Imraan Buccus
Imraan Buccus

Goodbye democracy, hello tyranny

A lot’s been made of the downgrade in the investment rating awarded to South Africa. It’s clear the international business community has lost faith in our leadership. But there are also strong voices at home speaking out to warn us against the path we’re on. When a patriot of the stature of Bishop Rubin Phillip says we are witnessing “the dimming of our democratic dawn” it’s time to sit up and take notice.

We’ve been moving away from our democratic commitments for some time now. Repression of grassroots movements in many parts of the country is one sign.

Then there were a whole slew of anti-democratic legislative measures. There was the Slums Act, the attempt to roll back press freedom and then the attempt to return to the apartheid model in which millions would be subjects of traditional leadership rather than citizens. And of course the appointment of a deeply conservative and anti-intellectual judge to the head of the Constitutional Court was a major setback. This was followed up with a general attack on the judiciary.

Most middle-class activists were silent when grassroots activists were facing repression. Now that repression is coming the way of the middle class via measures like the secrecy bill many activists are trying to mobilise but are finding they don’t enjoy the respect of grassroots activists. In fact many middle-class activists, be they nationalists, on the left or liberals, have been reduced to watching popular protest unfold on their televisions. The recent failure of various attempts by middle-class activists to mobilise poor people behind their projects while self-organised poor people’s protest continues at a mass scale is revealing. We need to take this fact seriously.

We live in a divided country. Social cohesion is a wonderful idea but it’s not a reality. And while the middle classes natter on endlessly about race, class is the central divide in our society. Certainly race is an important issue but its class not race that determines people’s life chances.

The Marikana massacre has brought this reality home to many. It has blown our political discourse apart. How can we talk so easily about race as the central issue in our society when the mine at Marikana has made Cyril Ramaphosa a billionaire? Or when Khulubuse Zuma grows fat off the Aurora mine while workers at the mine, of all races, began to starve after months without pay? How can we talk so easily about trade unions as the defenders of the workers when workers at Marikana are just as angry with the National Union of Mineworkers as they are with the bosses? Our old certainties are breaking down.

None of us really know what the future holds. But two things are clear. One is that the poor no longer trust the organisations that claim to represent them and are representing themselves. Wildcat strikes are spreading across our economy. And of course the rebellion of the poor has been raging in our shack settlements for many years now. The other is that the state is responding to self-organisation with brutal repression. The Daily Maverick reported that since the massacre at Marikana, municipalities have been trying to ban protests across the country, including in Durban. It seems the de facto state of emergency in Rustenburg is echoing across the country.

These are dangerous times. If we allow new norms to set we won’t be able to undo them. We need to remember what happened to India after the Naxalbari massacre or Zimbabwe after the massacres in Matabeleland. It’s essential we all stand up to defend democracy. If we don’t authoritarian norms will become set in stone. And it’s not just states that find that authoritarianism is habit forming. Sometimes people living in an authoritarian state lose confidence in democratic institutions and turn to popular authoritarianism to make their voices heard. We’ve seen this in India. We are already seeing the beginnings of this in our own country. Strikes are now more or less routinely accompanied by violence.

Standing up for democracy doesn’t mean we should rally behind NGOs running campaigns in support of democracy. It means we should rally behind people on the ground who are facing repression.

In the 1980s middle-class activists took it for granted that supporting democracy meant supporting the rights of communities and workers to organise on the ground. The drift into NGO politics has taken many middle-class activists, and the resources they can sometimes access, far away from the struggles of people on the ground. We are now paying the price for this major miscalculation. It’s time to forget “civil society” and the NGOs that dominate it and return to the people. It’s here that our future will be decided.

Imraan Buccus is a research fellow in the school of social sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and academic director of a study-abroad programme on political transformation.

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    • Barry

      It’s about time people start protesting en masse. How long can people live on broken promises and false expectations while they and their children suffer day in and day out, indefinitely?

      Power to the people, I say, not just a fortunate few.

    • Dave Harris

      Its unbelievable how a researcher can still blindly believe what these credit rating agencies tell us when they were accomplices to the bankers who pushed the world into the greatest economic recession in living memory! The role of the these agencies in the corruption of countries in the developing world is well known but somehow it seems to escape you.

