The Case for Apartheid

This post is going to cost me (even more) friends.  Oh well.

Following EWWI (Electronic World War One) over #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter over Friday and yesterday, I hereby make a case for as broad-scale a return of full-blown, institutionalised white supremacy as possible.

We Live White Supremacy Anyway

It has been generally known that Persons Of Colour (POCs) around the world get “the talk” in some form or another.

Growing up, we are made aware that there is a system that should, but does not, treat POCs the same way as white people.  This systemic racism most starkly shows its existence in instances of overt racism; the rest of the time it is subtle and insidious.  We are made aware that ignoring this system’s existence has graver consequences for POCs than it has for white people who never have to come to grips with their place of privilege in it.  This is why movements like #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) started.

On Friday, July 8 2016, this historic experience shared by countless POCs was supplanted in the imaginations of at least three white persons I know on Facebook, by the rantings of right-wing conspiracy theory mongers that explained police brutality as a measured response to black people’s unprovoked, unilateral violence against law enforcement agents.

How did these ill-founded speculations and distortions of fact get more airtime and traction on social media?  How have they come to so quickly shape a disproportionately larger part of the narrative than the lived experiences of many, many persons of colour?

How did mountains of video evidence of police brutality come to mean less than rumours?

Because black lives do not matter as much as the maintenance of white supremacy and the myth of the moral whiteness of whiteness, that is why.  Call people racist for believing this, and you become the bad guy.  Why?  Because whiteness is God.

Said conspiracy theorists say BLM proponents are playing into a scheme Obama’s backers cooked up to get him to power off of the back of (otherwise illegitimate) complaints about police brutality on black bodies.  They chose to believe that black people would prefer perpetual victimhood, the systemic mollycoddling and the “special rights” attendant to that, than to believe that real statistics really reflected real trends; they chose to believe that Obama’s speaking on gun violence and racial injustice was motivated more by political expediency than by actual events.  How was this explanation legitimised, oxygenated and entertained?  White supremacy.  We  are already living it.

How did the cry of one girlfriend of one black shooting victim get chosen to override and represent black voices who would otherwise say black lives matter?  How did these media sources manage to  find this one black woman when they hardly ever give airtime to BLM proponents?  Is that how finely their ears are tuned to the voices on the ground?  They must then know why the other voices are saying black lives matter, and not care.  So you must first give in to white supremacy for it to consider your voice worth hearing and your soul worth saving.

How did Dylan Roof’s assertion that black men were raping white women override, in white people’s imaginations, that it was white slave-masters who bought black Africans and abused them physically and sexually?  That black people have had horrendous medical experiments conducted on their bodies without their consent by the US government?  How did statistics and history get re-written?  White supremacy re-wrote it.

I could continue, but I think it is now plain to see that we live white supremacy.

White Supremacy and the South African Government

What if I told you that voting ANC is many black South Africans’ best chance at overriding the Constitution they see as blocking the path to the substantive equality demanded by the Freedom Charter?  Would that help explain why the ANC’s corruption and flouting of rules doesn’t lose them their core support base?

Government corruption, the melding of different entities’ powers or State to Party is how many of them make reparations happen when the beneficiaries of apartheid won’t admit how they got where they are.

The Mandelification of the 1994 transition served to turn our collective attention away from two questions: one, would it be possible to fix the wrongs of the past without making white people or businesses give up many of their gains?  Two: could there exist non-corrupt reasons for the ANC not to use State power to bring about substantive equality within a short time?

The answer to both questions was, and remains, No.

The fabulous wealth gained by a few struggle veterans who are now corrupt enrichers of their connected few friends was not a surprise or an aberration of the rainbow nation that began as apartheid ended.  It was the pre-planned 30 pieces of silver members of the incoming ruling elite were prepared to accept to maintain the status quo.

Two hypocrisies become clear:

One, the corruption of the ruling elite and those connected to them is railed against while what the status quo let white people keep is not.  Meanwhile, these are two sides of the same coin.

Two: the current government is judged by a standard the previous one was not when the current one really gets away with what it does because members of the previous one were not punished for their crimes.  Had they been punished, white supremacy would have crumbled.  Therefore, the two hypocrisies are one.

We tried to cheat history.  We tried to square the circle.  At best, it pushed out the real end of apartheid out another couple of decades.  At worst, it postponed an inevitable (and hideous) day of reckoning.  These two, also, are the same conclusion.

The case for apartheid, then, is this: bring the whole thing back so it may stand or fall in its totality.  The alternative, which is where we are going, is too frightening to contemplate.

#BringBackApartheid

The trick isn’t to fight white supremacy but to scrape and bow before it.  Let us worship all white people as though they were God, so that if they have any fear of God (conscience) they will fight white supremacy themselves and in so doing, avoid that terrifying alternative we are headed towards.  I see no other way to fix South Africa or, for that matter, every place that is ruled by white supremacy.

We must forcibly deny them and their children opportunities to develop or demonstrate virtues like humility and patience.  They must not be allowed to wait for anything, must always get undue credit for everything that goes right and no blame for anything that goes wrong, even when it is their fault.  Imputing perfect moral track records to them against their choice is how we would reject the superficial virtue-signalling that accompany condemnations of overt acts of racism but never covert and on-going racism.

Many white people have accused us of forcing them into the same mould in our discussions of whiteness.  This is actually a pretty telling (and disingenuous) suggestion on their part, one I think we must take literally.

The “woke” ones would understand why this is being done to all white people; the semi-woke ones who’d have us settle for less than complete intellectual dishonesty, however, would be disoriented by this subversion of their claim to distinctness from oppressive systems.  Their denial of complicity would be rendered meaningless until they all agree to overthrow the system (now in-your-face and out in the stark open) that favours white skin.

White supremacy would be forced to fully come face-to-face with its unmasked self, no filter option.  Brought into the open to rule by daylight, none of white supremacy’s beneficiaries would be able to deny that they have benefitted and continue to benefit from systemic racism.

We would have to make it blatant: “You are getting special treatment because you are white,” we would say as we force that special treatment on them.  They would be damned for accepting it and damned if they don’t.  The only way out of this trap would be their dismantling white privilege in its totality and not a convenient, partial dismantling thereof in its less essential parts.

We would put up signs reading, “whites only” on places: full-on segregation.  This would serve to ensure they can never just take some of the privilege so as to deny having had any of it on account of whiteness alone.

Force them to the front of lines because they’re white.  Imagine, entire supermarket queues chanting the words, “because you’re white!”  When waiters try to pick tables to attend to first, we would yell that they should start with those occupied by white people.  This is assuming we would be in the same restaurants.  Car cut you off in traffic?  Everyone yells “you may because you’re white!”  Refuse equal pay for equal work or access to comparable opportunities (assuming you have been getting it).  Where the world would whisper of rumours of white superiority, let us accept nothing less than it being shouted from rooftops.

Where they previously took it for granted that their discomfort at hearing or reading about white supremacy was sufficient reason for us to not talk about it, let us reject our complicity in our oppression by rejecting the pretense that neutrality was an option or that white supremacy was gone.  Where we were expected to explain white supremacy, let us return it so no explanation is necessary.

You do not have to hate white people to see the logic in what I am saying; you simply have to love intellectual honesty.  Indeed, a love of white people not founded on intellectual honesty is not love at all.

The cost on black lives can be managed once white supremacy doesn’t have to fight black resistance in order to reach total domination.  If we let it win without a fight, we let it revel out in the open in all its glorious shame.  Who, then, will be able to deny that it exists?

For these reasons, I submit that if we cannot completely get rid of apartheid, we must completely bring it back.

The tragedy is that though a lot of black people will agree with this method of confronting white supremacy, I would have to hunt down and entrust right-wing white supremacists with its rollout.  We hate the status quo, but not enough to beat it at its own game.

