Social – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Free political commentary for the dissenting South African Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:05:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 https://i2.wp.com/rationalstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/cropped-RS-Logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Social – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 Who drives academic decolonization at UCT https://rationalstandard.com/drives-academic-decolonization-uct/ https://rationalstandard.com/drives-academic-decolonization-uct/#respond Sun, 04 Feb 2018 22:01:54 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7084 UCT is ranked 191st in the world, and 19th if the search is restricted to BRICS countries.  However, it has dropped by 40 and 10 places, respectively, since the ‘rise’ of Fallism.  Nevertheless, it’s still number 1 in Africa. But, closest rival, Stellenbosch University (361st), has climbed by 31 places since last year, and meteorically since […]

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

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

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

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

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

He refused to comply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reaction by the UCT Executive

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

These recommendations were not implemented.

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

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

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

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

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

Curriculum Change Working Group

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

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

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

I have seen no such published “framework”.

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

The protesting Health Sciences students did not return to class.

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

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

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

I deal with CR in another piece.

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

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

Long-standing standards

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

Davie ‘unfrozen’

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

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

Launching the ‘pluriversity’

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

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

The making of a Southern African black Dasein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, all the above ‘happened’.

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

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

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

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

What is Critical Realism?  How does it work? 

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

CRPPists believe that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Revisiting Freedom of Association and Why It Matters https://rationalstandard.com/freedom-association-matters/ https://rationalstandard.com/freedom-association-matters/#respond Tue, 23 Jan 2018 21:20:43 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7074 A couple of months ago I wrote an article on freedom of association in the economic sphere and the fearmongering myths that surround it. I recently decided to read it again and recap my thoughts on the topic, and realised that what I thought was a good explanation of my views was actually an extremely […]

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A couple of months ago I wrote an article on freedom of association in the economic sphere and the fearmongering myths that surround it. I recently decided to read it again and recap my thoughts on the topic, and realised that what I thought was a good explanation of my views was actually an extremely polarising article that does not delve deep enough into the issue.  It is because of the aforementioned that I decided to rearticulate my position on freedom of association.

First off, I would like to apologise for the condescending tone of my previous piece. It was uncalled for, and, in retrospect, did not help my cause in getting people to think about the substance of what I actually wrote. I made it seem as if I have zero empathy for victims of discrimination and I am ashamed of myself for that.

Secondly, I’d like to make my views on discrimination clear.  Discrimination based on arbitrary grounds, especially traits of individuals that they can do nothing about, makes no sense to me and is, in terms of my personal sense of morality, quite deplorable. I see individuals for who they are as their own person, and despise stereotypes. I see no point in treating a person differently based on the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation, for example. Why people feel the need make others feel worthless based on such attributes is beyond me. You can read more on my opinion on individualism and the damage of stereotypes in my article titled “Identity Politics, And Why It’s a Virus”.

Finally, I want to get to the gist of what I actually wrote; the message that I was trying to convey.

I started off the article by stating that every individual has the right to associate with whomever they please. I think everybody can agree with me here. What I did not take into consideration is just how controversial such freedom of association is in the economic sphere. I was disingenuous and pretended that I did not seem to understand why people get so upset over economic discrimination by and between individuals. This is what I want to address today.

If I come across a business that discriminates against me or anyone else on the basis of race, sex, etc., I would not hesitate to name and shame that enterprise on social media. I sincerely believe that such individuals and businesses deserve to be economically ostracised to the point of literal despair. Again, I think most people can agree with me on this. Where I do, however, digress from the prevailing consensus is that I do not believe that the law should be used against such culprits. If I were to tell you, the reader, that one can be truly anti-discrimination whilst not being in favour of the criminalisation of the very same discrimination, you’d think I’ve gone mad. But I honestly believe that you can, and here’s why:

According to natural law theory, the law exists not to legislate morality, but to protect individuals’ natural rights: those rights you have a claim to that only imposes negative obligations on others. Such rights are those of life, liberty, and private property, as these liberties only require others to refrain from violating them. This obviously begs an interesting question: is dignity a natural right?

One can argue that dignity can be a natural right as people only have to refrain from impairing your dignity. On the other hand, if we look at the natural rights listed in the aforementioned paragraph, one thing stands out: they are inherently objective.  Dignity, however, is not. What gives dignity to one person does not mean much to another person’s dignity, and what impairs one person’s dignity does not do much to another person’s dignity. Dignity is a feeling. Dignity is 100 percent subjective, and something that cannot be objectively measured cannot be a natural right, as it would be near impossible to have a set standard according to which we can determine whether a right is impaired or not. This is very important if we consider the fact that the law is to be used to protect only a person’s natural rights and for no other purpose whatsoever.

