South African Skeptics

The Elephant in the Room

Offline brianvds

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I have long wanted to write this post, and have long been reluctant to do so, for reasons that will become obvious. My trigger here is the mini-discussion in the Shoutbox about SA's educational standards.

Well, I have been a math and science teacher myself, and I can tell you why the standards have dropped so low: it's the only way these poor darlings will stand any chance  at all to pass matric (and even so, they mostly fail or scrape through!) That question in which they have to use a ruler to measure a line on the paper is actually quite appropriate, because in my personal experience, a very large percentage of South Africans can not, in fact, use a ruler to measure anything. Or use one to draw a straight line, for that matter. Ask them to draw, say, a grid on a piece of paper, with cells of 1 cm square each? I bet you the bulk of our matriculants will not be able to do it. Some years ago I bought a piece of hardboard from a hardware store to use for art; I asked them to cut it exactly in half. The technician couldn't do it: he didn't know how to divide the piece of board into two sections of equal size. Ask the average South African matriculant to follow written instructions, and he cannot do it. Ask him to write a note in such a way that someone else can understand what he wrote, and he cannot do it. Ask him to neatly draw and cut some shapes out of a piece of paper with a pair of scissors, and he cannot do it either - our average matriculant can, quite literally, not pass a kindergarten test of basic skills.

It's not just STEM stuff either. Nowadays I give weekly art lessons at a local private school, and I see the same thing: fine motor skills years behind where they should be at the pupils' age, a total inability to focus, a virtual absence of the most basic decent manners or ambition or willingness to work, a complete, utter, total lack of self-confidence. It's our national matric results disaster already in the making, at primary school level.

And now for the promised elephant in this room, that nobody wants to talk about because doing so might actually earn you a prison sentence in this country. The above mentally deficient folks all have this in common: they're all black South Africans. There, I've said it. It is not that South Africans are stupid and incompetent. It's black South Africans that are stupid and incompetent.

I can forgive the reader if he now jumps to the conclusion that I must be a racist. But no, read on! Read my above paragraph carefully: I did not say blacks. Or Africans. I said, specifically, black South Africans. And I say this because every time I meet one of the many immigrants from the rest of Africa that we have here, I am struck by their intelligence, competence, literacy, knowledge, quiet confidence and industriousness. Quite frankly, they make most white South Africans look rather average by comparison. They make black South Africans look like freaking imbeciles. Remember that hardware store technicians I mentioned above? I have noticed that in the local hardware stores they nowadays mostly employ immigrants from up north: these folks have no problem at all with doing mental arithmetic, or measuring things, or neatly cutting them.

The guy who does the plumbing here where I live is an immigrant from Zimbabwe. When he started out on a few years ago, he worked alone and carried his tools by hand. Now he owns a vehicle and runs a small company, employing several people. Now go to any high school in Mamelodi, take a look at their matric classes, and ask yourself how many of those kids could even begin to duplicate this feat. For that matter, how many lily-white matriculants in Waterkloof High could do it?

So no. Whatever the Dan Roodts of this world will have us know, it has zilch to do with race as such. There is something in the culture of South Africans, but specifically black South Africans, that is sabotaging our entire future. I have some ideas as to what it is, but I'd like to get some input from other members here (particularly black ones, if we have any).

We're on a sinking ship, and I am tired of rearranging the deck chairs while trying my best to ignore the obvious. Well, who knows: perhaps I'll be arrested next week and publicly crucified, and we can go on pretending like we cannot see what is right in front of our eyes.

What say you?


Offline Mefiante

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A sobering and simultaneously frightening piece, Brian.

Two thoughts:
(1) Regarding the apparently superior capabilities of black immigrants in SA, it should be borne in mind that there’s a filtering bias inherent in the situation.  The people that immigrate into SA from elsewhere in Africa typically hope to improve their lot in life, and clearly have the personal drive to do so.  Thus, they already have an edge on our locals in terms of potentially realising success by way of their ambition and the motivation to do what’s needed.  It might be a fairer comparison to look at the local success and local competency rates between SA and, say, Nigeria with due regard for the factors that promote and/or impede success.

(2) Over the past 25 years, the ANC government has actively bred a culture of dependency in SA.  Each month, almost 17-million social grants are paid out among a population of around 55-million, where the nominal income tax base numbers 21-million taxpayers but only 6.4-million exceed the tax threshold.  On the surface, all those social grants look like a laudable initiative; and indeed it’s hard to argue that the principal idea behind them—i.e., to assist people in dire straits—is not an admirably humane one.

However, as with most everything the ANC government touches, the implementation is an abysmal cesspit.  For one thing, there’s the patently false assumption that the situation of social grant recipients is for the most part temporary because the meagreness of the grant amounts will prompt them to seek more gainful work, at which point the grant will fall away.  Almost two decades’ history puts paid to any illusions on that front.

For another, grant recipients aren’t expected to deliver any quid pro quo whatsoever for the money they are given.  Where are the menial work programmes the government could have implemented to avoid inculcating the expectation that money will be dispensed for no reciprocal effort and in perpetuity?  Even just a few hours of simple unskilled work a week could have two major benefits.  First, basic skills training and/or further education for the neediest would be eminently easy to integrate into such programmes, and second, they would shoo away the paternalistically stultifying idea that the state will just hand out freebies with no questions asked.

I use the example of social grants as the most glaring example of how the ANC government has failed the SAn people, and also because they have a more sinister political side, namely they are—unofficially, of course—wielded as a cudgel to keep people voting for the ANC, despite its manifold, manifest failures.  Several other examples where the government deliberately fosters and nurtures the public’s dependency on its purported magnanimity are not hard to find.

And this culture of dependency is diabolically insidious for the simple reason that it very quickly becomes self-sustaining:  Keep foisting it on the people to the point where their capabilities are so diminished that they can’t help themselves anymore because they don’t know any different.

The gist of it is that this country’s future has been sold down the river on the back of political expediency, and I, too, doubt that it can be fixed.

'Luthon64
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Offline brianvds

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(1) Regarding the apparently superior capabilities of black immigrants in SA, it should be borne in mind that there’s a filtering bias inherent in the situation.

Yes, it did occur to me, and I'm sure it plays a role, as indeed it probably in all immigration. It's likely been part of the U.S.' huge success.