I would rather have apartheid that calls itself that than apartheid that calls itself democracy.

#BringBackApartheid

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Why ANC is Unlikely to Recall Zuma Now

Thabo Mbeki was sincerely flawed — but he was sincere.  His deliberate sins were few, obscure, and (to many people) forgivable.  Withdrawing him was ANC’s admission that his attitudes on HIV/Aids and many other issues were a deadly error in judgment, but not malicious or motivated by greed.

Not so with Jacob Zuma.  Recalling him in the midst of so much pressure to do so would be an admission that the ANC stood behind a deliberate sabotaging of government.  They could recall Zuma quietly if there weren’t pressure to do so from society and opposition parties.  They can’t be forced to recall him as long as they have the voters’ consent to keep him.  All the pressure will do is make them dig their heels in and gather ranks around him more fervently.

It would take a proper, physical upheaval — a coup — to get Zuma removed.  Anything between dead silence and physical action will be a waste of time; worse, it will make ANC dig their heels in deeper; it will push the intended result away.  A protest could have removed a Mbeki but won’t work with a Zuma.  They’re wildly different in strength and in error.

When the ANC does recall Jacob Zuma, it will find a distraction for everyone to focus on.  While that trends, they’ll take steps to secure amnesty for Zuma and those he worked with so the whole party doesn’t burn with them.  They’ll methodically take his office apart, get a few foreign governments in on it to make it look like a planned change.  They will then manoeuvre someone else in Zuma’s place.  Alternatively, they’ll make him more of a toothless president than he’s already become and run the country from Luthuli House behind Union Building’s back.  Either way, they’ll regain control of the narrative and secure what little is left of their legacy.

Because that’s what they do: they control the narrative.  They don’t do it on social media but on the streets.  ANC-voting chanters and the toi-toiers are the final authority in this country; that they don’t know how to use it is doesn’t change that they have ultimate power.  ANC could sell the story to their constituency that they’ve been presented with uncontestable evidence that Zuma is bad, and that it was the ANC that immediately did the right thing and purged him out of the presidential office.  And that everyone else was running around in racist circles trying to prove something that wasn’t there.

The recent focus on racism served to give ANC common ground on which to stay in touch with their voters.  Am I saying racism isn’t real?  I’m saying the ANC doesn’t play all its cards at once.  It will sit there, watching racists being racist, bias being bias – in other words, social and mainstream media being social and mainstream media – and then one day when pressure is at its worst, present Zuma to black people as the lamb being martyred by the blatant racism that defines South Africa.

Make no mistake what the narrative has been: Zuma and his ANC have been devotedly trying to manage this racism scourge.  Never mind that it is they who are benefitting from inequality and structural racism.  They’ve done the most to fight these evils even if they’ve also benefitted from those evils themselves.  Forgive us, we are black like you; why are white mistakes forgiven so easily.  They’ll play this game until you don’t know which happened first: Zuma’s badness or Zuma’s blackness.  Because to racists, blackness is badness and that idea filters through and is read back into seemingly innocuous media reports.

As long as social media’s response to mainstream media is peppered (as intended, so white people choose DA over ANC though they’re different-race versions of the same party) with intimations of “we told you they couldn’t govern” and “we told you they would be corrupt and lawless,” the ANC can scream, “racist conspiracy,” “media bias,” “double standards,” and their voters will flock to the polls to defend them as their own.

Nothing has been found to convince ANC voters that they should vote differently.  The Guptas?  What’s that?  A set of islands off of Madagascar?  Nkandla?  He never asked for those upgrades and he’s agreed to pay back that “reasonable portion” everyone keeps talking about but nobody’s worked out, so what’s the problem?  Poverty, unemployment and inequality?  White capital with power to change these things is complaining about them as though they are the ones suffering; who are they trying to fool?  They are just trying to use the situation they benefited from for years to bring about a regime change.  And spy tapes?  Right to privacy, nobody is perfect, please.  700+ corruption charges?  Racist white counterrevolutionary tendencies.

Deflect, deflect, deflect.  Deny, deny, deny.

A week or so ago, Simon Lincoln Reader wrote a piece titled, “The day London saw through Jacob Zuma” in which he pointed out all the ways British economists and politicians had not been fooled by Jacob Zuma’s tactics.  “Zuma spoke like someone convinced that, whatever he was, whatever he had done or was going to do, the British had already done far worse,” Reader said.

But hadn’t they?

Having discredited Zuma’s many tactics, Reader did not take the trouble to concede this point.  He did not even dignify it with an attempt at a refutation.  To him, it doesn’t matter whether Britain has violated South Africa more than Zuma or not; it’s only black lives and those don’t matter.  All that matters is the economy and the way Britain sees it.  Why, then, should black people trust social and mainstream media voices on Zuma when those voices (speaking to and for white supremacy) have barely started describing the very evident inequality caused by apartheid, which they benefitted from?

Short version: if you are black, you must protect Jacob Zuma at all costs.

Racial oppression is the biggest reality in black people’s lives.  Racial oppression is something white people hear about and are tired of hearing about.  If they’ve more than heard about it (that is, experienced it) they see those isolated instances as reason enough for black people to stop seeing their experiences as uniquely horrendous and ongoing.  “You’re not especially victimised except in your minds” is the constant message.

If the ANC wants to get rid of Zuma, they will have to drum up a charge that their voters will relate to, and then very regretfully ask him to resign.  Then they’ll be the good guys all over again, continuously fighting for equality and non-racism though benefitting from inequality and structural racism in full view of their voters.

When Reader failed to give Zuma’s point about the British having done worse any credit, he wrote about what he’d probably only heard about.  To a black reader, Reader glossed over what colours and defines a huge part of their life experience.  You tell me whether black people care, then, what London thinks about Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.  Keeping Zuma would be their way of saying Screw London and their access to South African minerals, resources and labour.  Rather have it stolen by one of our own than them who will turn around and be holier-than-thou.

The EFF is the only party that promises to do now what the ANC has been promising the black majority for the past 104 years – to deliver black people from tangible white supremacy and ongoing apartheid.  The question, then, is who is funding the EFF and what will those funders do once the EFF grows enough to pose a threat to other parties’ caucuses?  For all we know, the EFF could continue to be be bankrolled only on condition that it someday merges with one of the other parties – and it could truly be any of the other parties, economic policy differences be damned.  If racial and racist policies could be swept aside in the 1990s, nothing is sacred; it’s only being sold as sacred.

And that’s why the ANC cannot let the EFF win this battle because if it does, EFF will go on to win the war as completers of the black liberation project.  If Jacob Zuma is recalled, it would be the second time that the ANC’s youth, whether in Julius Malema, now EFF leader, or Ronald Lamola as another Youth League leader, would have confirmed the impression that the ANC is no longer there to liberate black people but benefits, through Zuma and his connections, from the exploitation of the country’s resources.

The ANC could create a distraction; Gwede Mantashe could pick up the phone and tell every news editor to focus on that or kiss state advertising goodbye.  Watch ANN7 and The New Age break it first and the Guptas leaving Saxonwold at their own leisure.  Money always wins; The House always wins.

Alternatively, we the people can focus on something else and give the ANC the space to give Zuma a dignified, peaceful exit.

Or, third option, the people themselves can take on the black-and-everyone-else liberation project, removing government’s supposed monopoly over the task from it.

But the head-on “Zuma Must Go” approach is moralistic grand-standing for opposition parties that will achieve nothing except the opposite of what’s intended.  It will simply continue the game.  The DA will always be there to rescue white people from Zuma and the ANC; the EFF will always be there to complete what the ANC started, and the ANC will always be the party that’s done more than any other to alleviate the inequality it also benefits from.  Whether it is sincere or not, the EFF is the fastest-growing party because it most directly speaks about the issues that visibly, physically make South Africa what it is.  Open your eyes.

