This article was first published by Business Day on 5 October 2023
There is a newly emergent class abroad: the political class. They have made for themselves a unique privilege: that of dissimulation — life as pretence. They pretend to represent the interests of the voters, but they represent only their own; they pretend to do what they have undertaken to do, but they do only what suits their interests; they pretend to act according to their own judgement, but they act according to the dictates of their masters: the rent-seeking monied classes.
These hypocrisies are best illustrated in the US Congress, where congressional privilege is bought, and paid for, by an army of influencers, called lobbyists, whose function it is to bribe the political class to fulfil through legislation the private interests of their employers. Much of the legislation afflicts everyone but benefits only those who have paid the price. This has in turn led to an amassed political authority by an unelected cohort of billionaires.
One such billionaire, George Soros, and his misnamed Open Society Foundations, have systematically gone about the business of influencing governments, and even the criminal judicial system, using their accumulated wealth. In the US Soros has openly funded the election of state prosecutors (in many states these are elected positions) to install systems of law enforcement compliant with his leftist agenda. The result has been the collapse of law enforcement in cities such as San Francisco, Portland and New York. Open Society Foundations is a deceitful title. Karl Popper, author of the monumental The Open Society And Its Enemies, would surely have described Soros as an enemy of that vision.
All the while the US Federal Reserve, and other central banks around the world in slavish compliance to the behemoth, have systematically redirected the wealth of the middle class to the monied elite. The result is that in the US the middle class has been eviscerated, while the so-called 1% has amassed untold fortunes. These are, unsurprisingly, the ones who have armies of lobbyists at their command.
These aberrations, and many others besides, are blamed on the free market (wrongly described as the capitalist system) when in fact they are the consequence of deliberate, but surreptitious, action by those emphatically opposed to freedom of any sort. Their actions are the antithesis of the free market.
Systems of this kind were once named by their appropriate descriptor: fascism — the alignment of the interests of big business with those of big government, to the ultimate detriment of everyone else. Now, however, a different term is required.
Recent allusion has been to the “corporatist state”, which encapsulates the meaning of what has been going on. It is perhaps an expression that should be adopted. It speaks to the nature of the state as the enemy of liberty.
Why is it that a government in power should seek, by whatever means — including the rigging of ballot boxes — to remain in power, if all that it is doing is in service of the civilian population? The answer is that the incumbents do not see their calling as a service but as a privilege they deserve.
The national democratic revolution
Government service in SA, at all levels, is now more lucrative than the equivalent in the private sector — except perhaps that of CEO of a large private company — and has been so for years. The practice of cadre deployment within the now insolvent state-owned enterprises can be considered the equivalent of secure government employment.
The wage bill at Eskom yields an average annual salary of more than R600,000 per employee. This exceeds the median income of the middle class, which is a fair barometer of sensible remuneration for middle management. The vast majority of Eskom employees are not at that level of employment, or ought not to be.
SA labour and minimum wage legislation have been enacted for the benefit of a protected workforce, to the disadvantage of the tens of millions of unemployed. Several opinion polls by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) have revealed that a significant majority of the respondents regard unemployment and crime as the two most important issues that require government attention. But what does the government attend to? Expropriation without compensation and the Soviet-inspired national democratic revolution: the incumbent government is planning a revolution against itself!
The National Treasury has warned the government that it is running out of money. Land reform is of only minor significance to South Africans, according to the IRR polls, yet that tops the state’s agenda. Do these facts, and many others of a similar kind, not demonstrate that the government does not act according to the wishes of the electorate?
Against the background of a Treasury that is short of money, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an extra R86bn to fund the extension of the social relief of distress (SRD) grant. The government, facing a general election, must persist in the practice of buying votes. That is what it does with money provided by overstressed taxpayers. Instead of creating an environment conducive to productive growth and employment, it creates an army of dependents who, according to the logic, will be ANC loyalists.
Crime, corruption and potholes
Problems of the kind experienced in SA are not unique to this troubled land. That urbane British commentator Theodore Dalrymple (real name Anthony Malcolm Daniels) has complained of the triad of evils in the mother of democracies: crime, corruption and potholes. And it is not much different in the US, where bridges and roads are in an advanced state of disrepair while funding and materiel is provided to the value of hundreds of billions of dollars for the ideological proxy war in Ukraine.
US author, journalist and political commentator Whitney Webb has written extensively on the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s powerful political connections; the reticence of the mainstream media on this account, and the implied immunity that the special relationships guaranteed. She comes to the same conclusion as German sociologist Max Weber a century ago — that the political process is essentially a criminal enterprise.
She writes also on a related issue, the advent of a neofeudalism under the influence of the World Economic Forum, billionaires and political leaders who are in thrall to Klaus Schwab and company. The agenda on anthropogenic climate change, enduring pandemics, 15-minute cities and the transhuman environment are all part of a deliberate system of population control, in preparation for this brave new world.
The corporatist state is the biggest threat to individual liberty that has emerged since the collapse of the Soviet Union.