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

Tag: Language

Marius Fransman’s political dictionary


BullshitFEATURE: Few things are more entertaining than a Marius Fransman turn of phrase. At the same time, few things are more nonsensical. It is too easy, however, to dismiss so much of his rhetoric as rubbish. Rather, I think we should celebrate it – as a kind of comic relief. In that spirit I have compiled a collection of some of his more memorable sayings (and perhaps foolishly, tried to define them). Here they are then. Hopefully I will be able to produce a second edition sometime soon. Contributions welcome.

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On foresight


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. I am back and normal posting will resume from tomorrow. In the meantime, here is yesterday’s column, on the idea of foresight and how it works. The ability to foresee things can often be mistaken for guesswork. The difference between foresight and randomness is reason and being able to argue forcefully, the ability to use language and logic to present a prediction.

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On the ANC, refugees and offence


FEATURE: Helen Zille’s tweet about Eastern Cape refugees has caused much outcry, least of all from the ANC, which, as per usual, has used the opportunity not to talk about the problem at hand but the word itself. Ironically, given the ANC’s sudden worry about “negative feelings”, a look at its own track record reveals a party that routinely throws around deeply offensive ideas all the time. In the piece below I set some of them out and make the case: if the ANC is worried about offence, a good place to start would be by taking a look in the mirror.

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What constitutes good argument?


ARTICLE: What are the structural characteristics of a good argument? Many of the key ingredients are well known: evidence, reason, logic, language, but how do they all relate? Also, what combination results in a powerful argument and what combination results in a weak argument? I have tried to answer some of these questions in the short piece that follows below.

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The emperor has no clothes


FEATURE: Recently it has been argued by a number of commentators that Preisdent Jacob Zuma’s dull and dreary speeches are not the product of ineptitude, but just, well, the way things are done in the ANC. This article responds to that argument by focusing on one of its advocates and a particular piece from the Daily Maverick.

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