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(2) Over the past 25 years, the ANC government has actively bred a culture of dependency in SA.

And yes again. You are certainly correct in all the points you made with regard to this. But it seems to me the problem is even bigger and deeper. I can't quite put my finger on it. But the kids I taught were after all not the children of welfare recipients; they were all middle class kids whose parents could afford the private schools at which I taught. They too displayed this learned helplessness.

I did learn that parental involvement or lack of it plays a big role in whether kids progress at school or not. I don't know if that is all there is to it. But there is something profoundly wrong in our society, and it seems to me this rabbit hole is even deeper than we think.

Hopefully some other members will share their thoughts, if they have not already completely given up on the situation.

On another forum I am currently battling it out over the issue of "cultural appropriation." Will it never end, one wonders...



Offline BoogieMonster

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I have travelled elsewhere in Africa and can only say while I saw poverty that would make the poorest of South Africans blush. The kind of shit that is literally killing people out of starvation. I saw cleaner streets, friendlier hardier better people with more self respect and dignity than you're likely to ever find in places like Alex... a squatter camp arguably built on some of the most valuable real estate in all of Africa. It is eye opening.

So no, I don't think it's just a filter. It occurred to me that maybe when people have seen real war, real genocide, real violent oppression even... that their sense of perspective and their drive to create a better world is sharpened. When they starve, nobody comes around in a limo throwing money at them. They just starve.

I'm reminded once again (because in this country I am almost daily) of a quote by Milton Friedman that actually predicts this kind of thing...

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Category IV [BM: iow welfare] spending tends also to corrupt the people involved. All such programs put some people in a position to decide what is good for other people. The effect is to instill in the one group a feeling of almost God-like power; in the other, a feeling of childlike dependence. The capacity of the beneficiaries for independence, for making their own decisions, atrophies through disuse. In addition to the waste of money, in addition to the failure to achieve the intended objectives, the end result is to rot the moral fabric that holds a decent society together

I have long felt that what you're seeing here is not just ineptitude by the ANC government. I think it goes far, FAR deeper than that. I think these are the INEVITABLE results of socialism and it's underlying philosophical drivers. When you concentrate power, this is what happens. You can draw a line from A to B to C to D. It all falls into place and most annoyingly these are the very things rich entitled western socialists will claim ARE NOT TRUE. But, to me, everything Mefi says reads to me as a script of what one (fucking halfway literate and logical person, you'd hope) would EXPECT to happen. I don't think the system results from it's evil overlords. I think those evil overlords are created and allowed to flourish because the system (or, put another way, the philosophical machinations that create the system) is predisposed to this and the twentieth century is littered with bodies across the entire planet as proof, and yet people STILL don't believe it.

That drives me bonkers. I don't get it. You wanna take some people and shake them. But, it is in vain, the powers that be abuse the bleeding heart to enact slow brutal violence.

This is but one side effect, and it's fucking brutal if you pardon my french.

If only 7% of matriculants can pass a gr 2 (imho) basic math test if they have 2 YEARS to prepare for it. I dunno how you even begin to turn that around. I mean I'd almost expect better numbers from dolphins. Ramamparra wants to build high tech cellphone factories and wax lyrical about the 4th industrial revolution, when we've regressed back past the 1st in the wrong direction.

There are only two ways to interpret that: It's a deliberate lie or delusion run amok.
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline brianvds

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I once temporarily taught at a school in Pretoria's city centre. The principal and owner was one Mrs. Malema, which perhaps should tell you all you need to know. :-)

Anyway, the school was a veritable stereotype of inner city decay. First day I walked into a classroom: desks and chairs strewn everywhere, kids sitting around on the floor, on the desks, standing in little groups chatting. In one little huddled group, some were gambling with dice. And on the one wall, the word FUCK written in chalk.

I had my work cut out for me. It was impossible to get them to do any work at all, so eventually I just chatted with them about life, the universe and everything. I was genuinely curious: why don't they pay any attention to their school work? They told me quite seriously that soon the EFF would be in power, after which they would all receive a house and a car, and thus, they did not need to do any work. I later found out that the reason why the school needed me so urgently was because the previous teacher left, after one of the pupils had brutally assaulted her. Apparently Mrs. Malema actually laughed about the whole incident.

All pretty shocking, and perhaps an inevitable outcome of poverty? But here's the curious thing: these kids were not poor. They all came from middle class background, living more privileged lives than most other people on this continent. They all had cell phones more expensive than anything I could ever afford. They were all dressed in the latest fashion.

What I did notice among them was not so much financial poverty, as a sort of poverty of spirit. They may have been middle class financially, but they were also clearly low class scum. Supporting political policies that will dump them straight back into the poverty in which their parents probably grew up.

It's not just the politicians: half of this country's people seem to be living in a fantasy world of their own creation, in which, if they just hang in there and support the right politicians, they will soon enjoy the high life without ever having to work at all.

I saw that illustrated in another school. I asked the kids about what they wanted to do as careers. Almost all of them had rather unrealistic expectations of being doctors and lawyers and engineers and so on; unrealistic given that even at primary school level, they were barely scraping through, or failing and just being put through.

But one kid's answer struck me as particularly instructive. He wanted to be a businessman, he told me. Ah, I said. Buying and selling things; there's a future in that. He was shocked and scandalized by my complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a businessman. No, he said. That's not it at all. He's going to sit at his desk with his feet up, while the secretary brings him coffee.

Another middle class kid. This one admittedly still in primary school, where one cannot expect too much of a realistic worldview. Him and his brother both quite intelligent, and both barely scraping through because neither was actually interested in anything at all, or had any real ambition, or any sense of personal pride.

At the time I was science teacher, and tried hard to make things a bit more interesting than the boring crap in the textbooks. To no avail: these kids were interested in nothing at all. One day I put life, limb and career on the line, and prepared a batch of gunpowder in class. Half of the class listlessly stared into the middle distance as it spectacularly burned. The other half did what they always did: used it as opportunity for a quick bit of mayhem.

I got political, and explained to them that this unassuming black powder was a significant reason why politics in South Africa turned out the way it did, and indeed, it played a major role in world politics. Alas, no reaction, no interest. Poverty of spirit.

