Duplicity of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 20, 2011

in Not from the Onion, Other People's Money, Politics

is from influential South African politician Julius Malema who boasts

One of the things I’ve learnt in my short life in politics is the ability to live in the conditions of capitalism while fighting it and defeating it.

UPDATE (for context from the above-linked news report):

Malema had called a media briefing to respond to a Sunday Independent report at the weekend that he was building himself a R16m [2.3 million U.S. dollars] house in the posh Johannesburg Sandown suburb.

(HT John Vink)

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Michael July 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I wonder if the cognitive dissonance gives him a headache…

Fred Bauer July 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I think it’s fair to say at this point that it would be a notable exception if any famous anti-capitalist shunned wealth and lived as a commoner.

Will July 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I know nothing of this Malerma, but this doesn’t strike me as necessarily a duplicity. Are you saying, Don, that the idea of living within an economic system is mutually exclusive with the idea of opposing it? If so, we could chortle at the “duplicity” of Lech Walesa in the 1980s, “claiming” to oppose communism while enjoying a leadership position in a union.

If this Malerma is known for being corrupt and in league with business special interests, or whatever, then I’ll concede that the statement is duplicitous.

Don Boudreaux July 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Mr. Malema clearly enjoys the benefits he gets from capitalism – enjoys them so much he actively seeks them out. And – unlike Lech Walesa who used his union-leadership position as a means of destroying a tyranny that he opposed – Mr. Melema’s active acquisition of capitalist benefits is in no plausible way a means to his destruction of the capitalism that he (claims to) hate.

Ghengis Khak July 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Also, unions != communism

Ken July 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

unions = thuggery

Don Boudreaux July 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Not so much in communist Poland.

Ken July 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I guess that whole communist invasion of Poland was enough to prevent unions from acting up against their overlords.

RC July 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm


What communist invasion of Poland are you talking about?


Ken July 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hmm… If only there were some way to find out about that. If only there were some website dedicated to searching the internets. Then maybe you could search on Soviet invasion of Poland 1939.

RC July 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm


You don’t need to tell me about the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, believe me.
What I’m interested in is what does that invasion have to do with the Solidarity movement that began in 1980 (that Don is talking about here).


Ken July 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm


The entirety of Don’s comment: “Not so much in communist Poland.”

Perhaps you can tell me where he mentions 1980 or a solidarity movement. Or are you just clairvoyant?


RC July 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm


Read Don’s response to Will. He mentions Lech Walesa, and… from then, figure it out yourself.


Ken July 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Since the non-violence started (in the 1940′s) after the invasion of Poland by the Soviets and Poland remained a Soviet Satellite till it’s collapse in 1990 (which comes after the 1980′s), this negates my comment about the communist invasion how?


RC July 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm


The non-violence of unions – if that’s what you mean – began in 1939 for one good reason: the unions were simply illegal (with the exception of those unions supported by the communist regime, but those really do not count). Solidarity was unique as it was the first independent trade union in the communist block.

As for your comments… You wrote that unions=thuggery and Don hinted that in the case of Solidarity such an opinion is unjust. Then you brought up the 1939 invasion, for some reason I cannot understand. The Soviets did not prevent Solidarity from acting – or what you call “thuggery” – since it simply did not exist at that time.


Ken July 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm


I understand that many think that unions=thuggery is unjust, so Don whips out Poland and you support it. My point is that it’s tough to be violent with people who will kill you and who run the country. I can concede that there was little violence associated with unions in Poland from 1939-1990. Can you concede that having a thuggish government willing to kill you if you do anything but non-violent civil disobedience (and even then your death might come) prevented that violence?

A thug isn’t a thug to a bigger thug.


RC July 20, 2011 at 10:47 pm


I have no problem conceding that in a situation, where disobedience equals death (or torture) people will not behave “improperly”. The very realistic possibility of receiving a bullet for doing X is a very strong incentive not to do X.

As for the Solidarity example, I think the point is that not all unions are evil. Some, apparently, played a positive role in history. Similarly, it is unfair to assume that a union is by its definition thuggish, although it may very well be that most of them are.


