About Advertise
Culture, Reality
Occupy Your Mind

Middle Class Manifesto

by Sarah Dawson / 20.10.2011

This is a middle class publication. Look at the stories that have been published in this magazine over the last little while: Stories on rocking the daisies, independent music, theatre productions, designer shoe competitions, and a re-elaboration of 19th century South African history by a white guy. As I write this, and as you read it, there can be no illusion between us that the information being exchanged has universal relevance. No. It is just between us. We’re not the Motsepes or Oppenhemeir heirs of the world, but we are bourgeois enough to have access to this platform and have the time and/or interest to amuse ourselves with largely vacuous comment board flame wars on the abovementioned topics of “Music, Culture, Reality”.
 
This is an interesting triad. For us, who are supposedly interested in “what’s really happening along the fault line and in the trenches of South African culture”, according to the About section. But what do we actually all have in common here as readers, as people, who somehow supposedly share at some level this notion of “culture” and “reality”?

What we have in common is that we are all the middle class youth. This is our culture. And it’s more powerful than any national, ethnic or ancestral sense of identity we may believe belongs to us. Those old ideas of “culture” have been bought and sold back to us so many times that they’re dog-eared and false.

Occupy SA

We need to fess up and look at the fact that “culture” is what informs our values and norms, and here we are reading a magazine in which, under the heading of “culture”, we find Nike shoe-designers and art films. These are what define what we think is acceptable and desirable. These are the things we care about. Not where our next meal’s gonna comes from (unless you’re a “struggling creative” which is about as bourgie as you get), or what you’re going to do when the government kicks you off the land you’ve illegally settled on because you have nowhere else to go.

We are not very different from other semi-privileged kids across the globe. The South African flavour of the universal consumer: black diamonds proclaim their African femininity in the words of Beyonce, and white boys beat up people who support a different English football team, and dreadlocked trustafarians sing Bob Marley songs, and teenaged girls get breast implants after watching the OC, and slam poets speak in American accents, and skinny alt-girls get pin-up girl tattoos, and art-school trained graphic designers sell petrochemicals and jazz musicians who went to UCT wear beads in their hair.

This is our culture. We are not our fading Afrikaans language. We are not our dad’s struggle cred. We are not our Diwali celebrations. We are not our British ancestral visas. Our culture is consumer culture, and together we are its homogenised grey vomit. 

We are convinced that we are happy and unique, because we believe we have the freedom to represent ourselves as multicultural individuals and choose how our lives will turn out. But as the global economy upon which this freedom is predicated starts to falter, the brush work of the painted backdrop of the middle class “reality” of freedom starts to fall into relief. Perhaps everything isn’t what we thought it was. The global economy is falling apart in front of our noses, and despite all the choices we believe we have, the one choice we seem incapable of making, is to do anything about it. 

Let me make no bones about it. I am a hypocrite. I am part of this. I once sold my image to a major clothing company who imports cheap Chinese goods because I needed the money. I own an iPhone. I smoke Marlboro. But there isn’t time for this anymore. A sense of inescapable hypocrisy is fundamental to living in the 21st century. It is one of the primary subtle mechanisms of how late-capitalism convinces you not to do anything about the fact that we know, deep down, that shit is just not okay anymore. But it’s too late now for stumbling on thoughts like, “I know it’s wrong, but I have to buy this expensive shirt because I won’t look respectable at work if I don’t, and I need to get promoted”; or “I know Shell is intent on Fracking the Karoo but I can’t get to that gig in support of AIDS orphans unless I fill up here,” or “I know I’m selling shit to people who don’t need it, but my skills are creative, and the only people who will hire me are ad agencies.”

Occupy SA

The fact that contradictions like these are unavoidable, doesn’t mean you should disinvest from wanting equality. The global economic system has monopolised ALL our basic resources. You can only get what you need by “selling out”, so it’s all you’re left with. Being a hypocrite here is not a bad thing. It means you can be critical of the things you realise that you do because you have to, not (only) because you want to. And make space to perform interventions where you can, dependent on who you are and what you need to do to survive. Try saving instead of racking up credit, (which is sold by your bank to other banks, and then to other companies outside our country, and then to Wall Street traders, generating interest at each level until at some point someone realises that “interest’ is made out of thin air and a global recession happens). Try not banking with banks owned by multinationals, meaning oodles of dosh flow out of our economy, onto the London Stock Exchange, and into the pockets of shareholders abroad. Try recycling. Try not buying endless amounts of worthless shit just to make yourself feel like your life has substance. Realise that your life does in fact have substance, even when you stop swiping your debit card at overpriced “vintage” stores. Stop pretending that this hegemonic globalism that’s founded upon conspicuous consumption (that we kid ourselves is a performance of our unique identity to which we are entitled) is not, in fact, who we are. These outdated, romantic definitions of “culture” that we use to divide ourselves up not authentic anymore. All they do is distract ourselves from the fact that our reality is a lot more boring, neurotic, homogenous, and shit than we pretend it is. We have to stop. We are all unique. But not in the way we think.

I don’t want to smooth over racial inequality here. Nor do I want to pretend we’re all the same. But somehow, despite our abominable racial history, we, the middle class youth, have found unity in being tireless defenders of the common, shitty mediocrity we call our “culture”. But it’s time to look at the real reasons our society hasn’t transformed in 17 years.

Occupy SA

South Africa is the most unequal country in the world according to something called the gini coefficient. And that inequality is still very much skewed in favour of white people. But the level of inequality between white and black people does show signs of being reduced, even if far too slowly. Nevertheless, the overall gini coefficient remains pretty much unchanged, because the level of inequality between wealthy black people and poor black people is growing. In other words, the circulation of the bulk of the country’s capital remains caught in a loop between the wealthy elite, despite the small steps we’ve made towards racial transformation. The force that drives the stubbornness of money to make its way out of (mostly white) hands to the people below is not racial as much as it is economic. Money is remarkably blind to race. The reason it doesn’t flow downwards is not because of racist, white overlords who don’t want to share. Even if they are racist, their money is not. Rather, some greedy, mostly white, motherfuckers got all the money first, and in this system, money only flows to where it can be multiplied. And so it circulates around the upper echelons and very rarely “trickles down”.

And the truth is, middle class, it’s because of us. We are the complicit enablers of economic injustice.

The South African versions of the Occupy Wall Street anti-corporate-greed event took place in five cities this weekend, and were attended mostly by, as one Mail and Guardian article put it “citizens who are white and middle class and have an affinity for the global anti-capitalist narrative.” While the Durban event, was not mostly white, it was certainly mostly middle class. Many journalists, including one from this publication, have come out in disgust at the bourgeois, social media-instigated world-wide protests in a South African context. But why does there exist, in the 21st century, this massive, scathing antagonism towards middle class activism – particularly from journalists, many of whom have BAs and car payments themselves? Why do people with opportunity feel the need to lash out so viciously at those who choose to put their opportunity to positive use? It’s like the regulation of the middle class conscience is paramount to maintaining some very important balance. Everyone must comply with who they’re supposed to be and say only things appropriate to their position, in order for other people to feel they know who they are themselves. What is being said is irrelevant. Who’s saying it is what matters. It’s the same looped definitions over and over that have more to do with a sense of righteousness than about doing anything right. Is it just a lack of creativity? It’s more likely that it’s a terror we feel at starting from naught at constructing an identity outside of the lines we know.

