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

Tag: Moralising

On paranoia


TheThingAboutSERIES: Paranoia seems to be part and parcel of public life – certainly politicians appear permanently gripped by it. Yet it is curious how often paranoia can infect otherwise rational people, when they are placed in constant contact with it. Today’s piece looks at the idea of paranoia in more detail, why it is problematic and some of its consequences. If you already suffer the problem, who knows, maybe this piece is about you?

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The anti-democratic demagoguery of LeadSA


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: In a mindless bit of populism and in response to the horror rape and murder of Anene Booysen LeadSA has called for bail for rape suspects to be abolished. That is a profoundly ignorant and anti-justice notion that runs directly against those rights established in the constitution. Were it to be acted upon, we would take the first step down a slippery slope that would pervert the criminal justice system itself. It is indicative of an unprincipled organisation with no sound moral compass.

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Sound judgement is a weapon against moralising


ARTICLE: Good judgement is not only the key to making good decisions but, by promoting and protecting it, the best way to ensure a society values its component parts: evidence, reason, logic and principle. Very often the urge to moralise about an issue means these important ideas are forgotten and, instead of trying to understand something, in order to best respond to it, we merely condemn it out of hand, the result of some unthinking emotional impulse.

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On heroes and villains


ARTICLE: Something about sensationalism fuels the impulse to adulate or denigrate people – that is, to see them either as heroes or villains, good or bad. When that attitude is well set and pervasive in a society, the subtlety and ambiguity that marks human nature is overlooked in favour of the kind of moral absolutism that understands everything (and everyone) as either right or wrong. Not only is it temporary – one day someone is a hero, the next a villain – but often it is to misunderstand the attributes of a real hero in the first place.

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Moral outrage: the groundwork for authoritarianism


ARTICLE: Often South Africa seems willingly to throw itself into a fit of moral outrage about something incidental. We are currently in the process of doing exactly that, this time about the word ‘refugee’ and what it means. And so it is worth taking some time to try and objectively understand what moral outrage is, its nature and form. In the short piece below, I try to identify its general characteristics.

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