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.
Symptomatic of this risk of flipping over into fascism were a set of rituals and practices Adorno particularly abhorred – for instance, the technique of calling for a discussion, only to then make one impossible; “democratism” in the form of endless, and at times fruitless committee meetings; suspicion and paranoia, especially in relation to questions of leadership and representation; a mode of behaviour (he qualified it as barbaric inhumanity) that confused “regression” with “revolution”; the blind primacy of “direct action” as a substitute for “thought”; a formalism and proceduralism which were indifferent to the content and shape of that against which one revolts. For him, dialectics meant, amongst other things, that ends were not indifferent to means.BACK TO TOP