Occupy Durban

We have a psychological interest in recycling these narratives because they orientate us: The rich need the poor to be poor, not only because cheap labour is a crucial resource to capitalism, but because it makes their richness more meaningful. The middle class decides on which side of the line of dispossession they belong depending on how it’s most convenient to them from moment to moment. The poor are suffering, barely surviving, but have a moral advantage which has to be preserved at all costs, assigned to them mostly by an anxious multiracial middle class who prefers a noble savage. The people of all races in South Africa who have it fairly good financially are remarkably skilled at fending off the niggling anxiety that opportunities are come by, more than anything else, through luck and historical contingency. They do this in three ways: By proclaiming their entitlement as a result of either hard work or historical justice; projecting their guilt about whether they’re really deserving onto the poor experience, simultaneously absolving themselves of the responsibility to do anything, by fretting about condescension, lack of moral authority, or impotence; or, lastly, they just don’t give a flying proverbial fuck.

But while all this allows us to think we know where we slot in society, and what we are allowed to say and do, it does nothing for actually bringing about change. And the status quo is not really an option anymore. No matter whether you have the right to call yourself the 99%, 100% of us are doomed unless we do something. The house around us is going down in flames.

So if the Occupy movement in South Africa is middle class and transnational, then let it be. Arguably it’s the existence of middle-classness and transnationality that is most culpable in this convergence of crises. Those who have criticised Occupy publicly are invariably members of the same modern culture of acquiescent spinelessness that is blind to which country you live in, what language you speak, how recently and by what means you acquired your privilege. It’s not the prerogative of the middle class to arse about censoring each other with, “Who do you think you are to…”s. We are the class of people in possession of the power to change things simply by making a decision to act/consume/think differently. Unlike the poorer sectors of society, for us, change is not a struggle but a choice. And in our culture of modern consumerist roboticism and apathy, we don’t even choose to do nothing, we simply don’t choose at all. We don’t even realise that we have the capacity to choose anything except our brand of coffee. Yet we are the class that, irrespective of race, invests in the institutions that allow for the locking of flows of capital into a closed network of the privileged few, with either no knowledge of or no concern for the effects of this on the economy, the environment, and therefore on every other person living on earth. We give inequality perverse validity, and it’s time that stopped.

Occupy Wall Street

A middle-class movement doesn’t have to be a way of patronising the dispossessed by feeling that they can “facilitate” or shepherd them to freedom, nor should it be that the socially conscious middle class do nothing but sit on the sidelines of a people’s struggle to egg them on and throw them an occasional thumbs-ups – which it seems many believe that by not doing, has meant the Occupy movement in SA has failed. The movement is clearly not about “The Poor” with a capital P, but about a systemic problem. The 99% consists of people at every end of the spectrum, who have diverse experiences and responsibilities, but who acknowledge that their experiences share a cause. But maybe the fact that the Occupy movement is not an exercise in old fashioned white guilt is exactly what makes it so offensive to the bourgeoisie. The poor should be allowed the dignity to lead movements against injustice, pragmatically assisted where possible by those who have access to resources. But this doesn’t mean the middle class can and should do nothing themselves. The socially conscious privileged have their own part to play in fixing this mess: the making aware of their peers that doing nothing is doing something and that whether we like it or not, no matter how high the fences we erect, our actions have an impact on others, which in turn have an impact on our own lives.

Pick ‘n Pay is about to fire more than 3000 workers, due to “problems confronting the company in respect of declining profitability”, and because of the impending arrival of Walmart, whose strategies of global exploitation means that, worldwide, they can undercut any company who operates more ethically. Next time you go to do your shopping, and walk past a homeless person in the car park, past a Congolese refugee carguard who has fled his country due to conflict over the Coltan used in your cellphone, and push your trolley under the big, round smiling face of billionaire Raymond Ackerman, to buy your prepacked microwave dinners which cause cancer and pollute the environment, remember, Pick ‘n Pay is “Inspired by You”. What are you going to do about it?

*All images © Sarah Dawson.

39   7
208
SHARES
RESPONSES (83)
  1. Clompski says:

    Thanks this was excellent.

    Just one thing: “The poor are suffering, barely surviving, but have a moral advantage which has to be preserved at all costs, assigned to them mostly by an anxious multiracial middle class who prefers a noble savage.”

    This is true, but the government also has a vested interest in preserving poverty in this country. In putting a salve of welfare on it while failing to create meaningful avenues out of poverty – which is certainly within its power and its budget.

    Maybe in South Africa our government is very much part and parcel of the 1%? And this is where we as the middle class, whites in particular, come unstuck. To point this out is to be reactionary, racist, insert slur. Of course, taking action is more valuable than pointing things out, and perhaps if we did that people would start taking us seriously.

    I expect to see action taken. It is in the interest of the elite to phase out the middle class, and to create a homogenous mass of poorly educated consumers of trifles who offer no threat to elite ownership of land and resources. What is happening in America now is coming to South Africa, in fact I am fairly certain that most of us middle class folk are starting to feel the pinch, cutting back spending, repairing rather than buying.

    In time we’ll take to the streets in greater numbers. My only concern is that our anger will be co-opted and we’ll find ourselves asking for power structures that will serve the interests of the elite, thinking this signifies change. Maybe, as tends to happen in times of economic crisis, war will come and blast our disaffection away, leaving the survivors to accept whatever power system comes next in exhaustion and relief.

    Thumb up10   Thumb down 0

  2. Rich says:

    Fuck me. Some of the most astute observations I’ve yet read on the Occupy movement. Excellent stuff.

    Thumb up6   Thumb down 0

  3. BabelFish says:

    “And that inequality is still very much skewed in favour of white people”

    This is true, of course. But perhaps it could be better put as “skewed in favour of people who have had an education” rather than the old race thing. There is huge inequality across Africa and it will always remain that way as long as those who can, continue to send their children to expensive private schools in Europe and those that can’t get little or nothing.
    There is no quick fix to inequality. The future lies with ensuring that every child has access to a proper education, something that African leaders don’t seem to make much effort with. I wonder why?

    Thumb up19   Thumb down 3

  4. student says:

    Considering the immense amount of dialogue around the space the middle class is allowed to occupy in any struggle and also considering our very unique reading and history of ‘white liberalism’, this article finally (to a large extent) put things in perspective about our perceived role in any movement, protest or struggle.

    There is a antagonism towards anyone middle class (and in Grahamstown, any student) who attempts to speak out as equals to the poor; they are vilified, called hypocrites or just considered hippies or hipsters who want to create some kind of artificial identity for themselves. Nothing is allowed to be genuine; the middle class student may only remain a middle class student – anything else is considered inauthentic. That is while there is, alongside it, a tradition of ‘community engagement’ (at Rhodes at least), which, despite being highly contested among those who realize it is merely something students do to either soothe their middle class conscience (if I may be condescending), or it is something that they can write on their CV to get that scholarship (they are even giving out certificates of attendance now) is not criticized, perhaps exactly because it is expected of the middle class to behave that way. The idea that everyone always acts out of self-interest is so embedded in our perceptions of human nature that one’s critique of everything and everyone is tainted by one’s judgments accordingly.

