Articles – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com The Logical Alternative Mon, 24 Apr 2017 09:51:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 https://i2.wp.com/rationalstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/cropped-RS-Logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Articles – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 Hurrah – the party of genocide! Hurrah – the party of misery! https://rationalstandard.com/hurrah-party-genocide-hurrah-party-misery/ https://rationalstandard.com/hurrah-party-genocide-hurrah-party-misery/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:00:10 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5242 ‘Stop that nonsense with me’ – Lady Astor to von Rippentrop, German ambassador to the court of St. James, giving her the ‘Nazi’ salute In the Sunday Times issue dated 26 February, […]

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Stop that nonsense with me’

– Lady Astor to von Rippentrop, German ambassador to the court of St. James, giving her the ‘Nazi’ salute

In the Sunday Times issue dated 26 February, we were spoiled with an article from the pen of our dear and beloved ‘uber-comrade’ Blade Nzimande, who lectured us about a young South African communist revolutionary (deceased since 1991) whose work he maintains is still able to teach us capitalist-minded dwarfs  much – no, muchissimo – of wisdom.

Internet rumour has it that this gentleman, the honourable Minister of Higher Education and Training “on Monday afternoon launched South Africa’s first school of schools of witchcraft and wizardry. The school which is located in Durban KwaZulu Natal, has opened its doors as of today.” (National news bulletin, 12 March 2017).

It may be a long way to Tipperary but obviously it is a short way from Marx to Muti.

Comrade Blade introduces us this intellectual giant as a “prophet of true radical economic transformation”.

Prophet? Did I read prophet? Well, from time to time I receive leaflets introducing a certain kind of prophets and doctors and professors to me who are all able to look through water and mirror, bring back lost lovers, help with small manhood, and bring back lost money. I am not quite sure which kind of ‘prophet’ Comrade Blade has now in mind taking into regard his taste for ‘alternative science’.

Let us assume that he used or tried to use this term in the classic meaning. Even then he got it wrong. Contrary to popular belief and widespread misunderstanding – of which a Minister of Higher Education should be aloof – a ‘prophet’ is not one who tells the future but as we know from the Good Book is commanded by God to tell the people uncomfortable truths and asks them to change their habits and repent. For example, a ‘prophet’ in the field of economics should tell us  that all forms of Socialism do not work; that scientific and any kind of dogmatic socialism or communism has only brought misery, destruction, hunger, mass murder, tyranny and genocide to all people and nations who had the dubious luck to be under the magic spell of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin-Mao-whoever muti.

Let us return to the introduction of Mr “Mzala” – nickname not explained – given to us by comrade Blade.

“..neither a celebrity thinker nor a self-aggrandizing personality”. What the hell did he then do among the bolshie bunch?

“He died young” – my condolences anyway; I do not like to make fun of him but of others – “…just as his intellectual activity was starting to flourish and reach maturity”. If so I am sure he would have quit scientific and dogmatic socialism within a very short time.

Comrade Blade informs us about all the schools Mr “Mzala” attended and that he was then able to study law at the University of Zululand. That is interesting. On the one side they tell us how bad “Bantu-Education” was and on the other side their heroes go to good schools, excel there and then are allowed to enter universities. Something is wrong about those stories…

I rather guess that the narrowness and stupidity in some fields of the past system bred rebels and made critical and industrious minds revolting.

The ‘trick’ Comrade Blade and a lot of radical lefties display now is that only communism was the true alternative to Apartheid. This is a very simple hedge attorney trick and bluff, played on us since many decades ago; it is therefore one that was and is very successful.

No, we have to say it loud and clear: Apartheid is and was and can be criticised and analysed effectively from a Conservative, a Libertarian, a Christian Democratic, a Liberal, a free market, or an anarchist point of view. Nobody needs advocates of a sterile dogmatic commando system of social engineering to overcome  another system of social engineering.*

So an intelligent, maybe idealistic young man who should have found a place in a productive system naturally possessing some tolerance – otherwise it would not be productive one – was deeply annoyed by the atmosphere of the sixties and seventies and turned bolshie. That is an argument against that system but not a valid one in favour of communism.

“… Mzala left South Africa … From the time he went into exile he read voraciously the works of Marx and Lenin, as well as the literature of the ANC and the SACP…” (emphasis mine)

The miracle word is ‘voracioulsy’. That is a wonderful description of the attitude, the power politics, the habit and strategy of scientific and dogmatic socialism and communism. Voraciously, Lenin took power in a ‘putsch’ against a liberal-social democratic government; voraciously, he overran Russia, mercilessly destroying every opposition, including left opposition; voraciously, the sailors of Kroonstad were massacred in 1922; voraciously, the Tscheka murdered middle class and aristocrats; voraciously, Stalin murdered six millions of Ukrainian peasants; voraciously, Stalin murdered hundreds of thousands of party comrades civil servants, officers in his big purges; voraciously, communist tyrannies had been established in Eastern Europe after 1945; voraciously, the Hungarian revolution was put down 1956; voraciously, the “Prague Springtime” was suppressed; voraciously, revolts by Polish workers in 1956, 1972 and 1980 had been suppressed; voraciously, Mao Tse-Tung took power in China; voraciously, dozens of millions of Chinese had been murdered; voraciously, in the “big leap forward”, destruction and misery were created; voraciously, the cultural revolution destroyed wide realms and artefacts of culture, of schools, of universities, and murdered hundreds of thousands.

Voraciously, voraciously , voraciously… also in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia , Cuba, Venezuela, Ethiopia, by the 68-ers in Western Europe and the U.S. and so on. The voracious atrocities of scientific and dogmatic socialism and communism fill books – for example, the “Black book of communism” – and compared with the endless lessons about fascism we receive, it is still quite concise.

“In the Soviet Union, Mzala received training … would make time to read books on a wide variety of topics … deployed to …  he was sent to advanced ideological and political training to the German Democratic Republic…” So he received classic communist indoctrination – I wonder how ‘wide’ the ‘variety’ of topics was he was allowed to study was – Maybe hundreds of boring speeches by the party grandees or something similar but certainly not a universitas of information and knowledge from all kinds of ideological backgrounds. So he was on his best way to become an apparatchik and politruk. Sorry to say, I am not impressed…

“Mzala had a reputation as an independent thinker unafraid to differ sharply with leaders … while always remaining fiercely loyal to the ANC and the SACP.” How does that go? Is there any example in the history of communism in power that a real independent mind was tolerated within the organisation? What happened to Milovan Diljas, Heinz Neumann, Margarete Buber-Neumann, Wolfgang Leonhard, Ernst Fischer – to name just a few? In the very moment one really became independent minded and un-dogmatic he was spit out of the party and destroyed, at least in reputation (if not physically)!

“He also wrote … on the relationship between the national and class struggle in South Africa.” So he entered the field of combining nationalism and socialism – that George Sorel and Benito Mussolini did many decades ago already. A dangerous mine field we enter now. So be it!

“In 1977 Mzala was working on a simplified book on Marxism-Leninism in Zulu”.  So the Zulus can only stomach and digest simplified books? Blatant racism that is!

“…it was he who recruited me to the SACP.” Sorry dead comrade, all forgiven but not this! Not this! That after many years of studies and training in the various provinces of the empire of evil he did not discover this roving rural rustic may not be forgiven. Didn’t they have standards ? “Hate speech”, according to the new, proposed bill, my attorney whispers in my ears. I apologize…

“…medical treatment in London…” Not in Leningrad or Kiev or Moscow? The comrades did not trust their own medical system and doctors. Fighting against Capitalism but in doubt seeking medical treatment in private hospitals in capitalist countries. Sometimes these guys are funny…

The radical economic transformation Comrade Blade demands is just an old smelling fish, a recipe that ruined a lot of nations and states, including Venezuela.

“…basic wealth and the basic resources are at the disposal of the people as a whole” means if we look at the history of communist commando systems at the disposal of  the party apparatchiks. “… and are not manipulated by sections or individuals be they White or black.” That clearly means that free markets, independent actors and transactions in the markets are ruled out. What the bolshies call “manipulations” are just normal, free actions of free participants in a free economy. That they will never understand. That the price a bakery charges for a bread and a buyer willing to pay are not results of evil manipulations but of considerations by millions market participants within the system of spontaneous order as described by Friedrich August von Hayek. That independent minds are able to act responsibly and freely will never be understood by materialistic and historicist minds. This should be Bad luck for them, but unfortunately since 1917 it was bad luck for a multitude of nations and peoples.

