ANC rewards racism and white supremacy, as the left gets poorer.

THE ANC has rewarded racism and white supremacy by giving Martinus van Schalkwyk and others jobs, while the left is poorer today than it was a decade ago. As a result, apartheid-era cronies are allowed to rule the roost, creating legislation that marginalises the working class and erodes basic freedoms. The only reason why conservative Trevor Manual can talk about lowering the standards of labour legislation is because he, like his fellow advocates of National Conservatism, is in cahoots with the National Party.

An example of how far this new conservatism goes, is the fact the Basic Conditions of Employment Act is being steadily eroded by ministerial tinkering. As a result of various directives, the act now only applies to certain “classes” and “categories” of people, thus ruling out equality in the work-place as CEO’s of large companies are given exemption from the gruelling work schedule as outlined by the legislation.

“If you have a high salary you needn’t worry about the rights of workers and issues such as solidarity with the working class” or so the logic goes. (For those who don’t know what the working class is, it is comprised of those individuals who have to work for a living.) This is in essence the message from big government, as increasingly the ANC beds down with large multinational corporations that have no reason to share profits with people living below the wage threshold — the lumpen poor. The trickle-down economics of black economic empowerment is, in all actuality, a myth. Compared to the wealth creation achieved by the apartheid system, the new dispensation has achieved very little.

By and large, those with empowerment opportunities are those who either sold-out to the apartheid regime or who exploited the handover of power and yet have only themselves to blame when the truth is revealed that the majority of South Africans are still impoverished by the system as it stands. The trickle-down economics of Mbeki’s government, instead of addressing distortions within the economy, has simply created a convenient divide between rich and poor. The rich are richer, and the poor are still basically poor. As a result entire communities are stuck in underdevelopment and the majority of South Africns are, in reality, second-class citizens, with lower status and less opportunities than those in the ANC who accept racist beliefs and racialism as part and parcel of the new national dispensation.

Ironically, as race-based apartheid institutions become a distant memory, and reconciliation fails to address poverty, a new economic version of apartheid prevails with equality meaning equality for some. The statement is reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which pigs are more equal than other animals. As for the new pigs of the middle class establishment, eating at the trough of market fascism. We know who you are.

GREEN EDGE: Shortsighted Industrial Expansion set to push up Electricity Tariffs.

SOUTH AFRICA’S myopic development policies are creating increased demand for electricity and the quick fix solution contemplated by Eskom might do more harm than good. Already faced with the predicament of providing cheap electricity for new industrial projects such as the proposed Coega Aluminium Smelter, the national energy provider is contemplating several new energy projects, none of which fulfil the millennium goals for sustainable development as laid out at the Earth Summit.

Instead of reducing demand in an energy intensive economy, South Africans could see sky-rocketing fuel prices and increased electricity tariffs as the move from dirty coal to cleaner gas turbines merely shifts the problem of sustainable energy consumption. Already, two new gas-turbine power stations are planned for Mossel Bay and the Western Cape. Alternatives such as the pebble-bed nuclear reactor are considered too costly in terms of long-term sustainablity, with the price of nuclear power escalating over the course of production when factors such as decommissioning and disposal of spent nuclear fuel are taken into account.

Other solutions exist in the form of renewable resources such as wind energy, wave energy, energy from the sun and the earth’s very own ambient radiation that periodically surfaces in the form of volcanic activity. Environmentally-safe Wind Farms, Wave Platforms, Solar Arrays and Geothermal Projects promised at the Earth Summit are still “just promises”. With consumers footing the bill for new development, answers such as a vague proposal for one pilot Wind Farm near Malmsbury “sometime in the future” and absolutely no progress in the emerging market for Wave, Geothermal and Solar, would seem “too little, too late”, as far as environmentalists are concerned.

What would it take to develop a sustainable Geothermal energy programme? Technology such as the ability to harness the massive forces encountered underground by the mining industry exists, but has never been tested locally. Until Eskom starts addressing the issue of long-term sustainablity seriously, this country will continue to be faced with a crisis in which consumers are asked to cough-up, merely in order to supply big business with cheap power, in a development game whose real cost is measured in the form of indirect taxation and other kickbacks to industry.

