Articles – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Free political commentary for the dissenting South African Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:34:16 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://i2.wp.com/rationalstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/cropped-RS-Logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Articles – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 Why Charging Zuma is a Very Bad Idea, For Now https://rationalstandard.com/charging-zuma-is-a-very-bad-idea-for-now/ https://rationalstandard.com/charging-zuma-is-a-very-bad-idea-for-now/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:20:54 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6638 The Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that the dropping of corruption, fraud, and racketeering charges against President Jacob Zuma by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was irrational. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will now approach the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shaun Abrahams, and insist “that Jacob Zuma is served with an indictment and appears […]

The post Why Charging Zuma is a Very Bad Idea, For Now appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
The Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that the dropping of corruption, fraud, and racketeering charges against President Jacob Zuma by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was irrational.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will now approach the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shaun Abrahams, and insist “that Jacob Zuma is served with an indictment and appears in court at the soonest available date. Adv Abrahams must commit to reinstating all 783 charges, and furnish the people of South Africa with a date by which these charges will be processed. […] The charges have been formulated and the evidence is ready. We now await a trial date”.

Most politically-conscious South Africans support this decision and regard it as a victory for justice. Things are, unfortunately, not quite that simple.

The NPA is not a non-partisan or independent institution. It is supposed to be, but in practice, this has rarely been the case. Section 179(1)(a) of the Constitution empowers the President to appoint the NDPP and section 179(6) provides that the Minister of Justice is the responsible politician for the NPA. Flowery language about obligatory independence aside, the current NDPP and his predecessors have all to greater and lesser extents been (ostensible) puppets of the President. It is thus reasonable to assume that if Jacob Zuma is charged with anything, regardless of how strong the evidence might appear, the NDPP will appoint a prosecutor who will either:

  • Be an incompetent lawyer. President Zuma is known for retaining highly-skilled advocates, often not in government service, to plead his cases before court. If his counsel is pitted against an incompetent state prosecutor, Zuma’s victory is assured.
  • Throw the case. The prosecutor might be a highly-skilled advocate, but since the discretion in how to plead his case will lie exclusively with the prosecutor, he might certainly throw the case. He can do this by under-emphasizing key evidence, by posing irrelevant questions to key witnesses, or simply closing his case before any relevant evidence has been led. Zuma’s advocate can then make a very strong defense against the deliberately-weak case of the prosecutor.

The President, essentially, controls both sides of the case: His defense counsel as well as the state prosecutor, albeit indirectly.

South Africa still has a largely-adversarial system of litigation, meaning the court itself does not participate, but rather observes what the opposing advocates do and makes a final decision. It is true that sometimes the court will intervene, but this is not a general rule. Fate will need to give this particular case a highly-objective and interventionist judge to ensure the NPA executes its duty faithfully. Unfortunately, this will also mean that the judge might appear biased and thus give either party grounds to set the decision aside, depending on the outcome.

The worst aspect of this phenomenon is that if Zuma is acquitted (found innocent) as a result of the prosecutor having pleaded a bad case – and one must remember that guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard which can easily be thrown – he will henceforth be protected by the principle of double jeopardy.

Section 35(3)(m) of the Constitution provides that accused persons may not “be tried for an offence in respect of an act or omission for which that person has previously been either acquitted or convicted”. In other words, if he is found innocent of the charges, Zuma will be off scot-free forever.

Hence why it is irresponsible for a case to be pursued against him at this time. Under an African National Congress (ANC) government, with an ANC president, an ANC justice minister, and an ANC NDPP, the likelihood that the case against Zuma will be a sham is too high. Instead, if charges are to be brought against him, it must be done when a different political party or a coalition government is in power. Or, if it is possible, a special, independent, prosecutor who is not part of the NPA nor subject to its rules and directives, should be allowed to pursue the case.

The DA is being overly-hasty by demanding the case proceed immediately. In my view, without saying the President is actually guilty or innocent, his ostensible innocence will be guaranteed if charges are now brought against him. By getting ahead of ourselves we are begging for the Rule of Law to be side-stepped.

The post Why Charging Zuma is a Very Bad Idea, For Now appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/charging-zuma-is-a-very-bad-idea-for-now/feed/ 1 6638
‘Check Your Privilege’ – Children Being Punished for Their Parents’ Good Choices https://rationalstandard.com/children-punished-parents-good-choices/ https://rationalstandard.com/children-punished-parents-good-choices/#respond Wed, 11 Oct 2017 20:12:15 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6631 Written by: Jonathan Witt Over the past week a really silly video purporting to tackle privilege began to be shared online, as if it highlighted some great truth. After watching the clip, and reviewing its fallacious implications, I decided to tackle the content thereof in a stream of tweets which read essentially as follows: In […]

The post ‘Check Your Privilege’ – Children Being Punished for Their Parents’ Good Choices appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
Written by: Jonathan Witt

Over the past week a really silly video purporting to tackle privilege began to be shared online, as if it highlighted some great truth. After watching the clip, and reviewing its fallacious implications, I decided to tackle the content thereof in a stream of tweets which read essentially as follows:

In the video, a large group of people are gathered and offered a $100 reward for winning a race. However, before the race can begin, some of the competitors are allowed head starts in front of the others if they can answer certain questions in the affirmative.

Several of the questions which allow individuals to step forward are directly linked to their parents’ life decisions. Indeed, it turns out that if parents make good decisions about each other and money, their children will likely be better off. This is not only an obvious fact, but a well-researched and proven one.

If you are a parent, or intend to be one, but also see an injustice in this video, then you are asking for your children to be discriminated against because you made good decisions. Fathers who actually raise their children are to be commended, not have their offspring punished. Mothers who break their backs to give their kids everything they can should be lauded, not have their offspring punished.

Now, let’s deal with the kids who are disadvantaged.

It is true that the circumstances of their birth result in a lack of opportunity. However, forcing those with opportunity to feel guilt or relinquish their “privilege” is not the answer. Finding ways to give better access to opportunities to those without, is the answer. This starts with trying to ensure that individuals in society take personal responsibility for their actions and decisions. Individuals who take responsibility become parents who take responsibility for their children, thus avoiding many pitfalls.

Beyond this, we can look at methods to assist those still left behind. Equality of opportunity, however, will never mean equality of outcome; as the video shows, some individuals may get ahead because of athletic ability, i.e. genetics. In reality, this speaks to a broader concept.

There is no such thing as a level playing field for everyone because we are all different. This is a positive attribute of humanity, not a negative one. Equality is, therefore, a myth. Some individuals will be math geniuses and others sporting gods. This is true down to even the most minor differences.

This does, however, not imply that there should be no fairness; only that fairness needs to be specific in each case where it is applied. The notion that those who have excelled need to be brought down to the level of those who have not, is regressive, repulsive, and is by definition unfair.

Finally, we need to stop pretending that simply ‘acknowledging’ some supposedly unearned privilege is equivalent to an action. It is not. Acknowledging your apparent privilege does absolutely jack squat to help the kid left at the back. If you truly believe it will help, then surrender your privilege, give whatever luxury assets you have away, don’t attend quality educational institutions, and stop enjoying life’s pleasures. Apply this to your family, too, and then come lecture the rest of us. Until then, your acknowledgement has no meaning or value whatsoever.

That said, if you do follow through, please remember that the rest of us are free individuals who have no obligation to follow your path. Liberty means nobody has an obligation to buy into your guilt, your worldview, or your belief that achievement, material or otherwise, is innately linked to melanin density.

We used to have a word for people who judged their fellow man based on the colour of their skin instead of the content of their character. It is a real pity that that term has very little meaning today.

Author: Jonathan Witt is an outspoken classical liberal and co-host of the acclaimed podcast, The Renegade Report, on CliffCentral.

The post ‘Check Your Privilege’ – Children Being Punished for Their Parents’ Good Choices appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/children-punished-parents-good-choices/feed/ 0 6631
You can’t rationalise racialism https://rationalstandard.com/cant-rationalise-racialism/ https://rationalstandard.com/cant-rationalise-racialism/#comments Wed, 11 Oct 2017 00:46:39 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6060 In his piece Towards a more rational understanding or racialism, David Matthews tries to rationalise “racialism” as an “inherent”, “functional”, “positive” human “behavioural adaptation” that was once “beneficial”, but has “gone wrong”, mainly since the 1950s. He fails on all scores. To explain why will take some words – here goes: Definitions Racialism is the […]

The post You can’t rationalise racialism appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
In his piece Towards a more rational understanding or racialism, David Matthews tries to rationalise “racialism” as an “inherent”, “functional”, “positive” human “behavioural adaptation” that was once “beneficial”, but has “gone wrong”, mainly since the 1950s.