    Why is there no way to fathom that those who benefit from a system can also turn against it? Even if mistakes are made and even if it is not pure altruism; not everyone bases the quality of their life upon the amount of money they have or could have one day; that does not make you a moralist, it makes you a human being. We’ve all managed to pick up the important lesson of how to criticize everything, and in this mediated world it has become so easy to do this. What we still need to learn is that criticism is useless and unproductive if it does not involve self-criticism.

    Mahala could potentially be a platform for the creation of a new middle class conscience in South Africa; one that could potentially change power structures and class perceptions. You cannot deny that there is a desire for it. So far it has merely maintained the status quo.

    Thumb up12   Thumb down 0

  5. huh! says:

    There’s so much of value here but this story is just too long for a website. I stopped reading – and I’m super-interested in the subject. I might come back to it. Most people won’t. Digital screens are sadly not paper no matter how they might pretend, and there’s still a severe built-in limit to our ability to read a long story on the web.

    Thumb up9   Thumb down 19

  6. Billy Pineapples says:

    Sharp as a shot o’ petrol, but sobering as a car crash. Very cool stuff. But sometimes I fear I may fall into the ‘not giving a proverbial’ category.

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 1

  7. Andrew James says:

    Brilliant Writing. Balanced, thoughtful journalism. Thank you.

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  8. mud-debunker says:

    Sarah, you write well and everyone in a free society should have a right to legitimise their beliefs through protest irrespective of the extent of their shared economic experiences.

    Its utterly self-defeating for any society to grant a monopoly on values and value formation to any class as this prohibits the development of anything which could reasonably be called a stable, and indeed, stabilising national culture.

    So far so good.

    The problem is that your grasp of economic “truths” is infantile at best and smacks of deliberate, populist, ignorance.

    Is there anyone on this site who is interested in a genuine appreciation of, and dialogue on, economic realities without defaulting to the facile, proto-Marxian view that the rich are to blame for all our ills?

    Serious question

    Thumb up11   Thumb down 5

  9. middle class student says:

    Considering the immense amount of dialogue around the space the middle class is allowed to occupy in any struggle and also considering our very unique reading and history of ‘white liberalism’, this article finally (to a large extent) put things in perspective about our perceived role in any movement, protest or struggle.

    There is a antagonism towards anyone middle class (and in Grahamstown, any student) who attempts to speak out as equals to the poor; they are vilified, called hypocrites or just considered hippies or hipsters who want to create some kind of artificial identity for themselves. Nothing is allowed to be genuine; the middle class student may only remain a middle class student – anything else is considered inauthentic.

    That is while there is, alongside it, a tradition of ‘community engagement’ (at Rhodes at least), which, despite being highly contested among those who realize it is merely something students do to either soothe their middle class conscience (if I may be condescending), or it is something that they can write on their CV to get that scholarship (they are even giving out certificates of attendance now) is not criticized, perhaps exactly because it is expected of the middle class to behave that way. There is arguably some potential for value transformation behind ‘community engagement’, I won’t argue that.

    The idea that everyone always acts out of self-interest (or would only act that way) is so embedded in our perceptions of human nature that one’s critique of everything and everyone is tainted by one’s judgments accordingly. Why is there no way to fathom that those who benefit from a system can also turn against it? Even if mistakes are made and even if it is not pure altruism; not everyone bases the quality of their life upon the amount of money they have or could have one day; that does not make you a moralist, it makes you a human being.

    We’ve all managed to pick up the important lesson of how to criticize everything, and in this mediated world it has become so easy to do this. What we still need to learn is that criticism is useless and unproductive if it does not involve self-criticism.

    Mahala could potentially be a platform for the creation of a new middle class conscience in South Africa; one that could potentially change power structures and class perceptions, so far it has merely maintained the status quo.

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  10. kropotkin says:

    Oh do please enlighten us about the ‘economic realities’ @mud-debunker.

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 3

  11. Ludwig van Schizes says:

    And there goes the thread. This is where you need to ask why the term ‘economic realities’ makes you get all defensive, kropotkin. Are you intimidated? What’s the story?

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 2

  12. Sarah Dawson says:

    @Mud debunker

    I would respond to you if this piece was actually discussing “economic truths”. But in fact its talking about a social circumstances (not “truths”, a fraught word).

    It’s no use rising to a troll whose motives for changing the subject are limited to either wanting the discussion to suit his own sets of knowledge and disregarding anything else, or simply to breed antagonism for the sake of it.

    If you have comments about the arguments I actually made, which are available above in case you missed them the first time (which I fear you did), I will happily engage with you.

    Thumb up5   Thumb down 3

  13. Sarah Dawson says:

    On the other hand, my experiences have taught me that engagement in Mahala comments is somewhat *less than productive.

    Thumb up5   Thumb down 1

  14. mud-debunker says:

    Thanks for the invite Sarah, I have no intention of trolling; i am just frustrated by the assertions and descriptions of fact on economic points (note not “truths” – inverted commas are used for a reason) which tend to ruin what is otherwise an insightful and well written piece.

    If you would prefer disengagement then happy to respect but just firing a warning shot that credibility tends to derive from consistency and, those with a shred of basic economic training will dismiss you for the obvious flaws in your argument rather than looking at the overall thread of your thinking.

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  15. Sarah Dawson says:

    I’m glad you aren’t planning to troll. And certainly I skimmed over some economic points for the sake of A. an argument about sociality not economics, B. And audience not neccessaitly well versed in economic theory. I dont believe that the overall truth of what I have to say here is undermined by a simplified economic argument.

    I dont enjoy being told that my understanding is “infantile at best and smacks of deliberate, populist, ignorance”. I think that given that these sleights are based on a very small and somewhat secondary element of my argument I think unfairly undermines what I have to say here, especially when youhaveso little to say about the more foregrounded points I have made.

    If you would like to elaborate the flaws, please do. It can only be useful. It would be great though, if you could make comment on the article’s primary points simultaneously. But I’m not here to moderate.

    The floor is yours…

    Thumb up7   Thumb down 1

  16. Clompski says:

    Why am I getting a feeling of deja vu.? Ah, because Sarah Dawson = Sara Dee from previous thread. Congratulations of getting your thoughts together for an articulate and insightful piece, came across much better than the scattershot on the previous thread. Then you start with the troll pejorative again. Somebody attempts to engage you and they’re a troll. If the best you can do is respond with insult and your trademark disdain and failure to engage with anyone whose opinion differs with yours, then I’m afraid it’s you who is trolling. And a writer trolling on their own post is why I love Mahala.

    If I may translate, s/he’s saying that in your piece you make certain underlying assumptions about economics. So s/he’s asking if you’d like to engage in a dialogue on this subject and see how it informs the overall argument. I’d like to see what mud-debunker has to say.

