Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Free political commentary for the dissenting South African Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:05:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 https://i2.wp.com/rationalstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/cropped-RS-Logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 The End of Kleptocracy in South Africa? Not Likely https://rationalstandard.com/end-kleptocracy-south-africa-zuma/ https://rationalstandard.com/end-kleptocracy-south-africa-zuma/#respond Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:05:56 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7294 After South Africans received a welcome late evening Valentine’s Day gift in the form of Jacob Zuma resigning as President, many South Africans took to social media in jubilation, and rightly so. South Africans expressed joy that the man that has held our country hostage for the past nine years was finally gone. Unfortunately, however, […]

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After South Africans received a welcome late evening Valentine’s Day gift in the form of Jacob Zuma resigning as President, many South Africans took to social media in jubilation, and rightly so. South Africans expressed joy that the man that has held our country hostage for the past nine years was finally gone. Unfortunately, however, this is not the end to South Africa’s woes, despite what many seem to believe, as manifested by our currency exchange improvement.

South Africa’s problems are deeper and vaster than one man. This is in no way better highlighted than the debacle that our country has been through since Cyril Ramaphosa became the President of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC did not recall Zuma because of the 783 corruption charges against him, Nkandla or state capture, nor did they recall him because of the literally billions of rands wasted through Eskom, Prasa, the SABC, or SAA.

SEE ALSO: Zuma is Gone – But That Doesn’t Even Begin To Solve South Africa’s Problems by Nicholas Woode-Smith

The ANC recalled him simply to do damage control for the coming elections in 2019. They needed a new face on their taxpayer-sponsored green, yellow and black posters to trick voters into thinking that this is a new ANC, rising out of the ashes created by their previous leader. The ANC is trying to simultaneously condemn their former leader while also thanking him for his service and principled leadership during the past two terms as head of state. Surely they must realise that most South Africans see through this hypocrisy?

Despite Zuma now being unemployed, his cronies remain. This, however, is not the biggest threat facing our country. These cronies will be shipped out, redeployed and moved out by the new administration. What remains is the same ideology that created the mess we dealt with during the past decade. As a country, we are still not safe from this ideology just yet.

The problems in the ANC was and is not Msholozi. The problems in the ANC are much larger. The same members of the ANC who now proudly sit in command of the party after removing Zuma and his power-base were present during Zuma’s tenure. The same parliamentarians who were planning on voting out Zuma in a motion of no confidence were the ones who voted with confidence in Zuma a mere six months ago.

It must also be noted that Zuma was not the cause of the problem. It was not merely the former president who created this environment for plundering and theft within our government. Cyril Ramaphosa, who is to many is our supposed knight in shining armour, is implicated in corruption scandals dating from during and before Zuma’s occupancy of the Union Buildings.

In South Africa we are faced with an ideology that believes that bigger is better when it comes to government. We believe that the solution to our social and economic problems is to continuously entrust the same positions that fail and disappoint us with more and more power. This creates an enabling environment for more looting, the only variable being those who are on the receiving end of the economic ransacking.

As long as we continue to tolerate great amounts of power vested intone position and, in effect, one person, then the kleptocracy in South Africa will continue.

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Zuma is Gone – But That Doesn’t Even Begin To Solve South Africa’s Problems https://rationalstandard.com/zuma-is-gone-solve-south-africas-problems/ https://rationalstandard.com/zuma-is-gone-solve-south-africas-problems/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 22:00:26 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7287 Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa, ending almost 9 years rule by a corrupt demagogue accused of rape, lists of corruption allegations and the destruction of our economy. As was to be expected, South Africans are cheering for what must seem to be the end of woe. Good times will begin, but […]

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Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa, ending almost 9 years rule by a corrupt demagogue accused of rape, lists of corruption allegations and the destruction of our economy. As was to be expected, South Africans are cheering for what must seem to be the end of woe. Good times will begin, but as you were probably expecting me to say (if you have read any of my articles) – not really.

I’m often accused of being too negative. I really wish I wasn’t. I don’t try to be negative. I just look at the world, at history and at the likelihood of events based on relevant factors and probability. More often than not, the outcome is negative.

Zuma is not the reason for South Africa’s plight. We were suffering for much longer than his tenure. We will continue to suffer, so long as we blame South Africa’s problems on personalities and not on the real culprit: ideology.

Zuma is a symptom of a greater disease. The cure isn’t to push him into resigning and then pretend that we’re the Rainbow Nation again. All that accomplishes is letting our statist, good-for-nothing parties run amok without any serious consideration for South Africa’s real problems.

I dare say that Zuma was good for South Africa. He gave us, at least, some sort of focus. The wrong focus, but at least it was in the right direction.

For a while, South Africans knew that something was seriously wrong in this country. We had an (alleged) rapist in the presidency. It became common knowledge that organised crime and corrupt business owned our government.

Many South Africans knew at least some semblance of the truth – that our government, and government in general, is shit.

Of course, South Africans got a lot of stuff wrong. They thought Zuma was an idiot. They ignored his cunning. His experience as an operator and a man who would not be meddled with. Jacob Zuma was a political genius. In a way, I’m disappointed with him. I expected more of the man. But it seems his age has caught up with him and he decided to go out with a little more of a whimper. But maybe I’m wrong. He hasn’t been convicted, yet. This may be the grand exit strategy, disguised as a concession. I wouldn’t put it past him.

The big thing South Africans got wrong, and are still getting wrong, is that Zuma is the problem. They see Cyril Ramaphosa and think the derelict yes-man can deliver this diseased nation to glory. I’m not sorry to say that this is delusional.

Ramaphosa isn’t the cure. He’s a part of the problem. Rather than being the medicine of the Zuma-virus, he’s a new strain.

He’s a strain of the virus that is South Africa – a country run by organised criminals, populated by violent criminals and awash with an ideology that glorifies looting and violence.

South Africa fails because we put so much power in the hands of one individual. Not only political power, but through the idea that a single person can be blamed for everything wrong in this deeply troubled country.

Zuma is gone. But South Africa’s toxicity remains. Its lack of knowledge of recent history. Its complacency. Its tolerance of violence and looting. South Africa has lost a dictator, but it is still a tyranny.

Until we realise that, South Africa will continue to be nothing more than a mistake.

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The New Right to Equality https://rationalstandard.com/new-right-equality/ https://rationalstandard.com/new-right-equality/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 09:59:54 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7279 Written by: Jack Calhoun Section 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values: Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms; Non-racialism and non-sexism; Supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law; and […]

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Written by: Jack Calhoun

Section 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values:

  • Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms;
  • Non-racialism and non-sexism;
  • Supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law; and
  • Universal adult suffrage, a national common voters roll, regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness.

The above section embodies the point of departure when the law of the Republic is to be applied, and gives direction to the executive on how to exercise their public power.

It is the product of what has often been called a “negotiated revolution,” referring to the consultative process which preceded the Constitution’s promulgation in 1996. In this process, representatives of numerous cultural, racial and other entities were involved, at least in theory, to ensure that a constitution was agreed on which would protect the legitimate interests of all who live in South Africa, whatever those interests may be.

From the language of section 1, the aim seems to have been to create a society whose inhabitants were all ensured to be treated with dignity, equality, in a non-racialist or sexist manner and where human rights and freedoms would be bestowed upon all citizens.

The above aims are laudable, but as has been pointed out by certain scholars on constitutionalism, constitutions are often changed not only through legal process, but also through interpretation by the courts, and politicians. This is done by simply reinterpreting or changing the meaning of the words contained in the Constitution.

In his widely-acclaimed book on international relations, Samuel P Huntington makes an eerie remark in passing, namely that the white minority ruling South Africa handed the country over to a generation of highly westernised black leaders, but that the black leaders of the second generation would commence to eliminate the Afrikaner and Anglo elements from their society.

