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South African Elections

The National Erection

by Brandon Edmonds / 17.05.2011

The great philosopher of totalitarian eros, Milan Kundera, famously defined kitsch as the “inability to admit that shit exists”. It is the key to unlocking the local elections this week. Take a look at the ANC election video. It is kitsch because it is unable to admit that shit exists. Kitsch because it elides poverty with kwaito. (Super-connected smoothie, Arthur Mafokate, produced the ANC election CD for an undisclosed fee.) Here is party-funded imagery meant to distract us from the Real Shit – the usual suspects of structural violence: unemployment, corruption, and inequality – with singer Chomee’s (admittedly marvelous) tits. An erection video.

It’s as if the grasping cadres, the communication strategists, of Luthuli House put a live feed directly into Zuma’s limbic system, his brain’s pleasure center. The result is raw political fantasy life, the smegma of his deepest wishes: dancing girls and cleavage, blow-me lips mouthing conforming pieties of the Party: Building Better Communities; a sunny libidinous wonderland of assent, joyous townships heaving with merriment, everything exuding a positivity as relentless as the beating that killed Andries Tatane; problems digitally removed by pure ideology; in short, Kundera’s kitsch, the active denial of shit.

And these elections really do stink. They’re alarmingly excremental. Toilets are rhetorical weapons in a negative arms race, a race to the bottom, this election cycle, with the DA trading demeaning revelations with the ANC over which municipality puts poor people through the most indignity. Is it the open toilets of Makaza in Khayelitsha, the crying shame of the DA, or the open toilets of Moqhaka in the Free State, yet more slop on the towering dung heap of the ANC?

South African Elections

In fact, there are bucket systems spilling kak in real time all over the country where fresh-water Bathroom Bazaar style plumbing is as likely as a harvest of Playstation 3’s. Throughout the land, gogos shit al fresco in Checkers packets as you read this. Try putting that in a song, Arthur, you court serenader, you lackey. Open drains runneth over. Children leap-frog sewerage alive with water-borne diseases. Conditions in too many townships are straight up medieval. Eternal liberal gadfly, RW Johnson, feels right on this: “the heroic age of resistance is over and with it any unifying vision capable of overcoming the Hobbesian struggle of each against all.” Johnson says the ANC state is failing and every aspect of the ruling party is now increasingly criminalized. To mask the decline, Vegas tactics. Showgirls. Hoopla. An erection video where social problems dissolve into a feel good miasma of dance moves, denial and décolletage. You know, kitsch.

Zuma told us recently that open toilets have “broken” his heart. That organ might well have cracked long ago were he an honourable man capable of either insight or remorse. That rape trial, the corruption allegations. Seriously, how do you even show your face in company let alone presume to run a country? Anyway, the spurious claim of tears in the face of grinding want is pure populist sentimentalism, demagogic shtick, the go-to mode of governing kitsch. It is pitched at the same low, debasing frequency as that video. Meant to short-circuit critical distance. Meant to reel the masses in. A tear in the eye and a lump in the throat distracts from the ill-gotten bazillion bloating with compound interest in the bank. Of what mortal use are a President’s rhetorical tears, when you’re taking a shit on an open toilet in a shithole like Viljoenskroon?

That is what struggle is now. A struggle for dignity. A struggle to be seen for who you are in the fact of your circumstances. Rather than in the bogus light of State ideology – where as a poor person in a nowhere community you are immediately suspect, disposable and criminal. If you don’t join in the song and dance, the populist dream-sequence of the election video, you’re shot at, you’re lied to, you’re tabulated by NGO’s, you’re beaten, you’re patronized, undermined and ignored. Grassroots community organizations throughout the country will boycott the elections out of disgust at the corruption and dysfunction of local government.

Shit is bad and it’s only getting worse.

South African Elections

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RESPONSES (18)
  1. Jason says:

    You’re preaching to the choir, china.
    That shit was designed to appeal to a demographic, who will slap down their Xs tomorrow – drunk on promises and blinded by visions of hanging out with the ancestors, being gifted some gold watches and cellphones as they slurp champagne from Chomee’s magnificent cleavage. Only to be choking on bullshit and toy-toying next month, when Malema’s cavalcade runs down some kids with his white Range Rover. White??

    Fuck yeah.

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  2. chomeechomy says:

    this story is shit. what do you know about township real things? anc has done more than any other party evah. i luv tha song. you will see who is boss tomorrow.

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  3. Phumlani says:

    you never cease to amaze.

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  4. Concerned says:

    @Chomeechomy

    How many people in the demographic you talk about frequent YouTube?

    Also, I assume/hope that your pathetic grammar is an attempt to sound cool, rather than a result of your ANC’s education systems.