A radical economic transformation in South Africa can only mean a drastic reduction of taxes (2-10 percent income tax, 10 percent corporate tax and 5 percent VAT and that is it – not one cent more!), a drastic reduction of state activities, selling all SOE to private enterprises, reducing red tape and all kind of mindful but impractical legislation and completely leaving health services and education within a general legal frame work to private activities on free markets and closing down 80 percent of the bureaucracy and the state departments. Why 80 percent? According to Wilfredo Pareto, dead wood always amounts to around 80 percent.

And now I may tell you, dear readers, that I have enough of bolshies ‘innocently’ telling their stories and advertising their ideology. Their ideology and parties mean tyranny, genocide and misery. I am fed up that all the scientific and dogmatic socialist and communists got away with all their crimes. The history of these systems is a trail of moral and material destruction and devastation. We cannot hang the red tyrants any more, as the allies did with Nazi leaders in Nuremberg (in the meantime they all died more or less peacefully in bed). But we can still hang them in effigy and despise them and their ideology, power and command system and tell all their remaining functionaries, fellow travelers, and intellectual miscreants who constantly play down the horrible effects of communism and assorted academic nitwits: Your time is over. Stop that nonsense with us!

*To make it clear: Apartheid was by far not as worse as anything that scientific or dogmatic socialism and communism produced but nevertheless a waste of time, energy, human possibilities and resources.

Dr Harald Sitta is a Contributor at the Rational Standard. He is an Austrian attorney emeritus and business owner who immigrated to South Africa in 2007. He obtained his postgraduate law degrees at the University of Vienna.

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ANC ‘rebels’ without ‘claws’ https://rationalstandard.com/anc-rebels-without-claws/ https://rationalstandard.com/anc-rebels-without-claws/#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 07:00:32 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5303 An article describing recent hijinks within the African National Congress (ANC) as a “rebellion” is fatuous, to say the least. The article is surprisingly naïve, given that its author is […]

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(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

An article describing recent hijinks within the African National Congress (ANC) as a “rebellion” is fatuous, to say the least.

The article is surprisingly naïve, given that its author is a highly-knowledgeable political scientist and a long-serving, savvy member of the ANC. This is obvious from the first sentence which focuses only on the last nine “tumultuous” months of the Zuma administration. Jacob Zuma’s rapacious and corrupt skulduggery can be traced back on a scale of decades. Moreover, Zuma was not “swept into power” as President of the ANC by overwhelming support from rank and file members of COSATU and the South African Communist Party (SACP) – it was through a political conspiracy instigated and implemented by an oligarchy within an already-corrupt Tripartite Alliance. The members of a corrupt cabal decided that they could get more from Zuma’s kleptocratic trough, than they were getting from Mbeki’s. Mbeki’s attempt to cling to the ANC presidency was a last-gasp effort of a once highly-respected leader who had apparently lost interest in the poorest of the poor and may have become unwilling or unable to satisfy the greed of incompetent kleptocrats, while he hopelessly pursued Pan-Africanism and black nationalism.

Make no mistake about it, Mbeki’s criminal failure in dealing with the threats of HIV/AIDS and his disproportionate interest in Pan-African matters (including propping up the genocidal dictatorial leader of Zimbabwe) more than warranted his removal both as leader of the ANC and the country. But, the reality was that Mbeki’s political assassination was nothing more than two ruthless politicians interested in personal ideology (Mbeki) and sheer greed (Zuma) fighting to the ‘death’. It had nothing to do with “disciplined members” of a reputable party seeking to help the oppressed masses to become self-respecting and self-sufficient members of a non-racial society. In a matter of months, Mbeki was removed from the pinnacle of political power in Africa and effectively became an historical footnote.

The author’s description of the process that transpired using ‘praiseworthy’ words such as “outvote, outflank, and outmanoeuvre”, is disingenuous at best.

To suggest that Zuma could stay on as President of South Africa after 2019 is simply poor scholarship, since the South African Constitution limits an individual to two full terms. Zuma may have delusions of grandeur, but he is not so arrogant to believe that he can amend the Constitution.

Suggesting that the SACP’s motives for removing Zuma are justified by his involvement in state capture is also disingenuous. The Communist mini-oligarchy in this case is acting because it has correctly discovered that it has ceased being the puppeteer of the Tripartite Alliance. It is fighting a rear-guard action to find a new marionette who is ideologically similar to Mbeki.

The author cites a list of ‘powerful’ individuals (Ramaphosa, Mantashe, Mkhize and important foundations) and some of the paleo-ANC members who retain dignity, honesty and respect as a ”groundswell of opposition” within the ANC. The most senior of these ‘overwhelmers’ is a BEE billionaire tainted by his undisputed association with the Marikana massacre. Regardless, this “rebellion” was vaporized in a matter of days by Zuma and fellow kleptocrats, described as “loyalists” by the author. The author then goes on to characterize the retention of ‘efficiently corrupt’, incompetent, parasitic ministers by implying that this is the norm “elsewhere in the world”. Yes, there are such individuals. But there are also stellar examples of senior leaders (Thatcher, Nixon, Agnew and almost Clinton) who have been removed for much less egregious behaviour.

The author then ‘recalls’ the Mbeki recall, writing that Zuma “supporters” are “sit[ting] on the fence”. Why not call a geotome a shovel and replace “supporters” with kleptocratic sycophants and “sitting on fences” with poised between troughs of public funds?

Staying true to form, the author closes with: “Opponents who wish to remove him will have to organise a coalition”. Once again, please cease fannying about. What may (but probably will not) happen is simply one corrupt cabal will instigate yet another conspiracy to replace the existing one which controls an even more profoundly corrupt and uncaring oligarchy who control a once highly-respected political party that abandoned the marginalized oppressed masses more than a decade ago.

These largely very young and very old victims will have to emulate the desolate masses during the US Great Depression and sing: “The rich get rich and the poor get children.  In the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun”.

The even greater tragedy for South Africa is that the parties in opposition offer little in the way of improved, honest, principled and effective leadership.

Professor Tim Crowe is a descendant of oppressed Irish freedom-fighters from the United States working class. He is a first generation university graduate, non-settler immigrant alumnus, Elected Fellow and emeritus (40 years’ service) professor at the University of Cape Town. He is a Ph.D.-educated expert on evolutionary biology (covering everything from ‘race’ to deeply rooted evolutionary trees) and conservation biology (especially regarding sustainable and economically viable use of wildlife). He has published nearly 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers/books and is regarded as the world’s leading authority on game birds (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowls, etc.). About 70 of his graduated students have published their research and established themselves in their own right, including four professors.

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Release the Lion https://rationalstandard.com/release-the-lion/ https://rationalstandard.com/release-the-lion/#comments Fri, 14 Apr 2017 09:41:16 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5270 We don’t have to be stuck between two mythical deities known as white monopoly capital and state capture, both are an attempt to frame all our problems around one single […]

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We don’t have to be stuck between two mythical deities known as white monopoly capital and state capture, both are an attempt to frame all our problems around one single problem – with government the solution in both cases. This is plainly not a true assessment of the situation we find ourselves in. Yes, we had colonialism and apartheid which caused serious problems in this country; both of those severely curtailed the potential of black people. That does not mean that those who fought this system had all the right answers. We’re human, and we make mistakes, but you need to have a sustained process of rational engagement with the ideas you are generating to fix your problems. Look at history to see what works and what doesn’t.

The ANC played the biggest part in uniting this country after 1994 as well as solving some of the most pressing economic problems with apartheid. Mbeki and Manuel’s Gear policy did help create the black middle class, through liberalising our economy and allowing people to trade more freely with each other (they could have gone even further: the economy was still hamstrung by labour laws, exchange controls, sectoral minimum wages, and our unaffordable welfare system).

Then we allowed the populists to take over – and they believe in solving problems through spending and raising taxes (Gordhan is part of this populist crowd). Yes, firing him so suddenly was bad for the economy but only because it signals a shift further towards increasing deficits, higher taxes and inflation. Never let something as stupid as race distract you from paying attention to the economy!