You do not see this in Africans anywhere else. You see it in some white kids, but not many. It's a black South African thing. And, judged by what I read, strangely enough also a black American thing.

I don't know what causes it or how to address it. But at the moment, we are not anywhere near addressing it, because all our leaders are still firmly stuck in the denial phase.


Offline Tweefo

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I think you are correct Brian. On Monday, for instance, I worked at a primary school in Soshanguve. All morning I could hear the other kids outside. Not much learning was happening and no control in the few classes where there were teachers. Just no ambition. Some learners only arrived at the school at 9 o'clock. Seems like they were only there for the midday meal.
If you don't agree with me you are obviously not from this planet.


Offline brianvds

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I think you are correct Brian. On Monday, for instance, I worked at a primary school in Soshanguve. All morning I could hear the other kids outside. Not much learning was happening and no control in the few classes where there were teachers. Just no ambition. Some learners only arrived at the school at 9 o'clock. Seems like they were only there for the midday meal.

And I cannot imagine that you experienced much satisfaction from the show either. I once had an astronomy evening at the school where I worked. Another exercise in frustration. I very well remember the first time I looked at the moon through a small telescope; the moment is seared into my memory, and I burst into goose bumps all over again just thinking of it. Not so with these kids. Half of them were not even particularly interested in looking through the scope; the ones who did showed little reaction of any kind.

Well, we can all spend weeks and months enumerating examples. There is something catastrophically wrong with the collective psyche of black South Africa. I hate saying this out loud, because all ye heavens know, I am not a racist. As far as I can work out, there simply aren't any significant genetic differences between various races, and indeed, even the traditional concept of race is scientifically dodgy.

But the question is then: what the hell is going on here? And how do I, as white South African, deal with this? I am going through one of those phases where I think that if the Netherlands offered me citizenship, I would be on the first available plane out, with nothing more than the freaking clothes on my back. Well, it isn't an option, and I'm not sure that even if it were, it would actually be the best thing to do. South Africa has its perks. But for how much longer?

What is it that white South Africans are doing, that is making us more successful than even during the privileged apartheid era, that black South Africans are not doing?

My brother rather perceptively noted once that white South Africans are now, in a sense, the 19th century Jews of South Africa. As was the case in Europe then, there are whole reams of laws designed to keep us in our place: we are mostly excluded from the civil service, we are for all practical purposes mostly excluded from a whole list of both high level and menial jobs (when last have you seen a white waiter at Wimpy?), we are taxed to smithereens, and generally made to feel like unwelcome guests in the country of our birth.

Result of all this: whites are now richer than they were during apartheid, and the gap between white and black has grown. Among blacks I can sense a building frustration at this: how is it that despite all these laws to keep us down, we are flourishing? We must be cheating somehow. White monopoly capital at work! These evil monsters are hiding a pot of gold under their beds and won't share!

It never occurs to them that 19th century Jews, and 21st century white South Africans, were/are so successful because of the laws, rather than despite them. It is also, in fact, why Africans in the rest of the continent are often so successful: they don't have discriminatory laws against them, but they frequently have circumstances that achieve the same effect.

In any event, all the talk will do us little good, and I once again wonder: what am I to do? I am still relatively young. But I feel like an increasingly unwelcome stranger in my own land, and the thought of living several more decades under such conditions of perpetual paranoia and stress depresses me. I also feel like a rat in a cage that is slowly being submerged in water. I helplessly see myself drowning very soon, and there is no way out. "Go back to Europe," says Malema's followers. As if that is a realistic option.

I saw a quite perceptive article on Vrye Weekblad some weeks ago, in which the writer argues that we are making a mistake to angrily argue that we are Africans. We should actually accept, and publicly admit, that we are European immigrants, even if we were born here. His argument is that being an immigrant does not automatically have to mean that you are unwelcome. It is fairly widely accepted that immigration enriches countries, both financially and culturally. And thus, instead of trying to be Africans, we should freely proclaim that we are European immigrants, and we bring to Africa European skills, ways of thinking, and culture. This will enrich Africa, just as African immigrants to Europe or America enrich those countries.

Now he makes a point. Fact is, our culture is, almost in its entirety, European. Even though we were born here. We never really "assimilated," and from my own point of view, heavens forbid that I ever do. I freaking LIKE my European culture and way of thinking. I don't believe that lightning is caused by black magic, and I never will. I reject the notion of lobola, because I don't conceive of daughters as property to be bought and sold. Etc. etc. I'll never fit into that sort of cultural milieu, and thus, if I am to stay here, I'll have to keep on practicing my own European culture, pretty much as immigrants everywhere retain much of their own culture (that is the whole source of the cultural enrichment that they bring - their cultures are something different from what is already there).

But the fact remains: I feel ever more unwelcome. The people here don't want what I have to offer. I too am considered to be a job-stealing immigrant (hence laws to keep me out of some jobs). And currently, I hate the bloody weather: I don't deal well with drought conditions.

So where does this leave us? Do we try to integrate? Do we hold on to our ever shrinking European enclaves? Or do we start a huge movement to relocate all European-Africans "back" to Europe, as more and more black South Africans seem to want us to do? I don't really see that last option ever happening anyway, and I find myself wondering what we are to do, us unwelcome guests who don't actually have any other home to return to.


Offline Mefiante

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They told me quite seriously that soon the EFF would be in power, after which they would all receive a house and a car, and thus, they did not need to do any work.
and
It's not just the politicians: half of this country's people seem to be living in a fantasy world of their own creation, in which, if they just hang in there and support the right politicians, they will soon enjoy the high life without ever having to work at all.
and
But one kid's answer struck me as particularly instructive. He wanted to be a businessman, he told me. Ah, I said. Buying and selling things; there's a future in that. He was shocked and scandalized by my complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a businessman. No, he said. That's not it at all. He's going to sit at his desk with his feet up, while the secretary brings him coffee.
To my mind, these are all unambiguous clarion expressions of a glaring culture of dependency, an expectation of free handouts:  “We’ll just sit around listlessly and aimlessly, hoping for some authority to come along and fill our wants and needs.”  Even while I’m also at a complete loss as to how it could be fixed, I want to attempt understanding its origin.

