Social – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Free political commentary for the dissenting South African Tue, 14 Nov 2017 20:09:48 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 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 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.

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UCT Assembly: Truth or Dare? https://rationalstandard.com/uct-assembly-truth-dare/ https://rationalstandard.com/uct-assembly-truth-dare/#comments Sun, 05 Nov 2017 09:34:52 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6788 On 1 November 2017, UCT students and staff gathered on the steps and plaza in front of the perhaps-soon-to-be “Saartjie” Baartman Memorial Hall. The meeting was chaired by a senior officer from the UCT Student Parliament, with Deputy UCT Council Chairperson Debbie Budlender acting as a secondary co-chair.  The purpose of this gathering was to […]

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On 1 November 2017, UCT students and staff gathered on the steps and plaza in front of the perhaps-soon-to-be “Saartjie” Baartman Memorial Hall. The meeting was chaired by a senior officer from the UCT Student Parliament, with Deputy UCT Council Chairperson Debbie Budlender acting as a secondary co-chair.  The purpose of this gathering was to allow a broad range of speakers to discuss (for a few minutes each) “the institution’s view on issues such as free education, fee increments and financial exclusion”. In fact, rightly so, the discussion traversed many other issues/grievances, since ‘fee-less’ education is only part of the solution to the myriad of challenges that must be met to transform/’decolonize’ South African tertiary education.

The first speaker, Angela Trotter (spelling?), a student who claimed to have no affiliation with any structure at UCT, made a telling statement, echoing words spoken by UCT’s first registrar, Wilfred Murray, more than 80 years ago. Murray said that central management had to “justify its existence“ in terms of its ability to serve the learning process. Angela said: “We are not here for management. Management is here for us.”

She then deftly called for “a point of order” and demanded that controversial, pro-Fallist Dr Lwazi Lushaba (UCT Political Studies) be allowed to speak broadly and out of turn and called for audience acclamation. This demand was met with loud applause and shouting by some and acceded to by the chairperson.

Lushaba spoke for nearly 20 minutes (more than five times longer than any other speaker).

He immediate delineated his audience, Comrades and Black people, a called for the “defeat of White settlers”. I summarize his comments largely using his words.

At first, he kept to topic, albeit from a racial point of view: “Free education is a problem for Black not White people. This struggle is not for poor people. It is for Black people.  Until we face the realities of history, will not be able to deal with the present, let alone prepare for the future. If you are Black, you are disadvantaged in every respect. If you are White, you are advantaged in every respect. The struggle for free education is not about money. The problem is the value system of education.”

Currently, “UCT is a place where Blacks are prepared to enter and compete within ‘The Market’. What we want is an educational system that is infused with different values systems and for Blacks to actualize themselves and their potential.”

“For a person to benefit individually, the society must benefit first.”

UCT continues to “teach precisely the same ideas it taught during Apartheid in order to perpetuate the colonial system. The task of thinking has been made an exclusive preserve of White people.  Blacks cannot produce knowledge.”

“There is a structure [current ad hominem promotion procedures] that ensures that we are kept outside of the academy. This is not accidental. It is by design. Those who are beneficiaries of colonialism and Apartheid [Whites] and, consequently occupy [senior academic/admin?] positions must have the decency to listen to the oppressed. They will learn, even if it’s painful, they will learn.”

He refused to cede the stage when respectfully requested to do so by co-chair Budlender. He insisted on another five minutes or the meeting would “degenerate”.

“White people provoke us and tell us how to respond to the provocation. We have no autonomy of thought.”

“The goal of university education is not to gain employment, but to contribute to society.”

Currently, UCT graduates only seek jobs within the overarching “System” [free-market Capitalism?] saying: “Please employ me because I’ve gone to a White racist UCT and survived.”

He called for UCT students to create a new system that “re-humanizes and enables Blacks”.

After more forceful intervention from the chairperson, he concluded:

“We must tell the White people who are threatening to walk away that a time will come along soon when we will run UCT on our own and give them a new value system and not at the whim of ‘White’ sentiment.”

So much for the “Truth”.

