Pravin vs Zuma: Individualism vs Communalism

2016-09-01 17:04

Trying to make sense of politics in South Africa is like searching for a pattern in chaos.

One way to try to make sense of the feud between Pravin and Zuma can be found circulating in the everyday talk within South Africa’s contradictory national culture.

I refer primarily to the broader national cultural struggle between individualism and communalism.

I suspect the reason why Zuma still survives, and this ailing democracy is under even greater threat, is because South Africans are generally not individualistic and selfish enough.

The dominance of communalism is rooted in our history, from tribal communities, colonial communities, and apartheid communities to the current party-based political consumer communities and their mixtures of historical fragments.

Zuma’s survival points to the excessive dominance of fragmented community values. Ironically a fragmented and groupish national culture is easily manipulated by the individualistic and selfish despot. Divide! Conquer! Plunder!

On the other hand, Pravin articulates a relatively muted discourse – a discourse of individualism and nation building, a discourse of openness, autonomy, freedom of expression, a discourse of democracy – a discourse that, while superficially valued and admired, is but all too unfamiliar to the typical communal South African.

The heroic democrat working too much in isolation, it seems, and trying to take destiny into their hands, for the sake of the nation, will just not work in our all too communal national culture.

So, strange and contradictory as it may sound, South Africans today are generally not individualistic and selfish enough to support the democrat.

But as a divided nation, we are groupish enough to remain apathetic to the actions of the despot.

The democrat is likely to lose for this reason. We don’t have the individualistic sense to rally around their corner.

Never mind sense.

We don’t have the individuals.

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