I‘ve changed the agreement in Tom Barnett‘s headline (above) because his use of the plural just sounds plain wrong to me (and I am not alone). And I am reprinting here, in full, a piece I intended only to share, because there‘s something very wrong with the permalink. 1 So here is the piece:
The ANC was, as I like to remind people, a "bad actor" in my PhD dissertation, meaning one of the NLMs (national liberation movements) that the Soviet bloc supported vis-à-vis the West. Basically, we pushed Nelson and Co. into the arms of the Sovs just like we did Ho Chi Minh (“Sorry bud, we‘re sticking with our white Euro friends on this one.”).
Of course, once apartheid falls, Mandela and the ANC are recast in our official history as good guys (indeed, they were always such good guys in the public‘s imagination, because the Soviet-bloc support was kept out of their view) — even saints in the case of the great man himself.
Not surprisingly, this revolutionary party has maintained a monopolistic grip on power since its ascendancy, with only top party officials allowed to rule (no Andrew Jacksons in sight). Also not surprisingly, the ANC has grown corrupt and inefficient and visionless in its time in power.
And so now, at the generational mark of two decades past the revolution, popular dissatisfaction grows. Often, the ruling leftist party will attempt to revive the revolutionary spirit at this point, with Mao‘s cultural revolution being the most obvious example. You've just got to re-indoctrinate the — in this instance called the — born-free generation about why your party‘s rule should remained unchallenged. The ones who give you trouble are inevitably the educated, urban ones (that‘s why it‘s always good to kill anyone wearing glasses, as Pol Pot once argued), and your base inevitably remains the rural poor. Call it engine-versus-caboose, workers-versus-exploiters or red state-versus-blue--whatever.
The better way out is to allow the natural move toward a splinter party, but few countries can manage that as quickly as Zuma‘s opponents seek to today. They are naturally derided as a “Mickey Mouse” organization; the Globetrotters like their Washington Generals persistently and pervasively inept.
Don‘t expect this to get any better. Most likely route is further decay leading to explosion.
Only hope would be Mandela coming out against his own party, but that‘s unlikely, since he remains a good soldier.
I‘ll take it down as soon as I get word that Barnett‘s blog is fully functional.
2021-12-03: That was then. That link is now fully functional and probably has been for some time. As for South Africa, I do believe it has got better, but I‘m a long way away. ↩