I picked a fight with a room of Marxists the other night.
Well, that goes straight onto my “Not To Do” list in future.
They’d plastered posters of Madiba all over university campuses & I figured, lets do something different, check it out, see what Aussies are saying about SA and Mandela. [Please note, I reckon that 99.9% of Australians would not support them or what ensued from there]
I should have realised this was a bad idea when I walked in and was accosted by some butch chick dressed as Where’s Wally, asking me “Are you a Socialist?” first and for my name only after that.
“Well… uh… I’m…a… me? I don’t know. I’m South African, that’s why I’m here”.
They were having none of that. A whitey South African in their midsts only seemed to swell the developing anger & disgust in the room. 90% of the people in the room may have been white, well off, and twenty. But at that moment, to them, I was obviously not “A Worker” and so was to be reviled.
I meanwhile was gulping back the voice saying, “Get the fkc out of this cultish room and go and join the real workers at that pub you passed on the corner. Singlets, Footie talk and beer are only a few yards back”.
But I am a great defender and supporter of my country & I stayed to listen to the most swayed, biased, unfounded pieces of nonsense.
I watched (and cringed to my core) as the room of people stood up to shout in Aussie white accents “AMANDLA!” with big grins on their faces.
Finally I stood up & had my say,
· That I was under the impression that the way the Nats got into power in the 1940s was through the support of the white working class, actually. W.o.r.k.e.r.s. The type this group howls in support of every two seconds;
· That actually, peaceful resistance was in fact instilled by Ghandi who’d been hanging around our neck of the woods at the time, not through Harlem and African-American groups;
· That I found it extremely disrespectful for this Main Speaker to say that what Mandela had done after getting into power, of granting amnesty & creating the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, was completely wrong & abhorrent. One of the reasons the world is awed by & reveres Mandela is his compassion & ability to forgive;
· That we had apparently stood at the brink of civil war & it was through the granting of amnesty & the drive for reconciliation and peaceful handover that we have stayed as stable as we have;
· That until you have stood on the brink of civil war, you cannot pass judgement on what is done to prevent it [oooo, they really did not like that point, these 1st World Aussie middle class extreme lefties];
· That you cannot discount how powerful the Freedoms of Movement & of Choice are; those Freedoms that immediately came about in 1994. That sure, we are still developing and social and economic problems abound, but those two Freedoms mean WE ARE NOT WORSE OFF THAT BEFORE!! (so please could every second person in the room stop telling me that my country is worse off). We have the tools of equality, of nationwide development, of entrepreneurship, hope and potential for any South African to realise their goals, and that true economic equality is getting there;
· And that I do like or support Zuma, but the majority of the South African working class appears to love him. And they, the “workers”, wanted him in power, they identify with him, and that is why he is in power. [Ok, fine, it is much more complex than that, but its not like these guys are into complexities, and I needed some point to mention the word “Workers” again]
· I mentioned HIV, in terms of how that is a real threat to the working class in South Africa, but that bored them. A disease does not give you a punching bag or enough reason to attack Liberal Western states or organisations.
The whole room was on their feet ready to tear me down with their “points of order” as soon as I sat down. Tjo. If there had been a trapdoor in the floor beneath me, dropping the hell through it might have been a good idea at that point!
Some middle aged woman who earlier had been so sweet next to me, sitting there and chatting absolute nonsense before the talk, stood up and said,
“If this fucking aid worker wants to tell us this… blah blah… crumbs from their table… we [the workers] will not accept… this fucking girl… slag off aid work some more… fuck… revolution… Workers! Fuck. RAH!”
Well! Wow! Feel the love! Let the first rock to the head be thrown by the falsely-accommodating motherly figures!
Then a group wank fest basically ensued.
Calm points started to be spoken which would turn into some screaming tirade in 2 minutes and finally this satisfied round off smirk of “workers” “crumbs from tables” “evil western powers” “poor Palestine” “Evil white owners of SA industry” “we will not accept the words from this [tone turns to dripping disdainful disgust] aid worker” “workers” “Revolution!! Revolution!” “RAH!” “AMANDLA”.
The 30 year old white eloquent Main Speaker, born into a first world privileged country that champions free speech and the adherence of minimum wage, shouted at me that “We will not accept the crumbs from your table!”
“My table???” “You accepting crumbs???” I’m the South African here & you clearly have never known what it is to walk 20 kms to work each day, what the pit of a mine shaft looks like, or what a lowly exploitative wage meant if you tried to wet dream it, sweety. Let alone! What it means to do daily practical work of assisting people get access to education and health care and uphold legal rights… what us “dumb” aid workers do.
I had wanted to stand up again and point out the “irony” of her voice being that of a white well-off middle class person from The Centre telling us that the actions of an African black man [Mandela] from The Periphery were wrong. But I was feeling just slightly out-numbered.
During her closing speech she reached orgasmic heights as she started to speak of how there are STILL secret police going about in South African townships, seeking out and taking out the people who do not want Eskom to be privatised! How?? How do you know that?? How can you justify such an unfounded claim?? Does any South African reader know anything about these secret police? Our police currently do not get paid enough to pull you over for breaking a traffic law… why on earth are they going to waste their time following up on folk who support Eskom??
She continued, in her apparent support of Eskom (I did not even bother to get into arguments about this, it was so pointless), how people across SA still do not have access to electricity! Is this not shocking! Uh………..yes, we call this loadshedding and it is actually BECAUSE OF Eskom!!! Fkc. You people are dumb and uninformed.
There was the twenty year old in a minuscule gold dress sipping on her beer and telling me to buy their magazine [See, sorry, I’ve been a worker in Oz, I don’t have the money to afford your worker’s magazine], tell me about how they will fight anti-feminists, homophobes, racists etc… and me think, “Well, wear that dress amongst some workers in a Jo’burg taxi rank, while you try to gather solidarity, and see what happens!”
But my cherry on top was having a sixty year old woman turn around in her seat and loudly shout at me that
“Ghandi is actually a mass murderer!”
That had me on the floor rolling about with laughter! It had become too much. Next they’d tell me Mother Teresa was a raping elitist and Jesus was a bigoted anti-Semitic.
Sixty year old Marxists, “No! No! Do not laugh at me”
Champs “Sorry, but I have to!”
Sixty year old Marxists, “NO! His peaceful actions led to the murder of thousands of people”.
…but hadn’t your comrades all just shouted at me that they wanted civil war in South Africa? Will you guys get some continuity going here? Don’t you realise what revolution means in reality?? It means the death of bystanders for the championing of one group’s cause.
Then they all had a cigarette and lay back in false satisfaction.
And I was forced to walk across the room through them hoping to not have a knife in me by the time I reached freedom. Not that any of them would ever have the “courage” to put convictions behind their violent words.
Someone beelined through the crowd to me and I just swore. He looked at me and said, “You look like you need a beer? Can I save you from these Marxists?” He then had to pull me through the crowd, appeasing them only by telling them his mother was Russian and his grandmother had been in a Russian gulag.
And so I was rescued and bought a drink by some journalist who is writing a book on SA, sitting in a pub with the normal people, still shell-shocked from the disturbing narrow-minded outdated beliefs of the desperate ideologising that is the Melbourne “Socialist Alternative”.
Maybe this will be the last time I say “well why not check this out, it’s something different!” Ha!
P.S. I have since had it pointed out to me that these people were probably wonderful Marxists because historical research has shown Marx to be deeply unpleasant, vindictive and racist.