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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. 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

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

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part Two: ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’

“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

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

‘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

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. Continue reading

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