…and initially that was all I was going to say about that. I don’t want to sully this blog with local politics, which can really take anything good and utterly corrupt it (but I suppose that’s true of local politics everywhere, isn’t it?)
But last week there was a new development that piqued my interest. Someone said something that got me thinking about the meaning of words, and George Orwell, and the abuse of language to manipulate people. And my hammer started vibrating (and if you know anything about hammer-lore you’ll know that means it’s time to whack something).
What was said that awakened the urge in me to apply some percussive maintenance? Someone accused a group of people trying to bring about change of being counter-revolutionary.
The ruling party in South Africa at present calls themselves the African National Congress (ANC). It was founded a little more than a century ago by a group of religious leaders to unite the people against the growing oppression of white minority rule. During the life of recently deceased Nelson Mandela it became a full-fledged revolutionary movement, first attempting peaceful resistance and later, when that didn’t work, an armed struggle for the freedom of South Africa.
Their greatest aim was finally realised in 1994 when South Africa had our first-ever democratic elections in which every adult citizen was allowed to vote and the revolutionary organisation became the government.
Now, the revolution started by the ANC is nowhere near over yet. It will never be over until inequality in the country has been eradicated. But for very long now the ruling party has not been the driving force behind revolution. Common consensus in the country is that they have become complacent in their power. Self-enrichment and internal power-plays are more important nowadays than fighting for equality.
Then why do people still vote for them? Because they are the movement that brought the people freedom, and it would be disloyal to vote for anyone else. The ruling party knows this and it further feeds their complacency.
So it was that many people sat up and took notice when a group of former ANC ministers started a campaign a couple of weeks ago admonishing people to spoil their ballots rather than voting for the ANC out of loyalty or abstaining from the vote. I don’t know the local electoral laws well enough to know whether this would actually have any effect on the election results, but it fits the definition of a revolution, if you ask me: it’s a protest and a call for change against a government that is not serving the best interests of the people.
Thus I find it ironic that the ruling party, after first ignoring and then ridiculing this movement, finally settled on calling them counter-revolutionary. If anyone is counter-revolutionary it’s the ruling party themselves who are steadily on their way to become even worse than the Apartheid government they replaced.
Sadly, the people tend to fall for that type of verbal aerobics, which brings me to Mr Orwell. What’s happening in SA at present corresponds exactly to what Orwell described in Animal Farm. There the leaders of the revolution also became as bad as the oppressors they replaced. Dissenters were silenced, first, by clever use of words and later, by force.
Luckily, unlike Animal Farm, we have more than enough intelligent and educated people outside government who are not too afraid or too cynical to speak out and they are starting to get heard. Why else would those in power try to discredit them by labelling them as traitors to the cause (not to mention the sorry attempts to discredit politicians who are actually above reproach)?
Revolutions are circular in nature and can never be over, and whether they are successful or not, I’m glad there are still people who are willing to continue the fight the ruling party has forgotten it had started.
In fact, I might just join their campaign if I can’t figure out for whom to vote by May 7. The one party that has a fighting chance has never quite been able to prove to me that they deserve my vote, and those that I do kind of agree with will be lucky if they get a single seat in parliament.
Ah, democracy. As Winston Churchhill also once remarked, “…[it] is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”