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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.

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?

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.

Forgetting Nelson Mandela

This past ‘Mandela Day’ in South Africa, a radical left-wing acolyte of populist politician, Julius Malema, dumped a whole bunch of dead rats at the feet of the Mandela statue in Sandton. (Those of you who applauded the guys throwing their own shit around in Cape Town should have seen this coming.)

Forgetting Nelson Mandela

The implication is fairly clear. Mandela ratted out black people by reconciling with whites. Therefore our problems can be blamed on him. We could be living in a socialist utopia if it were not for Madiba going soft while in jail.

There’s no point to even debating the merits of such an argument, as many South Africans attempted to do with the Cecil Rhodes statue. Once people are throwing rats and feces around, debate has left the building. Nobody ten years ago would ever have dreamt of seeing a young black political activist put rats at the feet of Mandela. But there is simply no end to the process of playing the victim. That is why I think we all need to be brave enough to speak up now before the problem gets worse.

Organisations Must Have People Who Are on the Edge of Inside

How do we create organisations that inspire loyalty?

Mandela-de-Klerk-640x324

As human beings, we need to be valued as individuals and we need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. If an organisation can’t validate both needs, it will crumble.

The traditional churches are bleeding members. Almost everybody hates their bank. In South Africa, the ANC is falling apart. Parastatals are falling apart. Sports clubs are even dying. More and more it seems as though we live isolated lives, without our loyalty being inspired by any larger body.

In the US, the Democratic Party almost nominated a presidential candidate who is barely a Democrat (Bernie Sanders only joined the party a few months before he launched his campaign). The Republican Party actually nominated somebody who hates their party (Trump has continuously mocked the Bushes and other party leaders).

In short, trust in our social institutions is at an all-time low, and flame-throwers and outsiders are increasingly popular.