Should the law then, be used to prosecute entrepreneurs who discriminate against a person based on, say, their race? In my honest and controversial opinion: no, the law should not be so used. An entrepreneur’s business premises is their private property, and they can use their property to associate with whomever they want. Your liberty and mine does not extend to the point of forcing business owners to associate with us. Can we name and shame those owners who do discriminate? Of course! I’d be ashamed of myself if I didn’t at least stand up for a fellow human being who was refused service just because they are the “wrong” colour.  However, victims of discrimination did not have their rights impaired in any way.

Freedom limits itself, and the freedom of private property and who a person associates with on the property in question limits our freedom in the sense that we cannot force others into economic relationships with us. The law, in its inherent nature, represents force or a credible threat thereof, and should be used as the utmost last resort to intervene in social problems. We as consumers can use our own freedom of association to dissociate from bigoted businesses. We can use our freedom to economically ostracise them to the point where they go bankrupt (which is what they thoroughly deserve).

We protect the freedom of those we disagree with, even vehemently, in order to protect our own. I do not want to associate with people I deem despicable (case in point being bigoted entrepreneurs) and therefore I do not want to force others to do the same, regardless of whether I agree with their reasons or not. Let us afford the bigots the freedom to expose themselves. Let us afford them the freedom to show the world their true colours, for then we know who to name, shame, and ostracise. For then we know who to show the finger to, and who to dissociate from. For then we know who to not give our hard-earned money to.

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Open Letter to Julius Malema About the Overvaal and H&M Protest Action https://rationalstandard.com/open-letter-julius-malema-overvaal-hm-protest-action/ https://rationalstandard.com/open-letter-julius-malema-overvaal-hm-protest-action/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 22:01:02 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7174 Editor’s note: The following was taken from a public Facebook post. The original can be accessed here. Written by: Lawrence Ntlokoa Dear Mr Malema, Mpofu, Shivanbu, Ndlozi and all your EFF members, So, an advertisement with child with a shirt on has you and your party up in arms. You go and damage private property. Your […]

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Editor’s note: The following was taken from a public Facebook post. The original can be accessed here.

Written by: Lawrence Ntlokoa

Dear Mr Malema, Mpofu, Shivanbu, Ndlozi and all your EFF members,

So, an advertisement with child with a shirt on has you and your party up in arms. You go and damage private property. Your followers make comments of murder, rape and burning humans.

You see, Julius and your followers, the average South African has moved on with their lives. They try within their means to make a living, they are not racist and they live decent lives. Yet you and your cronies think that white equals racist. Yes, there are still those that hang their old flags and sing their old anthems – trust me, they annoy us as they annoy you.

You see, Mr Malema, I have seen the suffering of people of colour, I see them in the public hospitals, the clinics – utterly poor. I have also seen the same suffering of white people.

My friends and I; we are blind to colour. When we do our outreach work, we assist anyone – black, white, male, female, human or animal. Are you aware of the pigment of animals? Of black lesbians that are raped to “correct” them?

Do you know the suffering of the mentally ill, children of all colours, the aged, gay people in this country? Do you care?

You see, Mr Malema, I openly voiced against apartheid. I know more about the struggle than many of the people in your party, because I was part of it. This country was not only liberated for you, it was also liberated for me. This country was liberated not by you, but by a combined international effort of people of all walks of life and all colours – for all of them.

One of our comrades, the departed Chris Hani said:

“What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists who drive around in Mercedes Benzes and use the resources of this country to live in palaces and gather riches.”

That is exactly what is happening.

You see, you can look for racism and hate anywhere and you will find it. I totally approve of fighting it, but when you start using things that are not racist (the child’s own mother did not have an issue with the ad), so that you can get 15 minutes of fame, and in the process threaten and cause damage, then, Mr Malema, you need not question those you hate, you need to question yourself.

The H&M ad was insensitive, should be removed and they should offer a public apology. The racial fallout of hate after that does not justify the original wrong – both actions are wrong.

Violence, hate, racism and the destruction of property has no place in South Africa.

So, by the same principle, I as an animal rights activist can start trashing pet shops, the circus and the zoo? I will, however, not do that because I do not believe in violence. Have you ever considered the rights of animals?

Alan Paton once wrote a book called Cry, the Beloved Country. Maybe you’ve read it. If Mr Paton wrote that book today, I somehow think the title would be the same.

Your hate, promotion of violence, inciting of anger and racism is a blemish on the name of the country that we all love.

Some call you a revolutionary. You are everything but. I am as African as you. My parents were born in South Africa. I was born in South Africa, my ancestors have been here for hundreds of years.

I made a few memes on my wall, we had a few laughs. That is because some of us have moved above seeing hate in it all. Let that not deflect from the seriousness of this hate. We fight for what is important – children dying of hunger, pollution, poverty, actual racism and animal rights. Those are the important things in this lovely South Africa.

