The battle for the orders

By Flip Buys

There is nothing so powerful as an idea that inspires the masses. The Calvinist philosopher, Prof. HG Stoker, dealt with the various ideological schools of thought in the early forties in his masterpiece Die stryd om die ordes (The battle for the orders).But even Karl Marx rightly said that “the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas of society”. The ruling idea in present-day South Africa is the state ideology of Transformation. This became apparent again recently when the new rector of Stellenbosch (had to) confess how pro-Transformation he was.


The Transformation concept only emerged at the ANC’s Mafikeng Congress in 1997, but since then it has become the official state ideology and well-nigh the “state religion”. It was probably coined when the ANC was looking for a more acceptable term for its ongoing policy of revolution.Transformation is a jealous god that does not tolerate other points of view. He who does not profess this, is sent straight to the political pyre. It defines the limits of public debate and provides the “approved” vocabulary for the national discourse. It spreads like an infectious virus that freezes thought and clones heads. This idea has become the country’s governing idea and the ideas of opposition groups are in an orbit around this “idea planet”. Only a few institutions continue to think independently and have not become the ideological slaves of this god.


Even supposed “thought factories” such as universities have stopped thinking ideologically. Media criticism remains within this ideological orbit. The ideological point of departure becomes the editorial reference point and mistakes are blamed on “wrong applications” – or poor old Zuma becomes a safe punchbag. This is why the country is in its present state because the governing idea is not challenged intellectually except by only a few groups and independent intellectuals. Extremists who fight this with a poisoned vocabulary or antiquated ideas rather serve as welcome fuel for the ideological purgatory.


“Transformation” cannot be defined, but in the South African context it suggests radical change and not a more workable radical improvement. It is the ideological locomotive for the sliding chute to failure towards which the State is rushing; nevertheless the train is barrelling ahead – straight across the future of thousands of people in run down public schools, state hospitals, training colleges and police offices.


For these reasons the “Battle for the orders” has to be revived, the unthinkable MUST be said, the battle for ideas must be won, the colonisation of minds must be stopped, because ideas rule te world. There is enough gold in the Afrikaner’s intellectual tradition that can be remined and rediscovered. In addition we have enough philosophers who can devise a road ahead for us once again. The foundation of our historical aspirations and our cultural-political visions must once again be highlighted. The new battle for the orders must and can be won.


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