Soviet Berlin FlagThe fundamental problem with most revolutionary and aggressive ideologies is that they have no end game. They provide counters to their ideological opponents, try to refute the enemy’s claims and even set out in detail how to overcome the enemy or oppressive system, but never set forth any positive matter. They lack vision and a constructive idea of what life will be like under their system.

Louise Richardson, in What Terrorists Want, argued that almost all terrorists don’t identify what type of society they actually want. They have enemies but no goal past that of achieving the destruction of their enemies. One may argue that certain groups such as Daesh and the IRA do have end-games – the creation of a Caliphate or the independence of Northern Ireland. These are goals, but they aren’t substantiating why we should support the cause.

Why do we want a Caliphate? Allah’s will isn’t good enough. We need to know what life will be like under the caliphate and why this is preferable to what we have now. The IRA are slightly better in this regard, but even then they fail to determine what type of state a united Ireland would be. In an effort to be ‘free’ they have become agents of violence and nothing more.

Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and Communist Manifesto did an extensive job of criticising Capitalism and suggesting how it would be overthrown, but Marx did not expand on why we would want Communism (the reason for this is that Marx was not a normative philosopher, but many of his supporters do not have this excuse). In fact, the extent of his vision is that workers under Communism would have enough time to pursue their hobbies – something that many Capitalist societies have already achieved through the free market delegation system.

It becomes quite pitiful to think that Communism is responsible for the deaths of approximately 94 million people just so some people could fish in the afternoons. Those 94 million people will not have any time to do anything.

Communism lacks vision. It points out flaws in society and then seeks to overthrow the status quo without any real idea of what they want afterwards. The ANC and other revolutionary groups are similar. They opposed Apartheid (rightfully) but did not have a true vision for the future. The extent of their goals was to tear down the system.

When one lacks vision, the post-revolution becomes uncertain. No matter how bad the previous system, things can become worse through shallow leaders with no concrete goals.

Visions are practical matters, not ideological rhetoric. One needs to know what they want to achieve so that they can start working towards it. Good movements need to not only have good ideals, but good visions and a coherent plan to achieve that vision.

The ANC and other movements need to have a vision founded in logic and reason. Otherwise, they will continue to espouse contradictory policies which change every few years without ever coming to true fruition. Benchmarks must be more than just promising to “create 100 black industrialists”. There needs to be a reason and constructive visualisation of the world they seek to create. Is the creation of 100 industrialists the goal? Why is that a good goal? Is it a step to another vision? What is that vision?

The problem with South Africa, not only for the state, but for many of us in all walks of life, is that we lack vision. We don’t know what we want or how to get there. We desire success, but don’t know what we want to win. We wish for happiness but don’t recognise that happiness is a by-product of achieving our vision, not a vision itself.

We all need a vision and society needs to be conducive to allowing the formulation of these visions. We must also recognise that our visions are our own, and that we succeed or fail by ourselves. The same goes for South Africa. If we want collective success, in order to achieve our own visions and nothing more, then we need coherent policy and a rule of law that protects the innocent and not the criminal.

By realising what we want, or what the nation needs to achieve, we will be better able to work towards it or realise the merit of our ideologies.

 

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.