You will never be a great man, you will never lead a nation.

#Do_you_love_Africa_as_We_do?

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EFF’s H&M Violence Should Not Be Forgotten in 2019 https://rationalstandard.com/eff-penchant-violence-punished-ballot-box/ https://rationalstandard.com/eff-penchant-violence-punished-ballot-box/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:10:34 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7154 The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the political concoction of authoritarian leftist Julius Sello Malema, has once again shown why they are not fit to be in power, and the time to boycott them is now long overdue. Over the weekend of 5 to 7 January 2018, the retail outlet H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) published an […]

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the political concoction of authoritarian leftist Julius Sello Malema, has once again shown why they are not fit to be in power, and the time to boycott them is now long overdue.

Over the weekend of 5 to 7 January 2018, the retail outlet H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) published an advert on their website in which a black boy was modelling a green sweatshirt with the phrase “coolest monkey in the jungle” emblazoned on it.

Outrage followed over the advert that was perceived as insensitive and immediately labelled as racist. Canadian singer The Weeknd tweeted that he was deeply offended and will not work on collaborations with H&M in the future as he had done in the past.

“This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologize to anyone this may have offended”, said H&M spokeswoman Anna Eriksson.

Of course, outrage in South Africa was also at the order of the day. The EFF decided that H&M’s act of racism cannot go unpunished and decided that criminal acts were the best form of retaliation. News24 reports that EFF protesters looted an H&M branch in the East Rand Mall on the 13th of January, which forced the South African Police Service to fire rubber bullets at the thugs in order to disperse them.

According to CNN Money, H&M have temporarily closed their 17 stores in South Africa.

As usual, rather than condemning his supporters’ sheer disregard for private property rights, Julius Malema proceeded to rather defend his thugs against the people condemning their actions with the following tweet:

EFF Member of Parliament Floyd Shivambu was, however, a little more direct in his defence of the vandalists and looters than his Communist-in-Chief Malema, and expressly congratulated his red ants on their despicable acts of theft and vandalism:

Political commentator and self-proclaimed echo chamber for apparently all black people in South Africa, Pieter Howes, decided to rather chastise the white folk who condemned the looting, instead of the looters themselves:

Luckily, there were some rational people who made some very sensible points, one of them being entertainment commentator Phil Mphela:

Mphela was joined in his moment of revolutionary logic by South African actress Pearl Thusi:

The question that now begs to be asked is whether the EFF have done enough so as to be boycotted. Let’s look at their past.

In 2016, amid violent protests on the campus of the University of Pretoria, EFF Pretoria Youth Leader Omphile Seleke shared a post that was originally posted on the political party’s Facebook page, which described how to make petrol bombs. Instead of taking down the post themselves, the EFF left it to Facebook users to report it and for Facebook to subsequently remove it.

In the same calendar year, Commander-in-Chief Malema told his supporters outside the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court that they (the EFF) are not calling for the slaughter of white people, at least for now. This comment by comrade Malema was made in the same spirit as his controversial “kill the Boer, they are rapists” chants in 2010 at the University of Johannesburg.

IOL reported in 2014 that the EFF’s premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal, Vusi Khoza, was convicted in 2012 of public violence and conspiracy to commit assault and was handed a three-year suspended sentence. Khoza’s conviction arose from his involvement in a xenophobic attack against foreigners in Albert Park in December 2009.

Granted, the EFF have done admirable things such as successful court actions against the ANC and their members, specifically the successful case relating to President Jacob Zuma’s irregular expenditure of R256 million on his private homestead in Nkandla, of which Zuma had to pay back a portion. But in all honesty, what good is it for a political party to only support the Rule of Law when it suits them?

The EFF are a militant party who have absolutely zero respect for the rights of others except when it suits their narrative. The latest H&M saga is what I hope to be the final nail in their coffin. The time has come for us to shove their coffin into the grave that they have dug for themselves.

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Are Black People Allowed To Wear What They Want? https://rationalstandard.com/black-people-allowed-wear-want/ https://rationalstandard.com/black-people-allowed-wear-want/#comments Mon, 15 Jan 2018 14:24:07 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7141 Imagine this: BMW releases an ad for their new car, and the car used in the ad has a spoiler, a particularly strong engine, and a cup-holder for the driver. In the wake (“historical context”) of many accidents and deaths on the roads due to speed freaks and drunk drivers, there is public outrage over […]

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Imagine this: BMW releases an ad for their new car, and the car used in the ad has a spoiler, a particularly strong engine, and a cup-holder for the driver. In the wake (“historical context”) of many accidents and deaths on the roads due to speed freaks and drunk drivers, there is public outrage over the ad. Detractors condemn BMW for its insensitivity. Spoilers on cars serve the dual purposes of reducing drag (ergo, increasing speed) and making the car look windgat, the engine in the car is inappropriate and certainly dangerous for ordinary road use, and the cup-holder implies that a driver may drink while driving. A BMW dealership is consequently attacked by terrorists and several cars are damaged.