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  5. Lindokushle says:

    Contrary to popular belief, the ANC doesn’t stand for Arthur ‘n Chomee. Although you’d be excused for making that mistake. African National Congress? Political Party or monthly gatherings at Hush for a VIP party? They might not deliver on their promises, but they will deliver a bottle of Moet (sparklers and all) so the whole club can know you’re a card-carrying member.

    That said, the DA can eat a dick.

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  6. Mick says:

    Crackling text. You smoked a cigarette after, didn’tcha?

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  7. Las Babas del xxx says:

    Why did you say “national erection”. there is too much talk about erections in the newspapers and medias. erections are private things. they are not to be made fun of. erection signfies the love of a man. it is a beautiful gesture. i was made fun of for having an erection recently. it was not romantic. i was with on a date with a girl, and we were kissing. she saw that i had an erection through my pants. she laughed about it. i will never give her forgiveness.

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  8. Kagiso says:

    Cheap politicking is what this ‘article’ is about,sounds like you need a drink.

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  9. Mbejezansi mHlophe waMalandela II says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that this tune is the spawn of the unholy congress of Ma Brrr’s ‘Black President’ and Chomee’s wobbly warbles?

    Sies, Arthur, for shame.

    This ANC must think we’ve forgotten all the promises they’ve broken. Promises and dreams, now mangled, dark and indistinct like some apocalyptic nightmare by Goya, which now stand broken, tripping us up and blocking our way to the future we all struggle toward.

    The road to hell, ladies and gentlemen, paved badly with good intentions by a tenderpreneur who bought a Gallardo with the proceeds and fucked off into the distance, never to been seen again. Jimmy vaai’d to Jozi, my people, so sorry about the cracks in your dreams. Abafazi no Abantu, ladies and magents, welcome to our township tour of South Africa v.2. For those who wish to use the toilet on our journey to a regrettable tomorrow, please use our Moqhaka open-plan toilets, where copies of the Constitution hang on a nail, for you to wipe your ass on.

    ‘Together we can do more’
    ‘A better life for all’

    Sure, sure, Msholoz’. Pull the other one. It plays Vulindlela.

    Brothers and sisters of the radioactive afterglow of our very own special revolution, let me tell you – together we can do more, for a better life, for us all. It’s very simple – you vote the motherfuckers out.

    Vuku’zenzele, bakhiti – lalelang, mamela, luister en luister vokken goed – we need to exercise our democratic right to say fuck off, voetsek, hamba, basta, baguts, vamos, raus, jou ma. Shit, if this were a relationship, we would have kicked the lying, cheating, thieving sack of shit out years ago.

    No, my friends, visitors, surfers, hipsters, thinkers, browsers, critics, journo’s, lurkers and writers. No, no, no, NO. uTata Madiba tuned us all – never, never and never again.

    So Voesek, ANC.

    It is time for change, South Africa. And not that disappointing Obama change, that huckster wolf in sheeps’ clothing. No thanks, bra, we’re all full up on bullshit round here. Real change – the kind that starts with saying howzit to a face, not a race. We need to get off our asses and just fucking do it.

    And there’s only one way to do that – by voting. They got the guns, but we, we got the numbers. And, if history repeats – and I think we can all agree, it sure does, then this vague notion of democracy can grow into real change. But you Have. To. Get. Off. Your. Ass. And do something about it.

    This is only a municipal election, but the surge of participation and awareness has been (for a municipal election, which have in the past largely seen underwhelming electioneering and voter interest) kicked up a notch. People are pissed off. Some of them – at polar opposites of the social scale – enough to do something about it.

    Which is why, if you don’t vote, you’re a chump. It’s true – if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.

    That, my people, is how democracy grafts. It’s about getting involved.

    Not involved in the sense of a scene, a genre, a style, a big screen television with surround sound, game console, two stoepkakkertkies, an unhappy marriage, a Yaris, a bond, medical aid, insurance, a shitty cubical culture 9-5, an affair, stilted conversations, dull sex, dry kisses, Top Fucking Billing, retirement annuities, arthritis, Alzheimers, dementia, fragmented memories of a nation’s potential dashed against the swollen bellies of liars who’ve poisoned the well we all drink from, medication, sedation, tremors, shudders, and at last the picture flickers, and dies. No, not that horrorshow. Involved in the people, places and purpose of everything around you. Involved, active, aware and acting toward a better life for all.

    Like that staggering prophet of Clark Road said: Get involved, or get evolved.

    Thank you for reading. It’s been a pleasure letting it out.

    Please act on your opinions. They matter, as does your participation in this life you live here in South Africa. It is, literally, up to us. And if we let the chance of a better life, neighbourhood or world slip through our fingers because we were too busy buying a shitty disposable life, hell, we only have ourselves to blame.

    So please, vote.

    Thank you, ngiyabonga, dankie, kosi gakhulu, kealeboga, graci, spasiba, obrigado, sharp.

    p.s: if you were wondering, I am an Africanised mongrel. Just like you.