The main barrier to the so-called elimination of Afrikaner and Anglo cultural elements in society is, of course, the Constitution, which elevates values such as freedom, dignity and equality as core values of our society. To overcome this difficulty, the new and modern ruling elite, whose ideology is to a large degree represented in our tertiary student body, has changed the content of the Constitution, by changing what words like “equality,” “dignity,” “non-racialist” and “non-sexist” means. The courts then proceed to apply legislation which aims to further these aims by the meanings that the politicians give to these concepts. It has been well observed by scholars, like Professor Koos Malan at the University of Pretoria, for example, that the judicial arm of government is loath to differ from the ideological positions of the executive.

The controversy surrounding the Afrikaans, Christian private hostel in Pretoria, De Goede Hoop, unambiguously signals the beginning of the implementation of the new South African narrative. Before reading the rest of this article, take a look at their website and their vision and mission statements. In Afrikaans, they state that they aim to establish a non-racial, non-sexist residence of Afrikaans and Christian students.

This private residence was reported to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, who indicated that they must scrap the admission requirement of writing an Afrikaans essay to the residence as motivation for one’s admission due to the apparent fact that it causes racial segregation.

Another private, Christian residence, Sonop Tehuis, was banned from all student activities at the University of Pretoria simply for being too white and Afrikaans. In the media, both these entities are essentially portrayed as white nationalist institutions. The respective punitive measures implemented against both entities have been lauded in the media.

I also studied at the University of Pretoria.  They control the racial composition of the university residences by way of quotas. No residence may have less than a certain amount of black students. During my time there, race and language were emotive subjects.  The biggest language group in my residence was by far Afrikaans-speaking individuals, which made up nearly 40% of the residence at any given stage. The remainder of the students were English, Pedi, Venda, Sotho, and Zulu, etc.

The Afrikaans students wished to conduct meetings in Afrikaans but were instructed on a constant basis that all meetings must be conducted in English. This was even the case when 90% of the attendees were Afrikaans-speaking. Especially in ladies residences, students were discouraged from speaking Afrikaans with each other, even when in a lift or a hallway, when a person who is not Afrikaans speaking was nearby.

Expression of religion was also a problem, as all the residents were not Christian. As a consequence, to avoid placing any particular minority group in an uncomfortable position, the university and its management strove to cultivate an English, secular environment.

Due to the above policies, individuals who wished to speak in their mother tongue (if they were not English-speaking) and who wished to practice their common religion openly, were not afforded these privileges. This is understandable to a degree. The university is a public institution, the goods are public goods, and South Africa does not have the expertise, or even possibly the resources, to cater to the preferences of all the individuals attending such a public institution.

As a consequence, individuals who wish to live in an environment where religion and culture are openly practiced has no choice but to start their own private entities to service these needs. Thank goodness for our liberal constitution which protects the right to freedom of association, culture, religion, and expression. Thank goodness for our constitution which protects the right to not be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their religion, culture or skin colour. The problem is just that this Constitution, somehow, no longer protects these rights. Quite the contrary: it has become a tool to undermine them.

As the scrapping of the admission policies of De Goede Hoop, the banning form university activities of Sonop, the abolishing of the right to mother tongue instruction for Afrikaans students of Kovsies, the possible accreditation issue at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law along with many other such instances in the last two or three years, prove, there is now a new narrative on the definition of equality, and what non-racialism and non-sexism means. In the past, non-racialism and non-sexism meant that your skin colour or your sex would never be a barrier which would cause you not to enjoy equal protection of the law. It meant that the government would never tell you with whom and whom not you may associate. It meant that you would be free to live your life and exercise your culture and identity.

Equality, non-racialism, and non-sexism now mean that all public and private spaces must reflect the racial and gender composition of the country. If this is not achieved, then the space you are attending is racist and unequal.

With this narrative, a university can lose its accreditation to offer a course because “there is insufficient support for black students” or a student can lose his right to study in his language of choice because offering it has the “unintended consequence” of, apparently, racially segregating the classrooms.

Using this narrative, the courts, public and private institutions will keep targeting and denying the protection of law to communities and groups that attempt to exercise their cultural and linguistic rights. The targeting of private institutions, such as De Goede Hoop, is especially concerning.

Establishing a majority-black, Afrikaans and Christian private residence in Pretoria is nearly impossible due to the demographics of the city and the northern provinces of South Africa in general. Therefore, Afrikaans and Christian individuals who endeavor to sustain and start such an initiative are racist and bigoted. They may not be allowed to do so because we ostensibly strive for equality in South Africa. In South Africa, black people are now the custodians of all culture and religion. People who wish to exercise such rights must ensure that the majority of their membership is black and wishes to exercise their culture or interest as well. Otherwise, this desire is a racist tendency. That is our new right to equality, non-racialism and non-sexism.

Author: Jack Calhoun is the pseudonym of a legal practitioner from Pretoria, who has chosen to remain anonymous.

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Johannesburg Government To “Take Back” The City From “Illegal Alcohol Outlets”? https://rationalstandard.com/johannesburg-government-take-back-city-illegal-alcohol-outlets/ https://rationalstandard.com/johannesburg-government-take-back-city-illegal-alcohol-outlets/#comments Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:24:05 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7259 In an announcement on Facebook, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, wrote that “It is essential that we bring back the rule of law in our City and take it back from the criminal elements such as landlords who neglect paying municipal bills, criminals that hijack buildings and those who breakdown communities by running illegal […]

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In an announcement on Facebook, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, wrote that “It is essential that we bring back the rule of law in our City and take it back from the criminal elements such as landlords who neglect paying municipal bills, criminals that hijack buildings and those who breakdown communities by running illegal alcohol outlet.” (my emphasis)

This was part of Mashaba’s announcement of “Operation Buya Mthetho“. The operation, a joint effort “between all key City departments and entities”, is intended “to ensure city by-law[s] are adhered to by all within the City and that the rule of law becomes the order of the day”.

This is the latest intervention in an apparent crackdown by the Democratic Alliance and its governments on freedom of choice in lifestyle. The first intervention is the new alcohol policy taking root in the Western Cape. That policy, among other things, intends to raise taxes to make alcohol more expensive, restrict trading hours, create monopolistic conditions by reducing the density of outlets in particular areas, and to force citizens to spy on one another on behalf of government.

Were the Democratic Alliance, and more particularly Herman Mashaba, dedicated to the Rule of Law (the real Rule of Law, not the thing Mashaba keeps mentioning in his press releases) and free enterprise, they would abolish liquor licensing and reduce or eliminate red tape, to the extent possible at the local and provincial levels, and allow South Africans freedom to trade. It is not the role of government to paternalistically dictate to a free people how they are and are not allowed to live their lives and what lifestyles they should choose.

Liberty and rights are for when things are tough, not for when things are easy. The communities that are being harmed by alcoholism must deal with the problem themselves, voluntarily and peacefully, and not call in the guns of the State unless anyone’s liberty or property is under threat. Freedom is meaningless otherwise.

Whatever “studies” that show that “alcohol‚ drugs‚ and firearms” are part of South Africa’s crime problem are flawed, because their premises are flawed.

There is nothing inherent in alcohol, drugs, or firearms that encourages lawlessness. According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa ranked 30th internationally in alcohol consumption in 2015. Countries like Belarus, South Korea, and Australia far outrank South Africa, yet have far, far lower rates of crime. South Africa’s rates of drug addiction are also not something to write home about in relative terms. That the availability of firearms is a potential cause of crime shouldn’t even be dignified with a response. Firearm ownership is heavily regulated in South Africa. In the United States, where firearms are almost omnipresently available, crime rates are far lower than in South Africa.

Clearly, the source of our crime problem lies elsewhere.

