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The omnishambles in Poland and the bestial schadenfreude of the intelligentsia

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Ismail Lagardien is a writer, columnist and political economist with extensive exposure and experience in global political economic affairs. He was educated at the London School of Economics, and holds a PhD in International Political Economy.

There has been much gloating and schadenfreude about the omnishambles in Poland and a lot of intellectual occlusion about the African peace mission, together with self-satisfaction and sanctimony.

The myriad problems that beset South Africa, from government failures to corruption, violence and the destruction of infrastructure, and their overall impact on society are not a cause for celebration, gloating and schadenfreude. They are cause for sadness, deep reflection, disappointment and, yes, anger. They also require sincere and selfless participatory democracy.

The omnishambles that unfolded in Poland last week, during what should have been a positive and progressive move (that is, ideally, what peace missions are supposed to be), has seen very many people in South Africa, most notably the historical bloc referred to in this space recently, sit back, as it were, gloating gleefully and satisfying themselves with schadenfreude.

This schadenfreude has been building for years. It seems to have reached the point where all the prejudices and biases about African or black governance have been proven.

Let’s try an analogy. Imagine a man who believes that women are bad drivers. He goes about his daily routines, ignoring moving violations big and small, and accepts them as “that’s just the way it is”. After several hours, days or weeks, he sees a female driver make a left turn without using her car’s indicators.

“Aha!” the good man proclaims. “There, there… there is proof that women are bad drivers.”

He goes home, opens a beer, turns on the TV and sits back in schadenfreude, satisfied that his prophecies have been fulfilled; preterist-man of secular coming…

Twitter is not the world, but the world can be reached through Twitter. Some of the most influential people – journalists, researchers, policymakers and public figures (alpha users and influencers) – around the world use this form of media. The moment they tweet they enter a public domain where they have almost an obligation to be “an oppositional figure” and, at the best of times, “embarrassing, contrary, even unpleasant”.

Bestial schadenfreude of the intelligentsia

Dancing on the grave of a state and society, with malign delight, is rarely necessary, at least not in a democratic society. What was apparent on social media during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s peace mission, was an almost bestial schadenfreude. Nietzsche believed that humans derived great pleasure from seeing others suffer, and that schadenfreude was “an ancient, mighty, human, all-too-human, principle to which even the apes might subscribe”.

This brief essay is not a call for sunshine journalism. Nor is it blind or unqualified praise for the President. My position(s) on the war in Ukraine, what I believe Vladimir Putin’s objectives are, and how I regard Ramaphosa are clear. On the issue of non-alignment, in this case, I stand with one of the great historians of the last century, Eric Hobsbawm, who, reflecting on the role of intellectuals during the Spanish Civil War, drew a “most immediate lesson” that “non-intervention helped one side”. 

In his work, George Orwell picked a side in the 1930s.

“The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it…”

What I am writing here is, then, not to say that South African intellectuals, whether sitting in Washington, London, Australia, Cape Town or Gauteng, do not have the right to side with the West, as is their wont.

They, like very many South Africans (myself included), have been steeped in Western culture (music, literature, film, dress, dance) since birth. We are much more familiar with universalised characters (from Mickey Mouse to Elmo, Abby or the Cookie Monster) than we are with Asian shadow plays. 

It takes great effort and courage to admit that and to settle for an intellectually honest and independent position on global affairs, free from the prejudices, preferences and biases that come with cultural assimilation into dominant Western thought.

The bliss of self-righteousness and single-story narratives

What is cause for concern is the smug, smarmy face of I-told-you-so (that perennial belief that black people cannot govern, are prone to screw up, and that Afro-pessimism is real), and a single-story narrative, with fixed positions about right and wrong heavily influenced by the West’s expectations and demands.

In South Africa, the historical bloc of intellectuals is terribly self-assured in their righteousness. They would have everyone believe their version of events is true, when the truth is much more complicated and uneasy… They tend to speak more than they think, rarely leave room for their own intellectual weaknesses, and invariably proceed from an inflated state of superiority. 