      Similarly, many that hold your views are the root cause of our festering racism, economic disparity and lack of transformation in our deeply divided society. Not a single mention of Lonmin fatcat management’s role in the Marikana massacre? Not a single mention of our corporate controlled media mafia role in polarizing our society?

      You now claim “We’ve seen this in India.”? Your anti-Indian bias by labeling India a failed democracy goes against all logic and history. Your blog is a narrow minded biased diatribe peddling the tired old politics of the DA. What a shame!

    • Democrat

      Ignorethe bilious lies and propaganda of ‘Harris’ who would sing the ANC’s praises even if they committed a Rwanda style massacre – in fact, he would probably welcome that, as well as any other tyranny. You are right – SA is becoming a dangerously authoritarian state under an increasingly undemocratic, elite, totalitarian, tribalist, chauvinist, Soviet style system. The signs are very clear for all reasonable people in SA and outside of it. Let’s hope that the voices of the people are heard.

    • Democrat

      Ignore the bilious lies and propaganda of ‘Harris’ who would sing the ANC’s praises even if they committed a Rwanda style massacre – in fact, he would probably welcome that, as well as any other tyranny. You are right – SA is becoming a dangerously authoritarian state under an increasingly undemocratic, elite, totalitarian, tribalist, chauvinist, Soviet style system. The signs are very clear for all reasonable people in SA and outside of it. Let’s hope that the voices of the people are heard.

    • Rich Brauer

      Well, this may be a first. Dave Harris actually has a cogent point. Albeit on what is only a tangential point to the article.

      At one time, Moody’s may have been able to say, “What’s driving us is primarily the issue of preserving our track record. That’s our bread and butter”. That is no longer remotely the case.

      If nothing else, the downgrading of US Treasury bonds is proof. This occurred at the same time that investors were thronging to buy below-inflation-rate Treasuries. Investors were lining up to buy US debt, at interest rates lower than the rate of inflation that the US Fed’s policy would allow.

      In short, investors were parking their money in US Treasury bills, knowing that they’d essentially *lose money*, but doing so because they had such confidence that, at the very least, those T-bills would be paid. Something that’s still true today.

      At the same time, Moody’s downgraded the US federal bond rating. Which just happened to coincide with the showdown over the US debt ceiling. Despite the reality of the free market.

      Yes, SA has serious economic issues. *Serious* economic issues.

      But Moody’s shouldn’t be one of them.

      Admittedly, a tangential issue to the article. But hey! Dave Harris had a point!

    • Konrad Adenauer

      You use the word ‘tyranny’ correctly – it is a word many have been shy too use, out of the fear of confronting the reality. SA is in some ways like East Germany in the 50’s – an occupied state posing as a People’s Democratic Republic. A country once highly industrialised and educated, with many intellectuals terrorised into silence, with crumbling, decaying collectivised industries, with a bloated, parastitic state used to dole out worthless jobs to the party faithful, with anti-Western propagandists spreading bile about the hated West (look at the moronic Dave Harris for an example – anti-white and ant-West), with a politicised militarty and police and a Stasi even more of a party organ than the Gestapo once was, with walls to keep people in (trade barriers), with a declining standard of living for the poor and middle class, with high taxes and declining education, with a state broadcaster pouring out brain-dead party propaganda which the educated Germans knew was total bullshit, with friendship and solidarity in the UN with every tinpot dictator from Casto to Pol Pot (just like guess where?), with total doublespeak all the time about democracy and human rights whilst meaning tyranny and rights for the Communists, criminals and opportunists……the similarities are too many to be mere coincidence.

    • Mariano Castrillon

      In a way, we are nearer to the “democracy” that Plato was against in his book ” The Republic” than to what we have made it to mean. “Democracia” is the rule of the mob, pure and simple, hence the words starting with the prefix “demo”, such as “demonstration”, “demobilize”, etc. We have changed its meaning but not the substance of it, because when the “mob” rally behind one like themselves, we have what we have now in South Africa: Chaos. We do not have to divide society the way Plato recommended, but most definitely our electing system must be changed. Winner gets all is not working and, being very class conscious, I affirm that the vote of those who have not finished Matric cannot and should not be equal to mine.