Equally, corruption is really bad for good fiscal management, but the bigger the government role in the economy, the higher the dividend for trying to corrupt state officials – people like Brett Kebble, the Broederbond and, our good friends, the Guptas.

The real big idea we haven’t explored is whether it is better to shrink the state to its bare minimum, providing a judiciary and police, with both functions localised to the municipal level, national defence, and prosecutorial services also established at the municipal level. The national government would only take voluntary contributions from the municipalities to fund an agreed-upon level of defence and capacitating the foreign affairs service. There would be absolutely no role for government in business – someone from the townships can think of an idea and just start running with it because the idea is a good one and everyone who wants to make money will invest in that idea and make money.

Economics is not a zero-sum game – a lot of economic transactions are about someone conceptualising something new and trying to sell that thing for as close to the conceptualised value as possible. He engages in negotiation with his neighbours trying to prove the thing’s value, so both parties win if both are right, i.e. that the thing really has the value they agreed on.

It is time to release the African lion into the world. Markets are ripe for conquering by people who have our survival skills. Let’s not be pussies. Let’s seize the moment and define ourselves instead of always seeking validation from someone else.

I challenge you: build something that makes the world around you better. Let’s throw away the shackles of government and make money together. It’s not a finite pie – imagination is the limit.

Author: Mpiyakhe Dhlamini is an important person to his two friends on facebook. He is also a web developer who has recently developed an unhealthy obsession with angular, a frontend web framework.

Non-permanent writers and guests can submit their articles to us and we’ll publish them. If a writer proves their writing skill, they may be invited to come on as a permanent writer.

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Domestic rhino horn trade is good news for rhinos https://rationalstandard.com/domestic-rhino-horn-trade-good-news-rhinos/ https://rationalstandard.com/domestic-rhino-horn-trade-good-news-rhinos/#comments Wed, 12 Apr 2017 07:15:23 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5237 The Constitutional Court’s ruling allowing for the legal domestic trade of rhino horn can only be a good thing for game farmers, conservationists, and anyone else who wants to see […]

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The Constitutional Court’s ruling allowing for the legal domestic trade of rhino horn can only be a good thing for game farmers, conservationists, and anyone else who wants to see the rhinoceros thriving.

To many, it might seem counterintuitive, but the basic economic and social consequences of the criminalisation of the rhino horn trade have made the conservation of rhinos far more difficult than is necessary.

SEE ALSO: Saving the rhino – free market style by Nicholas Babaya

South Africa currently holds the overwhelming majority of the world’s rhino population with two of five extant species being native to South Africa, namely the black rhino and the white rhino. While the historical range of these species extended all throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, a history of war, strife, poverty and government mismanagement has led their numbers to dwindle. South Africa has a country with relative peace and high regard for its wildlife, and so it’s no surprise that we have the vast majority of the world’s rhinoceros population.

The value of rhino horn by weight currently exceeds that of gold and, as a result, the lengths to which poachers are willing to go have become extreme and dangerous. This has had the effect of creating a security risk for farmers who have rhinos on their farms. Rhino poachers are serious criminals and so many game farmers simply decide not to keep rhinos due to the security risk they pose to them, their families and their staff.

By legalising the trade of rhino horn, the security risk will be lowered, and so it will become more attractive for game farmers to breed rhinos on their farms. This will be a huge help in boosting their population and making sure that there is a good degree of genetic diversity. Historically, many species which have been brought back from being critically endangered have faced the problem of what is the ‘the genetic bottleneck’ in which excessive inbreeding becomes necessary because of small populations. This tends to bring out recessive genes which give rhinos traits which might adversely affect their survival in the wild. A notable example of this would be with American bison, which were almost killed off in the 1800s and had to be bred back to a healthy population often by cross-breeding with cows (something which is normally considered unethical by conservationists). Even today, most American bison have a small percentage of cattle DNA as a result of the genetic bottleneck.

The other benefit to conservation from rhino horn trade is that if game farmers were able to sell rhino horn, they would be earning money which would then be put back into their business, i.e. conservation. The rhinos would effectively ‘pay for themselves’ in this way. It’s also much better for farmers to dehorn rhinos, as they could do it safely and in a way which does not harm the animal. By contrast, poachers often use gruesome methods, often using a chainsaw to cut horns off and leaving the animal to bleed to death.

Overall, liberalising trade in rhino horns will ultimately be the factor which save rhinos from extinction. South African conservationists need the help of lawmakers to amend statues regulating agriculture so that the business of conserving endangered species ceases to be based on moral prohibition and starts to be business-oriented in which the preservation of the conservation of a species can benefit those who put in the effort to preserve those species.

Nicholas is a Senior Staff Writer at the Rational Standard. He is a Local Coordinator for Students For Liberty as well as an organiser of SAFREECON 2017. He takes great interest in the philosophy underlying classical liberal values as well as the Austrian school of economics. He is currently a student at Rhodes University studying towards a BA in Chinese and German.

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A Tale of Two Downgrades https://rationalstandard.com/tale-two-downgrades/ https://rationalstandard.com/tale-two-downgrades/#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 06:00:07 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5259 The last couple of weeks have been politically tumultuous in South Africa, following the firing of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, and the subsequent credit rating downgrades on South African […]

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Bull and bearThe last couple of weeks have been politically tumultuous in South Africa, following the firing of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, and the subsequent credit rating downgrades on South African government debt.

What is ‘junk status’, and why does it matter?

For those completely unfamiliar with government borrowing and bonds, it is important to first clear up some basics.

As most are now aware, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch recently downgraded their credit ratings on South African government bonds – some of which are now rated below investment grade (i.e. they are rated as ‘junk’). S&P, which was the first to downgrade our bonds, has rated South Africa’s long-term foreign currency-denominated bonds as being below investment grade, while Fitch has applied the same rating to both our long-term foreign- and local-currency bonds.

In effect, this means that these ratings agencies view the South African government as being riskier from a credit perspective, particularly for long-term lending. To some extent, this means that the South African government will begin to pay more as it borrows money in future. As I wrote following ‘Nenegate’:

If the drop in investor confidence persists … the government is going to be paying more to borrow money in order to finance its budget deficits. This in turn means that more of the national budget will go towards debt payments, and less towards actual ‘services’. In order to maintain planned levels of expenditure, the government will either have to borrow more, or raise the taxes on our already-minute tax base.

Why was SA downgraded?

The statements put out by both S&P and Fitch justifying their ratings downgrades point largely to the same three issues at play in South Africa.

Firstly, both point to our political situation and the effect it has on government financing. In particular, S&P has voiced concern over “policy continuity” being put “at risk”, while Fitch states that “recent political events … will weaken standards of governance and public finances.” Fitch was quite explicit about the cause of their concern, going on to say that:

… Fitch believes that following the government reshuffle, fiscal consolidation will be less of a priority given the president’s focus on “radical socioeconomic transformation”.

The second major issue is that of “contingent liabilities”. Essentially, this refers to the financial guarantees that the government has made or likely will make in relation to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and their liabilities. A major concern is the explicit guarantee pertaining to Eskom, but there are implicit or assumed guarantees that pertain to the liabilities other SOEs, which, according to Fitch, range in the hundreds of billions of rands. This says nothing, still, about the problem of municipal debt and whether or not the national government will eventually have to provide cover for that as well.

The third of these crucial issues is South Africa’s weak economic prospects. Quite simply, if the country performs poorly economically, this may lead to less tax and other revenue being collected by the government, which in turn makes it more difficult to service debt. As S&P pointed out in their statement:

An additional risk is that businesses may now choose to withhold investment decisions that would otherwise have supported economic growth.

More fallout to come?

One of the fist concerns to be brought up has been inflation. The rand weakened considerably over the last week or so; going forward, if that weakening persists, this may lead to food and fuel price increases over time.

Another concern has been potential increases in interest rates, although where this has been discussed, the reasons for possible increases have generally been articulated poorly.

There are two possible factors that could lead to the repo rate being increased. The first would be an increase in consumer price inflation (CPI). CPI has been around or above 6% for over a year now. Keeping in mind that one of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) mandates is to try to keep CPI within the 3-6% range, a repo rate hike in response to increased inflation is quite possible.

The other possible factor is instability in the financial sector as a result of the downgrades. Again, achieving this stability forms part of the SARB’s mandate. If we see drastic rand weakening or bond sell-offs, the SARB may raise rates as a result.