It was Thomas Hobbes who said that people are perfectly happy to acknowledge that others can be smart and clever, but their own intellect and knowledge are simply superior, while forgetting, conveniently, that proximity to their own knowledge shapes their confidence and self-belief. They cannot imagine being wrong and simply offensive.

I am often reminded of the toxicity that is so part of the superiority of a single-story narrative and the lack of deeper understanding (and empathy). I use the following example to demonstrate this absence and callousness. 

In the 2007/8 North American academic year, a lecturer (I will withhold his name), stood before a “political science” class at the University of South Carolina, where I taught for about five years. The good professor spoke about the superiority of the West, praising the outcomes of Nato’s bombing of Yugoslavia. At the back of the classroom sat two Serbian students, young women, who (themselves and their families) had been seriously affected by Nato’s bombing of Novi Sad. The destruction of infrastructure caused breakdowns in the supply of water and electricity that left families destitute and struggling for months on end.

The single-story narrative of Nato’s bombing of Novi Sad was that it was necessary, and (not by accident) it demonstrated the European world’s aerial superiority. The Serbian students left the lecture hall in tears. The collapse of Yugoslavia is a sore point, and the issue is most complicated.

I use the example to demonstrate the casual callousness and self-righteousness that inspire intellectuals to relay single-story narratives. I don’t share the false belief in objectivity, and neutrality during times of war is a middle-class privilege.

That there has been much gloating and schadenfreude around the omnishambles in Poland has been disturbing. Rebecca Davis wrote, quite correctly about the selective outrage. I would take a much more radical position and refer to the apparent joy that is so embedded in the range of responses from liberal centrists to right-wingers, who are like the man who drives around in search of a woman who drives badly, just so he can feel good about himself.

Last month the pope embarked on a peace mission to Ukraine and urged Catholics to be peacemakers. Also last month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged loyalty to the international rules-based order and solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Addressing the G7 meeting in Hiroshima, Kishida pledged to “firmly uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law and to show our resolve to fully defend peace and prosperity”. There was nary a criticism of either because Washington wants an outright victory.

When South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, Naledi Pandor, talked about “a return to peace, multilateralism” and spoke out against the violation of the laws of war (in general I believe this is a fallacy, but that’s for another time), social media lit up like a Christmas tree.

The pope’s peace mission was accepted, Ramaphosa’s was condemned. The key to understanding this is in two claims that I lay out here. 

The first is that African governments, especially in South Africa, can’t do right for doing wrong in the racist imaginary. The second is that the pope and the Japanese prime minister appear to side with Ukraine, but want a peaceful settlement. Ramaphosa and Pandor appear to side with Russia, and (also) prefer a peaceful settlement.

It is difficult to ignore or dismiss the racist undertones and Afro-pessimism at the base of intellectual responses to South Africa’s peace mission to Russia and Ukraine. It’s easier to mock and jeer, gloat and feel good about ourselves in bestial schadenfreude.

This was summed up succinctly in  Wits University’s 2017 Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture by Issa G Shivji, the Tanzanian scholar. He said intellectuals “produce ideas to define and serve themselves. And they are very good when it comes to producing self-serving ideas. They exaggerate and inflate their importance and role, their indispensability and alacrity, their sanctimony and sacrifice. Intellectuals are one species who are egoistic to the bone. But being masters of mystification, they package their egoism in altruism.”

As stated above, and emphasised again, in an elision of Hobsbawm and Orwell, I would stress that non-intervention typically helps one side in a conflict – this is especially true of Russia’s war on the Ukrainian people. Also, as with Orwell, every endeavour of our work ought to necessarily be directed against totalitarianism. What the omnishambles in Poland revealed is just how perfectly primed the historical bloc of intellectuals are to dance on the grave of South Africa – simply because it makes them feel good about themselves. DM

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  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    While I don’t doubt racism has a role to play in how some see the actions of our government, I think it is, at best, naive to suggest that is the only, or even predominant, reason for many people’s criticism and disgust.