In fact BHP Billiton which has aluminium smelters in South Africa and Mocambique has already acknowledged there is a problem with power supply. Aluminium smelting like other energy intensive industries, uses a vast amount of power and the entire industry is considered economically unsustainable unless a cheap source of renewable energy can be found. Instead of spending billions of rands of tax-payers money on white elephants such as the Pebble-bed modular reactor, Eskom could have solved the problem by simply committing itself to next generation sustainable energy, spending more on renewable resources and less on non-renewables such as liquified gas and coal.


Luke Human 1970-2005 An Artistic Existence

THERE is an existence worth contemplating and it is the existence of an artist. No ordinary artist, Luke Human embodied that capricious spirit of outrage against a system that denied the most fundamental human right – the right not to give a damn about anything, except being yourself. Luke was more than anything in the world, himself. His art was second nature and for what it’s worth, I could not bring myself to simply mollify his journey into “figurative expressionism” since so many figurative expressionists fall into a psychiatric ward of self-examination and fail to return with the goods.

If there was a failing it was that Luke was more of an artist, than a producer of artwork. As such, it is worth assessing what being an artist like Luke Human must have been. For one there was no sign of pretension and braggadocio which marks so many art-school graduates these days. No attempt to render likeable, easily digestible, commodity fetishes. Absolutely nothing of the decorative or banal. No, what Luke possessed was an uncanny ability to render portraits of ones own inner turmoil, the strife and crisis of ego we experience on a daily basis.

After sitting for one such portrait on New Years Eve in 2002, in his studio above Wellington Fruit Growers, I was amazed to see my features extracted like some rare inner monologue, and redrawn to perfection in the nether regions of Luke Human-ness. Today I would love to know if anything came from these preliminary sketches, that were bound to wash-up at various galleries, and always marketed as the act of sheer and utter raving lunacy, the life of an artist whose portfolio of work must have included a fair amount of studies of young girls from Bishopscourt and Constantia.

I hate to sound trite or trivial, but the very thing which gave Luke his stormy impulsive personality turned out to be his finally undoing. With no formal schooling as such, he turned to a variety of distractions to compensate. Among these were his drug-taking and liberality, mixed with an equal volley of understatement and self-praise, that issued forth from many incantations into the night. I dare say that he was eventually done in by one of the many skollies and criminal types that must have provided Luke with a daily pharmacological sustenance for this, his most artistic of folly’s.

Cape Town, 22-09-2005

Derek Serra outed as D’Angelo?

IN WHAT must come as a surprise for many nude artists, a Cape Town photographer, Derek Serra, has announced that he plans to take naked photographs in the city as part of “an exhibition of D’Angelo”. Exactly who or what D’Angelo is, remains a mystery, however according to Media 24, an often hysterical news site, D’Angelo is now “an Italian photographer, well-known for his photographs of nude subjects.” and not the international pop singer as some would suppose.

The Naked Artist for the bare facts about public nudity

Public Nudity: Is D’Angelo for Real?

Doubts about the veracity of recent claims by local artist and photographer D’Angelo to have “taken pictures of hundreds of kaalgat South African citizens in New York, London and Berlin” have begun to emerge. In fact the man who calls himself D’Angelo aka Michelangelo could turn out to be a fraud and the project a hoax perpetrated by the Independent Tabloid company.

Check Out The Naked Artist for bare-faced news about public nudity and naked art.

Energy Crisis, what Crisis?

SOME economists at the national conservative daily Business Report seem to have their figures all mixed up. Take the feasiblity of the proposed Aluminium Smelter at Coega. Apparantly since China has turned down similar proposals for at least six smelters, the resulting shortfall represents a gap in the market. The price of aluminium being what it is, “the project is even more attractive” say the boneheads at Independent Newspapers who in the same breath tell us why China turned down the once in a life-time chance to pollute the entire region with foul smelling industrial odours — the high cost of electricity.

Now if memory serves me right, aren’t we experiencing an electrical shortage of our very own, at Eskom nogal? The figures just don’t add up, since the stupendously “low-price of electricity in Southern Africa” used to justify the project, that looks set to become yet another white elephant, no longer exists. Indeed, this country’s historical over-supply of voltage has simply fizzled into nothing but periodic black-outs, as more domestic homes come online, the townships plug in and we all get electrified over the seasonal purchase of new appliances.

No fear, say Eskom, instead of promoting energy efficiency, we’ll simply spend another couple of billion rand, kidding ourselves that the power crisis is going to go away in a hurry, along with the cost of heating furnaces. If the current price of oil is anything to go by, we could end-up having to use whatever extra capacity we can squeeze from the national power-grid simply to convert coal into gas. In fact we would all be better off redirecting power into the new hydrogen economy, that as it turns out is exceedingly electricity hungry.

