A few months ago, author William Gumede described Zuma as someone with a narcissistic personality disorder — a set of traits defined by Austrian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut as “including an exaggerated sense of superiority, a lack of self-awareness about the impact of their behaviour and having a disdain for others, who they devalue to validate their own grandiosity”. These people lack empathy, have a distorted sense of reality and are incapable of seeing anything from anyone else’s perspective. Narcissists like Zuma, Gumede argues, can’t accept responsibility and don’t care if they take down entire countries with them. The events at Nkandla, sadly for Zuma, only reinforced that perspective.
There are, broadly, two strains of liberalism in this country. The first is less a political philosophy than an exclusive club. It assumes that all wisdom was born in Europe and North America and that the truth is kept alive here by the mainly white suburban middle classes, who alone know what is best for the rest. It is far more interested in what political philosopher CB MacPherson called “possessive individualism” — the right of people of property to hold on to what they believe to be rightfully theirs — than in building a free and just society. This strain of liberalism is intolerant of all views but its own and its adherents, ironically, share many of the attitudes of Stalinist Marxists — only they know the truth and to disagree is not to hold a different opinion but to be plain wrong. Inevitably, its view is usually communicated in a sneer designed to show superiority and so it does more to antagonise than to persuade. This strain is destined, for obvious reasons, to wield little influence over our future — a prospect that perversely pleases those who espouse it as it confirms their belief that they are surrounded by Philistines. – Steven Friedman in Business DayBACK TO TOP