    • Shirley Cowling says:

      You state, that in seeking peace, the Pope and Japan sided with Ukraine, while Ramaphosa and Pandor with Russia. But Ismael, this isn’t soccer, it’s war, invasive aggressive war initiated by Russia.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        The ‘intellectuals’ in the ANC and EFF would remind us that its the NATO ‘encroachment/encirclement’ of Russia’s (or even conflate it with soviet?) borders … that is the cause of the aggression … even if it is in the head of a psychopath … who has managed to convince a majority of his fellow countrypersons of it !

  • Natale Labia says:

    Unfortunately, wars by definition entail picking sides. It’s a question of survival. Call it what you will, but with that comes a degree of “bestial schadenfreude” – it’s just humanity.

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    But this is one of my main concerns about the multiple failures of the ANC government; that they do, sadly but unsurprisingly, play directly into the “I told you so..” essentially racist schadenfreude of particular groups of self-satisfied commentators – many of whom will probably consider themselves political and intellectual liberals. In this way the ANC is doing another massive dis-service to the majority people of this country. It is another dimension of the great betrayal being played out across the continent by not only the ANC but also many (most?) other post-colonial governments. Chinua Achebe pointed this out many yeas ago, of course.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Lawrence, agreed with you, mostly, but my experience is that you can’t simply lump all African government together: it’s the same as saying all European government are the same, when there is a massive difference in systems and governance between the slowly unfolding train wreck of the UK, the solid, unspectacular government in Germany, the boringly efficient ones in much of Scandinavia, the nationalist thugs in Russia, Belarus and wannabe-Hungary, the chaos in parts of Med-basin Europe and much in-between.

      Botswana at independence was the 10th poorest country on earth, whereas today it is a solidly lower-middle income country that has largely managed its mineral endowment well. The likes of Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique (with caveats) and others are moving towards much more pragmatic, less dogmatic domestic and foreign policy and reaping the rewards.

      South Africa is not in this grouping of forward-thinking nations, dogmatically and destructively clinging to their puerile, luddite, rose-tinted view of the struggle against apartheid and imperialism (whilst solidly backing Imperial Russia and Imperial China as they flex their muscle and territorial ambitions). There is zero critical thinking and analysis in SA government today, to the point where Pandor says we (they) are happy to toss economic advantage under the bus of political fealty.

      • Bill Gild says:

        Excellent comment .

      • John Strydom says:

        Thanks for your contribution. I am one of those who was inclined to the view that all African nations are losers.

        • Gerrie Pretorius says:

          Not ALL, but definitely MOST. The ones that have turned out ‘non-losers’ are few and far between. The majority have rulers like the anc who have not been able and willing to change from freedom fighters to government. They did not join the struggle to be poor. They rather steal and oppress to become (very) rich.

        • rmrobinson says:

          The bar is very low.

      • josephidowu says:

        The “Socio-political Journey” of a previously colonized majority black African country starts at their political independence. Thus, it is utterly misleading to compare the current state of a country as Nigeria to the current state of South Africa.
        In this journey, South Africa is 29 years old while Nigeria is 63. You can only compare current South African state with that of, say Nigeria of the late eighties to the early nineties.
        This same perspective must be applied to any previously colonized African country while keeping in mind that in the first place, the various demographics contituting the country were forced amalgams. The people never belonged together. If they had wanted to be together, the colonizers would have found them amalgamated or in the process.
        These are just a few of the dynamics that are in play in post-political independent African state.
        The killer for black Africans in continental Africa is the sharp difference between the cultures of the colonizers and theirs. Both are immiscible. And since colonization succeded in Africa, Black African cultures had to die. And they did. Parts of the offshoot is what we witness as predictable governance failures in all African states post-independence. Corruption/incompetence are not the core problems, they are mere manifestations of the core problem.

