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

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part One: ‘Lord of the Flies’

‘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

Trump is just as popular today as he was on Election Day

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?

Trump is just as popular today as he was on Election Day

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

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