This culture is evident in the very young already, which strongly suggests it’s a culturally transmitted and perpetuated holdover, quite possible from as far back as the times of feudal tribalism when the average Sipho and Thandi had virtually no personal autonomy, and they did what they were told when they were told to do it by the tribal chief and the elders.  Now the chiefs and elders are largely gone, at least in urban settings.  That particular social arrangement may have been an optimal one in the prevailing southern African conditions (semi-arid subtropical habitat; predators; relatively easy gathering of food), but it’s obviously antithetical to a modern urban existence.

Sociologists will no doubt decry any ideas that intimate there’s something wrong with the attitudes and mindsets of the people in such situations, and instead wax lyrical about the “poverty trap”—which oddly enough, people elsewhere across the globe manage to work their way out of with perhaps surprising frequency (the proportion of the world’s poorest is steadily declining).  And at the risk of having the misshapen “white privilege” finger pointed my way, when my parents first arrived in SA as European immigrants, three very young kids in tow, they had a total living space of about 25 m² and cooked on a cheap iron held upside-down between two bricks.  My parents not only didn’t just wait for stuff to fall in their laps, they actively sought out opportunities and even created a few from scratch along the way.  I’m sure other forum members have similar stories to tell, and I mention it purely as a possible reason why the prevalent lethargy and apathy seems such an impenetrable, incomprehensible, baffling mystery to us:  We simply cannot relate to it at all because it lies entirely outside of our experiential range.  And this cultural chasm can do little else besides breed feelings of alienation and frustration on both sides of the divide.

But at the moment, we are not anywhere near addressing it, because all our leaders are still firmly stuck in the denial phase.
On that point, I think we can all wholeheartedly agree.

'Luthon64
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Offline brianvds

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This culture is evident in the very young already, which strongly suggests it’s a culturally transmitted and perpetuated holdover, quite possible from as far back as the times of feudal tribalism when the average Sipho and Thandi had virtually no personal autonomy, and they did what they were told when they were told to do it by the tribal chief and the elders.  Now the chiefs and elders are largely gone, at least in urban settings.  That particular social arrangement may have been an optimal one in the prevailing southern African conditions (semi-arid subtropical habitat; predators; relatively easy gathering of food), but it’s obviously antithetical to a modern urban existence.

Yes, traditional cultures tend to be collectivist, with a chieftain deciding who gets what and when. To some extent, the Afrikaner colonists exploited this by taking the place of the chieftain. I grew up in the countryside, and out there the black workers never did anything at all without the white baas telling them. If they needed anything, they went to the baas to ask for it. And thus, to some extent we ourselves helped to create this culture of dependence.

But we now have a problem that runs far deeper. Let me illustrate by once again referring back to the inner city school where I taught (I think I learned far more there than I manage to teach!). One of the things that struck me after a while: when I listened to the kids talking among themselves, it did not sound to me like they were speaking any of South Africa's official languages. They spoke a weird hodgepodge of Sotho, Nguni, English, Afrikaans and other bits and pieces thrown in there, snatches of Americanisms no doubt seen on TV and in movies and who knows what else. A sort of amorphous Tsotsitaal that linguists have yet to study.

It struck me: these kids do not actually have a mother tongue. And along with it, while they may have cultural holdovers like learned helplessness, they actually lack any clearly defined cultural identity. Which in turn means this: they have no values. Their entire attitude spoke of nihilism, and this explains both their aimlessness and the extreme violence of crime in South Africa.

Thabo Mbeki's Pan-Africanist nationalism is one more of his fantasy projects that is now colliding with reality. There's no such thing as "African culture." Those who claim to be "Black Africans" in fact have no culture at all.

I have come to see that a cultural identity is important. Also, "white South African" is an actual culture to a larger extent than "Black South African", because we are descended from Europeans, and European culture, throughout Europe, displays commonalities that vastly outweigh the differences (it seems to have taken them centuries of warfare to realize this!). Yes, there are differences, particularly perhaps between north and south, but for centuries in the past, they had Latin as common lingua franca, they were all some brand of Christian (and even the atheists were "cultural Christians"), they share a science and technology, shared all the major yearly feast days, and in large areas of Europe kids grew up with variations of the same folk and fairy tales.

Now ask those inner city kids: what do you believe in? What language do you speak? What stories did you grow up with? They have no answers to such questions. Once again, the poverty of spirit that I talked about before.

Paradoxically, from what I read, the worst crime in South Africa does not happen in the poorest areas, because these areas are mostly the rural areas where there are still traditional family and tribal structures: young folks there know full well that if you do wrong, dad and grandma will rip your arm off and stuff it down your throat. Our worst crimes, and serial killers, and perpetual political agitators with no clear policy statements, are all found in the cities. They have no real goals, no culture, no values, not even a frickin' actual language. No wonder things go the way they go.

I have long thought it might actually be a good idea for, say, Zulus to start something like Voortrekkers or Scouts, but for Zulu-speaking kids, in which they learn something of their own cultural traditions and values, and how to speak their language properly. Same with other ethnic groups. Of course, ethnic pride is a double-edged sword, because it can easily morph into jingoism and supremacist ideology, which can end in disaster. Still, there does not seem to be such a thing as an "ethnic South African," or a general South African culture, shared by everyone. How can kids be expected to become responsible adults when they grow up without identity or values?

Anyway, it's not like they'll listen to me; what I say here perhaps sounds too much like apartheid. But for my fellow white South Africans, my advice is this: stop pretending to be an African, and embrace your European roots. This is in fact what white South Africans do, by and large, and the results are clearly visible for all to see (it is noteworthy that in those cases where white kids grow up without culture or values, they rapidly descend into exactly the same uselessness and nihilism as we see among so many blacks).

Quote
Sociologists will no doubt decry any ideas that intimate there’s something wrong with the attitudes and mindsets of the people in such situations, and instead wax lyrical about the “poverty trap”—which oddly enough, people elsewhere across the globe manage to work their way out of with perhaps surprising frequency (the proportion of the world’s poorest is steadily declining).  And at the risk of having the misshapen “white privilege” finger pointed my way, when my parents first arrived in SA as European immigrants, three very young kids in tow, they had a total living space of about 25 m² and cooked on a cheap iron held upside-down between two bricks.  My parents not only didn’t just wait for stuff to fall in their laps, they actively sought out opportunities and even created a few from scratch along the way.  I’m sure other forum members have similar stories to tell, and I mention it purely as a possible reason why the prevalent lethargy and apathy seems such an impenetrable, incomprehensible, baffling mystery to us:  We simply cannot relate to it at all because it lies entirely outside of our experiential range.  And this cultural chasm can do little else besides breed feelings of alienation and frustration on both sides of the divide.