    • TheJuaninno

      I find it most amusing that the writer seems to be surprised by the fact that the middle class NGO types have grabbed the money to their bosom and are mostly watching all this from Perth. Their true colors are showing. Mostly useless morons who would never have survived in the corporate world who found a niche to milk while having no deliverables. These were never really what you would call motivated innovators.

    • ian shaw

      Dave you have made some good points about the connection between the credit rating agencies and the bankers,and their undeniable role in causing the internatonal economic meltdown, as well as the deafening silence about the arrogance of Lonmin management when confronted by the miner strike, but your reference about the “corporate controlled media mafia polarizing our country”?
      So far with all its faults it has been the media that exposed a lot of wrongdoing which tend to push our country into dangers trends..

    • David

      Harris. You never fail to disappoint. I like that about you.

      Where in the article is the DA or DA policies even mentioned? Why can’t someone have an opinion about something without you (and others) immediately putting them in a political ‘box’. That’s the real shame….

      Imraan. Good post. Interesting when things over a period of time are pulled together so they can be looked at objectively. I’m specifically referring to your para on Marikana / Aurora.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Davis Harris, in 1994, when SA setup the new government, it was a fake democracy and the people weren’t given a voice in the government. There is nobody elected to office in SA and accountable to the people of this country. So, one can’t say goodbye to something that one never had. The ANC is going the same direction as other ruling parties in Africa, when ever these parties feel that their rule is threaten, these ruling parties become repressive.

    • robert in sydney

      what i love about all these commentators is the clarion call for “change”. who exactly is going to be the sword bearer of this “change” has not been discused – simply because it is not going to happen in the current political context.
      the current beneficiaries of the 1994 hand-over are exactly the guys who want to keep the status quo with their fancy houses, cars jobs etc etc.
      there will be no change come the december anc congress. it will continue to be mr zuma and his entourage.
      there will be change eventually- but that will come from an external force who will simply take over the running of the country. in the african context this is known as a coup d’etat and in the southern africa context a prominent “political” figure kept in power by the army. i think julius would be a likely choice for the post of “president” or actually “figurehead president”

    • http://none Richard Becker

      Say what you like Dave, SA is well on its way to becoming a failed state and the only ones to blame are the kleptocratic, inept and arrogant ANC. Anyone with more than two brain cells can see that.

    • Garg Unzola

      Is protesting an effective way to ensure accountability?

      I think a major problem in our country is accountability. The rule of law is a joke, because the law is not applied equally. Zuma can stay out of court while Shaik at least pretended to go to jail for a while, but both are guilty of the same bilateral crime. Zuma was already found guilty, the courts just have to determine exactly how complicit he was in taking a bribe from Shaik.

      On the other hand, we see people throwing rocks at motorists while metro police are writing fines for traffic violations 2 blocks further, seemingly entirely oblivious to the law and order that needs to be maintained there. Very selective justice we have here.

    • ps

      So while whites are continually vilified for supporting apartheid, can we now rightly vilify the black population for supporting the ANC? Maybe even demand compensation from them or at least an acknowledgement of their collective guilt? After all, the door swings both ways.

    • Paul Roman

      watch the fake american elections if you want to see democracy go down the toilet.
      Electronic voting machines with no paper trail. Students have put pacman on them without breaking the security of the machine.

    • Tofolux

      It seems that SA bashing is a new sport for some amongst us. Of late, all we have had is everyone (with no credentials) who keep on telling us what is so wrong with us and yet they cannot begin to put a plan forward that spells out a vision. But lets explain a failed state, because the nuances created wants us to believe we live in a failed state: A failed stated is characterised by appalling human rights abuse including routine torture, Govt is either a malevolent dictator living in a palace among the ruins of the country around him, where conflict is kept in check through intimidation, or a shifting alliance of warlords, each with a private army or militia. Conflict can range from low-intensity to high intensity civil war depending on whether the informal coalitions are holding together or falling apart. Those with the means and skills in a Failed State are the first to emigrate taking their money with them and those who stay become refugees in their own country’. Now lets deal with the reality: If the world has been located in a scenario of globalisation and high economic growth since the 1990’s driven by the conversion of most countries to free market economics AND the spectacular rise of China and India, where is SA located in this when the Chinese and Indian economies continue to defy gravity and stock markets with their continued boom. We live in a world with conflict zones but the impact of this is overriden by the force of globalization. We see cont/..