He fails on all scores. To explain why will take some words – here goes:

Definitions

Racialism is the philosophical position that races exist amongst modern humans and can be “diagnosed” by the existence of collective similarities within races and differences among such “natural” entities.

Matthews’ problem is that this cannot be done biologically, sociologically or culturally.

Biologically, a race is a taxonomic “subspecies” – anatomically, ecologically, behaviourally and genetically diagnosable, geographically distinct populations that interbreed freely at the zones of contact. Many of my evolutionist colleagues (but not me) agree with eminent Harvard’s ant taxonomist, conservation biologist, sociobiologist and philosopher of science E.O. Wilson who argued in the 1950s that the subspecies category fails to work in practice and should be abandoned. Although populations of humans certainly interbreed where they come into contact, their genes and anatomy vary so markedly within populations and non-congruently between them that they fail to diagnose evolutionarily significant units. If one were forced to use modern genomics to divide humans into “discrete groups”, the entities that would emerge would mostly divide humans into perhaps half a dozen African groups, and then lump all other humans together with one or other of these groups.

Empirical fallacy

Thus, “scientific racialism” is pseudoscience, or nothing more than out-and-out racism that was used for centuries by Muslims, Europeans and sometimes even “infallible” Popes to rationalise  slavery, colonialism and Apartheid. Recent genomic-based “studies” that “support” racialism (e.g. newsman Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History) and that societal differences largely reflect their differential evolution in intelligence, impulsivity, manners, xenophobia, etc. are nothing more than a “mountain of speculation teetering on a few pebbles”. Also based on genomic “diagnostic capacity”, other 21st Century “researchers”, e.g. South African-based, ‘decolonist’ philosopher Achille Mbembe, seem to advocate the biological rehabilitation of human races. This assertion is based on nothing more than blatant misuse of forensic genetics.

There always was nothing “adaptive” about racialism. It was “positive” only for racists, and its “function” was to “benefit” oppressors at the expense of the oppressed.

“Us” and “Them”

Nevertheless, Matthews is right in saying that groups of populations of modern humans have separated “us” from “them”, dating back to the roots of humanity. For example, the KhoiSan who self-identify as the “First People” are, in fact, comprised of two “peoples”: the San, who have existed in southern Africa for well over 100 000 years, and the Khoikhoi, who are derived from east African “settlers” that arrived there “only” 3000-4000 years ago. Indeed, the linguistically and genetically highly diverse San self-identify as more than 10 “nations” and have no collective group name for “them”-selves. San is a Khoikhoi word for “them”. But, other than conflicts relating to Khoikhoi stock, the KhoiSan lived relatively peacefully in parallel in the absence of notions of superiority/inferiority.

Race is also an artificial, nefarious “grab-bag” word used up until World War II also to distinguish Jews from other “Caucasians”, and my “people” – the “half-black bog-trotter” Irish – from their English oppressors.

Clutching with culture

But, race also fails to hold water socio-culturally.  In fact, in 1758 Linnaeus, the “Father” of modern taxonomy, and other contemporary racist philosophers, geographers and historians popularized the misuse of subspecies by dividing humanity by morphology and “demeanour” into a handful of “races”. For example, Homo sapiens europaeus was described as “white, sanguine, muscular”, whereas Homo sapiens afer was said to be “black, phlegmatic, relaxed”.

What actually happened sociologically after World War II, was that the oppressed “them” peoples who fought with “us” against Fascism discovered that “we” weren’t so special and that both could work synergistically. Simultaneously, “they” sensu lato became fully conscious of self and engineered their own liberty, unlike the beneficent “abolition” of slavery by the European “us” in the 19th century.

Yes, there was more “large-scale external population movement” to and from “the Western democracies” and some, even a lot of, “internal political conflict”. But, race, racialism and racism were always “morally” indefensible. And, yes – “anyone who is racially prejudiced [was always and still] is morally aberrant.” They may have been “politically correct” in the past, just as fallists claim that fire-bombing vice chancellors’ offices is today.

Nurture: sociality, populism and politics

Some South African humanities scholars, e.g. University of Cape Town sociologist Xolela Mangcu, media personalities (Eusebius McKaiser) and politicians (Julius Malema) advocate continuation of official and de-facto use of “race” (in various guises). Their goal is to “justify” material redress, “affirmative action” and/or even violence to offset past or continuing socio-economic oppression/exploitation or to effect “Afrocentric” educational and/or political “decolonization”. “Race” is re-conceptualized from a social perspective based on “self-identification” according to shared attributes including: pre-colonial nationality/history, language, religious faith/myths, behavioural norms, values/traditions, common expressive symbols, etc. Radical South African university student/staff protesters (fallists) have even taken on the mantle of “race” to justify the establishment of quota-“race”-based academic appointment/promotion policies and the creation of racially exclusive associations/caucuses/societies.  Extreme fallists use racially-based defamation, illegal intimidation, vandalism, destruction and extreme violence in an attempt to topple real or imagined the “white” supremacist/capitalist “hegemony”.

Debunking a menacing myth

Nowhere is this racial fallacy and nefarious activity better exposed than by UCT’s (and arguably Africa’s) greatest “racial scholar”, Prof. Crain Soudien in his final public address as an employee at UCT in July 2015. According to Soudien, “race” in humans has no essence or ontological status biologically, culturally, socially or politically. He elaborates on this in his book, Realising the Dream: “Race is an invention”… “only being framed in opposition to whiteness” … “an ideological smokescreen” … “viscerally inscribed in our heads and in our bodies”. In short, it is a relational concept, and has no inherent reality in the absence of an antithesis – whiteness. To get a handle on the even harder-to-demonstrate “whiteness”, I could refer Mangcu et al., to Rachel A. Dolezal and Dylann Storm Roof or, better still, Nell Irvin Painter, professor emerita of history at Princeton University and the author of The History of White People.

Regardless, of how “racial” identity is allocated, assigned or assumed, in the end, the favoured “group” will use its “status” to impose dominance over (or victimize) the “other(s)”.  To allow the rehabilitation of “race”-motivated rule in post-Mandela South Africa defaces the non-racial Constitution for which he was “prepared to die”. Making Desmond Tutu’s dream of a Rainbow Nation a reality requires the ruthless eradication of racialism’s inevitable spawn – racism, its “sister-isms” and xenophobia. That cannot be achieved; neither by the emerging “neo-racism” advocated by Wade, Mbembe, Mangcu et al. and extreme Fallists, nor by Matthews’ attempted rationalization.

The post You can’t rationalise racialism appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/cant-rationalise-racialism/feed/ 1 6060
Saying the DA is ‘Racist’ is Stupid – Let’s Try Honest Criticism Instead https://rationalstandard.com/saying-da-racist-stupid-honest-criticism-instead/ https://rationalstandard.com/saying-da-racist-stupid-honest-criticism-instead/#comments Sun, 08 Oct 2017 17:45:02 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=4865 Classical liberals in South Africa have a very unfortunate tendency to excuse whatever the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s so-called liberal party, does. As one of the few classical liberals who is willing to publicly and passionately criticize the DA for its many imperfections, I felt it might be necessary to explain why I do […]

The post Saying the DA is ‘Racist’ is Stupid – Let’s Try Honest Criticism Instead appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
Classical liberals in South Africa have a very unfortunate tendency to excuse whatever the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s so-called liberal party, does. As one of the few classical liberals who is willing to publicly and passionately criticize the DA for its many imperfections, I felt it might be necessary to explain why I do so.

The DA has been South Africa’s official opposition since 1999 and remains, despite the multitude of problems with it, perhaps South Africa’s best political option in fighting off the creeping doom of national socialism espoused by the Economic Freedom Fighters, and increasingly by the African National Congress (ANC). I believe South Africa has far better non-political avenues for resistance, such as civil activism, writing, and lobbying.

If political change continues apace, however, it is likely that the DA will add Gauteng to its list of governed jurisdictions in 2024, and thus along with the Western Cape, control the economy. Come 2019, the DA might also – but I feel this is highly unlikely – be the senior party in a new national coalition government. In any event, the DA has grown substantially over the decades of its and its predecessors’ existence, and this means South Africans need to start conceiving of the party as a potential governing entity in the not-too-distant future.

