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

Tag: Truth

The ANC, religion and ‘the truth’


SPEECH: This past Tuesday I delivered an address on the ANC, religion and ‘the truth’. For those interested, a copy of that speech follows below. It argues that there is much to be understand about the ANC when it is viewed not as a political party but a religious movement and explores what happens when a party which once held a monopoly over ‘the truth’ suffers a crisis of legitimacy?

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On propaganda


TheThingAboutSERIES: When does opinion become propaganda? There are numerous factors to consider but, central to answering that question, is the extent to which any view manipulates facts, the main focus of the brief exposition below. Essentially this can be done in two ways: by altering the nature of information or by excluding it entirely. What is the effect of that on public thought? And why do that? Read on to find out.

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On wisdom


TheThingAboutSERIES: Are you wise? Or do you simply seek out cliches and promote them as if you have discovered great truth? In other words, do you believe by repeating other people’s wisdom, you might seem wise yourself? And is a cliche actually an example of wisdom? What is true wisdom’s nature and how might we recognise it? In an age of ‘instant wisdom’ – exaggerated by social media – these are questions worth considering.

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The selective moral outrage of Trevor Manuel


TrevorManuelFEATURE: Trevor Manuel has made a point over the last two years of openly criticising the ANC and the ANC government on a range of different issues. Each time his outspoken ‘honesty’ has been met with much praise and acclaim. But it is selective moral outrage on Manuel’s part and, if he really is interested in setting himself apart from the ANC, then he has much explaining to do – starting with his years of complicit silence as Thabo Mbeki damaged the foundations of our democracy.

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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 unity


SERIES: It’s hard these days, particularly in an environment where collectivism and nationalism hold so much sway, to go for any length of time without hearing a call for ‘unity’. It sounds good enough, but few take time to think about what such a call actually entails. What would a society look like that was absolutely unified? Surely it would be absolutely uniform in turn? When viewed in that light, the idea of unity takes on a different effect.

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History is about questions; propaganda, answers


ARTICLE: What is the relationship between history and propaganda, and propaganda and secrecy in turn? It is an interesting question. History is often taken for granted. It is assumed that it exists somewhere out there, and it is the business of an eccentric few to define it. But in truth it is a contemporary business and a society’s attitude towards it say much about us. In the article below I look at this relationship and how these two ideas – history and propaganda – relate.

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