If you want Zuma gone, sit back.  Conserve your energies for the time you go to physically remove him from presidency.  Which you will only do if you have nothing left to lose.  You only have nothing left to lose if you have not been benefiting from the status quo.  Which is exactly who the EFF has been speaking to.

But hash-tagging that he must go may simply serve to keep him in place and all these political parties fed and relevant.  It will give the ANC something else to spin and channel and re-narrate.

Have you not had enough of that?

Siya Khumalo blogs about religion, politics and sex; he has also written a book.

Please share and follow @SKhumalo1987

Contact on SKhumalo1987@gmail.com

White Atheism: The Individual’s Denial Of Invisible Ideas

In the last 24 hours I found myself (once again) in a Facebook post-thread-reply orgy. At one point, a scary-smart straight white guy asked me to define “white privilege” for him “and then apply it to the following rant: 

“What of white-privilege – that fine institution that welcomes other people’s bigoted opinions without violent retaliation (think Islam & Communism), ended slavery (which still exists in Africa and Asia), doesn’t behead or necklace gay people (still happening in Africa), and is the only culture that will censor and admonish its own members publicly ([himself]) – must I pack it up and go somewhere less unappreciative? Or should I stay here and use it to empower as many people as I can influence?”

I offered to derive a definition of white privilege from his rant instead of creating a definition and then applying it to his rant: 

“White privilege is the ability to identify with the actions of the skin-pigment group to which biology assigned you only insofar as it’s convenient, believing that the world will overlook this selective individualism since whiteness (being strongly represented in media and in corporate in its infinite, nuanced human complexity) is the unsuspicious, trusted default. For this reason, white people are often thought of and treated as individuals while everyone else is thought of more often as part of a group. 

 “That privilege, which you wouldn’t see as such because it’s only right that you be treated as an individual, allows you to cherry-pick the best of which your immediate racial compatriots have done in the deceptively recent past, hold that up as representative of whiteness in general, then ask me to apply an alien definition of white privilege that won’t match up to the picture of whiteness that white privilege has allowed you to put up anyway. Then I look like an idiot trying. I might be wrong and it might be due to our own social failing as black people, but from where I stand, most white okes have the luxury of more interior, #DawsonsCreek type struggles, which come with having been afforded more room and education to define and assert your individuality. I envy that.”

I also said,

“What gives you away is the paternalism (which bordered on but didn’t cross over into a patronizing tone) when you ask whether you should ‘pack it up and go somewhere less unappreciative.’ So you admit that you have the option of global mobility, to an extent, and it is by sheer graciousness that you deign to stick around where you are accused of being the bad guy by virtue of your skin, and try to show people that you are an individual white guy who isn’t as bad as some groups of white guys have been. You’re typing this from the United States where a great number of black men have a relationship with the police force that is precisely the opposite of that privilege: they cannot just pack up and go though many probably wish, desperately wish, that they could. Just to feel safe in the black skins that get them accused of being the bad guy.”

 Parts of my response were inspired by American John Metta’s I, Racist, where he explains that 

“Black people think in terms of we because we live in a society where the social and political structures interact with us as Black people. White people do not think in terms of we. White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals. You are ‘you,’ I am ‘one of them.’ Whites are often not directly affected by racial oppression even in their own community, so what does not affect them locally has little chance of affecting them regionally or nationally. They have no need, nor often any real desire, to think in terms of a group. They are supported by the system, and so are mostly unaffected by it. What they are affected by are attacks on their own character. To my aunt, the suggestion that ‘people in The North are racist’ is an attack on her as a racist. She is unable to differentiate her participation within a racist system (upwardly mobile, not racially profiled, able to move to White suburbs, etc.) from an accusation that she, individually, is a racist. Without being able to make that differentiation, White people in general decide to vigorously defend their own personal non-racism, or point out that it doesn’t exist because they don’t see it.

The result of this is an incessantly repeating argument where a Black person says ‘Racism still exists. It is real,’ and a white person argues ‘You’re wrong, I’m not racist at all. I don’t even see any racism’.”

He also says,

“Even the fact that America has a growing number of violent hate groups, populated mostly by white men, and that nearly all serial killers are white men cannot shadow the fundamental truth of white male goodness. In fact, we like White serial killers so much, we make mini-series about them.”

 He describes black people’s relationship with the system by saying they are “systematically challenged in a thousand small ways that actually made it easier for you to succeed in life.”

“Racism is so deeply embedded in this country not because of the racist right-wing radicals who practice it openly, it exists because of the silence and hurt feelings of liberal America.”

 It is often argued that it is black people who keep racism alive. This argument is often made by people who can afford to individualate from the group they come from, its past, its guilts and its issues. But not its privileges, for it is by those privileges that they afford real estate at a respectable distance from everything negative about the group. 

We all owe a debt to whiteness for inventing (or discovering) the precious but high-maintenance commodity that is the individual in all of his infinite, nuanced complex humanity. When my Facebook friend identifies white privilege as “that fine institution that welcomes other people’s bigoted opinions without violent retaliation….doesn’t behead or necklace gay people (still happening in Africa), and is the only culture that will censor and admonish its own members publicly” and whose individuals have the right to “pack it up and go somewhere less unappreciative” as well as the option to “stay here and use it to empower…many people,” he is admitting that it is whiteness that invented, refined, perfected and redeemed the individual from the mire of historic group guilt and, by extension, individual complicity. 

But what he and many white people cannot admit is that to do so, whiteness required resources, time and sweat, which it took from non-white people-groups at those points in history when whiteness had perfected the exploitation of non-white bodies within those groups before turning around, calling such exploitation uncivilized and pointing out how it still happens “in Africa.” 

If we cannot call this the hypocrisy that it is, it is because the greatest gift whiteness afforded its children was a clear conscience through a liberal education and upbringing; as individuals, they never have and never would have done what some of their ancestors and other white people have done. It is not polite to ask how this gift of moral white whiteness was bought because those kinds of conversations have separated white abolitionist from white church, white integrationist from white separatist, white father from white son and white brother from white brother. So it is that the denial of even whiteness as a construct has this alibi: white people have not agreed on what to do with the other races for long enough, they argue, that they should not even be viewed as a group.

This is why the Western emergence of the individual is viewed with suspicion by other people-groups: white people have not, as a group, admitted that they could only navel-gaze upon and develop the inviolable individual with his human rights (i.e. humanism) while slaves of colour were doing all the manual labour out of sight in those distant colonies. When I talk of human rights to black people, I am speaking in the language of the Oppressor who has denied that he is such.

When today individuals in the West deny the bulk and consequences of past group exploitation perpetrated by ancestral groups from which they have unhinged with a change of mind but not a questioning or disinheritance of privilege, they can’t expect to be taken seriously when they advocate for human (women’s and gay) rights. The about-turn is not accepted at face value by African and Asian countries: it is regarded as another step in another conspiracy to destabilize non-western people-groups and tribes, or at the least dictate a new ethic to them in the implementation of a moral neo-colonialism.

White privilege is the freedom to deny that constructs exist because once you have the resources and mobility to opt in and out of the group, its guilts and its prejudices, you have no reason to admit that constructs have been constructed, let alone that you have unduly benefited from them. White privilege is the gift of not knowing about white privilege whilst benefiting from it.

A few months ago I told leaders at the church I was affiliated with that I was going to come out and get vocal about homophobia. The pastors graciously offered to formulate a church stance in relation to my decision, if I could convince them theologically that embracing openly gay people and offering them the sacrament of marriage was the right thing to do. In the end, I think what stopped them from accepting the scriptural hypothesis I offered them was who they were: as a group of white individuals, they were unwitting deniers of constructs even while they used their more sanitized permutations to hold their group together.