If either of these factors triggers a repo rate increase, prime interest rates will naturally increase as well. Anyone with floating interest rate exposure – in other words, most people with home loans, vehicle finance, credit cards, and other forms of debt – will face higher interest rates, and thus higher interest payments, as a result.

At the macro level, questions have been raised about whether bond investors will continue to lend money to the South African government. This is more of an ambiguous problem.

Even though some of South Africa’s bonds have attained ‘junk status’, there are still investors here and abroad whose investment mandates and risk appetites will allow or now encourage them to buy South African government debt. This is not to say that other investors won’t be pulling out of South African bonds, though; there are others who simply won’t be able to hold onto or purchase more government bonds, precisely because of their investment mandates.

Furthermore, South African government bonds have been removed from some global government bond indices, which forces certain investors to sell those bonds. If Moody’s – the only major rating agency yet to respond to recent political events – drops long-term bonds below investment-grade level, then even more indices (such as the World Government Bond Index) and investors would have to follow suit.

History repeating itself?

In December 2015, ‘Nenegate’ took most people by surprise, and the market responses – in both the foreign exchange and bond markets – showed it. With recent events, things seem to be different.

The bond market’s reaction this time around has so far been nowhere near what happened after Nene was dismissed from his position as finance minister. It’s quite possible that bond markets have been pricing-in the underlying reality of the government’s fiscal position for a while now. In addition, the removal of a finance minister is not exactly unfamiliar territory.

Overall, the two downgrades are a bad sign, but essentially reveal no new information about our government. Arguably, this is a double-edged sword: while things are currently better than they otherwise could have been, the downgrades confirm that the government’s financial health and (by implication) that of ordinary South Africans are in long-term decline.

Nicolai is a Copy Editor and Senior Staff Writer at the Rational Standard. He is a fourth-year actuarial science student at the University of Cape Town. He enjoys thinking and writing about economics, Critical Theory, culture, and current affairs.

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Andile Mngxitama Unmasked https://rationalstandard.com/andile-mngxitama-unmasked/ https://rationalstandard.com/andile-mngxitama-unmasked/#comments Sat, 08 Apr 2017 10:40:01 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5192 “We want cadres who can plant food, but who are also excellent with propagating our ideas via twitter!” – Andile Mngxitama, Political Report to the 1st BLF National Strategic Planning […]

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“We want cadres who can plant food, but who are also excellent with propagating our ideas via twitter!”

– Andile Mngxitama, Political Report to the 1st BLF National Strategic Planning Meeting, December 2016

In March, Andile Mngxitama was alleged to be under the direction of the Zuma presidency via a London-based PR firm, Bell Pottinger. According to press reports, documents exist which confirm his connection to Zuma. Specific allegations have been made that Andile Mngxitama’s Black First, Land First (BLF) movement was either set up or funded via Bell Pottinger as a means of buoying the Zuma presidency.

In my mind, there are two questions: First, how likely is it that Bell Pottinger has, in fact, employed Andile Mngxitama to provide PR support for Zuma? From a simple logistical point of view, is it even possible?

Second, it is worth noting that one of the tenets of Pan-Africanism is the emphasis on clean governance (often referred to as the ‘Sankaran Principle’), something Zuma is hardly an angelic model for. Why, then, would a Pan-Africanist like Mngxitama make such a radical move to support an obviously corrupt presidency?

In other words, is it logistically feasible that Mngxitama was bought out by Zuma via Bell Pottinger, and what might his motives be for turning his back on fundamental Pan-African ideology?

A Timeline Analysis

Loyalty to Pan-African principles of clean government: From the time of the inception of the September National Imbizo (Mngxitama was a founder of the SNI) in 2010, right through to his involvement in the formation of the EFF, and even the later exit from the party in April 2015, Mngxitama has consistently argued that a corrupt government is unacceptable.

He has consistently argued that the Zuma-led government has run the country in a manner that corruptly benefits the white minority.

An open letter (May 2012) of the September National Imbizo committee is particularly telling: he argues that not only is the Zuma government “divorced” from the electorate, but that it has “failed dismally to alleviate the brutal conditions of the poor”. In another interview he argues the ANC has “shit processes”.

In July 2013, Mngxitama not only helps form the EFF, but also has a hand in writing the EFF’s key principles, one of which is the commitment to an “Open, accountable, corrupt-free government and society without fear of victimisation by State agencies.” All of these actions and positions are pretty much in line with standard Pan-African ideology. Mngxitama’s position is in no way unique or unusual. It is also worth bearing in mind that the EFF was founded on an explicitly anti-Zuma platform. It would be illogical of Mngxitama to help form a party that holds views he opposes.

By September 2016, however, he is singing a very different tune. The obvious non-Sankaran issue of Nkandla and other corruption problems are blatantly ignored by Mngxitama. He now starts to argue that Zuma, despite his historical role in setting up what Mngxitama considers a “puppet” government for the white elite, is somehow an economic saviour. He even goes on to bizarrely suggest that the problems in the country have nothing to do with the ruling ANC government.

What motivated this sudden change in ideology?

Financial Woes

As a Member of Parliament for the EFF, Andile was earning about R80 000 a month salary, or just under a million rand a year. Evidently, he seems to have put this to good use. Newspaper reports suggest that by the time he was expelled from the EFF, he had bought at least six to seven properties. However, with the loss of income as an MP, it evidently caused him financial difficulties.

In November 2015, the first of Andile Mngxitama’s numerous properties is put under auction. By April 2016, in a desperate move to secure cash, he then invests in the MMM ponzi scheme.  Evidently this doesn’t bring in the cash flow he sorely needs to keep up with payments to the bank. A month later, in May, Nedbank puts a further six of his properties under auction. Andile Mngxitama is clearly in dire straits financially.

However, barely a few months later, by September 2016, BLF is suddenly operating an obviously well-funded slick operation with an explicit pro-Zuma stance. The BLF has a very small membership, acknowledged by Mngxitama in the December 2016 Strategic Planning Meeting, so it is very unlikely that the income is coming from membership fees.

Where has the sudden injection of cash come from?

Bell Pottinger and Twitter Campaigns

According to reports, Zuma employed this service sometime in the beginning of 2016.

Now, there are a few things that we can take away from this claim. First, when considering this date it is impossible that BLF was originally set up by Bell Pottinger, as the BLF was formed in August 2015. However, the beginning of 2016 is only when the original approach was made by Zuma representatives. It would take time to put together a complete programme – possibly several months.

Conveniently for Bell Pottinger, this also coincided with Andile Mngxitama’s increasing financial woes. Bear in mind that he was desperate enough to invest into a ponzi scheme, thus the other possibility suggested by the report, that the BLF is funded, rather than was formed by Bell Pottinger, is more logical and realistic.

From September through to February, BLF is very active, picketing Thuli Madonsela’s office, demonstrating at a few ABSA branches, and a picket outside the Reserve Bank. All of which were very slickly run, and appeared well-funded. These actions are accompanied by extensive Twitter campaigns by BLF committee members. Again, this suggests not only a well-timed cash injection from Bell Pottinger, but also mentoring and guidance on manipulating social media.

It can’t be stressed how important social media is to BLF strategy. At the December 2016 Strategic Planning Meeting, Mngxitama even went so far as to demand during the opening speech that:  “We want cadres who can plant food, but who are also excellent with propagating our ideas via twitter!” I have observed on Twitter that a number of fake accounts were set up that suddenly gained several thousand follows in a space of a couple of weeks. All the followers of these accounts were obviously bots (automated accounts that retweet to magnify the original tweet to help it trend) – all of whom mysteriously seemed to religiously retweet anything BLF/pro-Zuma related.

Conclusions

To return to the two questions:

  1. Is it feasible that London-based firm Bell Pottinger is directing and scripting the actions of Andile Mngxitama and the BLF? According to the timeline of events, it fits well, and explains the emergence of slick and well-funded campaigns by the BLF both online and in real life. Even Mngxitama’s strange decision to ignore Pan-African (Sankaran) principles of clean government, tie in perfectly with the sequence of events.
  1. What motive would Mngxitama have for turning his back on Pan-African ideology? Again, the timeline of events is useful – Mngxitama was in all likelihood approached by Bell Pottinger between June and early August, just as his financial woes had come to a peak. His financial decisions suggest he was desperate for cash. News reports don’t provide a figure as to how much Mngxitama was offered, but it seems enough, to not only revive his political career, but to turn his back on Pan-African ideals.