What is the consequential message we can take home from these events?

It is one of two things: Either people should not be allowed to drive cars with spoilers, strong engines, and cup-holders for the drivers, or they should be discouraged from doing so.

On 8 January 2018, H&M ran an ad showing off two of their products for children. One of these products was a green hoodie with the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” inscribed on the front. The model for the hoodie happened to be a presumably well-paid black boy.

Chaos ensued.

After global condemnations of racism because of the “historical context” surrounding the word “monkey” and black people, H&M relented and apologized, castrating themselves in the public eye for absolutely no reason. The Economic Freedom Fighters in South Africa, refusing to be outdone by their peaceful counterparts in the West, decided to attack an H&M store in Sandton, further contributing to their portfolio of using violence to further their political aims (by definition, terrorism).

What is the consequential message we can take home from these events?

It is one of two things: Either black people should not be allowed to wear clothing with the words “monkey” inscribed on it, or they should be discouraged from doing so. Both of these conclusions are equally atrocious. Prescribing what people may and may not wear based on the color of their skin is exactly the kind of mentality society should be trying to escape, not reinvigorate.

Especially in South Africa.

If you ask me, it’s probably time for society to stop telling black people what they are and are not allowed to do and wear. Was Apartheid’s host of prescriptions for black people not offensive enough? Maybe, just maybe, they should be allowed to decide for themselves whether the words on a particular piece of cloth are appropriate for them to wear, and, if not, to simply not buy the cloth. Anything other than this is condescending, racist, and arrogant in the extreme.

Of course, detractors will retort by saying the acts of terrorism were not directed at black people, but at the white multinational company. This would be false. H&M made no prescriptions relating to the clothing. The model happened to be black, but anyone of any race could buy the hoodie. The model used to market clothing does not imply that only people of that race can or should wear that clothing. H&M simply said hey, we have this product – would you like to buy one? The ball to make a consequential decision rests exclusively with the consumer.

The outrage and terrorism that followed in the wake of the H&M ad was nothing more than a message to black people, telling them that society has deigned it inappropriate for them to wear clothing with particular inscriptions (or, presumably, illustrations) on them. Clearly, thus, society and in particular the snowflake crusaders and terrorists who were outraged by the ad, still have a lot of institutional racism to work through. Racism is alive and well.

If you find it inappropriate or offensive for me as a white male to write on this topic in this vein, please share this article to your friends, so you can come condemn me and accuse me of having white privilege blinkers, in the comments below.

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Great Tactics by the Sisterhood – But Some Caution Needed https://rationalstandard.com/great-tactics-sisterhood-caution-needed/ https://rationalstandard.com/great-tactics-sisterhood-caution-needed/#comments Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:53:39 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6961 Written by: James van den Heever One has to admire the tactical nous of the current #metoo campaign: call the offenders out in public and put them to the expense and trouble of clearing their names. It’s a highly effective way of bypassing a legal process that is sclerotic, ruinously expensive and, say many women, exacerbates […]

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Written by: James van den Heever

One has to admire the tactical nous of the current #metoo campaign: call the offenders out in public and put them to the expense and trouble of clearing their names. It’s a highly effective way of bypassing a legal process that is sclerotic, ruinously expensive and, say many women, exacerbates the trauma they are already experiencing.

The fact that they have had to resort to these guerrilla tactics must stand as an indictment of the whole legal system, and a clarion call to the legal community to make some changes.

I nearly wrote “legal fraternity” but, of course, women are increasingly well represented both in legal practice and on the bench. Women should therefore be taking the lead in making the reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists a more streamlined process, and one that is more user-friendly in every way possible.

An additional benefit of such an initiative is that it might spark a general reform of how citizens access law. It’s not just rape victims who find that seeking redress is almost as traumatic as suffering the original wrong.

But, while it is effective, this guerrilla approach carries some real risks. Indeed, some of them are already beginning to materialise.

The primary risk relates to the concept of believing the woman who makes the accusation. It’s a perfectly sound concept because, as we all know, women making this sort of complaint are frequently met with vociferous condemnation and the assertion that they must have somehow “asked for it”. But we need an urgent discussion on what believing actually entails, because it is clear that it tends to translate into “guilty as accused…” or even “guilty because accused… and let’s let the world know about it”.

As any lawyer or legal academic will tell you, presuming that an accused person is innocent is really the boundary between savagery and civilisation; between the lynch mob and justice. It is a fundamental principle of the common law we inherited from Britain, and the all-important principle that protects all of us from the malice of our enemies and, perhaps even more important, the censure of whatever the current orthodoxy happens to be.

