Response to the events at the State of the Nation Address by AZAPO President Prof Itumeleng Mosala- 12 February 2015

SONA 2015 epitomises everything that is wrong with South Africa at the Moment By Dean McCleland in Current Affairs, Opinion Pieces

By AZAPO – Prof. Itumeleng Mosala

In the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx wrote: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. “ Marks goes on to provide historical examples: “Caussidiere for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montagne of 1848 to 1851 for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the Nephew for the Uncle.” 

After the dramatic events of last night in Parliament, 12 February 2015, at the State of the Nation Address that President Zuma was to address we can be pardoned if we extended Marx’s line of thought by saying, “Julius Malema for Jacob Zuma”; or as Marx himself would have put it, Nephew Malema for Uncle Zuma. 

He then concludes that poignant first paragraph of his monograph by stating: “And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances attending the second edition of the eighteenth Brumaire “

The words, maybe concepts of, tragedy, farce and others, intertwined with and without resolution in the minds of South Africans as they watched the political paralysis of liberal parliamentary democracy, strangely with disbelief, even though they were promised last night’s menu by the Nephew and his crew.

For the Black Consciousness adherents, whose philosophy was founded on the fundamental rejection of liberalism and the foundation of lies and deceipt upon which liberalism is grounded, this tragedy and farce was inevitable and should have been expected. Thank God history saved us a presence in those chambers last night. It would have been unpleasantly difficult to have sought to wake up Steve Biko, Onkgopotse Tiro, Mapetla Mohapi, Stanley Ntwasa, Mthuli Ka  Shezi, Jerry Modisane, Letsatsi Mosala and above all, in a way younger members may never know how, Muntu ka Myeza – to ask them to inspire a response the tragedy and farce that Nephew and Uncle played out to the nation and the world. 

If our sense of responsibility and moral compunction tends us want to be seen to be vocal on these matters and is offended by our difference of perspective from the hoopla of the media houses and ideologically empty political responses of the opposition parties last night, we can look some where else.  And the reason for doing so is that we are or should be different from the rest of them, not just now but forever because we always were. And when we did understand ourselves in this way our people loved us, understood us, supported us and gave us their only sons and daughters to die for the revolution in Azania.

Somewhere else then Marx makes our point. If we understand it we shall understand the fundamental problem: liberalism and its institutions, not individuals and their moral profile – even though this is also important. But we are talking here about the revolution and therefore lets hear Marx again speaking about similar political developments in Germany: “ Led by our shepherds, we never found ourselves in the company of freedom except ounce – on the day of its burial” (On Religion, p39)

And more importantly his words reverberate through history and must continue to inspire us: “ History is thorough, and goes through many phases, when taking an old form to the grave. And last stage of historical development, is comedy so that the people can part with their past cheerfully.

So, last night the events at the State of the Nation looked tragic and farcical. But they were also comical. It is or should be clear that the country has never needed leadership than at this point! Of course we mean Leaders not Celebrities! The words of Todd d Gitlin are apposite: “The movement elevated many leaders, the media selected for celebrity those among them who most closely matched prefabricated images of what an opposition leader should look and sound like: articulate, theatrical, bombastic, and knowing and inventive in the ways of packaging messages for their mediability”(The whole world is watching, p.154)

The country needs alternatives not oppositions. Parliament is a legitimate theatrical stage liberal drama where the ruling party and opposition parties play out their roles. What is needed is a radical alternative. In search of an urgent alternative we should keep in mind that “ no class in civil society has any need or capacity for general emancipation until it is forced by its immediate condition, by material necessity, by its very chains… Where then is the positive possibility of emancipation?

Answer: In the formation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society”. (On Religion, p. 50)

What happened in Parliament was bound to happen and will happen again, from all sides – the inevitable consequences of an unfinished revolution.