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Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective.

Tag: Good

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 hysteria


TheThingAboutSERIES: Much public rhetoric in South Africa is defined by hysteria and our response to current affairs, often hysterical in turn. So it is worth paying some attention to the idea. What is the nature of hysteria? Certainly it is extreme in nature but how so? It is perhaps best understood as a kind of drama, with heroes and villains, good and evil. And thus, the last thing hysteria will ever indulge is subtle or ambiguity, doubt or uncertainty.

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On binary thinking


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Binary thinking – the idea that, in any situation, a person has only two choices – is pervasive. Moralisers reinforce the idea – their favourite two choices being ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Inevitably though, on closer inspection, there will exist far more than just two options and education and knowledge are key to being able to recognise this.

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