Another, even more venerable, legal principle is audi alterem partem — the obligation to hear both sides of a case.

Most unfortunately, both of these principles seem to be casualties in the furore caused by the current epidemic of accusations of rape and sexual harassment across the Western world. (As usual, men elsewhere are not held accountable, but that is a story for another day.) Believing the rape accuser now inevitably means accepting that the accused is guilty and, this being the Opinion Age, publishing that conclusion far and wide.

In what must rank as one of the most disturbing articles ever written by a law professor, Pierre de Vos recently made an impassioned case for the right of everybody to express his or her opinion on these matters. In “No, the Constitution does not guarantee a right to be presumed innocent by everyone until proven guilty”, he expended a considerable number of column inches quoting chapter and verse to prove that the Constitution only grants the right to be presumed innocent in a court hearing, and that this right does not stretch beyond the courtroom.

Strangely, he made no mention of audi alterem partem.

Strictly speaking, he is quite right. The right to be presumed innocent is restricted to the inside of a court. The same is probably true of audi alterem partem. But in his eagerness to support the cause of righteousness, the good professor is ignoring an important concept: laws are not enacted by Parliament simply to regulate our actions and punish transgressors. They are also meant to serve as guidelines for the kind of society we wish to inhabit. This is particularly true when it comes to a constitutional democracy. Thus, we are frequently enjoined to live the Constitution, to make its principles integral to how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives — even when nobody is looking.

I think we can all agree that we would indeed like to be presumed to be innocent when we are accused; and that we would like our fellow citizens to make up their minds about us only when they have heard our side of the story. We all recognise the innate fairness of this, even while recognising that these same principles can and do shield wrongdoers: living in Jacob Zuma’s South Africa is a daily object lesson in that.

It is extraordinary that someone who teaches constitutional law would not see how dangerous it is to limit the validity of these principles to the courts. They are, and should be, the cornerstones of how we live in society and privately as well. Even more worrying, De Vos goes further, strongly implying that it is highly likely that anyone who argues against forming an opinion about an accused person’s guilt based on the presumption of innocence is likely to be doing so with an ulterior motive.

His words are worth quoting in order to gain a sense of the extraordinary contortions needed to make his point:

“So, the next time you hear anyone say that person X is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and that we are therefore not permitted to have an opinion about whether X did anything wrong, ask yourself whether the person would have said the same about Penny Sparrow. If he or she would not, you will have a pretty good indication that there is a self-serving motivation behind invoking a non-existent constitutional rule.”

For one thing, the Penny Sparrow case is hardly germane: Sparrow’s comments were made on a public platform and thus could be easily analysed. The point about a rape is that it generally takes place in secrecy, so the facts are what are in dispute.

The only thing he gets right is that one is indeed “permitted” to hold any opinion one likes; but surely the view that people are innocent until proven guilty is one that we should all support? This would mean exercising some restraint, and suspending public ventilation of one’s judgment in the interests of justice. This is not incompatible with lauding the courage of the accuser, providing her with emotional support and calling for the accused to respond to the accusation.

In any event, this sequence of public accusation and demand for a public refutation or confession greatly resembles a kind of privatised court process, a logical sequence of the do-it-yourself, customer or citizen focus the digital world enables. In this light, the need to make the fundamentals of justice integral to how society functions has never been more urgent.

We have already seen the pernicious effects of assumed guilt in the area of child abuse. Some guilty parties have been brought to book, but several blameless people have had their lives ruined by society’s — and authority’s — willingness to equate accusation with guilt. The same frightening dynamic is playing now out as the sexual offences complained of become more trivial.

All of this risks jeopardising the real gains that have been made, and may even make the original scandal of rape ultimately come to seem less pernicious. And, by abandoning these basic principles of justice, the justified crusade against a social evil is beginning to resemble a lynch mob. As we have seen in recent years, the Internet is a breeding ground for lynch mobs — the plague of cyber bullying is one example.

History teaches us that mobs always think they are on the side of right. Indeed, they are frequently brought into being by a genuine injustice, but inevitably become instruments of oppression and intolerance in their turn. We have seen that happen in this country, with the fight for Boer liberation (justifiable and supported by all right-thinking lefties at the time) mutating into apartheid, and the fight for black liberation mutating into what we all see before us now.

In both cases, the real wrongs that activists were seeking to right have now returned in new guises. One might argue that this corruption of good and even noble causes can be traced to the view that their importance justified the jettisoning of the fundamental tenets that underpin a just society. In short, the Machiavellian approach that the end justifies means seems to compromise the end, usually fatally.

When we accept that the presumption of innocence and the imperative to hear both sides are luxuries reserved for courts, we are a heartbeat away from Salem or East Germany. And because the law does not exist in a vacuum, these principles will ultimately also be eroded within the legal system.

