Editorials – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Free political commentary for the dissenting South African Fri, 13 Oct 2017 23:09:27 +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 Editorials – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 Editorial: In Honour of Michael O’Dowd – the Eclectic South African Classical Liberal https://rationalstandard.com/editorial-honour-michael-odowd-eclectic-south-african-classical-liberal/ https://rationalstandard.com/editorial-honour-michael-odowd-eclectic-south-african-classical-liberal/#respond Sun, 17 Sep 2017 22:01:00 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6287 The Rational Standard has secured permission from the Free Market Foundation (FMF) to publish essays written by the FMF’s late chairman, Michael Conway O’Dowd, in his 1999 occasional paper, “Liberal Reflections.” In doing so, we hope to do our part in preserving the works of one of South Africa’s, and the world’s, great classical liberal minds. O’Dowd […]

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The Rational Standard has secured permission from the Free Market Foundation (FMF) to publish essays written by the FMF’s late chairman, Michael Conway O’Dowd, in his 1999 occasional paper, “Liberal Reflections.” In doing so, we hope to do our part in preserving the works of one of South Africa’s, and the world’s, great classical liberal minds. O’Dowd passed away in 2006 at the age of 76.

O’Dowd was known in South African liberal circles for the O’Dowd Thesis, an essay he penned in 1966 predicting that industrialization would lead to the demise of Apartheid. Officially titled “The Stages of Economic Growth and the Future of South Africa”, the thesis was inspired by Walt Whitman Rostow’s 1960 book The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto.

O’Dowd readily accepted – in 1982 and 1991, respectively – that his prediction had not been realized as he originally thought it would, partly because he assumed (and he admits: naively) that the rate of economic growth (~4.5%) South Africa was experiencing then would continue. He had good reason to assume this, however, because South Africa was growing at that rate relatively consistently from 1930-1933 to the time he wrote the Thesis. His prediction did, however, eventually come true about a decade later than he thought, with the end of Apartheid being neatly wedged between the National Party regime’s desperate attempts to liberalize in the 1980s and the African National Congress’ comparatively-capitalist Growth, Employment and Redistribution plan of the 1990s.

What O’Dowd also predicted, and what came true, was that the United States would become a welfare state as it entered the “mass consumption society” stage of its development. As O’Dowd wrote in the Thesis, “The Great Society looks very like a new name for the welfare state, though, one would hope, on an improved model.”

Today, O’Dowd is remembered for pioneering corporate social investment in South Africa, during his time as Chairman of the Anglo-American and De Beers Group Chairman’s Fund. Writes journalist Paul Pereira:

“In 1974, a momentous decision was taken that would create South African corporate social investment as we know it today. Anglo created a department to develop and carry out social investments. For townships and villages, it heralded the coming of the cavalry, called the Anglo American and De Beers Chairman’s Fund.

Led by Michael O’Dowd, it was the start of a massive infrastructure development project, the Rural Schools Programme, which exists to this day with rand-for-rand state support. It built the first black technikons, the SOS Children’s Villages and backed Johannesburg’s African Children’s Feeding Scheme, still feeding 31,000 youngsters daily.”

“Liberal Reflections” is a forgotten contribution to classical liberal thought which has been collecting dust for two decades. In the preface, the late veteran journalist Ken Owen wrote:

“O’Dowd is an eclectic. He writes in the tradition of millennia of philosophers – from Aristotle ad Confucius, through Judaeo-Christianity, to the Open Society of Karl Popper. Enriched with allusions from literature and history, O’Dowd’s Paper demonstrates how liberal capitalism provides the only material environment where both the human mind and spirit can achieve their highest aspirations.”

2006 painting of O’Dowd by Frances Kendall.

O’Dowd considers everything from competition, to truth, to cultural relativism in a fashion reminiscent of other great classical liberal polymaths, like Friedrich von Hayek, whom O’Dowd presumably met more than once during his tenure as FMF chairman.

The eight essays which the Rational Standard are republishing, in order of publication, are:

We renamed the essays with titles more appropriate for an online, search engine-optimized context, and added headings for the readers’ convenience.

The Rational Standard, being Africa’s only explicitly-classical liberal publication, seeks to honour those classical liberals who have contributed to the fight against State tyranny and advocated for freer societies. With most of Africa’s eminent classical liberals having done the bulk of their work in the pre-digital era, and with many of them, like O’Dowd, having already passed away, we stand to lose the brilliant insights they provided. Many have likely already been lost to history.

It is an intellectual injustice that an individual like O’Dowd – and many others – would so soon after his death be forgotten by history. Even South Africa’s moderate classically liberal community, for the most part, does not know of O’Dowd. They are far more likely to know of O’Dowd’s daughter, Cathy, who was the first woman to have summitted Mount Everest from both the north and south sides.

The essays are not temporally or geographically constrained, and can be relevant to any reader. These works do not apply particularly to South Afruca.

O’Dowd’s liberal reflections will likely not be the last you see from him on the Rational Standard.

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Editorial: Don’t be Distracted – Media, not Roodt, are to Blame https://rationalstandard.com/editorial-dont-distracted-media-not-roodt-blame/ https://rationalstandard.com/editorial-dont-distracted-media-not-roodt-blame/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:17:42 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5312 South Africa’s left-wing media has done it again. It has managed to divert attention away from its own ethical bankruptcy onto a scapegoat individual. That individual – who, oddly enough, is always a white male – in the left-wing fanatical tradition, is now unemployed and humiliated. But Marius Roodt, like Gareth Cliff and Chris Hart, […]

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South Africa’s left-wing media has done it again. It has managed to divert attention away from its own ethical bankruptcy onto a scapegoat individual. That individual – who, oddly enough, is always a white male – in the left-wing fanatical tradition, is now unemployed and humiliated. But Marius Roodt, like Gareth Cliff and Chris Hart, has done nothing but stand up for the values of a free and liberal society. And he has been crucified for that.

