Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Anyone who is even slightly awake will have noticed that it is the social activist element in any society that shapes its evolution. In the nature of things this element is only a small proportion of any society; the remainder of a society only becomes actively concerned when the activities of the activists impact upon them in a way that they experience as negative to their interests.

We here, for example, are living in a society that was brought into being in 1994 by anti-Apartheid activists. This does not mean that these activists were not in evidence before that time; they were of course, but that in 1994 they were finally given legitimate access to our society’s levers of power through an openly conducted democratic election. This would not have happened to them had they not been active long, long before 1994.

But activists are not all the same. I am sure that activists can be categorised in all sorts of ways but the categorisation that I want to draw my readers’ attention to is, the categorisation of activists according to their degree of genuine social concern. As I see it there are basically two categories of interest here.

There are those social activists who are genuinely concerned about the members of the broader society and how they will be impacted upon by what the activists are proposing, and ultimately doing, and how they, these members of the broader society, will experience and feel about this.

Then there is the other category of activists who are not really concerned about anybody outside of themselves, perhaps this might extend out at least to some of their fellow activists but no further.

In the interests of everybody in a society it is members of the first category of activists that the majority, and generally non-activist members, of that society would like to give access to the levers of societal power. They certainly do not want to give this access to members of the other category of activists because they are only self serving.

Unfortunately because of the rewards, potential and actual, available to those who gain access to the levers of social power activists from both these categories seek to win this access. It is incumbent, therefore, on the non-activist members of society to do everything within their means to ensure that the second category of activists is weeded out before they can gain access to the levers of power.

Zimbabwe is a good illustration of what happens to a society when activists belonging to the second category gain ascendancy.

Weeding out second category activists is not easy to do, particularly where they have been involved in a liberation struggle such as here in South Africa and in Zimbabwe. In addition the rhetoric that they use in promoting their causes, but actually their own interests, is much the same as that used by the first category activists. A much greater awareness and understanding of the subtleties of human nature is required if the non-activist members of a society are not to be duped when electing people to positions of power within that society.

Thus over the years it has been recognised that all the members of a state, and thus activists and non-activists alike, need the entrenchment of the separation of powers within that state, i.e. the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. This is in order for ordinary citizens to be able to use the legal system to keep activists of the second category in check should they gain access to the levers of state power.

This does not suit second category activists at all so one of the things that they soon strive to do in pursuit of their personal objectives is to endeavour to corrupt and if possible to disable the legal and justice systems in areas where, in execution of their mandates, these systems could adversely effect them. This is what happened in Zimbabwe and it appears to be happening here with the determined efforts of the now ruling clique in the ANC to close down the Scorpions. After this they will probably turn their attention to interfering in the functioning of the judiciary.

The press can also be a thorn in the flesh of second category activists. Thus already the new ruling clique in the ANC is turning its efforts towards increasing government control of the press. The same happened in Zimbabwe.

In essence second category activists assume that their personal interests are indistinguishable from those of the society in which they are personally embedded and thus when their personal interests conflict with the institutions needed to look after the interests of all the citizens then it is not their interests that need to be questioned it is rather these institutions that must be brought under their control or closed.

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