What Do We Want From the DA?

The question we have to ask ourselves is what do we want a national DA government to be and do? We should not ask this question in relation to the ANC in any way, and must focus on the DA on its own merits.

The DA’s Western Cape administration is contrasted with other provinces governed by the ANC, and it is rarely, if ever, asked whether the Western Cape provincial government is living up to an objective standard of good liberal governance. For those of us who seek a society where we can pursue our own goals without unending molestation by government, I do not think the Western Cape is doing too well.

I am often accused of being ‘idealistic’ when dealing with the DA. But I rarely expect exceptional or perfect behavior from the party. Indeed, not even the Libertarian Party in the United States lives up to my ideal notion of a classical liberal party. Instead, appreciating the fact that dogmatic libertarianism will not win the DA any votes, I simply require the party to not move in the opposite direction of liberty. If it cannot be liberal in any given respect (and it should always try), then it should not do anything; and there is nothing more practical than doing nothing.

SEE ALSO: The Nature of Government and the Fatal Flaw in South Africa’s Constitution by Martin van Staden

Instead, the DA has often moved away from more freedom toward more government. For example, the DA recently decided that internet access is a ‘human right’, despite reality telling a completely different story.

Thus, here is my realistic ‘wishlist’ for a Democratic Alliance government:

  • A holistic embrace of the Constitution. This means section 22 (the right to freely choose your trade and profession) is not ignored like it is by the current government and judiciary. Sex work, while it will likely continue to be strictly-regulated, needs to be substantially, if not totally, decriminalized. Anyone, whether it is the sex worker or the client, spending a second in prison for prostitution under a DA government would be a travesty. This item also means that section 1(c), which makes the Rule of Law part of our constitutional order, should be fully embraced. In other words, government officialdom must cease being given wide discretionary powers, and, wherever discretionary power is given, a strict list of criteria for how the discretion must be exercised, must be included. It should also go without saying that ‘internet access’ is not a human right, nor is it a constitutional right. The DA needs to stop this before it starts.
  • Embracing constitutional free market principles. It is no secret that South Africa’s constitution is not a libertarian or classically liberal document. It has been widely referred to as ‘post-liberal’ to denote its ‘balanced’ approach to group and individual rights. Despite these issues, it is still a kinda-okay constitutional text which, if interpreted by officials and judges who understand human nature and economics, could be legally applied in a free market manner. For instance, few of the socio-economic ‘rights’ in the Bill of Rights imply direct State involvement or State control. The right to a basic education, for instance, leaves generous room for a voucher system. Furthermore, on the municipal level, DA governments can lessen the excessive street trading regulations currently in force in our cities.
  • Getting civil liberty right. It is an open secret that the DA still has many social conservatives pulling at the strings in the background, which compromises the DA’s identity as a classically liberal party. The DA will not lose any votes if it does away with authoritarian alcohol regulation and embraces personal responsibility. There is also ample room for the DA to significantly curb the excessive powers of traffic ‘police’, while still being constitutional. For example, it should make a law stating that only the traffic officer, not the briber, can be punished by the criminal justice system. When you sped slightly over the arbitrary limit on a Friday afternoon, and the traffic ‘police’ threatens to throw you in jail until Monday unless you give them a bribe, you shouldn’t be punished for acting rationally. A liberal government would not allow such a miscarriage of justice. It also goes without saying that manufacturing, distribution, possession, and use of marijuana must be rendered entirely legal, in light of the developing international liberal consensus.

The DA is Not ‘Racist’; Let’s Try Honest Criticism Instead

The DA has been continuously accused of being racist.

While the party has many imperfections (which are easily solvable, or could be if its leaders exercise some foresight and open their minds), there is not and has never been any reasonable basis to consider the DA racist. Its entire history, after all, can be characterized by one term: Anti-Apartheid.

This is why it is crucial for informed and principled criticism to be leveled against the official opposition. The DA will be ill-equipped for real governance if the worst criticism ever leveled against it has been “you’re racist!” This criticism does not carry any policy or principle weight and, in South Africa, is meaningless. But you still have DA leaders go all-out to defend against it, as can be seen with Phumzile van Damme’s brilliant rebuttal of ANC Western Cape spokesperson, Yonela Diko’s, article in the Daily Maverick.

What one never sees is the DA being caught in a true, substantive, policy debate. This has greatly impoverished the party which now seems to formulate policy on the fly with little adherence to it thereafter. The most obvious recent example of this is Mmusi Maimane talking big about inclusive economic growth at the very same time the DA government in Nelson Mandela Bay is accosting street traders. The ‘permit-society’ is not a free society.

The DA needs to be held accountable and challenged. It should not be our holy cow, lest we set ourselves up for more of the same when they finally become the governing party.

The post Saying the DA is ‘Racist’ is Stupid – Let’s Try Honest Criticism Instead appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/saying-da-racist-stupid-honest-criticism-instead/feed/ 1 4865
Remembering the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith https://rationalstandard.com/remembering-mahlabatini-declaration-faith/ https://rationalstandard.com/remembering-mahlabatini-declaration-faith/#comments Thu, 05 Oct 2017 22:30:00 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6571 South African politics has not always been about race or class. There have been courageous people throughout our history who have stood for higher principles, and I think most would agree that Harry Schwarz was one such individual. Schwarz was expelled from the United Party after declaring in Parliament, “I am my brother’s keeper”, in […]

The post Remembering the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
South African politics has not always been about race or class. There have been courageous people throughout our history who have stood for higher principles, and I think most would agree that Harry Schwarz was one such individual.

Schwarz was expelled from the United Party after declaring in Parliament, “I am my brother’s keeper”, in February 1975, referring to South Africans of all races.

That’s not the main point of this article, though. Great man that Harry Schwarz was, my motivation in writing this is the hope that we might remember a meeting between him and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on 4 January 1974. After this meeting a declaration was issued: the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith.

This is the original text of the document:

“The situation of South Africa in the world scene as well as internal community relations requires in our view an acceptance of certain fundamental concept for the economic social and constitutional development of our country.

We respectfully record five principles on the basis of which we believe all our people can co-operate.

  1. Change is South Africa must be brought about by peaceful means.
  2. Opportunity must be afforded to all our people for material and educational advancement. The economy must be available to serve the needs of all able and willing to contribute, and the wealth, labour and expertise of our country should be harnessed to provide job and entrepreneurial opportunity for all groups.
  3. Constitutions, blue prints and plans for the future should not be made by only some of the people for all others, they must be made with people. Consultation and dialogue lead to government by consent and with this in mind and as a first step a consultative council representative of all groups in South Africa should be constituted at the earliest opportunity.
  4. The federal concept appears to provide the best framework on which to seek a constitutional solution for a South Africa free from domination by any group over others and ensuring the security of all its people.
  5. Any constitutional proposals for South Africans must:

(i) Safeguard the identity and culture of the various groups constituting the people of South Africa.

(ii) Include a bill of rights to safeguard the fundamental concepts of natural justice.

On the basis of these principles we declare our faith in a South Africa of equal opportunity, happiness, security and people for all its people.”

Comparing this to the Freedom Charter, it is clear that South Africa had two possible paths when we began developing the Constitution in the 1990s. Rather than choose one, we opted for a compromise between the two. Imagine if we had a constitution based on natural rights as conceived by John Locke, a constitution founded on the inviolability of life, liberty and property, as opposed to the Freedom Charter’s reliance on democracy and the flawed concept of “sharing the wealth of the land”.

Imagine if we had a constitution founded on federalism such that the national government was subservient to the provincial governments and South Africans living under bad provincial administrations could move to parts of the country with a better provincial government.

Imagine if the African National Congress and the National Party had taken this declaration as a starting point for negotiations when it was first presented. How many lives could have been saved if all parties had started out accepting the principle of peaceful resolution to our political problems?

Imagine if our singular focus was on giving people opportunities for material and educational advancement, such that destructive policies like the minimum wage and other labour regulations are dropped, and unions are not allowed to hold at ransom the education of young people.

Harry Schwarz went on to try and introduce a bill of rights for all South Africans in 1983 as envisioned in the declaration. The National Party shortsightedly rejected it, and the rest is history.

