Kurt Vonnegut`s seminal science-fiction short story Harrison Bergeron paints a bleak dystopian future in which equal-outcome egalitarianism reigns supreme.
In this story everybody has been forced, by the government, to be equal in every respect. Those, like 14-year old Harrison (an exceptionally gifted student and athlete) and his father, George (a physically big and highly intelligent man), have to wear artificial “handicaps/hindrances” on their bodies in order to make them “equal” to their lessers.
In addition to being weighed down by 300 pounds of scrap metal, Harrison must also wear spectacles with thick wavy lenses “intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides”. And, like his father, he is required by law to wear a mental handicap radio in his ear that is tuned to a government transmitter. “Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains”.
This was their fate… their existence in The Prismon of Equality. A world in which “nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else”. A world of absolute equality, as enforced by the Handicapper General and her henchmen, the H-G men.
And this is the story of 21st-century South Africa. A dystopian reality where the Pale Male has, by acts of law, been burdened with so many hindrances/handicaps that he has become all but a slave in name.
Harrison is the clever young white South African man who will not be admitted to university, even if he has the highest academic marks. He is the ambitious young man who will not find employment in a government department, even if he is the best man for the job. He is the top sportsman who will not be allowed into the team because of race quotas.
George is the big intelligent Boer (and the hard-working white English-speaking professional) who has to carry the responsibility (the burden) of producing healthy and affordable food to feed 60 million people, and pay for the 17 million blacks living off government welfare grants. He is the one that pays the salaries of the most bloated government on the planet, the heart of the black middle-class. He is the one diligently paying his taxes… only to have to see how his own sons and daughters suffer the same fate as Harrison.
And then there are the H-G men and their boss, the Handicapper General. In Afrikaner circles, Piet Croucamp is the latter – always trying his utmost to ensure that Afrikaners never assert their unique identity. Always morally criminalizing them when they dare speak out against their debilitating bondage.
And people like Anton van Niekerk, Tim du Plessis, Max du Preez, Koos Kombuis, Willie Esterhuyse, Christi van der Westhuizen, Pierre de Vos, Sampie Terreblanche, FW de Klerk, Pik Botha, Leopold Scholtz, et cetera, are the H-G men.
They are responsible for ensuring that the Afrikaner stays “equal” in all aspects of their existence. Every time when George starts to rebel against his “equalizing” burdens, the mental handicap in his ear starts to screech hysterically.
It is the voice of Naspers … incessantly screaming; RACIST! HATER! APARTHEID! RACIST! HATER! APARTHEID! RACIST! HATER! APARTHEID!
And just like in Vonnegut`s story, the Handicapper General and his H-G men are not burdened by any hindrances/handicaps whatsoever. On the contrary; they are free to do as they please, for they are the enforcers, the rule-makers… the inquisitors of our Zeitgeist.
They, the Afrikaner H-G men, all studied during Apartheid. They all started fantastic careers during Apartheid. I.e. they benefitted tremendously from Apartheid. Yet they have no moral qualms whatsoever to police the burdening of their own people – their own children, family and friends… like the H-G men in Vonnegut’s story.
It is a sickening hypocrisy and selfishness unequaled. For not even an animal will deliberately disfigure the very being and future of its offspring in order to benefit itself.
Be that as it may; Vonnegut`s story has become reality… right here in Mandelatopia. Its prescience was uncanny. Yet, there are two chapters that Vonnegut did not write. They are the most important chapters, namely; how did it get to that point where unique people like Harrison, George and the Afrikaner accepted being burdened – being enslaved by equal-outcome egalitarianism – in the first place?
And how did they finally manage to free themselves…?
These are the chapters we are writing now, here on Praag.