Thereafter, the comments were much shorter and were more like “Dares” for people to deliver and “justify their existence”.  Again, I rely on quotations.

The out-going SRC president to management: “I am sick of you placing the onus of transformation entirely on us”. “Why do you put the whole responsibility of caring for the mentally ill students on me and other students?”

A newly elected DASO-affiliated SRC member: “Chairperson, do your job and ensure that I am allowed to speak.”

A man wearing a red EFF beret: “We have come to UCT to suffer mentally, die via suicide or be murdered. White people must foot the [fee] bill for all.” “If you are rich you are White. If you are White, you are rich.” “Nothing about this university is Africa. Nothing about this university is democratic.”

When a DASO SRC speaker was heckled when he proposed that students from wealthy families must pay fees, he begged the chairperson: “Please do your job”.

When an incoming Black woman SRC member tried to speak, she was met with derision that devolved into extreme heckling. She demanded to be heard, but was silenced.

I guess the biggest “Dare” is now from UCT’s >33 000 peaceful, law-abiding, “Silenced Majority” of students and staff and the approximately 150 000 un-consulted alumni who “gained employment”, to the “do-nothing” Management. Justify your existence [and bonuses] and deal once and for all with the less than 200 law-breaking Fallists, or resign and be replaced by someone who will.

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Fake news on #BlackMonday https://rationalstandard.com/fake-news-blackmonday/ https://rationalstandard.com/fake-news-blackmonday/#comments Wed, 01 Nov 2017 19:43:00 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6741 Written by: Edmund Burke (pen-name) “… fake but accurate…”­ – The New York Times “The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.” – Evan Thomas (Newsweek) About ten years ago, Newsweek published a string of articles in which they appeared to support what turned out to be a completely false rape claim. The story […]

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Written by: Edmund Burke (pen-name)

“… fake but accurate…”­The New York Times

“The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.” – Evan Thomas (Newsweek)

About ten years ago, Newsweek published a string of articles in which they appeared to support what turned out to be a completely false rape claim. The story at the time was that three white, male lacrosse players from Duke University raped a black woman.

The races and genders of the parties involved are mentioned here only because of how Newsweek editor Evan Thomas later rationalised the incorrect reporting. When asked about what happened, he stated:

“The narrative was properly about race, sex and class… We went a beat too fast in assuming that a rape took place… We just got the facts wrong. The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.” (emphasis added)

Today, this would be referred to as an example of fake news – a term which, ironically, was popularised by large, established media houses to discredit information originating from sources that they do not oversee or control.

Thomas’ quote reveals two simple but crucial insights:

  • Journalists craft narratives around events.
  • At least to some extent, journalists are aware that they are doing so.

It is with this context that we turn to Black Monday. For those not up to speed, ‘Black Monday’ refers to a day of protest that was organised to bring attention to the relatively high murder rate amongst South African farmers.

Besides the traffic jams and delays, much of the South African media establishment seemed to be fixated on one particular detail, namely, the former South African flag. The reason for this fixation is simple: there is a contemporary narrative at play, according to which Afrikaner farmers are a bunch of old racists that yearn for the days of apartheid. Any farmers seen sporting the former South African flag are taken to be evidence in support of this narrative.

And so a prominent South African journalist, Nickolaus Bauer, shared two photographs on Twitter. The first depicted a middle-aged couple wearing t-shirts with a design based on (and prominently featuring) the former South African flag. The second depicted a man holding a burning (current) South African flag. In addition to these images, Bauer added this comment:

“Regardless of #Farmurder numbers,highly doubt you’ll EVER enjoy any sympathy in democratic SA if you wear old flag&burn new one”

Bauertweet1

The tweet in itself was not particularly interesting – not until it turned out that those photos were, in fact, taken several years ago, and were not at all related to the Black Monday protest. Bauer followed up with another tweet, stating:

“These images did not come from today’s march. I have severely erred in sharing them. However, the message remains relevant.”

Bauertweet2

If we pick Bauer’s second tweet apart, we see a beautiful parallel to Evan Thomas’ telling remarks:

“These images did not come from today’s march. I have severely erred in sharing them.” (Thomas: We just got the facts wrong).