More than wondering what could have been, I hope to have convinced you of what could still be if we adopt the vision of men like Harry Schwarz and Prince Buthelezi.

The Sun has not yet set for liberty in South Africa and we can begin here, by asserting that the faith two men had at Mahlabatini so long ago was not for nothing. This will require a faith of our own, translated into action as we demand our representatives fight for freedom and not just their own political careers, as Harry Schwarz would have done.

The post Remembering the Mahlabatini Declaration of Faith appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/remembering-mahlabatini-declaration-faith/feed/ 5 6571
The Nature of Government and the Fatal Flaw in South Africa’s Constitution https://rationalstandard.com/nature-government-flaw-south-africa-constitution/ https://rationalstandard.com/nature-government-flaw-south-africa-constitution/#comments Wed, 04 Oct 2017 22:01:33 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6515 What needs to happen before South Africans realize that the institution of government is not a friend, a servant, or a protector, but a rival that only does good insofar as it is restrained? Our continued trust in government enables its continued expansion and its tendency toward corruption. The Problem My recent article on the […]

The post The Nature of Government and the Fatal Flaw in South Africa’s Constitution appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
What needs to happen before South Africans realize that the institution of government is not a friend, a servant, or a protector, but a rival that only does good insofar as it is restrained? Our continued trust in government enables its continued expansion and its tendency toward corruption.

The Problem

My recent article on the Western Cape provincial government’s decision to implement an authoritarian alcohol policy sparked quite a bit of controversy which I expected, and preempted in the article itself. Despite South Africans’ daily lived experience telling – shouting at – them that government only undermines them, the institution still enjoys widespread trust, not only in the Western Cape under the Democratic Alliance (DA), but nationally.

This is a particularly grave problem in South Africa due to what I consider to be a fundamental error in our constitution. But, moreover, it is a problem because those who trust government are invariably unaware of the nature of government.

On 24 April 2016, the former liberal and former DA leader Tony Leon wrote a valuable opinion piece in the Sunday Times, titled “Nkandla excesses exposes the glaring gap in founding law”. This article came only weeks after President Jacob Zuma confidently told African National Congress (ANC) supporters that the Rule of Law can be changed with a majority in Parliament. Those who who are a little more legally aware would know that the Rule of Law is not a rule of the law, but a doctrine which, as Judge Tholakele Madala and legal scholar Professor Friedrich von Hayek both said, permeates all law.

(The subeditor who chose Leon’s article title was incorrect in describing the Constitution as our “founding law”, as there has been complete legal continuity in South African constitutional law since 1910. The founding law of South Africa as we know it is the South Africa Act of 1909, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Constitution is, instead, our supreme law.)

The article summarizes South Africa’s problem: We enacted a constitution for a moral saint – thought to be Nelson Mandela – and not for a real human being. As libertarians in South Africa and abroad had been warning for decades (centuries, if one counts early classical liberal thinkers), the nature of government means that those who are inevitably attracted to government are people who seek power. This is an absolute rule. There is no reality in which the institution of government does not attract this type of human being. This problem cannot be eliminated. It can, however, be tempered and suppressed, and for that to happen, certain institutions need to be entrenched in political society.

Indeed, if is often said – but rarely heeded – that when a constitution is being drawn up, the drafters must imagine that their very worst political enemy will be in government under the framework they devise. As Leon Louw has said in the past, at constitutional negotiations (like the one that brought Apartheid to an end) the party which will govern after the Constitution is adopted should be chosen at random (say, by a draw). On that basis, the drafting of the Constitution should commence. Thus, between the National Party and the ANC, each of the parties should have participated in the constitutional drafting on the assumption that it is the other which will govern. In this way, the best constitution would have been made: One which limits and decentralizes government.

It must be emphasized that when contemplating a political solution to a problem or devising a new political framework, the answer will always lie with institutions, and never with individuals – not “uniter” Nelson Mandela, not “outsider” Donald Trump, not “capitalist crusader” Herman Mashaba. These institutions must be both customary and legal, meaning that not only should there be strong legal restraints on government, but it must become unthinkable for those in government to do certain things.

The Nature of a Constitution

One of these (legal) institutions is a constitution.

A constitution, properly understood, is a special type of law that, unlike other laws, addresses itself to the government (not the people) of a society, and lays out what that government may, and crucially, what it may not do. The core message of constitutionalism is everything which is not allowed is forbidden. Constitutions are one of those things a society cannot afford to get wrong, because they are not transient, and it should always be assumed that governments will try to interpret them in a manner that benefits them.

The Constitution of South Africa, unfortunately, reads like a constitution meant to be transient. The Preamble and the Bill of Rights are filled with references to Apartheid, which will render it an awkward read for someone in the year 2117. This fundamental error undermines the constitutional (rigid, fixed) nature of a constitution by, essentially, giving South Africa a weird temporal status: We will always be stuck just after Apartheid. Time stands still legally.

In the Preamble we “recognise the injustices of our past” and set out to “heal the divisions of the past”. In the property rights provision, government is empowered to secure tenure which has been rendered “insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws”, and people who were dispossessed “after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws” may seek restitution or other redress for such dispossession. (As an ardent proponent of restitution, I believe this could have been framed far more appropriately, without using words like “past” or specific dates. Besides, the rei vindicatio action exists in our law anyway, allowing true owners to get possession of their property back.) Similarly, government is empowered to take measures to realize the right to education “taking into account the need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws”.

Examples like this abound.

The United States’ Declaration of Independence was a transient document, filled with references to the oppression of the British Empire. It was not a constitution, but a legal instrument which served one purpose and did so within a short space of time. Decisive executive action was naturally required for the Twelve Colonies to separate from the Empire. The war was fought and won. The U.S. Constitution was not meant as “a contract or a statute”, writes Professor Stephen Macedo in The New Right v. The Constitution, “but a majestic charter for government, intended to govern for ages to come and to apply to both unforeseen and unforeseeable circumstances.”

South Africa’s constitution, also presumably meant for the ages, has bound us up (theoretically) in perpetuity with the legacy of Apartheid and the requisite decisive executive action that goes with solving it. Our war against the legacy of Apartheid was made legally permanent and with it, an excessively powerful executive government was made similarly legally permanent. As a consequence, South Africa’s courts have time and time again reaffirmed the principle that because of the legacy of Apartheid, government must have extraordinary powers to deal with it. While the judges themselves might not realize it, this has directly enabled the kind of corruption we see today.

The Rule of Law

Another important legal institution that needs to be entrenched in any society that seeks to be free, is the Rule of Law.

To simplify, the Rule of Law means that society is governed by proper law, and not by the whims of man. The whims of man often take the form of law, but lack the legitimate character of law. (Indeed, do not confuse rule by law with the Rule of Law.) Proper law are rules informed by reason, evidence, and the time-tested principles of law, like rigidity, predictability, certainty, and proportionality. Libertarians would add to this and say that proper law are those rules which have a basis in the social contract: That government exists only to protect people and their property, and that in return people have sacrificed their natural ability to be violent in pursuit of their goals.

The Rule of Law is formally entrenched in South African law per section 1(c) of the Constitution, which states that South Africa is founded on the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law. But while the supremacy of the Constitution has seen relatively broad recognition, the co-equal supremacy of the Rule of Law has been afforded lip-service. From Herman Mashaba dropping “the rule of law must be upheld!” in every new Facebook post to Jacob Zuma ostensibly calling for the Rule of Law to be respected (but thinking it can somehow be ‘changed’ in Parliament), everyone knows about the Rule of Law, but very few people think of it as something consequential.

Research done by the Free Market Foundation appears to indicate that virtually all legislation passed by Parliament violates at least one tenet of the Rule of Law. For instance, essentially all laws which empower executive officials to make decisions, like create regulations or ‘determinations’, does so without any guiding criteria (save perhaps for the cop-out “public interest” criterion), meaning that it is the whim of man rather than the Rule of Law which governs in that particular respect. From mining licenses, to private school licenses, to healthcare regulations, officials have all the discretion in the world, and, in effect, create law which we must abide by. This latter function is supposed to be the domain of Parliament, not officials.

This, obviously, enables corruption.

If a regulator has the power to revoke or not renew a license without having to adhere to any strict criteria, it follows that companies will not want to sour their relationship with the regulator. It follows that bribes become a very likely occurrence. Arbitrariness and corruption are two sides of the same coin.