    To me it’s pretty obvious that elites (the ultra-rich) shape our lives from education, to the media, to the things we consume, while gradually constricting our ability to own land, choose alternative modes of living without plunging ourselves into abject poverty, and take back political power. They collude with governments, and use the instruments of mass persuasion to do this.

    They seem to have no sense whatsoever that there is no need to accumulate unlimited wealth, and many seem to only engage in philanthropic concerns that benefit their cronies, provide them with tax incentives or further their pet political or ideological agendas. For me the above all qualify as being on the skanky side of human behaviour.

    If our economic system acts as an enabler of this type of situation, then obviously it’s in our interests to change or replace it.

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  17. Andy says:

    Mud-debunker – i don’t think proto-marxism is necessarily the default position Sarah’s arguing here, but I do think that capitalism, as we’re experiencing it globally now, needs far greater oversight and control…

    Can you lay out the obvious flaws. None of us being economics majors here

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  18. One more time around says:

    @Clompski

    “And a writer trolling on their own post is why I love Mahala.”

    Hahahahahahaha!!! fuck, that’s funny dude.

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 1

  19. Sarah Dawson says:

    Clompski – agreed.

    And I am indeed curious to see what mud debunker has to say.

    I would like to restate that given that I went to a lot of effort above to make a point about the self-regulation of our social (not economic) order to the detriment of the society as a whole, that it would be nice to talk about that, how my shortfalls in economic knowledge affect that particular argument, not just my economic shortfalls fullstop.

    It can only be useful.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  20. Sarah Dawson says:

    I’m not unwilling to engage with someonewith a different opinion. I’m unwilling to engage with someone ostensibly on the basis of someting I wrote, when in fact the engagement is about an entirely separate agenda. I can’t respond and explain something if I didnt really assert it in the first place.

    Besides which. I had a whole article’s worth of airtime. My opinions are in public for them to done with what the reader will. And for that reason alone, it’s time I check out of this. Look forward to reading mud-debunkers side of things.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  21. mud-debunker says:

    Sarah, I believe I have made my points on the article’s primary points but for the sake of preserving quality here they are:

    “I agree with you that everyone in a free society should have a right to legitimise their beliefs through protest irrespective of the extent of their shared economic experiences.

    Its utterly self-defeating for any society to grant a monopoly on values and value formation to any class as this prohibits the development of anything which could reasonably be called a stable, and indeed, stabilising national culture”

    For the economics

    Firstly a lefty point:

    In addition to calling the analysis infantile and saying that it smacked of deliberate populist ignorance I also called your logic proto-Marxian. This is because because you seem ready to distinguish between “sociality not economics” and to want to discuss “social circumstances” not economic truths. I think an actual Marxist, such as your pal Brandon, would be clearer that these are one and the same thing. I may not agree with what Brandon says but i cant argue with his consistency

    On the others, i guess my biggest objection is to this line of thought:

    “The rich need the poor to be poor, not only because cheap labour is a crucial resource to capitalism, but because it makes their richness more meaningful. ”

    Really? Do you have any evidence or indeed logically connected thinking to support this. Seriously in what way does having the poor around make the rich feel better about themselves. Do you know the rich? I do, and most of them care more about their position relative to the other rich and to displays of conspicuous consumption to support their relative standing. The poor are pretty much irrelevant to them except as objects of pity and terror.

    Its equally facile to say that capitalism depends on cheap labour. Two points on this:

    Firstly, capitalism depends on a socially stable environment in which to make investments (so that capital is not at risk). if the poor are the rump then any self-interested capitalist will know that to make investments he must prevent the poor from rising up. In a free society with a functioning democracy and a free press this means that oppression will tend not to work as the tool of stability. It doesnt tend to work for long in no-free societies either. To achieve stability in a society with lots of poor people there must be a compromise with the needs of labour

    Secondly late-capitalism (whatever that means) is predicated on increasinngly sophisticated patterns of consumption (think iPhones but also doctors and engineers) and this requires not brute labour but skills. Skills in turn require training and education and these in turn require that the labour force are able to invest in time to acquire these. If they have not the capital to provide for the time and cost of acquiring these skills then self-interested capitalists, to the extent that they can act collectively, will conspire to provide these. These skilled labourers will then also command a premium wage which they can pass on to their children who will also tend to be better educated and to access even higher skilled and better paid jobs.

    The above points are the basic sociological multiplier and wealth-sharing is already a reality in SA even if the tools of implementation are poor

    Thanks

    Thumb up5   Thumb down 0

  22. Shiva says:

    Let me just weigh in here for a second. I think that Sarah’s piece is great and important – an argument against the (postmodern) automatic ironising of middle-class social movements that’s going on here, ie: you can’t protest because you do so from a position of wealth, you can’t oppose from within, it’s arrogant to speak on behalf of marginalised others etc. etc. In this logic, all attempts to rebel/protest, no matter how disarticulated or nascent, are condemned a priori to being hipsterish, hypocritical, contradictory, etc. purely because of where they come from. That logic needs to be opposed. And it needs to be opposed with a new universalism (as Zizek, a galvanic intellectual force in this movement) that recognises the totality of this 99% all plugged-in and connected to a global network of capitalist modernity: transnational, deterritorialised, belonging to no race, civilisation… we’re all in this together, infinitely complicit in each others lives.

    The problem is this, and it’s not just the problem of the piece, but a symptom of this same embryonic, incoherent stage of the protest itself: how do we understand this mammoth problem in its economic sense?

    I’d like to hear more from mud-debunker, and I’d like to caution him to not take the high-ground here. We don’t know. We can’t all be economics majors. But we’re all embodied humans and we know when we’re pissed off. The energy of that pissed-off-ness just needs to be properly, constructively challenged with long-term goals.

    (for those interested in the economics and who want to see how Marxism is no longer the facile relic of history that neoliberals have dethorned it as, see David Harvey’s brand new book “The Enigma of Capital”. He says, usefully, even if I don’t have the answer, I’m asking for this debate to actually happen. This protest is the sound not of answers, but of a debate actually taking place on a unprecedented global scale)

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  23. Graham says:

    An excellent mixture of insightful analysis and passionate conviction.

    A few comments, if I may:

    I think the middle-class (national and international) played a much more significant role in the ending of apartheid than is generally acknowledged.

    That Occupy Wall Street, rather than being the start of a shift, is actually the external manifestation of a massive shift that has already taken place in the human psyche. It is unstoppable now.

    That people, especially young people, are creative by nature, and if they are denied the ability to create within an existing system-they will create a new system instead-it’s as simple as that.

    And finally, as the author seems to allude to, it is the middle class, with their strategic advantage of being ‘in the middle’, who are ideally positioned to be at the vanguard of this new movement. It’s nothing to feel smug about, for despite what hyped-up motivational speakers tell us, what we achieve in life is much more given to us than earned. You may not believe that at 25, but you will when you are a little older like myself.

