Useful idiots, that Fish Hoek ‘Anti-Racist’ saga

IN A VOICE recording taken by a pupil, Asanda Ngoasheng, the principal facilitator of a controversial diversity course held at Fish Hoek High School can be heard saying ‘Black people can be mean, they can be cruel, they can be prejudiced, they can be nasty, but they can never be racist against white people … because racism requires power.’

The contentious idea is apparently part and parcel of a political re-education programme being punted by the Department of Education. All part of a so-called diversity training course, one which facilitator Caiden Lang claims, is predicated on Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Lang writes in The Daily Friend: “To imagine that what happened on Monday at Fish Hoek High was a diversity training session gone wrong is to fundamentally misunderstand what anti-racist education informed by critical race theory is all about. It is to assume that anti-racist education is geared towards social cohesion by teaching people to be less racist, sexist and so on and to help them to coexist.

“This is a mistake.

“Anti-racist education is about being on the right side of history. The discomfort and anger experienced by those kids is an intended first step to becoming ‘anti-racist’. It is a feature, not a bug.”

Unfortunately race typology, the division of society into black and white, and blind obedience to authority, is not what CRT teaches: “CRT is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old,” writes  Stephen Sawchuk in Education Week. “The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

Civil Rights history

As Professor Kimberlé  Crenshaw, the civil rights activist who coined the term put it: “It is a way of seeing, attending to, accounting for, tracing and analyzing the ways that race is produced, the ways that racial inequality is facilitated, and the ways that our history has created these inequalities that now can be almost effortlessly reproduced unless we attend to the existence of these inequalities.”

Though there appears to be some disagreement on the finer points, where CRT was once a theory firmly situated within the discourse of civil rights and thus secular humanism, as a cross-disciplinary subject it has increasingly turned into nothing more than a radical political platform, a campaign gateway by politicos introducing unverifiable concepts such as dialectical materialism (all history is about power) and political notions such as ‘oppressor and oppressed’.

The result is invariably traumatising for young learners, bringing to mind Soviet-era political re-education camps. An affront on ones psychology, and most certainly a violation of a number of clauses in our constitution, including freedom of thought, belief and opinion, academic freedom, right to receive and impart information (in this case, you may receive the Department’s dogma, but don’t talk back or impart), the right to psychological integrity (the Dept seeks to impose discursive sanctions whilst assaulting learner’s mental functioning).

Criticism

Critics of CRT state that the theory leads to ‘negative dynamics such as a focus on group identity over universal, shared traits; divides people into “oppressed” and “oppressor” groups; and urges intolerance’.

CRT in its current form, as rolled out by the Dept commissars, presents caricature and stereotype instead of facts and information, and appears more applicable to the context of black persons living as an oppressed minority in the USA where “white Americans are the racial and ethnic majority, with non-Hispanic whites representing 57.8% of the population”.

Peter Wood in Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist? published by the National Association of Scholars writes “The idea that “black people can’t be racist” is just a meme, not a coherent argument.”

Michelle I. Gao in “Who Can’t be Racist” responds: “This argument’s main point — that minorities can’t be racist because they have no power to act on such antagonism — is also reductive. We shouldn’t have to take stock of each other’s race and relative power in society before making a judgment on an act itself. We shouldn’t have to condone prejudice or discrimination against anyone, for any reason.”

In South Africa where persons who define as black are in the majority and have been part of a black majority government for nearly 30 years, there is an immediate rebuttal. The assertion that ‘black people can’t be racist, ‘because racism requires power’ and ‘blacks have no power’ is only even vaguely reasonable if one believes personal power to always be bound up with economic power, instead of the vote.

It is a tired narrative that our country has one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world, the measure of the gap between rich and poor, and that wealth often correlates with our demographics, which says nothing about the Human Development Index (HDI) where SA ranks relatively well.

Here the debate is rather between the haves and have-nots. Providing learners with intellectual tools, rather than prescriptions and injunctions and avoiding a party-line if you will.