Roodt was recently outed as the infamous ‘Shelley Garland’, a vociferous Huffington Post South Africa contributor who called for the disenfranchisement of white males. The Post’s inquisitors allegedly tracked him down by “tracing his email” and using “facial recognition” technology. The effort it expounded in this witch hunt clearly indicates that it was the identity of the blogger, rather than the vile content of the article, which concerned the Post most.

In a recent ‘expose’ by the Post, they posted a video of Roodt being caught off-guard (finishing a snack, awkwardly) by inquisitors Ferial Haffajee and Pieter du Toit. What follows is a cringeworthy video where blame for the entire episode is shifted onto Roodt, when he was merely the vehicle for exposing the intellectual vileness of South Africa’s social justice-inclined media.

Roodt claims that the article was aimed at testing the quality of South African journalism – a test which South African journalism failed. As was to be expected, the Post, which is known for shifting between tabloid swill and left-wing doctrine, published the article. After a strong media backlash, they embraced a red herring to distract readers from the real issue – not that Shelley Garland is a fake, but that the Post is willing to publish blatantly racist and nonfactual articles.

The video is painful to watch, as a man obviously not used to the camera is scolded by holier-than-thou fanatics in the same manner someone may scold a toddler. There is no attempt at compromise or understanding from the Post inquisition, only condemnation and vitriol in hushed tones.

The Post, having published its expose, did not at substantively own the fact that it published such drivel. Its initial half-hearted retraction of the article included a generic commitment to the ‘universal franchise’ without delving into the intellectual and ethical nefariousness of the modern feminist theory which underlies the article. Editor Verashni Pillay herself admitted, in no uncertain terms, that the article represented accepted ideas within modern feminism.

Pillay did venture an ‘apology’ in the immediate wake of Post’s expose, admitting that publishing the content might have been a mistake. While a commendable attempt, she did, however, write the following:

“Despite the pressure for me to recant my thoughts in my initial response I cannot, authentically, do that.

I still believe that despite the gains for equality and universal human rights in the last century, the fact is that white men still enjoy disproportionate power. And yes, I believe that a loss of oppressive power is necessary to create a truly level playing field.”

That she still sticks to her initial defence of the Garland piece is praiseworthy – consistency on the left is to be admired on the rare occasions it appears. What Pillay appears to not acknowledge, however, when she calls for “fewer accusations and growing suspicion of each other and eventual, authentic healing,” is that it is more often than not the media which causes division and tension between South Africans. This was all but confirmed in the recent media bias report by the Solidarity Research Institute.

SEE ALSO: Reject Racist News by Nicholas Woode-Smith

South Africa’s left-wing-inclined media persists in hiding behind the veil of objectivity and ethical journalism. Both Business Day and the Mail & Guardian have published editorials giving light to the underlying philosophy of editorial committees, yet have not attempted to redefine themselves as a consequence thereof.

Nothing in this RS editorial, of course, should be construed as calling upon the Huffington Post or other South African media outlets to ‘be objective’ or ‘be more thorough’ with fact-checking. In fact, we regard objectivity as nigh-impossible and defer to in-house editorial standards for the level of fact-checking. After all, RS does not as a general rule fact-check guest contributions – we believe firmly in giving authors the intellectual space to outline their position. If they dig their own grave in the process, so be it.

SEE ALSO: Editorial: Why we need a Rational Standard

Furthermore, anonymous or pseudonym contributors are a staple of journalism.

What matters is that the Post deemed the Garland piece appropriate to fit their editorial guidelines – taking on an article that echoes many of the thoughts the social justice left espouse daily. Only after sufficient condemnation did they apologise, and pretend they had bungled. Au contraire, they very much meant to publish such a piece and get behind its ideas.

What bothers us about this episode, is transparency and honesty. Nothing, as of 22:50 PM on 19 April 2017 on the Post’s website elucidates the fact that that publication takes an explicitly progressivist, social justice, Critical Theory, postmodernist, or any other related school of thought approach to journalism, when, in reality, they do. In contradistinction, the Rational Standard has made it clear, from the outset, that we take a distinctively libertarian, free market approach, and we restate this continuously in articles.

Had the Post been open about its blatantly-obvious bias, the Garland piece would not have been newsworthy in the slightest, because the lens through which we would have approached it would have been different. We would have known that an authoritarian left-wing argument was being made on a left-wing platform. Instead, an authoritarian left-wing argument was made on a platform masquerading as an objective outlet adhering to journalistic ethics, when, in fact, we know that any article even hinting at the disenfranchisement of anyone except white males, would have been binned by whatever sub-editor received it first.

In the video inquisition of Roodt, Ferial Haffajee attempts to lay the blame of the article firmly at his feet, as if he actually supported what he wrote. She is, of course, ignoring the fact that he wrote it to test the Post’s journalistic ethics – that they failed. Haffajee continues to defend Pillay’s defence of the fake Garland piece, when Haffajee herself condemned calls to disenfranchise anyone. While the latter is to be commended, the former highlights the fact that tracking Roodt down had nothing to do with author verification, but was a mere witch hunt to ensure the Post’s is able to divert attention away from what truly matters in this episode.