    • Tofolux

      cont..a growing scarcity of raw materials, the latter causing inflation increases and new health epidemics across the globe. SA, a developmental state, whilst having to compete against other first world economies, has to within 18yrs turnaround a barbaric system into a society that is just and democratic. It is insulting to accuse any person of not being an intellectual, I mean who determines ones intellect. But it is these kinds of insulting and disingenuous behaviour that is found throughout our society especially amongst those who have. One cannot identify anyone of them, assisting their country or this state in rebuilding or restructing how we should operate. This not only against the background of them enjoying the highest economic boom and security they have had in 350yrs. Their quality of living has never been this good. This country should and must have huge challenges. We must have unintended consequences against our contradictions. Its an outcome. I dont think it is important that we care what self-imposed intellectuals think or make of our country simply because we cannot talk a job done. Problems must be worked at and solved by those who have the interest of getting these resolved. Our problems are diverse and multi layered and there is no simple solutions. Hence I would like to appeal to our intellectually-lazy middle-class to roll up their sleeves and join hands with practical people who never talk a job done.

    • Peter Joffe

      Who is running the country? Many years ago when the United Kingdom trade unions were hell bent on destroying the economy of the U.K. Maggie Thatcher stepped in and stopped them after immeasurable harm had been caused . In South Africa, its different because without COSATU, the ANC would lose its majority. So the government does what COSATU tells it to do and as the mad drive for more pay for all trade unionists grows, it weakens and will even destroy many companies. Lawlessness and unemployment will grow. Where else in the world do we have trade unions being part of government? It is a gross conflict of interests and this is the case in South Africa and how stupid is that? The will of the people no longer matters as it is only the will of the trade unions and the ‘trashers’ that will ensure our useless ANC government another term in office so that they can reek more destruction and taxation on an ever diminishing production force. We need the Mandela dream to return. “Government of the people by the people, for the people”. At this time we have “government for the government, by the government and for the well being of the ANC and COSATU. It’s very interesting to take note of the Nationalization of the mines and that when that happens, the workers will be earning more that the mines produce – that’s clever??

    • The Creator

      Every sentence in the third paragraph of this article (which contains essentially all the evidence supporting the author’s claims) is a lie, by the way. After that I lost interest a bit. (Pretending that Khuluse Zuma is a typical black ANC member is also a good way to win racist support, but is also stunningly dishonest.)

      The government is indeed growing more authoritarian, and it would be nice if there were some opposition to this, but pandering to the corporate proxies who are trying to control public discussion via NGOs is not the solution.

      If you want to provide some leadership with which to challenge the authoritarianism of the present government, then it would help to be a) honest and b) provide some alternative to it. Fantasising about how the “people” are going to “do something” unspecified is the way that all Trotskyites in South Africa have failed to accomplish anything for the last seventy years.

    • Jack Sparrow

      Pull the other one Dave. Imraan didn’t even mention the Tribal Rights Bill that is most likely unconstitutional and certainly erodes people’s rights, particularly women. Now defend this for us.

    • Barry

      @ps interesting idea, however “we” are in the minority so I doubt that would work.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Garg, in Brazil the other day the court found 36 members of the Brazilian congress guilty of corruption and they are being sent to prison. The president of the country wasn’t involved in the justice system like the president of SA is involved in the justice system in SA. Brazil has a president that’s trying to fight corruption and not pay lip services to a war on corruption.

      In SA the ANC led government has a forty percent unemployment rate and over fifty percent of the people on family grants. How can this country sustain this without having an economic bubble bursting?

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Joffe, are you saying that SA is going the same way Argentina went under Peron and Evita with the labor unions running the country? Now, one can see why Mbeki didn’t let the labor unions take over the country and he was recalled for this.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @David Harris, if one needs capital, one has to play by the rules of the countries that have capital. The world isn’t run on right but instead on might.