While they alleviate the effects of practical suffering, I have not heard them preach consistently, cohesively and deeply from a single lexicon be it that of feminism or Calvinism or Queer Theory or Arminianism. I believe they are scared to admit this world of invisible ideas exists and they have to pick one and all its ramifications; they deny the existence of invisible ideas even as they preach an invisible God.

They are sorry for homophobia but cannot denounce (or recognize) church heterosexism as a construct. They do not recognize constructs, at least not in their ugly totality. Their individuality and his innocence from group guilt is too precious a commodity to trade in for the sickening truth of how their individuality was afforded and removed from the constructed world and its connection to slaves that constructed it in the concrete while philosophers were deconstructing it in the abstract, making the world “safe for democracy” and democratic individuals. They suffer from what has been called “white fragility” and I did not have the steel to break it to or for them.

To have white privilege is to be given from birth the tools needed to move through the world without having to reckon with the power of constructs. The final straw was the church’s good-hearted attempt to acclimatize me to a theology of “pure grace” that said that because of Jesus’ atonement for my sins, I was pure in God’s eyes. In not so many words, they said I was as good as straight. But when the blood of Jesus is used not only to redeem white individuals from the guilt of their fathers’ sin (from which individuals still unwittingly benefit today) but also transform gay black individuals with a chip on their shoulder into good-as-straight white-as-snow individuals, then there is no room to discuss the devastation caused by still-existing, persistent constructs, or, for that matter, the price paid for anyone’s ability to remain above the fray. Lambs remain silent as they are sent off for slaughter by the good intentions and white fragility of those entrusted with ministering to the hurt in the world. They put band aids on gunshot wounds. The Atonement they appropriated in their further distancing of the individual from their group’s guilt was also used to sterilize (in every sense) and separate me from my right to speak up about group suffering. There are no groups in Christ because Christianity is a matter of the individual heart.

The white church needs a God who can turn gay people straight even if it’s in their imagination or by legal fiction; such a God supports white Christians’ right to deny the construct and effects of heterosexism, the denial of non-straight bodies and blackness, along with the denial of all constructs and their effects. All I had to do was nod along. I did so while they were watching. And when they weren’t, with more pain than I could explain (but no surprise whatsoever) I turned and left them in the numbing hands of their out-of-touch God. 

I imagine the rise of gay visibility to mean the dwindling of heterosexist white congregations. For once whiteness parted ways with constructs and group accountability; once enslavement and colonialism went out of vogue and colonies had attained liberation, the white male Jesus also lost relevance to his white beneficiaries and pioneers. Christianity once bought colonialists the moral right to annex and enslave; today, it is a lukewarm, toothless faith system that neither denounces the entire package of constructs that allowed it to do this, nor repents to help build a better world based on the destabilization of sexist and racist constructs. Christianity exists now, in part, because the idea of God has been incubated by non-white groups who saved it from the humanistic de-grouping of white individuals. That, or the idea of God has ricocheted between the West and the rest of the world enough times and with enough tweaks to keep him (or her, or it, or them) tenable through one revival after another. But as more black people afford to become individuals, more of them will trash God altogether.

Until then, we have to make-do with “God,” that is, an invisible realm of constructs and indescribably powerful ideas that privileges (straight white male) persons while blinding them to their scope and extent of that privilege. We cannot as yet afford to adopt white atheism in relation to this God: like apartheid police or the boys in blue using black men as target practice, he is still out to get us. Whether we believe in him does not stop him from believing in us.

We cannot afford the luxury of white atheism.

This morning, I saw a post by author Gillian Schutte:

“Just to be clear I am of the opinion that the killing of Cecil the Lion and the killing of Black people is part of the same ‘phallocratic homophobic self-centred resource extraction murderous entitled white male settler bullshit’ syndrome. They do not care about the wild life, the ecosystems, the feminine and black lives. The only women that matter to them are patriarchy-servers contorted into barby bodies and high heels with the sole purpose of patting their phallic egos. The only good black to them is one who can be exploited oppressed bribed monetised deified and eaten. The only appealing land is land with resources that can be raped by them. The only interest in wild life is whether killing a majestic lion will make them feel something akin to being truly alive because they are dead with power. It is a form of sickly ego driven cannibalism and emptiness. They will destroy our world with their voracious vacuous idiocy. The police who do their bidding are there to serve this vampirish brutal class of pac men.

Having said all that why have over 1 million Americans signed a petition for a lion and ignored the deaths of so many fellow citizens. WHY? Because they are part of the same syndrome I have just described in that they willingly serve it. That is the syndrome I will rail against with all my might. They will not have my humanity and none of us should stay silent on the issue of the denigration and devaluation of black lives around the globe.”

I rest my case.

White Jesus v.s. Black South African Liberation Struggle Heroes

White Jesus v.s. Black South African Liberation Struggle Heroes

The genius of racism

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and share.

Siya Khumalo writes about religion, politics and sex.

Follow @SKhumalo1987

Contact SKhumalo1987@gmail.com

Dear Black People In The U.S: Please Join Forces With The Gays

I’ve been observing the endless liberation struggle in the land of the free (ha!) with great interest, waiting for the day that black people realize the truth of the saying, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” 

It’s astounding: having raised preachers, orators, writers and all manners of excellent academics to highlight the plight of ethnic minorities in America, you, broadly speaking, have not realized that you and sexual minorities have the same problem and could join forces to tackle it. Good people, why are so many of you so slow to realize and speak up about this?

By “enemy,” of course, I don’t necessarily mean white individuals: I mean a pervasive system that “others” those who are not white, not male and not heterosexual – othering them often with fatal consequences – with your aid. To the degree that you allow homophobia, to that degree you are complicit. Your struggles have so many overlaps with the struggles of the LGBT community that I don’t understand how you and they have not become best friends. If you are black in America, homophobia and transphobia are not things you want to tolerate, let alone perpetuate. You cannot afford to.

“But homosexuality is against God!” many of you will say. That argument has been used against emancipation, desegregation and against everything black people have needed to enjoy full equality in the U.S. It’s the same argument dressed in the same pious hypocrisy and the same imitation of godliness.

Homosexuality will undermine black society, they say. Will it do that in the same sense that racists say full black  emancipation will undermine American society, or am I only imagining the one argument to be an echo of the other?

Black people and sexual minorities have faced the same kind of hatred, similar types of endangerment and have been viewed with the same disgust and mistrust. It’s all learned and it can be unlearned. A change in laws and national policies are not going to help; in fact their multiplication will antagonize and intimidate those who do not understand. You have to internalize and become the change you want to see.

The LGBT community can help amplify the voices of black people fighting for justice but you need to make it safe for them to come out. Many say the murders of black people at the hands of white policemen have been senseless. Well, so has much of the murderous hatred faced by the LGBT community. The gender, social and religious constructs you’ve used to shun LGBT people are part of the package of ideas that have been used to shun black people. It’s the same poison, copied-and-pasted, and many of you have embraced it wholeheartedly as Gospel Truth. Many of you have thusly embraced and agreed to your own genocide. If you have kept quiet about the struggles of the LGBT community, you have exacerbated your own, tacitly saying Yes to the violence against people of colour.

You will not see justice until the LGBT community sees justice. You must understand that the senseless, systemic hatred you’ve felt directed against you is the same that the LGBT community has been receiving; the complaints and rationalizations and excuses you’ve received from the beneficiaries of the system that privileges white people are the same complaints, rationalizations and excuses that the LGBT community has received from the beneficiaries of heterosexism. If same-sex love is the same love, then racism and homophobia are the same hatred. For God’s sake, denounce the evil.

The belief that creating room for LGBTs will somehow take from straight people is the same fear held by many white people in your country. You cannot afford to hold to it any longer.