The #metoo campaign began as a cry from the heart, a call for justice — we must not allow it to degenerate into something as bad as what it seeks to replace. To do that, we must find a way to balance the imperative for abusers to be held to account with the fundamentals of a just society.

Author: James van den Heever has degrees in English literature from Wits and Oxford, and in theology from St Augustine College. He edited numerous publications in the IT/business arena, incompetently acted as a media liaison for a now-defunct American corporate, and has worked as a freelance writer for many years, primarily covering the intersection between business and technology.

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Identity Politics, and Why It’s a Virus https://rationalstandard.com/identity-politics-virus/ https://rationalstandard.com/identity-politics-virus/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:11:16 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6711 Identity politics has infiltrated every aspect of modern political discourse like the virus it is. It thrives on stereotypes and total disregard for unique individual views. Dissent is discouraged by the shame that goes with being deemed a sell-out to the cause (cue Pan-Africanism and Afrikaner nationalism). It creates a prison of non-negotiable narratives and […]

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Identity politics has infiltrated every aspect of modern political discourse like the virus it is. It thrives on stereotypes and total disregard for unique individual views. Dissent is discouraged by the shame that goes with being deemed a sell-out to the cause (cue Pan-Africanism and Afrikaner nationalism). It creates a prison of non-negotiable narratives and virtues. But what exactly is identity politics, and what does it entail?

A simple Google search will tell you that identity politics is the tendency for people of a particular collective to form exclusive political alliances that move away from traditional broad-based party politics. In essence, it entails a group of people that attempt to further their collective interests by banding together and saying “this is what we want”.

At first glance it does not seem as problematic as it really is, but that is exactly how it traps people in its cult-like clutches. It seems alluring when one does not consider the suppression of dissent and the invalidation of views based on arbitrary grounds.

It has always boggled my mind why individuals need a collective identity to determine their own. It is as if people are blind to the fact that one does not choose one’s collective identity ascribed to them at birth. Black people carry the burden of either supporting apparent “pro-black” narratives or be deemed sell-outs. Afrikaners have to be proud of the Boer way of life and everything that goes with it, or they will be labelled ‘Volksverraaiers’. False dichotomies are at the order of the day.

Members of involuntary collectives, such as racial collectives, are ascribed traits and virtues whether they share them or not. It is the flagship of strawmanning. Stereotypes are strengthened in this manner and individual views are invalidated by preconceived notions of what a person is ‘supposed’ to believe.

This stereotyping entails grave consequences.

Ideas are evaluated based on who airs them, rather than the merits of the ideas themselves. The collective identity that is determined by whatever stereotype, is deemed as more important than individuals and their respective unique identities.

Twitter serves as the best source of examples.

I recently pointed out to a user that not all black people are in favour of land redistribution. Her reply: “Who are these other black [sic] that don’t want land back”.  Which neatly brings me to my next point.

Identity politics serves to foster a culture of “us vs them”. “These other black [sic]” serves as the perfect example of this narrative. People who do not subscribe to the narrative they’re “supposed” to subscribe to are othered and their views are delegitimised, no matter how legitimate those views actually are. Those who digress from the identitarian norm are automatically deemed not worthy of being heard. Identitarianism creates a bubble characterised by indoctrination, irrationality and narrow-mindedness. It is therefore no mystery why cultural warfare in political discourse is so prevalent.

The State represents a central form of power over which interest groups fight in order to strengthen their standing in society. It is as if identitarians who fight for independence do not see the irony in fighting for protection from the State. Logic dictates that groups of people who want to secede from society to form their own little communities should be able to do so at will. Unfortunately, because government has taken unilateral control over a certain jurisdiction, interest groups are forced to fight over who controls the State and subsequently the fate of all the people within that jurisdiction. But what is the solution?

It’s simple: the absolute protection of individual rights.

If the State serves to only protect the individual rights of all people, minority rights are rendered redundant since people will be able to voluntarily form collectives based on whatever identitarian basis they prefer, without being bothered by an intrusive government and without relying on the government to protect their collective.

Identity politics is a virus because it affects those who have no choice in whether to be affected by it or not, since the central body which controls a society has to be fought over. Liberty is the solution. All people should be able to associate and disassociate from whomever they want, for whatever reason they want, as forced association is just as problematic as forced segregation. Decentralise power from the government to the people, and identitarianism can thrive without affecting innocent people.

It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that there will always be people who seek to define their identity according to what their culture prescribes, but there is no way around this.

In essence, the virus that is identity politics cannot be wiped out as humans are driven to form groups based on collective identities. There is no cure. There is only a remedial measure: decentralise the State’s power and let collectives determine their own destiny without bothering the rest of us.

