Picture: defaced election poster, Jo’burg
With the elections coming up, and the electioneering of our politicians at fever pitch with ad campaigns adding the fuel of spite to their nefarious fires, I couldn’t help but think about Nikolai Berdyaev’s observation that “politics shows to a remarkable degree the power of fiction over men’s lives”. He wrote from a soon to be occupied Paris shortly before the second World War, witnessing the rise of Hitler:
“We live in a nightmare of falsehoods, and there are few who are sufficiently awake and aware to see things as they are. Our first duty is to clear away illusions and recover a sense of reality. If war should come, it will do so on account of our delusions, for which our hag-ridden conscience attempts to find moral excuses. To recover a sense of reality is to recover the truth about ourselves and the world in which we live, and thereby to gain the power of keeping this world from flying asunder.” – Nikolai Berdyaev
Every day in the South African media – and in common parlance – one hears our president and the ANC (rightly, I believe) criticised – even as one anticipates them once again obtaining the support of the majority of the electorate. (their claim that they will rule until Christ returns casts serious doubts on their conception of democracy and intellectual integrity, and betrays their authoritarian roots in the barren ground of the former USSR and East Germany).
But political leaders, especially the more scurrilous among them, engage in their machiavellian game of thimblerig, deceiving with empty promises a gullible or exasperated electorate. And I see the same slight of hand played by the opposition parties too: they appear to me like nasty, squabbling schoolboys.
Who does one vote for?
You must choose your devil: but it remains a devil.
“Tomorrow will bring change for all …” says a Democratic Alliance SMS. I wonder how and why politicians make such wild claims. For the poor, the downtrodden, the desperate, the dispossessed, disenfranchised, those who have known neither fairness nor opportunity, the hungry, the jobless, those treated with cruelty or simply ignored – will tomorrow bring change for them? What does that even mean? One has come to expect crass lies from the ANC – but when facile fictions emanate from the mouths of the opposition it’s hard not to feel completely dejected. Tomorrow I will cast my vote; but I have no illusions about a better tomorrow. Indeed what is more certain is the futility of it all:
Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.” Absolute futility. Everything is futile.” (Ecclesiastes)
“… Solomon means: Life is absurd. Why do we live? All of our life, we spend working, playing, relating, and at its end, what does a person have to show for what he has done? It is absurd, irrational, meaningless.” (http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/CGG/ID/8391/Vanity-Vanities.htm