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Man, the silliest animal

16 Apr 2017 at 17:27hrs | Views
A soldier looks at buildings ravaged by war in Syria

IT is perhaps true that human beings in their true state of nature began as citizens of a small world in a huge planet; through intelligence and technologisation they have become proprietors of a big world in a fragile small planet.

In modernising and developing himself and his surroundings, with superior intelligence, man has not only mastered nature and conquered the universe but has also severely eroded chances of his continual existence on the planet, at the apex of his brilliance man has been silliest. With capitalist ideology of profit and power, in no time man reduced nature and the entire planet to a big heap of natural resources to be exploited and turned into goods and services for consumption and decoration.

Thanks to man's true science of the silly, the planet presently hangs on a thin thread, it is a titanic manmade natural disaster in the process of happening, the ecological crisis combined with the ever present threat of a nuclear powered World War III make the world a truly dangerous place.

The Girl who sold clouds to bored sangomas

It is the power and privilege of any newspaper columnist to burden readers with mundane and sometimes banal details whose doubtful importance is their very novelty. It is with that licence of irrelevance that Dora finds herself here. She is probably one of those teens that were sent to school as a good riddance to a terrible irritation to their families, and good for her she is gifted with a devilish intellect that saw her up the ladder past her General Degree to the Honours level. Of all the important developmental degrees that the university offers, she chose to study "Play," a truly dubious province of the performance arts that is not drama or any regular performance arts but a preoccupation with doing strange and bizarre activities in public places for nothing but public attention and the appetite to shock and disgust.

For her final exam, with her curious examiners in tail Dora took a long thin rope and tied it six metres high on the bridge above the Mayi Mayi Sangoma market in the peripheries of Johannesburg. With monkey like agility, she scaled down the rope and started to swing, forwards and backwards, and side to side, her dress flying away from her petite frame, treating bored sangomas and taxi touts to her shameless nakedness.

Within minutes a good crowd of whistling men and shocked muthi traders had assembled below this swinging little butterfly that sat precariously on a thin rope sling. With a witchy voice she screamed out "I am here to sell you the clouds, five rand a piece" and she continued swinging, frying her dress purposely to expose her "netherlands". With relish, the whistling and screaming onlookers pelted her with five rand coins which her companions picked up like manna from the heavens, the more the coins flew the more she swung, her left hand now clutching on her underwear in a clear threat or promise to remove it; and the money flew.

Dora later blamed her tragic fall on the witchcraft of ungrateful sangomas and the evil attention of taxi drivers and touts that had started using their camera phones to film her swinging bottoms. The truth is that the thin rope could no longer contain her excited swings and it gave up, sending her flying onto the tarmac, one broken leg and two missing front teeth and a distinction in Performance Art in the category of Play.

As Dora lay down groaning, waiting for the emergency services crew to arrive, dutifully but also heartlessly her examiners surrounded her, red pens and note pads in hand, collecting her statements that according to the genre of "Play" were still a performance and an examination in spite of the tragic fall. I am told that what gave her the high marks was her poetry about that fall "oh my gosh, I was just playing but look how I have been played!" and such other sayings.

World Power and Political Play

Dora should have seen it coming. Dora rigged a degree. Dora is an artist of the stupid and the ridiculous. All these and others are the judgements that graduate Dora receives beside the walk with a limp and the two missing teeth that she will have to expensively replace or otherwise she will have to resign to looks that are cheaper than the pieces of her clouds. The human silliness of one artistic individual who surrenders themselves to tragedy is one thing. The international silliness of nuclear powers that are willing to endanger the whole of humanity and the planet in power games is at another level.

As I write, two nuclear powers, Russia and the United States are in a proxy war in Syria, and the war has all the potential to escalate to global tragedy. But the two historical enemies continue to swing. Even more threatening, is the nuclear standoff between the USA and North Korea. Donald Trump has boisterously "put North Korea on notice" and warned that "we are sending an armada, very powerful," referring to USS Carl Vinson, a massive mega arms carrier that is accompanied by war submarines and is headed to the sea line of the irritable and trumpy North Korean "kingdom". All this is nothing more than what Donald Trump himself calls "show of force" and power play.

The display of power, celebration of dominance and relish of world hegemony cannot be missed in the words of Donald Trump: "We have submarines. Very Powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you," he told Fox News. On its own North Korea has openly threatened nuclear warfare if attacked or provoked. In their speech and textuality, both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un carry the tone of bullish toddlers that enjoy video war games and toy wars, swinging threats and rumours of war in saddening playground simplicity, toying of the end of the world as it is known.

A permanent World War

With the conquest of the Americas in 1492 began a permanent world military, economic and politic war against non-Western peoples. There is a flourish of world historical literature on the First World War and World War II. The absence of literary flourish is found on the history of how the West has since conquest and the colonial encounters waged war on the rest, military here, political there and economic everywhere. In 2015, Marxist scholar Yash Tandon published a disturbingly important book, Trade Is War: The West's War Against the World, a book that demonstrates how a continuous economic world war upon the Global South has always been in effect. This war by the West on the rest is pushed by a capitalist neoliberal economic regime that has NATO as its military wing.

Democracy, development and human rights are its political rhetoric that conceals the logic of war behind the chimera of a global humanitarian agenda. While the super powers of the world are swinging from one war to another, slowly the entire planet, with the escalation of the ecological crisis that is most felt in fast increasing global warming, is being reduced to a huge cemetery on which even man the wisest animal will bury himself. Human difference, in terms of culture, religion, skin colour and geographic location could have been found to be an opportunity for diversity and creativity, but it has been criminalised as a source enmity and hatred. Except in name, what the powers of the world are visiting on the powerless, economically, politically and otherwise is true fundamentalist terrorism. Neoliberalism itself in its certainty about its political and economic correctness has become an ideological fundamentalism that brooks no difference and no opposition.

The promise of a free world where all ideas and policies were open to contestation and to democratic challenge has proven to be another chimera and myth of the centuries. The world faces a dystopic future because absolute power believes in its absolute truth, the feelings, ideas and perceptions of those that have always lived in the receiving end of the permanent world war are not about to matter. Man-made disasters, at a world scale are squeezing life out of the poor and the poor out of life, driving the world to war as one day the poor will surely have nothing to eat but the rich and powerful.

Back to the Sticks and Stones

The principal manufacturer of the atomic bomb, the weapon of modern day super prowess had wisdom as powerful as his bomb for human beings. On the prospect of a nuclear powered World War III Albert Einstein said "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." A brilliant suggestion, by Einstein, that a global nuclear war will return humanity to the state of nature, back to the age of sticks and stones as tools and weapons.

To Einstein it had long become clear as early as then that "our technology has exceeded our humanity," and what is left is for man to use the same technology of his genius to destroy the world and himself. After all, in the wise world of Einstein "only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity."

Stupidity in the hands of the powerful that hold keys to nuclear arsenal is really costly stupidity.


Cetshwayo Zindabazezwe Mabhena writes from South Africa:
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Source - sundaynews
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