Racialising the issue and dispensing with ‘non-racialism’, presents a unique set of problems since not every person informally categorised as black is ‘poor and underprivileged’. There is no universal truth in stating ‘black persons are always poor, have no economic power and therefore they can never be racists’. Saying this, merely gives credence to another ridiculous proposition, ‘black people can’t be litterbugs’.

In the same way as maintaining apartheid’s many Askaris and turncoats, were not traitors so much as heroes, even though they murdered on behalf of the regime?

Philosophical Considerations

Consider the first statement’s corollary, ‘if black people can’t be racists, then whites can never experience racism’.

And Afrikaners can’t be oppressed by the British.

And Jews can never experience Anti-Semitism.

Or ‘white folk’ can never be poor, because, well being poor depends upon … power?

In this jaundiced, reductionist view, those white activists detained, tortured and even murdered by the apartheid regime, were not experiencing racism per se, but merely the brutal instrumentality of the regime. As an activist classified by the apartheid regime as ‘blanke‘, I cannot be spat at, slapped and smeared by right-wing extremists.

The descent from humanism along with its universal truths, the Freedom Charter and its exemplar, our non-racialist Constitution, towards the narrow political objectives and moral absolutism of anti-racism’s pundits, articulated by a radicalised Education platform, is a slippery slope one which invariably ends with denial of the self-same history its zealous advocates profess to teach.

In this jaded current state-of-mind, there were no white people in the civil rights movement as such, nor even the anti-apartheid movement for that matter.

And if there were, such persons like myself, were merely allies at best, or worse, useful idiots.

SEE: Palesa Morudu dismisses ‘diversity grifters’ at the same time she downplays the incident as a mere ‘reading of a poem to a captive audience of 800 pupils

SEE: FF Plus lays complaint with SAHRC about Fish Hoek ‘diversity’ session

SEE: Everything you know about the Palestinian Struggle is Wrong

SEE: New Johannesburg mayor is from openly queerphobic party

Fix the economy stupid and provide free education (part 4)

SOUTH AFRICA is an astonishing country. Not only are we home to more millionaires than any other African country, (40% of all African millionaires live in South Africa) but this wealth coincides with extremes of poverty and unemployment. Some 25.5 percent of the population is unemployed and this figure is worse when the youth and first-time job-seekers are concerned, rising to 63%.

The reason why this picture is so, is not all that difficult to understand.

Let’s talk about the welfare disconnect. Although the country is one of the few nations on the continent to have implemented a social security programme, this programme is geared towards the elderly, disabled and child care grants. Thus the youth of today, are born into social security — their parents are recipients of state welfare not because they are citizens, but because they have children.

Once a child is over the age of 18, this grant falls away. The double-whammy of unemployment and poverty kicks in.

Today’s student unrest is a direct result of the situation where a pupil, having generated income for his or her family, simply by being a child, turns into a liability on becoming a young adult and tertiary student. In most cases, such a person is forced to fend for him or herself.

This is an enormous shock to both the youth and the family.

So far as social security in South Africa is concerned, we are a nation which has the cart before the horse.

The Focus on Labour at the expense of the Market

Command economies have failed wherever they have been attempted. Creating industries, whatever the cost, in order to create jobs, instead of producing efficiency, achieves the exact opposite. Labour for the sake of labour, is tremendously wasteful. Wherever it has been a state policy, communism has resulted in economic distortions and failure to deliver goods. Shifting the goal of humankind towards labour is therefore an exercise in futility.

Instead of paying families to have children, we should be paying people to stop working.

A social wage, comprising an unconditional basic income grant, health care and free education, would be the means by which the worst ravages of poverty and last vestiges of coercive labour was removed from our society.

The coervice labour market is a legacy of the apartheid system, which was dependent upon a labour pool, where workers were treated as nothing more than a resource to exploit. This situation has not improved under the ruling party, in fact it has gotten far, far worse. BRICS under Gwede Mantashe, has birthed South African sweatshops producing goods for Russia, low-wages and a shrinking Rand have become a factor of life.

Instead of forcing people into employment (or joblessness as the case may be). A social wage would redistribute income to each and every citizen, not by virtue of being a child, but by virtue of ones ability to vote.

Leisure should be our goal, not labour.