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Strong Families and Strong Economies https://rationalstandard.com/strong-families-strong-economies/ https://rationalstandard.com/strong-families-strong-economies/#comments Sun, 12 Nov 2017 18:28:16 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6792 The family unit has long been the target of the left, especially the anti-religious left. The left in general pins everything on social class and capitalism as the source of all that is evil in modern life, and sees the family as part of the capitalist structure that needs to be completely thrown out and […]

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The family unit has long been the target of the left, especially the anti-religious left. The left in general pins everything on social class and capitalism as the source of all that is evil in modern life, and sees the family as part of the capitalist structure that needs to be completely thrown out and revised.

The evidence seems to indicate, however, that strong family units and relationships are exactly what you need to be prosperous.

In 1936 post-Great Depression USA, a team of Harvard researchers commissioned a study titled the “Harvard Study of Adult Development”, to track the progress of 268 Harvard sophomores through life. The study even started to track their offspring into a second generation, and currently remains one of the longest-ever running academic studies to ever be undertaken at eighty years old, involving multiple groups of scientists over the decades. A formidable feat, considering that similar studies have usually failed due to participants dropping out, funding drying up, scientists losing interest, or any number of other variables.

In 1973, a group of Boston inner-city youths were added to the study, offering a perspective on social progression from an impoverished perspective.

The study resulted (every two years, researchers would meet with the participants and ask questions) in some startling revelations. Libertarians and conservatives have long known that the fabled leftist bogeyman, “The 1%”, is in fact a dynamic and constantly changing figure, as people move up and down the social ladder based on the outcomes of individual decisions affecting them. The study observed some Harvard sophomores moving into significantly poorer economic status, and sometimes this only happened in the second generation of children. The adage, “The parents make the wealth, and the children spend the wealth”, applied very aptly in these cases. Some of the Harvard students became even more wealthy. Some became doctors and lawyers, one even became a US president, some as previously stated, went down, and became factory workers. Of the Boston youths, some went up to become doctors and lawyers and investment bankers, some also became factory workers, some became even poorer. Of both groups of individuals, some developed mental illness, usually schizophrenia.

The common denominator of the most economically prosperous individuals was not just a strong family structure, either with their own family (such as wife and children) or extended (parents and relatives), but also with relationships in general in their social circles. Those that became ill typically had extremely sour relationships in the form of grudges or unforgiveness for what they deemed very unjust events in their lives, that literally ate away at them for years after the event happened. The study showed that strong relationships were the greatest indicator for stability and economic prosperity, and with that, it can be assumed it also ended up in applying to most other types of prosperity, considering they already had both relationships and economic prosperity.

The Western world’s embrace of capitalism and freedom in general has been among the most prosperity-inducing moves in the world and history, but these countries were also strongly based on the family unit at the time of these massive improvements.

Prosperity is relative; a factory worker might think life is pretty miserable in comparison to the lawyer, despite the unemployed and homeless vagrant at the factory doors; just as the lawyer working extended hours might yearn for a day of less work and more family time that the factory worker might be getting out of his nine-to-five job, depending on career commitments of course. If the left succeeds in destroying the family unit, indications are that life for a majority of people will get worse, and the left will continue to double down on its socialist and individual mandate destroying policies and ideology.

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Don’t Make the Old Flag a Martyr for Freedom https://rationalstandard.com/dont-make-old-flag-martyr-freedom/ https://rationalstandard.com/dont-make-old-flag-martyr-freedom/#comments Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:36:36 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6797 There’s a pervasive and absurd notion floating around the world nowadays that if something offends us, we must in some way venture to ban or censor it. That we must argue with it, ignore it, or ridicule it no longer occurs to us; instead, we want to use violence to ensure we don’t see or […]

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There’s a pervasive and absurd notion floating around the world nowadays that if something offends us, we must in some way venture to ban or censor it. That we must argue with it, ignore it, or ridicule it no longer occurs to us; instead, we want to use violence to ensure we don’t see or hear it.

The Apartheid government, certainly, was one of the enablers of this mentality. It banned ‘obscenities’ like pornography and gambling, and conduct which ostensibly offended public morality, like interracial marriages or press coverage against the Apartheid system. The Australian government today bans video games it deems grotesque, often hiding behind the now-dead horse fallacy that video games cause violence among children.

As South Africans, we should be pretty proud of our post-Apartheid government, for our level of freedom of expression is literally unrivaled throughout the continent. Even places like Germany has less freedom of expression than South Africa. Distressingly, Zimbabwe recently arrested an American for calling President Sir Robert, the Lord Salisbury, a “sick old man”. The former regime in Zimbabwe was largely just as censorious.

The South African government has slipped up in some respects, however, not least of which are its threats to ban Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers. The recent Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, on which Rational Standard contributors have produced a wealth of analysis and critique, stands to ban virtually all expression of any consequence. Even when discussing the weather must one be mindful of one’s words, if this bill is passed. Other legislative interventions like the Equality Act also make certain kinds of bigoted speech sanctionable, but usually only with hefty fines. These laws should be opposed, but on the whole, South Africa has done pretty well.

