Xenophobia is the simple explanation for the violence that has flared in Alexandra and Diepsloot, near Johannesburg. While outsiders are the main target, South Africans have also been victims. Resentment of foreigners is a major symptom. But the pathology is more general, even symbolic of the failures of President Thabo Mbeki’s government. The government likes to present crises as challenges: whatever the terminology, the current situation is extremely serious and requires something more than the usual platitudes.