Ken July 21, 2011 at 12:43 am


“it is unfair to assume that a union is by its definition thuggish”

Would consider pneumonic plague = death unfair? It doesn’t matter that not everyone that gets the pneumonic plague dies, but a shockingly high number do. If I knew someone who had the pneumonic plague, I would assume they were going to die.

Unions and violence have always been linked. Unions are about using state violence to keep other workers out of their profession and if that doesn’t work a smashed machine or bloody lip here and there helps them get their way.

So, no it isn’t unfair to assume a union is thuggish.


DG Lesvic July 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm

This guy sounds like a disciple of the Greg Webb School of Logic.

Greg Webb July 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm

LOL, DG! Logic, in the world of DG, is where a self-proclaimed Jew (DG) writes an Internet book entitled, “Dumb Jews,” where he condemns the Jewish people. I believe that Bobby Fischer had the same mental illness. It’s sad…and despicable.

DG Lesvic July 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Greg, please, you’re going to give illogicality a bad name.

Sam Grove July 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Politicians tend to walk different than most folk.

Artemis Fowl July 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Translated — “One of the things I’ve learned from my life in politics is to stockpile milk for myself before I slaughter the cow”

Don Boudreaux July 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm


Artemis Fowl July 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Though to be fair (sorry for the double comment, can’t edit) dictators have never needed capitalism to have expensive vistas.

Manfred July 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Have pity on Mr. Malerna, it is a cold winter in South Africa right now, thus he needs a good house to warm himself up.
More to the point, Mr. Malerna’s example of duplicity is very interesting, but one does not have to go as far as the Southern Hemisphere to find it, of course.
Right here at home, in the good old United States, the home of good old fashioned capitalism, one can find plenty of similar examples. As a very wild guess, Michael Moore comes to mind.

Chucklehead July 21, 2011 at 1:13 am

The current president comes to mine.

ArrowSmith July 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm

How about James Cameron and Al Gore. Communists in their hearts, but they own vast wealth.

kyle8 July 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Yes, by all means, let us defeat capitalism, because the alternatives have worked out sooooo well !

ArrowSmith July 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Easter Island destroyed itself due to anarcho-capitalism.

David July 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I don’t think he’s being duplicitous at all. Clearly he enjoys living under “the conditions of capitalism” (eg, his new, expensive home) while “fighting it and defeating it” (eg, through legislation he supports).

Joseph Maloka July 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm

As a young South African i will defend and clarify what the media always accuses most politician for living a lavish lifestyle with questions.

Is there anyone among the best leaders you have ever read of who started and ended her/his leadership without being an example?

What type of a house must the most influential leader live in? a shack? are we going to even listen to his words?

Chris O'Leary July 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm

How about a modest house? And while he’s at it, he could send his kids to the neighborhood school just like everyone else.

Actions speak louder than words.

Don Boudreaux July 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I’m not criticizing where he lives of how he lives (as long as he pays for it with money he earns rather than with money he confiscates).

I’m criticizing his hypocrisy at enjoying the fruits of an economic system that, judging by his own words, he believes will not be available to others if he succeeds in destroying that economic system.

tdp July 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Can someone please start a website entirely dedicated to exposing leftists for the hypocritical elitists they really are?

RC July 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm


Why only leftists? Hypocrisy is all over the political spectrum. Besides, it’s nonsense to assume that all leftists are hypocritical elitists.


Craig July 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

“it’s nonsense to assume that all leftists are hypocritical elitists.”

You’re right, of course. There are plenty of sincere leftists — they’re the useful idiots.

RC July 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm


In Poland there is a popular saying among conservatives and libertarians (they are very close together here): “A leftist is either an idiot or is evil”. Guess some American libertarians subscribe to this ideology as well…


tdp July 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm

You get plenty of media coverage of the Far Right doing stupid things and of Tea Partiers making egregious errors. The Right’s ideas are constantly skewered on TV, the radio, and in print and online. Not so with the Left, who are aided by “credentialed” intellectual experts who add a veneer of expertise to their drivel to make it look more impressive.