It is a travesty that Marius Roodt resigned and was publicly humiliated in a tale where he is the protagonist. He did what many rational, level-headed individualists around the world have wanted to do for years – show the left the toxicity and authoritarianism of their own philosophy, by using their own words and logic. He pulled it off, and should be commended. Even though Roodt claims not to be a libertarian, he is certainly now a worthy activist and proponent of journalistic transparency.

While the rest of the world is waking up to the horror and authoritarian nature of the social justice movement (unfortunately, often replacing it with equally authoritarian right-wing thought), South Africa sadly lags behind. Calls for ‘radical economic transformation’ and condemnation of bogeymen have placed us further down the road to serfdom, as the African National Congress grasps desperately to retain its relevance against an opposition that tends to just be a ‘lite’ version of itself.

South Africa does not have a healthy intellectual discourse and our lack of journalistic transparency does not help. Outlets such as the Post and others have not succeeded in encouraging healthy discourse – on the contrary, South African media has succeeded in drowning out rational voices in favour of hysteria. The Post, The Daily Vox, Daily Maverick, Mail & Guardian, etc. have as a substantial majority of contributors individuals who toe the social justice line. RS and a worryingly limited amount of other publications continue to pursue an explicitly classical liberal approach where the freedom and dignity of the individual is placed center-stage.

The Huffington Post South Africa, however, must be commended, as it has hereinto had a far cleaner, more respectable portfolio than its American counterpart, where articles of the nature of the Garland piece are a weekly occurrence. Pillay’s maturity in taking responsibility for the questionable publication of the content (author aside) is furthermore a tentative indication of the Post’s commitment to rectify some of the problems which led to this episode.

The Editor

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Last Day to Submit Comments on Hate Speech Bill https://rationalstandard.com/last-day-hate-speech-bill/ https://rationalstandard.com/last-day-hate-speech-bill/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2017 07:30:08 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=4784 The 31st of January 2017 is the last day to submit comments to the Department of Justice over the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (Hate Speech Bill). The Rational Standard encourages all individuals to submit their comments to: hatecrimes@justice.gov.za Rational Standard commentators have extensively criticised the bill, deeming it unconstitutional, […]

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The 31st of January 2017 is the last day to submit comments to the Department of Justice over the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (Hate Speech Bill). The Rational Standard encourages all individuals to submit their comments to: hatecrimes@justice.gov.za

Rational Standard commentators have extensively criticised the bill, deeming it unconstitutional, illiberal and grossly incompetent and tyrannical. Below are some articles on the bill:

Submit a Comment (Courtesy of Paul Hjul)

South Africa’s legislative processes provides for public comment on draft legislation and while the South African government has a habit of not properly applying its mind to comments it receives there are several instances where overwhelming opposition (with government mail servers tipping over) have caused a bill to stall or for government to make stupid (and therefore reviewable) moves along the way.

The sending of a single email (which can be cut and pasted from the text below) is something which people can do. Presumably from the experience of certain legislation in the past the State Law Advisers have made a dedicated email address of hatecrimes@justice.gov.za. The deadline is today and so few individuals (or groups) who have not already started to work on submissions (fuller details can be found here) will be able to do much more than simply add the voice to what is quite a loud chorus of concerns.

Example Emails that you can send:

Average Response

Dear Ms Ross

I am writing to you in connection with the proposed “Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, 2016” for which public comment has been invited, and extended until the 31st January.

I am deeply opposed to adopting the proposed Bill as it is fatally flawed in conception and design and rather than addressing the root problem of hate motivated criminal behaviour it will create a basis upon which free speech is curbed and vulnerable individuals

I therefore propose that the Department return to the drawing board and not proceed to seek to pass such dangerous legislation.

Regards

Short and Sweet

Dear Government

Stop trying to police things that shouldn’t be policed or are unpoliceable.

Supporting already existing submissions

Dear Ms Ross

I am writing to add my voice to the opposition to the proposed “Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, 2016” as currently formulated and endorse the written submissions of the Free Market Foundation.

Conclusion

Don’t hesitate to write longer, more detailed submissions. Just make sure you do so by the end of today!

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One Year of Rational Commentary https://rationalstandard.com/one-year-rational-commentary/ https://rationalstandard.com/one-year-rational-commentary/#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2017 07:00:02 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=4663 On the 25th of January 2016, we published an article announcing the founding of the Rational Standard and why we felt it necessary to start this project. Back then, we cited the rise of the fallist protests in 2015 as inspiration. 2016 gave us even more content to criticise, as the fallist protests grew in […]

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On the 25th of January 2016, we published an article announcing the founding of the Rational Standard and why we felt it necessary to start this project. Back then, we cited the rise of the fallist protests in 2015 as inspiration.

2016 gave us even more content to criticise, as the fallist protests grew in number, ferocity, and stupidity. As they demanded that ScienceMustFall, we defended reason and provided a clear alternative to the mainstream media that had seemingly thrown their lot in with the left. We had picked a side. We had bias. We were honest about it.

One Year of Rational Commentaryis the subscript of our first ever hard-copy publication. Fallism: One Year of Rational Commentary is an edited compilation of all the articles we and our guest contributors have written throughout 2016 on the FeesMustFall protests as well as matters which were related to it. The book is a testament to the fact that the debate is not over, and that the fallists and their spineless supporters in the academia and mainstream media are not on the ‘right side’ of history, even though they might be on the winning side. The book is freely available in e-book format to all the subscribers on our (free) mailing list – click on the big banner immediately to the right and get it!