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  24. Shiva says:

    Sorry, mud-debunker must’ve posted while I was writing. In light of his response, I disavow what I said about wanting to hear more from him, in the expectant tone I did.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  25. Clompski says:

    I find it interesting how people with an affiliation to Marxism become very defensive when any sort of benefit to capital is mentioned. The fact of the matter is that for its faults (and the way the accumulation of wealth leads to accumulation of power, leads to plutocratic/kleptocratic rule is a big one in my view), capitalist societies by and large offer better living standards than non-capitalist ones. There’s a reason lefties in the US aren’t getting on rafts to Cuba, great healthcare and all.

    Isn’t important to acknowledge nuance and subtlety? To acknowledge that just as their are elements of capitalism that are harmful there are elements that are beneficial? To construct something as a monolithic evil is to venture into ideology, propaganda and the type of radicalism that can’t brook compromise – which may be fun to indulge in, but isn’t fun to attempt to communicate or reason with.

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  26. Sir Milo says:

    Nice take , but i agree with Billy Me ol’ Chum Pinapples!

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  27. Sarah Dawson says:

    By the way, I took the pictures, but I dont reserve the copyright as the symbol suggests… They’re available for open use.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  28. Gobigowski says:

    Everyday is a Protest

    Here on Albany Grove
    I am mesmerized by whoonga aromas
    The Nigerians are Pimping
    The whores are nursing their infected thingies
    Nollywood Dvd’s on sale
    Pussy is Fifty Rands
    Everything is Grand

    The internet is cheap
    And no one gives a shit
    A crackhead just collapsed
    no one attends to the piece of shit
    A car guard is searching her for her last pennies
    his hand down deep in her panties

    I am banned from the “coolest” happening in Town
    Because i am relentless clown
    but the beer cools me down
    on my face you couldn’t find a frown
    coz school is almost out
    and there is a slight breeze through town
    Many pink beavers to adore
    Love is a globe away

    on Albany grove, the blues are blue
    the shoulder are heavy
    the walls stink of sin

    But Albany Grove is honest
    Does not pretend
    Has no classes
    is not a class
    and is generally unaffected

    Everyday in Albany Is a Protest!

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 1

  29. acapella says:

    @mud debunker, i like your alias. i’m sure you won’t mind me debunking your patronising undertone, which reads to me something like “oh you’re quite articulate and heartfelt, if only you understood what you’re talking about then you’d also be credible”… understanding the system in all its complexity is essential if we are to progress in the long run, but first and foremost we have to come to grips with the social psyche that shapes the system, which i think is what this article is trying to do.

    i am always wary of this isolated and somewhat disempowering reverence of the laws of the economic systems as THE most important focus of conversation, THE determinant of whether other social discourse is valid or not… it would almost suggest that the system is a free-standing entity that descended from the skies above to determine how we live, as opposed to one that a few people have deliberately created and the rest of us are deliberately or inadvertently sustaining on a daily basis.

    social psyche shapes economic laws and theories, and as such it is the fundamental issue that will make or break the status quo…suggesting otherwise is not only misguided but it also unnecessarily mystifies the conversation from the get go, excluding all of us humble folk who didn’t get the “shred of basic economic training” that you speak of.

    yes we need technical knowledge to focus and direct the momentum for social change, but even more critical is for people to understand why they should be a part of that momentum, and that is what this article does very well. besides it sounds to me like the textbooks from which you were taught “economic realities” were written or funded or at least inspired by people in the 1% oasis, who sculpted these realities to serve their own interests and are now selling them to us all as divine truths.

    reminds me of the first time i told my mother i was an atheist and she responded “have you prayed about this?” she still sends bible scriptures to help me reconsider my atheism. it’s kind of tragicomic.

    mud my bud, do you seriously doubt that capitalism needs poverty to survive? read up on the economic history of south africa. the transvaal labour commission of 1903, the south african native affairs commission of 1905…the british were perplexed: why are the natives reluctant to come work in the transvaal mines? the commissions found that a large part of this reluctance was attributed to living and working conditions, but it was impossible to improve these to an acceptable standard without jeopardising profits too much. luckily for them, reluctance could never have managed to translate into any long-lasting refusal to work on the mines, because labour was “starved into submission by economic conditions” (ie poverty) – and that situation continues to this day not only in the mining industry but in so many others. capitalism requires some degree of exploitation, and exploitation requires some degree of desperation.

    and yes of course too much poverty gets a bit uncomfortable eventually because people get restless, but if you’re textbook-smart enough, even this can be turned to your advantage. cue corporate philanthropy, the commoditisation of basic needs – check out bill gates speaking about his investments in healthcare: “making money and giving money are not all that different”… i work in public health, one of the most basic determinants of human survival, and trust me – at the highest levels of decision making, saving lives is secondary. it’s all about the benjamins. states walk a tight rope between blatant and veiled oppression – they have to remain within the latter space to avoid revolution, and that space is secured through the sophisticated philanthropic and democratic pretensions that you appear to hold in such high esteem. check out antonio gramsci’s writing on passive revolution.

    peace

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 4

  30. Clompski says:

    The problem with not understanding economics is that you don’t understand what capitalism is. As I have said before, capitalism has become the Big Bad, and the ills created by cronyism, government intervention in markets, over-regulation, globalisation, fractional reserve banking and collusion between governments/banks/corporations is all being projected onto ‘capitalism’.

    If you have the time, sit down and watch an episode of the Keiser Report – this week they covered the fact that JP Morgan is effectively making money off its own poor performance on the stock exchange by betting against itself in the markets. This is essentially fraud – and it is widespread in major financial institutions.

    The BANKING system is currently out of control, creating a flood of wealth upwards, and basically committing widespread fraud with zero repercussions. These people do not want free markets – let me repeat this – they DO NOT want free markets. They are monopoly men above all, and the give not a fuck how they achieve this – or whether this happens under capitalism or socialism.

    Take a look at MoveOn.org, which considers itself to be a mainstay of OWS. These guys are funded by George Soros. Look at some of the posters that have been generated for the OWS movement – many of these reference propaganda posters from Soviet Russia. I wonder why?

    Some of these psychos would absolutely love to do away with free markets and threat of competition that capitalism presents. Then them and their buddies could dig down into an unending state of supposed ‘socialist’ rule, where a few corporations would monopolise all essential services and markets – shit they’d even let the government stamp their brand on it if people started asking for full throttle state communism.

    If that happens, if this ends up with these fucks getting the protestors to demand the creation of political structures that will allow them to 100% consolidate power, then good luck getting them out of power. Once individual rights have been trashed, and power has been centralised the curtain will come up on our brave new world, and these guys will ditch their humanist pretenses. And I imagine, judging by history, that it will not go well for the now indignant bourgeois masses who enabled this.

    These people are greedy and psychotic, but they are not stupid. They’ve had the best minds in the world studying us and our behaviour for decades. They own the instruments of mass destruction. They will 100% take this righteous rage we all feel and use it to get us to enable them to fuck us even deeper and harder.

    Wait and watch.

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  31. Clompski says:

    mass destruction=mass persuasion

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  32. Sarah Dawson says:

    I’m still waiting for mud debunker to get to the point where he/she was going to elaborate the economic misgivings with specificity rather than throwing around ideological labels based on things that weren’t said…?

