Chris Waldburger

Author Archives: Chris Waldburger

How to Change The World

It may just be a gut feeling, but hashtags, online petitions, and student marches don’t seem to do any good. Professor Jordan Peterson knows why.

I spend a lot of time hearing the strong opinions of young people. I enjoy doing this, and having a conversation about where those opinions come from and where they lead to.

But, at the same time, I get really nervous about this strong push toward using the right words, being politically correct, or ‘woke’, and this general militant feel to politics.

On top of this, I am really suspicious about this political adulation of ‘youth’ and ‘young people’. Surely in the complicated field of politics, experience, and a measured approach to social problems, are to be valued above passion and loud voices?

So what’s the alternative? Continue reading

Why Revolutions Devour Their Children

After the failed no confidence motion, Jacob Zuma has at a Free State conference told a group of ANC ‘cadres’, that “our revolution is under attack”. Intriguingly, he seemed to pin the blame on his alliance partner, the South African Communist Party, yet then proceeded to bemoan a lack of Marxism in our national politics.

Wow. Where to start?

First of all, it is beyond dispute – Marxism as an ideology has been responsible for more murders and violent deaths than any other belief system in recorded history.

Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot – the list goes on. In fact, it is worth noting that even Hitler was head of the National Socialist party and urged state control of industry. It is arguable that Hitler was ideologically a racial parody of Lenin, and learnt the bloody art of totalitarian rule from his Communist enemies.

The chief problem of Marxism is that it falls to the revolutionary party to organise the whole of the economy, and indeed society, which becomes an arena for an all-encompassing class struggle. What could possibly go wrong? A lot. Ask the 100 million people killed by various Communist Parties last century. Continue reading

Beauty Will Save The World

“Man can live without science; he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here; the whole of history is here.”

(This article is a cross-post between chriswaldburger.com and larawaldburger.com)

There is so much ugliness in the world. The box-shaped buildings of the modern city; the pollution that trails in the wake of both industry and poverty; the sordidness of so much of our advertising and politics. In the face of such an onslaught, art can get reduced to the purely functional, a mere commodity.

Russian writer and genius, Fyodor Dostoevsky, saw something different.

For him, it is beauty which saves the world.

What kind of beauty could possibly have such power? Continue reading

‘When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other.’

Time for South Africa to choose – do we worship the Lord of the Flies or not?

White privilege, black tax, black first land first – you know a country is in trouble when the sloganeering begins. Slogans divide. Their content is almost incidental.

In the words of Josiah Bartlet, one of America’s best presidents, you need something after the ten words of a campaign slogan if you’re going to govern a country.

I hate to say this, but removing Jacob Zuma is also something of a slogan. Perhaps one of the better ones, but still a slogan. Continue reading

How to be a (useless) intellectual

Intellectuals perform for us the valuable task of demonstrating the sacred pointlessness of human existence. As Thomas Aquinas once wrote: ‘It is necessary for the perfection of human society that there should be men who devote their lives to contemplation.’

I did pretty well at school. I got good marks. My teachers told me to be a lawyer, an engineer, or a film director (!). Instead, here I find myself a chronically underpaid (considering I studied successfully at varsity for seven years) teacher and writer.

This can make for some awkward conversation at school reunions. If you did well at a private school, you are meant to study Business Science and/or take over your dad’s business. Otherwise, aren’t you wasting all those school fees?

It’s interesting to trace this logic a bit further.

Basically, such logic says you need to make money, so your progeny can make more money, in order for the cycle to continue. Clear?

Now, by no means am I suggesting making money or doing well at business is bad. It is obviously good. And we need lots and lots of people doing just that.

But making money for the sake of making money is bad (especially when you consider that social scientists tell us once your needs are met, more money does not add to happiness) and it comes with a whole lot of stress, worry, and temptation. Continue reading

Did Cinema’s Most Acclaimed Film Predict Trump?

The two most critically acclaimed films of all time are both about the same thing – love, and how to destroy it in the modern world.

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A few months ago I wrote about the film Vertigo, which is considered by many film critics to be, always in competition with Citizen Kane, the greatest film of all time. Read the post here.

Today, I want to look at Citizen Kane – the supposed ‘Everest’ of filmmaking.

For decades, critics and academics have all agreed that when it comes to the art of cinema, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), in its storytelling and filmic innovation, as well as its sympathetic and withering critique of a semi-fictional American tycoon, is the pinnacle and benchmark of the entire art form.

It also happens to be Donald Trump’s favourite film, something which is either highly ironic, or betrays a well-hidden self-awareness on the part of the controversial US President. We’ll return to Trump later – suffice to say the Trump connection demonstrates how all truly great art is always topical. Continue reading

Will Trump Be Overthrown?

I know what I am supposed to think.

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Obama had class. Trump is a fascist nut. Brexit was stupid. And Merkel is a homophobe for being personally opposed to gay marriage. But sue me – because I don’t agree with any of these statements.

I guess I have always had a predilection for thinking about things myself. And to my surprise, I find myself swimming against the current on all of these issues. I liked Obama when he was elected – but, wow, so much hype, so little substance. I think if I were British I would also not want Belgians running my day-to-day life. And I personally don’t find anything offensive about liberal heroine, Angela Merkel, saying that she believes in the traditional view of marriage.

And perhaps most shocking of all, I find myself sympathetic to an orange, tasteless, reality TV star. Continue reading

Proteas, Panic, and the Unimportance of Winning

There is something so fascinating about the South African national cricket side. They so clearly have a real psychological and cultural block when it comes to knock-out cricket – yet they never even own up to it.

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In fact, one could almost even say that not owning their weakness is truly their inherent weakness.

As a big cricket fan, I admit that I get far too emotionally invested in what is really just a game of cricket – a knocking about of leather by willow – and so my knee-jerk reaction after another classic case of Protea Panic is to forget about it and move on.

But this time I am truly intrigued on a human level with this bizarre and continuous re-enactment of ‘choking’, tournament after tournament, as though they were doomed to repeat the past again and again.

For some reason, one of the great and bizarre quotes from Peter ‘P-Divvy’ de Villiers came to mind on Monday morning. He once said, to general mockery,’There is no difference between winning and losing. The only difference is how you feel after.’

Of course, this was immediately dismissed as nonsense, but I wonder if he was not onto something. Continue reading