Throughout 2016, we didn’t sacrifice our principles for views, cash, or from fear. We stood on, defiant against the rise of the left. We provided hope for many who felt thankful enough to contact us. These messages and discussions spurred us on as we realised our importance in the South Africa discourse.

For too long, people accepted being walked upon. They were afraid to speak out against illegitimate collective guilt. They didn’t have any example to give them courage. The Rational Standard legitimised defiance. It made it okay to fight back, to argue and to disagree with the mainstream narrative – because you knew there were people out there watching your back.

Throughout 2016, we have received private and public messages thanking us for our defence of reason and our standing up for those who have been abandoned. We have received emails from Uber drivers thanking us for condemning government regulations and taxi violence, compliments from experts for standing up for the facts and uncountable thanks for giving up our time to run this type of platform.

Those who know that we all work for free and often pay out of pocket to promote the site, are even more impressed.

We have also run into negative comments. More often than not, these inspire than disturb us. We have been threatened, insulted and criticised by people from the EFF, the DA, FeesMustFall as well as a number of left and right-wing individuals. We take their attention as a point of pride, as they have realised that we are not a platform to be ignored.

In late 2016 we also welcomed Daniël Eloff onto our Board of Directors. Daniël has made invaluable contributions to the Rational Standard, including thought-provoking articles and excellent graphics which we now use across our platforms. We have no doubt that he will continue to play a large role in our journey to see liberty realised in South Africa.

In 2017, we aim to continue our principled and honest stand against irrationality and tyranny. We will maintain our platform, improving it where we can. A new server, a nicer homepage, new projects… We have many plans and ages to accomplish them. You can be a part of these plans:

Subscribe to our weekly updates for free.

Donate so we can expand and improve.

Contribute so you can be your voice for free and reasonable commentary.

The Rational Standard will always be free – politically and in terms of cost. While some of the traditional South African bastions for liberty-inspired content, like Business Day and BizNews, now place their content behind a paywall, our content will always be freely available to those who desire to read it. Help spread this content by sharing our articles on social media or by email.

We will continue to do our part in providing our commentary and analysing news so you can separate the important information from the chaff and lies.

We look forward to spending another year as the logical alternative and hope to see you reading our content for times to come.

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Top 20 Most Read Articles on the Rational Standard in 2016 https://rationalstandard.com/top-20-most-read-2016/ https://rationalstandard.com/top-20-most-read-2016/#respond Tue, 27 Dec 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=4496 2016 has been an amazing founding year for the Rational Standard. Here are the top 20 articles out of the nearly 400 that were published this year. These were written by 14 different authors, from all across South Africa, with their insights into the political, economical and social issues of our world. Have a look […]

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2016 has been an amazing founding year for the Rational Standard. Here are the top 20 articles out of the nearly 400 that were published this year. These were written by 14 different authors, from all across South Africa, with their insights into the political, economical and social issues of our world.

Have a look at the list below in case you missed any of them.

20. Issues of social justice: why #ZumaMustFall is the bane of white allies

Written by: Nic Haussamer
“One of the logical implications of the social justice philosophy, therefore, is that if one or a few members of a given group commit a wrongful act, the entire group is complicit. This explains why, today, all white people are held responsible for slavery and colonialism in the distant past, and why young whites are held responsible for the Apartheid regime that preceded them.”

19. Pride Goeth Before Destruction, And A Haughty Spirit Before Fallism

Written by: Hermann Pretorius
“The idea has taken hold among the fallists and broader society, that ‘western’ civilization is somehow a single entity – a hive mind with one religion, one school of thought, one level of melanin, one pursuit, one identity, one evil, colonial instinct; a perverse and cruel simunye.”

18. People’s War and its impact on the past, the present, and the future

Written by: Dr Anthea Jeffery
“We cannot expect to see into the future, but we need at least to understand a key part of the country’s recent past: the people’s war, which ANC propaganda has largely hidden from our view. Only on this basis can we begin to understand developments since 1994 and the current complex swirl of events.”

17. The Meltdown: Why Hillary Clinton Lost

Written by: Nicholas Babaya
“Ultimately, Trump’s success was the result of a culture of dishonest demonisation. For too long people had been called all sorts of horrible titles and had created a culture of responding with uncomfortable truths, not with reason or logic, but rather political correctness.”

16. Whose land is it anyway?

Written by: Nicholas Woode-Smith
“Land reform needs to ignore the collectivistic perspective and approach the matter purely from an individualistic point of view. Individuals own and use land – not nebulous groups. The current approach risks either ignoring history or having to abandon the goal through an inability to determine the true owner.”

15. A lesson in economics from MMORPGs

Written by: Nic Haussamer
“As stated at the outset, the economics of online gaming can be fascinating to observe. We’ve seen how in-game economies sometimes resemble, and in other ways differ from, the real-world economy. There is certainly much to be observed and learned about economics just from playing such games…”

14. Free Speech: A Vanishing Right

Written by: Mark Oppenheimer
“I told him that we were both human beings and not representatives of our races. One on one, we were able to converse freely. We didn’t agree with each other, but I cherished the freedom to exchange our views.”

13. The Fallacy of “Cultural Appropriation”

Written by: Jonathan Patrick Bonging Geach
“All of this is because culture is by its very nature uncontainable. It’s a constantly flowing and changing social force, and an identity which evolves with the times. Every single culture on Earth stems from a previous culture.”

12. Eusebius McKaiser and the ‘Logic’ of Intersectionality

Written by: Anthony Stuurman
“Now, a caveat must be noted. Just because this rape culture exists, does not mean that all men ascribe to it or commit rape. Far from it: the vast majority of black men are horrified by the act.”