Thankfully there are other power sources that seem far more sustainable, like biogas from maize, and geothermal energy, some of the more interesting green fuels, already available in some areas, but why kid ourselves that aluminium smelting is going to produce anything but trouble. If one takes the cost benefit and price of labour into account, the government will probably be spending in excess of R200 000 per worker on the project, and that’s before anybody gets paid. Better to simply give the money away. Environmental impact assessment:Burning oil with cheap energy? Come on guys, tell us another dirty one.

HEADBLOG: Narcotics Euphonomous – Decrying the Morally Nebulous Tik Habit

THERE is a growing recognition that South Africa’s substance abuse control programme, in particular the war against new drugs like Tik, has been fruitless and ineffectual. Not because this country’s moral watchdogs are not eagerly and bountifully committed to eradicating drug dependency, but rather because their senseless policies such as zero tolerance gloss over the moral dilemma of drug abuse – the very rationale for taking illegal substances in the first place.

In fact it must be said there is something insidious and morally pejorative about a policy that relies solely upon policing in order to fulfil its objectives, with the implied threat of physical incarceration and systematic-wide sociological disapproval. In this vein the needle is given to so many community outreach programmes that rush to provide therapy without tackling the logical inconsistency, without at least providing a sensible and coherent reason why one should not take drugs in the first place.

Why not give drug addicts their drug of choice, on demand and be done with the public ruse that anything constructive is being done about the problem? Not only have we been struck dumb by our inability to tackle the moral issue, let alone the psychological drama involving poverty, of disgruntled and bored youth, but still we want medical opinion that sees drug abuse as a disease in need of a cure, and drug pushers as some kind of new age victim in need of empathy, love, and a good home .

Which all gloss over the fact that a lot of drug addicts come from stable backgrounds anyway and have some of the best prospects in life. Without open debate on this subject it becomes impossible to discuss drug abuse without “twitching away the good drapery” as both De Quincey and Will Self (himself an admitted drug user) would have had it be said. Admit to partaking of an illicit cocktail of pharmaceuticals and whatever ones predilection for sane use of narcotics, the only support you are likely to get is from the very same charlatans and hawkers of human kindness one is so desperately trying to avoid.

Take SABC 3’s sycophantic take on the matter and it is unclear whether it is better to hang out with hardened criminals – the kind who smoke buttons, mainline crack-cocaine or shoot heroin on a daily basis or to watch Oprah Winfrey. Have we come so far as to create yet another gordian knot between the left-wing fixation with marijuana, the rightwing fixation with tobacco and alcoholism and the strange new pleasures of opiates and amphetamines, the wired, frenzied engorging of speed and languished rumination of heroin, without pausing to count how many times this debate has reared its ugly head only to die down after being quashed by the selfsame moral watchdogs who lack a moral reason for not taking drugs.

To whit, Dr Irving Gofman in his notable book on intoxication sees experimentation with drugs as a basic human drive. We all experiment with getting high at some stage of our lives and the only real question is to what degree, (how much and how little and to whether we want to make it past forty or to survive our very first encounter with inebriation, not braindead but alive). For those unfortunates, who buy into all this drug-talking and moral solipsising and for whom the experimentation never stops, who instead of settling down into the odd tipple of cognac, take one drink and turn it into a life-time of dependency on alcohol, or a single toke of a cigarette and extrapolate that into crack or cocaine addiction, or for whom even heroin mixed with methamphetamine and bug powder would not do enough damage to the human condition, there can be only one reason for advocating closure in this debate, and that is Harm Reduction.

Harm Reduction, as the Dutch would have it, is state intervention that provides an alternative to the real horror of self-prescribed drug-taking hypocrisy, a motive beyond organised crime, and the mob who sell the product while promoting prostitution and human slavery. If not enslaved to the evils of capitalism, then all the better perhaps to addict oneself to the state tropium which should be tasked with dispensing along with all manner of hallucinogenres your drug of choice. In fact the British have maintained drug-users for years on their national health, dispensing methadone to heroin addicts, and all types of substances to the new world of crack without so much as a hiccough at the inherent contradictions of morality.

[copyleft, some rights reserved, reprint with permission]

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