Indeed. I saw some stats the other day that made my jaw drop: around 1970, the majority of African countries had larger economies than that of China. Yes, places like Kenya. Had a larger frickin economy than China. China was one of the poorest, least developed, most downtrodden hell holes on earth.

Now look at where we are now. How did the Chinese do this? What is it that they did differently? Clearly, whatever they did, they did something right. And clearly, national culture plays a huge role. In the case of China, of course, their sheer work ethic played a big role, as well as what one might call national discipline: they simply do not tolerate people running amok and causing mayhem. And I can bet you my front teeth, in Chinese schools there is discipline. (One of the things we need in this country to turn the thing around is not just discipline at schools, but absolutely monstrous, draconian, military-style discipline. Of course, that is also politically incorrect, so it's not going to happen.)

Of course, one saw the same thing in post-war Japan and Germany, both countries with a strong sense of national identity. In principle, we should have been able to pull off the same trick. After all, the current bunch did not actually inherit from apartheid South Africa. They inherited from Mandela, and he handed them a stable country with a growing economy and falling crime rates. Now they want to blame apartheid, and White Monopoly Capital, and colonialism, and who knows what else - in short, anything and anyone but themselves.

But once again, I have come to see that there is no point to me solving this problem, because it's not like Black South Africa is going to pay any attention to what an unwelcome immigrant has to say. They're going to have to bump their heads and learn. The problem is of course that I cannot really escape the big bumping process, though I am currently trying to devise ways to divorce my personal finances from the South African economy; that might help in the event of a big meltdown.



Offline BoogieMonster

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This is the most damning graph, of any kind, I've seen in years. WOW



SOURCE.
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline brianvds

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This is the most damning graph, of any kind, I've seen in years. WOW



SOURCE.

I would assume this is because of the lowering of standards in black schools? I.e. they hardly have to be literate to get a matric, and then go down in flames at university level?

Of course, standards in white schools have been similarly lowered; there is not actually such a thing anymore as a black school or a white school. If you're white and you fail, they are every bit as willing to simply put you through.

The difference is that black folks make use of the lowered school standards by accordingly lowering their own standards. If the department of education decides you no longer have to attend school at all in order to get matric, and you merely have to go get your certificate at the department, there will be long lines of black youngsters standing in queues there to get their matric certificates. No doubt they'll even be proud of the certificates too. The lines will be curiously devoid of white or Asian kids; presumably some plot of white monopoly capital or something.

But to paraphrase Feynman, reality cannot be fooled. White folks apparently mostly know this (you see the ones who don't standing at traffic lights with placards begging for donations.) One gets the impression Zimbabweans also know this, as do Kenyans and whoever else north of the Limpopo river. It comes back to the same thing we have identified here: there is something profoundly self-destructive in the culture of black South Africans.


Offline BoogieMonster

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I don't read that brian. I read that SA's *poor citizens have been severely handicapped by SOMETHING since 1994. Pre 94 they were doing much better. That means it's not inherent, something has been changing.
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline brianvds

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I don't read that brian. I read that SA's *poor citizens have been severely handicapped by SOMETHING since 1994. Pre 94 they were doing much better. That means it's not inherent, something has been changing.

Well, it's a good question what it is. I suppose I'm not really qualified to take a guess.


Offline BoogieMonster

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I don't read that brian. I read that SA's *poor citizens have been severely handicapped by SOMETHING since 1994. Pre 94 they were doing much better. That means it's not inherent, something has been changing.
Well, it's a good question what it is. I suppose I'm not really qualified to take a guess.

I think, given that this is all about education, my point is it's ALL about education. Making you perhaps THE person to comment on it.

I'm merely pointing out that to say it's an inherent cultural flaw that cannot be corrected doesn't seem to hit the mark... as the numbers roughly tracked through the mid 80's and early 90's. The irony that graph shows me is that "subjugated second class citizens" seemed to, if you mind the pun, outclass people who had affirmative action, a new progressive government, extra bridging years, preferential hiring (and thus preferential bursaries)... and STILL the education was SO BAD that all these things could not compensate for it, and most damning: MADE IT WORSE.

This is STAGGERING to me, it makes my head spin. And I don't think you can lay the blame ANYWHERE but at the feet of our politicians: Through negligence or through sheer brainwashing with "daddy government will look after you". The tailspin here is a tangible outcome of tangible actions.
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline brianvds

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This is STAGGERING to me, it makes my head spin. And I don't think you can lay the blame ANYWHERE but at the feet of our politicians: Through negligence or through sheer brainwashing with "daddy government will look after you". The tailspin here is a tangible outcome of tangible actions.

Indeed. I would guess that there were far fewer black matriculants in 1985. Nowadays there are more, but they appear to be of lower quality. Not too clear what can be done about it. Or rather, there is plenty that one can try out, but none of it is politically feasible.

Our politicians are indeed a horror show. It's true, perhaps, that in a democracy you get the government you deserve. But I'm not sure how this can really be changed. Suppose the DA wins the next election. Will things really actually change? A DA that has grown large enough to win an election is a DA that will reflect South Africa's population, just as the ANC does at the moment.

On Quora I got dragged into a mini-debate with a black South African who was fuming and foaming about unemployment and the gap between black and white and so on. All the problems he noted, every last one of them, are a direct result of the policies of the (mostly black) government. I pointed this out to him, and asked him just what exactly it is he wants white people, politically completely powerless, to do about it. He never replied, and why do I have this feeling it was not because he decided to concede the point? So now he is sitting somewhere, still fuming, and hating me even more.

It used to be that I was very opposed to dividing up South Africa's population into "us" and "them." The problem is, I myself keep on hearing from prominent politicians that I am "them." I'm not really a real citizen. And the result is that I have now also started to think in such terms, so I find myself thinking that, quite frankly, the income and education gap are "their" problems, and they can damn well work out a solution.