11. The Objective Absurdity of Decolonizing Science

Written by: Daniël Eloff
“To say that science is wholly the product of Western modernity is not only a blatant lie, but it gravely neglects to give recognition to the scientific contributions that have been made by other civilizations throughout the world and throughout history.”

10. “Capitalists don’t care about the poor!” Actually, We Care About Them A Lot More Than You Do.

Written by: Nicholas Babaya
“So while the leftist wants more regulations and claims to champions workers’ rights, the only rights they are championing are those of the lucky few who have managed to get a job in their regulated, business-unfriendly economy. The Left is either deluded when it comes to economics, or they simply don’t care to see what benefit a free-market would have to the poor.”

9. Keynesian vs Austrian Economics: Infographic

Written by: Christiaan van Huysteen
“The economy will not be able to develop harmoniously and smoothly unless all artificial measures that interfere with the level of prices, wages, and interest rates, as determined by the free play of economic forces, are renounced once and for all.”

8. My ‘lived experience’: When indoctrination replaces education

Written by: Frederik van Dyk
“The moment that opinions are forced in such an aggressive and unqualified way, especially when no counter arguments are provided for the sake of balance, we can never accept the situation as having educational value.”

7. Commentary on Some Myths of White Privilege

Written by: Martin van Staden
“I have long acknowledged that white individuals do have undeserved social privilege in various circumstances, bearing in mind that ‘privilege’ is circumstantial, and not a blanket truth like the left tries to construe it.”

6. The Market Evisceration of RhodesMustFall

Written by: Roman Cabanac
“There is no Great War, there are no concentration camps, there is no nuclear fallout. We live in relative peace and prosperity so the big issues are gender pronouns, statues, bathrooms for trans people, fat shaming and ‘decolonization’. Your tone of voice is a ‘microaggression’, fictional books have ‘trigger warnings’, Beyoncé is the new Martin Luther King.”

5. South Africa Needs Guns, Loads of Them

Written by: Martin van Staden
“The fact of the matter is that a firearm is a tool. It is a tool which has been used for the greatest evil and has been used for the greatest good, wielded by civilians, law enforcers and soldiers.”

4. Doekgate: Keep Calm and Think

Written by: Martin van Staden
“Next time anything of note happens, be sure to ask ‘is this private or public property?’ before you get outraged. Leftists would call this a false dichotomy, or say ‘the lines between these kinds of property are blurred’. Rest assured, they are not.”

3. Protesting For Fun

Written by: Nicholas Woode-Smith
“Perhaps it is actually more comforting to view the protest groups as merely bored, lonely young adults. Illogic is hard to understand, as there is nothing to understand. Selfish individuals are something we’re a bit more used to. Unfortunately, history shows us that ideologues do have the power to shift ideas in such a way that typically rational agents will spout nonsense and believe it as doctrine.”

2. South Africa Blind-sided

Written by: Nicholas Woode-Smith
“Due to our blindness, we have more problems to deal with. We have to continue to defend the economy in whatever way we can (or just run for it), we have to continue to condemn the nuclear deal (for all the good that will do) and we have to fight not only legislators but the idiotic masses who are baying for blood.”

1. A Rage Against the Eternal ‘Victim’ Status

Written by: Malusi Ndwandwe
“My message to the liberty-loving community is to tread carefully around race-baiters, but don’t be afraid to take them on. A counter-narrative is essential considering past incidents and how race-baiters are unashamedly doing their ‘baiting’ in the mainstream media. It’s hard to take on a race-baiter using objective logic, since they aren’t bothered by it, and have instead developed their own parallel ‘logic’.”

Compiled by Daniël Eloff.

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Owning Our Own Platform (Subscribe to the Rational Digest) https://rationalstandard.com/owning-our-own-platform/ https://rationalstandard.com/owning-our-own-platform/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:33:50 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=4216 Running a commentary website like the Rational Standard, especially considering our niche nature in a country dominated by other, backwards narratives, is very hard work. While we have managed to maintain an exemplary stream of constant and high quality articles, which have made people think and reconsider their worldviews, we always strive to do better, […]

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fallism-cover-picRunning a commentary website like the Rational Standard, especially considering our niche nature in a country dominated by other, backwards narratives, is very hard work.

While we have managed to maintain an exemplary stream of constant and high quality articles, which have made people think and reconsider their worldviews, we always strive to do better, and what we fundamentally lack at the Rational Standard is dedicated traffic. We don’t have the necessary funds to pay for billboards or television advertisements, or even to pay for Facebook ads all the time. We rely on social media and the hope that our fans and readers will share our content.

The problem with relying on social media platforms is that we cannot control our reach. We can post and share as much as we want, but Twitter’s and Facebook’s algorithms and the hurried nature of the social media user, remain king. This system is too fickle for a professional commentary site, and, as such, we have established a new system to own our own platform and maintain dedicated traffic. In doing so, we also hope to cultivate a closer, more intimate relationship with our readers.

We are therefore happy to present the official Rational Standard subscription system.

While the built-in subscription system has been successful in maintaining some readers, it doesn’t allow us the necessary control over our content that we would like. Due to this, we have decided to establish a new system, but rest assured, current subscribers will be added automatically to the new list, and need not lift a finger!

As a Rational Standard subscriber, you will receive round-ups of the articles of the week, updates on the progress and development of the Rational Standard and our mission to bring some sanity to South African civil society, tips on being a better leader for liberty, and exclusive access to the digitised versions of our planned publications. To sweeten the deal, subscribers will all be sent an exclusive e-book copy of Fallism: One Year of Rational Commentary, once it is released.