(I’d like to thank one of the Rational Standard’s readers for alerting me to Mngxitama’s property woes.)

A Timeline of Key Events

December 2007:

Jacob Zuma assumes the presidency of the ANC.

May 2009:

Jacob Zuma assumes office as President.

September 2010:

The September National Imbizo meets and sets out the state of Pan-African politics. They are dismayed by the state of South Africa and argue that the now Zuma-led government is running the government in the interests of the white minority.

May 2012:

The September National Imbizo writes an open letter to Zuma and Helen Zille. In it, they accuse the DA opposition and the Zuma government of having “failed dismally to alleviate the brutal conditions of the poor”. They further argue that elected representatives are “divorced” from the electorate.

April 2013:

Events at Waterkloof Air Force Base give rise to the infamous Guptagate furore.

July 2013:

The EFF is formed. Andile Mngxitama, along with other members of the September Black Imbizo, joins the EFF and has a hand in the writing of the so-called seven principles. The seventh and last principle being: “Open, accountable, corrupt-free government and society without fear of victimisation by State agencies.”

March 2014:

Thuli Madonsela finalises the Nkandla report.  The country holds its breath.

February 2015:

Andile Mngxitama has very public clashes with EFF leadership, necessitating the involvement of police. He is quickly suspended. Mngxitama is accused of sowing division and ill-discipline.

April 2015:

Andile Mngxitama, along with two others, is expelled from the EFF. At the time, Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala alleges that the EFF has plans afoot to have Mngxitama stabbed to death in Cape Town.

July 2015:

In an ad hoc committee, MPs clash over findings of Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla report. Opposition MPs accuse the committee of trying to impose arguments so illogical, they are like “witchcraft”.

August 2015:

BLF has its First National Convention and unveils its new logo. In addition, a set of principles and purpose is set out. Included in this a commitment to Sankaran leadership principles, essentially the commitment to a clean government that spends government resources on the people, rather than to the exclusive benefit of a governing elite.

November 2015:

The first of Andile Mngxitama’s numerous properties is put under auction as he fails to make bond payments.

December 2015:

ZumaMustFall campaign is in full swing.

Beginning of 2016:

It is at some time around this point that the Sunday Times alleges that Zuma employs the services of PR firm Bell Pottinger, and later Andile Mngxitama’s BLF.

March 2016:

The ANC executive committee meets over concerns of state capture. It is evident that the public and many within ANC leadership are now publicly concerned about Zuma and his presidency.

April 2016:

Andile Mngxitama’s financial woes continue and he appears to take desperate measures to secure finances by investing in the MMM ponzi scheme.

May 2016:

Six of Andile Mngxitama’s properties are put under the hammer by Nedbank as he is unable to keep up with bond payments. The MMM ponzi scheme hasn’t appeared to work out for him.

September 2016:

BLF’s pro-Zuma campaign kicks off in earnest. Mngxitama does an about-turn on the Zuma presidency and the ANC, arguing that “under his leadership that the distant dream of economic liberation could become a reality.” He also now argues that the problems of the country are not to do with the government in power, but rather a “white agenda”.

October 2016:

BLF pickets Thuli Madonsela’s office to demand investigation of various banks.

December 2016:

BLF holds its Strategic Planning Meeting. This meeting sets out key strategies for the BLF to contest the 2019 general elections. Again, the thrust is very much pro-Zuma. In addition, a call is made to strengthen the movement’s social media presence.

January 2017:

BLF manages to have a small number of protests at a handful of ABSA branches, despite the call for national picketing. It is accompanied by a voracious Twitter campaign by BLF members, with many repeated tweets designed to get the protest to trend. ANCYL KZN members picket ABSA’s regional headquarters in Durban the day before.

February 2017:

BLF organise a protest at the South African Reserve Bank.

March 2017:

Reports surface that Andile Mngxitama and BLF are being employed by PR firm Bell Pottinger. By the end of March, Zuma is in the process of firing Gordhan. The ZumaMustFall campaign re-emerges.

Anthony Stuurman (a pen-name) is a regular Contributor at the Rational Standard. The writer is an educator in the Eastern Cape with an interest in neuroscience, ethnobotany and a passion for free speech.

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Only Property Rights can Give Meaning to ‘Land Reform’ https://rationalstandard.com/property-rights-give-meaning-land-reform/ https://rationalstandard.com/property-rights-give-meaning-land-reform/#comments Thu, 06 Apr 2017 08:00:58 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5094 What do Julius Malema and the EFF have in mind when they say they intend to challenge the 1956 Riotous Assemblies Act (Riot Act) on constitutional grounds? In light of […]

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What do Julius Malema and the EFF have in mind when they say they intend to challenge the 1956 Riotous Assemblies Act (Riot Act) on constitutional grounds? In light of the recent High Court decision interdicting Malema from encouraging land grabs, does the EFF have a valid public policy point to argue? Or is this simply an attempt to shield the party from the consequences of its tactless calls for lawlessness?

Much of the Riot Act has been replaced by other legislation – notably the Intimidation Act – and the provisions that remain espouse perfectly-acceptable protection for persons and property, in line with international practice. The remaining provisions oblige caution when using explosives, determine what is an incitement to public violence, and regulate how ‘attempt’, ‘conspiracy’, and ‘incitement’ operate in South African law. Malema is charged under the Act for inciting his followers to violate property rights.

The only problem with the Act which has been identified, is when it was passed – 1956, at the height of Apartheid. However, we still live under many laws passed during the previous regime, including statutes as innocent as the Marriages Act (1961), the Wills Act (1953), and the comprehensive Criminal Procedure Act (1977), all of which have been amended by the democratic Parliament to accord with our new constitutional values.

A constitutional challenge against this law will not succeed, because the Riot Act codifies principles evident in every rights-respecting legal system around the world. Any legal team which believes it can remove the crime of incitement from South African law is sorely mistaken, as incitement, in any case, is a crime under the common law. We would need a new law that explicitly makes incitement legal before free-for-all land-grabbing can become sanctioned, as many on the left would want it.

The socialists might argue that incitement to commit a crime, in principle, should be illegal, but that, however, due to South Africa’s history of dispossession, an exception should be made.

The problem with this argument is twofold. Firstly, the radical left’s policy is not to give land to dispossessed people. It seeks the State to acquire ownership of all agricultural land and to license it for use by aspiring farmers. On the other side of the coin, those who gravitate toward free markets seek to give individual South Africans – especially poor, landless individuals – ownership of property.

Secondly, land restitution must take place according to an ordered legal process that will be sustainable in the long term. If every Tom, Dick, or Harry can simply ‘occupy’ a particular plot of land, how will that make the land his? And, more pertinently, what will stop anyone else from occupying that already-occupied land? Free-for-all land-grabbing is a recipe for chaos and violence; not the solution that will deliver a free and prosperous future.

Frédéric Bastiat wrote in 1850, “the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.” Bastiat, a revolutionary opposing aristocrats who sought only to secure their own political futures, lamented the fact that the law was no longer being employed as protection for property, but rather as a tool of plunder (‘redistribution’) in and of itself.

During Apartheid, the Roman-Dutch legal tradition was similarly perverted to enable the State to plunder. Strong protection for property rights and an emphasis on individual freedom were carelessly set aside by our then-sovereign Parliament to implement its programs of social engineering. It seems counter-intuitive that today’s apparent ‘progressives’, who claim to represent the landless masses, would seek to operate within this very same oppressive philosophy. Jimmy Manyi and the Progressive Professionals Forum, too, seem to want to give Parliament back its sovereign power to cast rights and freedoms aside on a whim. What is the ultimate purpose of studying history, if not to avoid making the same mistakes?

The Riot Act is a constitutionally and morally sound piece of legislation. It is one of the few statutes being applied in South Africa, in a time of increasing social engineering through legislation, that does what the law, by its nature, is supposed to do. Ignorance and disregard for the rule of law, today, is endemic among South Africa’s political class. To target a necessary law like the Riot Act serves as a distraction to lure attention away from other, far more disturbing legislation.

Martin is a co-founder and the Editor in Chief of the Rational Standard. He is the Legal Researcher at the Free Market Foundation, the Academic Programs Director for Southern Africa at Students For Liberty and the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian. Martin holds an LLB from the University of Pretoria. His articles represent his own views and beliefs, and not that of any of the aforementioned organizations.

