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

Tag: Justice

On academic freedom


TheThingAboutSERIES: There is a growing tendency among some academics to serve at the state’s behest; that is, to abandon the preserve that academic freedom aims to safeguard and protect from political agendas in order to pursue and validate political projects, under the guise of objectivity. So it is worth considering the nature of academic freedom, why it is an important idea and what its purpose is in a society; most importantly, why it is so crucial to any genuine attempt to pursue the truth and what happens when it is ignored.

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On fairness


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Fairness enjoys a reputation perhaps more generous than is actually deserved. It is, of course, an important idea but, if it is the greater good you are interested in, fairness is no guarantee it will be secured. More likely an existing conflict will be defused. That can be important but it is just as important not to confuse the two.

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How parliament misunderstands accountability


ARTICLE: Parliament has produced a guide to help Members better understand committees, how they work and what their purpose is. Central to that is, obviously, the idea of accountability and being able to ensure it takes place. Unfortunately, the guide’s defintion of the concept fundamentally misunderstands what accountability is and so renders the whole exercise somewhat redundant. Read on to see Parliament’s definition of accountability and why it is wrong.

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Affirmative Action and academic appointments


FEATURE: In a piece focused on academic appointments, Adv Mark Oppenheimer – a DA Young Leader – looks at affirmative action in its various forms and how each relates to the idea of justice, before concluding that only equal opportunity affrimative action can be described as a truly just remedy in overcoming past injustices. Affirmative Action has been in the news lately for a number of different reasons, from UCT’s admission’s policy to the Department of Correctonal Services’ new employment equity plan. The arguments Mark addresses and disproves are important and the relationship he focuses on – between redress and justice – critical to both this issue and South Africa’s development more broadly.

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Accountability necesitates explanation and consequence


ARTICLE: The idea of acountability seems to be poorly understood from first principles: there is a perception that it involves little more than explanation. In other words, many assume that simply by explaining what when wrong, one has accounted for it. In fact, it must be accompanied by consequence and the possibility that wrongdoing be met by the requisite action. In the piece below I look at this relationship. For anyone interested in further thoughts on the idea, see this video interview with Lindiwe Mazibuko, about accountability and its nature.

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