My Online Curriculum

Quite often, I am asked what I think the best or most valuable books or movies are, and which ones people looking to grow intellectually should read or watch.

So, below, I have compiled a series of lists of what I consider to be the best books, works of art, music, and films.

These lists are not my attempt to spark some kind of an online university to make money. The writer Nassim Taleb says the best way to have an ‘antifragile’ education is to have a personal library and engage in street fights.

This is my attempt at providing a kind of map for how to put together a decent library, even if it is mental, whilst we all fight our battles on the street and thus learn both how to think and to work and live. I will add to these lists when necessary. No recommended list can ever be set in stone…

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part Five: ‘Demons’

How does a society fall apart? How can a small band of revolutionaries create a whole project of terror – as happened in France and Russia?

The answer provided by the greatest of all novelists, Fyodor Dostoevsky, is that there is nothing more powerful in any given nation than sets of ideas which can take possession, like demons, of a few committed men and women, and ready them to die for a cause.

His 1872 novel, ‘Demons’, is set in a small town just outside St Petersburg, in which a small band of nihilistic terrorists attempt to spark a nationwide revolt against the Tsar, the idea of a Russian nation, and the Russian Orthodox Church.

The ‘Transgender’ Movement and the Corporatization of the Body

The activists longing for liberation from the confines of gender and biology are more truly serving the forces of consumerism.

At Wits University recently, the faculty made the decision to remove all gender pronouns from correspondence.

A few years ago, psychologist and author, Jordan Peterson, shot to fame when he declared on YouTube his absolute opposition to students being allowed to force their professors to use their own personalised pronouns.

Something is afoot in the western world with regards to gender and sex, and I fear not enough people truly realise what is at stake.

Whatever one’s beliefs regarding the current gender controversy, it is undeniable that the propagation of the human species depends on the sexual transaction between male and female – nor is it deniable that it is a biological fact that every human is born with a sexual identity.

‘White Privilege’ is a bad idea for everybody

Recently, I was told that as a white, straight, English-speaking, able-bodied, Christian man (it gets worse – I am Catholic to boot), my type has had its day, and now it is time to cede power to the ‘Other’. To our PC society, this may sound like a good plan, but in truth, it is a pre-cursor to social disaster.

The notion of white privilege is predicated on the idea that society is ultimately entirely about power, and class or demographic conflict, in which there can be only winners and losers. And that’s no way to build a society.

So let me be as clear as I can be – this type of identity politics will destroy our civilization. We need to cut it out before it’s too late.

Willemse and Kolisi – A Tale of Two Springboks

The controversy and celebration of Willemse and Kolisi together tell the story of contemporary South Africa.

I have always been a fan of Siya Kolisi. I think he thoroughly deserves to be Bok captain. He is one of those players who finds extra gears wearing the green and gold.

I remember hearing Rassie Erasmus five years ago tell a group of coaches that Kolisi is one of the hardest and toughest men in the game.

He has risen from a tough life in the township of Zwide, via his schooling at Grey High, to carrying that old sacred mantle of South Africa – the Springbok captaincy…

The Problem with Feminism

“We have to stop expecting to be offended…”

Recently, I have been listening to some talks by Cassie Jaye, a feminist documentary-maker who decided to expose the ‘darkness’ of the men’s rights movements in 2013.

After a few years, she ended up making the opposite movie to the one she intended. ‘Red Pill’ demonstrated the story rather of a feminist ending up agreeing with the objects of her attack. See the trailer here.

In this emotive TED talk, she describes how and why she no longer calls herself a feminist – yet neither is she a men’s rights activist. She’s chosen a different path.

The Biggest Problem in South Africa

South Africa is a fatherless nation.

As we try to patch together our economy and infrastructure, there is a far more basic fabric that lies in both serious disrepair and unconscionable neglect – the fabric of fatherhood, evolved over millennia of culture and religion which binds men and their offspring together.

Say what you want about the concept of fatherhood, but there is simply no getting around the fact that everybody’s lives are much better when fathers take their duties seriously.

Wrestling with the Ghost of your Father

Or – how to be the Lion King, the Top Gun, or the rightful ruler of Denmark.

The animated classic, The Lion King, the Reagan-era air force blockbuster, Top Gun, and the essential Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet, are all about the same thing: how do you make atonement for the absence of your father?

It’s a strange theme. Yet it is an idea so ubiquitous – from the Bible, to the Odyssey and the Aeneid, to the TV show Lost – that clearly it carries some residual vitality which requires our attention.

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