    I’m actually positively interested in that. Because sociality and economy aren’t separate. I gave one aspect of the scenario, one that’s important, but not often given room, and he’s sidestepping this chance to build a fuller picture…

    So far you’ve only really commented on one quite minor point (about cheap labour, which was more of an aside) which was intended primarily to deal with identity politics under capitalism. But you choose to stick on the unelaborated aspects, which are unelaborated because it isn’t part of the overarching argument, so we don’t have to be caught up in a circular epistemological debate.

    Please explain for us where the flaws are in the overarching argument based on economic misunderstanding, so we can know what you know and add it to what we all know individually.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 1

  33. mud-debunker says:

    acapella – the truth is that there is much that I agree with in what you say, I just see it from a slightly different angle and (surprise, surprise) I see muddiness in some of your logic.

    You’re right about the mines of course. There was no formal cash economy amongst the potential labour force at the start of the 20th century and this needed to be created in order to develop a labour pool for the mines. In order to develop this the Brits introduced cash taxes, which required incomes and, hey presto, migrant labour and incipient apartheid exploitation.

    On that much we can agree.

    The subtlety here is that with the mines, the functioning paradigm for social stability (i want to shoot myself for wrting that) was oppression not compromise. Equally the profits from the colonies, in what was a basically a slave economy, were in part supposed to check the restless urges of the poor back home in England check and to salve the potentially greater threat of renewed conflict with the Boers.

    Didnt work too well in the long run either with the natives.

    My views on economic realities are not really based on laws or formalisms: most orthodox liberal interpretations, elegant though they might be, are just as flawed in practice as their, equally elegant, Marxist counterparts. My views come from my work and the view i have of capitalism in action.

    I also have no illusions or praise for the underlying virtue of philanthropy or democratic societies. I just observe that these create an arena for the balancing of interests which is entirely more civilised than colonialist oppression or nationalist / socialist revolution.

    Ta

    PS Props for working in public healthcare. I have seen that system in action and you deserve a medal

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  34. mud-debunker says:

    Sarah, mea culpa, my key point was to suggest that you resist the urge to overreach into areas which need a more nuanced assessment.

    There is clearly scope for a wider dialogue on that but in doing would be straying even further from what you said and I have already squatted too long on your otherwise excellent article.

    I take back the use of the word infantile – that was rude – my bad – sorry.

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  35. Anonymous says:

    The arguments happening on this thread are far too broad. There are legitimate reasons to suspect that all the cronyism etc. that Clompski thinks are manageable aspects of capitalist democracy are in, fact, ineradicable systemic crises thereof. Like Shiva suggested, check out Harvey’s new one, also check out Slavoj Zizek in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. Then, there are hundreds of critiques by Chomsky (an anarcho-syndicalist, not a Marxist), Eagleton etc. There is a legitimate conflict going on here between how we repair this problem, and how we understand this problem. Let’s not simply sideline the Marxist critiques. Cheers.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  36. Wodaloadofoldshit says:

    Let’s just do as we please, accept our lot, embrace the inevitable, and when the flames engulf every last one of us we can break into an ironic rendition of “we didn’t start the fire”, with our mouth full of macaroons.

    ;)

    The only problem here is that you’re a bit too scathing. Your periodic self-deprecation is quite transparent and seems more like an underhanded sales technique than anything else.”I once sold my image to a major clothing company who imports cheap Chinese goods because I needed the money. I own an iPhone. I smoke Marlboro” Wow… on some levels you can relate to everyone else?? Now that you’re ‘in there’ you’re free to enlighten the masses. I’m sorry.. just no real unique solutions, just more contemporary metaphors and examples. Good try, but this has just left me feeling (unjustifiably) guilty, and it’s the kind of guilt that depresses and deflates, rather than inspires. Fortunately it’s nothing a bit of weekend retail therapy can’t fix.

    Thumb up6   Thumb down 5

  37. Clompski @ Anonymous says:

    Jesus H. Christ and Sons. Where did I say anything that suggests: “There are legitimate reasons to suspect that all the cronyism etc. that Clompski thinks are manageable aspects of capitalist democracy are in, fact, ineradicable systemic crises thereof. ”

    I don’t think this is manageable, because I think it (which is hard to specific, as I have indicated – I don’t think ‘capitalism’ quite covers it) has already done its damage. We already have power so concentrated that we’re either going to have to wait for the psychos to grow hearts (don’t hold your breath) or there’s going to be lots of blood spilt. I 100% agree that the current system is in crisis, and that it is untenable – just saying we have to understand what portion of the crisis is attributable to capitalism and what portion is attributable to the other factors I mentioned.

    My main point is that if we keep swopping between pre-fabricated socialist or capitalist systems thinking we’re creating change, we’re just enabling the psychos. We need to come up with something new, maybe something that combines the best of both to serves the most?

    We definitely need to dismantle any structures that would enable the many to rule the few. I don’t give a fuck about how good someone says there intentions are, what their politics are, what their rationale is, people lie – giving them too much power is stupid.

    As it is, if this turns into a drive for state socialism then I have news for you, you’ve invited yourself to an economic and social snuff party and you’re going to die with a banker’s c%ck rammed into your cranium.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  38. zerowastelifestyle says:

    Really appreciated this point of view. Great article. Lots to think about here.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 1

  39. Sarah Dee says:

    Thanks mud-debunker. I do appreciate your perspective. It’s a deeply complex problem. It manifests itself so diversely, and has permeated everything so completely that it’s hard to attack this general sense of injustice with any one perspective and any one kind of knowledge. It is nice to speak with intelligent, considered humans with different but nonetheless concerned angles.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  40. Sarah Dee says:

    Clompski, despite the troll-board antagonism, we do share an understanding in some way. I do personally believe (since I haven’t yet articulated my personal political convictions) that radical change is necessary. In fact its inevitable, because the system is pretty much destroying itself, as well as the earth. I don’t know how exactly it should look, but I love Occupy because its primary goal is to open up an imaginative space for conversation without prescriptive ideas. I dont think that we have exhausted our creativity in terms of organisations of community, and I think that various other ideologies that have been discredited, including this one under which we now exist, do have positive aspects we can integrate into new ways of thinking. I’m tired of paranoias regarding communist and socialist organisations, in the same way as i’m suspicious of an outright, blanket discreditation of capitalism. It would be nice if people could work outside false dualisms.

    Personally I think that a more immediately responsive kind of democracy would be a step forward. Ive always felt intrigued by the idea of referendums, and wondered how we could incorporate them into a more localised and direct way of decision making. Especially given that technology (looking at the way airtime and lotto machines can be so easily rolled out) allows for it. Imagine if things like the Info Bill could be decided upon by vote, on an issue-by-issue basis, rather than the 4-year-term, decision by proxy arrangement. Politicians would be executors of decisions rather than makers. Perhaps this is insane, but I like that Occupy makes space for ideas to be discussed rather than predetermined. And I don’t think its more insane than what’s happening now…

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  41. Sarah Dee says:

    @Matthew

    I am in wholehearted support of the Youth League’s actions in principle. In practice, I would be there if it weren’t for the Ratanang Family Trust. Keep money and politics separate.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  42. Abraham says:

    Quite impossible to respond to everything said in the thread so I will not attempt to add onto the conversation that has already occurred. A few things:

    I am hardly rich. I am hardly poor. I hardly resemble the image that you sketch of what it is to be middle class. Is your story of a middle class young person specifically a ‘liberal’ and ‘English’ story?