This new project will help us control our own platform, but more importantly, allow us to maintain a closer relationship with our readers. We want to be your voice, and want to help you be a better leader in spreading individualism, rationality, and the ideas of freedom in South Africa.

Through our subscription mechanism, this will all become possible – all for the very rational cost of ‘free’.

If you have not subscribed, please do so HERE.

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Introducing Rational Remarks https://rationalstandard.com/introducing-rational-remarks/ https://rationalstandard.com/introducing-rational-remarks/#comments Thu, 27 Oct 2016 21:06:50 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=3875 At the Rational Standard, we have always aimed to give a voice to the voiceless. To continue working towards that goal, we have decided to establish a micro-commentary platform. Introducing Rational Remarks – a writing platform for those with something to say, but not the necessary time to write a full article. This platform aims […]

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Rational Remarks

At the Rational Standard, we have always aimed to give a voice to the voiceless. To continue working towards that goal, we have decided to establish a micro-commentary platform.

Introducing Rational Remarks – a writing platform for those with something to say, but not the necessary time to write a full article. This platform aims to be an approachable forum for short pieces relating to politics, economics, and philosophy. With it, we want to give a direct voice to those who have felt disenfranchised by the left-wing dominated media.

While Rational Remarks won’t be representative of the Rational Standard, they should exhibit some freedom-loving or liberal theme. Other ideologies have their forums and platforms – this is for supporters of individual liberty.

Guidelines

Remarks must:

  • Be between 100-400 words.
  • Be in well-written English.
  • Have a bias in favour of freedom.

Submit your Rational Remarks HERE.

More details can be found on our dedicated information page.

With Rational Remarks, you can be your voice!

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Essay Contest for African Undergraduates https://rationalstandard.com/essay/ https://rationalstandard.com/essay/#respond Fri, 04 Mar 2016 09:35:10 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=2613   Submissions for this Contest are now Closed Rational Standard, in association with African Students For Liberty SA, African Liberty Organisation for Development (ALOD) and Network for a Free Society (NFS) is calling for entries for the Rising Tide Foundation’s essay competition with a focus on entrepreneurship. This is a great opportunity for all liberty […]

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Submissions for this Contest are now Closed

Students For Liberty, African Liberty Organisation for Development, Rational Standard, Network for a Free SocietyRational Standard, in association with African Students For Liberty SA, African Liberty Organisation for Development (ALOD) and Network for a Free Society (NFS) is calling for entries for the Rising Tide Foundation’s essay competition with a focus on entrepreneurship.

This is a great opportunity for all liberty lovers, aspiring writers and students throughout South Africa and the continent. Entrepreneurship is a very important driving factor for economic growth, especially in Africa where many countries are still developing.

Not only are there very lucrative rewards, the acclaim garnered with a winning essay will definitely help the career prospects of the writer.

Rational Standard is pleased to be sharing such an important event to students, as we believe that the more writers discussing these important topics, the closer we come to making a real difference on the continent.

The event details follow:

Topic

Entrepreneurs are the creative force in the economy.  Is your government helping or hindering them?

Requirements

Entrants must be a student at any tertiary institution (university, tech, college etc.) in any African country.

All entries should be sent to: essay@alodpolicy.org in the form of a Microsoft Word document. The essay must not exceed 1500 words.

Entrants guilty of plagiarism will be disqualified immediately.

The following details must be included:

On the first page of the completed essay, participants must write his/her full name, department, and year of study, name and country of institution, gender and age. Also include your email address and functional mobile phone number.

Entries open on the 14th of March and close on the 17th of May 2016.

Essay Contest PosterPrizes

1st-George Ayittey (Platinum Prize): $1,000 and scholarship to the 2016 Liberty Camp/Event/ in East Africa OR West Africa in 2016

2nd-Anthony Fisher (Gold Prize):  $700 and scholarship to the 2016 Liberty Camp/Event/ in East Africa OR West Africa in 2016

3rd-Franklin Cudjoe (Silver Prize): $500 and scholarship to the 2016 Liberty Camp/Event/ in East Africa OR West Africa in 2016

4th- The Nation CAMPUSLIFE (Media Bronze Prize): $300 and 2016 Liberty Camp/Event/ in East Africa OR West Africa in 2016

5th- Rejoice Ngwenya Prize: $250 and 2016 Liberty Camp/Event/ in East Africa OR West Africa in 2016

Consolation Prizes

Seven consolation prizes of $50 each.

Need help?

We’re here to help aspiring writers improve their writing, research and contents. African Students For Liberty branches around SA will be hosting workshops to help with this contest. All are welcome to attend.

Sign up here to receive news on planned workshops.

Rational Standard has a range of resources that can be exploited. Feel free to learn and reference our articles.

Additional research material can be found here and here.

Good luck!

For additional queries, email: nwoode-smith@rationalstandard.com

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Budget 2016: a political compromise https://rationalstandard.com/budget-2016-a-political-compromise/ https://rationalstandard.com/budget-2016-a-political-compromise/#comments Thu, 25 Feb 2016 08:39:35 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=2541 Written by: Christiaan van Huyssteen and Nic Haussamer In what was certainly the most important budget speech in recent history, the Minister of Finance had the tough task of delivering a frugal budget to reassure ratings agencies, despite a slowing economy. He also had to come across as pragmatic and professional, in order to bring […]

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Written by: Christiaan van Huyssteen and Nic Haussamer

In what was certainly the most important budget speech in recent history, the Minister of Finance had the tough task of delivering a frugal budget to reassure ratings agencies, despite a slowing economy. He also had to come across as pragmatic and professional, in order to bring back some sense of policy certainty (as hard as that may be in a dysfunctional government).