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Are academic freedom and non-racialism dead at the University of Cape Town UCT? – mixed messages https://rationalstandard.com/academic-freedom-non-racialism-dead-university-cape-town-uct-mixed-messages/ https://rationalstandard.com/academic-freedom-non-racialism-dead-university-cape-town-uct-mixed-messages/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 10:08:12 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5208 The recent publication of a ‘warts-and-all’ interview with UCT Council/Internal-Reconciliation-Transformation-Commission-Steering-Committee (IRTC SC) Chairperson Sipho Pityana was enlightening and encouraging for UCT’s, future since he used bold words like: “alienating, non-inclusive […]

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The recent publication of a ‘warts-and-all’ interview with UCT Council/Internal-Reconciliation-Transformation-Commission-Steering-Committee (IRTC SC) Chairperson Sipho Pityana was enlightening and encouraging for UCT’s, future since he used bold words like:

“alienating, non-inclusive culture … decolonization and inclusivization as clichés … trust deficit … never-ending conversation … definitions of parameters of engagement of ideas however offensive they may appear … fourth industrial revolution must not be left behind … tolerant of different views … responsible leadership … thought policing … UCT committed to the SA Constitution and a non-racial society … leaders equipped to fulfil their mandate … racial chauvinism … I am entitled to this (and to do this) because I am ‘black’/’white’ … wider community is hungry for conversation”.

However, the virtual simultaneous publication of a disturbing article – UCT’s climate turns toxic – by eminent UCT scholar and head of its Department of Philosophy, Prof. David Benatar, and the creation of the Archie Mafeje Chair in Critical and Decolonial Humanities (funded initially by the A.W. Mellon Foundation) make one feel very confused about UCT’s commitment to ‘real’ academic freedom and non-racialism.

Pitanya and Benatar the Younger

Unlike his elder brother, BCM pioneer Prof. Barney (who has consistently sided with/capitulated to Fallists), Sipho Pityana seems to be ready, willing, and able to influence UCT’s future in a constructive, non-racial manner, emphasizing academic freedom.

However, that David – the son of an equally eminent UCT health scientist, Prof. Solly Benatar – chose to use an article in a cyber magazine to expose some of the many noteworthy vicious/toxic events that have plagued and continue to plague UCT is not enough to aid Pityana in his quest. Therefore, I am referring Benatar’s findings to: Chairperson Pityana, Prof. Loretta Feris (UCT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) charged with decolonization and discrimination and a key member of the IRTC SC); Prof. Penelope Andrews (Dean of Law and key promoter of decolonization), and Francois Botha, Director of the Discrimination & Harassment Office (DISCHO) demanding a constructive response and action.

The vast “silenced majority” at UCT “matters” at least as much as a cabal of lawbreaking Fallists who “demanded” “clemency” in November 2016 for committing acts or intimidation, vandalism, assault and arson against them.  Furthermore, as I write now, a handful of  Fallists are once again holding UCT to ransom illegally occupying Bremner Building’s Archie Mafeje Room  and “demanding” further still that: “No black student should be academically or economically excluded!” 

The Archie Mafeje Chair in Critical and Decolonial Humanities

In stark contrast to the positive proclamations of ‘Pityana the Younger’, UCT’s Faculty of Humanities has suspiciously engineered the creation (which required approval by the Sipho-led UCT Council) and implementation of processes relating to filling the Mafeje Chair (determined by centralized UCT and Humanities Faculty Executives – and the Mellon Foundation?). This prestigious and potentially highly influential academic position was created to memorialize Archie Mafeje, one of Africa’s most prominent (but much-maligned) scholars and pan-African activists. His publications traversed a broad range of subjects including ethnography, tribalism, democracy, social development, academic freedom, land and agrarian issues. However, the history behind the creation of this chair is not transparent, and the actions/decisions underpinning it appear to be potentially deconstructive and (if not outright illegal) contrary to  UCT’s “current” principles of academic freedom and non-racialism.

First, the Chair is “racially”-restricted and potentially xenophobic. It is limited to a “black” (generic BCM or “African black”?) South African. Second, it is also potentially racially and geographically biased de jure since the successful candidate “will be expected to develop work responsive to decolonial and critical humanities in African continental contexts” [my emphasis]. This strategy immediately excludes, for example, the leading “decolonialist thinker” Cameroonian Prof. Achille Mbembe. It also can be interpreted as an attempt to significantly promote the development of Critical Race Theory at UCT.

Although it’s difficult to determine the racially and philosophically-biased aspects of the Mafeje Chair’s role from its job description, one wonders why the Chair is to focus on “critical”, potentially deconstructive, “decolonisation” and not on pursuing novel Afro-relevant, humanities-related research embodying Mafeje’s theory-challenging innovative idiographic approach.

Critical Race Theory (CRT)

At its very best, Critical Theory is an offshoot of a European neo-Marxist philosophy developed by “white” men in Fascist Germany and Italy in the 1930s. Its goal is to “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.” It focuses on critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional philosophies aimed at understanding or explaining it, i.e. what Mafeje was “all about”.

At its “second best”, CRT is a theoretical movement that arose within university schools of law in the USA during the mid-late 1980s. To the extent that its ideas are unified philosophically, it has three common themes:

  1. white supremacy and racial power continue to prevail and are enshrined in law;
  2. this supremacy can only end by transforming the relationship between law and racial power; and
  3. non-racial meritocracy has no place in this transformational process.

At its worst, CRT is little more than “black” power-related, anti-Semitic/Asian, evidence-free, dead-end, untestable narrative and storytelling by radical legal egalitarians determined to reinforce racial stereotypes, rejecting unfettered exchange of ideas between competing disciplines.

Is partly “white-male-sourced”, Euro-Americo-centric CRT what South Africa and UCT need now (if ever) as a theme for a Chair memorializing Archie Mafeje, or anyone?

Dangerous decolonization?

Focusing the Chair’s education/research activities onto poorly defined (within the advertisement or anywhere else within UCT) “decolonisation” (described as a ‘cliché’ even by Chairperson Pityana) is also of considerable concern. In the extreme, the appointee could support decolonialist demands such as:

  1. “a new molecular deployment of race … out of genomic thinking”;
  2. abandoning the concept of a “university” seeking broadly applicable ideas/laws and, ultimately, the “truth”;
  3. “decolonizing” it into a “pluriversity” with seamless boundaries (if any) between faculties and disciplines;
  4. self-identification-based quotas for student admission and staff appointment/promotion; and
  5. greatly de-emphasizing the roles of rationality, logic and unfettered debate in choosing which ideas to discuss (let alone debate/teach/research).

I could go on and on.

In twitter-short summary, filling the Mafeje Chair with a Critical Race Theoretician and ardent Decolonialist could be a major step towards sending UCT back to racist, authoritarian, Balkanized practices that prevailed in the 1930s.

So, I am referring this matter to UCT Acting DVC Daya Reddy (responsible for Teaching and Learning), Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza (A.C. Jordan Chair in African Studies, Director of UCT’s Centre for African Studies and likely ‘architect’ of the Chair) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for comment.

To close with a “parting shot” that characterizes Mafeje by Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah (renowned pan-African social scientist): “If you want Archie to stand up in his grave, then [it is] this sort of Africanism – practical solutions to our problems – that you must pursue, solutions that will help us lift Africa from where we are now to equality with all other people.”  [my emphasis]

Otherwise, Mafeje could be spinning in his grave and Verwoerd dancing on it.

Professor Tim Crowe is a descendant of oppressed Irish freedom-fighters from the United States working class. He is a first generation university graduate, non-settler immigrant alumnus, Elected Fellow and emeritus (40 years’ service) professor at the University of Cape Town. He is a Ph.D.-educated expert on evolutionary biology (covering everything from ‘race’ to deeply rooted evolutionary trees) and conservation biology (especially regarding sustainable and economically viable use of wildlife). He has published nearly 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers/books and is regarded as the world’s leading authority on game birds (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowls, etc.). About 70 of his graduated students have published their research and established themselves in their own right, including four professors.