Perhaps not the most productive approach, but I find myself suffering a bit from skunk fatigue - it's hard work being one. :-)

And perhaps they are even right. As I noted before, in a sense I really am an immigrant: my people never integrated. We never adopted the local languages as our own, we never accepted their culture, we never became Africans, and I for one never will. So perhaps they are right not to welcome me here. Alas, there's not a thing I can do about it, seeing as, somewhere over the past few centuries, I have managed to mislay my Dutch citizenship.

So I am not actually welcome anywhere. But instead of feeling suicidal, I am increasingly of the opinion that the entire planet can go freck itself. :-)


Offline brianvds

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Yesterday, I ran into an old acquaintance in the local mall. He tells me he is nowadays involved in farming, and so naturally, I wanted to know whether he doesn't have trouble with organized labour and government policy etc.

Nah, he said. They only employ Malawians. They have no trouble at all with them: they're well educated, intelligent, work hard and never complain. I asked him whether these were legal immigrants; he said no, not as far as he knows. He doesn't care; experience has taught him and all his neighbours that if you want any actual work done, you do not employ South Africans. His workers don't live on the farm itself, so if they ever get deported, he'll simply find new ones. There are plenty of people in this country who want to work. They just aren't South African, which gives a hollow ring to complaints that immigrants "steal jobs." They do jobs that South Africans refuse to do (and the list of jobs gets ever longer - South Africans increasingly refuse to do any work of any kind at all).

Another example of South Africa's current malaise: in my neighbourhood, there is a huge strike going on at the garbage collection company. Yup, in the middle of the worst unemployment crisis in the country's history, there are workers on strike.

The teachers' union doesn't want schools to reopen. Supposedly for safety's sake, but I get the distinct impression they actually just want to extend their current paid holiday indefinitely.

I think collapse has become pretty much inevitable now - the government's economic policy remains the same as it has been for years now: borrow money, steal as much of it as possible, and throw the remaining scraps to the voting cattle so they'll keep on voting "correctly." The people themselves are beginning to experience significant disappointment with the ANC, but instead of voting against the governing party, they now just stay away from the polls, refusing to vote for anyone else ("I don't vote DA because they're going to bring back apartheid."). And thus, the ANC will indeed govern until Jesus returns, with an ever-shrinking fraction of the actual support. That is one thing about democracy: if only three percent of voters vote, but they all vote ANC, then the ANC governs, even though it does not in fact have the support of the majority. But it seems South Africans do not understand democracy.

Well, they're about to get harsh lessons in it. I think it is now pretty much clear that the ANC cannot be reformed, whether Cyril wants to do so or not (and whether he actually really wants to is an open question). He has no further control; the party is rotten to the core, the kleptocracy out of control, and the only morally defensible thing any remaining decent ANC member can do is to resign party membership. There aren't really any other options left.

And thus, I think it is now only a question of time before the government defaults on its loans. Then there will be some sort of collapse, the exact form of which we can't really predict. It will not necessarily be a bad thing, painful as it will be in the short term.


Offline Rigil Kent

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But it seems South Africans do not understand democracy.
Evidently so. Democracy is wasted on South Africans, as is our material resources. And yes, we are pretty deep down the toilet.

Might as well get used to the idea of authoritarian capitalism in anticipation of our imminent sinicization.

 
You know it's cold outside when you go outside and it's cold.


Offline brianvds

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But it seems South Africans do not understand democracy.
Evidently so. Democracy is wasted on South Africans, as is our material resources. And yes, we are pretty deep down the toilet.

Might as well get used to the idea of authoritarian capitalism in anticipation of our imminent sinicization.

 

I'm not sure the Chinese will touch us with a ten-foot pole. I wouldn't.

The best we can hope for is, within an election or two, an Italy-like situation: one ineffectual (and corrupt, but hopefully not quite as corrupt as the ANC) coalition government after the other. South Africans are going to have to learn what the rest of Africa eventually did: the government cannot help you. You help yourself or you stay behind. In Africa, too much government tends to be a vastly bigger problem than too little.

Lots of white South Africans seem to have learned the lesson in the 1990s, and while my white friends complain non-stop about the government, none of them complain about not having access to Covid funds or government contracts or that sort of thing. They have already realized long ago that you simply cannot rely on the government for anything at all, and thus, you should not get yourself in a position of dependence on government.

Large numbers of black South Africans, on the other hand, got themselves into positions of total helplessness and dependence on government handouts. That party, meager as it was, is going to end soon.


Offline BoogieMonster

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Quote from: David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?

What I mean to say is: You can't change a million minds if you don't start by changing one.

People in SA probably are not well educated and are perhaps not entirely in contact with the realities of the situation. Maybe a bit derelict in their social duties... But, they're still people who can be informed, convinced, and can change their minds. I just have a hard time imagining who the hell they should support. Perhaps they feel likewise. Given their popularity I have a hard time figuring the death of the ANC won't be an enormous boon for the EFF IF those derelict voters did pitch up at the polls. Be careful what you wish for?

Perhaps SA needs some more conservative leaning "color neutral" party. The DA comes with some baggage. The FF+ comes with a lot of baggage. It's part of why I got excited about the ZACP.... I secretly hope they get their act together and run again, but more effectively.

I do think youtuber "Big Daddy Liberty" is on to something: He's taken to the road recently to travel South Africa's more derelict areas and preach the gospel of family, personal responsibility, capitalism, freedom, etc... to the people who've probably never heard about these things. That's a start. It's more than most white people have ever attempted to do. He's not exactly my cup of tea, but he's not "for me"... if that makes sense.

"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline brianvds

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People in SA probably are not well educated and are perhaps not entirely in contact with the realities of the situation. Maybe a bit derelict in their social duties... But, they're still people who can be informed, convinced, and can change their minds. I just have a hard time imagining who the hell they should support. Perhaps they feel likewise. Given their popularity I have a hard time figuring the death of the ANC won't be an enormous boon for the EFF IF those derelict voters did pitch up at the polls. Be careful what you wish for?