One could ask whether enough was done to save our credit rating – a critical issue at this point in the Treasury’s history. But there is still a belief that public deficit spending is required to substitute for lacklustre private sector demand. This may artificially buoy economic activity and reported figures like GDP (especially during an election year), but this is certainly not sustainable.

The budget seems to be a political compromise, containing none of the radical changes that some would argue are necessary.

With these key issues in mind, our aim here is to highlight some of the important implications of the speech.

Income Tax, CGT, and Fuel Levy

An increase in personal income tax, as had been implemented last year, was anticipated once more. Fortunately, South Africans can breathe a sigh of relief: the expected increase did not materialise.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
The upcoming changes to the CGT will adversely affect wealth creation in South Africa.

Nonetheless, the budget saw some tax increases, especially on the ‘rich’, through an increase in the capital gains tax (CGT) inclusion rate.

Because inflation contributes to increases in the value of certain assets (capital appreciation), CGT is effectively a tax on inflation, since any realised gains on capital items are taxed. This is a double whammy for the treasury, since capital gains revenue will be further boosted by the higher inflation expected this year.

An example of the consequence of the increase in the capital gain inclusion rate for an individual would be the following: if a person were to sell a property which they purchased for R1m, at R2m, 40% of that R1m capital gain will now be included in their taxable income, whereas previously only 33% would have been included (although there are certain exemptions which may apply in some cases).

A greater burden will also be felt through the increased fuel levy. This affects all South Africans, but it should go without saying that it will be felt most by poor households. These households spend large portions of their income on transport and food; the costs of both are significantly affected by fuel prices. While the speech placed much emphasis on ‘social’ aspects, a truly progressive and socially-conscious proposal would lower – not increase – the cost of one of the most important goods in our economy.

Overall, the following lines from the Finance Minister’s speech would be humorous, if they were not such a tragic reflection of reality:

  • “On what [government does] well, South Africans have very clear views: Tax administration.”
  • “South Africa has built one of the most effective tax authorities in the developing world.”

Tax rates across the board – personal, value-added, corporate, capital gains, and so on – are still far above the levels that would be optimal for a healthy economic environment. If the government is serious about improving the economy, it must allow more money to remain in individuals’ hands so that they can decide where it is best spent. A reduction in taxes could be to the government’s benefit as well, even if phased in over time with gradual reductions in tax rates. Since lower taxes facilitate economic expansion, the government may well collect revenues comparable to current levels – if not more than that.  

VAT

The Minister has made it clear that he was never really considering increasing the VAT rate. This could be understandable considering the current inflationary pressures. But it could also be that it is not politically viable. Although an increase in VAT would bring in massive revenues, it would be too democratic. It would affect everyone. It is more popular to just add to the tax burden of the high-income earners.

Privatisation

South African Airways (SAA)
SOEs, like SAA, will continue to act as a massive drain on South African resources.

Many economists and business people have called for the privatisation of State Owned Enterprises, based on the argument that the private sector can manage these enterprises better, and more profitably, than the state.

The Minister did mention that government would be open to allowing for minority shareholders in Transnet and SAA. He made it clear that no mass scale privatisation is on the table; he didn’t even mention Eskom in his speech. An official call for privatisation would go against the grain of ANC ideology, and would also be an admission of failure in the management of these SOEs. It is politically far easier to just bail them out every year.

Spending

Government is looking to cut the budget deficit to 2.4% of GDP by 2017/18. Its track record in predicting deficits is not the most reliable, however. In 2013, it was anticipated that the budget deficit in 2015/16 would be 3.1%, when it actually turned out to be 3.9%. When we are talking about billions of rands, even fractions of percentages are significant.

Government estimates aren’t to be trusted, since there is no telling whether the global economy is actually recovering, and whether government will deem it necessary to engage in additional deficit spending to boost a weak local economy further down the line.

The Minister didn’t make any major promises as far as cutting spending goes. There is plenty of room for cuts, though. We have too many non-essential ministries, which could simply be abolished (although this would be politically difficult, since it seems that many ministers are appointed to their positions simply by virtue of being loyal to the president). Parliament could be permanently moved, and cuts could be made to a bloated civil service. South Africa has around 2 million civil servants; the UK, by comparison (with a similar population size), has only 450 000.

Growth

Growth remains weak, and government has unsurprisingly lowered their growth estimates for the year yet again. The Minister didn’t announce any significant strategies to boost growth through business and entrepreneurship. He didn’t go into labour matters, apart from mentioning a potential new national minimum wage. It is our view that a minimum wage may help those who already have jobs, but it certainly harms the chances of the millions who don’t have work. The National Development Plan was referred to (as it is in every budget speech), but it doesn’t give a clear guideline as to how the South African economy should be structured, apart from it being a ‘mixed economy’, with co-operation between the state and the private sector. This is, however, better than having an entirely state-run economy.

New developments

Sugar Tax
The proposed sugar tax is ultimately either arbitrary or paternalistic.

The proposed tax on sugar is deeply concerning, because it’s based on one of two possible motivations.

The first is that the government is searching for any viable way to extract more revenue from South Africans. It’s true that products containing sugar (ie. ‘sweetened beverages’)  form a relatively small portion of household expenditure for South Africans, and that such a tax may have a very small financial effect on end consumers. Nonetheless, it’s the arbitrary nature of this tax that sets a bad precedent. Without opposition to this proposal, government may believe that more taxes levied on other consumer goods are legitimate.