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Attention Race-Pimps: Click Here to Stop Being Confused About ZumaMustFall https://rationalstandard.com/attention-race-pimps-click-stop-confused-zumamustfall/ https://rationalstandard.com/attention-race-pimps-click-stop-confused-zumamustfall/#comments Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:58:05 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5230 Our old friend Mohammed Jameel Abdulla from The Daily Vox has once again donned his race-pimp gloves and, unfortunately, seems to still be confused about free education after I generously […]

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Our old friend

To make it perfectly clear: I am not a supporter of ZumaMustFall. I think South Africa’s problem is, firstly, that we collectively have a very dangerous idea about what the role of government in society should be, and, secondly, our Constitution invites the abuse of power. Jacob Zuma as an individual, despicable to be sure, is but a symptom of a much deeper problem.

Without further ado, allow me to clear up some of the confusion emanating from the social justice left. I will be using Abdulla’s article for reference.

“South Africans are donning black…”

Yes, black is an internationally-recognized color. And, like in countless other contexts, in this context, it does not refer to black people. Yes, yes, the social justice left believes even the color black has an inherent negative connotation to it, which apparently makes life more different for black individuals. This is, however, just another case of bored leftist academics who have nothing better to theorize about.

“[Evil whites and capitalists say] that now is a time for unity.”

The ‘now’ in that sentence is clearly supposed to be emphasized, implying that whites, bankers, and evil elements in the ANC only want unity in South Africa when their own narrow interests are threatened. This is left unproven and assumed.

I have not seen any indication from whites at large that they don’t desire unity. Of course, Abdulla and the left would say ‘real’ unity would mean a communist-style land regime and perfect equality of wealth on average between race groups, however, this is academic nonsense, once again. ‘Inequality’ is a fabricated ‘problem,’ and, even if it were an actual impediment to freedom and prosperity (which it has never been proven to be, by anyone), it has nothing to do with unity. An extremely rich and an extremely poor person can find themselves united by common interests. It is bizarre for Abdulla to insinuate otherwise.

“But for us, the time for unity has come and gone many times before.”

Here Abdulla implies that the social justice left extended its hand in good faith toward ‘the others’ (simply people who don’t agree with them, and groups they’ve deemed to be undesirable) for unity. Nothing of the sort has ever happened. The moderate left and moderate right in South Africa, however, did come together and unite. That event gave us a pretty-okay Constitution and averted civil war. Naturally, the social justice left has insane demands which it believes are perfectly reasonable. If that is their standard for ‘unity’ – mass starvation, censor boards, government control of all expression – then unity is not certainly not worth it.

“Where were the corporates who now so vocally back Save SA during Marikana, when our own were massacred by the state?”

The left created this problem, believe it or not.

Companies in South Africa are irrationally averse to confronting government on anything. There are two reasons for this:

  • Companies cannot afford to upset some or other regulator, lest they lose out on license renewals or other necessary cooperation from government
  • Companies cannot afford to look as if they oppose government’s Transformation agenda, lest they upset the bloodthirsty Twitter Police who will harass them for the rest of eternity

After Marikana, the government was united.

However, with Jacob Zuma, there is no united front in government. Various ministers, the Deputy President, and the senior alliance partners have called on the President to resign. The ANC’s integrity commission even recommended the resignation of the President. It stands to reason that anyone – companies included – would feel much more comfortable voicing their concern with government when the government itself is divided (and a divided government is a good government, by the way).

“Where were their voices calling for a minimum wage and free education?”

For such a prolific writer at a respected outlet, Abdulla makes this argumentative error quite easily.

When, exactly, did a minimum wage and free education become a fait accompli? Is it now scripture that everyone must agree on a minimum wage and free education, otherwise they are hateful greedy bigots?

There is a wealth of content on the Rational Standard showing, often in easy and sometimes in scholarly language why neither the minimum wage or ‘free’ education is ever a good idea. Any ‘corporate’ who supports either of these things should not occupy the position they do. People in business, more so than the rest of us, need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of economics.

“Why weren’t they rallying for a national shutdown when the banks were outed for colluding in ways that belittled the economy they’re now so desperate to protect?”

The banks are subject to the ordinary laws all citizens are subject to, as the Competition Commission inquiry proves. The President on the other hand, is not. For goodness sakes, he had charges withdrawn against him because the prosecutor was taking the political climate of the country into account. The man was also found to have misused taxpayers’ money for his personal palace in KwaZulu-Natal, only to receive a slap on the wrist. Any other private individual or company would have been charged with fraud or forced to pay a hefty fine from the money they make on the market. Any fine the President has to pay inevitably comes out of the pocket of taxpayers.

Besides, the banks colluded in one of the most regulated financial services industries in the world, which often wins international recognition for how well it functions. I would say this is pretty severe indictment of the effectiveness of stringent regulation – perhaps the free market can do better?

“Did white people take to the streets when Helen Zille asked us to see the silver lining in genocide and oppression?”

Abdulla commits another fallacy: the straw-man.

I’ve never been a big Zille fan – although I am becoming more of one every day she triggers the social justice left – but she did not ask anyone to see the “silver lining in genocide and oppression.” I won’t indulge this intellectual dishonesty with a proper response, so I invite Abdulla to actually prove what he’s saying here.

“Where was the petition calling for action against the inequality that falls on racial lines…?”

Inequality is a red herring. Do yourself a favor and watch this video – I know the social justice left won’t watch it, because of the speaker – it answers most of the confusion around inequality.

As an aside, Abdulla embeds a tweet from someone known as “Ms.SK”. The tweet reads:

“Whenever you see whites protesting you must know it has nothing to do with: Racism, Land, Inequality, White privilege”

Not one of those four items are on the top twenty list of most pressing concerns in South Africa. The Rational Standard has, as it happens, also dealt with each of those items in detail.

Unemployment, growth, violent crime, and corruption are considered more pressing issues in South Africa by all race groups. The ‘problems’ of racism, land, inequality, and white privilege exist, for the most part, only in the halls of universities and press media outlets.

Conclusion

Abdulla makes a multitude of statements without further ado, and like the rest of the social justice left, believes we should take him at his word. He has made no argument. He has only tried to appeal to emotion and feelings, which is what Critical Theory-cum-Saul Alinsky tells them to do as a matter of tact. No reasoning or argument required.

But I do hope this article provided you with some food for thought and responses to the social justice left in this regard. Just because you oppose Jacob Zuma does not mean you have to support nonsense like free education and the land hysteria emanating from race-pimps.

Martin is a co-founder and the Editor in Chief of the Rational Standard. He is the Legal Researcher at the Free Market Foundation, the Academic Programs Director for Southern Africa at Students For Liberty and the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian. Martin holds an LLB from the University of Pretoria. His articles represent his own views and beliefs, and not that of any of the aforementioned organizations.

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Altruism for the Basis of Left-Wing Thought https://rationalstandard.com/altruism-basis-left-wing-thought/ https://rationalstandard.com/altruism-basis-left-wing-thought/#comments Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:00:46 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=5076 Political thought in the West today is broadly divided into two camps – the left-wing and the right-wing. Each of these represents a very different worldview, and in order to […]

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Political thought in the West today is broadly divided into two camps – the left-wing and the right-wing. Each of these represents a very different worldview, and in order to understand each we have to be aware of the very different premises upon which they are respectively based. These premises, in turn, relate to the respective roles that are played by altruism and self-interest with regard to human behaviour.

Human behaviour, like that of all higher animals, is driven primarily by the individual’s overriding concern for their own survival and welfare – their self-interest. It is not driven exclusively by self-interest, however. Humans are not solitary animals. Because humans are social, and go through an extended period of infancy, they are dependent upon one another. Altruism (the predisposition inherent in human nature for the individual at times to further the interests of other individuals at cost to themselves) serves the biological function of facilitating inter-personal relationships between otherwise self-interested individuals. The altruistic impulse counterbalances the primary self-interest when appropriate, facilitating mutually beneficial cooperation between individuals.

It is at this early point that the left-wing and the right-wing perceptions start to diverge.

The right-wing holds that not only is it self-evident that self-interest is the primary drive behind human behaviour, but is quite happy with this fact. The left-wing, in contrast, holds that, while self-interest may be the primary human behavioural drive, it should not be; altruism should be the primary impulse motivating human behaviour.