I believe it can more readily be attributed to lackluster and incompetent law enforcement, a failing prosecution system, and a government (and, unfortunately, society) that heavily encourages a culture of rent-seeking.

Even if these things are not the cause of crime, would it not make sense for government to fix itself before it starts violating the freedom of South Africans? Why is the first resort to repeal freedom to trade and freedom of choice, rather than appointing skilled police officers and experienced prosecutors? Moreover, if unemployment is a cause of crime, why violate freedoms rather than repealing the very laws that keep our people out of jobs?

Our political leaders do not care about freedom, especially those who claimed that they apparently do. They are far more interested in finding the solution to our troubles in more government and more restriction, rather than in less government and more freedom. They trust only in themselves and their power, and have no interest in empowering the people to solve their own problems.

South Africa’s salvation does not lie with these ‘leaders’, but with ourselves.

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Who drives academic decolonization at UCT https://rationalstandard.com/drives-academic-decolonization-uct/ https://rationalstandard.com/drives-academic-decolonization-uct/#respond Sun, 04 Feb 2018 22:01:54 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7084 UCT is ranked 191st in the world, and 19th if the search is restricted to BRICS countries.  However, it has dropped by 40 and 10 places, respectively, since the ‘rise’ of Fallism.  Nevertheless, it’s still number 1 in Africa. But, closest rival, Stellenbosch University (361st), has climbed by 31 places since last year, and meteorically since […]

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UCT is ranked 191st in the world, and 19th if the search is restricted to BRICS countries.  However, it has dropped by 40 and 10 places, respectively, since the ‘rise’ of Fallism.  Nevertheless, it’s still number 1 in Africa. But, closest rival, Stellenbosch University (361st), has climbed by 31 places since last year, and meteorically since the 1990s. Within UCT, ornithology has risen steadily, and now ranks at 3rd worldwide and 4th in African Studies. UCT researchers are still highly rated by South Africa’s National Research Foundation, and attract considerable research funds and publish innovative papers and books. But, more than half of her A-rated researchers are emeritus professors or 60+ years old, two-thirds of them are from the Faculties of Science and Health Sciences, and A-ratings and published research ‘fruits’ are efforts decades in the making.

So, with noteworthy exceptions, UCT is in overall academic decline as a research university.

Despite this bad news, Fallists, the Black Academic Caucus (BAC), and UCT’s Vice-Chancellor, DVCs and Executive Directors are determined to pursue Fallists’ evidence-free demands for her further “decolonization”, believing that it will reverse this trajectory.  They maintain that decolonization is also essential because UCT remains institutionally racist and colonialist. This is in sharp contrast to the recollections of past VCs Saunders  and Ramphele, and my history: Was/Is UCT an institutionally colonialist/sexist/racist institution? (Parts 1 and 2 on my blog site ). These scholarly publications demonstrate that UCT became non-racial in principle from 1950 and, certainly from ~1980, has striven to eliminate any vestiges of institutional (or individual acts of) racism and dealt aggressively with alleged acts of colonialism and sexism.

There is no documented, evidence-based Fallist history of UCT that supports the persistence of racism and/or colonialism at UCT, institutional of otherwise.

The one high-profile case of alleged racism in the public domain involved a Sociology decolonist academic who accused colleagues of racism. His complaint was reviewed (with the approval of all concerned) by DVC (and NRF-A-rated professor of law) Danie Visser.  Visser dismissed the case, found that the accuser had defamed the alleged racists and instructed him to apologize publicly for this defamation.

He refused to comply.

Another recent racism ‘story’ at UCT relates to the pioneer Fallist and decolonist who “reprehensively” defaced (without being held accountable) Rhodes’ statue with human excrement. Subsequently, he was accused of psychologically and racially abusing a woman lecturer.  During the incident, he is quoted saying: “it’s time for all whites to go” and “whites have to be killed”. That case remains unresolved, and the lecturer has had virtually no support from the UCT Management for more than a year. Still later, the same multi-amnestied Fallist was accused of a assaulting another woman (this time a ‘black’, lesbian protester) and of arson during the Shackville ‘Protest’.  For the latter, he was effectively expelled. Yet, after being once again ‘clemencied’ for this law-breaking, and allowed access to UCT via the November Agreement for non-violence, he violated that let-off a month later by invading the AGM of the UCT Convocation and defaming a member of the Convocation. Most recently, in August 2017 at the T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture, he defamed VC Price saying: “Dr Price protects white racists” (naming the alleged ones in Sociology) “who have not apologized for questioning the actions of a ‘black’ professor” (naming the defamer). “Dr Price has no courage, regard, wisdom and no vision to say to you ‘I apologize for this institutional racism’. He is morally bankrupt.”

Yet, this multi-lawbreaking, multi-amnestied, unrepentant Fallist/decolonist whom VC Price has repeatedly ‘consoled’ and described as “outraged” (rather than outrageous), apparently will re-register for his 10th year as a UCT undergraduate student in 2018, despite failing many (most?) of his courses.

Moving from lawbreaking and defamation back to decolonization, Fallists and their supporters claim that “particular identities and scholarly traditions and perspectives” – especially from Africa and the global south – are marginalised and excluded at UCT within a static and rigid academic climate that does not easily allow for alternative perspectives, and is not responsive to society and public debate. Particular blame is focused on the cultural views of “collectively dominant Western ‘dead-white-men’” that are “lodged at the heart of UCT’s curriculum and attempt to perpetuate negative stereotypes in curricula and pedagogy”.

However, what is missing in Fallist statements is a fact-filled, rational explication of what is “marginalized and excluded” and documented evidence of resolute pursuit of an obstructive status quo. What arguments they present refer to “subtle”, nuanced, even “invisible” hegemonic Western influences and global thinking; “internalised ‘white’ superiority”, “other exclusionary practices”, “masked and cumulative and institutional racism”; and “also-invisible culturally-linked, symbolic, structural, epistemological and psychological violence”.  All of these ghost-like actions are unsupported by documented evidence.

Nevertheless, Fallists and ‘decolonists’ claim that these invisible influences, violence et al. justify their overt violence and other lawbreaking. They claim to be alienated, and call for the creation of more opportunities to expose students to alternative “ways of thinking” associated with disciplines beyond their primary areas of specialisation.

But, once again, what are these “ways of thinking” and new “areas”?

Fallist decolonists also call for the meaningful interrogation of these subtle/invisible influences, and insist that all members of the university make a commitment to participate in “winnable” debates within “safe spaces” to enable change that addresses the challenges of transformation.

But, there are such “spaces”: Jameson Hall, lecture theatres, seminar rooms, even the UCT Club. Yet, when Fallists deem it necessary, they disrupt sessions where such debate could occur. Just who amongst the UCT Community uncompromisingly opposes change and refuses to participate in debate, other than Fallists?  Please provide a list of names of ‘opposers’ and document this reticence.

In short, the academic decolonization of UCT requires creating an enabling environment that will promote debate, and “critical reflection” on the politics of the production, application and distribution of knowledge.  This includes what counts as academic excellence in teaching, learning, and academic research towards a socially responsive society.

Yet, until 2017, Fallists and their supporters failed to explain just what the mean by “critical reflection”.

Reaction by the UCT Executive

Rather than requiring faculties and departments to get their ‘decolonization acts together’ and giving them the authority and resources to do so, since the turn of the millennium, a large, increasingly powerful, centralized management has taken control of “transformation” leadership at UCT, at the expense of academics. There is even a DVC post created to facilitate the process. The shift in academic power downhill to Bremner/Azania House is well-documented in the “Moran Report” commissioned in 2007 by VC Ndebele. The report strongly recommended that academic authority, decision-making and accountability be returned to faculties and departments, and UCT’s administrative sector revert to its original role as a small, effective support structure that must continually “justify its existence”.