The courts, too, have tended to ignore the Rule of Law under the guise of ‘deference’. They endorse a minimalist notion of the Rule of Law whereby Parliament or the executive must simply act in accordance with the provisions of existing legislation, regardless of whether the legislation itself violates the Rule of Law. Where the courts have admitted that legislation violates the Rule of Law, like the Currency and Exchanges Act, they have refused to declare them unconstitutional, because, for some reason or another, the courts are unwilling to put two and two together, and understand that the Constitution provides for the co-equal supremacy of both the Constitution and the Rule of Law. It must, thus, follow that anything inconsistent with the Rule of Law is unlawful.

In South Africa, the apparent mixture of transience and permanence in our constitution, coupled with the fact that the Rule of Law has not been respected for centuries, has an oppressive and corrupt government as a consequence.

Jacob Zuma has simply reaped the rewards of an errant system of government. He did not create it. He sought power, which was handed to him on the silver platter known as South African constitutional jurisprudence.

Be Conscious of the Nature of Government

This situation is, however, not hopeless.

We must be careful not to think that ridding ourselves of Zuma is the key to return to liberal constitutional democracy; it is not.

Instead, the first step to moving in the direction of accountable and constrained governance is consciousness.

All it takes to turn the tide, is for South Africans to realize the true nature of government. Everything else will fall into place as a natural consequence of that realization, and nobody will be worse for wear. It is not a zero-sum game. This realization comes at the expense of nothing and nobody, save perhaps for corrupt politicians and their cronies.

Force, compulsion, coercion, and violence are the essence of government. These characteristics are inseparable from that institution, and rightly so – government, as a concept, came about because of the need for a forceful institution to protect individual rights. But just like one does not appoint a mercenary to run a nursery for babies, one should not appoint government to do anything other than protect persons and property from violence or fraud. This is what government is supposed to be limited to, and why force is a crucial ingredient to its nature. But government has not been kept to its proper role, and we have been reaping the fruit of this grave mistake for centuries. This is why acknowledging and appreciating the nature of the institution of government is key to solving all the problems which have resulted from this mistake.

When, or if, South Africans start this process of acknowledgment and appreciation, things like the Western Cape alcohol policy will become impossible. The Western Cape government would not be able to pass such a policy if it did not have broad appeal, which it clearly and ignorantly does have. Similarly, the entire notion of tenderpreneurship would immediately fall away. The over-reliance on government education and healthcare will end at once as communities, now disgusted by the very idea of government involvement in those things as a means of social control, band together and establish community-run private schools and clinics.

Legal and political scholars have been trying to evade the nature of government for centuries. They often acknowledge the general principle that government is a violent institution which must be constrained to only its social contract duty to protect person and property, “but”, they say, this or that circumstance necessitates a greater role for government.

In South Africa today, the “but” is the legacy of Apartheid. During Apartheid, the “but” was the possibility of black domination over the white minority. During the prior century, the “but” was the proximity between the British and the Boers. During the early Cape settlement, the “but” was the isolated location of the colony. There is always a “but” which has the effect of defeating the general principle.

It is, and has always been, high time to stop with the “but”. The “but” has only ever created more problems and more cause for more even more “buts”. This will continue unless people draw a line in the sand. This might sometimes mean forgoing the possibility of revenge or advancing certain group interests, but it is absolutely necessary to kick-start a free and prosperous society.

Conclusion

For as long as South Africans continue to envision the solution to our problems to be found in government, will we continue down this endless cycle.

This applies not only to the Democratic Alliance as well, but especially to the Democratic Alliance, because the DA now finds itself in many people’s political blindspots. One never truly appreciates the nature of government if particular organizations or individuals are caught in their blindspots. Nobody is exempt from the nature of government as a forceful institution which can inherently overpower any non-governmental actor for any reason. Whether it is me, Herman Mashaba, Pravin Gordhan, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or Jacob Zuma in charge of government, the nature of government never changes.

Trust in yourselves, first and foremost, and in your families and communities. Never trust government, especially if it says it seeks to help, and especially if it is ‘your guy’ who is in power.

The post The Nature of Government and the Fatal Flaw in South Africa’s Constitution appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/nature-government-flaw-south-africa-constitution/feed/ 1 6515
Why We Need to Bring Back the Gold-Backed Currency https://rationalstandard.com/why-bring-back-gold-backed-currency/ https://rationalstandard.com/why-bring-back-gold-backed-currency/#comments Tue, 03 Oct 2017 22:01:45 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6513 When people are confronted with the daunting question of “What is money?”, they usually stare at you like you’ve just asked them to explain the equation for special relativity. Money is anything with inherent value that is used to measure the value people attach to products and services. It acts as a medium of exchange […]

The post Why We Need to Bring Back the Gold-Backed Currency appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
When people are confronted with the daunting question of “What is money?”, they usually stare at you like you’ve just asked them to explain the equation for special relativity.

Money is anything with inherent value that is used to measure the value people attach to products and services. It acts as a medium of exchange in order to facilitate trade. What started out as people trading physical goods for one another, developed into an immensely complicated modern economic system as more specialised products and services arose. People realised they needed a universal medium of exchange, and this led to the revolutionary invention of money.

There exists an interdependent relationship between money and goods & services: the value of money is measured in the number of goods and services it can purchase (purchasing power) and the value of goods and services is in turn measured in what amount of monies is needed to purchase it (prices). It is a very delicate balancing act which can only be achieved by the invisible hand of the market, which is why the market must be free.

As far as inherent worth goes, gold seemed a pretty solid option to use as money. Here’s why:

The amount of gold relative to the number of people is relatively miniscule; the demand outweighs the supply by far. Gold thus has a lot of value attached to it. Seeing as the global population keeps increasing, the demand for gold also keeps increasing. Hence the rise in the value of gold; it keeps getting relatively scarcer. It thus makes complete sense to use it as a medium of exchange seeing as it keeps its value.

As nations rose and fell and economies grew ever more complicated, governments the world over decided that the best way to maintain gold as the primary means of exchange, but also make it more “flexible” in order to adapt to modern specialised markets, was to have it represented by paper money and coins. Currency was thus invented.

Currency is different from money in that it has no inherent value. It merely represents the real money: gold. Currency is also easily divisible into much smaller units. Currency was essentially a middle man that nudged its way in between gold and domestic products and services. The balancing act became even more delicate. The gold standard was created.

The gold standard is a fool-proof system at worst. The value of the gold is measured in terms of the currency used. The gold backs up the currency and gives it value and consequently purchasing power; another fine balancing act that can only be achieved by the market’s invisible hand. This act determines the purchasing power of the specific currency.

As explained earlier, in the long run the value of gold keeps rising as the level of demand grows at a faster rate relative to the level of supply of gold. The paper currency representing the gold will thus not lose its purchasing power. When the US finally decided that the whole “live within your means” thing wasn’t working for them, Nixon abolished the gold standard in 1971 and replaced it with a fiat currency.

The word fiat’ is a Latin term meaning “let it be done”. A fiat currency is a system of currency that is backed not by anything of value but by a central government’s arbitrary authority. The US Federal Reserve, for example, is allowed to print US dollars non-stop as long as its financial overlords give it the green light. The only difference between a $1 bill and 1 Monopoly bill is that the government sanctions the former as a viable means of exchange. Yet, it has no inherent worth.

Currencies’ worth is now determined by market forces within the money market, the place where currencies compete for domination. The quantity of currency within an economy can now be adjusted by a central government in order to influence the exchange rate, internal interest rates, and thus the value the currency holds. Reserve banks can also influence exchange rates by actively competing in the money market, also known as ‘dirty floating’. It is no mystery why governments keep on printing worthless paper money: massive expansionary fiscal and monetary policies demand it.

Economists such as Michael Maloney keep warning governments and central banks that they’re creating an unsustainable global financial bubble that is going to implode. There is no foundation on which modern economies are based. Money exists no more.

What we now have is an artificial form of “money” with no inherent worth. It is simply not sustainable. The gold standard keeps the economy in a state of natural unison. It is a system that balances itself out. It is a system that works. It is a system that is endowed with foolproofness by its very nature.

