Italian Marxist theoretician and politician Antonio Gramsci argued that for the left-wing to usurp power within a Capitalist state, it must first defy and disrupt the prevailing common sense. This common sense is arrived at through what Gramsci calls manufactured consent. That is, one sphere of a Capitalist state, named the civil society produces ideas and beliefs through media and various means to exert the hegemony of the Capitalist state and the ruling class. These ideas and beliefs help cultivate this ‘consent’. Karl Marx also stressed how the system of Capitalism is reinforced by the dominance of the ideas and values of the ruling class. These are the cultivators of the common sense that prevails in society.
South Africa as a nation state that developed through the development of Capitalism post the Anglo-Boer War, together with the Rhodesian Grey Act, legitimized the genocidal dispossession of the indigenous people of their land. It now 23 years post-apartheid, finds itself entangled in the contestation of power by various bourgeoisie classes, which still majorly reflects the white demographic of the South African society. The prevailing common sense has white wealth as a given and normal whereas anything else implies corruption and absurdity.
At the very heart of this contestation is the allegations that the South African Executive is run at the behest of the Gupta Family and this, according to those with these allegations, inhibits the state’s ability to lead and service the public. These allegations, given the hegemony of those in control of where common sense is manufactured, that is the media, have now settled within the daily thinking of South Africans as truth. The Gupta family are used as a smokescreen to hide the fact that the Economy of the country remains largely in white hands and there has been no significant move towards restoring it back to its rightful owners. The allegations of the so-called State Capture which saw some sections of the Civil Society like the South African Council of Churches immerse themselves in political issues, has become the handmaiden of white monopoly capital in South Africa.
Recently, Dr Mosibudi Mangena, the former President of AZAPO and a proponent of Black Consciousness penned a piece titled: Maybe South Africans are dim. As a suggestion that the continuing problems afflicting this land are largely due to the inaction of ordinary people, especially with the regard to the allegations about the Gupta’s undue influence over President Jacob Zuma. For me, this view is not only mistaken but is also ahistorical. The piece firstly provides a revisionist take on the chief and dominant contradiction in this land, by reducing it to bad governance and corruption, not the fact that indigenous people of this land remain largely and wholly landless. It perpetuates the false narrative that the 1994 framework serves our people and there are rogue elements that undermines this and if South Africans are serious about protecting it, they’ll take action and throw these bandits in jail.
The second erroneous presumption of Dr Mangena’s view is, it misses the basic tenet of Black Consciousness, which is to make the Black man [woman] come into themself. This process of awakening is akin to what Cesaire calls ‘invention of new souls of Men’. Something that South Africans did not and have not gone through. And this is because International Capital in cahoots with the local one, went about elevating the ANC as the legitimate leader of society and the South African struggle, thus propelled the common sense of the ’94 ‘miracle’ as a breakthrough and a new start. South Africans have since imbibed this logic and according to its common sense hence their inability to realise in Fanon’s words that ‘everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands alone.’ For the people of South Africa to take action, correct action that corresponds to the historical moment the land is experiencing and in light of their history, political commissars such as Dr Mangena and parties they belong to, should undertake the responsibility of politically educating the people with the correct political education.
In peddling the narrative of rogue elements endangering the sovereignty and democratic institutions of South Africa, who by the way, are neither in the service nor tailored for our people, Dr Mangena sets himself in collision course with correct interpretation of the history of the SA struggle. His views, to be precise, are not furnished in the Black Radical Thought politics, instead they’re littered with Anglospheric neoliberal rationale of democracy, inspite of its track record to fail Blacks the world over. Therefore, I hereby invite Dr Mangena to find his BC and use it to the service of our people. As certainly what we read in his piece, is something foreign to those brought up in the radical tradition of Black Thought.