These recommendations were not implemented.

Rather than let academics and students take the lead, the Price-led leadership created commission after commission, committee after committee, working group after working group and task team after task team, and ‘negotiated’ with unrepentant law-breakers to determine UCT’s policies and how they are to be implemented.

Recent examples of this ‘strategy’ relating to decolonization are Price and Price-Team’s creation of the:

  1. the Curriculum Change Working Group (CCWG) to work with him and Prof. Loretta Feris (DVC for Transformation) to facilitate the engagement in decolonization by the “whole” UCT community, and
  2. the Internal Reconciliation and Transformation Commission Steering Committee (IRTC-SC) set up according to the November Agreement to deal with past, current and future protest and chart UCT’s decolonization.

VC Price even supported the release of one of the Shackville ‘expellees’ from jail so he could negotiate and sign the Agreement. (He, like the faeces flinger, was subsequently ‘clemencied’, but was later accused of breaking through the door into the offices of the Campus Protection Services and of sexual harassment.)

After many meetings over many months, the IRTC-SC has reached no consensus, let alone agreement, concerning what constitutes illegitimate protest or how UCT’s management may deal with it.  There have been no discussions about what decolonization is, let alone how to put it into effect. Currently, it is in deadlock because of boycotts by representatives of pro-Fallist “constituencies”.

Curriculum Change Working Group

By design, the CCWG is led by black scholars (mostly from the Faculties of Humanities and Health Sciences). CCWG members maintain that the “notion of blackness in this context extends beyond simply a racial category”. It embraces those who have a particular consciousness around coloniality. According to VC Price, the group has considerable experience, knowledge and expertise related to the development of contextually and socially relevant curricula, and are well versed in the use of inclusive approaches to teaching and learning.

CCWG members developed a concept paper and terms of reference, collaborating closely with faculty academic representatives, student representatives from faculty councils and those academics and students “who wanted to get involved”.  Price urged the CCWG to engage with Fallists after it because there was deadlock between them and management.

The CCWG Terms of Reference sets out membership, reporting lines, accountability, timeframes and deliverables of the working group. Its Preliminary Conceptual Framework was strongly influenced by student and staff protests of 2015. It was scheduled to complete a curriculum change academic planning framework by October 2017.

I have seen no such published “framework”.

CCWG members contributed to an article in The Conversation that purports to give a “clear and practical example” of the group’s work. This involved getting the Dean of Health Sciences to capitulate to Fallists’ demands when they occupied his offices, provided that they resumed attending classes.

The protesting Health Sciences students did not return to class.

Thereafter, DVC Feris and the CCWG used a theoretical framework based “critical realism” (CR) to get to work.

The only major Feris/CCWG decolonization effort to date was to recruit decolonist mathematician Prof. C.K. Raju to epistemically challenge science in general at UCT and “dogmatic” mathematical science in particular.

Raju’s actions at UCT had highly controversial consequences to say the least, potentially disastrous ones at worse.  For the ‘short story’ of the Raju ‘Affair’, see the article in GroundUp.  For the ~100-page ‘long story’, see the three-part commentary Decolonizing Maths at UCT on my blog site.

I deal with CR in another piece.

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The Ideological Inadequacy of the Democratic Alliance https://rationalstandard.com/ideological-inadequacy-democratic-alliance/ https://rationalstandard.com/ideological-inadequacy-democratic-alliance/#comments Fri, 02 Feb 2018 19:27:04 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7255 It is no secret that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been sliding to the left for a long time. Some will point to Helen Zille’s time as Leader introducing identity politics to the party, which is a core feature of everything on the left. I can understand this, though, as the DA was and still […]

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It is no secret that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been sliding to the left for a long time. Some will point to Helen Zille’s time as Leader introducing identity politics to the party, which is a core feature of everything on the left. I can understand this, though, as the DA was and still is desperately trying to attract more black voters, which are imperative to any hope of being national government. I only ask at what cost of the DA’s soul is this continued policy in the best interests of South Africa.

I became an active voter in 2014 with my first election. I voted for the DA on provincial and national ballots. I also voted for the DA on the mayoral and ward councilor ballots in 2016. I will not be voting for the DA on the 2019 ballots. My days of defending the DA as a party being ‘our best hope’, ended in 2017. I was a begrudging supporter a few months after the 2016 elections, and outright dropped the party in early 2017.

What changed? Two things: me, and the DA.

I changed in that I became more in tune with what classical liberalism actually was, and the DA started doing things only short of leaps to the left. I realised that the DA was starting to embody more and more socialist tendencies, despite such movement for a long time, albeit gradual. Mmusi Maimane has been unwelcomely bold in this regard.

The clarion call that sounded for me was when Maimane suggested a wealth tax to create his ‘sovereign wealth fund’ that could be used in times of emergencies. As a student who invests and speculates spare cash, this was not something I wanted to hear. As a student who one day dreams of owning a nice house and car, this was not something I wanted to hear. As a student who has watched his parents struggle along for fourteen long years with their small business and waiting to be able to claim their retirement annuity, this is not something I wanted to hear.

What I was hearing, was the equivalent of Maimane saying:

“Some people are wealthier than others. We must punish them… because they have money we need.”

The argument of “helping the poor” and all that rhetoric doesn’t fly anymore. He saw that the government needs money, and so he decided to attack the very people that are literally the only ones keeping this country afloat: the middle class and businessmen. Struggling and prosperous alike. It does not matter that he changed his stance after some backlash. He showed his true colours. He knows who he needs to sell down the river to make the DA’s government ambitions happen through the selling of the DA’s policies. This is the ideological dilemma of the DA.

The DA was once a liberal party, but in the continuous move to the left, it has lost its competitive advantage. It is now competing with the ANC directly, using the same ideology – socialism – while paying lip service to liberal aspects. I do not believe that it can win this game, nor do I hope that it can win the game. I want it to lose, and lose horribly. We do not need an ANC 2.0.

The selling point of the DA since Maimane entered has been “Look at the ANC’s corruption!”. Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious. We know this. Everyone can see this. The ANC was getting votes because of its brand, not because of a belief in Jacob Zuma. Zuma is temporary, and the ANC is forever… kind of… not really. As we now see, the ANC under Ramaphosa is just about ready to push Zuma into a meatgrinder. What will the DA campaign on when the corruption in the ANC is cleaned out, regardless of how long the process will take, and regardless of how far it goes before degenerating again? Not ideology, that is for sure.

The Cape water crisis is another illustration of DA shortcomings, because all we hear is blame-shifting. Yes, we all know that national government is uselessly inept, and this has been the case for over a decade. Do you mean to tell me the DA waited for this disaster for over thirteen years, while their backup plan only included fixing water leaks and blaming forces we already knew about, when the disaster hit?

Why wasn’t the City putting money aside since 2006, and the Province since 2009, for desalination? Oh, wait, they were boasting about ploughing “60-70% of the budget into poor areas”. I can understand the issue of the budget, and how local government is not obligated at all to do the job of national government. However, when the very basis of effective civil infrastructure is under threat, do we just wait until the 11th hour before deciding to recognize what we already knew years before, and that being that national government is not going to help us, especially under Zuma?

The complete and utter non-existence of the DA even hinting at maybe we should privatise water production, and subsidise the poor, is another alarm that the DA is slipping away from the core aspects of the ideology of the party: the market and private enterprise. They railed against Eskom for such a long time and how it should be privatized by capitalizing on the devastating load shedding. But water boards? Not a peep. This is but one shortcoming, and the most glaringly obvious one at that.

