Class and Race

Cheche Selepe, 29 February 2008

It is annoying to see how much oceans of ink being spilled in an attempt to elucidate how far behind the country is in eradicating racism.

Sadly, very little has been said about the fundamental causes of racism fourteen years later. Truth is that while the fundamental base remains unresolved, the country will still produce even more vicious racists this world has ever seen.

It is shortsighted to say the Skielik racism, the shame of the Universiteit van Vrystaat or the tribal skirmishes in Kenya are political, cultural, religious and even psychologically motivated without looking at the fundamental base of it all, the economic basis of racism, tribalism and religious fanaticism.

In Skielik, we are told, the young murderer is associated with those owning large tracks of productive land while the victims are something-like squatters entangled in the poverty of shanty life.

The Kenyan mess has its roots in one or two ethnic groups becoming an ethnic class. Its adversaries on the other, though hijacked by a millionaire, are living in the slum areas, entangled in vicious cycles of poverty like the Skielik victims or the poor working women and a man at the Universiteit van Vrystaat.

These recent spate of racial humiliation of blacks fourteen years after democracy proves that the free-market system cannot resolve the horrible question of nationality, racism and tribalism. The free-market system has failed humanity even under a democratic state, fresh from a near slavery subjugation of those currently composing a majority-rule parliament backed by an internationally renowned constitution. The free-market system or capitalism has failed to safeguard human rights for all.

It is no coincidence at all that the communist-Chinese government blamed the free-market for the Kenyan tribal mess. They say western democracy is no option at all for Africa. Even among the Africans themselves, with no sizeable white-minority domination, the Kenyan masses slaughtered each other under a free-market democratic banner.

Surely, the free-market has failed humanity; take a look at Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia among others. Prior to the fall of the communist Marshall Tito's Yugoslavia, the Serbs, Slovaks and Croats were all living in harmony. But the honeymoon came to an abrupt end as the free-market evil took root in that part of the world. Since then, the former Yugoslavia witnessed the worst racial violence Europe has ever tasted since Hitler. The same logic applies with Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall and its dramatic increases in race violence.

In fact, since the fall of communist states and the Soviet Union, the rising triumphalism of western free-markets has been accompanied by an ever-rising racism, tribalism and religious fanaticism. The worst racial horrors are still to be seen and heard, and some of these barbaric acts are happening daily without the notice or maybe ignorance of the media.

In his writings, the father of communism – Karl Marx, once lamented that the history of all hitherto societies is a history of class struggle. Developing from Marx, the father of South Africa's modern democracy – Joe Slovo – echoed that any national liberation that fails to grapple with class issues is doomed to failure. And there is no doubt about it, the South African national democracy and its Kenyan counterpart has failed, and is doomed for even a larger failure.

In his sunset clause document, a document that triggered our democracy, Slovo said the minority bureaucracy in government and by extension in society, should be given a five-year period of existence and then removed. But unfortunately due to his untimely death, white hegemony has been extended to over fourteen years hence the unending racial horrors such as Skielik, Vrystaat and more.

There can never be a non-racial democracy in South Africa because the free-market capitalist system is divisive – inherently based on divisions between landlords and the landless, the rich and poor, men and women, black and white, Christians and Jews or Muslim and of course workers and bosses. In all free-market racial societies, access to skills, professions and resources is dictated to by race, ethnicity or religion. Strip-off the minority boss' domination of the economy then you will see racism evaporating like a thin haze in the real but vital air of society.

Like in greater parts of South Africa, in Skielik and Vrystaat including Kenya, the ethnic groups had become a class, monopolising economic and state resources at the expense of the rest. In the process, they turn the rest of the others inferior kitchen maids and garden boys, the hewers of wood and drawers of water.

It is annoying that while we reeling from the horrors of Skielik and Vrystaat, some like SA Human Rights Commissioner Judy Kollapen are running like head-less chicken on trivialities like the actions of the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) and the K-word of SA Football Association-boss Irvin Khoza.

The only time we hear of the human rights commission and its condemnation of racism is when another racial horror reaches the media attention. Otherwise we do not know what other human rights horrors are reaching the commission yet swept under the carpet.

In the beginning, it is the horrors happening at the South African prisons. The last time we read on Judy Kollapen and his commission's publicity stint on the worst human rights abuses South Africa inflicts daily on its prisoners was about eight years ago.

'Today, a prison cell-space meant for thirty prisoners is shared by 120,' says a high-ranking prison official at a prison less than 15-minutes drive from Kollapen's posh offices in Parktown. And unfortunately, the majority if not all of the 120-crammed individuals befit the FBJ's black and Khoza's K-people. Contrary to the constitution, these people's human rights are literally taken away by the state that pays Kollapen a salary and he is mum about it.

What Kollapen, Khoza, the K-people, the FBJ, its hosts and the non-K-people need to know is that there shall never be non-racialism in a free-market capitalist economy. Human rights and racism in particular is economic-bound and turned into a commodity by the free-market system. Only those with money can enjoy human rights, otherwise the poor majority that is black shall endure the worst human rights violations ever.

As long as the rich and poor divide remains in South Africa more incidents worse than those in Skielik and Vrystaat shall happen. More blacks shall be crammed in concentration camps that we call prisons. Not even a BEE or its later version of BBBEE plan shall eradicate the rich-poor divide and its accompanying racism in this country. Fourteen more years later more B's could be added but the racism shall haunt this country further.

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