Separated only by a few times zones, the American President, Donald Trump delivered his SOTU, State of the Union Address to Congress and the American people, back home, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa took turns to deliver his SONA, State Of The Nation Address to parliament and an eager South African public, hungry for some good news. Both speeches were well articulated, delivered with the right tone and inflection, with just the right language to titillate their respective audiences enough to be rewarded with plaudits from political hacks and Joe Citizen alike.
Whilst listening to them I couldn’t help but recall the scathing commentary of one, George Orwell, who said, ‘ political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind’. I asked myself why we keep believing in politicians knowing full well that most of their talks, speeches and political lexicon is steeped in misdirection, deflection, metaphor, exaggeration, half-truths, omissions and outright lies?
Surely I and most of the global population, knowing these truths should dismiss them and their utterances with the contempt it deserves, or is the renowned political commentator and sociologist, Dr DaShanne Stokes correct when he noted that, ‘lies sound like facts to those who’ve been conditioned to mis-recognise the truth’? How is it possible that we allow them to promise us goals that are imminently achievable to the average business person, but goals they consistently miss, underachieve or don’t bother about at all? Are we not like DaShanne is saying, using each annual SONA/SOTU address to kick-start yet another round of disappointments, in an endless cycle of lies, recriminations and eventually ending in exhausted forgiveness, only to repeat the cycle over and over?
With the biggest budgets (running into 10’s of trillions) of any corporation or entity private, civil or public at their disposal, these people don’t even meet with the minimum standards, measured against any minimum standard ever? Consider the example of Josef Stalin and the Soviet people during 1942 at the height of the most violent invasion of any country by an order of magnitude in pure human and material costs. The siege of Leningrad, formerly, St Petersburg was heading towards 900 hellish days for its desperate citizens. So relentlessly brutal and efficient was the German army that Russian losses amounted to 3.3 million POW, prisoner of war deaths out of a total of 5.7 million captured, and millions more slaughtered in the biggest killing fields in human history.
But resolve overcame bullets and steel and the Russian government and its people in the biggest migration ever, moved 10 million people to the hinterlands of the Ural Mountains, Kazakhstan and far off Siberia, and embarked on the largest renovation and rebuilding of their industrial base. Within 2-years they built 2000 factories and as many towns to house their people thus re-energising their war efforts. Put simply, it took the Soviets barely 2-years to transform themselves from a 19th century ‘backwater’ country, to a modern 20th century European power, a staggering achievement by any standard.
Both the American president, Donald Trump, and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa promised their electorates the revitalisation of their respective country’s economies. Both promised to create more jobs, retain existing ones and rebuild their industrial bases. In a word, both promised growth and prosperity for their nations, yet both have incurred massive debt instead. The one through harvesting middle-class taxes and rewarding the rich elite, the other by going out on an ‘investment drive’ to play catch-up on the so-called, Zuma’s ‘nine wasted years’ but instead has overburdened his country and future generations with close to a trillion rands in unwanted debt and counting?
So like the eternally abused bride of a well-known sadistic husband, we cry foul enough only to allow yet another politician to ‘spin our heads’ and mess with our minds having learned nothing, but hoping for a change of heart. The long assassinated African president of Burkina-Faso and leading Pan-Africanist intellectual, Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara so astutely observed, ‘Imperialism is a system of exploitation that occurs not only in the brutal form of those who come with guns to conquer territory. Imperialism often occurs in more subtle forms of a loan, food-aid and blackmail. We are fighting this system that allows a handful of men on earth to rule humanity’. Perhaps Sankara was also referring to the colonisation of our minds by the political class who are for all intents and purposes the imperialists of our word. None other than Adolf Hitler offers us a recipe into understanding the MO, modus operandi of the political class when he said, ‘make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it’…