If the DA is to restore confidence in itself and its very reason for existence, it needs to be more vocal about a lot more than corruption. It needs to be an alternative to the ANC, and not a substitute. Off the top of my head, these are some things that the DA either already espouses, or, in my opinion, should:

  • Tax cuts and tax code simplifications, and not making up for the cuts with wealth taxes and levies squeezed in on the side.
  • Corporate tax cut. At 28%, we nearly matched the United States’ 35% rate, which has since been slashed to 21% under Trump’s tax reform. The effects of Trump’s signature legislative move thus far has had immediate ramifications on US industry and manufacturing.
  • Killing and muzzling government agencies not constitutionally essential, as well as regulation slashing. Trump made a policy stating that every new regulation needs the repeal of two existing regulations. The result? The Trump administration has slashed more regulations than the Reagan administration could ever dream of, and US businesses are loving it.
  • Parastatal privatization. Divide Eskom and Transnet into multiple entities per province and sell them all. Get rid of South African Airways. Sell off Armscor and Denel. Privatise the water boards, and subsidise poor communities for water supply. Privatise all waste collection. Privatise the highway networks (adequate tax cuts and changes to the fuel taxes should mean people are happy to pay tolls).
  • Education reform. Change the curriculum, and consider school vouchers rather than blanket public funding, while maintaining some state schools.
  • Police reform. Devolve the SA Police Service (SAPS) fully to the provincial level and abolish the national structures completely. Cut the budget for the SAPS in the metros completely, and instead direct the savings to metro police in those metros. Grant powers of investigation to metro police. Abolish provincial traffic services, and use the SAPS for rural and highway patrol functions. Let municipalities decide if they want one law enforcement body, or multiple.
  • Firearm reform. Abolish the Central Firearms Registry and Firearms Control Act with their billion-rand operational tag. Redirect SAPS resources used here to crime prevention, and not policing law-abiding citizens.
  • Healthcare reform. Experiment with voucher programs in certain regions spanning metros and rural areas.
  • Border control. Create an immigration authority limited by statute in size and scope of function.
  • Election reform. The DA has chirped about this before, then says nothing for years at a time.

On election reform I am especially disappointed at the efforts taken to change the system we currently use.

Representatives should have to go to the voters and battle against other candidates from both within and outside their own party, with the voters choosing who they want. Not the party sending someone for us to vote for on a party logo. The ANC has abused their constituents like this. The DA has not necessarily done the same from what I can see, however, the representative is ultimately beholden to the party.

Current policies do not encourage deep engagement with the political process. Rather a candidate is battled and picked from within the party and trotted out to voters for a rubber stamp. Parliament has a list of party candidates waiting their turn, whereas in the US, for example, the only list is at the ballot box. The candidates in SA seldom, if ever, challenge the party line on things publicly. The US is bit of a political war zone, because representatives are sometimes mandated to go against and challenge party lines, and if they do not, they get voted out and fired.

These are just some examples, and the DA does hint at some of these, but has been so weak on promoting them that I have absolutely no faith such actions would materialise should they control government. Their railing against Zuma has drowned out their voices on most other matters.

When it comes to rising taxes under Zuma, we hear a little whisper from the shadow finance minister about tax reform, then not a squeak until the next budget speech. Trump was extremely aggressive and vocal on his economic and tax reform plans and nothing short of plastering them in front of the media to cover as part of his agenda setting. The DA does not match up in this regard.

Now that Zuma’s exit is increasingly likely, I hope and pray that the DA finally realises that they are not wearing enough (if any) clothes, and start making strong attempts to sell a liberal message, because as of writing, I and my family will not be voting for them again.

Featured image: Democratic Alliance Flickr

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12 Signs That Show You Are Dealing With A Politician https://rationalstandard.com/twelve-signs-show-dealing-politician/ https://rationalstandard.com/twelve-signs-show-dealing-politician/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 11:47:03 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6814 Fundamentum autem est iustitia fides id es dictorum conventorumque  constantia et veritas Cicero, De Officiis I,7.23 Sometimes surfing the internet and Facebook pages (instead of water skiing) is fun – just in between some jumps into the pool situated, of course, according to my privileged status in a leafy suburb. That must be said in […]

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Fundamentum autem est iustitia fides

id es dictorum conventorumque  constantia et veritas

Cicero, De Officiis I,7.23

Sometimes surfing the internet and Facebook pages (instead of water skiing) is fun – just in between some jumps into the pool situated, of course, according to my privileged status in a leafy suburb. That must be said in order that the usual suspects/monkeys/whatever know that I am evil.

At Useful Gen I found the following, interesting, enlightening, and inspiriting short text advising you on “when you are dealing with an evil person”.

With all due respect to their copyright, and of course naming them expressly as a source and applauding them for their interesting thoughts, I may quote them in extenso but giving also my – as usual – mild-mannered comments as to why those indications fit to some(?)/many(?)/all(?) politicians.

Every person has their own definition of evil, however true evil is something that is often hard to recognize. Good people always try to find something good in others too and it is very hard for them to notice when someone is using them and only wants to harm them. If you are not sure about the signs that show someone is evil, keep reading so that you will be able to recognize them easier.

Good advice. ‘Evil’ often approaches you nicely. The devil is a charming person; 30 years ago even he would have said ‘man’.

1. Denying reality: These people will often deny the truth no matter how obvious it is. Their truth is the complete opposite of the reality and it is an interpretation of their twisted ideals.

Yes, they tend to live in a bubble populated by themselves, journalists, political ‘experts’ , yes-men, brown-nosers, and other assorted underlings. And the citizens are the people ‘outside’.

2. Twisting facts: They are able to twist any fact that is not in coordination with their manipulative reality and their goals. They will try very hard to take things out of context and merge them with other such things in order to create alternative facts that are in their favour.

We know: there is no inflation, the budget is balanced, protesting farmers are racists and don’t dare to read certain books. Keep to the keepers!

3. Withholding information: If there is something that can compromise their goals and ideals, they will keep this a secret. They believe that withholding information is not lying, however if their silence harms others, it is just the same as if they were lying. Not only this, they will also make you feel guilty for not trusting them.

The pension system is stable and payments secured … for the next two days.

 4. Misleading people: They have a way of misleading you and make you feel incompetent, attacked, vulnerable, hated or afraid. Their choice of words is very well thought because they tend to create emotions such as the ones we already mentioned.

It’s all the fault of apartheid, the White Monopoly Capital, Donald Trump – and critics are just enemies of rapid transformation.

5. Lying constantly: Lying is the way evil people express themselves. They always add juicy information to whatever they are talking about. Lying to people makes them feel pleasure and if you catch them lying they will lie even more to cover them up.

No further comment necessary.

6. Remorselessness: They will never feel sorry for hurting people or destroying relationships or something meaningful to other people. If they notice something good in you they will treat you like garbage and exaggerate your weaknesses. They enjoy seeing other people suffer.

Sure, with ease. As Angela Merkl said, she does not mind if she is responsible for the asylum chaos. Now these people are just here. Live with that, citizen. Live with crime, rape, murder…

7. Avoiding responsibility:  These people have no morals. If they know they are about to be blamed about something they did they will redirect it before it reaches them. They never apologize for their mistakes no matter how much they harmed someone.

Of course it’s the fault of former governments, Imperialism, Capitalism, Colonialism – all kind of -ism, except, of course, Socialism. Venezuela is run down just because the Yankees are so bloody bad!

8. Manipulating: They are masters of manipulation which have a plan for every situation. If they want to make you feel stupid, they will do it and in the end you will feel incompetent for the things you did even if you do them well.

Just look at election campaigns.

9. Fair-weather friends: They will be your friends when you are happy and successful and once you reach a hard period in your life they will disappear. They are never supportive and will always use you to gain something from you.

They use your vote, your tax monies, your work…

10. Stealing your time: They know when you are on a deadline or very busy and they will do whatever it takes to make you lose track of time. They hate seeing you succeed or become better than them. They will appear at the worst possible time in order to mess up your plans and they will fake remorse when you get in trouble.

