Foolish to stake all our hopes on the flawed democratic process

FMF Media_Daily Friend

This article was first published by Daily Friend on 23 September 2023

“I don’t care who votes. I only care who counts the votes.” Joseph Stalin

Like sad children pinning their hopes on getting a pony for Christmas, the abused South African electorate earnestly wishes for a miracle in the forthcoming general elections. This time will be different, they lie to themselves.

Otherwise serious people, like the leaders of the opposition parties, strategise and plan how they will parcel out their pathetic share of the popular will. They dream that they will magically turn into princesses after the polls, despite the vast evidence to the contrary.

Can you name a single, credible recent election? Zimbabwe is a joke. The 2020 US election was a carefully contrived coup d’etat. The first-past-the-post system in the UK makes a mockery of representative democracy. Nobody believes in the Russian elections in the Ukrainian Donbas. Not many believe in the Ukrainian elections themselves.

Why do you believe the 2024 South African elections will be different?

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” HL Mencken

If you want to know what people think and want, try selling it to them. It is a great system that works incredibly well, from supermarkets to stock markets, from restaurants to repair shops.

If you want stupid stuff, and are willing to pay, you will get stupid things. If you want to reduce hunger in the world, buy lunch for a stranger. If you want to change the climate, I have a bridge in Manhattan I can sell you. If you want to tell me how to think and behave, go to hell.

Democracy is the impotent begging the incompetent to extract them from the excrement. It is an embarrassment to all participants. It is a macabre dance of fools performed quintennially. It is all a huge game of make-believe, where the politicians pretend to care, the people pretend to participate, and the comrades win all the tenders. And yet we persist.

“Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.” Franz Kafka

The vast web of rules and regulations enforced by unelected bureaucrats is all that holds the South African government together. “Did you got a licence for that?,” brings fear and trembling to the tax-paying, law-abiding, and chicken-hearted population. Writing an angry letter on social media could get you Penny-Sparrowed. You will never get enough permits to organise a march. Your gun will never be licensed. So you lapse into a state of bureaucracy-induced inertia, a pliant tool in the hands of the state.

What is to be done? Well, we, as the voting minority, can take a leaf out of the majority of our countrymen’s book: Simply bypass the state, ignore the regulations, never pay the fines, profit from the incompetence of government. Join resistance groups like OUTA and AfriForum, or a taxi association. Lobby for the repeal of stupid regulations. Get legal insurance.

“Could we solve our problems by increasing freedom rather than reducing it?”

Our knee-jerk solution for every problem is that “there ought to be a law, a rule, a regulation” that describes the solution in exquisite and impossible detail, at the cost of restricting freedoms and stealing money from taxpayers. Why do we never think of doing less, of simply getting out of the way and letting a solution evolve? Because bureaucrats are not hired or paid to do that.

A minority of all South Africans will go to the polls next year. A majority of that minority will vote to unthinkingly maintain the status quo. More or less the same incompetent leaders now in power will continue in power. Sooner or later the sheer scale of the unfolding disaster will vomit up a dictator. Such a figure will probably be worse than our current parliament of poephols, but perhaps he will make the trains run on time.

Be careful of what you wish for.


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The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation. This article may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement to the author.




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