The latest clarion call is for the old South African flag to be banned. Some qualify this demand, saying that it is inappropriate for the flag to be displayed in so-called ‘public’ spaces, but that it can be displayed privately. Others call for a total ban. I responded earlier to Professor Pierre de Vos who thinks it is quite improper for people to assert their right to do as they please on their property.

What is and what is not a ‘public’ space, of course, nobody knows. Does it refer to public property, i.e. that which is possessed by government? Does it refer to spaces where, hypothetically, two strangers might run into each other in the ordinary course of events? Does it refer to specially-designated zones? What makes a house ‘private’, but a business not? Does my home stop being private if I ordinarily invite strangers in for coffee? What if I start charging a fee for the coffee? Does my house become public? Will I feel the wrath of public accommodations jurisprudence?

The absurd potential consequences of this indeterminacy were almost manifested with government’s draconian liquor regulations, which now appear to have been shelved.

Those regulations banned the sale of liquor within 500 meters of a list of ‘places’. Among these were ‘transport facilities’. This term was not defined in the regulation, but common sense would dictate that everything from roads and sidewalks to bus stops and train stations were transport facilities. Where, then, in South Africa would one be able to sell liquor? The answer was nowhere, save perhaps for a remote patch of dirt in the Karoo.

As I wrote in my response to De Vos, those who proudly display the old South African flag deserve criticism. But as rights-bearing individuals, they are entitled to be free from violence. Those of us who dislike or are otherwise apathetic toward the flag have no natural right to use the force of the State against them to ensure we are not offended. And even if South Africa law allows us to do this, it should not, and we should not use it.

I continued:

“Rights are not relative. Bigots, like decent people, have rights, and enjoy all the entitlements of those rights. Rights cannot be revoked simply because one uses them in a displeasing way. The very nature of freedom is that individuals are allowed to do things which a majority of others do not agree with.

The concept of freedom would be meaningless if it meant one can only do popular things. Instead, rights exist specifically to protect people doing those things which the political class or the majority in society do not approve of.”

Libertarians generally do not have the luxury of choosing our fights. For instance, it is not we who chose to ban marijuana or sex work. Moral busybodies did that, and are resisted and, after we lost, continue to agitate against those bans. We would much rather concern ourselves with those things that comprehend a good life; fun, work, responsibility, community, family, etc. Instead, we are forced to take up issues – often uncomfortable ones – because a significant segment of society is always looking to betray their one key obligation in a civilized world: Do not violate the liberty of other individuals. It is not because we want to smoke weed or patronize prostitutes that we stand up for individual liberty, but because we find it morally detestable that violence is used as an apparent ‘solution’ to these ostensible social ills.

In the case of the flag, most South African libertarians are likely either opposed to it because it represents a period of our history where individual rights were not constitutionally protected and where a government branch – Parliament – was sovereign, or apathetic toward it, because at the end of the day it is simply a piece of cloth meaning different things to different people. Most of us do not want to talk about the old flag. But we seem to be entering a period where it will become very relevant for libertarians to talk about, and fiercely defend, the rights of those who choose to fly and associate themselves with the flag.

To be clear: If the old South African flag is banned, whether it is limited to ‘public’ spaces or not, it will – it must – become a rallying post for everyone, of whatever race, who is concerned with freedom of expression and association. I have no particular affinity for the flag, but if it is banned or censored, I would have no choice but to throw myself in its corner.

It will not be because I now associate myself with the movement for an Afrikaner homeland or with Apartheid nostalgia, but because I know it is a slippery slope. First the flag, then Die Stem, then Afrikaans will be struck from the national anthem in total, then English, then Afrikaans will stop being a language of instruction at schools, then Zulu, until only English (and Mandarin) remains, then this will also become mandatory for private schools, then private schools will be indistinguishable from public schools and suffer regulatory banning, then Afrikaans television and radio will be forced to ‘transform’, etc. This is how the creep of statism works in the presence of a weak constitution.

Inevitably, if calls for banning the old flag are answered, it will no longer be a cloth not worth our time, but it will become a martyr for freedom. Few people will understand why this is and will, predictably, label everyone who stands only for the right of individuals and communities to associate with whatever and whoever they want, as racists.

Let’s avoid this tedious exercise by nipping the whole narrative in the bud. Let those who so choose fly their cloths. Rather engage them, ridicule them, insult them, or ostracize them. If you use violence against them, either directly or indirectly through the State, you are not winning or putting yourself on the ‘right side of history’. Instead, you are making them martyrs and using the exact same thinking the Apartheid government you claim to oppose used.

The post Don’t Make the Old Flag a Martyr for Freedom appeared first on Rational Standard.

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