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.
Might it not be that ‘identity politics’ is just what politics has become – or what it always was, in a way that has only now become impossible to ignore? The formal structure of US politics may still be binary, Republican v. Democrat, and it is a binary world of liberals and conservatives that underpins Lilla’s book, but the reality, as in all world democracies, is that politics is no longer one-dimensional, conducted along a left-right axis, but multi-dimensional.BACK TO TOP