Ideology of stupidity

2011-09-17 10:26

Julius Malema terrifies whites, embarrasses large sections of the conservative black middle class and embodies the hopes of the excluded black majority.

We imagine Malema as a sorcerer standing at the shores of the sea.

At the crack of a whip, he summons the rage of waves into a giant monster that threatens the heavens.But what is not known to most is that Malema is only holding a toy gun.

He is basically a minor bully who wants to partake in the treats he sees in the lunch boxes of the rich kids in the school playground.

Malema has been projected as either a buffoon or merely a corrupt and belligerent figure. This characterisation and analysis of the man and what he actually represents is wrong. Malema is a master diversionist.

For instance, he likes to make whites cheap scapegoats.

The truth is that it is not whites who run this country. Political power is held by the ANC, which at one point had a two-thirds majority.

The Malema phenomenon functions primarily as a mechanism to divert attention away from the ANC. This he does by avoiding any discussion on the reality of the ANC’s 17-year rule.

It’s as if we were a country still under white rule. The symbolic power of singing “Shoot the boer” comes from this depiction.

The strangest thing about the Malema phenomenon is that it finds political currency from Afrikaner outfit AfriForum.

There is in reality something akin to an alliance between Malema and AfriForum. Remove AfriForum’s theatrics and Malema’s political impotency is revealed.

So long as the anti-corruption drive and court cases against Malema are led by the likes of AfriForum, “the see what whites are doing” defence gains credibility in the eyes of the black majority.

Malema’s emergence occurs in a situation where the dominant ideology is stupidity.

We saw the glimpses of this ideology during the municipal elections, when kwaito artist Chomee was paired up with Malema and President Jacob Zuma to dance for the masses.

The DA’s Helen Zille, who is supposed to be the “voice of reason” as an opposition leader, joins in the spectacle of stupidity and shouts, sings and dances too.

This ideology thrives on superficiality and verbose consumption. Businessmen Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie – two of Malema’s public friends – are not businessmen per se.

They are cultural and ideological figures.They play the role of “meaning making”.

They occupy the space between the bitter reality of exclusion of the majority and the fantasy of getting out of hell to join the eating elite. Fantasy is in vogue because the black reality is far too unbearable to confront truthfully.

Think about it. Malema’s R20 million house in Sandton – complete with underground bunker – is in the order of lifestyle TV show Top Billing.

There is an interesting contradictory process at play here. At once we see that there are major opportunities in this country – but only if you align yourself with the right people.

That message goes out to the aspirant black middle class that craves the good life. In the same message, there is also another different proposition for the masses: if you want what we have, you have to keep on voting for us.

A related element of this ideology of stupidity is the idea that “whites have eaten, now it’s time for blacks to eat too”.

This notion has been the basis of the public support that Malema has enjoyed, and is not only dangerous but
totally unethical.

The poor support this position out of real concern over a lack of economic justice. And for them it is indeed painful to see how well whites live. The danger of this position is that the aspirant BEE and politically elite classes are only referring to themselves, not to the black majority, when they say “blacks must eat too”.

It must be emphasised that “white privileges” are enjoyed at the expense of the majority. There is no Sandton without Alexandra.

Therefore, when the people, out of genuine concern, endorse elite privilege, they need to understand that this happens at their expense.

Poverty is the direct outcome of the wealth generated by capitalism for a few. So when the people say “let the blacks eat too”, they are in effect saying shut the door to economic democracy for the masses.

There are also, incidentally, examples of how natural resources can be used to benefit the poor of a country, not as workers but as shareholders.

Norway and Bolivia come to mind.

Right now we know that the ANC government is a bad boss. Workers in the public sector are badly paid and badly treated.We can expect the worst for those who will be working in state-owned mines. State capitalism is brutal.

We also already know that state-owned enterprises under the ANC do not serve the people.

As social movement Blackwash has warned, any nationalisation under the ANC would lead to disaster for the poor.

So it must be said: yes to nationalisation and socialising the means of production, but not under the ANC.

After 17 years of democracy and massive electoral support and empty promises, the political environment was fertile for Malema’s emergence to keep the people hoping and to get a new lease on life for a liberation movement that has lost its way.

» Mngxitama is the author of Is Malema a Mugabe? A Short Political Biography of Julius Malema 

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