The post Why We Need to Bring Back the Gold-Backed Currency appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/why-bring-back-gold-backed-currency/feed/ 1 6513
At last, the University of Cape Town explains its chicken-like approach to decolonization https://rationalstandard.com/last-university-cape-town-executive-explains-chicken-like-approach-decolonization/ https://rationalstandard.com/last-university-cape-town-executive-explains-chicken-like-approach-decolonization/#comments Mon, 02 Oct 2017 22:01:12 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6499 Space, truth and being Law professor, former Black Academic Caucus (BAC) vice-chairperson and current Deputy Vice Chancellor for Transformation, Loretta Feris, describes decolonization at the University of Cape Town as a transformation into “a pluri-versal space”, “where there is more than one central truth, where there is more than one dominant culture and where there […]

The post At last, the University of Cape Town explains its chicken-like approach to decolonization appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
Space, truth and being

Law professor, former Black Academic Caucus (BAC) vice-chairperson and current Deputy Vice Chancellor for Transformation, Loretta Feris, describes decolonization at the University of Cape Town as a transformation into “a pluri-versal space”, “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”.

Weren’t pluralism and pluralistic spaces central pillars of Apartheid?

What is the current, single “central truth” at UCT? According to Feris-invited speaker Prof C.K. Raju, there is not one in mathematics, physics, or biology. With regard to the latter, there is the perennial nature vs nurture debate and, more specifically, there is molecular reductionism and genetic/selective determinism versus Smutsian ecological holism and historical contingency. At UCT, some of these debates go back to Lancelot Hogben in the 1920s and are ongoing. Let’s hear more on this from other scientists, social/humanitarians, philosophers and medics!

Isn’t Truth supposed to be the one objective reality excluding individual, religious, mythological, ideological or political biases. That was UCT VC T.B. Davie’s vision in 1950.  Is this to be abandoned in favour of some Nietzschean vision of choosing among interpretations depending on who currently has power?

Didn’t Mandela call for an end to “dominant cultures” of any kind? Is the Old Boys’ network to be complemented or replaced by a ‘Xhosa Nostra’? Is the BAC a ‘melanised’ blend of the Afrikaner Nasionale Studentebond or  Broederbond? Despite searching the internet and asking Price, Feris, and the BAC Chairperson, I have yet to see a copy of the BAC Constitution. May a ‘white’ join it? When and where does it meet? Who is it helping other than lawbreaking fallists?

With regard to Feris’ call for institutionalized ‘multi-being’, there always have been political parties, cultural societies, the communist/capitalist divide and science vs ‘séance’ debate (at least until 2015) at UCT. Does Feris now wish to add ‘restoratively justified, law-breaking anarchy’ to the mix? With regard to gender/sexuality issues, Saunders strongly supported the formation of UCT’s Gay and Lesbian Association more than 30 years ago.

What does the Executive actually do? Plead to populism?

Perhaps because Feris has to spend so much of her time chairing the Rapid Response Task Team (RRTT) and the Strategic Executive Task Team (SETT) and serving on the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission Steering Committee (IRTC SC), she demurs that UCT is “steeped in bureaucracy”, and “it is often difficult and cumbersome to make decisions”. Yes, the “slow pace of transformation” is due to a UCT “ruled by committee”, which “puts the brakes on decision-making.” It seems that all Feris, Price and the fallists want to do is to create more committees to deal with art, symbols, re-re-admission, curriculum-cleansing and amnesty, while they undermine the Academic Freedom Committee, freedom of speech and artistic expression and Faculty Readmission Committees.

Given her misgivings, why hasn’t Feris broken ranks with the Senior Leadership Group (is there a junior one?) and cut through the bureaucratic Gordian Knot?

Feris believes that UCT “needs to interrogate rules and procedures”, but fails to apply them when dealing with lawbreaking fallists. When they violated the November 2016 Agreement and invaded the Mafeje Room, she chose to “appeal” to them in order to “keep pace with a changing student profile”.

Is the Pluriversity of Cape Town going to have fewer and better rules?

In short, why is Feris’ vision of a dynamic decolonization so placatingly populist?

Facing up to socio-economic challenges by ‘playing chicken

Feris complains that “black students, rural students, students from quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools” are lacking in “economic, social and cultural capital”. “Students are hungry and cannot afford accommodation” which has “a profound impact on their ability to function in a learning environment”. But, given the progressively lower support from government and highly unlikely elimination of fees (except perhaps for the poorest and brightest), let alone finding additional support for monthly living expenses, when will she or anyone else in the Executive admit the reality that the Executive’s strategy to fund many subsidy-earning students partially, and not fewer students comprehensively, generates their “profound inability to function”?

(For a particularly insightful commentary on the “Welfare University”, see Chapter 8 of Prof Jonathan Jansen’s 2016 book: As by Fire: the end of the South African University.)

In Africa, this r-selection biological strategy is employed by its most widespread bird, the chicken-like Helmeted Guineafowl, which lays up to 20 eggs; but is rarely capable of rearing more than a handful of the chicks that emerge from them. In sharp contrast, Africa’s most widespread eagle, the Martial Eagle, employs K-selection; laying just one egg and investing enormously in the resulting chick which almost guarantees it survival. By the way, this bird of prey is also the Helmeted Guineafowl’s most feared predator.

Wouldn’t replacing UCT’s chicken-strategy for students with an eagle one better “take into account the hardship of the daily grind of many of our students”. Indeed, to what extent might the “psychological problems” so prevalent amongst under-supported students be alleviated if their needs were met fully?

Immoral admission

From an academic perspective, is it morally defensible to admit (and bureaucratically re-admit) thousands of educationally ‘disabled’ matriculants, many of whom fail to cope, despite academic ‘support’ and counselling? More than half of these kids with ‘great expectations’ never obtain a university degree and more than 80% take more than four years to do so, often ‘earning’ poor results and incurring massive debt.

Why has UCT never published statistics indicating the career success of these ‘long-haul graduates’. Is this good educational practice? Does it liberate the oppressed masses, or just a few? Does it maintain excellence and produce leaders/innovators?

These ‘betrayed’ kids are fodder for radical fallists bent on destroying UCT.

Endless ‘decolonization’

Why does Feris believe that the “university needs to constantly review our decision-making processes”? Why not become “fair” and “consistent” and choose an ‘eagle’ one that actually “takes into account social and economic context”, rather than focusing on the ‘chicken’ one that sucks in effectively doomed students in order to get government subsidies?

Is it because it brings in the most money, some of which is used to pay huge salaries and bonuses to members of its Executive, other highly paid centralized admin officers and post costs for CHED Academic ‘Developers’ who would be better deployed, managed and nurtured in core departments?

The ‘rich get rich and the poor get children’. In the meantime, ain’t we got fun?

Why must “everyone flourish”, regardless of their background?

Rich kids (regardless of how they self-identify) will always be better resourced, whether it be at UCT or anywhere else. The UCT Executive’s goal should be to ensure that poor kids coming from an education-disabling school system receive adequate comprehensive support so their kids can “flourish” and acquire their own wealth.

Re-readmission Appeals Committees (RAC)

Feris views the Executive’s concession to Mafeje Room-invading fallists to implement automatic, bureaucratic, centralized re-evaluation of faculty-based RAC decisions as a “historical way of decision-making in a committee” that “corrected actions” (exclusions) initially “detrimental to students”.

Perhaps she and other “senior leaders” should accept that their chicken-strategy to fund fewer students only partially is the root cause of their inability to cope at UCT. Using bureaucratic power to override carefully-considered reviews by subject-specialist, faculty-based RA committees that studiously act in a fair, consistent and compassionate manner, helps no one, least of all struggling students and the academic/admin staff who undertake this painful task.

The current members of the Science Faculty RAC resigned in protest. Who will replace them? If the fallists shut down UCT again, who will fill the breach to make up for missed lectures?

What would a ‘pluriversity’ look like?

Feris says a pluriversity will allow room for “a range of epistemologies”. But, what and where are they? UCT launched its Centre for African Studies (CAS) more than 40 years ago. Why did it fail to produce or help to foster the development of students, staff and novel curricula necessary to expand this epistemological “range”? Why was the CAS’ disestablishment considered seriously in 2011?

It’s been five years since the ‘new’ CAS was “re-launched” and it has only introduced undergraduate courses this year. Why take so long to produce so little? CAS director, please reply.