Don’t they do it with all kind of projects: the budgets, tax rises, unnecessary laws and bills, and so on?

11. Leading double lives: You will never truly get to know these people. They often lead double lives sometimes even more and they have a different story for each of them. You will never get a clear picture of their personality because no one really knows them well.

Do as we sanctimonious p.c. knights say, and not as we actually do. Support feminism and all kind of progressive causes and molest as many chicks as possible in your private life.

12. Control freaks: They like having complete control over the situation even it if means being possessive. They look at other people as their pawns and losing control over them means losing their toys.  This can become very obvious when they lose control and they can’t hide their feelings. Everyone can possess one or two of these characteristics, however if you recognized more of them in one person, it is probably time to remove them from your life. Try to pay more attention to how this person interacts with you and you will have no trouble determining whether you are dealing with an evil person. Surround yourself with good and happy people even if they have flaws. Having flaws makes you human and if someone appears perfect, there is probably something they are hiding something.

Therefore the plethora of laws, rules, regulations and petty minded bureaucracies executing them.

But why it is so that we despise politicians but vote for them, despise a system but adhere to it, despise a party but follow it? It is not – I repeat not – an iron law that politicians must be inherently corrupt, evil, stealing, plundering whatever. Politicians (and this is the sad truth) often just mirror the general attitude of men being less and less proud citizens conscious of their rights but also – very importantly – of their duties, but just receivers of benefits who allow themselves to be corrupted by election promises.

This is the second thing I learned at the army: you are not treated as you deserve but as you allow others to treat you. If we allow politicians to treat us in an evil way we should change our approach, habits and behaviour.

When was the last time a citizen confronted a politician promising a lot of dough with the question: “From your pocket or from tax payers’ monies?”.

Bad cheques always return to the subscriber. And the fish always rot from the head. We, the citizens are – at least theoretically – the head as the sovereign. Stop complaining, start behaving. Start to show and demonstrate and exercise courage as, for example, Thuli Madonsela did.

Dixit!

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Fallacious Fallist Philosophy Firms Up, But Fails https://rationalstandard.com/fallacious-fallist-philosophy-firms-fails/ https://rationalstandard.com/fallacious-fallist-philosophy-firms-fails/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 11:42:47 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7088 Finally, in 2016-2017, UCT’s Fallists and their supporters started to try to explain the philosophical basis behind decolonizing the University of Cape Town (UCT). Long-standing standards In 1950, Vice Chancellor T.B. Davie set the standard for UCT as a global university: “aiming at the advancement of knowledge by the methods of study and research founded […]

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Finally, in 2016-2017, UCT’s Fallists and their supporters started to try to explain the philosophical basis behind decolonizing the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Long-standing standards

In 1950, Vice Chancellor T.B. Davie set the standard for UCT as a global university: “aiming at the advancement of knowledge by the methods of study and research founded on absolute intellectual integrity and pursued in an atmosphere of academic freedom” through “the untrammelled pursuit of the truth”. In short, a global university has an ethos that epitomizes fair and rational competition between ideas to the extent that logically inferior and empirically flawed ones (or their components) are set aside in order to progress towards an elusive truth.

Davie ‘unfrozen’

In his introductory comments at the 2017 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture, VC Price described Davies’ standards as: “a live issue not frozen in 1950s” that need to be “reinvestigated, reinterpreted, reunderstood (sic) and reapplied“ in the light of “other issues” and a changing “institutional culture” facilitated by “fierce and robust discussions”.

Transformation Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Loretta Feris converted Price’s “contextual reundersanding” of Davie into policy by adopting decolonist philosopher Achille Mbembe’s view that universities should become “pluriversities”. Mbembe/Feris’ African pluriveristy is: “a space where you can have a range of epistemologies; where there is more than one way of producing knowledge; where there is more than one central truth, where there is more than one dominant culture and where there is more than one way of being as a person”.

Launching the ‘pluriversity’

To put the ‘pluriversal’ decolonization of UCT’s curricula on track, VC Price created the Curriculum Change Working Group (CCWG) to work with him and DVC Feris. By design, the CCWG is led by black scholars (mostly from the Faculties of Humanities and Health Sciences) who maintain that the “notion of blackness in this context extends beyond simply a racial category”.

Those who want to ‘justify’ black (or other) self-identification with philosophy, often invoke German philosopher Prof. Martin Heidegger’sDasein”, a “primal nature of being”, a self-identity based on a “shared history and destiny” underpinned by the anti-Cartesian ontology-based belief: I think because I am”.  This exclusionary ethos ‘worked’ for a few years for Hitler and his Nazis, who were bent (with Heidegger’s explicit support) on wiping out Jewry and achieving world domination via war.

The making of a Southern African black Dasein

However, a Dasein for black peoples in Southern Africa might be a bit of a hard-sell.

From perhaps as early as 300,000 BCE, up to the beginning of the common era, the only modern humans in Southern Africa who shared anything remotely resembling a common history/destiny were the highly genetically and linguistically diverse, golden-skinned, hunter/gatherer ‘San’, who lived in nomadic, small, kin-based groups. They lived in relatively unstructured societies and had/have no collective name for themselves. Today, the few San that remain refer to themselves as the “First People”, a claim supported by modern paleo-genomics.

Around 2,000 BCE, larger-statured, pastoral immigrants from the north, who self-identified as Khoikhoi (“the real people”), arrived and soon clashed with the ‘San’, the Khoi word for “foreigners”. Many San died from Khoi-introduced human diseases such as smallpox and measles, were physically displaced into desertic areas or assimilated within the Khoikhoi.  The KhoiKhoi and the San continue to be persecuted, albeit benignly, by a government controlled by fellow ‘blacks’. They are effective refugees within their birth-nation whose languages are not included in the official list.

Bantu-speaking, ‘black’ Africans who had combined knowledge of cattle-keeping, slash-and-burn cultivation and metal-working moved south of the Limpopo River during 300-500 CE. These far better armed and militarily organized farmers further displaced San and Khoikhoi (partially assimilating with the latter), and took control over Southern Africa east of the 400-millimeter rainfall line, with the southwestern limits defined by the Great Kei River. These three human assemblages were geographically distributed parapatrically – separate, but ‘touching’, like the pieces of a puzzle.

Bantu-speaking societies had internally much more complex societal structure, with greater degrees of stratification than found in the KhoiSan. Elders ranked above the young, men over women, rich over poor, and chiefs over commoners. Chiefdom became hereditary, with ‘succession’ often facilitated by intra-familial assassination. Inland Bantu speakers, termed Sotho-Tswana on the basis of their dialects, concentrated in greater numbers around water sources and trading towns with populations of up to 20000. By the late 16th Century, a series of powerful hereditary chiefs ruled from well-appointed capital cities. By contrast, Nguni-language-speaking peoples who settled on the coastal plains between the Highveld and the Indian Ocean, lived in smaller, geographically scattered communities and had less hierarchical socio-political structures; moving their cattle across the countryside in search of fresh pastureland.

Fast-forwarding to the first third of the 19th century, the Mfecane (derived from the Xhosa term “starving intruders”), created even more socio-economic heterogeneity and turmoil among Southern African ‘blacks’.

Eurocentric historians in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries portrayed the mfecane as the result of often sophisticated, highly militarily aggressive and murderous nation building by the (still very influential) Zulu under the short (10 years), brutal rule of Shaka (who murdered women who fell pregnant by him); the Nbebele under (the arguably even more murderous) Mzilikazi and the Sotho leader Moshoeshoe. The latter two probably had more constructive, ‘shared’ socio-economic intercourse with European missionaries, e.g. Robert Moffat, than with each other, since, at one time or another they all engaged in internecine warfare.