    • Charlotte

      @ Imraan. Good title. Good article.
      @ ps . Good point.
      With the wild-cat strikes now taking matters into their own hands … with Jacob Zuma, having ducked the many charges he was meant to face, and by, on his own cognisance , having appointed a ‘liar’ as the National Public Prosecutor –
      the acronym ANC which was hi-jacked to mean ‘Arrogance, Nepotism, Corruption’,
      now stands for A-Nar-Chy.

    • michael

      Imraan, i think you are courting disaster with your VC with the stance you have taken,it does not correspond with the anc view that we are approaching nirvana in SA.

    • Rodney Ian

      Why doesn’t T-flux take her soap-box and jabber to the learners who got no text-books this year and those dying of cancer in state hospitals because the hospital system is so mucked up that no treatment is available for them?

      Seeing she’s so intent on spreading the word of how phenomenal the ANC has been for the country, she should take her soap-box to the people who live in shacks or those who have had family members killed by crime and get them to rejoice in Jacob Zuma’s 230 million rand private home being built for him – and explain to them why they should vote the ANC in again.

      She should tell the miners who won’t work that if investors shy away from S Africa and the mines close down – or shafts are closed, they’ll have no jobs at all. Or they could put Zuma’s portly nephew in charge of another mine – and never get paid at all.
      She should explain to them how, in that way, they could help build the country.

      Or she could put her soap box over her head and see the light.


      Many of us, hardly and blindly accept credit rating agencies rating only, or the latest currency exchange rates, the oil, gold or corn prices, the prime or unemployment figures or research/political/economical analysis, Harris’s, Tofolux’s or a Pierre de Vos’s opinions etc…….most try to form a balanced picture about the circumstances of ones country- based on a combination of 100’s of indicators, internal/external political facts & economical rumblings and happenings!

      Most disturbing factors are the covert decisions by a rabid, greedy, dishonest, mischievous group- openly spitting on everyone’s decency and the honest taxpayers!

      How can a party/parliament, Cosatu’s Vavi, a Craven, the Communist’s or any usual loudmouth be quiet- when ~R250mio are wasted on one person’s private property? Hidden under “The National Key Points Act? What a joke!

      It is SAURONS newest MORDOR!!

      This alone deserves immediate impeachment – not re election! A valid catalyst for ever growing dissatisfaction’s all round, justification to increase the minimum wage to 20K/month and increases of all other wages by such difference!

      How destabilizing and ungovernable would that make this country? -….. aka on the road to doom or MORDOR!

      As long as such outrageous “criminal” acts (to be found as such in future!) are condoned and ignored by the party loyals & usuals blinds- the commentators’s varied condemnations remain true and valid! Solution: …………rapid change!

    • Gavin Storrie

      Oh Dave Harris! You remind me of the satirical French journal Le canard Rouge. Their motto was, ” We are for everything that is against and against everything that is for.” Except they had a sense of humour. You on the other hand are so pro ANC that you are blind to their failings and so anti DA/white that you are blind to anything that they do well. So sad. Himmler would have loved your posts.

    • ntozakhona

      I suspect that those who love to write about protests do not watch their TV screens carefully nor have they taken time to speak to protestors. A significant portion of protests are about internal ANC matters, an issue the ANC addressing in its renewal document.

      Other protests are really an appeal to the ANC to speed up change or to remove leaders that do not promote change. Protestors sing Mshini wami and wear ANC T-SHIRTS.

      The marikana workers prefer a Malema who pretends to be ANC and have rejected AMCU.

    • Vince

      There are none so blind as those that WILL NOT SEE,

      We have all been entirely reliant on the good decisions and directions that the average South African makes especially when voting for decades now, but so few are opening their eyes far too late.

      Are you beginning to understand why African countries rapidly degenerate into the state that they do now?

      The presidency and it’s advisory team in SA certainly haven’t a clue and continue to parade a parody mascot in the full view of the world as they continue to scuttle the ship by ripping off the wealth into their own pockets and the result can only emerge as in this scenario and a similar one not far away now in Zimbabwe:-


    • Barry

      This is bullshit, I shall expose the BIASED moderation of this website.