“However, the message remains relevant.” (Emphasis added; Thomas: The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.)

In the Duke lacrosse case, the mistake that the Newsweek journalists made was to jump on the rape allegation, because it fit their pre-conceived notion of what had happened. The story confirmed what they already ‘knew’ to be true. Absent more information, it is difficult to see how this Black Monday analogue is any different.

As one of the cardinal spheres of power in society – the others being government, universities, and the entertainment media – the news media are particularly influential in how people understand, interpret, relay, and remember information and events. This is certainly relevant to the Black Monday protest.

What this incident points to is the fact that journalists – as ‘objective’ and ‘trustworthy’ as they may try to appear – have their own views and biases. These influence what they choose to report, and how they choose to report it. This is how, despite years of experience, even a lauded South African journalist can become a primary purveyor of fake news.

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Rebutting Mamdani on Decolonization https://rationalstandard.com/rebutting-mamdani-decolonization/ https://rationalstandard.com/rebutting-mamdani-decolonization/#respond Tue, 31 Oct 2017 22:01:53 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6242 ‘Decolonization’ at the University of Cape Town (UCT): What is it?  How should it be achieved? Part 2: Mahmood Mamdani (click here for Part 1) The simple answer to both questions is: no one knows?  This ignorance was made ‘crystal clear’ at three events held on UCT’s campuses during 14-23 August 2017. Event 2 (22 […]

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‘Decolonization’ at the University of Cape Town (UCT): What is it?  How should it be achieved?

Part 2: Mahmood Mamdani (click here for Part 1)

The simple answer to both questions is: no one knows?  This ignorance was made ‘crystal clear’ at three events held on UCT’s campuses during 14-23 August 2017.

Event 2 (22 August) featured one of the world’s top 10 public intellectuals, and arguably the leading authority on African colonial/post‐colonial international politics, Mahmood Mamdani. He gave the 2017 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture “Decolonising the Post-Colonial University” which, according to VC Max Price would “frame academic freedom and university autonomy through the decolonial lens […] in the current context”.

What is academic freedom and why the T.B. Davie Lecture?

In 1950, VC Davie nailed UCT’s long-standing academic vision to the mast.

Universities should be populated by “those fitted by ability and training for higher education […] 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”. This should allow “real” universities the autonomy to decide:

  1. “who shall teach – determined by fitness and scholarship and experience;
  2. what we teach – the truth and not what it is demanded by others for the purposes of sectional, political, religious or ideological dogmas or beliefs;
  3. how we teach – not subject to interference aimed at standardization at the expense of originality; and [most importantly]
  4. whom we teach – [individuals] intellectually capable and morally worthy to join the great brotherhood which constitutes the wholeness of the university”.

All fine, except the still-patriarchal principal missed out on ‘sister’ and ‘other-self-identified-hoods’.

But he was not done. The university community should:

  1. “reflect the multi-racial picture of the society it serves;
  2. give a lead to the cultural and spiritual development of the different race groups as part of the developments of the community as a whole;
  3. aid the state by providing training for and maintaining standards in the learned professions and public services; and
  4. serve the community in the true sense of the university, i.e. as a centre for the preservation, the advance, and the dissemination of learning for its own sake and without regard to its usefulness, to all who are academically qualified for admission, irrespective of race, colour, or creed.”

I would drop the use of “race” or replace it with “non-racial”.

Despite all this, I don’t see why this vision has been dropped. Indeed, the annual T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture on academic freedom was established by UCT students to commemorate the memory of Davie’s principles underpinning academic freedom.

UCT’s vision today is brief, much ‘inclusified’ and contextualized, and has geographical/national/social foci:

“UCT is an inclusive and engaged research-intensive African university that inspires creativity through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery and citizenship; enhancing the lives of its students and staff, advancing a more equitable and sustainable social order and influencing the global higher education landscape.”

Davie ‘unfrozen’

UCT VC Max Price’s pre-lecture comments gave Davie’s ‘principled-principal’ stance short shrift and opened it to reinterpretation.

