‘Black Radical Scholar’ Exemplifies the Racist Legacy of Steve Biko
Libertarian and Free Market Foundation Board Member Phumlani Majozi wrote an article titled “South Africa’s Obsession with Race will Impede its Progress” on 20 December on News24 Voices. Logical and well reasoned, Phumlani asked simply why South Africans with common interests cannot unite around such a common goal, i.e. removing Jacob Zuma from the presidency? According to critics of the #ZumaMustFall campaign, the initiative is racist and serves only the interests of white capitalists. Phumlani rightfully cannot see the logic in this assertion. Being an economics graduate himself, he understands that a weak economy and a weak currency inevitably would cause all South Africans to suffer in some way or another, especially with Zuma continuing on in office as if all’s well. Having seen what the ideas of Karl Marx (and their ideological legacy) have done throughout history, i.e. causing nothing less than ultimate death and destruction, Phumlani points to Zimbabwe and the ideology of Julius Malema as something we as South Africans should be wary of, otherwise risk an end to our own prosperity.
But then Biko was resurrected. The man whose ideas should have died while he still lived was invoked in a piece written by someone calling himself ‘Comrade Bae’. The response, quite intellectually titled “The Stupidity and Naivety of Phumlani Michael Majozi: A Critical Response“, was certainly not ‘critical’ in any meaningful way. As we have seen, the ‘critical’ used here is the same ‘critical’ that appears within the cultural descendants of Marxist theory: Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, Critical Legal Studies. The list continues, with the word ‘critical’ appearing repeatedly. However, do not be fooled by Bae’s or his ideology’s grand sophistry, for apparently anyone who thinks they have identified a hidden and malicious ‘structure’ embedded in the societal fabric, believes they are ‘critical scholars’. Indeed, I know many of those people, some of whom are very good friends of mine. I am friends with these ‘blackists’ because unlike Bae and many like him, I do not move around in ideological echo-chambers. However, I should not digress.
Bae starts his response with a very condescending introduction where his nameless and contextless girlfriend informs him about the article in a sarcastic tone. Perplexed as to why she would sound sarcastic when dealing with a piece of intellectual material, Bae investigates and finds Phumlani’s article. Finally done with the condescending and valueless introduction Bae moves to show his own racist prejudices and perfectly illustrate why Steve Biko and his ideas are racist themselves.
Phumlani is not black, Bae asserts, but he is a ‘non-white’. Biko drew this distinction in his oft-quoted introduction to ‘Black Consciousness’ (bear Karl Marx’s theory in mind here, where he saw the creation of a ‘class consciousness’ among the poor as imperative to the realization of a violent proletarian revolution) wherein he explains that ‘being black’ is not about the color of one’s skin, but “a reflection of a mental attitude.” People who appear black but seek to operate and live their lives within ‘white systems’ are not ‘black’, but are ‘non-white’. “Real blacks”, as Biko describes them, “are those who can manage to hold their heads high in defiance rather than willingly surrender their souls to the white man.”
It would be amiss to not include Biko’s characterization of (classical) liberals here as well, for Bae also rants about Phumlani being a ‘black liberal’. Biko believed that “white liberals always knew what was good for the blacks”, completely misunderstanding the nature of philosophy and ideology. Liberalism is an individualist philosophy with various tenets and principles which apply universally, according to the doctrine of self-ownership formulated by both John Locke and John Stuart Mill. Nothing within the liberal philosophy prescribes anything for black or white persons in particular. Indeed, the liberals who campaigned against Apartheid wanted to establish a liberal democratic society for all, founded on the ideas of freedom, individualism, and market-based solutions.
Biko believed that it was arrogant of liberals to insist that South Africa’s problems could be solved by bringing both blacks and whites to the table. In this he criticized the idea of nonracialism, because he, like Marx, believed that everything within society was already racialized (Marx would have said everything within society was already complicit in the exploitative capitalist system). Apparently the idea of ‘clever blacks’ was also established here by Biko where he says white liberals invited only a select few “intelligent and articulate blacks” to join their intellectual circles.
When Biko declares liberals as only opposing Apartheid because it is “an eye sore spoiling an otherwise beautiful view” he throws it in the reader’s face that he has not for one moment in his life understood liberalism. He wanted liberals to conform to his revolutionary program of dropping out of university, stop using public facilities and start doing low-paying jobs, otherwise he considered them to be complicit in the ‘structure’ of white supremacy.