  • pchutch1 says:

    Thank you Ismail. Your insights are very thought provoking and reflect your deep intellect and privileged education. The bestial schadenfreude is very real. So is the government’s support for the totalitarian. It is hard to conclude what upsets you more, the despair of the intellectual block over their government’s stance or that very stance.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      My question for Ismail is : do you consider your aptly chosen quotation of Shivji to be applicable to you also ? OR …. are you of the variety that has somehow (clearly intellectually !) transcended that dichotomy ?

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    I agree with much of what Lagardien has written – it’s abundantly clear in so much of what is written below the line in newspapers in South Africa, where self-styled experts dismiss anything and everything in Africa as a disaster, almost always without having any experience of the broader continent and how it has fundamentally changed in the last 20 years or so. I have had the privilege of working across Africa since the 90s and have seen massive change during that time, much of it – not all of it – positive. The sneering attitude, of which the ‘Africa isn’t for sissies’ narrative is the worst, actually handicaps our ability to take advantage of so much that the rest of Africa has to offer us: the Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Turks, Europeans, Australians, Arabs and others who are investing heavily across the region (other than here, curiously [not!]) aren’t encumbered by these prejudices and failure to more open thinking.

    Where I disagree with Largardien, is in the reaction to the Polish Picnic: my schadenfreude (rightly described) is a direct reaction to the pure arrogance of the ANC, over decades, as they’ve destroyed so much of value in South Africa and told us how lucky we are that they’re in charge. Very simple. I am delighted every time the ANC fails, because it’s hopefully another nail in their long overdue coffin. We, as South Africans, deserve better than this miserable kaki-kleptocracy, and we have plenty of capable people of all races to deliver it.

    • John Strydom says:

      I share in that aspect of your schadenfreude. If you can’t even keep the lights on in your own country, how about concentrating on keeping the lights on before you go preaching to warring nations about how successful Africans have been at ending conflicts?

    • rmrobinson says:

      The problem is, of course, that writers such as he dismiss everything that does not fit their narrative. I have not noticed, for example, any meaningful contribution on De Ruyter’s book which ought to be compulsory reading. To everyone.

  • Bill Gild says:

    “What the omnishambles in Poland revealed is just how perfectly primed the historical bloc of intellectuals are to dance on the grave of South Africa – simply because it makes them feel good about themselves.”

    What utter nonsense – the ANC/SACP dug their own grave. The shenanigans in Warsaw, not to mention the delusional state the ANC/SACP are in, reflect reality. There is no joy in seeing, and writing about, this.
    What there is, is an increasing awareness that the ANC/SACP cannot govern, and with that, a growing apprehension about what the end-game in SA will look like.

  • William Kelly says:

    Meh. Chip on shoulder stuff.
    The reality is that there is no choice when it comes to governing. We have to have a black government, since clearly, as the writer has his stance ‘South African’ isn’t good enough. He glosses over the myriad ‘small issues’ of governance failure – shall we start with those of apartheid, or should we go back further? But for brevity let’s just stick the majority living memory for now – and I really do not need to list them (just today’s editions on DM) will fill a few books – and he asks that we forget all of these when contextualising our muppet in charge (I refuse to call them otherwise until they earn it) embarking on a peace mission overseas. It should be noted that the Japanese minister and the Pope were not in the Ukraine, but if they were I do not think their security delegatuon would be stuck at an airport with dodgey paperwork, and a plane full of arms. So, if people are pointing and laughing my good sir, it is not only this block of citizens you refer to, but aruguably the rest of the world (those that noticed or cared). See? I just widened your scope to play victim to racism for you, free of charge too.
    It’s nonsense. Perhaps, just perhaps, we screwed up? Again. And you can call it what you like but it is what it is. We need to be better but muppets can only do so much, and once the veneer of entertainment is stripped away all you are left with is an unfunny script and handfuls of dacron stuffing.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Ismail, just because they’re not out to get you does not mean you’re not paranoid.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    There you go again, Ismail, using long words to try and impress us, and failing miserably. Are you paid by the letter, rather than the word? It wouldn’t be so bad if you actually talked any sense, but you don’t.
    For example, saying “whatever South Africa does has to be consistent with what Washington expects, and any deviation makes the deviant complicit in all Putin’s war crimes.” just isn’t true, unless you add the amount of money the States provides to us in direct aid and via tax free imports! How you can call yourself an academic/intellectual is beyond me, and I seriously believe the DM should stop giving you a platform to air your long-winded nonsense.