Form more and bigger coalitions. Get deliberate about tackling the intersectionality of your struggles, and use one another’s struggles to corroborate what you’re saying. It’s leverage; use it. Vast numbers of white people won’t understand what you’re going on when you insist that you feel systematically trapped or endangered, unless and until gay people get an opportunity to explain the same oppression in terms of being a sexual minority. Then both your stories will be understood, and the system that oppresses both black and gay people will be illuminated from both sides to the visibility of all. You will unmask the system as a team.

In other words, your chains fall off when you loosen those that bind the ones you have kept chained until now. If you want The Other to transform revulsion to understanding, start with your own hearts if you have not.

The world is watching, and, for better or for worse, taking your country’s lead on many issues. Kindly see this responsibility for what it is, and step up to the plate.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and share.

Siya Khumalo writes about religion, politics and sex.

Follow @SKhumalo1987

Contact SKhumalo1987@gmail.com

 

Maybe, Just Maybe, It’s Time To Quit That Job.

Buckminster Fuller

I have been observing people and thinking out loud for some time now. This has been in my head that whole time.

If you love your job and the company you work for, you may want to skip this post. If you believe in what your organization is about and that resonates with you, this piece was not written with you in mind.

In this post I will discuss things as broadly and generally as possible; it is up to the reader to see how these ideas fit into his situation if at all. It might sound vague, utopian and unstructured. I am nervous that if I do not get this thought out, it won’t crystallize into what it wants to be. More people are saying this and maybe the winds of change will carry it where it needs to go.

The thing is, I’ve overheard too many conversations that go like this: 

“So yeah, I told them I’m resigning.”

“I’ve been dying to leave this hellhole too. You’re so brave. And lucky that you have an opportunity to do it.”

 “Yeah, I’m doing it. I’m leaping to my freedom and chasing my dreams.” 

“Awesome. Where are you going after this? You have found a job to go to, right?”

This is my issue:

What makes people think that changing jobs or companies resolves the problems they ran from where they were before?

What is “brave” or “lucky” about moving from a bad job to a somewhat better job – in other words, from one slave-master to a slightly more merciful slave-master?

What changing jobs does, at most, is move someone into the next honeymoon phase with the next company – before the reality of that work environment sinks in as well and people need to jump ship, again. And again. And again.

There are two types of people in the working world. There are those that fit well in the environment they are in, and there are those that do not. The biggest delusion we have bought into is that to add value to humanity, each person has to work in one of a few very narrowly defined fields. It is possible for people to exchange goods and services without locating themselves that strictly in a revenue-producing entity: the only stakeholder that would lose out is the government in bed with everyone except the man on the street (aka “We, The People” – remember us? They loved us voting season). So I am advocating for a very mixed type of economy.

It’s like relationships. Most people move from one to the next before they find a good fit or settle for an okay one – or remain single – but few are lucky from the start. And as in relationships, most people never openly talk about the backdrop paradigm that creates a lot of frustration. Instead, they let years slide by without deciding what they want. The reason people don’t discuss the backdrop paradigm is that they’ve never imagined a more authentic way the world could work. So they’ve never known a reason to question the way things are being done. Instead, they will accept that the defect must be within themselves and shut up about their misery. People of good conscience will feel guilty for feeling miserable, and observant psychopaths will milk that cycle for all its worth. Manipulators rely on people’s reliance on whatever they think is stable and safe, and they create systems and situations and environments where their prey can be exploited. I submit that much of the world we live in is precisely such a system writ large.

So if talented, smart people hate their jobs it’s probably because they work in toxic environments in toxic economies and toxic paradigms; they seek validation and stability in something that will give them just enough to make them stick around. Government s are run by humans everyone believe to be infallible but are not; economies are ruled by super-rich elites everyone think know what they’re doing but don’t always; all human power is in the hands of a few who seem to know best but don’t. If they knew – if they really knew – we would have more education than war, more nature flourishing than pollution and destruction, more peace than violence and more equality than discrimination. Those basics would be in place. But they’re not. So it has failed. Given centuries, what we have regarded as correct has failed to fulfill the promise of a better civilization. Civilization has not worked out well.

If anyone is going to have power, everyone must be empowered. The onus is not on the powerful few to surrender their power but on the many to take power up. 

The onus is not on the powerful few to surrender their power but on the many to take power up. 

The super-powerful cannot hear those under their feet either because they have no communication with them or because they do not care. At any rate, this is not about them; it is about each person becoming more of himself or herself. Far more important than changing jobs, then, should be changing the system and making it work, sustainably, for everybody, for good, for ever. If that cannot be our first project, we have failed as a collective.

For too long, the system has been the unquestioned, unshakable constant. It is protected by people’s need for security and stability. It promises a future the one day but eats that future out of people’s mouths and strips it off their backs the next. It divides. It has also been protected by guilt. People have been tacitly told that they have to stay in bondage because they deserve it. Because of that home loan they took and must pay off. Because of that better lifestyle they tried to afford. Of that spending spree they’re still paying off. That mistake they made. Those medical fees they have to repay. Because of those children they brought into the world and need to feed. Of the extended family that depends on their income. People have a thousand reasons to give pieces of their soul away, and lawmakers – not as individual persons but as unwitting agents of impersonal systems – serve to produce and protect the environment where people sell their minds, bodies and souls away. On the surface it looks like a fair deal. But as a species we can do better than that and if we are not trying to then it is a damning revelation of what we are plugged into. Putting food on the table cannot become first priority; if it were, then we would have to be okay with theft as a means to an end. A wise man said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God” which I understand to mean that if it comes to a decision between principle and survival, principle should get first preference. Bank on truth first, stick to your guns, and other people will (eventually) follow you because they will see their vested interest in doing so.

He also said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” Read into that what you will. If we allow systems to continue as they are, they will deteriorate further. If we stand together for what we know to be right, true, just and equitable, the system will have to adapt itself to our commitment to our values or die and be replaced by something else.

The only thing that should keep people in jobs they hate is their not knowing what they’d rather be doing instead. This isn’t to mean people shouldn’t leave their jobs until the next one is lined up – that reasoned, unreasonable hesitation is precisely what I’m arguing against – but it is to say that people shouldn’t leave their day jobs until they have a fair idea of who they truly are and what they’re about. Some people need to be immersed in what they are not so they will figure out what they are. Clarity is key.

Feeling inadequate and obliged within this very responsible-sounding paradigm, people will surrender their best years and energy to jobs and paradigms and relationships and religions they don’t fit into. Because they do not know themselves. For a pay that often does not cover all their bills. Men will sacrifice hours they could have spent doing something more meaningful because the definition of manhood they’ve been given tells them this is the necessary sacrifice. Because they do not know themselves. Women will do the same. Because they do not know themselves. Armies of young people will spend decades paying off study loans because that’s the price of a “good education.” I believe in education, but for decades the best education in the world has led the most educated people in the world to believe that there was something just about inequality in the world. What kind of education is that?

“Education” has been wrong about many things; empathy has seldom been wrong. We bought into a bad, bad deal and we are still recovering from the effects of moralism and many other counterfeits of goodness. The very people who remind us of our obligations from pulpits and from across desks of power have often broken theirs. It is important to meet obligations but it is more important to add concrete value into the lives of people around us and be authentic – not line the pockets of an elite few shareholders in super-rich companies that make their money out of the little man’s stomach. And right now, more of us are just meeting obligations than adding value. That is a slave.

You cannot create value if you do not know who you are and you cannot know who you are if you have acclimatized to a paradigm of inauthenticity. And somewhere along the line, many of us were taught that the way we fundamentally are is wrong, while another way of being in the world is right. We masked up and forgot we were wearing masks; we dressed up, and forgot we had been born naked. When everyone around you is wearing clothes, you don’t see it. It becomes the normal, and everyone becomes terrified of the alternative. Reality becomes our greatest fear while illusion promises us our biggest protection. It’s really the other way around: reality sets free while illusion enslaves.