If collapse is inevitable, the EFF will hardly make it worse. What I fear is that SA will not learn until it has learned from harsh experience, just like most of the countries up north had to. They all tried exactly the same authoritarian Marxist experiment, over and over. It failed every single time. None of them learned from their neighbours, but after a few decades of devastation, they learned a great deal, and many of those countries are now fairly stable and have growing economies. It's beginning to look like we'ere going to have to go through the same process. 

Quote
Perhaps SA needs some more conservative leaning "color neutral" party. The DA comes with some baggage. The FF+ comes with a lot of baggage. It's part of why I got excited about the ZACP.... I secretly hope they get their act together and run again, but more effectively.

I think they ran a pretty effective campaign for a small party with almost no funds, but they started way too late. If they run again, I'll probably vote for them again.
Max du Preez has long wished for a new party consisting of the more sane and competent factions of both DA and ANC. That might also work. But I fear much of the problem lies in our entire national culture, not just our political parties.

Quote
I do think youtuber "Big Daddy Liberty" is on to something: He's taken to the road recently to travel South Africa's more derelict areas and preach the gospel of family, personal responsibility, capitalism, freedom, etc... to the people who've probably never heard about these things. That's a start. It's more than most white people have ever attempted to do. He's not exactly my cup of tea, but he's not "for me"... if that makes sense.

Well, good luck to him. :-)


Offline brianvds

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Nassim Taleb has some advice for those who keep on harping about colonialism; perhaps the same can be said about apartheid:



"...retrospective acrimony as an industry by itself..." I like that one. :-)



Offline Mefiante

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I don’t read the article as posing the question whether Cyril Ramaphosa will be out on his ear soon; instead, I think Grootes is deliberating about a change in how CR will govern going forward.  While a firmer handling of the reins of power may ultimately bring about his downfall in the ANC, the more immediate issue is whether his open letter to the ANC’s upper echelons marks a departure from his customary soft-pedalling, accommodationist style of not stirring up trouble within his party.

If my understanding is correct, I think CR will not sustain his sterner approach for very long before simply falling back into the old ways.  After all, the rot is deeper now than ever before and he stood idly by for years while the plundering, looting, and subversion of the state took place.  He had enough clout to see it all, to raise the alarm, and to take meaningful action, yet he did nothing other than mouth occasional placatory platitudes and remain silent for most of the rest of the time.  Furthermore, he’s been at the helm for near enough three years now and we haven’t seen any significant action being taken against anyone of stature.  NDPP head Shamila Batohi’s—a CR appointee, please note—handwringing pleadings about how eviscerated the NPA still is, is becoming tiresome and empty.  Action, not words.

I certainly hope I’ll be proved wrong on that score and that CR will actually maintain more fortified guts for the sake of SA, but I don’t think that’ll happen.  The state, including the judiciary, is too damaged for sudden bravery on the part of a few to make much difference.

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I think it is possible that CR is beginning to realize that his legacy, for all of history, is going to be one in which he stood at the head of a party corrupt to the core, and presided over fat cats quite literally stealing from the poor to enrich themselves. It's the kind of thing JZ was too stupid to care about; perhaps it is different with Ramaphosa. But I fear Mefiante is probably right: the entire party has become so rotten there is nothing more to do for any self-respecting member of it than to very publicly resign. I half hope Ramaphosa will do so, and then do a press conference in which he says, publicly and unambiguously, that he did so because his conscience would no longer allow him to stay on.

I won't be holding my breath. But I do think that in another election or two, the ANC might well lose its outright majority, and then we'll become the Italy of Africa, with a new, ineffectual (and probably corrupt) coalition government every year.


Offline Rigil Kent

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There is always room for more parties. Realising that the ANC is an irreparable mess, Cyril will spawn a new party which markets itself as exceedingly good and competent in every way that the ANC is not.

* wraps crystal ball in a red velvet cloth and returns it to its biscuit tin *
You know it's cold outside when you go outside and it's cold.


Offline brianvds

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There is always room for more parties. Realising that the ANC is an irreparable mess, Cyril will spawn a new party which markets itself as exceedingly good and competent in every way that the ANC is not.

* wraps crystal ball in a red velvet cloth and returns it to its biscuit tin *

Max du Preez has often expressed a wish for the saner part of the ANC and DA breaking away from their parties and forming a new one. Perhaps this will happen.

I can envision far worse scenarios than a series of ineffectual coalition governments, mind you. South Africa is ethnically and politically so diverse that it is perhaps actually the only realistic option for the medium term - the ANC's huge support was perhaps somewhat artificial.

I have also become more supportive of the idea (the idea, not necessarily the parties themselves!) of small ethnic and specialist parties like the VF+, Inkatha and Reverend Meshoe's Christian party. It shouldn't be a problem as long as it doesn't spiral into open ethnic hatred, and there is much to be said for a party that is very homogeneous and can therefore focus all its efforts on one particular part of the population. Such a party tends to also be more resilient against corruption, because it tends to lose all its support virtually overnight, at the slightest sign of scandal or corruption.

Our obsession with "unity" is nonsense. There has never been unity in South Africa and there never will be, and that might actually be a good thing. The ANC, and even more so Zimbabwe, has shown us what comes of unity. So bring on the bazillions of small parties to add to the general clamor, and hopefully prevent one single bunch of corrupt, psychopathic fat cats taking total power.

I suppose the Purple Cow still has my vote, if they run in the coming election. They seem to be the closest thing we have to the RP - the Rational Party. :-)

Incidentally, based on how busy the local mall is, the economy seems to be slowly getting back on track. Well, at least the mostly white middle class economy. And it's true, isn't it? - South Africa increasingly has two different economies. There is the middle class economy, which is a more or less normal economy, functioning like modern economies everywhere do (albeit very heavily parasitized). Then there is the economy of the poor, which produces nothing but gets injections in the form of social grants. A good percentage of it consists of illegal immigrants too, but they don't stay in it long because they work themselves up and out of it to join the middle class economy.

The middle class economy is fairly diverse, and as such also fairly resilient against shocks. I suppose it is too early to tell whether it will survive the Covid shock, but thus far the signs are not too bad, and if it does it will give one some confidence that it can survive almost anything (except, presumably, a communist government).

I don't know what will happen to the poor economy, and to be honest, I care ever less and less. They now mostly have themselves to blame - they have to firstly vote their beloved ANC out of power, and then, once we no longer have a government with a choke hold on the economy, start doing what all those "job-stealing" immigrants are doing, and start to take care of themselves. If they don't or won't, well, then I suppose their social grant will have to do.