The, probably exaggerated, descriptions of horrible devastation, demographic disruption and depopulation of Africans (perhaps resulting in more than a million deaths) during the mfecane gave Afrikaner voortrekkers and British settlers ‘excuses’ for moving into the resulting ‘empty’ land, and for further exploiting black refugees as free or cheap labour.  People that Shaka and Mzilikazi’s armies defeated also pillaged, murdered and stole as they fled.  Mzilikazi ended up as the leader of the Matablele in western Zimbabwe and killed all his sons when they challenged his power. His arrival created a long-lasting enmity with the Shona peoples.

By the 1960s, the mfecane and Zulu nation building were ‘reinterpreted’ by Apartheid historians as a ‘black-on-black’ revolution in ‘Bantu Africa’, with Shaka having played a leading role in the creation of a nation in Natal, Mzilikazi in Zimbabwe and Moshoeshoe in Lesotho.

Less biased modern historians cogently challenge the notion that Zulu aggression was the sole, or even primary, cause of the mfecane.

Nevertheless, all the above ‘happened’.

Then there are the ‘Coloured People’, arguably the most morphologically, culturally, religiously and genetically complex and diverse ethnic group on Earth.

Finally, there are the often-ignored effects of conversion of millions of South African blacks to non-African religions.

In short, it is simply incorrect to say that today’s Southern African ‘non-white’ peoples have a long, shared, constructively collaborative history, which laid the foundation for a common collective destiny, other than being oppressed by combinations of ‘white’ people. There certainly is no compelling evidence of a common Dasein.

Nevertheless, even without a ‘black Dasein’, using the theoretical framework of critical realism, the CCWG “got to work”.

What is Critical Realism?  How does it work? 

Critical realism (CR) represents a heterogeneous assemblage of elements produced by a broad alliance of social theorists/researchers to develop a “properly Post-Positivist” (PP) social science.

CRPPists believe that:

  1. lots of different things qualify as research;
  2. scientific theory and ‘real world’ practice cannot be kept separate;
  3. one cannot afford to ignore beliefs for the sake of ‘just the facts’;
  4. the researchers’ motivations for and commitment to research are central and crucial to the enterprise; and
  5. the idea that research is concerned only with scientifically correct techniques for collecting and categorizing information is now inadequate.

In ‘reality’, CR is not an empirical program.  It is not a methodology. It is not even truly a theory, because it explains nothing. It asserts that much of reality exists and operates independently of our awareness or knowledge of it. It emphasizes ontology and pluralism over logic-based, scientific, epistemological competition that filters out less viable ideas and approaches based on their ability to explain phenomena and answer clear-cut questions.

In short, in contrast the Cartesian view: “I think, therefore I am”, CRPPists think because they ARE. Knowledge and truth have only ‘relative’ reality that is always historically, socially, contextually, culturally and at least partially racially situated. There are no truth values or criteria of rationality that exist outside of historical time and current social context. The larger the number of CRPPists involved and the more ‘plural’ their answers/solutions, the longer it takes to pick the ones to implement, let alone get on with the job.

CRPPists use their “passion and intuition” to isolate “subtle underlying and invisible mechanisms”, especially in the light of perceived historical and present transient practices/processes, to show how these acted/act as negative influences because all representations and perspectives have limitations. The “scientific method” is particularly fallible because its proponents are blinkered by objectivity and the scientific knowledge they use to formulate conceptual frameworks is not unique evidence in parsing the empirical world.

CRPPists promote epistemological pluralism, even when ‘logic’ and ‘evidence’ suggest that some plural ‘alternatives’ are demonstrably inferior. This is because CRPPist research is a “messy on-the-ground” process that emphasizes seeing the person, experience and knowledge as ‘multiple, relational and not bounded by reason”. The CRPPist ‘goal’ is to strive to disrupt the predictability that occurs in traditional interviews. There is no need to solve problems; only to find more of them. Affected parties must embrace the contradictions and the tensions they engender, so that ‘research’ can become open-ended.

Approaches, questions and concepts that are anathema to CRPPists include: Statistics.  What is the hypothesis? How big is the sample? How representative is the sample? How can you generalise if you have a small sample? Was there a control group?

Then there are the worst ones of all: objectivity, inviolate principles and universal laws/explanations.

CRPPists portray scientists as researchers who claim to produce absolute and universal truth. In ‘real’ reality however, science is not a magic wand that turns everything it touches to truth. Instead, it’s an unending, iterative process of uncertainty reduction.  Any given scientific study can rarely answer more than one question at a time, often raising new questions in the process of answering old ones. Science is a process rather than an ‘answer’. It attempts to progressively increase or decrease confidence in ideas and clearly explicated hypotheses by subjecting them to logical analysis and empirical testing.

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The Dangers of Power and the Glory of Liberty https://rationalstandard.com/dangers-power-glory-liberty/ https://rationalstandard.com/dangers-power-glory-liberty/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 11:37:34 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6761 Power Martin van Staden rightfully stated about the nature of government that “that those who are inevitably attracted to government are people who seek power. This is an absolute rule.” Sure, and people going to a steak restaurant are attracted to meat and people entering a liquor shop are attracted by alcoholic beverages, with me especially champagne. […]

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Power

Martin van Staden rightfully stated about the nature of government that “that those who are inevitably attracted to government are people who seek power. This is an absolute rule.” Sure, and people going to a steak restaurant are attracted to meat and people entering a liquor shop are attracted by alcoholic beverages, with me especially champagne. Politics won’t go without power but also not without law, constitutionalism and institutions.

Power is the capacity of one, a pair, a group or an organisation to command the behaviour of others without the necessity to convince them.

Power is not only related to political rule and force. We find it everywhere: in the family, in labour relations, and in schools. For the purpose of this article I concentrate on political power. That leads to the question of what the essence of politics is. The essence of politics is the distinction between friend and foe. Friend and foe and the criteria may change through the times, it can be republicans vs. monarchists, segregationists vs. integrationists, command economy vs. the free market, and today politically-correct totalitarian governesses vs. supporters of freedom and individuality.

Sometimes we wonder what in the past people thought worthwhile to fight against. But the political foe will always be the alien against whom in extremis a fight must be organised. That does not mean that it is always about war. Maintaining and choosing peace are also political decisions and the greatest danger to law, liberty, constitutionalism and institutions are never-ending wars without limits, borders and even a properly defined enemy as we see it since 2001 as ‘terrorism’ is in most cases one ill-defined term and not a concrete enemy.

If you wage war against an ill-defined term you will have war. But rulers do not always have to use the instruments of power, in many cases persuasion and convincing through debate and public discussion is an appropriate way to rule. Brute force may be the standard of all kind of tyrannies but even the most liberal and modest state cannot exist without institutions enforcing law and order; even an anarchic-capitalist one includes the concept of an order.

Everyone before starting to construct his “Weltanschaung” (worldview or ideology) must make the decision if man is fundamentally ‘good’ or ‘capable to become and do evil’. Utopian  ideologies like all kind of socialism maintain that man is basically good and only circumstances make him evil. The reign of terror and genocides this concept produced since the French Revolution is evident, but the Jacobin scum will never give up .

Power is an essential instrument in politics. As all instruments it can be used carefully and constructively, or abused.

A sceptical (in the sense of Karl Popper) view on the human being and his nature makes us recognize the need for law, constitutions and institutions.

Law

Law is the exact opposite of arbitrary behaviour. But we often see arbitrary decisions veiled in the dress of formal law. This is poisonous. Law is only ‘law’ if it is reasonable (measured on the basic believes and assumptions which led to its formulation), predictable, constant, measurable, reviewable (by courts) and generally valid. ‘Rule of law’ can never mean that the law makes itself efficient without a moderator. This moderator can always only be man. Rule of law is only secured if man consciously follows due process and rules. “Stick to the rules” if you win or lose is a most essential attitude and the essence of just rule. At present, in Germany, parliamentary rules were suddenly changed as they may benefit a new opposition party, the patriotic and pro-free market Alternative for Germany. That is the first step towards arbitrary and tyrannical rule.

