The daily word of inspiration (cut and pasted from Contemporary Literature) from my favorite, comtemporary Communist, Jeremy Cronin:
… At present I am inclined to make my poems much more actively disruptive within themselves, to foreground contradiction and paradox, to enact interruption, to celebrate the parenthetical, to make manifest the unresolved. In the first post-1994 decade of democracy in South Africa, public discourse was overwhelmed with the notions of harmony and self-congratulatory contentment. We had achieved a “political miracle,” we were a “rainbow nation,” we had finally “rejoined the family of nations,” we were “a winning nation,” internationally we could “punch above our weight,” we were at the cutting edge of a global “third wave of democracy,” our own achievement heralded an “imminent African renaissance.” Of course, there is much to be proud of in the South African democratic transition. The public discourses of the time were certainly flattering to all of us in the new political elite (myself included). But the tendencies towards excessive contentment and therefore closure have been even more helpful to the old, the well-entrenched economic elite in the mining houses and financial institutions, the very entities that helped to shape a century of racial segregation and apartheid. They were perfectly happy with a message that said the black majority has got the vote now, uhuru (independence) is upon us, the struggle is over, a luta discontinua!
To my discomfort, some of my own earlier poetry, written in the spirit of a counterhegemonic project, risked being anthologized into the discourse of this shallow, postcolonial triumphalism. A poem like “To learn how to speak / With the voices of the land . . .,” which I performed frequently in the 1980s, and which was intended as a relatively defiant expression of unity in diversity (in opposition to apartheid’s diversity in unequal diversity), is all too easily decontextualized in the present.
However, the present also has other dangers and temptations. Many South African intellectuals, novelists and poets among them, have slipped into the individualistic comfort zone of “speaking truth to power.” I say “comfort zone” because the political power reality to which the truth is supposedly spoken is a relatively benign and often disorganized power reality. Recently I was asked to participate in a television series on dissident artists from around the world. I declined: I like to think of myself as being critical, but I don’t think of myself as a South African dissident—although that’s exactly how some of my ideological opponents within the broader ANC would be happy to label me and other like-minded left activists.
During the apartheid period we were not endeavoring to speak truth to power, as if we were petitioners. We were trying to contribute, in small ways, including through poetry, to forging an alternative hegemonic power. Surely the struggle, then and especially now, is not so much to speak truth to power as to make truth powerful and, the hardest of all, power truthful … I think that the strategies deployed in my post 1994 poetry are somewhat different to those in the preceding period, but there is still the same ultimate, aspirant trajectory towards trying to build a sense of a collective “us” in my poems. I want to be part of a democratic hegemonic project, not a prophet in the wilderness.
Source: Contemporary Literature.