Offline brianvds

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And in the latest news:

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-08-26-sa-reserve-bank-must-be-nationalised-without-compensation-to-end-white-capital-domination-argues-floyd-shivambu/

Now here's a question: suppose the SARB is nationalized. By Mr. Shivambu's own argument, that will be the end of "white monopoly capital." But what will he say five years later, when the poor are still as poor as ever (or poorer) and the gap between rich and poor even greater? Will he admit that it was after all not white monopoly capital that was the problem, or will he simply shift the goal posts? I wait with bated breath... :-)


Offline brianvds

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This is perhaps just peripherally related to this thread, but I'm too lazy to start a new one.

In a recent discussion on Quora, the topic was tolerance, more specifically, western European tolerance. I posted a comment that in my experience, the Europeans are not quite as tolerant as they seem. The thing is, they live in pretty homogeneous societies, with the result that their tolerance has actually never been tested. Now that bazillions of unassimilable immigrants are streaming into their countries, they are getting decidedly nervous.

I eventually got a very irate comment from a Dutch lady, who told me in no uncertain terms that they are in fact very, very tolerant, and not a bunch of racists like us. They have no problem at all with immigrants. The immigrants must just integrate, then they are completely welcome.

Of course, it is not at all unreasonable to expect of immigrants to integrate, but it kind of made my point. She started singing a different and more muted tune when I informed her that here in South Africa, there simply is no such thing is one, single norm to which anyone, whether an immigrant or a local, can integrate. We are confronted every single day by difference, sometimes radical difference. It requires stores of tolerance from us that most Europeans cannot imagine.

And this too is something of an elephant in the room, because our current rulers are doing everything they can to ignore such differences in culture and pretend that we're all one big, happy family (apart from such pesky people as white monopoly capital, of course). Rainbow nation? Maybe, but in a rainbow the colours are separate. A rainbow does not consist of a muddy mix of all the colours.

I find myself ever more an enthusiastic supporter of the Orania project, even though I will probably not personally go live there. But I am beginning to see their point.


Offline BoogieMonster

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Having met people from various countries around the world I find much of this unsurprising.

Indian colleagues originally from the subcontinent report often being unable to drive to certain cities in India because locals will see their number plate and start throwing stones at them, or otherwise physically attack them, so they have to travel with caution.

Another person originally from Belgium reports that it's not unusual for people from different towns to have a deep disdain for each other, which in his words "runs as deep as Nazism...".

Having been to the US I found them surprisingly intolerant of, I have to qualify that I chuckle to say it, "wrong" language usage. To you and me this means speaking the queen's english instead of their bastardized version. Americans of all spheres will seriously take a time out to "educate" (condescend to) you if they think you're using the wrong word for something... even if you're using a more correct one than they are.

From this I learnt that our varied culture requires some level of interpretation based on context and wider appreciation of varied language, that they seem incapable of. Like, sometimes in SA someone can say something that's not in a language you understand... but you still "get" it and you don't stop the flow to try and understand/correct it. They just don't.

Thus, I have to sadly agree with your post. Tribalism exists everywhere, and unfortunately we try to structure society in a bit of naïveté of this fact.

I saw a documentary (I don't recall the name, I'll try to find it and edit maybe later here) by a person responsible for "diversity" in the City of London who after a number of years simply gave up on trying to integrate the city. He came to the conclusion that people of similar culture simply want to live together and there's nothing you can do to prevent it and still have them be free people. This was a controversial stance, to say the least, even though said person was black himself.

However, I would argue that one can still try to foster a meta-culture of tolerance and understanding. The problem being (tying in to your Orania comment...) that we create larger overarching societies with power concentrations and sadly the moment one group start seizing some of that power it seemingly immediately tries to exercise that power over whatever groups don't have it.  Abortion laws, Marriage rights, "Who needs to bake cake for whom", efforts to police language, thought, BBBEEEEE (EEEEEEE?), etc...

As it stands I think SA, on microcosm scale, actually has tons of understanding and mutual respect of different cultures if you ignore the news and focus on your daily interactions. Is it just me or are the people at home affairs, traffic dept, et al. growing more polite with time? I could swear some years ago you'd be lucky to get a scowl, but these days they seem positively happy to help. This may be forced customer service training at work? At informal gatherings I see nothing but a group of diverse people breaking bread and having a great time. It's not all doom and gloom out there. But as said the problem is at the top, where the power concentrates... things go out of whack. So maybe the solution could be more self determination. Yet somehow I doubt that too.

I have to wonder how far that kind of thing can go before neighboring factions start warring over resources again. Perhaps that's what we do, sub-(or not)consciously all the time.

"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline brianvds

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I saw a documentary (I don't recall the name, I'll try to find it and edit maybe later here) by a person responsible for "diversity" in the City of London who after a number of years simply gave up on trying to integrate the city. He came to the conclusion that people of similar culture simply want to live together and there's nothing you can do to prevent it and still have them be free people. This was a controversial stance, to say the least, even though said person was black himself.

Thing is, there is nothing wrong with this sort of voluntary segregation. On the contrary, it greatly enhances the charm of a city if there are ethnic neighbourhoods with their own character, as long as it doesn't descend into ethnic hatred. The problem with apartheid wasn't the segregation as such, it was the forced segregation (which is another thing altogether) and the exploitation of cheap labour.

The lefties are trying to force tolerance on us by trying to ram everyone into everyone else's faces; it can only lead to conflict. In a sense, our tolerance is tested every bit as much by groups that wish to keep to themselves. How good are we at tolerating groups like, say, the Amish, or the Jehovah Witnesses, or, in the case of SA, the Orania folks? Seems to me that if a group keeps to itself and bothers no one, and complies more or less with national law and bill of rights, there is no reason to go scratch where it ain't itching.

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I have to wonder how far that kind of thing can go before neighboring factions start warring over resources again. Perhaps that's what we do, sub-(or not)consciously all the time.

Yes, there is always that problem. The Oranians chose their site well: it is semi-desert that almost no one wants. But of course, the big weakness there is the water supply. There are limits to the size of society that can be supported by the Orange River.