Biko also uses the phrase ‘white values’ (which he almost universally considered liberal values) continuously without expounding as to what these values are. Is ‘freedom’ truly, a white value? Did Biko believe that every black person, by virtue of the circumstances of his birth, must submit himself to the whim of the community, and by logical extension, the leader of the community a la uBuntu?
With this contextualization I continue with Comrade Bae’s drivel.
Bae apparently cannot bring himself to understand why people like Phumlani “think in such a manner”, going on to declare that those views are not the views of Biko’s ‘blacks’ but of non-whites. Apparently Phumlani confuses liberal values with “for thinking”. But Bae immediately shows his intellectual shortsightedness (confusing it “for thinking”). He believes that the negative reaction of the markets after the axing of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene did not affect black people in “any meaningful way”.
We all know what comes next for these ‘critical thinkers’ always follow the same pattern. Bae says that we shouldn’t care about markets or the economy for as long as the ‘structure’ of the economy is illegitimate. Because (according to Bae) 97% of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are ‘white’, the market’s reaction with the rand falling couldn’t possibly have led to blacks suffering. Blacks “go back to their miserable existence in the townships and shacks” anyway, whether the economy is booming or weak.
This highlights Bae’s fundamental misunderstanding of economics. Over 4 million black people did not make it into the middle class because of a weak economy. A healthy economy facilitates the great escape from poverty so many South Africans, most of them black, needs. But Bae is being a typical collectivist here, regarding black persons not as individuals but according to Marxist and Bikoist theory as a class collective. It is of no concern to him that black individuals, himself and Phumlani included, have crawled out of poverty and are set to do great things in life. No, if ‘the majority’ of black people are poor (a fact which cannot be known given, the continuously changing definition of what it means to be ‘poor’ by leftist relativists), then all black people are poor. I like to refer to this as uBuntuist bullshit. No, you are not because others are. You are because you are. This is logic. The individual exists factually and permanently, and the group exists only by circumstance and temporarily at best.
So apparently “black people have no business worrying about” the weak economy because “the racist, violent, and exploitative capitalist system” in South Africa places black people at the foot of the table where white capitalists and complicit “black compradors” sit. Bae goes on to insult the black middle class (because obviously all blacks must be poor otherwise the Marxist-Bikoist narrative falls flat) by referring to them as ‘non-whites’ who have a vested interest in the white economic system. This fool needs a mirror. Comrade Bae is quite obviously a member of the black middle class. In no reality will I consider someone with their own blog, a developed vocabulary (and therefore a solid educational history) and internet access to be ‘poor’.
I will not address the economic misunderstanding embedded in his accusation of an “exploitative capitalist system”. Indeed, anything thinking, rational person understands that the more ‘exploitation’ that takes place in the market economy, the better off everyone is. But I will leave this explanation to my more qualified colleagues, like Phumlani Majozi.
But I must rant a bit about his use of the word ‘violent’. I have been planning an article about how the leftist Critical Theory movement (of which Biko and Frantz Fanon were obviously members) has devalued a multitude of words and terms which desperately need to regain such value. ‘Rape’, ‘poor’, ‘racist’, and ‘violent’ are but four crucial words in the English language which have been appropriated and completely devalued by the likes of Bae. Indeed, for something to be ‘violent’ for him, it need not actually be violent at all! Such powerful magic! No, ‘violence’ in this sense amounts to anything the illegitimate ‘structure’ does which ostensibly is against the class interests of the victim group (whoever this may be in any convenient circumstance).
I agree with Comrade Bae about the following: “This thing of trying to reduce this country’s problems to one man can no longer work.” Of course! As I have been saying since the start of #ZumaMustFall, Jacob Zuma is not and has never been the source or the major cause of South Africa’s problems. As we know, collectivism, statism, and socialism take the grand prizes for South Africa’s dismal state of affairs. Bae would say that it is ‘white monopoly capitalism’ or ‘Western ideological imperialism’ but these two phrases have no meaning. Capitalism cannot lead to monopolies (monopolies are created by the State, not the market) and ‘ideological imperialism’ is sophistry. Convincing other people that your idea is superior to theirs is not malicious or hurtful. It’s natural and certainly not limited to the West. Your own opinion is never exempt from criticism. Bae continues to say that if Zuma is replaced nothing will change. I agree. We will continue down the road to socialist serfdom unless South Africans (white and black) wake up to realize the effectiveness and moral superiority of free market capitalism.
