Thursday, February 10, 2011


The thoughtful and erudite zunguzungu is providing regular updates - go there for better analysis and news.

For my part the primary emotion is a profound sorrow. The political resolution lies at the end of a hard and violent road, which leads only to another hard road: after the revolution, a democracy, if you can keep it. The problems of economic self-determination remain and are much harder than changing a government.

Allan Quatermain observed in another epoch, "I would go back to the land whereof none know the history, back to the savages, whom I love, although some of them are almost as merciless as Political Economy." Of course he was an unregenerate old colonialist and his sentiments now inadmissible; Political Economy has shed and acquired meanings on its journey too; still it is as hopeless to expect mercy from it as from Moloch.

In Rhodesia my friends went trout fishing with a rod and an LMG. Later we visited those same lakes and streams, now Zimbabwean, and revelled in the atmosphere of relief and hope. The fog of misery and impending violence that hung over South Africa lifted at the border: a palpable change, coming out of the miasma into a broad and sunny upland. The Korean mercenaries were already busy cleansing Matabeleland but we did not know this, incredible as it seems now. Somewhere deep in the folds of Mugabe's psyche the rot already worked, whether a real physical affliction like syphilis or a mania.

In South Africa, Johnny Clegg sums it up,

Update July 2013 - added link from 'keep', second para above.

Also, as Slavoj Zizek observes in the LRB,
"When the revolt succeeds in its initial goal, we come to realise that what is really bothering us (our lack of freedom, our humiliation, corruption, poor prospects) persists in a new guise, so that we are forced to recognise that there was a flaw in the goal itself. This may mean coming to see that democracy can itself be a form of un-freedom, or that we must demand more than merely political democracy: social and economic life must be democratised too. In short, what we first took as a failure fully to apply a noble principle (democratic freedom) is in fact a failure inherent in the principle itself. This realisation – that failure may be inherent in the principle we’re fighting for – is a big step in a political education."

Bruce Sterling points out,
"Even if the proles rise up in a wave, busily Twittering away, you’re gonna get an Arab Spring, followed by a regretful military coup once people figure out that networks just aren’t governments."