One of my favorite writers, Bryan Rostron,* (I consider his occasional pieces on South Africa in publications like The New Statesman as an antidote to the ramblings of RW Johnson), opines on the age of Jacob Zuma.
‘… Many of “comrades” [in the ruling alliance in South Africa] still like to quote Marxist holy writ. But, of course, they do so entirely selectively. Famously Lenin declared that without literacy, “there can only be rumour, gossip, fairy-tales and prejudices, but no politics”. The fact is, however, that uneducated people are usually perfectly sensible about the reality of their own lives, and are frequently far more decent and progressive than blustering, careerist politicians. Instead it is “communists” such as [Blade] Nzimande [currently secretary general of the Communist Party and a close Zuma ally] and [Buti] Manamela [he served on the ANC's electios team and is leader of the youth wing of the Communist Party] who, in this election, have churned out what Lenin denounced as “rumour, gossip, fairy-tales and prejudices.” What, in such circumstances, is the meaning of the Marxist term “dialectics”? A superb book of essays by historian Tony Judt, entitled Reappraisals, provides a handy definition. The Spanish writer Jorge Semprún was interred in Buchenwald concentration camp, records Judt, where a veteran fellow communist revealed the secret. It’ll be worth recalling this when, like their predecessors under Mbeki, South African Communist Party ministers in a Zuma government begin to perform convoluted ideological somersaults. Dialectics, Judt, explains, “is the art and technique of always landing on your feet”.
* Rostron, btw, has a new novel out which a friend in Cape Town has kindly offered to mail to me. Looking forward to it.