Author Archives: Chris Waldburger
Author Archives: Chris Waldburger
In the first part of the twentieth century, two very different men wrote parallel, yet divergent, predictions concerning the future of the western 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
“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
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
‘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
Every time a multi-millionaire spends a ridiculous amount on private schooling, we should all applaud.
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
“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating”: Alan Paton as South African prophet.
This is the second post in the series Five Books to Understand the Modern World. For the first installment on ‘Lord of the Flies’ go here.
It’s probably not fashionable any more to be a fan of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’. It does not call for revolution. It is primarily spiritual, rather than political. It is written by a white man.
Yet – no other book I have ever read captures so accurately the agony of South Africa and the stubborn sense of hope symbolised by our land’s beauty, and thus remains almost prophetically relevant to every passing year of our country’s fairly morbid story.
I would go so far as to say this book should be compulsory reading for every school-going child in the country. And therefore it heartily deserves its spot in my top five list of books you need to read to get a grip on what is going on all around us. Continue reading
‘Lord of the Flies’ is a book so many of us read in high school, and completely misunderstood. But if we spend a little more time with it, it tells us something powerful about our society, and ourselves.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to look at my recommended list of books to read to help you understand what is going on in South Africa and the world. All of them are fiction – not because I don’t love non-fiction too, but because I think the most powerful way to understand culture is to know its stories…
‘Lord of the Flies’ was written in the aftermath of World War II and at the beginning of nuclear tension between Russia and America, and the slow fading of Britain as a world and colonial power.
We all think we know what it means: a bunch of schoolboys are stranded on an island and, without civilization, they quickly descend into savagery.
Having crashed on a deserted island full of fruit and wild pig, they begin with sensible ideas to build shelter, elect a leader, hold a parliament with the power of speaking only given to whomever holds ‘the conch’, and set a signal fire.
By the end they are a tribe of painted savages, performing human sacrifice, murder, and acts of terrorism, demonstrating that little boys without adults are evil little critters and thus need supervision to keep them in line.
That’s somewhat true, as far as it goes, but the author, William Golding, was definitely not praising the glories of adult civilization, nor is he trying to communicate some kind of idea about ‘boys being boys’. Continue reading
Watching CNN over the weekend led me to believe that Trump is a Nazi and is about to be overthrown. Then why on earth does polling in the US show he is just as popular as he was the day he was elected? What is going on?
Respected research organisation, National Journal, has released data that show the media’s coverage of the Charlottsville white supremacist march as being insane at best, nefarious at worst.
First of all, a sizable majority of Americans want old Civil War statues to be maintained – including 44 per cent of black Americans. And 43 per cent of Americans agree that Trump was right to point out that the so-called ‘antifa’ or ‘alt-left’ movement, which counter-protested the white supremacist, also contributed to violence. (It must be remembered that the ‘antifa’ have not killed anybody…)
Most tellingly, Trump is still viewed favourably by almost 40 per cent of America, which is the same number as just before the election. (It seems polling companies don’t have the phone numbers of people who vote Trump, Brexit etc.) In fact, as terrorists continue to create distrust and fear in public places in Europe, it is likely that Trump’s ‘America First’ rhetoric will probably become more popular. Continue reading