www.inside-politics.org

Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective. Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

Month: February, 2013

The DA’s illiberal response to Lulu Xingwana


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: The DA yesterday called on the Human Rights Commission to investigate Lulu Xingwana for comments it deemed “offensive”. That, however, is an intolerant and illiberal response. To try and formally shut down an opinion you no more than disagree with is anathema to free speech, a touchstone liberal principle. Anyone can speak out against a view they deem to be wrong or damaging in some way, but when you try formally to prohibit or ban a disagreeable opinion, you have crossed a line liberals should protect not abuse.

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Marius Fransman’s political dictionary


BullshitFEATURE: Few things are more entertaining than a Marius Fransman turn of phrase. At the same time, few things are more nonsensical. It is too easy, however, to dismiss so much of his rhetoric as rubbish. Rather, I think we should celebrate it – as a kind of comic relief. In that spirit I have compiled a collection of some of his more memorable sayings (and perhaps foolishly, tried to define them). Here they are then. Hopefully I will be able to produce a second edition sometime soon. Contributions welcome.

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On vision


TheThingAboutSERIES: Few things better define a good leader than a powerful vision. And any compelling vision has to it, two component parts: on the one hand, a series of concrete steps – for intent must be realised by action; on the other, those values and principles which underpin and motivate for such action – for every good undertaking has the advancement of freedom behind it, and ideals are the aspirational force behind action. Each part can be abused, however, by ignoring the other. Here is how.

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Burning books: The African way


imagesFEATURE: Much has rightly been made of the destruction of key texts and manuscripts held at Timbuktu; much less of the spate of library burning in South Africa over the last four years. Why is that? I have compiled an archive of libraries burnt in South Africa during this period and, in the piece below, argue that while we are quick to express passion about ‘African’ cultural ideals, we have little to say about book burning in our country and what it says about our actual cultural attitude to knowledge and education.

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On destruction


TheThingAboutSERIES: It is difficult at the best of times to plan ahead. Why cater for the possibility that something which functions well at the moment might, with time, breakdown? What an onerous undertaking. But that attitude is the very basis on which ideals and assets deteriorate – through neglect and a failure to maintain and manage their integrity. Any urgent crisis must, of course, be addressed but they are best avoided by relentlessly acting to ensure those things that work retain their strength.

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Mamphela Ramphele and the triumph of narcissism over strategy


MamphelaRampeleFEATURE: Mamphela Ramphele is due to make a significant announcement on Monday. All indications are she will announce, at least, the framework for a new political party; no doubt with her at the helm. If she does, it will represent the triumph of ego over sound political analysis and, as a result, the indulgence of narcissism above South Africa’s best interests. That, and a failure to learn from history. Here is why.

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The anti-democratic demagoguery of LeadSA


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: In a mindless bit of populism and in response to the horror rape and murder of Anene Booysen LeadSA has called for bail for rape suspects to be abolished. That is a profoundly ignorant and anti-justice notion that runs directly against those rights established in the constitution. Were it to be acted upon, we would take the first step down a slippery slope that would pervert the criminal justice system itself. It is indicative of an unprincipled organisation with no sound moral compass.

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On academic freedom


TheThingAboutSERIES: There is a growing tendency among some academics to serve at the state’s behest; that is, to abandon the preserve that academic freedom aims to safeguard and protect from political agendas in order to pursue and validate political projects, under the guise of objectivity. So it is worth considering the nature of academic freedom, why it is an important idea and what its purpose is in a society; most importantly, why it is so crucial to any genuine attempt to pursue the truth and what happens when it is ignored.

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