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  10. Ever Take Off says:

    @Mbejezansi mHlophe waMalandela II

    Your metaphors are a little lame.

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  11. Anc ya nyela. Masepa a bona. I’m sick n fucking tyrd of their rubbish. Fuck em all.

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  12. mega-douche says:

    from watching the vid, i can see we have a government who believes that if you just repeat a feel-good message you can get folk to blindly follow! how many times to they repeat the ‘together we can build’ mantra?

    secondly, the combat fatigues tell me that even though the armed struggle is over, the ruling party will forever be stuck in the ‘military’ mindset. When will we move to forgetting camo…

    thirdly, that is indeed an A grade rack.

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  13. alan says:

    there is no political party tht can address the plight of the poor. It would seem tht business man and politicians r diff sides of the same coin, mayb its tim tht south africans revolt like our middle east brothers r doing there is enough energy in the world 4 a south african revolt,something 4 al of us 2 maybe consinder because the democratic politicak ideologies are failing al of us.

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  14. happy brown says:

    Revolt? Come now Alan have you not come to realise that revolution is the tactic of old school politics as post that revolt you will be the one paying Arthur to confuse the masses. Children of Mandela this country is in your hands right now, not in the hands of the 35 year old plus who make up the ANCYL executive. I know you are tired of the ANC and the DA but I don’t see this youth spawning any fresh ideas and it is for that reason that the old school rhetoric is all the masses have. While you view youtube and complain everyday on this medium, Kalawa and Arthur milk the udders of Zuma’s tears. Emigration is no longer an easy option, Europe doesn’t want your post Africa woes. Evolve this system, its your government even if you do not vote. And don’t you dare ask me how(lol), I’m moving to the Kei(lol).

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  15. Urk says:

    any other party that were to try to produce pop for politics could only have done worse, despite being so poor already, that’s the astounding bit. remember the lame gumpf we were subjected to?

    “pure populist sentimentalism, demagogic shtick, the go-to mode of governing kitsch” astoundingly still works! wtf? every now and again the human race still manages to amaze me with its determined idocy.

    at least we know we can discount any possiblity that mr arthur charles van wyk persist for the sake of artistic integrity, but whatever puts pap on the trestle, eh?

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  16. Nkululeko says:

    “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” – Bullshit!
    Undoubtedly a widely held notion, but not only is the statement thoughtless, it’s positively harmful.

    ‘But voting is our hard won right and it’s our patriotic duty to exercise this right, how can you question this sacred pillar of our democracy, our universal suffrage!? ‘, the reactionary reader earnestly asks.

    My reply is this: Yes, dear comrades, the right of all South Africans to vote IS important and YES it was achieved only by the blood of those who died fighting for Democracy!
    But don’t forget, those who died and suffered in the struggle for this country (and who continue to struggle), didn’t do so for a mere cross on a piece of paper, what they died for was DEMOCRACY!

    The right to vote IS NOT the same thing as DEMOCRACY (“the rule of the people”) it’s merely an aspect of a democracy; its existence doesn’t make society suddenly democratic.

    Ask yourself, what significant social change has EVER been effected by the ballot?

    Did apartheid end through a vote?
    Was the equality of women achieved by the ballot?
    Did ending slavery, child labour or the overthrow of Kings and Popes EVER in history come as the result of a vote!?
    Never.

    Can voting be important and bring about reforms that palliate to some degree the sufferings of our society? Sure.
    Can voting of itself fix society?
    Absolutely not.

    One need only look at names on the ballot sheet to realise that, at best, voting can only increase the power of one rotten alternative against another rotten alternative.

    Conflating democracy with the right to cast a ballot every 5 years is a tragic mistake, one that only weakens people’s belief that REAL democracy is possible. With each vote cast followed by no change in the real material conditions of people’s lives the hope for a better future is steadily eroded and a servile cynicism gets more and more fixed in the minds of the disillusioned.

    Do your needs, dreams and opinions really fit into that single check box to which they have been allocated…?

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  17. Sahil says:

    While I completely aaulppd and support the restriction of *yet* another liquor store in the neighborhood, unfortunately I don’t foresee this petition being able to be submitted to the ANC as a valid form of objection to the liquor license. After being part of the petition against the license at Capitol Food Mart we learned during the hearing any form of objection submitted that can not be verified by the form of a valid hard copy signature was instantly thrown out (yes, even emailed letters that were printed and presented were thrown out since there was not an actual signature on the letter). Unless they have eased their stance, any lawyer representing Full Yum will object to this and any other electronically submitted objection with the grounds as every signature couldn’t be verified. Again, I aaulppd the effort and am all on board for the restriction of any new liquor stores in the neighborhood, but the ANC only allows official petitions through their process allowed for objections for new licenses.

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