RC July 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm


That politicians are liars and hypocrites is nothing new, and it is easy to get used to it. I believe a certain Mr. Obama opposes school choice while sending his own child to a private school.
What is harder to get used to is the fact that politicians are liars and hypocrites – and that they get away with it so easily. Heck, some of them even make it to history books as “great leaders”.


Greg Webb July 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm

It’s the typically sad and despicable behavior (not DG this time) of the crony politician. I doubt that he earned his money by providing goods and services that consumers wanted. My guess is that, like most politicians, he sold governmental favors to crony capitalists to be able to live so well.

Krishnan July 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Ho Hum … The US is filled with people like that – except that they know better to be so explicit as this politician …

Congress is filled with people like that – Al Gore asks us to use less energy while he consumes more than 20 times any average household – James Cameron lives lavishly while asking everyone else not to do so … it just goes on and on and on … And they know what they are doing – they count on the stupidity of voters or other consumers of their products …

Gil July 20, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Don derives his income from the public sector to criticise it so it’s all good.

Ken July 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm


Very original. So by your estimation, government employees cannot criticize the government, Wal-Mart employees cannot criticize Wal-Mart, McDonald’s employees cannot criticize McDonald’s.

Is that your thesis?


Ken July 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

And to all others who don’t know what ad hominem is, Gil’s argument is a perfect example: Since Don works for the state, anything he says criticizing the state can be dismissed out of hand as false.


Gil July 21, 2011 at 11:45 am


mitt romney hater July 20, 2011 at 10:17 pm

That’s what all the Democrats do; they bash “Wall St. fat cats,” “big business,” “evil banks,” “the rich,” etc. etc. etc… But they love taking tax dollars from them, and enjoying a nice lifestyle themselves. Last I checked, all these big Leftist pols — though talking a good game about caring for “the little guy,” — live pretty fancy lifestyles themselves.

Scott July 20, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Good luck South Africa. In the next 20 years you will be as well off as Zimbabwe. Somehow they thought with blacks in power the thuggery would stop. When it comes to politics, everyone has “their man” who will fix the inequities. “Their man” will never cause inequities of his own. It’s this sort of people worship that is more dangerous than religion.

Xmas July 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

It’s not thuggery as much as complacency. Most blacks older than 35 will vote for the ANC since Mandela was ANC. The younger blacks who are getting an education are starting to question authority and, hopefully, will start voting for other parties.

ANC is communist. It’s only Mandela’s realization that confiscating the wealth of the rich and crushing the small middle class would have led to massive capital flight from South Africa.

Malema, if I’m not mistaken, is head of the ANC’s “Youth League”. He’s been agitating against capitalism for a long time…we’ll see if the ANC can stay in power if he looks to be Zuma’s successor.

Treibs July 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Malema’s self-proclaimed “heros” include Castro, Mugabe, and Gaddafi. That says plenty.

Hopefully the ANC will wise up and keep him far away from power but they haven’t exactly inspired confidence.

SaulOhio July 21, 2011 at 5:50 am

It seems to me that politicians who wanted to “save capitalism” from itself that have done more damage.

HD July 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Julius Malema is a fascinating politician, whose ramblings and antics are always in the headlines here in South Africa. He is very popular with some supporters of the ruling alliance – ANC, Cosatu (biggest trade union) and SACP (South African Communist Party).


You guys think you have a tough time being a libertarian and arguing for free markets in the US! Try a country like South Africa, with serious socio-economic problems and a very violent and divided history.

Take a look at this short article on the level of welfare dependency already in South Africa. (Tax payers look after 3 people on average)


Add to this a state that despite frequent service delivery protests in almost every township, crumbling infrastructure and massive corruption in the civil service; wants to introduce nationalisation (unlikely but being mooted all the time), national health insurance, state mining company, state pharmaceutical company, ban labor broking and introduce a state employment agency, expropriate land (drop willing seller, willing buyers despite the land bank admitting less than 1 in 3 black farmers succeed), have mining & financial sector charters stipulating ownership and employment numbers according to race…I could go on

And then some people call Obama a socialist! :)

kurt July 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Is the leadership position of the ANC youth league paying so much that he can afford a €2 million home? I really doubt that.

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