What about the Centre for Higher Education Development’s (CHED) Academic Development Programme (ADP) (now with some 60 staff) that has been around since the 1980s? Does Feris support pouring more money into this programme that has “marginalized” ‘black’ students, never ‘filled the education gap’, let alone maintained excellence (something Feris never mentions). CHED dean, or Feris, please reply.

What has the Black Academic Caucus been up to? The BAC was founded in 2012, with the purpose of “challenging the slow pace of transformation” and claiming to be “well-placed to recognise the obstacles to decolonisation within the institution and work towards overcoming them”. What are its “important gains” vis-à-vis adding to epistemological diversity and overcoming “obstacles (other than demanding blanket amnesty for lawbreaking fallists)?

Then there is the Curriculum Change Working Group. What has it achieved in the two years since it added to UCT’s committee diversity?

Nearly 20 years have passed since the “Mamdani Affair”. Two years ago, the Dean of Humanities convened a faculty-wide assembly and asked for input from students vis-à-vis new transformed curricula. All he got were complaints that the UCT’s Academic Development Programme had “marginalized” them, and a suggestion to implement Mamdani’s unchanged, outdated one for “Problematizing Africa” from the 1990s.

The IRTC SC, which absorbs much of Feris’ time, seems to be more focused on granting amnesties to fallists than “unpacking the limits of acceptable protest”. It hasn’t consulted and engaged with various ‘constituencies’ vis-a-vis restructuring curricula. Indeed, the criteria it has identified for IRT commissioners are conspicuously lacking in terms of capacity relating to curriculum development.

My own department, Biological Sciences, is nowhere near consensus on what to do with its curriculum in the face of falling student numbers and high failure rates. Progress to date suggests an intention to continue gearing it towards producing graduates who will pursue postgraduate study, rather than creating pathways for school biology teachers.  This is especially worrying, given the Executive’s policy of “freezing posts and other budget cuts impacting on the university’s employment equity targets”. How many biology Ph.D. graduates find jobs and have productive careers?

How can UCT grads “have a career trajectory and a possibility for growth” under these circumstances, let alone aspire to excellence and become “retained role models”? Also, will the Executive’s New Strategy to bias recruitment in favour of South African ‘blacks’ (or any ‘group’ for that matter) and particular theories (e.g. Critical Theory) irrespective of merit maintain academic excellence? For example, the currently advertised new Mafeje Chair is restricted to South African ‘blacks’. It is therefore unavailable to eminent ‘decolonist’ Achille Mbembe because he was born in Cameroon and is ‘critical’ of Critical Theory. Indeed, my guess is that hyper-empiricist Archie Mafeje would also be one of its critics!

When does a demographic “African lens” become xenophobic blinkers that undermine diversity and “extensive collaboration across Africa and the globe”? Why should non-South African academics be treated a ‘visitors’ and not potential career colleagues?  This is reminiscent of VC Beattie’s views on women and non-whites 90 years ago.

The post At last, the University of Cape Town explains its chicken-like approach to decolonization appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/last-university-cape-town-executive-explains-chicken-like-approach-decolonization/feed/ 3 6499
Economics by Cows https://rationalstandard.com/economics-by-cows/ https://rationalstandard.com/economics-by-cows/#comments Thu, 28 Sep 2017 22:01:59 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6454 A collection of cattle related political jokes to lighten up your day. Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell some milk, make a profit, buy more cows and make an even bigger profit, and so on. Everyone thinks you are evil for doing this. You know this because you read their mean tweets which they […]

The post Economics by Cows appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
A collection of cattle related political jokes to lighten up your day.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell some milk, make a profit, buy more cows and make an even bigger profit, and so on. Everyone thinks you are evil for doing this. You know this because you read their mean tweets which they sent from their iPhones.

Socialism: You have two cows, both of which are owned by the state. You milk them with inefficient government-sponsored means while being provided with free food. Eventually, when there is no more free food, you starve.

Communism: You have two cows. They wander away because you can’t own property. You starve to death.

Fascism: You have two cows. One day, you wonder ‘What if I had three cows?’ The State deems this violence and shoots you.

Keynesianism: You have two cows. A hurricane rips through your farm and destroys the barn and the fence. You are forced to sell the cows in order to repair the farm. The government gives you another two cows for free. You marvel at the growth in the economy.

Austrian Economics: You have two cows. You devise a cunning theory of behaviour in order to maximise their milk production. You write a book on this theory, but to your dismay, no one is willing to pay for it in gold bars.

Libertarianism: You have two cows. They graze next to you marijuana fields which you protect with an assault rifle. You fall out of favour with other farmers because you don’t know what Aleppo is.

America: You are the most successful cow farmer in the land. You notice a neighbouring farm is using inefficient farming methods. You deem this to be a national security threat and invade and occupy their farm, kill the farmer and remain there until you finish teaching the new farmer how to farm like you do.

Canada: You have two moose. Everyone laughs at your accent. You continue to be polite.

China: You have far too many cows to count, but millions of them die because you don’t know how to farm. After a while, you let the cows find their own pastures and your farm grows rapidly. You offer to build infrastructure on a neighbouring farm if they let your cows graze there in return.

Greece: You have 1 pig, but lie and tell the farmers union that you actually have 200 cows. You party on the beach and borrow cows from other farms until you have to pay them back, at which point they find out you really only had 1 pig and used all the cows to fund your partying on the beach. You convene with all the farm workers and it is agreed that you should party even harder to remedy the situation.

South Africa: You have twenty cows but you cannot use the milking machine because there is no electricity. You call the government numerous times to fix the problem. After months, the government arrives at your farm and deems that you have too many Friesland cows and requires you to replace them with Jersey cows to meet a quota. You do so, but you still cannot milk any of them because the electricity hasn’t been fixed.

Zimbabwe: You have many cows which you promise to distribute to your farm workers. Over time, you realise that you don’t have enough cows to give to all your workers, so instead you give them cardboard cut outs of cows. Realising the worthlessness of cardboard cows, your workers move to another farm.

Israel: You have two (((cows))). You farmland is very hostile to life and has infertile soil, but remarkably you are able to farm your (((cows))) successfully with the help of you friend who runs the most successful farm in the land. All the neighbouring farmers constantly attack you because they only want cows and not (((cows))) to be farmed in this land, but you’re a lawyer and sue them for this.

Donald Trump: You have a few hundred million sheep and promise them that you will build a big beautiful wall around their pastures to prevent cows from grazing on their land. The sheep love you for it. You don’t build a wall, but the sheep continue to love and admire you.

Antifa: You don’t own any cows and live in your mom’s basement. You see a neighbouring farm doing well. You deem this violence and you dress in black and destroy the neighbouring farm.

Alt-right: You’re convinced by a conspiracy theory that your cows are being killed in and so you bring back farming practices which killed millions of cows in the past in the hope off letting your superior cows survive. You get punched.

1st  wave Feminism: You have one cow and one bull. You treat them equally.

3rd wave Feminism: You have two bulls of the same breed. Distraught, you replace them with two cows of different breeds, one with blue fur and the other with a broken leg. You starve as your cows produce no milk.

Google: You run a very big farm. One day, a farm worker suggests that some of your practices may be inefficient and writes a memo with his suggestions of how to better the farm. You fire him because you know you’re the biggest farm in the land and his opinion is offensive to you.

The post Economics by Cows appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/economics-by-cows/feed/ 1 6454
Mahmood Mamdani and the Academic Freedom Lecture: Public Intellectualism Gone Wrong https://rationalstandard.com/mahmood-mamdani-academic-freedom-lecture-public-intellectualism-gone-wrong/ https://rationalstandard.com/mahmood-mamdani-academic-freedom-lecture-public-intellectualism-gone-wrong/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:01:41 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6293 On 22 August, the University of Cape Town’s 2017 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture on Academic Freedom titled “Decolonising the Post-Colonial University” was given (over the objections of several UCT academics) by one of the world’s top 10 public intellectuals and arguably the world’s leading authority on African colonial and post‐colonial international politics and the decolonization […]

The post Mahmood Mamdani and the Academic Freedom Lecture: Public Intellectualism Gone Wrong appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
On 22 August, the University of Cape Town’s 2017 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture on Academic Freedom titled “Decolonising the Post-Colonial University” was given (over the objections of several UCT academics) by one of the world’s top 10 public intellectuals and arguably the world’s leading authority on African colonial and post‐colonial international politics and the decolonization of African universities, Mahmood Mamdani.