Constitution

Carl Schmitt remarked that every state is a state of law and every state is a constitutional state. “Das Recht ist im Staat and der Staat ist im Recht”, a quip that cannot be translated without losing the sardonic sense. We may interpret this sentence in a libertarian but also in a very etatistic sense. For our purpose we should only speak of constitution if it is the fundamental law of a state, if fundamental rights are recognised, if the separation of powers is secured, if (most, I am a monarchist) office bearers can be voted in but most importantly, also be voted out, if the courts of law are independent, if powers are distributed between federal and regional, and if the rule of law is established in all institutions of the state. That still does not give us complete security against crass abuse of power.

Most important is that the citizens see themselves as such. This means they consider themselves courageous people endowed with specific political rights and duties, ready to exercise them and not vote as cattle or serfs. Finally, it is the freedom-loving  citizen who protects the law and guards the constitution. Tyranny only comes into being with ‘yes’-men. We must have the courage to say ‘no’ and ‘without me’.

Institution

A realistic, meaning a sceptical, view of human nature leads us to recognise the necessity of institutions. “Institutum” in Latin means an establishment, a custom, a way of life. Institutions support the human being, they serve him and preserve both his liberty and his independence.

The opposite of a legitimate institution is bureaucracy: the dominance (in ancient Greek language “cratos“) of administration, in reality the dominance of a self-serving, greedy, tax-consuming, incompetent, cancer-like growing bunch of suckers good only at chicanery and turning citizens into serfs. The development from the Roman principat, a monarchic order respecting liberty and the rule of law to the dominat, a bureaucratic, tyrannical, even totalitarian order is a warning. We may see this most dangerous tendency in all highly-developed states and especially in the European Union.

Bureaucracy, which in essence will always be socialist, is so dangerous that it finally consumes the whole body politic, society, culture, and economy. As the great Austrian writer Heimito von Doderer said:

“Socialism as a tremendous expense for the welfare of humankind which consumes itself so completely  that finally everyone has the remaining. Nothing.”

Bureaucracy is libertarians’, liberals’, and conservatives’ ultimate enemy. It’s very existence destroys constitutionalism, the rule of law, and law and order itself. It is the most arbitrary and stupid, inept, suspect and debile abuse of power. In fighting this monster, we are fighting the good fight.

Sources:

Hans Strotzka, Macht: A psychoanalytic essay, Paul Zsolnay, Vienna, 1985

Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1932

C. Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson’s law, Houghton Mifflin Comp, Boston, 1957

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Must stupid reign? https://rationalstandard.com/must-stupid-reign/ https://rationalstandard.com/must-stupid-reign/#respond Tue, 30 Jan 2018 20:04:05 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7208 On the sentence: the intelligent gives way the world domination of the stupid is built! Maria von Ebner – Eschenbach (19th century Austrian writer and novelist) Sometimes we ask ourselves why so many stupid people are in responsible positions. By “stupid” I do not mean people possessing a different opinion or ideology – I know very […]

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On the sentence: the intelligent gives way

the world domination of the stupid is built!

Maria von Ebner – Eschenbach

(19th century Austrian writer and novelist)

Sometimes we ask ourselves why so many stupid people are in responsible positions. By “stupid” I do not mean people possessing a different opinion or ideology – I know very intelligent Socialists (and stupid Conservatives) – but people of definitely below-average intelligence. But simple stupidity is also not the whole point. A simpleton who at least knows that he is one and therefore knows his place and does not forward any claims to society is not really dangerous and may life a happy life – at least not disturbing others [1]. The dangerous combination, the poisonous brew to borrow a phrase from Sir Karl Popperconsists of  stupidity in the sense of being inept to master rational questions, mixed with ignorance and arrogance. But it seems that this is a driving combination to the top of some (mainly political) hierarchies.

The whole thing was already some time ago scientifically investigated and has a name [2]. It is named the Dunning-Kruger-effect. This is a  cognitive distortion, meaning that relatively inept people posses the tendency to overestimate their own capacities and underestimate the capacities of others. This popular term derives from a publication by David Dunning and Justin Kruger, dated 1999. Within psychological literature it has not been used (maybe due to incompetence?) but is at home in academic and social media discussions outside of psychology.

“If someone is really incompetent then he not even realizes that he is inept. … The properties one needs to find a correct solution are exactly those you need to recognize if a solution is correct or wrong,” David Dunning says.

My addition is that you have to be learned and intelligent enough to recognize which challenge or question is beyond your intellectual capacities. That includes a certain abstention from vanity, as some people are to vain to admit to themselves or even to others that they have limits of erudition. As Otto von Bismarck remarked, vanity is the mortgage on the character of man which has to be deducted to get the net value.

Dunning and Kruger had recognized in previous studies that for example by learning a text, playing chess or driving ignorance leads to more self confidence than knowledge. So knowledge is not only power but also a burden. At Cornell University both scientists researched that effect in further tests and concluded in 1999 that less competent persons:

  • Tend to overestimate their own capabilities;
  • Do not recognize or see superior capacities with others;
  • Are not able to measure the amount of their own incompetence;
  • may through education and training not only raise their own competence but may also learn how to evaluate others and themselves better.

In other words, they might be able to go from puffed-up know it all (like me) to a decent, rational thinker (like me). My personal addendum is that nothing makes one more eager to make a decision than a profound under-nourishment of real information. That seems to be the ‘recipe for success’ of some generals and many politicians.

Furthermore, this lack of competence and intelligence seems to go hand-in-hand with the tendency to command other people around. Therefore, we may see such people blossoming in all types of authoritarian structures. On the other side, hierarchical systems are necessary and (modestly applied) most useful.

Popper reminded us [3] to teach the student how difficult it is to gain secure knowledge,  but the plethora of 3/8 more deformed than educated, half-wits, loud mouths and busy bodies forms a phalanx eager to steamroll the educated ones. Also, the outstanding French diplomat and statesman Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord is reported [4]   to have made  a distinction as follows: intelligent and industrious at the same time does not exist (as the clever ones avoid work and can easily burden the stupid’s with it), intelligent and lazy he is himself, stupid and lazy may be useful for representation and protocol but stupid and industrious is a dangerous combination and the Almighty lord shall protect us then.

Dunning and Kruger did show that weak performances go much more hand-in-hand with over self-confidence than strong performances. Maybe real achievers are just more modest than the mediocre ones. [5]

The challenge is to select the right people, to have good schooling from the very beginning, to emphasize classical and philosophical education, and to strive for clean and decent heads of organisations. Because one thing is true always: ”The fish always rots from the head” and first class bosses have first class colleagues, employees and civil servants and second class ones, third and fourth class subjects. As Machiavelli taught us, “if you like to judge a prince, look at his courtesans”. If we look around, it does not look pleasant. And so we are back at Ebner-Eschenbach’s quote that giving way to inept men and idiots established their dominance. But why should that be ?

But we, the normal citizens, shareholders, or whatever, must stop being too polite to such people. Finally, there is only one good but harsh answer we should give the arrogant debili, inepti et suspecti , the one answer Charles de Gaulle gave them: “Ils sont censé allez merde”.

1) Horst Geyer, Ueber die Dummheit (On stupidity), VMA publisher, Wiesbaden, p 307f

2) Source: Wikipedia article on the ‘Dunning – Kruger’ effect.

3) The Open Society and its Enemies II, Francke, Munich, 3rd edition, 1977, p 353

4) Geyer, ibid, p 25

5) In the year 2000, Dunning and Kruger received the satiric Ig-Nobel prize in the field of psychology for their study.

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