How I Changed My Mind on Affirmative Action

Or, how I left the upside down.

I used to think I kind of understood affirmative action, BEE, quotas etc.

The argument made me feel good about myself as an enlightened white person. I now realise that made me a kind of intellectual accomplice of some of the worst ideological thinking present in our country.

Initially, accepting affirmative action seemed like the pragmatic thing to do in the post-apartheid era. Of course, we need to pay for our sins. Of course, we need to create an aspirational class of black executives and sportsmen.

I still think there is a pragmatic argument to be made here – especially from a white perspective. Yet philosophically, it is more important now for the whole country and the whole world to break the spell of identity politics. Continue reading

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part Three: ‘Brave New World’

In the first part of the twentieth century, two very different men wrote parallel, yet divergent, predictions concerning the future of the western world.

Fear the Brave New World (Third Part of Books to Understand the Modern World)

In 1949, in the shadow of rampant totalitarianism, George Orwell wrote ‘1984’, in which he predicted the rise of Big Brother, the Ministry of Love, Newspeak, and thought crime – all instruments of a repressive future political order in which freedom is vanquished.

In 1932, at the outset of the consumer and permissive society, Aldous Huxley wrote the novel ‘Brave New World’, also a dystopian take on the future.

Yet ‘Brave New World’ imagines a vastly different kind of oppression coming our way. Continue reading

Keeping Your Room Tidy in 2018

“Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.”

Wars have started because of train timetables and poor grammar.

Every single life’s very existence is dependent on a billion little moments and decisions having gone a certain way for the past million years.

In the face of the unlimited, overwhelming importance of all the little things, the ephemeral ‘big things’ we spend time worrying about – the ANC, Trump, and your credit card – should tend to fade away just a little bit.

Probably the most important public intellectual of our time – anti-political correctness psychologist, Jordan Peterson – speaks about the advice he gives to young people about how to live their lives properly. Continue reading

We Are All to Blame For the Springboks’ Demise

How we all contributed to our slow slide into mediocrity.

I don’t believe in collective guilt.

But every now and then, there is a time to recognise we are all somewhat complicit in something going bad – in this case, Springbok rugby.

So how can we all possibly have done something ourselves to get to the point of having to watch Damian de Allende potter around a rugby field while making millions? Continue reading

Why Virtually Everybody Believes in God

…Whether they know it or not.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the modern age is that as modern people we imagine ourselves to be these neutral, rational observers of truth.

We think we understand everything because we have mastered nature to a hitherto unknown degree. We imagine ourselves to have stripped away the filters and falsities of mythology and superstition.

This is what we mean by the word ‘secular’. In a secular world, any religious or even metaphysical thought must always be seen as some kind of optional extra, a lifestyle choice, which certainly has no bearing on our common life together, like an irrational desire to collect stamps or coins.

But to imagine ourselves in such a world is simply naïve. Continue reading

Why We All Need A Story

Without a narrative, how do you make your way through the trials and storms of life?

Our lives today generally don’t follow a grand narrative. Very few of us imagine ourselves as having a destiny or a fate. Nor do we understand our lives as part of something bigger than ourselves. For most people, nations, churches, and big organisations have lost their credibility.

Instead, we want the freedom to construct our own identities, and to alter that construction as we move through life – just as we create ‘personal brands’ on Facebook and Instagram. Continue reading

Living in the Future; Making the ANC Irrelevant

‘Don’t worry darlin’, now baby don’t you fret/ We’re livin’ in the future and none of this has happened yet.’ So sang Bruce Springsteen. In the spirit of the Boss, it’s time to live in the future, and not let the bastards keep us down.

I am tired of hearing about the ANC presidential race, as their destruction of SAA, education, public trust etc, continues unabated. When you’re on the Titanic, the name of the captain is not highly relevant.

One thing I am convinced of: the ANC, because of its inherent ideology of ‘party first’, has no mechanism of reform. It will crumble – the only question is what it takes down with it.

In other words, for the few remaining patriots out there, the fight for the future of the country must not be fought on the turf of the ANC. Instead, a creative minority of non-partisans must begin solving our country’s problems outside of the world of political parties.

What would such a future look like? Continue reading

Why South Africa needs as much elite education as possible

Every time a multi-millionaire spends a ridiculous amount on private schooling, we should all applaud.

Why South Africa needs as much elite education as possible

Every year, somebody posts on Facebook how much South Africa’s most expensive schools cost, and people, as is their wont, take glee in expressing outrage that our country has lots of wealthy people in it willing to spend massive amounts on schooling.

And every year, I wonder why the same outrage is not directed against people shopping at Woolworths, buying their own car or house, or going to private hospitals.

The reason why is fairly clear, I think – we all recognise how powerful a quality education is. And thus we fear elitism in education more than in any other sphere.

But that’s exactly the wrong attitude to have – elitism in education is not only necessary, but desirable. Continue reading

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