      On Monday, I’ll be emailing every Mail & Guardian Email I can find until this shit stops.

      I’ve already copied my various comments that have been unfairly approved.

      Good luck with your job/s moderator/s.

      Email me if you want to apologize and assure me this won’t happen again.

      Otherwise, I’m sorry but I refuse to put up with this shit.


      @Barry…….how?….,,,,,,would you have preferred that your comments should have been deleted- instead of being unfairly approved?

      Could you explain your rage a bit more in detail? Anything to do with Imraans blog or Sauron?
      ……….wouldn’t ‘rubbish’ sound a bit better than bu*****it?

    • Barry

      “@Barry…….how?….,,,,,,would you have preferred that your comments should have been deleted- instead of being unfairly approved?”

      I meant “unapproved”. I guess the “unfairly” put me off. I only realized after posting the comment, but it was too late to rectify the mistake.

      “Could you explain your rage a bit more in detail? Anything to do with Imraans blog or Sauron?”

      Oops sorry, wrong article, my bad…

      this was the article –> why-i-wont-vote-anc-or-da .

      My replies to ntozakhona regarding “writing ability and language” etc. were initially deleted. I’m suspect my “raging” comments made a difference as they’re magically approved now.

      Not to mention a few of my comments on other articles that I think were unnecessarily deleted during the last couple weeks.

      “……….wouldn’t ‘rubbish’ sound a bit better than bu*****it?”

      Depending on how angry or conservative one is, but I honestly didn’t think that comment would be approved. It was intended for the moderator’s eyes only. Personally I prefer the bs word. I apologize if I offended or confused anyone.

    • jandr0

      @Dave Harris: Always easy to paraphrase you: “Your comment is a narrow minded biased diatribe peddling the tired old politics of the corrupted ANC. What a shame!”

      Yes, what a shame, because Imraan makes a number of very valid points, including that we are moving away from democracy to authoritarianism.

      And people like greedy Dave Harris become the new killers, because their greed and psychological blind spots make them too blind to see.

      PS. Should I rather do like many others and just ignore this Dave the dinosaur from the past? Dave Harris is the root cause of his festering racism.

    • jandr0

      @Creator: You say: “Every sentence in the third paragraph of this article (which contains essentially all the evidence supporting the author’s claims) is a lie, by the way.”

      Not in my book. I don’t know in what world you live in, but I see practically all those things that Imraan mention.

      1. The attempt to roll back press freedom. True. More authoritarian (less freedom) bill being forced down by “government.”
      2. The attempt to return to the apartheid model in which millions would be subjects of traditional leadership rather than citizens. True.
      3. The appointment of a deeply conservative and anti-intellectual judge to the head of the Constitutional Court was a major setback. True, there were more enlightened (i.e. less conservative) and experienced candidates.
      4. This was followed up with a general attack on the judiciary. True. Spoken by many Absolutely No Clue politicians on public platforms.

      My conclusion: You are the liar.

    • Max

      go barry go

    • Max

      This is a brilliant piece, Imraan. I agree with every word.

      Except the bit that reads:
      “There were a whole slew of anti-democratic legislative measures.”

      It should read:
      “There WAS a whole slew of anti-democratic legislative measures.”
      There may have been many anti-democratic measures but it was still only one “slew” of them.

      I know this may very well offend Dave Virus, because it sounds very DA of me to be talking grammar in my comment while ignoring all the corruption, nepotism, incompetence and authoritarianism going on in the ANC but, hey, that’s just what interests me today somehow. Sorry Dave.

    • Tofolux

      @Jandro, you and Imraan obviously have no idea how we exist in the rural areas. How do you understand traditional leaders in our context? What do you think they do? And worse of all do you think we have no culture and traditions that we observe. In any case why doesnt Imraan explore the notion further of all different types of traditions and customs so that the complaint that he makes is not a regurgitation of NGO’s and the fourth estate. Please note that our traditions and customs are protected in the Constitution together with a Bill of Rights so how possibly can you not understand these? Also, please xplain this thing about rolling back freedom of expression as mooted by the fourth estate when they falsely accuse blacks in general and africans in particular without recourse eg the Deputy President and his partner which is the latest example of trampling on the dignity of the DEPUTY PRESIDENT. In fact where is your and et al together with Imraan, where is your outrage when you claim to be the superior intelligentsia. This behaviour is not only hypocritical but it talks to double standards.

