www.inside-politics.org

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

Tag: Debate

The ANC and FNB: Treason for some, freedom of speech for others


ANCChinaFEATURE: Here follow two 2009 election adverts. The first is from the Freedom Front Plus, the second from the African Christian Democratic Party. Both are harrowing and aim to induce much fear in the viewer about the state of South Africa, in an attempt to win their support. Compared to the FNB advert, they are extreme and make no attempt to allude to a problem in inspirational language. Rather they are cut-throat, highly provocative and damning of the government. One is forced to ask, given that there is so much unhappiness on the ANC’s part about the mild FNB ad, why neither of these two parties were ever labelled as ‘treasonous’?

Read the rest of this entry »

An erosion of the DA’s liberal values 2?


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: Two days ago I wrote an opinion piece on the DA and the extent to which collectivist ideas and archetypes – Ubuntu and ‘Africaness’ in particular – were becoming increasingly well-entrenched in its language; that it had failed to define those ideas and that they were in conflict with its core liberal beliefs. That opinion has been met by no official response from the DA, signalling either agreement or a politically expedient silence. To further make my case, a transcript of a radio interview with the national spokesperson adds further weight to my argument. Seeing as the DA is unwilling to debate the matter, cased closed, I would say.

Read the rest of this entry »

10 steps to avoid moralising


AFEATURE: South African public discourse is awash with moralisers – people who care little for argument or reason, evidence or logic, but rather wish nothing more than to shout their position from the treetops, in the belief that it represents some universal truth. The effect of this on debate is damaging. It is also infectious. What follows below is a list of ten suggestions to avoid moralising. Hopefully, they constitute a helpful guide to some of the pitfalls inherent to moral indignation, and how best they can be overcome.

Read the rest of this entry »

On pettiness


TheThingAboutSERIES: Far too much of debate is defined by pettiness – that is, the superficial and, often, ad hominem response to argument. It works like sickness, once injected into a discussion its effect is difficult to resist and, before you know it, the meaningful exchange of ideas has devolved down to the trading of insults. Being petty is the attitude of bully; overlooking it, the key to intellectual progress and a sure sign of maturity and self-awareness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Goodbye DA, hello future


InsidePoliticsAs this is a new year, it seems appropriate I start it off with a new beginning. Although not directly relevant to this site, which I have always run in my personal capacity, after 12 or so years with the DA I felt it best, as they say, to move on to other things; and so, from 1 January 2013, I made that decision and am no longer working for the party. I shall continue to keep Inside Politics running and we shall see what the future holds. So, expect some exciting, new articles, starting tomorrow and included amongst them some very interesting subjects I think deserve a bit more public attention. Thanks to all the friends I made; to them and everyone else, see you somewhere in the great debate that is South Africa’s future. Goodnight, and good luck.

Debate is about difference, not consensus


ARTICLE: There is a general and increasingly pervasive attitude that the purpose of debate is to secure consensus. That is, rather than a forum to determine which arguments and ideas are the most cogent or insightful, debate is seen as means to compromise and appease. That, however, is to denude debate of its greatest potential contribution: knowledge and understanding. When mere expression is the end, the means (rationality, evidence and reason) suffer in turn. For what is the point of trying to convince if just by speaking you are already fêted?

Read the rest of this entry »

The HSF: Losing Focus


FEATURE: For a period of time during the late 2000s, the Helen Suzman Foundation seemed to lose its ideological direction somewhat. Today it is once again on a firm liberal footing. The reason was that its Director, former DA MP Raenette Taljaard, seemed so concerned with ‘facilitating debate’ that the HSF effectively became a platform for government policy, as opposed to liberal thought. To illustrate the problem, in 2009 I wrote the following article, which looked at one edition of Focus (The HSF’s flagship publication). It contained no less than five speeches by Jacob Zuma. And that was just the beginning of the problem.

Read the rest of this entry »

The ANC’s intolerant attitude to tolerance


SERIES: The instantaneous and dramatic nature of current affairs lends itself to a kind of historical amnesia, one where the captivating nature of those things unfolding today, causes one to forget the bigger picture. From the Archives aims to put forward the odd reminder that, more often than not, history is merely repeating itself. In all likelihood, somewhere, someone has already experienced and commented on those all-consuming issues that appear to have materialised only yesterday. Today, a trip back to 2005 and an illustration of the ANC’s intolerant attitude to tolerance; one which its more recent response to The Spear suggests has only become stronger with time.

Read the rest of this entry »

In conversation about tolerance


SERIES: Two heads are better than one, or so the saying goes. Jacques Rousseau is a lecturer in critical thinking and ethics, as well as a columnist for the Daily Maverick and, in discussion with him, the series In Conversation will look to explore a key concept or development in a few email exchanges. Few ideas get more attention than in South African public debate than that of ‘tolerance’ – and, with it, the seemingly omnipresent idea of ‘offence’. We get offended a lot. Too much perhaps? In response, tolerance seems to have become an excuse to avoid the proper critical examination of bad ideas and poor thinking. These, among others, are some of the issues explored this week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mbeki’s 1994 TV debate nightmare


SERIES: In this edition of From the Archives: As the Republican Party process to determine a presidential candidate plays itself out in America, with a seemingly endless stream of televised debates, it is worth asking why we don’t enjoy a similar culture of public debate in South Africa. Why did Jacob Zuma and Helen Zille not debate each other on live television in the run-up to the 2009 election? The answer to that question is a complex one, and a lot, I suspect, to do with Zuma himself. But the ANC more generally has never really advocated for this kind of thing, certainly Mbeki fought it tooth and nail – and he was no Jacob Zuma. Why? One reason is the ANC’s obvious attitude to debate but, with regards to Mbeki, the answer might be a little more personal. Here follows a retrospective on the first and only time democratic South Africa presidential candidates debated on live TV – in the run-up to the 1994 election.

Read the rest of this entry »

On sophistry


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Today, sophistry – the kind of crooked thinking that uses logical fallacy and deception to make an argument seem stronger – what is its nature, and how best does one indentify it?

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: