The problem with ageing white lefties

David Bullard analyses the pain of their second transition

I suppose it was inevitable that old pie face (as that champagne commie Blade Nzimande is affectionately known) would have a go at former President  F W de Klerk, calling him "an apartheid political dinosaur". Commies get very worked up when someone of superior intellect points out the many flaws in their arguments. But all that was eloquently explained earlier this week by Dave Steward in his piece "The SACP jackal yelped because de Klerk hit home".

With respect to Mr Steward, dealing with SA commies doesn't present any great mental challenge. One only needs to point out the hypocrisy of driving a luxury car costing well over R1mln while purporting to represent the interests of the poor to get them into a froth. Then it's simply a matter of exposing their total ignorance of economic reality and mocking their absurd habits of calling one another comrade and babbling on about the ongoing revolution.

The South Africa that the commies have wet dreams about would make North Korea look like a benevolent society. The upside is that we might win more Olympic medals. At the time of writing the Democratic People's Republic (these commies do have a ribald sense of humour don't they?) is sitting in fourth position on the medal table by virtue of their gold wins. But let's not encourage Comrade Pie Face because, before we know it, he'll be touting a communist SA as being good news for sport and you know what suckers we whiteys are for our sport?

Far more challenging than dealing with commies is the problem of dealing with all our bien-pensant white lefties, particularly ageing white lefties. Not the chaps who went into exile and really suffered under the Nats for their beliefs but the also-rans who never tire of reminding you of the great role they played in bringing freedom to SA. To listen to them brag you would think that Nelson Mandela only played a walk on role in the transition to a democratic South Africa.

They have become an angry and bitter bunch and it's not difficult to see why. Back in the eighties they were happily lobbing bricks at the apartheid police and taking part in political marches before returning to their comfortable suburban homes. They felt they belonged. I don't doubt their sincerity at the time or that they believed passionately that South Africa had to change but with the passing of time two things have happened.

The first is that they have formed themselves into a tiresome clique of people (with a liberal sprinkling in the media and academia) who claim "struggle cred". This allows them to occupy what they regard as the moral highground. The words "smug" and "sanctimonious" spring to mind at this point.

I once received a taunting Tweet from a white "struggle cred" media person asking what I had done "during the war". At first I hadn't a clue what he was talking about so he expanded on his theme "I suppose you thought the smoke in the eighties was coming from your cigar".  I wanted to explain that in the eighties I was trying to build a career and didn't have the luxury of chucking bricks at any one.

If I'd asked my boss (a future cabinet minister under the first ANC government) for the morning off to hurl missiles at the security forces I imagine he would have told me not to bother to come in the next day. Anyway I discovered my own, far more profitable, way of showing my disdain for the apartheid regime by selling RSA stock short and buying put options.  In other words, putting somebody else's money where my mouth was. Much safer than dodging rubber bullets in the townships and in some ways far more effective.

An added irritation for the white "struggle cred" bores though is that have become a bit of a joke among the black majority. Which brings me to the pain of their second transition.

Imagine that you were a journo keen to earn struggle cred back in the eighties and you really honestly believed that SA would be a better place under the ANC. Education for all, medical care for all, no more nasty racism, no fraud, no more political corruption.....that sort of thing. The right wingers would be run out of town and everyone else would cuddle up to enjoy the shared fruits of the rainbow nation. Was that worth being chucked in the back of a Casspir for an hour with a warm can of coke or what?

But twenty six years later it hasn't happened. The party you believed in has turned out to be even more crooked and inept than the party it replaced, you were never offered that ambassadorship you were entitled to for being brave and outspoken and, worse, there's bugger all gratitude from your fellow black South Africans; the ones you thought you fought for. For a fifty something white lefty that must be a bit like finding out that your wife of twenty six years has been having an affair behind your back. With your mistress.

I know it's tempting to mock these "struggle cred" white lefties but it would be cruel to do so. They are scarcely able to function in the current South Africa. Everything they ever believed in has crumbled before them but they still have their memories to cling to. And that's apparently what gets most of them through the day.

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