Shakespeare has Polonius say in Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” You need to know the hill you would die on. Know thyself. Know yourself relative to history and the world and – if applicable within your worldview – know yourself relative to God.

Some companies and businesspeople are wonderful. Others only appear to be. Deep down inside you know the difference. If you haven’t got the guts to act on the difference, you have sold your soul and have a far bigger problem than your lights being out and your table being bare: the light of your consciousness is off, and your soul is starving. If saving face is more important to you than being authentic, then there is nothing behind the face anyway.

There is a time to get a “normal” or “real” job and work at it. There is also a time to recognise that the system upholding these jobs is fundamentally flawed and unequal – and that we must work on fixing that instead.

The thing is, we do not need everything that money can buy, nor is everything we need only obtainable through money. If enough people decided to drop the ball at the same time – if enough people told advertisers and banks and the whole system that it does not own them – then the one side would be less likely to take the other for granted. Because so long as we need the system, its brokers can call out any price for any essential service it can render. Vast numbers of people are enslaved and need to be set free.

It comes down to authenticity. The world is starving for it. But you’ve got to make the first move towards it. If not you, then who?

Isn’t it time to take a leap of faith?

I am just observing people and thinking out loud.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and share.

Siya Khumalo writes about religion, politics and sex.

Follow @SKhumalo1987

Contact SKhumalo1987@gmail.com

SONA2015 – Aftermath: What Are You Doing On Monday, 16 February 2015 09:00?

While SONA2015 was collapsing into chaos, I was scouring social media for a feel of our nation’s temperature.  One tweet had been retweeted almost 30 times in a very short period: “The time has come for a soldier to march to demand Zuma resigns. Monday is coming”.  I retweeted and added, #MondayIsComing and #DropEverythingOnMonday

I don’t know why this tweeter picked Monday as D-Day, but it was out there already.  The idea was surprisingly popular. So I went into the tweeter’s profile and discovered that he was serious when he spoke about soldiers marching.  He’s got a strong association with the Defense Force.  I followed him, asked him to follow me back (I’m ex military).  He then vanished.

So I began speculating on what had just happened.  Did someone warn him to drop the idea?  Was he plotting something he suddenly realized needed to be kept top-secret?  I say it’s the first issue.  His “common sense” kicked in, his blood cooled down and he dropped the idea.

Either way, the ANC-led government now knows with increasing certainty that we’re wimps.  They know that there is no action so bad, no state of affairs so severe, no injustice so great, that it will cause South Africa to rise up.  We’re scared.  We don’t think anyone else has our back.  The law doesn’t allow for sudden mass gatherings, and we’re law-abiding citizens.

In the face of all this, I ask you: what are you doing on Monday?  What could be so dreadfully captivating?

Because on Monday, I would love to go to my nearest City Hall at 9am with a placard asking, “Who is the new president?” and in a smaller font, “Who is the new Parliamentary Speaker?”  By Monday, National Assembly would have – by assembling over the weekend, if need be – decided who the next president is.  It might be Ramaphosa but I won’t assume it.  They have until Monday to atone for the many, many sins committed to protect one man from justice.

But that’s possible only if you’re in and you believe in your power to change things.  So what are you doing on Monday?

What South Africa saw last night wasn’t entertainment, though it may end up on CNN’s entertainment section as has happened before.  Last night was proof that a Mafia-like organization loots public funds, resources, powers and systems for its own benefit.  What are you doing on Monday?  I submit that your time would be better spent pushing back.  That if you tolerate this much longer, you send a message that it’s okay.

On Monday I would like to sit outside my nearest City Hall, taking shifts with whoever else shows up, picnicking peacefully, with an umbrella, sunscreen and protest signs.  Call me a dreamer, but I would love to send out tweets hashtagged #OccupyCityHall DBN and see replies hashtagged #OccupyCityHall JHB and PMB.  On Monday, I would really, really like to feel like this country matters and people care.  Do they?  Do you?  What are you doing on Monday?

On Monday, I would like to see people struggle to find parking in the CBD areas, and then deciding to just leave their cars in the street to come occupy City Hall.  Call it a dream, but what if every city hub came to a standstill until the next president and parliamentary speaker was announced?  Because a congestion that big would put pressure that intense.  I didn’t choose Monday.  Someone else did.  I’m just saying, look: if enough people decide on it and spread the message and commit, Monday could be the day we stop complaining about it and start fixing it.

What are you doing on Monday?  Are you working?  Seeing a client?  Attending a lecture?  A breakfast meeting?  Your weekly briefing?  What’s your excuse?  Is it too soon?  Is it impossible?  How many excuses do you have, and how many scornful disguises do they take to hide you from the prospect of discovering just how much or how little power you have?  Are you afraid to do something about the state of the nation?  Is that too much responsibility for you?  So you agree with government that you should only have power and citizenship on paper?  If so, then Monday will flop because South Africans are a flop.  What are you doing on Monday? 

One girl said she’s working.  But we won’t have jobs for much longer.  She said she’ll leave the country. With the value of the Rand plunging, she’s left it too late.  Look, if not 9am then later in the day or the day before.  Or support strongly on social media.  But do something.

If you’re not standing, who will?  If not now, when?  If not this way, then which way?  When the Constitutional is optional, processes are sidestepped, MPs are punched and arrested for nothing; when the signal gets cut in National Assembly and armed forces – police or parliamentary, Mbete Almighty only knows – are called into a sanctuary that was built on the promise to be the bastion of democratized civilization no matter what, then what is left to negotiate about?

What are you doing on Monday?  What are you doing on Monday?  What are you doing on Monday?

This won’t be a Polokwane and Mangaung.  The Party’s had a chance to elect a leader.  It’s enough of that, now.  Monday is coming.  When it’s here, I want my first tweet to read, “Thank God it’s Monday”.  Tweet it out: Monday.  City Hall.  9 am.

Let me know about Monday.

Do We Have The Courage To #BoycottSARS? Do We Have Any Other Choice?

Imagine seeing this letter sent by a coalition of businesses to the Receiver of Revenue under the hashtag #BoycottSARS:

image

Hello SARS

We hope you’re well?

We recently reviewed your 14% remuneration rate (VAT).  

In light of your government’s performance, it is exhorbitant.

The undersigned companies have, in unison, agreed to decrease it to 1.4% (in line with the economy’s growth) until certain key performance indicators are met.  We will measure the effectiveness, efficiency and productivity of the charity organization we call government (for it creates nothing, actually) until we are satisfied that it is being run frugally and is doing its bit to cultivate an environment conducive to economic growth and investor confidence.  When this is clearly so, we will then consider raising its renumeration figure closer to the 14% mark again. 

By the sweat of its brow will our government earn every crumb of its bread.  Like the rest of us.

You may be upset that we have taken this decision without consulting you.  But many of your government’s decisions are being made unilaterally.  On the occasions when we did consult with one another, you reneged on the spirit of those discussions.  We are informing you of what we shall do; we will negotiate with you when there is tangible proof that steps are being taken towards the targets we need you to meet in order for us to help keep the economy afloat and provide employment.

When an entity is not behaving ethically, people boycott it.  You are being manipulated by a head of State who has de-facto resigned from his position as president of South Africa (insofar as the role is defined and described by the Constitution) and have therefore had your independence compromised.  Hence, this boycott.  Helen Zille has dared Jacob Zuma to sue her for defamation of character if these allegations are not true.  That’s a pretty big dare.  We’re staking the credibility of this boycott on that challenge.  When Helen Zille and Jacob Zuma have battled it out in court (if Zuma is willing to set foot there) we, too, will #PayBackTheMoney that we owe you.

Consider this your boycott, SARS.  It’s called #BoycottSARS

Seasons’ Greetings!

