The Ranter's Guide to South Africa, by Bryan Rostron
Bryan Rostron's guide 'The Ranter's Guide to South Africa' aimes at hotheads, windbags and demagogues.
Swarms of cliches assault us from all sides. Defend the revolution! Brand South Africa! These two slogans, not exactly compatible, are urged straight-faced every day. The fact that exhortations to revolution and branding can appear to coexist peacefully, as if they could possibly share any kind of symbiotic relationship, tells us that not only has a great deal of our language been tortured out of any sense, but that there are also plenty of people who listen to this hocus-pocus as if it means something. So here, dear reader, is a short dictionary that defines some of our most overused and abused words. It encompasses, from A to Z, politics, business, culture, sport and history. The two great trailblazers in this field are Flaubert's Dictionary of Received Ideas, which was not published in his lifetime, and that contrary classic, The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bieree (1911). The Ranter's Guide to South Africa aims to deflate some of our current claptrap with brief, possibly somewhat tetchy explanations. Consider it as a sort of cautionary dictionary for demagogues. As appropriate to a South African work, this will be an equal-opportunity abuser. We are surrounded by ranters. They are shrill, self-righteous and impervious to argument. Ranters attempt to make their point by sheer volume rather than by logic or reason. The danger is that they habitually overwhelm quieter, more reflective voices. They are the kind of people who thunder that they will 'kill forthen later claim that this was merely a metaphor. Words, for these rabble-rousers, do not necessarily have real meaning; words are used as blunt instruments to bludgeon the rest of us into submission. That's why they use worn-out slogans, racial insults and high-pitched invective. The ranter, as a rule, is intimately related to the demagogue. But while the ranter may just be yelling to let off steam, a demagogue aims to win your heart, mind and soul by whatever means necessary. Demagoguery is the art of divorcing words from thought to whip up frenzy or fear. It comes in many shapes, colours and political guises, but usually as a spittle-flecked rant. This reflects, perhaps, a pervasive, unresolved anger in South Africa. Daily, in conversation, newspaper letters pages or on radio chat shows, one hears indignant, unsubstantiated accusations. No evidence or argument. It's enough for the bigot to assert. The Longman Dictionary defines 'demagogue' as: (1) 'a leader of the common people in ancient times; (2) a leader who makes use of popular and false claims and promises in order to gain power.' The gap between these two meanings continues to grow, especially in this opinionated age of cyber-blather. Ours is swiftly becoming the time of the ranter. The fracture between word and deed, promise and delivery, inflates exponentially. The resulting vacuum soon fills with fetid hot air, particularly from politicians and well-known personalities, mostly self-important, including media pundits and sportsmen. An ambitious, unscrupulous ANC politician provocatively sings 'Shoot the Boer'; then an opportunistic Afrikaans organisation shows its paranoia by forcing a courtroom showdown. [...]
This is an excerpt from the guide: The Ranter's Guide to South Africa, by Bryan Rostron.
Title: The Ranter's Guide to South Africa
Subtitle: A handbook for hotheads, windbags and demagogues
Author: Bryan Rostron
Publisher: Jonathan Ball
Cape Town / Johannesburg, South Africa, 2011
ISBN 9781868424733 / ISBN 978-1-86842-473-3
Softcover, 15x21cm, 140 pages, numerous drawings
Rostron, Bryan und Zapiro im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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