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

Tag: Diversity

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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On tolerance


TheThingAboutSERIES: It has become fashionable to champion diversity as if the idea and its practical manifestations are one in the same, both good and virtuous. This is wrong. Diversity, as a value, is important, good and necessary but not every actual difference in a society is therefore equally virtuous. Many things that are ‘different’ are anti-freedom. One needs to distinguish between allowing difference the space to flourish and evaluating and responding to that difference itself. If we fail to do that, tolerance suffers. It becomes a euphemism for blind acceptance, which is not its purpose.

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On diversity


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. At the social cohesion summit, President Jacob Zuma told the audience, “we have to build one national identity out of multiple identities”. It was a thought typical of nationalistic thinking, which routinely fails to understand diversity and its importance.

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Why difference is important


ARTICLE: Every single person on this planet is different in some way unique to them. Most people have one of two responses to that: either it is the source of insecurity or pride. For those who feel uncomfortable with difference, comfort is found in conformity. That is no bad thing, but when those same people take that fear to an extreme level and try to outlaw difference in others, in order that everyone might be the same, that is not only a sure path to authoritarianism but to misunderstand the very value and wonder of difference itself.

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Politics and innovation


FEATURE: Innovation is one of those words frequently used but less frequently thought through. In politics in particular, it is used almost exclusively with regards to policy. That is good and necessary, but what about political parties themselves, and the ideologies they espouse? Why is innovation an important principle in a democracy? Why should it be promoted and protected, and what are its benefits? In the short paper below I look at the idea and why it is important.

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Understanding a vote-winning brand


FEATURE: In the article below the DA’s Gwen Ngwenya looks at the DA’s brand and its condition. She argues that, in order to understand it, one must do two things: first, look at the evidence (as opposed to mere opinion or speculation) and, second, how it is driven by strong leadership. On both these counts, she argues, the DA’s brand – a diverse party that delivers – is not just strong, but getting stronger.

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UCT Admissions: The DASO alternative


DOCUMENT: The University of Cape Town has for sometime now been the centre of much attention as a result of its race-based admissions policy. In a response to that debate, the UCT council recently established a Commission into UCT Students Admissions on the Admissions Policy and called for public submissions. What follows below is the submission from the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation at UCT, in which the case is made, rather than race-based selection, a basket of socio-economic indicators be used – an alternative approach to redress, based on equality of opportunity.

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