First, what’s a public intellectual? Here’s my definition:

  1. an undisputed expert and critical thinker a subject (e.g. Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould – not Richard Dawkins – on evolution; Noam Chomsky on linguistics and political action; Salman Rushdie on humanism and cultural relativism);
  2. a translator who can distil academic verbiage into accounts that can be understood and appreciated by laypeople;
  3. a dissenter who can rattle the cages of tradition and normality without bias towards a particular ideology;
  4. a rational debater who participates in respectfully-competitive discussions beyond endless ‘conversations’;
  5. a knowledge gatekeeper who can ensure effective communication and understanding without constraining it in twitter-sized packets of hyper-simplified jargon; and
  6. ultimately a revealer of truth, even when it contradicts overwhelming power.

Why the requests?

UCT’s Executive, led by Vice Chancellor Max Price, cancelled (with short notice and over strong objections from UCT’s Academic Freedom Committee and many staff/students/alumni) the 2016 Davie Lecture. Price acted because the invited speaker (journalist Flemming Rose) was anonymously defamed (without published evidence) as a “bigot”/“blasphemer”/”Islamophobe”, and Price feared that Rose’s potentially unconstitutional address (the topic of which never discussed – but probably self-censorship) might provoke unspecified (hypothetical?) “violent protest”.

The objectors felt that no further Davie Lectures should be given until Rose was allowed to present one.

Why did Mamdani refuse?

Islamophobia

Mamdani maintained that Rose and the publishers of cartoons of Mohammed, especially with a hand grenade in his turban, are Islamophobic, and because they refused to publish similar cartoons of Christ.

No. According to Rose, Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper concerned, published several cartoons similarly ridiculing Jesus, even by Kurt Westergaard, the artist that did the cartoon of the Mohammed.

Reminiscing

Jyllands-Posten and – according to Mamdani – cartoons drawn by South African cartoonist Zapiro – are also Islamophobic because the offensive cartoons are ‘reminiscent’ of those published in an anti-Semitic Nazi tabloid for which the editor was executed. Mamdani also indicated that the newspaper’s and Rose’s actions remind him of those of journalists, radio broadcasters and intellectuals who encouraged the genocide in Rwanda.

Being ‘reminiscent’ of something proves nothing. Der Stürmer, the vehemently, anti-Semitic, German tabloid Mamdani refers to, was published by Julius Streicher, the man justifiably executed. The paper was not an official publication of the Nazi Party. Indeed, Hermann Göring regarded it as an embarrassment to Nazism and Joseph Goebbels tried to ban it, since it was too salacious, even for him. Der Stürmer was published privately by Streicher and made him a millionaire. It also ran sexually explicit, anti-Catholicanti-Communist, and anti-monarchist propaganda and, in its editorials, Streicher relentlessly called for the annihilation and extermination of the Jewish race.

Cartoons depicting Mohammed may offend self-proclaimed jihadist terrorists (such as those who murdered employees, police and bystanders at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper) and Mamdani and remind them of actionable Nazism/anti-Semitism. But, how can a couple of cartoons be a stepping stone to genocide? Moreover, the horrific acts in Rwanda were the result of a concerted, well-coordinated conspiracy that had a strong basis in politics and socio-economics, in addition to tribal/racial hatred. Rose, the relevant cartoonists and newspaper publishers produced one product and have never been proven to be hatemongers.

In short, neither Mamdani’s inference nor unsuccessful legal action by Muslim agencies prove Islamophobia or a connection between Rose and clarion calls for group-based discrimination or genocide.

Amos n’ Andy

Also, for the umpteenth time, Mamdani referred to Amos n’ Andy, the longest-running and one of the most popular radio shows in US history as a comparable example of anti-‘black’ racism. The show a was an offshoot of failing minstrelsy and highly popular even with African-Americans. Nevertheless, some eminent citizens objected to it because its white actors stereotyped their folk as “inferior, lazy, dumb and dishonest”. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national office initially declined to endorse their objections.

A subsequent TV version of the show, with a highly-talented, all-‘black’ cast ran for two years until its sponsors withdrew support based of objections/boycotts from the NAACP. Nevertheless, its reruns continued for another 13 years despite further objections.

Whether Amos n’ Andy was an anti-African-American racist portrayal is by no means generally accepted by African-Americans and radio/TV critics/historians. The documentary Amos ‘n’ Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy, looks at its history and the show’s characters from its inception on radio to the first all-black cast show on American TV.  Hosted by African-American comedian George Kirby, this documentary features rare archival clips and interviews with former TV cast members, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Redd Foxx, Marla Gibbs and former NAACP leaders of that era. None of the interviewees take the Mamdani ‘position’.

This pioneering situation comedy depicted black actors portraying upstanding judges, lawyers, police officers, business owners, home owners, and strong and opinionated women; admittedly alongside other flawed individuals who mispronounced and misused the English language. Rev. Jackson said: “We had enough sense to see that these brilliant actors were comedians playing out roles”.  “Perhaps what was missing were other more serious shows to establish balance.” What was missing then, and now, is a balanced focus on education instead of poverty; appreciation of art instead of burning it; resolute mass action rather than gang violence; sober, rational and respectful discussion rather than profanity; love instead of pathological hatred and, especially, respect for the rule of law and women.

On the last score, Price chooses to quote American ‘activist’ Stokely Carmichael on nuanced institutional racism, but ignores his notorious comment: “The position of women in the [Civil Rights] movement is prone.” He chose to help radical, ideologue and PASMA commissar Masixole Mlandu escape detention by the SA Police Service so they could ‘negotiate’.  Price even suspended UCT’s 2016 Student Representative Council elections because candidate Mlandu was interdicted from being on campus. This is despite the fact that Mlandu has been accused of malicious damage to property, housebreaking, intimidation and sexual harassment and described by a judge as “unrepentant”. The pro-fallist Daily Maverick describes him as determined to “destroy Rhodes, his legacy and all he represents” by “bring[ing] the struggles and vagaries of township life and black pain to the affluent centres of South Africa’s elite establishment”.

As for me, I watched Amos n’ Andy TV re-runs as a teenager simultaneously with the equally hilarious Honeymooners, which depicted ‘whites’ as severely lacking in character and intellect. Think also of the similarly-deficient Archie Bunker and today’s Black-ish. Perhaps Mamdani should also listen to Amos’ words describing the Lord’s Prayer to his young daughter.

Mamdani also maintains that Amos n’ Andy was finally cancelled in 1965 due to the “political influence” of “inarticulate” Watts Rioters – 30000+ rioters; 34 deaths; $40 million damage – in Los Angeles. The riot was, in fact, triggered by an altercation between allegedly racist police and an African-American motorist. A subsequent commission of enquiry makes no reference to the show.

What, then, is Mamdani’s evidence? Both events took place in the same year: 1965. But, so did relatively non-violent protests in Selma, Alabama, and the passage of pivotal US civil rights legislation. Perhaps peaceful, coordinated actions have more effect in the longer term than riotous acts.

A challenge

Mamdani ended his riposte by asking the pro-Rose, UCT e-mailers if they would stand up and answer the question: Would you also invite Streicher and the promoters of the Rwandan genocide to give the Davie Memorial Lecture? Then he declared that the “Islamophobic” Rose had no democratic right to have the honour to give the Academic Freedom Lecture at UCT and “congratulated” Price for banning Rose.

Since these e-mailers were not present, they were unable to answer Mamdani’s question with an unequivocal “NO”! With regard to ‘democratic rights’, Price has steadfastly refused to conduct democratic, anonymous, vote-based surveys of the UCT Community on any aspect of decolonization or fallism, let alone defining and defending academic freedom.  With regard to ‘honour’, the unilateral action by the Price-led Executive to override a decision by the Academic Freedom Committee (whose job it is to select Davie Lecture speakers – including Mamdani) without consulting Senate confers none on UCT’s leadership.

The Davie-Rose-Mamdani ‘affair’ is, at best, the misuse of public intellectualism to undermine Davie’s vision, defame Rose and eminent UCT ‘universal scholars’ and contribute to the collapse of academic freedom in order to promote destructive decolonization.

The post Mahmood Mamdani and the Academic Freedom Lecture: Public Intellectualism Gone Wrong appeared first on Rational Standard.

]]>
https://rationalstandard.com/mahmood-mamdani-academic-freedom-lecture-public-intellectualism-gone-wrong/feed/ 2 6293