Shawn Hagedorn says we are a lived example of what happens when oppressed-versus-oppressor narratives are legislated in society
The ANC has managed to remain electorally competitive despite a long litany of failures and abuses. Cyril Ramaphosa's reign has purged expectations of his party self-correcting, yet they are still expected to remain in the Union Building until 2029.
By then the accumulated damage will almost certainly overwhelm their prospects to survive legitimate elections. But would its leaders vacate the Union Building knowing a formidable version of the Zondo Commission would soon be convened?
Much of the ANC's electoral support traces to patronage which is legal but profoundly unaffordable. An overstaffed and underperforming civil service, alongside BEE and localisation regulations, smother growth prospects while entrenching a perilous level of unemployment amid accelerating fiscal deterioration. Illegal patronage has been similarly damaging.
As an alternative to feudal and tribal structures which block upliftment, the signature achievement of western political philosophy, and arguably western culture, is constitutional democracy. Such structurally buttressed political accountability fosters economic progress by prizing merit and productivity gains.
Leaders of highly successful emerging economies don't bloviate about colonisation. The ANC's intense anti-western biases serve their narrow self-interests. It is a well-educated and prosperous middle class society steeped in the principles of democratic accountability which would threaten the party's patronage-dependent powers and priviliges.
The ANC's contribution to the world's knowledge base is to show what happens when oppressed-versus-oppressor narratives are indulged sufficiently to scuttle accountability and growth. A capable government could rather swiftly remedy many of the ANC's abundant growth blockages. Conversely, no-one knows how to counter the dire compounding effects of our youth unemployment crisis.
Broad acceptance of the ANC's aggressive political exploitation of racial inequality could now lead to the party being crippled electorally before this decade closes - while an expanding majority of born-free black South Africans continue to be condemned to life-long poverty. Western nations had been careening down a broadly related path which is now, finally, attracting serious scrutiny.
The ANC's exploitation of inequality is emblematic of the oppressor-oppressed narratives which, having been promoted by many western universities and media outlets, threaten to game democracy, free speech and the highly development-friendly rules-based global order.
While social justice warriors routinely spark controversies, their central contentions are not devoid of credibility nor are they unable to recruit facts to support them. Seeking high awareness about white privilege and micro aggressions is worth the discomfort.
However, the 7 October attacks have triggered intense scrutiny by centrists amid leftist coalitions of their far-left comrades who chant "from the river to the sea." A meagre acquaintance with Jewish history explains why such seemingly innocuous words are interpreted as provoking genocide.
At the heart of woke-ism is the assertion that language is inherently imprecise and that all interpretations are equally valid. The first claim is valid; the second is not. Such thinking fuels a judging-based culture incompatible with the core deliverable of healthy democracies: effective balancing, if not blending, of interests among diverse groups.
Peace and prosperity have proliferated beyond the most optimistic expectations for nearly three generations. Many lessons have been learned. Universities and centres of influence can teach them or inculcate perceptions that such progress was an inevitable consequence of progressive values prevailing. A more reality-based take would be that many difficult decisions created a much better, though still quite imperfect, world which affords tremendous indulgences - until they are overindulged.
Reactions to the 7 October atrocities spotlighted how some progressive values had been excessively accommodated. Those quick to judge exhibited radically different views from those who sought understanding while contemplating prospective solution paths.
Survival pressures had always assured that how societies communicate would be consequential. Such pressures have become far less immediate leading to vexatious facts being routinely ignored by many of today's elite university professors who promote worldviews framed around oppressor-versus-oppressed narratives.
Conservatives and reactionaries are justifiably accused of wanting to revert to earlier norms which were frequently not very welcoming of outsiders. Yet, broadly labeling such people as oppressors or colonialists obscures more than it illuminates.
The core danger with woke-styled intellectualism is that it is hostile to focusing on solutions as that requires prioritising and acknowledging tradeoffs. Top universities admit only the smartest of candidates. They could teach those taking history or literature classes to appreciate the perspectives and decision processes of earlier societies.
Instead of developing sophisticated problem-solving skills, elite students are trained to judge. They are taught to use templates which distill to simply labeling those affluent as oppressors and those less well-off as the oppressed. Such conditioning often then festers until it resembles a learning disability.
Many middle-aged Americans which had followed such paths became fervent Bernie Sanders supporters. Whatever their views on religion, few of them can accept their fellow leftists' embrace of Hamas and its desire to kill Jews. Leftist European politics are no less challenged.
Just as the ANC's electoral competitiveness may not survive its reckless exploitation of racial inequality, the woke movement cannot easily withstand similar scrutiny. Hamas was democratically elected into power in 2006. They proceeded to abolish democratic principles and practices, such as elections.
The “Hamas model”
As ANC leaders prioritise staying in power and minimising accountability, they admire the "Hamas model" while criticising western ways and favouring anti-democratic Russia, Iran, Hamas and China. If the ANC continues to fall out with western nations, our economy will suffer further and youth unemployment will provide the kindling necessary to spark large-scale social unrest. Thus, if our 2029 elections aren't rigged and the ANC is ousted, it could then be easy to make the country ungovernable.
Among the dodgy presumptions inherent to such a strategy is the belief that the ANC and a sinking SA will be seen as worth propping up by autocrats in Moscow or Beijing. Another scenario is that western nations soon tamp their victim-focused politics leading to geopolitics dominated by accountability and the aligning of interests among citizen-focused nations.
The ANC has exhausted a great deal of goodwill while presuming it is entitled to govern. The long arc of justice could deliver quite a rude awakening.
A surprise attack in the Middle East 50 years ago greatly impacted SA through commodity prices spiking and then remaining elevated. The ramifications for SA from the 7 October attacks are likely to be no less profound - though this time the predominant transmission paths will be political.