    • Andrew R says:

      I agree, it is totally unnecessary to use such a long-winded approach. Say what you want to say, make it accessible for all, and maybe people will have more respect for the message.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    Lol, that’s funny. Thinking we find pleasure watching failed incompetents burning our country and reputation, making the same mistake you accuse of ZA society.
    We dispair you numbnut!

  • Andre Parker says:

    Food for thought

  • Carlo Fourie says:

    You ignore so many facts, conveniently. Russia is the aggressor, remember. That’s why the majority of the world is aligned with Ukraine. And given our antics and Pandor’s utterances since the outbreak of the war, you can certainly not compare her to the Pope. Our ANC government’s dirty underwear is hanging out from under our jacket of neutrality, and the world is harsh in its criticism, rightly so.
    It’s also disturbing that you now, between the lines, suggest that this historical block of intellectuals are whites, and that this group displays this schadenfreude. It’s a dangerous, simplistic and simply untrue observation, and I suggest you look inward and be honest with yourself (as you suggest we all do) about your own preconceived ideas and hang-ups.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    “the great betrayal” is the roll that the ANC plays. They promised The People everything and then stole it.

    Blaming DM subscribers comment is just false verbiage which DM actually pays you for.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    You’re right about the purveyors of schadenfreude, not just intellectuals, commenting daily on a myriad of platforms, rejoicing in the failures of the ANC government, ‘didn’t I tell you so’ bubbling up in almost every single comment. It’s depressing, even sickening, reading. But this ‘selective outrage’ is imho the result of years of actions, non-actions, lies, obfuscations and the cynical exploitation of a historical wrong. Who can blame people their schadenfreude when an all-powerful government (as all governments are) that has conspired among themselves and ruined a country and deprived their people of a future mess up yet again? This time for the entire world to see! It is simply a case of reaping what you’ve been sowing. And I can say without an iota of schadenfreude. And let’s not distill this Russian/Ukrainian issue to a Cold War simplification of communism vs capitalism/Russia vs Nato. The reality is that a world power invaded another sovereign nation, and whether it is Russia or the US and their ‘Western’ allies (in quotes because as a geo-political concept it disappeared with the fall of the Berlin Wall) it should be condemned in the strongest possible sense. Having an anti-Russian position in this conflict does not mean that one is pro-US!

    • rmrobinson says:

      Its not really schadenfreude. It is exhaustion – exhaustion at the ANC refusing to heed anything, refusing to listen to de Ruyter, refusing to heed the clear signs of corruption, refusing to care for the people of this country, refusing accountability. So, when, finally, they are held to account, one feels such a sign of relief – FINALLY. Of course, it is hopeless, the ANC is swatting this away as well, with the help of writers such as the one under consideration. The well-being of the people, the 60 million De Ruyter talked about time and time again, in an effort to exhort the Escom employees into action and service, simply do not matter.

    • rmrobinson says:

      Simply does not matter (I meant to say).

  • Ian McClure says:

    An interesting article on the views of another ANC failure.
    However, in a sense, the musings are intellectual arrogance in the extreme – your children are not getting the ” 30 %” education, no lights to study, cholera, rampant crime, skinny jeans instead of medical care etc etc.
    ” Neuroplasticity ” of a kind is needed by the respected author – LSE mantras and other philosophical views are interesting, but what this country needs is good outcomes and results – and those old mantras and implied racism are of no use in these circumstances .
    Be bold – as one intelligent young interviewee ( entrepreneur of the year a little while ago) replied, when asked what – in two words – is the solution to our snowballing crises in this country ?
    His answer ?
    REGIME CHANGE

  • T'Plana Hath says:

    “[I]ntellectuals produce ideas to define and serve themselves. And they are very good when it comes to producing self-serving ideas. They exaggerate and inflate their importance and role, their indispensability and alacrity, their sanctimony and sacrifice. Intellectuals are one species who are egoistic to the bone. But being masters of mystification, they package their egoism in altruism.”

    Today I learned the ANC leadership are intellectuals!

    • Jay Vyas says:

      The very same ANC that have Fake Leaders masquerading around with Fake Qualifications holding onto Fake Entitled Positions of Power Hallucinating about World Class Cities and World Class Political Ideologies that have Died with the Fall of the Berlin Wall!

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    Afro-pessimism and Schadenfreude is not the same as ANC-pessimism and despair. If you hammer hard enough even a round piece fits in a square hole. No doubt there are some that rub their hands together with glee seeing Africans fail, but to broadly assume this is the primary driver for all those criticizing yet another failure by the ANC is very prejudiced in my opinion. It is of course unfortunate that the A in ANC stands for African, but that changes little that the ANC as been a catastrophe in just about every way for all the people SA, except maybe their cadres. This has nothing to do with Afro-pessimism, it’s quite simply and clearly true by their very own actions over 25 years.
    Most that I know (and that includes people from all walks of life, races and cultures) wish nothing more than that this country is governed properly, no matter the skin color or cultural heritage of those in charge.

  • Ron Pearce says:

    If you act the idiot, be prepared to be laughed at. This is not political, but human. Plain and simple.

  • Rob vZ says:

    No, most of us are simply embarrassed as South Africans to be associated with this level of incompetence and hubris. There is nothing gleeful about watching your country being run into the ground.

  • PETER BAKER says:

    Yes the loyal opposition is saying we told you so; idiot Ramaphoria went way out of his depth, and it was doomed to fail from the get-go. For a chap who can’t fix one leaking tap in his own kitchen, he is now trying to be plumber in chief at the Empire State Building. The entire Mission Impossible was ill conceived, ill planned, and horrifically badly executed. He has made South Africa the laughing stock and I am embarrassed to think that he and his mentally deficient crew are “running” RSA PTY Ltd. Well just look at what they have done to this country and the pity is that they don’t give a rat’s ass. And please get this racist notion out of your head. Stupid is just stupid regardless of colour. We called the Nats stupid, when they did something dumb. When political writers like IL can write something sensical without their black, gray and yellow shaded glasses I will read and take this seriously. Until that time, he is only just another political commentator happy to watch our present ANC bunch of criminal misfits ruin our country.

  • Dave Gould says:

    Interesting commentary as always Ismail, but all the many, many failures of African leadership throughout the continent, way out of proportion to any other continent that has also been colonised, does beg the question : are we Africans not capable of producing capable leaders, or not capable of choosing good leaders ? I will probably get called a racist for asking this question, but would love to know the answer.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    I appluad articles like this (as well as that of Rebecca’s yesterday)
    Whereas I may not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed I consider it critical that publications like the DM promote writing that challenges their readers views.
    I am as guilty as most when it comes to who & what I read. By way of example I simply cannot read anything by Vavi on economic theory.
    The point being (& it applies to all of us) is that we are less at fault for suffering bias then we are for failing to acknowledge it.
    I think it does us all good to be exposed to different perspectives on occasion.

    • Vas K says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Free exchange of opinions and views is absolutely vital. When that is gone, we’ll be ruled by Xi or AI. If I want opinions of a herd I’ll stick to the mainstream media.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        BUT … then Xi and Putin are some examples of AI !

        • Rod H MacLeod says:

          “The point being (& it applies to all of us) is that we are less at fault for suffering bias then we are for failing to acknowledge it.”
          Indeed.
          Perhaps Mr Lagardien could try some of that himself.
          Or perhaps the irony of his analogy of the woman driver to highlight what he sees as the fault line in “historic bloc” people [read white South African males] escapes him – especially when those of his “fundamental bloc” don’t even allow women to drive.