Labour should only be a means of achieving other goals.

Making goods should go hand in hand with Buying Goods. While Henry Ford may have had his faults, he produced cars for the workers who worked in his factories, not for the wealthy elite.

Citizens should thus be more than simply workers, they should be treated as adults and consumers.

While labour has certainly contributed to better work conditions — the invention of the long weekend, and other public holidays — it would be even better if labour were to permanently depose itself, by creating a 360-day-Vacation. Allowing robots to self-assemble and produce the goods, which we buy with our wages, which are in turn given to us, via a more efficient means of production and redistribution of wealth, This is an alluring proposition. Holland for instance had moved to end labour in mining. Machines are replacing humans wherever they are found, and the full automation of society is only a matter of time.

See Part 5

Fix the economy stupid and provide free education (part 2)

SOUTH AFRICA’S YOUTH are experiencing an economic disconnect. A generation faced with a world without jobs,  a massive debt burden, and an economy that has failed miserably to gear itself up for the third wave technologies that Asia and the West have embraced decades previously.

While you were out striking, marching or simply shopping, the world evolved, from a bipolar economy, dependent upon China and the USA, to a multipolar universe —  an economy without a centre.  The rise of the Information Economy — based as it is on information freedom, has been coupled with successive innovations. The Third Industrial Revolution has produced a ‘post-scarcity economy’, where having a ‘China on ones Desktop’, a 3D printer capable of printing anything, is considered de rigeur.

Successive waves of innovation have seen — the virtualisation of the economy, the dematerialisation of assets and the Internet’s proverbial death-of-distance. Pop-up factories, makerspaces, friction-free digital copies and the Internet of Things are all buzzwords and terms which the youth are invariably going to meet on their journey. In the future, your neighbour will hand you a copy of an open source motorcycle, just so the two of you can go for drive. When you return, you will recycle the vehicle into any number of other open source devices.

South Africa’s youth can work and play, just about anywhere there is an Internet connection or icafe, but getting connected to the Net is not sufficient to enable jobs and education. There are other necessities, common to first world economies which we lack as a nation, and without them, being merely connected, is simply not good enough. In fact, a job, as an end in itself, may not necessarily be all that desirable, the same way that owning anything in an economy based upon abundance, is not the alpha and omega.

How did we get here? Let’s take another look at our economy and the problem of state expenditure already covered in part 1.

Instead of taking heed of the lessons learnt via the unbundling of state enterprises, during the very first decade of democracy, the ruling party, hamstrung by labour and its SACP partners, took an anti-liberalisation view of government, and its role in the economy. Preserving the ‘dirigiste economy’ at all costs and accumulating wealth for the state, come what may. Could the money gained from taxation and investment by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) have been better spent on education, health, and social welfare?

The terrible twins of big government and rampant state expenditure (on dubious projects) has all contributed to the nation-wide malaise,  a combination of student protest and declining fortunes.

Increasingly the grand state under Jacob Zuma, brokered in response to anti-market opposition groups such as the Economic Freedom Front*  has loomed large on the agenda. Big government has in turn placed a massive weight on the public purse.  The slow-motion train crash, in which an increasingly belligerent left, places the brakes on growth, calling for an end to Neoliberalism (and even the marketplace), in order to accommodate a National Development Plan (NDP), better suited to a nineteenth-century economy — one based upon resource exploitation — has meant that there are very few options open to the central bank and Minister of Finance.

Like oil-rich nations such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Africa’s mineral wealth was not going to last forever. Strikes in the platinum sector have proven, that even a reduction in output is not enough to push up prices. Instead of squandering the nation’s wealth, it would have been better invested in a sovereign wealth fund. Like Zambia which suddenly woke up to an end in the commodity boom, and without any cash left in the bank — do we really need to diversify into religion, in order to pray for a time machine to take our economy back to the days when there was a boom? Luckily South Africa has a few other options up its sleeve.

These are explored in part three

  • * Let’s call the EFF what they are, a front for their ultra-left ideological partner, North Korean president Kim Jong-un whose policies are remarkably similar to those advocated by Julius Malema.