WHEN IDEOLOGY TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER ECONOMY or the relevance of South Africa to the European Union
South Africa’s electricity is managed almost entirely by ESKOM, a state-run company. Between 1923, when it was founded, and 1994, the year the African National Congress (ANC) took power, it operated without significant failures. Afterwards, within a couple of years ESKOM began to drift towards crisis, and for some time now it has been coping with serious difficulties resulting in frequent and recurrent blackouts or power cuts. What has happened?
Man is driven by two powerful driving forces that satisfy the demands of his body and psyche, and these are economy and ideology respectively. In order to mete out his existence, man must work diligently, solve problems, invent tools and methods of production, lead a frugal life, economize for unforeseen times of scarce resources or bad harvest. Anyone who can proceed like that will eventually make it in life and assert his position. Whoever fails to do so is doomed to suffer want. Communities are made up of individuals biologically endowed with qualities that have a high or low survival value. No wonder then that within several years a community will be split into the well-to-do and the destitute. Naturally, individuals brilliant of the mind enthrall individuals with smaller intellectual capabilities, or rather it is the other way round: the individuals with smaller mental capabilities out of necessity relinquish their personal freedom and trade their bare work force for sustenance.
Enter ideology. It may either petrify the social structure thus serving the needs of the natural elites, or it may try to disrupt the existing system, exciting the unsuccessful, the helpless, the less resourceful, and spendthrifts to bring about changes which in plain English means: to strip the haves of the assets and positions and redistribute the wealth among the have-nots. The ideology affirming the world as it is is Aristotelian in origin and is advocated by political movements that are commonly referred to as right-leaning; the ideology that divides societies into the undeservedly privileged and the unjustly downtrodden is Platonic in origin and is advanced by left-leaning political movements. The proponents of the latter work assiduously to reverse the natural social order either violently or by disseminating leftist ideas among the upper classes. In the latter case such subversive ideas act as mental viruses which, if they successfully take control over the minds of the ruling classes, are capable of making them serve the lower classes out of conviction. That is how the power of ideology or religion has manifested itself throughout centuries.
History is fraught with violent or evolutionary changes when the so-called underprivileged displaced the so-called privileged, or captured their minds and made them relinquish all or part of their authority. Neither the French nor the Russian revolutions would have been possible without the participation of some individuals from the classes which the revolutionaries targeted. Both the French and the Russian aristocracy, giving in to liberal ideas, helped their economic and political opponents to topple them down. Similarly, the ruling classes in South Africa and Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – acting under pressure from abroad or domestic intellectual infiltration broke ranks and made room for the underprivileged to rule the country.
If individuals are not viewed as endowed with different capabilities and consequently evaluated on merit, then the temptation arises to attach to each of them value on the simple grounds that they are human beings. In the light of the human rights – elevated to an ill-founded form of religious worship that man shows for himself almost worldwide – every individual is as precious as any other and hence easily replaceable. To gainsay it is tantamount to blasphemy punishable by at least social ostracism. The other is your neighbour, your comrade, a socius, to use the Latin word. This is the cornerstone of socialism, i.e. such an arrangement of the relations among community members in which all have affordable access to any position or career they please, never mind their merit.
Now once socialist ideas grab hold of the collective mind, people demand that in most managerial and political positions of power, all or most of the naturally gifted, the clever and the diligent be replaced with individuals from the bottom rung of the social ladder. This happened in all socialist countries as divergent as North Korea, East Germany or Cuba, and everywhere the effect was the same: a partial or total collapse of economy, resulting in the lack of basic goods. Still, in those countries CEO’s and ministers had to be appointed from among the hitherto underprivileged, come hell or water. The resultant shortcomings were explained away as transitory or caused by troublemakers who were either inimical foreign agents or else treacherous domestic supporters of the previous ‘unjust’ social system.
That’s precisely what is happening in South Africa. The ANC set its sights on social and racial transformation of the country. Enjoying an overwhelming majority of the citizenry (80% are black, 9% are coloured), it easily imposed the race-based affirmative action known as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and gradually displaced highly qualified whites from the managerial positions. ESKOM and the affiliated entities did not escape this fate either. The policy did not affect ESKOM alone. Everywhere across the country, racial favoritism or racial cronyism lay behind economic decisions. ESKOM’s failure is thus magnified by all the small failures of all the small enterprises with which the electricity provider needs to cooperate. In this way problems compound like interest of a bad debt.
To make things worse, the authorities – driven by the same ideological racial-cum-socialist religion in an attempt to please the mostly low-income black voters – have been keeping the price of electricity at too low levels, which meant that the nation’s provider was stripped of the revenue with which to develop its network. Being forced to economize, the company started to reduce the size of expensive coal stockpiles and deferred maintenance of the grid and power stations. Further, in line with the BEE programme, it made coal-supply contracts with smaller mines run by black owners, and these provided worse quality coal, which in turn translated into smaller production yield and sometimes damage to the equipment. All of which resulted in the power cuts mentioned above.