The reason that the left-wing asserts this, is because it believes that only if all humans behave more altruistically than self-interestedly, can a moral state of what it calls ‘social justice’ be attained in society. The left believes that not only can such a moral state exist, but that it is vitally important that it do so. Attaining social justice on Earth is the primary objective of all left-wing belief. The distinguishing feature between these two very different views is that the right-wing’s is essentially descriptive (describing ‘what is’ empirically), and the left-wing’s is prescriptive (describing ‘what should be’ morally).

Implicit in these two different views is an acceptance of empirical reality by the right-wing and a rejection of that reality by the left.

In general terms, the right-wing appears to accept human nature as it finds it, whereas the left-wing rejects self-interest as morally unacceptable selfishness and seeks to replace it with morally elevated, self-sacrificing, altruistic behaviour. The left-wing herewith introduces a moral dichotomy; if altruistic behaviour is morally ‘good’, then biologically-determined, self-interested behaviour is by implication morally ‘bad’; i.e. ‘self-interest’ becomes redefined as ‘selfishness’ and ‘greed’.

Given these two very different perceptions, coming to an objective understanding of the actual different biological roles and proportional strengths of altruism and self-interest is necessary.

For example, just what percentage of the normal person’s behaviour is naturally self-interested and what percentage is naturally altruistic, on average? Can this biologically-determined ratio be changed, and is it possible or desirable to change it, in order to make humans more altruistic than self-interested? Would the world be a better place if we were more altruistic than self-interested, or does Darwin’s theory of natural selection tell us that altruism, for all the virtue inherent in it, does not work as primary behaviour and was already selected out as such by evolution, millions of years ago?

Apart from their conflicting views on altruism and self-interest, the left and right differ in one other important, but related, respect; the priority given respectively to the individual’s interests and those of society as a whole.

What are known popularly as the left-wing ideologies, namely, socialism, communism, and to a lesser degree, social democracy, place a greater value on society’s collective interests than on those of the individual, and are thus described ideologically as ‘collectivist’. The individual in a left-wing society is called upon to allow the collective interests of all the other members of society to be given preference over their own individual interest when these conflict, in the belief that this form of social behaviour is the best for humankind as a whole because it creates social justice.

Left-wing collectivism is simply a corollary of the belief that altruism should be the primary impulse motivating human behaviour. If the individual should give altruistic preference to the interests of others over their own, then, by definition, the collective interest is senior to those of the individual. With this, the left-wing ideologies are thereby implicitly asserting, either that altruism expresses a higher moral value or virtue than self-interest and so for moral reasons should be made to override self-interest, or, alternatively, that biologically it would be better for humankind that altruism somehow be made our primary behavioural drive. They thus believe that altruism, rather, than individual self-interest should determine society’s moral, political, and economic organisation. Left-wing ideologies are also egalitarian, in that they favour material equality between individuals over material inequality, and to this end, the better-off individual is expected to support the less-well-off.

In contrast, what are regarded as the moderate right-wing ideologies, namely conservatism and (British) liberalism, or libertarianism, place greater value on the individual’s interests over those of the collective, and are therefore described ideologically as ‘individualistic’.

The individual interest of citizens is held generally to take precedence over that of society as a whole, when these conflict – also in the belief that this form of social behaviour is the best for humankind as a whole. This is not to say that altruism and other people’s interests are held to be of no account, or should not be encouraged; only that it is regarded as natural and appropriate, in the interests of their survival, that any individual would pursue their own interest before that of others under most, if not necessarily all, circumstances.

By generally favouring the interests of the individual over those of the collective, the moderate right-wing ideologies affirm their understanding that self-interest is the de facto primary human behavioural drive. Materially, right-wing ideologies are not egalitarian, believing that the increased productivity arising from the individual entrepreneurship and risk-taking that unfettered wealth creation encourages is by far the best way to improve the circumstances of the less well-off. Inequality in itself is regarded as of little consequence and a small price to pay for the greater material productivity generated for the entire community by individualism.

Of the two sets of ideological beliefs, collectivism is much the older, being the ancient form of tribal social organisation characteristic of humankind’s earliest history. As an alternative form of social organisation, self-interested individualism came to prominence relatively recently, in 16th century Europe.

(Italian fascism and Hitler’s national socialism were ideological anomalies. Although they are both popularly described as right-wing because of their extreme nationalism, they were both in reality collectivist, respectively pursuing the collective interests of the ‘nation’ and the ‘race’ over those of the individual. Economically, they mixed socialism with state-controlled capitalism.)

The available empirical evidence indicates overwhelmingly that self-interest is our natural primary behavioural drive, with altruism an important but nevertheless secondary biological drive. It is, after all, ourselves that we feed daily, our own bank accounts into which we pay our earnings, and our own teeth that we brush at night, not the neighbour’s.

The reality is that, regardless of the fact that we do sometimes choose to serve the interests of others, and particularly those close to us, over a lifetime by far the greater part of our energy and resources are in fact spent on our own personal needs and objectives, which is in accord with our biological natures and the struggle for survival that characterises existence. Furthermore, it is unlikely that anyone who was motivated primarily by altruism would live long enough to be able to do much good for others. While altruism obviously has an important social role to play in human existence, it can never be a viable alternative to self-interest, as the left-wing ideologies imply should be the case. To be frank, how much are we as individuals really prepared to sacrifice on a daily basis for total strangers? It is simply biologically impossible for humans consistently to override their inherent self-interest.

Conscious of what they fear to be their own moral failing in respect of altruism, however, some people believe that others are more virtuous than they are, and are indeed primarily altruistic, and guiltily hope to match such people in virtue. Some few individuals possibly do regularly spend the major part of their earnings and energy assisting others; St. Theresa, for example. They are extremely rare, however, and quite untypical. To anyone who does not wilfully blind themselves to reality, it is obvious that the behaviour of every normal human being is driven overwhelmingly by self-interest.

The left-wing ideologies, however, have enormous emotional appeal for many decent people, because of the compassion and altruism that they give voice to, and which are advertised as the virtuous forces driving them. The two fundamental beliefs upon which they are based intellectually, however, that people’s behaviour should or could be driven primarily by altruism, and that collectivism is a better way of organising human society than individualism, are simply without substance. They appear, in fact, to be little more than the modern world’s pseudo-secularised version of the mystical concepts of original sin and divine redemption: “Your selfishness is bad. Dedicate yourself to helping others and you will be redeemed.”

The West raised millions of people from poverty to relative affluence over the 19th and 20th centuries, not out of compassion, but purely on the basis of its highly individualistic and highly productive laissez-faire economic policies. In the West today, where left-wing governments are able to finance their altruistic social programmes only by means of revenue extracted from their underlying capitalist market economies, such as in Western Europe and Scandinavia, their welfare states appear to be successful. This is misleading, however, as a welfare state inexorably suffocates its market economy host with regulation, debt, over-taxation, and misallocated resources, as is clearly happening now.

Where a left-wing society does not have an underlying market economy to feed off, however, and the economy is run on purely socialistic lines, authoritarian Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and Zimbabwe are fair examples of what the outcome is likely to be. Despite its powerful emotional appeal, there is no historical evidence that any society run on altruistic and collectivist left-wing principles, without an underlying capitalist market economy to finance it, is remotely capable of providing anything like the living standards and, above all, the political freedom to which we have become accustomed in the West.

Just as all theistic religions are predicated upon the single, unsubstantiated belief in a supernatural being that supposedly possesses the miraculous power to grant humans everlasting life, so all left-wing ideology is also predicated upon a single, equally unsubstantiated and, frankly, ridiculous belief; namely, that simply because humans are capable of occasional acts of altruism, they should and must generally serve the interests of others before their own.

And why should they do so, even though it is totally against their natures as human beings? Well, of course, they do not actually have to do so, but left-wing politicians understand, correctly, that the noble and compassionate sentiment behind the idea will appeal to all decent people, because it allows them simply by supporting it in theory and at no cost to feel that they are socially virtuous, even though, in reality, they have no serious intention of ever actually putting the interests of strangers consistently before their own. Any ideology that actually compelled people consistently to serve the interests of others before their own would obviously have no appeal whatsoever. It would be called slavery.

Click here for the second part of this series.

Author: David Matthews is a retired Cape Town businessman and author of Our Captured Minds: how religions and ideologies exploit morality to order and control society.

Non-permanent writers and guests can submit their articles to us and we’ll publish them. If a writer proves their writing skill, they may be invited to come on as a permanent writer.

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