Julius Malema is nothing if not good news fodder. I mean, the man is a magnet for controversy and most of us can’t get enough of his wacky antics. But we shouldn’t write him off as a buffoon. The baby-faced imp we know as Juju does occasionally raise relevant social and political points that deserve to be discussed in an intelligent manner. Unfortunately, it seems that intelligent debate is simply beyond Juju’s ken.
But in this post I am not interested in discussing the complexities of the world according to Julius. No. The thing that really gets me about motormouth Malema is that the man is an outrageous hypocrite – and that’s why I call him a ‘pig’.
Now, before his supporters get all hot and bothered, allow me to clarify: when I say that Juju is somewhat porcine in character, I don’t mean it in the typical sense (sorry to disappoint the cohort of rabid racists that frequent the Times discussion boards – you know who you are). Instead, I am referring to ‘pig’ in the Orwellian sense, as described in George Orwell’s classic novel, Animal Farm.
Animal Farm is probably the greatest political satire ever written. This parable (originally subtitled ‘a fairy story’) takes place on a farm where the animals/workers overthrow their human/capitalist rulers and take over the means of production for themselves. It was originally written in 1945 as a reaction against the dictatorial excesses of the Russian leader Joseph Stalin but it remains as trenchant today as it was when first published. In fact, it should be compulsory reading for every politician in the world.
Briefly, the story goes something like this…
Shortly before his death, an elderly boar named Old Major calls a meeting and encourages the animals to turn against the human ‘parasites’ who have been exploiting them for so many years. After Old Major passes on, two pigs named Napoleon and Snowball assume control of the farmyard and lead a revolt against the drunken and evil farmer, Mr. Jones.
Once Mr. Jones has been chased off the farm, the animals establish a collective and draw up several ‘commandments’ that will form the basis of their new society. These egalitarian principles are supposed to be sacrosanct but Napoleon soon becomes greedy and ambitious. So, he manipulates the animals and modifies the rules with sly elisions to suit his selfish purposes.
Thus, Napoleon and his thuggish cohorts start creaming off the best produce for themselves and reduce the workers’ food supplies. The ruling elite then move into the farmer’s house, sleep in his bed, wear his clothes and drink his alcohol – all in direct contravention of the original commandments. Napoleon even starts doing business with the neighbouring humans and conspires to eliminate his critics, such as the idealistic Snowball.
Eventually, Napoleon is sitting at the head of what is effectively a police state and the fundamental rule that ‘all animals are equal’ has been corrupted to read ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’. The dream of creating a true Animal Farm is thus shattered and the workers find themselves under the thumb of a new ruler who is even worse than Farmer Jones.
And that’s why I think that Julius Malema is exactly like Napoleon the pig. Simply put, he thinks that the rules don’t apply to him.
Consider this: Juju’s rabble rousing rhetoric has earned him considerable support among the working classes and yet he does not embody any of the principles for which he is supposed to stand.
For example, he has publicly condemned the ruling elite’s wine-and-whiskey brigade but he lives a lavish lifestyle filled with expensive cars, large houses and extravagant parties (at least according to recent newspaper reports).
He has also lashed out at any critics who do not agree with his pronouncements, and yet he is indignant about anyone who dares to criticise his own behaviour.
Additionally, Juju standard response to any debate is to accuse his opponents of racism. However, he is the first person to rail against the white people for their manifold deficiencies.
It is this hypocrisy that has elevated Juju from the role of ‘entertaining blowhard’ into the realm of ‘genuinely dangerous’. Anyone who is capable of such comprehensive self-deception should be viewed as a threat to freedom and democracy – just look at Mugabe.
So, while his supporters continue to stand behind Malema, Juju’s enemies wait in eager anticipation for his downfall. And this could well happen quite soon. Juju has made some powerful enemies with his polarising comments and it will be interesting to see if he will be able to shift allegiance after his master, President Zuma, falls from grace (which now seems to be rather likely).
Nevertheless, Malema is a canny politician and he might well endure. This worries me because Julius is exactly the kind of leader we don’t need. He is arrogant, intolerant and irrational. More importantly, as I mentioned above, he is a blatant hypocrite who believes that he is ‘more equal’ that many other citizens of South Africa. And that kind of hubris doesn’t bode well for any of us. IMHO.
[Originally posted 22/02/2010]