The undersigned business groups

 ***

 Siya’s Notes And Questions:

  1. What sort of businesses would get behind the #BoycottSARS campaign?  Let’s plant the seed in their minds and get the idea in the atmosphere.
  2. Will things change as long as every person is scared to put themselves or their business out there first?
  3. What alternatives do we have to boycotting SARS?
  4. With the way media is being slowly taken over, can we hope for the ballot to change the political landscape?
  5. Can corrupt government officials be trusted to discipline themselves and one another?
  6. What benchmarks and key performance indicators would justify 14% VAT?
  7. Do you know of any lucrative private-sector businesses that refuse to pay tax?  Or whole business sectors?  Do you perhaps drive with them every morning?  Just asking.
  8. Do different rules apply to different businesses?  Are you okay with this?image
  9. Which banned political parties can identify moments that call for civil disobedience, and rally poeple on the ground to work with them to dismantle corrupt systems?  Name three.  Or two.  Or one.  Uh-oh. 
  10. Or do you think opposition parties within the establishment, working within the rules, will be able to provoke the conscience of the ruling parties to repentance?  Do they have any effective tools whereby they can bring the government back into line?  What if they’ve already done everything they can?  What if they’ve maxed out what they’re able to do as entities within the establishment? 
  11. Must a voice from heaven tell us that it’s our turn to act?  Or is that fact staring us in the face?

 

image

 

image

Now, don’t just imagine business groups sending this letter to the Receiver of Revenue.  Encourage them to group up, send it and act on it until something measurable shifts.  We must see real and measurable change – the purging and arrest of corrupt officials. 

Ask businesses whether they’re #BoycottingSARS.  If they give you excuses for not doing so, drop those responses into the comments’ section so we can discuss them. 

Perhaps there will come a moment when citizens of good conscience will have the courage to tell them, “Be #BoycottingSARS or we’ll be #BoycottingYou”

Something.  Must.  Give.

If you’ve had enough of the way things are and want a front-row seat to the change at hand – or better yet, an opportunity to help change happen – then

Follow me on @SKhumalo1987
Contact me on SKhumalo1987@gmail.com

More Eskom Woes? Another Bailout? You NEED To Know How “Load-Shedding Your Taxes” Is Different From “Tax Evasion” And Ordinary “Tax Avoidance”

This post is a response to questions that came up in response to the other day’s piece about “load-shedding taxes”. I’ve realized that I need to expand on the background and concept.

Tax Gap
I use the definition loosely but there is a “tax gap” in some countries partially because many of its peoples live simple lives (of varying levels of quality) in which bartering goods and services is the normal method of exchanging value. Cash transactions involving till slips are rare.

It’s in every government’s best interest to ensure that all its citizens have jobs, mostly outside government, are well-educated, have access to user-friendly technology and are willing and able to participate meaningfully in the taxable economy.

To whatever degree a government is too short-sighted to empower, inform and encourage citizens to play a robust role in the taxable economy, to that degree it has set the trap for its own demise.

To keep itself in power, our government’s ruling party needs a tax-paying base and a voting base. There are overlaps. And while each citizen votes once, some tax-payers may pay taxes that are proportionally bigger than their reliance on the State, arguably subsidizing those who rely more fully on the State. Come voting season, the ruling party will advertise everything the government has done, but the posters, billboards and slogans will echo the colours and rhetoric of the ruling party more than of the government. Throw struggle history into the mix, and the ruling party has a potent recipe for staying in government without sincerely governing.

And this works, so long as the discourse is around voting. Voting for the opposition would lead to the dreaded “return of apartheid”, it is said. Whether voters truly believe this or whether they have ulterior motives for wishing to keep the same power in place is beyond my knowledge.

What would happen if the discussion suddenly changed from voting to tax-paying? What would happen if the tax-paying base suddenly decided to simplify its living standards and turn to barter instead of cash, in barter networks that grow faster than the law can be modified to keep up? The government takes it for granted that people who can afford to pay cash for goods and services will continue to do so “until Jesus returns”, which is how it will stay in power indefinitely. But if your neighbor decides to take ingredients from her backyard to cook your meals in exchange for your painting her house and fixing her yard, or cutting her hair, will you really put this act of everyday neighborly kindness down on your tax returns? It may depend on whether your neighbor has a registered business as a backyard goods’ grower or meal-cooker, and whether you are a professional painter and yard-fixer. Then the market value of the transaction matters and probably should be declared as a transaction that affected your respective “turnovers” as businesses.

But what if you’re both just being handy and neighborly, and you’re not businesses at all? Or what if you’re both unemployed (on paper)? Or what if backyard plant-growing/meal-making and house-painting are just serious hobbies that people call you to practice on their behalf? Is it your fault that one person’s hobby is another person’s livelihood? Also, wouldn’t you have to be trained tax experts to be accountable to the nth degree for the tax ramifications of these transactions?

Think what the net effect would be if everyone just decided to be really self-sufficient person and a good neighbor, linking up as a network of DIY-ey persons who can make their own solar-powered panels out of scrap, recycle their own water and do other things off the grid? Where is the line? Has our government not told us numerous times to save?

Look It Up If You Don’t Believe Me, But “Tax Evasion” and “Tax Avoidance” Are Not The Same Thing
Tax evasion is when someone unlawfully and knowingly skirts tax law. Tax avoidance is the legal use of the tax regime to one’s own advantage, to reduce the amount of tax that is payable by means that are within the law. SARS has rules against tax avoidance, but to be effective or meaningful at the level of people’s private lives and networks, those rules would have to overstep many Constitutional rights and violate people’s privacy. The laws are more readily applicable to businesses than they are to civilians. I’m advocating that people shift more of their interactions from the visible, taxable business economy to which these rules do readily apply, to the more ambiguous, puzzling informal economy, in order to dry up the revenues that fund corrpution. On private citizens’ turf, the law can so easily be brought into conflict with itself.

More profoundly, when so many government officials have no respect for the law, why should the citizens not consider following their example?

During apartheid, people broke the system by being arrested simultaneously, or showing up at places all at once, coordinating their behavior and using their numbers. That’s easier to do now that we have mobile technology. E-filing? How do you use automated e-filing if there’s no power and internet is expensive? Get together with ALL your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and their friends and relatives – your whole “network” – and rock up at SARS. Daunt them with your unprecedented numbers and tweet them out if they can’t provide reasonably good service to ALL of you.

Play Dumb
A man stood at a SARS queue not knowing it was the wrong one. When he reached the end, the clerk there assisted him and then told him the right queue to stand, for future reference. The man then joined that queue and when he reached the teller at its end, he asked for “future reference”. The first clerk had thrown the phrase out assuming he knew what it meant.

My purpose isn’t to make fun of this gentleman. It is to point out that the way you dress, carry yourself, speak and appear can insulate you from many realities all around you. You’ll never know the kinds of queries that SARS personnel normally deal with because, based on their first impression of you they’ll know what to expect from you. You’d never tell it, but moments before dealing with you they had a client who was searching for “future reference”.

If you and hundreds of people from your “bartering network” all suddenly had difficulty understanding the tax system or what “reasonable market value” even means, it could take hours to explain to ALL of you exactly why, and how, you could measure how much bartering has brought to or taken from you in currency. How do you work out how much you owe the Taxman if the government has not made absolutely certain that everyone has had the sufficient education to understand what can appear to be an infinitely complex taxation system?

Now, the record may show that you’ve filled out tax returns before. Just remind the teller of how extensively she had to assist you the last time. Wasn’t it her? Snap, it looked like her. It may have been a colleague of hers. It was so long ago. Or tell her how closely someone else had to explain every step while you were doing it online that other time, and how that person has moved away. Play dumb, and play dumb in vast, unbearable numbers.