    You appropriately criticize what the media has said about the Occupy Wall Street saga in South Africa. Many media outlets, like many other people in the country, do not want young white people who aren’t politically savvy and have no struggle history (the Mail and Guardian said something along this line) to protest or take part in shaping the history of South Africa, at this time. They would prefer this particular segment of society does not become politically active and, if at all, any grass root attempt at building any type of movement should be squashed before it grows.

    A few questions… is a middle class movement really what is necessary to start addressing a problem that is both local and global? Are all members of the bourgeoisie simply out to exploit the lower classes? Are you willing to do more than write on the internet?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  43. Sarah Dawson says:

    1.Yes. But its not the only thing that’s necessary.

    2. No. But many do without knowing it, or without caring.

    3. Of course, and I try to.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  44. Chris says:

    I’m not an economics major but I do know a bit about people, which is how I’m able to state unreservedly that mud debunker is an asshole.

    Sarah Dawson writes a very intelligent, thoughtful, considered, inspiring article about the need for us to try (together) to find ways out of where we are, and this clown sees is as an invitation to parade his economics chops.

    Just a thought (if you ever make good on the threat to enlighten us as to the true nature of economics) is this. If you know more than some of the readers here, why not use the comments board to add to the article, rather that trying to discredit its author.

    It could have so easily been, ‘Hey Sarah, great article, ALSO, have you considered…’ and people could’ve thought, ‘get a load of the brains on that guy, and he’s not a prick.’

    Instead, it feels like you’ve walked into a party where people aren’t listening to your music and you’ve attacked the dj. ‘hey Sarah nice article but why the fuck aren’t you talking about my field of expertise. I got a phd in that shit. Listen to me orate.’

    Asshole

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 3

  45. Zam says:

    I hate getting involved with this but mud-guy has a point.

    I’m a capitalist economy, fat cats want you to have money. Because then you buy what they’re selling and they make more money. I don’t mean they’ll actively participate to get the country to a place where people are earning a great deal, but they do need you to have excess cash to buy what they’re selling. Having such a vast majority of our country effects their bottom line (unless they’re into production where yet need the cheap labour force). But in tue end more money and a stronger economy is better for business.

    As someone pointed out earlier, education is the main key to building an efficient, skilled labour force and improving socio-economic problems through GDP growth and investment. It’s what steve Biko understood from day one and the original anc guys. Education is key.

    Yet, majority of our public (and even some private) education system is not only highly flawed but also highly corrupt.

    Better earners are better for economies. Smarter, more succinct thinkers however are not good for voting for continually failing parties.

    But the ignorant and naive, fed on pipe dreams rather than basic survival needs, vote in hope.

    Education kids, it’s really the only hope. It’s how you all know why there are so many socio-economic problems, where they possibly stem from, and varying options on how to relieve them.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  46. R. says:

    Let’s get real. Bill Hicks said everything that needs to on this subject and everything else twenty years ago. We should transcribe Rant in E-Minor as our constitution.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  47. ANCYL says:

    Unfortunately everything you have said in these comments and article are completely discredited with a comments like ‘Keep money and politics separate’. Really?

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  48. Sarah Dawson says:

    That probably was too broad a statement. It cant be hard to imagine ways in which the two are not so deeply and problematically intertwined, though.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  49. Sarah Dawson says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that education, for a host of reasons, is paramount. But it won’t solve all our problems. Look at Europe and the US right now, where scores of young graduates are protesting about the inability of educated young people to find work. All you get is more educated rioters! Job creation is key. But when big corporations dominate the economy, buying out small business as soon as they succeed, and these corporations regard people as running “costs” to be minimised, every step forward is a step or two back. And you would think it would be in the interests of capital to maintain its own markets, but its myopically focused on quarterly balance sheets more than it is on long term sustainability. One wall street poster said it like this: “Look after the middle class. You’ll miss it when its gone…”

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  50. Importer says:

    Where is this job creation going to come from?
    Are we going to stop manufacturing in China and open up factories here?
    We have the resources and we have the labour, unfotunately we don’t have the market place to sustain ideas like this. Pick n pay, Mr Price, Jet and Ackermans all import goods for cheaper than what they can make them for in SA. If they didn’t the famous 99% would not be able to afford clothing in SA. FACT!
    So yeah you will have job creation, but you will also have expensive basic everyday items that no one can afford.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  51. Sarah Dawson says:

    So clearly, we need to think more radically about how the whole thing works.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  52. mud-debunker says:

    Chris, I do feel like an asshole and I have opted for disengagement to avoid further sidelining of the positive thrust of the article.

    I felt like making some semi-relevant points but should have considered the approach a little better.

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  53. Clompski says:

    Just for the record, I have no problems with socialism or communism per se. I 100% respect anybody’s right to go set up communities and experiment with different economic models and ways of living together. If these work, for sure the communities will attract members and we’ll all move forward.

    The problem with socialism at state level is the same as the problem with monopoly capitalism or corporatism (which incidentally loves strong government, because then government can force populations to uptake products and services, change laws, enable all sorts of unhealthy things to enter the market etc etc) in that the power of the many over the few is given a shot of steroids.

    The other problem is that state socialism doesn’t allow you to opt out – and not allowing somebody to walk away from a system is destructive of freedom. No thanks.

    The analogy I though of is that if you set up a haunted castle on a hilltop overlooking a small town populated by buxom milkmaid types you’re going to have a vampire come around and show interest in occupying it sooner rather than later.

    The 99% need to govern ourselves. If we don’t the 1% will use whatever system is being used to govern the masses to maintain the status quo and tighten their grip on money and power. i don’t really think it will be much better if the complexion of the 1% shifts from politicians and business moguls to a cadre of red brigade firebrands.

    I’m fucking tired of people wanting to rule me, and I’m much more interested in people who want to cooperate with me. I just hope that doesn’t make me another kind of 1%.

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  54. another sarah says:

    Sarah – I’m glad someone tries bring these issues into the space of the middle class youth, so I support your writing of this article.

    That said – your critism of the critics of this movement can very easliy be applied to your take on the slutwalk – where you were quick to shoot down the middle class activism! “What is being said is irrelevant. Who’s saying it is what matters. It’s the same looped definitions over and over that have more to do with a sense of righteousness than about doing anything right. Is it just a lack of creativity? It’s more likely that it’s a terror we feel at starting from naught at constructing an identity outside of the lines we know.”

    Also – please reference your assertion that SA has the highest gini – I hear that battered around on the left but it is not suported by the UNDP data (SA- 57.8 ; Columia 58.5; Bolivia 58.2; Botswana 61; Nambia 74.3 and others).

    http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/indicators/161.html

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 1

  55. Sarah Dawson says:

    I am interested in why you think my arguments re. Slutwalk are incompatible. Could you elaborate? I’m also not sure where you are sourcing those arguments from. The fact that “It’s the same looped definitions over and over that have more to do with a sense of righteousness than about doing anything right. Is it just a lack of creativity? It’s more likely that it’s a terror we feel at starting from naught at constructing an identity outside of the lines we know,” is very much my position on Slutwalk.

