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

Month: March, 2013

FW De Klerk: the ultimate ‘joiner’


FWdeKlerkARTICLE: One from the archives – a look at the many political positions former President FW de Klerk adopted during his political career, as captured by five key comments. Together with the ANC, in opposition to the ANC, for the ANC, against the ANC, de Klerk has done it all. It’s a muddled historical record, but one worth noting if only to provide some context, the next time he speaks from a position of some ostensibly conviction.

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Citizenship in a republic


FreedomSPEECH: Every now and then a piece of writing, confined to the historical archives, leaps out at you, as though written only yesterday. The speech below stuck me as one such example. It is a famous remark, most famous for the passage commonly titled ‘the man in the arena’, about critics who condemn from afar. But almost every paragraph is as rich and lucid with meaning and insight; and it is prescient too. In South Africa we battle daily with the idea of what it is to be a good citizen. Here you have a secular Bible of sorts, a wonderful, insightful guide to citizenship in a republic. Read it with our country, its politics and current condition in mind. I would suggest it required reading for any liberal. Its brilliance really is something both rare and special. At some point I shall expand on its significance. In the meantime, enjoy.

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On xenophobia


TheThingAboutSERIES: A fear of foreigners is a deeply irrational prejudice and the trigger for it, usually, is the proximity of difference. In other words, the closer some foreign practice or person, the greater the threat to any xenophobe. The irony is that we surround ourselves with difference everyday; for though a particular community might share some generally common trait it is not universal nor does it negate an infinite range of other differences that define each human being as unique.

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Jacob Zuma’s top ten most disturbing cultural quotes


JacobZumaFEATURE: President Jacob Zuma, the highest custodian of the human rights principles and values set out in our constitution, spends a great deal of time undermining them, by advocating for a series of ‘African’ cultural beliefs that, almost without exception, are prejudiced in some way. If not prejudiced then so poorly articulated they cause an inevitable outrage and his political minders – the spokespeople in the ANC and the Presidency – are sent in to clean up after the damage he has caused. Below is a list of examples and, in each case, the kind of damage control that followed.

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On egalitarianism


TheThingAboutSERIES: In politically correct environments there often exists a strong compulsion to treat every idea as equal, or risk ‘offending’ someone by suggesting their argument weak or wrong. Because we are all equal before the law, the assumption is made everything we say is likewise of equal worth. That, of course, is not true. And we risk encouraging ignorance if we disallow critical interrogation of argument.

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