With his skewed view of Apartheid and his fundamental misunderstanding of economics Bae says that capitalism has “firmly entrenched the South African economy in the hands of white people at the expense of the majority poor black people”. This idea has been refuted time and time again, not at the least by myself. Apartheid was a statist, selective socialist system where the State played a dominating role in the economy, determining what individuals may and may not do, and weighed it in favor of whites (in relative terms). To mistake this for a free market is indicative of how Bae’s mind has been completely destroyed by the Critical Theory movement.
As Phumlani correctly warned against the increasing leftward movement of the economy, stating that Marxist policies would have impoverished the country, Bae falls into the very same fallacy so many within his movement do. Every instance in history where Marxist theory has been attempted to be translated into practice (yes, Bae, including and especially Zimbabwe – no amount of your sophistry will change this fact) has led to an authoritarian regime and countless dead in the mud. Bae makes no attempt to state why Marxism is the solution (indeed, this appears to be his first post on his blog) and does nothing but throw emotive words like ‘neo-liberal’ and ‘exploitative’ out in order to debunk capitalism. He is making no argument whatsoever. But he is right to say that warning against Marxism is a tactic used by liberals globally to scare people from veering leftward. I hope more liberals and libertarians take up this tactic, because it could potentially save millions of lives.
Bae concludes his attempted rebuttal by making a very interesting assertion: neither Nelson Mandela nor the African National Congress has ever been Marxist. The ridiculousness of this statement astounds me, and when I read his piece for the second time, it completely convinced me that Comrade Bae has no understanding of the key concepts he attempts to explore. You, Comrade Bae, are the ‘left-wing hardliner’ Phumlani warns against. You are the most dangerous kind of socialist because you believe fundamentally in an ideology which you do not understand.
In his final paragraph he shows his racist tendencies by calling Phumlani an Uncle Tom, and accusing him of wanting to “assimilate into whiteness”. This smacks of Steve Biko’s racist bullshit. Bae believes he defeats Phumlani’s argument because Phumlani and his “white masters” opposed the nonsensical #FeesMustFall fiasco a few months ago. Phumlani made no attempt to hide this. Being a graduate in economics, Phumlani and many other rational thinkers understand that nothing in life is free, and duly opposed the fantasy-esque demands made by masses of ignorant black and white students.
I have no doubt that I am a ‘white liberal’ as Biko would describe it. I have no doubt that I subscribe to ‘white values’ as Biko would describe it. I believe the same is true for many black South Africans. But they need not worry, for Steve Biko was an idiot. Nowhere in South African history has one man done so much damage to race relations. Hendrik Verwoerd and D.F. Malan would have attended Bikoist lectures in order to take notes and learn from this one-man wrecking ball. There is no such thing as a ‘white liberal’ for liberal values do not make distinctions based on race. Liberalism is absolutely individualist, a concept similarly misunderstood and misconstrued by the likes of Bae. A value can also not have a racial connotation unless it is explicitly nationalist. But apparently Bae and Biko believe economic freedom is a white value – i.e. the ability to engage in trade voluntarily and without coercion is somehow reserved for whites. For Bae and Biko, black people must submit themselves to the whims of the community leader because he knows best. And if he doesn’t know best, then the abstract and nonexistent ‘majority’ knows best. So inconsistent and nonsensical is their philosophy. Freedom is for whites! What a bloody idiot you are, Comrade Bae.
So comrade please keep to yourself. You belong in the ‘black Twitter’ universe with your fellow Bikoists (a substantial amount of whom are lily white). 140 characters is all you need for your nonsense drivel, so intellectually simplistic in nature as it is. Libertarians, be they white or black, have woken up to the actual source of oppression in South Africa – the real ‘structure’ which kills dissent and eventually kills people. That structure is the State. It was the State which created slavery. It was the State which colonized Africa. It was the State which created Apartheid. It was the State which killed miners at Marikana. But it was a capitalist who put the computer you used to write this nonsense in your hands. It was a capitalist who gave you the hashtag. It was capitalism and liberalism which empowered you to go on the internet and write this maliciously racist nonsense.
You have no moral authority to tell Phumlani to ‘voetsek’ and keep silent. You are the inconsistent idiot here.