defeat, that were known to fight in any way they could for freedom, that were known to unite people in the millions. However, the road to political freedom and the road to economic freedom have two very different paths. Economic freedom is not won with aggression and revenge in ones hart, I hate to use the example but Zimbabwe is the stereotypical example of such an approach. Economic freedom is won through cooperation, bargaining and a mutual understanding towards a singular goal.
Mussolini, like Mugabe, Edi Amin and so many like them knew what it took to gain political freedom. However, once that political freedom was won none of them knew how to move forward. This is the grey area we find ourselves in as South Africans. Helen Zille recently suggested the creation of a new party, a party to challenge the “might” African National Congress. Is this the chance? The possibly one and only chance we will have as a society to create something truly free, something truly devoid of past atrocities, of past struggles. A party based on the ideas and ideals of the born frees, a party united in its mission to strive for true public service?
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