It is a vicious circle. Power cuts entail lower income of various businesses nationwide, hence lower tax revenue for the government with which it might try to make a financial injection for ESKOM. Failure to provide electricity means that ESKOM cannot earn enough for its services on this own. It is a downward spiral. If ESKOM is not allowed to raise the price for its service, it must rely on government money, which in turn – like in all socialist countries – accustoms the company’s board not to reckon with the profit-and-loss account. Why, the government will always cover the arrears, be it through taxes or money printing. The history of all socialist countries shows that it is moving along a dead-end street.
If the electricity crisis persists, it might degenerate into a serious, protracted blackout. One dreads to think what might happen if a large part of the country remains without electricity for just a few days. Businesses would stop operating; transport powered by electricity would stop operating overnight, to be soon followed by transport powered by liquid fuel because vehicles would not be able to be re-filled at electricity-powered petrol stations. If transport stopped, then all the deliveries, all the supplies of food would stop. The pumps providing water and those used in sewage treatment stations would stop, which would be disastrous for large cities. No radio, no television, no internet connection, with mobile phones remaining in use for so many days till their batteries run down. No connection between the government and the people. What would happen at night?
We may remember what happened in the New York City in 1977 when there was an electric outage. Looting of shops and malls on a gigantic scale. This was coupled with the rioters setting the emptied shops ablaze so as to remove all trace of evidence. The people who went on a rampage in New York were of African racial stock. Now to properly imagine the possible scale of atrocities which might happen in South Africa, it is enough to recall what is happening on a regular basis in the once Boer colonies: brutal necklacing of tribal or political opponents, stoning of undesired people, torching of trains, cruel attacks on white farmers to name just a few.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently come up with remedial propositions, including splitting ESKOM up into three independently operating companies, each separately responsible for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Will it be of any avail? If the whole company has failed due to incompetence, bad planning, low revenue, outdated equipment, low work ethic, corruption of which there is persistent rumour plus official reports, and theft of electricity as well as equipment needed for power transmission, how can dividing ESKOM help? It will not generate money, nor will it enhance competence or improve work ethic, nor will it stop theft and certainly it will not rejuvenate old power stations that are in bad repair.
Socialism is known for solving problems that it has created in the first place. What is the problem that socialism creates? It flouts economic and biological laws and replaces them with a religion of social equality and affordability of a maximum number of products and services to a maximum number of people without demanding much in return. Yet economic and biological laws are like physical laws: violation of them is punishable mercilessly and there is no stricter law enforcement officer than reality itself: it will never fail to mete out penalty where it is deserved. In Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, the religion of socialism – which among its advocates and followers was referred to as scientific(!) socialism – swept away knowledgeable and experienced people and replaced them with the underprivileged; it did not reckon with profit but was busy amending inequalities; it worshipped man, especially the one who was uneducated, simple-minded, ill-mannered. In Zimbabwe and South Africa socialism has also racial overtones to it. Land expropriation without compensation to white farmers, viewed as an act of social and racial justice that is looming large these days, resembles similar acts enforced in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. The outcome? The Soviet Union imported grain throughout its over seventy-year-long existence. It had to take so much time for ideologues to realise that it is skills, diligence and resourcefulness coupled with a desire for profit that matter, not social justice. Some socialists realised, if belatedly, that under the conditions of sound economy – be it capitalism or, dare we say it, apartheid? – the so-called underprivileged are still far better off than under socialism. The price for that is that the so-called underprivileged must somehow come to terms with the fact that they occupy lower rungs of the social ladder and that it usually can’t be helped. They must be satisfied with the relatively little they have and they need to accept the fact that there are some who are – to use the colloquial vernacular – stinking rich, in the full awareness that in a social or racial equality system, everybody is worse off, especially the helpless and – to use the fashionable moniker – the excluded. Was it not so that workers and peasants from socialist countries kept escaping to the Western capitalist countries to be exploited? Wasn’t it so that black from the whole of Africa as well as Hindus flocked to South Africa during the times of apartheid that Western intellectuals dreaded so much? The proof of the food is in the eating.
And finally, why are we, Europeans, bothered with blackouts in the southernmost corner of the Dark Continent. The answer is simple and it is a lesson that we can learn from the past. Just as the Socialist (and multicultural) Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Union of Soviet Socialist (and multicultural) Republics or the Austria-Hungary (and multicultural) Dual Monarchy prefigured the European Union with all attendant outcomes, so South Africa and Zimbabwe prefigures France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden once they become saturated with coloured people. The same phenomena will occur on the Old Continent, especially given that the elites of those countries have already fallen victim to the creed of social and racial equality and are increasingly committing themselves to implementing a European variety of affirmative action. Riots in the suburbs of Western European cities are a foretaste of the things to come.
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