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

Tag: Responsibility

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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What separates the knowledgeable from the ignorant?


ARTICLE: It is difficult to think of two more different people than the person who pursues knowledge and the person who safeguards their own ignorance. If knowledge and its pursuit is not properly promoted and protected an entire society can become caught in ignorance’s false sense of comfort. Curiosity is curtailed, innovation stifled and difference outlawed, and that will bring an end to progress in turn. So it is well worth considering the question: What separates the knowledgeable from the ignorant?

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On the nature of victimhood


ARTICLE: There is a strong case to be made that South Africa is nation of victims. And here I do not mean in the literal sense – for there are many who can objectively be described as victims of some great injustice – I mean as an attitude – victimhood: we suffer low self-esteem, we lack agency and we generally see circumstance as our ever-present tormentor. This is to our great disadvantage, for victimhood is a sure path to apathy and, with it, further injustice.

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On political support


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Today, a look at the idea of political support and the public expectations which accompany it: promoting and protecting the public interest. The relationship between these two requirements of public office can be a vexed one, however, for both politicians and the public.

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On humanism


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Today, a look at humanism and the idea that human achievement and potential is often downplayed in the favour of some supernatural explanation for accomplishment. This might seem beneficial – for one it allows one to abdicate responsibility when it comes to destructive behaviour – but that comes at a cost, including an inability to celebrate the great things of which humans alone are capable.

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