    The link you gave me was for the Human Development Index, which is a different measure. The Gini index measures inequality, which is different to measuring overall standard of living. The link to the UN data on gini at the top of that list is dead.

    But here is a secondary location of the data circa 2010:
    http://www.mongabay.com/reference/stats/rankings/2172.html

    As you can see, I did in fact mislead you, but I can’t find my original source now which states SA is on top. Namibia is in fact on top at the moment. But South Africa is 2nd on that list. I’ll keep looking for more up to date info.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 1

  56. another sarah says:

    the link shows gini co-effieceint, but is organised by HDI – IE: compares HDI ranking with gini

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  57. Sarah Dawson says:

    Which link exactly?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  58. Sarah Dawson says:

    Oh I see now. But the data only covers 1992 – 2007. The ranking I linked you to covers up to 2010.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  59. Thato says:

    ” Unlike the poorer sectors of society, for us, change is not a struggle but a choice. And in our culture of modern consumerist roboticism and apathy, we don’t even choose to do nothing, we simply don’t choose at all”

    Sarah thank you, that line alone speaks volumes. A change is imminent.

    Thumb up3   Thumb down 0

  60. Chris says:

    @Mud Debunker

    Now I feel like an asshole too.

    : )

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  61. Clompski says:

    Actually none of us are assholes. We’re all aspirant dicks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aYtHDlAkN0

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  62. Sarah Dawson says:

    This has actually been one of the most interesting, unshitty Mahala thread I’ve seen in ages.

    So many ideas, complications, and humility, so little gratuitous trolling.

    Thanks dudes.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 1

  63. Clompski says:

    I had to kak that comment to keep the Mahala vibe going. Don’t want to let the side down.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  64. Sarah Dawson says:

    Lol.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  65. Thato says:

    @ Sarah, the thread looks so clean because of how brilliantly you tackled this analysis. Pat yourself on the back girl…in fact, I’ll do it for you…
    *pats Sarah on the back*

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  66. pearl says:

    i thought occupy would gather far more global momentum, draw far more media attention. i thought it would be a movement that would be impossible not to have heard about! or i hoped. clearly I underestimated the iron grip corporate moneys have on global media.
    so surely, i thought, the minimal amount of awareness raised by the OCCUPY protesters around the world is testament to this corruption of our society, and should invoke feelings of outrage amongst the ‘educated middle class’ (to exemplify them once more) of ‘sound moral fibre’; incite an exalted effort towards revolution; fuel their indignation; thought that they, incensed at this glaring mass-manipulation would be provoked to up their game, lend their will to raise awaress renewed flame, but NO.
    PEOPLE LIVE IN FEAR, constant fucking fear of losing out and not having enough and THAT is the ultimate trump card of the capitalist regimen – through years of media propaganda that pushes the boundaries of our faith, morals and values, discreetly, remorselessly niggling away at our beliefs and our sense of tradition, we have been led to believe we HAVE NO CHOICE.
    People are afraid of losing everything: social stigmas define our choices! We directly relate our ‘image’ to our financial security, we equate our financial security with our inner security…… which should really be based around a sense of self! and thats whats REALLY fucked up.
    How many people do you know who have a real, sound sense of self? It’s not our inherently developing materialism that’s directly the problem….it’s the slow but steady obliteration of our CONFIDENCE. faith. fibre. morality. integrity. humanity: our priorities are not only skewed, they are up-side-down, motherfuckers. Not only are these ‘values’ no longer valuable in achieving financial security, no….. They are, in fact, signs of weakness. We are, in fact, an educated middle class of perhaps some moral fibre….but certainly NO SPINE.
    I think, Sarah and co., that the point of this sincere and well-argued piece of writing is to demonstrate the urgency of the need for a drastic change of mentality. So stop bickering. As a wise man once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  67. Sarah Dawson says:

    Thanks Thato. Appreciate that.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  68. Thato Tsotetsi says:

    @Sarah, the thread probably looks this “clean” because of the excellent work you did writing this piece to begin with, and for that, you need to pat yourself on the back. Better yet, I’ll do it for you
    *Pats Sarah Dawson on the back*

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  69. Craig says:

    More ridiculous walmart bashing at the end … but yet you’ll likely be the first in line at Makro to buy the new DVD player when its on special. All so hypocritical.

    Welcome to the world of business where the lowest price wins …

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 1

  70. Sarah Dawson says:

    I’m sure I kinda covered that in the article, Craig.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  71. goolam.dawood says:

    I’d just like to add, that the ANC is 50% for the 99%, and the DA is a 100% behind the 1%. @ Sarah – Since your article is loud about the grey area, I’m sure it will upset the conscientuous theorists who need to feel better about themselves before speaking the truth. Well done! And I don’t want to sound obtuse, but I am just so glad that its a white girl who said it!

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 1

  72. goolam.dawood says:

    I find it interesting that noone mentions the self-fulfilling truths of socio-economic privilege here. The reality is that wealthier kids are going to be better educated, and whiter kids are going to be better prepared for the job market, and whiter businesses and going to prefer whiter employment practices. Saying African governments don’t spend money on education is ridiculous, when our social spends are probably amongst the highest in the world. Please play closer attention to the systemic problems. Understanding systemic problems require an understanding where the THEORIES fail. Poor people in the US and Europe are learning about this the hard way. We’ve learnt through centuries of colonialism. So there’s no excuse to trumpet capitalism when the proof on the ground speaks differently. PS poor people are poorer than they were 16 years, and those poor people are most Black Africans.

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 1

  73. sara says:

    thanks for a very long-winded way of pointing out the obvious

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  74. sara says:

    DEFINITION OF DEMOCRACY

    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 dictatorship.”

    “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.”

    It will not hurt to read this several times.

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 1

  75. Anonymous says:

    the primal force of the “system” are we, the ones able to purchase. we are the “demand” in the equation of demand and supply. what is necessary for people is to distinguish between desire and need, and what mechanisms define our material desires . its about abstaining from goods and finding pleasure in things that take a bit more effort and consciousness to be enjoyed. the problem is the way our ethics and morals are being shaped.

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  76. creepy steve says:

    phew time for my afternoon nap already

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  77. Clompski @ Anonymous says:

    And along comes a vampire in the castle building industry: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45013499

    Set up global governance and a global central bank… we’ll make all your problems go away and the bad people stop. Trust us. After all… we’re the catholic church.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  78. US of Arseholes says:

    This article, Lindokuhle, is what you call a poesklap.

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  79. Renee says:

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I do believe that you ought to publish more
    on this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks
    don’t speak about these topics. To the next! Cheers!!

    My webpage; Renee

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  80. Internet Marketing says:

    It is really a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  81. comparateur mutuelle says:

    Attractive part of content. I simply stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to say that I get in fact enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing for your augment or even I achievement you get admission to consistently rapidly.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

LEAVE A REPLY

Loading...