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

Tag: Empathy

On perspective


TheThingAboutSERIES: Perspective is a vital and important part of understanding the human condition and making the best decisions in order to thrive in it. Perspective encourages compassion and sympathy; the lack of it, selfishness and callousness. Often we fail to develop or seek out the proper perspective on things because we are too engrossed in our universe, which we see as generally reflective of the experience of everyone. When our personal context becomes the be-all-and-end-all of our perspective, it is not just our analysis that suffers but our ability to relate to others.

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The Ubuntu cuttlefish


FEATURE: In response to a recent article by Andrew Donaldson, titled ‘Let’s never mention Ubuntu again’, Barbara Nussbaum (former member of the Ubuntu Panel, which was part of the National Heritage Council of South Africa) has penned a long and ultimately meaningless response. In the article below I have responded to Nussbaum in turn and provided a general critique of Ubuntu – an idea I argue is ill-defined and, besides, redundant, in light of the Bill of Human Rights.

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In conversation about ubuntu


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. We start with the idea of ubuntu – a notion that has quickly been elevated to the level of philosophy, although what it actually means remains the subject of much debate. Perhaps more to the point, is ubuntu a liberal idea? Or, at the very, least can it be reconciled with liberalism?

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On callousness


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Pain and suffering is as much a part of life as joy and pleasure but the lessons they hold are often counterintuative and thus, not well learnt; for one’s inclination is to ignore or dismiss pain simply because it is onerous indeed to try and relate to it. But that attitude comes at a cost.

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The liberal individual, group identity and human solidarity


FEATURE: The case is often made that liberalism, by its nature, is a cold, selfish ideology. Former President Thabo Mbeki, for example, went out of his way to paint the DA in this light. Ryan Coetzee responds to this criticism in the piece below and draws a distinction between ‘identity politics’ and the liberal individual, arguing it is in fact the former, rather than the latter, that entrenches alienation.

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