    • David

      @ Tofolux. “In fact where is your and et al together with Imraan, where is your outrage when you claim to be the superior intelligentsia.” What on earth are you on about? I assume you’re asking jandr0 to be outraged at him/herself? Heavens! And what is ‘your and et al’? Very peculiar.

    • Tofolux

      @David, lets take a step backward, 1+1=?.

    • David

      @Tofolux. In my world, 2. In yours?

      You ask of others to engage honestly. Why don’t you give it a try some time.

    • Peter Joffe

      Here is the way it is and this is what is happening in South Africa – fast.

      In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
      University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the
      Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: “A democracy is always
      temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
      form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
      the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
      gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority
      always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from
      the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
      collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a

      “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the
      beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200
      years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
      From bondage to spiritual faith;
      From spiritual faith to great courage;
      From courage to liberty;
      From liberty to abundance;
      From abundance to complacency;
      From complacency to apathy;
      From apathy to dependence;
      From dependence back into bondage.”

      This is what happened in the last USA elections?
      Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 McCain: 2.1
      McCain win was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens
      of the country.

    • Lennon

      @ Peter: As I recall, the Romans went through a similar thing during and after the end of the Punic Wars when the aristocrats started stealing land from the plebs.

      Two brothers from one of the richer families (Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus) tried to turn this around by standing in as People’s Tribune. Both were eventually murdered (Tiberius, was literally beaten to death in public). That was around 400 years after the Romans deposed the last Etruscan king and formed the republic…. Pretty good going and not too far off Tyler’s statement.

      But who cares about ancient history?

    • Tofolux

      @David, wrong answer, but just to make the point in terms of logical thinking what is A+A=?. Once you give me the answer I will explain the point of reaching a logical conclusion.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Peter Joffe, you got your history mix up about civilization rising and falling. The Roman Empire lasted over three thousandth years and it fell because it got too big. The Romans spent most of their time at war fighting preempt strike to keep their enemies weak. Most of the Romans taxes went for war purpose to support their vast army and a small percent of the population that was very rich. Most civilizations declined because they were wipe out by other civilizations that were stronger. The Roman Empire fell apart because the people couldn’t support the vast army that the Romans needed to control all of this territory.

      Moreover, the same thing happened to England and France, these two countries could no longer pay to keep all of these bases around the world and they became weak. The German’s economy was larger than both England and France combine and both of these countries went broke. The same thing is going to happen to the US spending all of her resources to maintain bases around the world and military redness. The US will have to pull back her forces because she can’t no longer maintain these bases around the world.

      I might want to add, that most civilizations in the world weren’t democratic like the Greeks. Most civilizations didn’t have the level of education like the Greeks were at that time.

    • David

      @Tofolux. Really? How old are you?

    • Jack Sparrow

      @tofolux I’m astonished that you seem to defend the existing “tribal” systems. I didn’t pay too much attention to them until I got peripherally involved in negotiation in a tribal area. I was a little apprehensive (white male but speaking the indigenous langiuage well) but I needn’t have worried. Race wasn’t an issue but the very competent black woman graduate leading our team was treated unbelievably badly. The sexism and harassment she was put under by the tribal leader in front of all of us would have earned the perpetrator instant dismissal in a corporate environment. The other government and municipal representatives present were embarassed but did nothing. It was pretty much accepted that the tribal leader was trying to shakedown one of them for money. Neither was prepared to accept the blackmail and we walked away. But no tribal leaders for me thank you.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Jack Sparrow, in Mandela’s book “Long walk to Freedom” he talks about how the tribal chiefs were shaking down the miners that were sent to work in the mines in SA. In Keith Richburg’s book “Out of America” he spent five years in Africa and wrote a gloomy picture about his experience in Africa. He claims in his book that it’s no advantage to be black in Africa and a white person is given more respect in Africa than blacks.