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

Tag: Ubuntu

An erosion of the DA’s liberal values: A response


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: Some two months ago I argued that an article by the DA’s national spokesperson, advocating for Ubuntu and ‘Africaness’, was illiberal and worrisome, with regards to the party’s ideological direction. Although the DA itself has not responded, a number of other people have. Below is a summation of those responses and the reasons why the majority are both wrong and wrongheaded.

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An erosion of the DA’s liberal values 2?


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: Two days ago I wrote an opinion piece on the DA and the extent to which collectivist ideas and archetypes – Ubuntu and ‘Africaness’ in particular – were becoming increasingly well-entrenched in its language; that it had failed to define those ideas and that they were in conflict with its core liberal beliefs. That opinion has been met by no official response from the DA, signalling either agreement or a politically expedient silence. To further make my case, a transcript of a radio interview with the national spokesperson adds further weight to my argument. Seeing as the DA is unwilling to debate the matter, cased closed, I would say.

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An erosion of the DA’s liberal values?


InsidePoliticsFEATURE: In yesterday’s Sunday Times, DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane wrote an article which, while attempting to advocate against stereotyping, ended up doing exactly that; seemingly the reflection of his own personal views about ‘Africaness’, Ubuntu and the inherent characteristics of ‘Africans’. It is troubling and indicative of a broader challenge facing the party: how best to safeguard its core beliefs and values without pandering to ‘identity politics’ and group identity.

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Appearance and reality: Liberal values in democratic South Africa


FEATURE: The Helen Suzman Foundation (www.hsf.org.za) has just produced edition 65 of its Journal, Focus. The edition is titled ‘On Liberty’ and devoted to exploring some of the challenges, both social and political, which have confronted South African liberalism. You can find a full copy of the edition here (PDF). Among of a range of pieces by the likes of Bobby Godsell, Charles Simkins, John Matisonn and Michael Cardo (I see Pallo Jordan even makes an appearance) is the piece I wrote, below, on liberal values and how they are often the subject of subtle negotiation, almost always to their detriment.

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The Ubuntu cuttlefish


FEATURE: In response to a recent article by Andrew Donaldson, titled ‘Let’s never mention Ubuntu again’, Barbara Nussbaum (former member of the Ubuntu Panel, which was part of the National Heritage Council of South Africa) has penned a long and ultimately meaningless response. In the article below I have responded to Nussbaum in turn and provided a general critique of Ubuntu – an idea I argue is ill-defined and, besides, redundant, in light of the Bill of Human Rights.

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The painting of President Zuma


PICTURE: Today the ANC released a statement about a painting of President Zuma by artist by Brett Murray which, among other things, says: “We have this morning instructed our lawyers to approach our courts to compel Brett Murray and Goodman Gallery to remove the portrait from display as well as from their website and destroy all printed promotional material. We have also detected that this distasteful and vulgar portrait of the President has been displayed on a weekend newspaper and its website, we again have instructed our lawyers to request the said newspaper to remove the portrait from their website.” Well, in support of the constitutional right to free expression and in opposition to the ANC’s tyrannical attitude, here is the painting in question.

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In conversation about ubuntu


SERIES: Two heads are better than one, or so the saying goes. Jacques Rousseau is a lecturer in critical thinking and ethics, as well as a columnist for the Daily Maverick and, in discussion with him, the series In Conversation will look to explore a key concept or development in a few email exchanges. We start with the idea of ubuntu – a notion that has quickly been elevated to the level of philosophy, although what it actually means remains the subject of much debate. Perhaps more to the point, is ubuntu a liberal idea? Or, at the very, least can it be reconciled with liberalism?

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