I finished George Orwell’s masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four this weekend. It was with much anguish that I read some chapters recognising my country’s government and apparatchiks in the “Party” as mentioned in the book.
I wrote the following to the leader of a political party not very long ago:
The trend of the current Executive is to play demagogue to cling onto support, a classic case of Scapegoating/McCarthyism plays itself out each day. I am really unable to recognise the difference between Orwell's 1984 and the current regime. The irony, which is so uncanny, is really very saddening.
In reply the leader of the political party sent out a newsletter containing the same sentiment:
The utterances of the ANC today have all the hallmarks of the double-think of George Orwell’s 1984. If you haven’t read the book, double-think involves holding two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. This means that when your actions contradict your words, you actually believe your own propaganda.
One might think it is quite a stretch to link up doublethink with the current regime’s stance on Pink rights – alas, and sadly so, it is actually very easy.
Doublethink entails holding a dichotomous stance on an issue and acting out whichever placates the Executive and the cronies and cadres.
I thought of a simple example while debating the current Zeitgeist with an American who grew up in South Africa, who also understands the contradictions in South African society. In South Africa we are in the unique position of having laws that are far ahead of social progress. I don’t think the same situation exists elsewhere.
The prime example of an act spurred on by doublethink is the appointment of Jon Qwelane as High Commissioner to Uganda while Qwelane is still to face trial here in an Equality Court case regarding an alleged hate speech article of 2008. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa guarantees gay rights but the president decides to send a clear message to the South African Pink community that the government of the day supposedly believes in Pink rights and the nullification of the equality and dignity of the Pink community albeit initially symbolically.
Another very recent example is a protest which was planned for Freedom Day 2010 to protest the Ugandan and American governments. The Pink community has the right to hold a peaceful protest according to law but the contradictory stance is taken officially when the Tshwane Metro Police comes up with lacklustre excuses of not having enough manpower for the protest and then in the same vein making it very clear that protesters will be arrested.
The old adage is true: actions speak louder than words. The Constitution is just a piece of paper and not even worth the paper it’s printed on if the provisions contained are not implemented or in the current instance defiled and subverted.
Beware the Thought Police, they are sure to follow...