Earlier, I asked whether government had done everything in its power to ensure that everyone has had sufficient education to understand the tax system. Brief workshops don’t cut it: if the government wants a taxable citizenry, then the government has to have done the groundwork of proper life-long education, not just sent SARS agents at the 11th hour to teach people Tax 101, presuming on their preexisting vocabulary and general knowledge. The government takes if for granted that you’ve educated yourself enough for SARS to send agents to complete your education where you haven’t made yourself sufficiently taxable, in order to help you cooperate with and contribute to your taxation and rebating. But the whole thing reeks of exploitation. When last did SARS need a bail-out? It is the most effective, effecient parastatal I know of. Nowhere else have I seen the government perform as in SARS. Through it, the government that refuses people a decent education is willing to give us a slightly better education so we can do a slightly better job at ensuring perfect tax returns, and on the whole, perfect revenue. Ha.

If the ruling party wants any of us to rely wholly on the State to spoon-feed us, then we must ALL turn into babies. And if any of SARS’ staff fails to show infinite patience towards you and your needs, throw the CPA, a Charlize Theron and a lawsuit at them. That knowledge, you can suddenly have. What? If Oscar and Shrien could run circles around the system, why can’t we ALL do it?

I imagine some people would want to barter, but would want to be scrupulously honest about every minute transaction. Assuming “they” can process ALL of the documentation from ALL the people who’ve turned to barter, how will “they” know that you are being completely honest, even if you are? Load-shedding your taxes isn’t about cutting back on your taxes; it’s about cutting back on visibly taxable transactions – or making the market value of your transactions more difficult to ascertain – in order to give the Taxman endless days and sleepless nights. This will force the government to make it easier for more people to participate in the taxable economy as informed, empowered citizens. The point of load-shedding taxes isn’t to evade tax; it’s for citizens to demonstrate control over it and over government. WE make, and can unmake, any existing system. Even if you choose to be totally honest with your taxes, the mere act of getting into a barter network is a subversive statement: it’s a reminder of who has real power.

Other citizens will probably lie about their barter “income”. As a currency, barter is more flexible and available than cash, if not always as transferable. If your landlord is willing to provide your board, lodging and meals in exchange for you helping with his business’ graphic design and copywriting, you won’t have to wait until his business has liquid cash before availing your services to him or being compensated in kind. The temptation there is that you may lie to SARS about the market value of the transaction, or pretend it never happened.

The bigger temptation, if you’re part of an informal bartering network, is that your businesses won’t have to even exist insofar as the government is concerned. No CK documents, no tax clearance, no BEE certificate, no receipts – nothing, except word of mouth, neighborly trust and constant practice at social media. No cash, either, if your network is strong enough.

I’m not advocating this way of life; I’m pointing out that everyone is already using it or elements of it though not many people have aggressively used it to bring the government to breaking point.

I don’t know what tools the government has at its disposal to audit that every existing business and taxable entity is making strides to fall within the taxable economy. I’m just a blogger. But if you are faced with the temptation to totally bamboozle the system, take Thuli Madonsela’s advice to Former President Jacob Zuma: where you have “unduly benefitted” from loopholes in the structure, “pay back a reasonable amount” of your gains in cash.

That is if you have any cash in these difficult, difficult times.

So while I would neither advocate nor condemn maintaining invisibility towards the taxable economy, I will remark on how flexible it would be to exchange goods and services instead of saving cash up to pay for the services of someone outside of your bartering network.

Indeed, this is how, you know, people did things before governments and taxes existed? And they lived, in some cases, in great peace and luxury.

Now that’s what I’d call returning to our roots.

#AggressiveBartering
#AB
#GuerillaBartering
#GB

SKhumalo1987@gmail.com
@SKhumalo1987

This Is How You Load-Shed Your Taxes

[This was drafted during a load-shedding session on iPad while Eskom bosses were enjoying their bonuses.]

Visit Market and other places crawling with people who can do or make useful things. Look especially for people who grow things in their own backyards and windowsills.

Plant the idea that maybe it’s better to exchange goods and services instead of cash. Call this campaign #AggressiveBartering (#AB) or #GuerrillaBartering (#GB). Or someone please come up with a better hashtag.

Cultivate networks around this concept.

Money is how government claims 14% of transacted value in your life save for milk, bread, eggs, fuel and fresh produce, I think. So, switch over to swapping goods and services instead of cash.

You may initially be limited but with time and practice at bartering and as your network increases, you’ll gain greater independence from the taxable money system.

A social network that revolves around cashlessly exchanging goods and services is a threat to the establishment because such a network can declare whatever value it decides to declare for whichever transactions it decides to report. The looser the structure – a “network” can be anything – the looser the law around the transactions. Such a network would exist entirely within SARS’ blind spot.

I don’t know whether the transactions that occur in my backyard are fiscally important just as Former President Jacob Zuma didn’t know whether what was happening in his backyard was fiscally important. I do know that I could vanish from the system’s radar. I’d like to keep my conscience clean but where there is no money transacted, the option of having the transaction taxed remains with me. The discipline of bartering suffocates State corruption. The State cannot misappropriate tax payers’ money if there isn’t that much of it to play with. Government corruption costs you less when you barter.

Yes, there is tax on bartered goods and services. But common sense tells me that the context as well as the nature of the institution you present yourself as determine the legal nature of the transaction you’re participating in. And how you describe these things can be a matter of taste, as we’ve learned from our government (think of Former President Zuma’s “fire pool”). Most importantly, everything depends on whether anyone declares the transaction to begin with, which in turn is dependent on the platform on which the transaction transpires. So take it from Market to your backyard or your kitchen or your bathroom.

The policing and quantifying of semi-private exchanges would be beyond the system’s immediate reach. As you swap your back-yard ingredients for Wi-Fi access or painting services, you get to decide how much you feel the transaction is worth to you, and declare that. You decide the amount you feel like being taxed. Nobody can truly contest how much the transaction was worth to you because nobody knows its scale, depth, extensiveness and value except you and the other person. Or your whole network. Where there is no price tag, the price is difficult to pin down, isn’t it? Where the value of the asset is knowable, play it safe.

But must you declare every transaction that happens among you and your loved ones even if you and your “friends” and “family” are a actually highly organized network of recruits that may have decided to load-shed their taxes with you? I mean, in this confusing confluence of criss-crossing cultures and religions we call our rainbow nation, just who is and who isn’t “family”? Yell “culture” or “religion” and nobody will ask questions. Throw dust in their eyes. Pick the most unlikely person, and say he or she is your lover. If someone would ask questions, make it embarrassing and have fun watching that person squirm.

Right now, we can’t see what the government doesn’t want us to see since it’s turned the light off, leaving us in the dark both literally and metaphorically.

But we can also play that game.

Ethics? I’d say render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. But also look for transactions that don’t fall within the scope of the rules, and arrange a mass migration in that direction for more transactions among more people. As I twice told Iman Rappetti twice on Power FM radio, we created every existing system and we can dismantle every one of them while remaining quite innocent. If enough people load-shed their VAT without being dishonest about taxable transactions, the difference will make itself felt.

Then, it won’t matter who got the most votes. It will matter who pays the most tax.

If businesses starts talking more openly to government about what’s really happening in this country as I pointed out that they should, we might still spend money on those businesses in order to support them.

Otherwise, though…money? What’s that?

With salaries rising so slowly and with unemployment so rife, nobody’s seen Money anywhere or knows where he went. Check, my pockets are really empty. Not making it up.

What’s that? How am I surviving – nay, thriving – without taxable cash? I guess it’s because I have a big, erm, family.

And we’re mighty resourceful.

[Reader, let me know what you think. Also, tell me where I may have bungled up the technical, legal or ethical details.]

Thank you

@SKhumalo1987

SKhumalo1987@gmail.com