We can also consider a different primary motivation for this tax: reducing South Africans’ consumption of sugar. While it is unlikely to be the case that government is looking out for South Africans’ health instead of just seeking more revenue, it is all the more worrying if true. Government should not be so conceited as to believe that it knows what is best for us as individuals, and shouldn’t implement taxes and other policies to strongly influence our behaviour. Human dignity – a value that is given much importance in contemporary South Africa – is undermined when paternalistic governments attempt to make personal decisions on our behalf. 

Concluding thoughts

It seems that this budget was constructed to ensure that South African society and the economy would tentatively continue to ‘tick over’. Unfortunately, it offers no long-term solutions to fundamental problems.

The Minister has indicated some commitment to reducing annual budget deficits relative to GDP, and stabilising total government debt relative to GDP. Yet government still affirms, and even emboldens, its commitment to social and other spending. In the context of a looming ‘junk status’ debt rating, it appears that the Treasury is trying to carefully balance the interests of its creditors and the South African public.

There is an overwhelming feeling that this is not enough, however. Despite the best intentions of those in the Treasury, we have to consider reality. Is there the political will to avoid a credit ratings downgrade? Will there be enough global growth to have a favourable impact on us? Can we avoid the wrath of the ratings agencies by being the best out of a bad bunch of nations?

The chance of a ratings downgrade occurring is significant enough that individuals would be prudent in preparing for it. Maybe South Africans with the ability to invest in assets which won’t be affected as severely by a potential further devaluation of the rand would be wise to do so.

While the outlook could be worse, it could also be much, much better. South Africa is ultimately a country with massive potential, and could fare significantly better if government took the decisive (and sometimes politically unpopular) decisions which would free up our economy and place more control over South Africans’ lives back in their own hands.

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Editorial: Why we need a Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com/why-we-need-a-rational-standard/ https://rationalstandard.com/why-we-need-a-rational-standard/#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2016 17:57:10 +0000 http://rationalstandard.com/?p=2123 2015 was a year of safe spaces, speech police, poo-throwing, petulant protests and a complete disregard for basic economics. It was also a year of hate, as many of us lost friends to a collectivist agenda. With journalism collapsing to such a degree that tabloids contain as much substance as the daily paper, socialism and […]

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header 22015 was a year of safe spaces, speech police, poo-throwing, petulant protests and a complete disregard for basic economics. It was also a year of hate, as many of us lost friends to a collectivist agenda. With journalism collapsing to such a degree that tabloids contain as much substance as the daily paper, socialism and Marxism coming back into fashion and facts being rejected as a ‘white conspiracy’, it is up to those with sense to defend the semblance of reason that we still hold dear.

In order to do this, we need to maintain a rational standard. We have to identify principles that are the result of tried and tested reasoning, defend those principles and allow them to develop intellectually rather than as a result of fashion trends and feelings. Logical reasoning is, objectively, how society’s problems are solved; indeed, emotional ‘reasoning’, such as the kind we are seeing in South African civil society and government policy documentation nowadays, has only exacerbated problems and caused widespread resentment.

Journalism in South Africa is in crisis. The vast majority of news and commentary sites have taken a dip in quality and even those maintaining well-written pieces only adhere to one ideological strain. It has become increasingly common to see editors, who are supposed to maintain a rational standard and ensure all publicised views are logically-informed, liberally allow the commentariat to say what they want, adhering to no sense of reason. While we believe, strongly, that people should be able to say whatever pleases them, we do not think it is responsible nor ethical for editors to entertain and host such fallacious diatribes. For South Africa to maintain robust and vibrant journalism, there needs to be an alternative to the dominant narrative. This means more competition between commentators and less proverbial head nodding.

A rational standard needs to be set in order to maintain an appropriate quality in journalism and to defend the free market of ideas. Only then can we have a proper discussion, where all sides are presented rationally without fear or favour.

This site does not pretend to be unbiased. A lack of bias is impossible in the world that we live. We know this logically, and embrace it as part of reality. What this site aims to do is present an alternative to the narratives presented by other commentators. We do not lie, we check our facts, and we may make human errors, but keep in mind that everything we say will be from the mouths of individuals with beliefs as strong as yours. Thus, we will not be unbiased, but we will tell the truth.

Bias is a naturally-occurring phenomenon in human behaviour. We all prefer certain things, and this preference is never uniform from one individual to another. The subjective nature of value, a first principle in economics that is also widely ignored by the commentariat, tells us this as well.

What we prefer at the Rational Standard is freedom: to do, say, think, and interact with one another, and with property, as we, individually, see fit. We have a freedom bias, with liberty being the guiding value for our authors. Every government decision, intellectualist rhetoric, and demands from civil society will be measured against ‘how will this affect the ability of individual South Africans to make their own decisions?’ We are not unbiased; indeed, we are very biased. What you can expect from us is not a fallacious ‘objective’ analysis of current events, but a rigorous defence of your individuality, and your freedom.

Established sites have left a gap. Comment sections have become censored. Editors have become ideologues of the left. The rational standard has been disregarded. As the Rational Standard, we seek to remedy this. We have a menagerie of veteran writers of alternative news and commentary. We are independent. We aren’t threatened by the whims of the state or the proletariat. We are committed to one simple goal: to provide a rational, free, alternative to a media so tenuously committed to the truth.

We want your voice to help with this goal. South Africa, and the world, stands on the brink, where freedom becomes but a passing fancy. We here at the Rational Standard do not have such a flippant relationship with freedom. Many have died for it, many have fought for it. We will speak for it, and the rest will come later.

The Editor

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