EVENT: Three Women (Break the Silence) A play about South African Women’s Activism
2019, leading up to a national election, has had an unwelcoming beginning for non-nationals living in South Africa. Government officials in various departments have made streams of accusatory comments against them. People not born in but who consider their current home South Africa have fallen victim to blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement. This is an opportunist strategy by officials who fail to recognise the historical feature of migration in building the country they attempt to govern.
Migration from the SADC region has featured in South African history from the 1800’s, making black African migrants an intricate part of South Africa’s social, economic and political life. A country that has been built and relied on migrant laborers is being seen to turn its back on the lives of many people who consider this place part of their understood home. Changes in migratory patterns have occurred post-1994, with migrants coming from further north on the continent, however these numbers are far fewer than the exaggerated figures described by officials.
A Product of Capitalist Modernity
There have been many attempts to explain the phenomenon of ISIS and its appeal to thousands of young people, especially considering the brutality of the organization’s methods. Many came to the conclusion that those who live under ISIS often serve the group because of fear or economic rewards. But clearly thousands of people worldwide voluntarily joined the atrocious group not despite, but precisely because of its ability to commit the most unthinkable evils. It seems that it is not religion, but a cruel, merciless sense of power — even at the cost of death — radiating from ISIS that attracts people from across the globe to the extremist group.
Single-factor theories generally fail to consider the regional and international political, economic, social context that enables an anti-life doctrine like that of ISIS to emerge. We must acknowledge ISIS’ appeal to young men, deprived of the chance to be adequate, decent human beings, without justifying the group’s mind-blowing rapist, genocidal agenda or removing the agency and accountability of individuals who commit these crimes against humanity. It is crucial to contextualize the sense of instant gratification in the form of authoritarian power, money and sex that ISIS offers in a cancerous society under patriarchal capitalism, which renders life meaningless, empty and hopeless.
Twenty-five years into democracy the black working class majority in South Africa has not experienced any meaningful improvements in its conditions. The apartheid legacy of unequal education, healthcare and housing and the super-exploitation of black workers continues under the ANC and is perpetuated by the neoliberal policies it has imposed.
These troubles are part of the world’s troubles; this neoliberalism is part of global neoliberalism. As the global economic crisis deepens, the global ruling class is making the working class pay, transferring the costs to workers and the poor, leading to increased poverty, unemployment, inequality and insecurity. And so in South Africa neoliberal oppression is piled on top of national oppression.
The only force capable of changing this situation is the working class locally and internationally. Yet to do so, struggles need to come together, new forms of organisation appropriate to the context are needed; and they need both to be infused with a revolutionary progressive politics and to learn from the mistakes of the past.