And ego­tism rule in SA

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

CAP­I­TAL­IST val­ues of in­di­vid­u­al­ism, self­ish­ness and greed have taken over the psy­che of peo­ple across all classes, es­pe­cially blacks. There are far too few blacks who es­pouse or prac­tise the much-vaunted ubuntu that sup­pos­edly ex­presses African hu­man­ism.

It’s ev­ery man or fam­ily for him­self – and South Africa, for those who can get what they can for them­selves.

The shar­ing of re­sources or re­dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth is a thing of the past.

While few blacks con­tinue to share re­sources with fam­i­lies and rel­a­tives – in­clud­ing dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son – the spirit of shar­ing has greatly di­min­ished.

This hap­pens as the black mid­dle class grows and more blacks can share and spread re­sources.

The best ex­am­ple of this is the ab­sence of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions where blacks show a will­ing­ness for racial up­lift­ment.

In­stead, monied blacks would rather spend R200 000 for a child at an elite pri­vate school than spread that among 20 chil­dren at a rea­son­able for­mer Model C school.

While blacks driv­ing ve­hi­cles that cost al­most R1 mil­lion will re­turn as su­per-achiev­ers and heroes to their di­lap­i­dated com­mu­ni­ties in the town­ships and ru­ral ar­eas, they don’t spend time and re­sources to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture in the com­mu­ni­ties that pro­duced them.

In­stead, blacks who es­tab­lish schools to ad­dress the ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis are for­eign­ers who are per­se­cuted for al­legedly run­ning fly-by-night schools.

It’s clear to those with eyes to see that eco­nom­i­cally well-off blacks have no time for their fel­low hu­man be­ings.

The cap­i­tal­ist val­ues and ethics of in­di­vid­u­al­ism, greed, self­ish­ness and pur­su­ing self-in­ter­est have con­vinced blacks that it isn’t nec­es­sary to share in the com­mu­nal sense of ubuntu.

This is in con­trast to pre-1994 times when blacks were con­demned to live and sup­port one an­other be­cause of the Group Ar­eas Act, among other op­pres­sive laws.

It was eas­ier to pre­tend to pledge or prac­tise black sol­i­dar­ity and es­pouse rhetor­i­cal black unity.

To be seen as shar­ing and show­ing an out­go­ing con­cern for fel­low blacks pro­vided a mea­sure of so­cial pro­tec­tion.

It also helped to gloss over the in­her­ent class dif­fer­ences that have al­ways been part of black di­vi­sion.

But once the white gov­ern­ment re­pealed racist laws, blacks did not hes­i­tate to show their true colours: dark and black.

Once they could move to live where they wanted, they did not hes­i­tate to turn their backs to aban­don il­lu­sion­ary black­ness based on skin colour.

There is, in­creas­ingly, clear class di­vi­sions in the black com­mu­nity that sep­a­rate and di­vide the priv­i­leged from the un­der­dogs.

The false bonds of black sol­i­dar­ity and unity have, at last, been shat­tered.

The de­sire is to as­sim­i­late into white main­stream so­ci­ety in or­der to en­trench and pro­mote cap­i­tal­ist val­ues.

Worse is that the only time priv­i­leged blacks will tol­er­ate be­ing in the same space with poor black peo­ple is at fam­ily gath­er­ings such as fu­ner­als and wed­dings.

Oth­er­wise there is a strong, thick line that di­vides the black com­mu­nity ac­cord­ing to class, even at fam­ily gath­er­ings.

Those from the sub­urbs with fancy de­grees, de­signer la­bels and cars from Europe are given pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.

Black­ness de­fined by skin colour as es­poused by the likes of Andile Mngxi­tama and Mzwanele Manyi has been thrown into tur­moil. In­stead priv­i­leged blacks who have em­braced cap­i­tal­ist val­ues don’t hes­i­tate to dis­play the same con­tempt for the black poor. The con­nect­ed­ness to cap­i­tal­ism doesn’t de­fine brother­hood in terms of giv­ing but what one can get at a cheaper price from the other.

For them the pri­or­ity strug­gle isn’t the fight against class dif­fer­ences in the black com­mu­nity, but racism.

Thus over the past 25 years the black mid­dle class – what­ever black means – is more ea­ger to or­ches­trate trans­for­ma­tion that closes the gap with whites than forge closer re­la­tions with black peo­ple.

Black achieve­ment and ad­vance­ment is in re­la­tion to in­te­gra­tion into white cap­i­tal­ism.

There’s enough ev­i­dence to con­firm that the apartheid strat­egy of di­vide and rule has shifted from the eth­nic par­a­digm to class.

In fact, class di­vi­sions are to be found in all tribal and/or eth­nic groups.

When black ac­tivists talk about racism and a de­sire to con­front the much-vaunted white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, they aren’t in­ter­ested in ad­dress­ing the in­creas­ing eco­nomic in­equal­ity in black so­ci­ety.

Cap­i­tal­ism breeds eco­nomic in­jus­tice and per­pet­u­ates in­equal­ity, thus mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for so­cial co­he­sion to take place.

But the pre­oc­cu­pa­tion and ob­ses­sion with racism in the black psy­che makes it easy to con­done the eco­nomic sys­tem.

How­ever, it is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to ex­plain black sol­i­dar­ity and black unity as po­lit­i­cal con­cepts when the in­equal­ity gap is so glar­ing.

The cap­i­tal­ist val­ues and ethics of in­di­vid­u­al­ism have had an ad­verse ef­fect on black unity.

The like­li­hood of black sol­i­dar­ity and unity has been per­ma­nently thrown into the dust­bin of his­tory. It doesn’t make sense to ba­bies born in 1994.

UNITED NO MORE: In­creas­ingly, there are clear class di­vi­sions in the black com­mu­nity that separates and di­vides the priv­i­leged from the un­der­dogs. The false bonds of black sol­i­dar­ity and unity have, at last, been shat­tered, says the writer.

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