  • caseyofclontarf says:

    Quoting Hobsbawm and Orwell highlight Lagardien’s perspective on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Perhaps he still thinks it is the USSR that he is referencing and defending? Time to get back to The Ivory Tower for a little more study and updating, methinks .

  • Donald Moore says:

    Words, words, words. What must never be lost sight of is that in 2014 Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula, part of an independent country and then, emboldened by the lack of response from the West, Russia invaded and sought to annex a huge slice of Ukraine. If Russians actions were right then lets all join the party. If Russia’s actions were wrong then everybody should with one voice and in concerted action condemn and put an end to the wrong that has been done. Ismail Largardien may be very clever but what he has written simply avoids the real issue. I think one can say it is an exercise in obfuscation.

  • scotspot says:

    There are so many statements in this article with which one could take issue that it is difficult to know where to start. Let’s just take two of them.
    First, ‘Omnishambles’. No it was not an OMNIshambles. Delegates from all the other countries (noting in passing that they were of a similar racial profile to those from RSA) succesfully met with Zelensky in Ukraine and Putin in Russia. Only the RSA delegation trip was a shambles.
    Secondly, to quote one bigotted American lecturer as proof that all white people – specifically in this case, South Africans – are racist is the worst kind of stereotyping, and simply racist itself.

  • Vas K says:

    I always enjoy Ismail Lagardien’s articles. Not that I always agree with him, but he makes me think, mainly because he does not repeat what I have already ead a hundred times. In this article I specifically contest his suggestion that afro-pessimism is mainly a result of racist intellectuals. It is my observation that the current government supplies more than ample fodder for afro-pessimists. There are plenty of stupid people around and, since this country is obsessed with race, I must say that some are black, some white and some are any hue in between. Needless to say, since we have the quotas based on racial classification, most of the clowns and criminals in the government will be black. Simple demographics. Maybe afro-pessimism would fade away if some capable black men and women were allowed in the government; there are plenty of them around. But obviously not in ANC. So what Ismail Lagardien is simply calling afro-pessimism should be, at least in South Africa, be called ANC-pessimism: a total lack of trust in a failed party which only embarasses and screws the South African citizens both locally and worlwide.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    When will journalists stop making excuses for the vapid behaviour of the SA government ? Don’t they overuse the get-out-of-jail-free-card ( also called a race card ) already ? More than enough time has elapsed since 1994 for the cadres to have realised that they don’t know everything, that they need to practice a little humility as opposed to their overweening arrogance, that their brilliant ideas are anything but and that pride cometh before a fall. The reason people snigger at the cadres is because if the cadres spent as much time toning down their arrogance and working on their competence as they do denying their limitations they would constitute a vaguely functional government. What is sad is how bad their cognitive dissonance must be since they insist they are adequate, honest and innovative leaders rather than corrupt, ignorant boors. Or perhaps it’s all due to the Dunning Kruger Effect.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    A thinly veiled racist rant, sir, as is your wont.

  • rmrobinson says:

    This is a very dishonest piece of writing. Ukraine has been invaded by Russia. South Africa is telling Ukraine to stop fighting. If I were an (or is it a) Ukranian, my response to South Africa would not have been one of gratitude. But, most of all, I note a complete absence of empathy with either the Ukranians or Poles. Each of these nations is threatened by a brutal, ruthless, invader. Their history of suffering in WWII is not that far in the past. I have not read one word which demonstrates understanding of this among these types of writers. That renders them irrelevant. If they cannot have empathy for the suffering of others, they had best keep quiet and devote their time to remedying this defect in themselves.

  • rmrobinson says:

    You cannot side with Russia and want a peaceful settlement. Get real.

  • rmrobinson says:

    Bestial is what the ANC is doing to South Africa. That the rest of us, who actually care about the 60 million, as de Ruyter writes, are marginalised, is ultra-bestial.

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