He said that, today, beyond “academic merit”, academic freedom “may also entail other [unspecified] criteria”. It is a “live issue not frozen in 1950s” that needs to be “reinvestigated, reinterpreted, reunderstood (sic) and reapplied“ in the light of “other [unspecified] issues” and a changing “institutional culture” facilitated by “fierce and robust discussions” [about what? and why not through unfettered rational debate?].

To my mind, this is a Marxist (Groucho not Karl) position: “If you don’t like my principles, I have others.”

Price ‘Fallistified’

When Price discussed the Mamdani Affair, he was heckled, requesting an opportunity to speak and “our rights to speak” to be respected. He condemned past UCT Executives’ actions, saying, “The use of administrative fiat to stifle intellectual debate has no place in a university setting […] all viewpoints should be allowed to contend freely.”

This is surprising, since his Executive cancelled (with short notice and over strong objections from the Academic Freedom Committee and many staff/students/alumni) the 2016 Davie Lecture. Price ‘acted’ because the invited speaker (journalist Flemming Rose) was anonymously and salaciously defamed as “bigot”/“blasphemer”, and Price “feared” that allowing him to speak would cause unspecified “violent protest”.

Furthermore, “over the past two years [at UCT], both commemorative and fine art has been defaced, intentionally destroyed by fire, blacklisted, censored, covered up and removed from display.  Additionally, photographic exhibitions have been attacked and closed down, and the Michaelis School of Fine Art was occupied by protestors for a number of weeks towards the end of 2016 and its students and teachers threatened.” I deal with this Price-Executive “fiat” in Part 3.

Mamdani’s ‘Big Bang Theories’

In her comments on Mamdani, event chairperson Elelwani Raymundo showed her colours by quoting Mamdani’s characterization of the Ramphele Executive as an “administration [that] paid lip-service to academic transformation” and resisted “any innovative idea as a threat to its power”.

Mamdani started with two bangs. First, he answered, to great applause, the question: “Why did you decide to come [back to UCT after so many years]?” with “Because Rhodes fell.”

Then he mentioned that UCT academics had asked him, in the spirit of academic freedom, to refuse to give the Davie Lecture, unless Rose Flemming (sic) was re-invited to speak.  These include philosopher David Benatar, a member of the pro-Rose Academic Freedom Committee. But, (to keep the audience on their toes?) Mamdani deferred his reply to ‘question time’. This I deal with in another piece.

Then, contrary to the advertised – decolonization “in the current context” – his lecture was based largely on the “historical context that shaped the post-colonial university”. He mentioned, inter alia:

  1. Eurocentric theory “born of comparison” and “matured to its fullest during the colonial period”;
  2. the production of knowledge begins with the organization of phenomena; and
  3. comparison requires a standard, potentially highly subjective evaluative reference point.

In African universities, that “point” was/is ‘colonial-centric’. Whatever African alternative(s) has been ignored/dismissed because it was not encoded in “texts”. The modern African university is based on a German, “discipline-based gated community” model, requiring “clearly defined administrators, academics and fee-paying students” pursuing 19th Century ideas from the era of Enlightenment.

If he read the UCT NEWS, he might have a different perspective.

In short, African universities are “in the frontline” of a “one-size-fits-all […] top-down, modernistic project” that assumes a Eurocentric “oneness of humanity” seeking to “civilize the world in its own image” through “conquest”. Currently, this conquest is “emphasized by IMF/World Bank’s “structural adjustment programmes”.

The colonial university’s “ambition [is] to create universal scholars”, “stand for excellence, regardless of context” and form the “vanguard of the civilising mission without reservation or remorse”.

Pretty scary!

Then Mamdani gave his first recommendation: “If you regard yourself as prisoners in this ongoing colonizing project, then your task must be to subvert that process from within.” and he defined decolonization: “sift through historical legacy and contemporary reality discarding some parts and adapting others to a newfound purpose”. This requires “nationalist public intellectuals” whose “hallmark is [to] place specific contextual relevance” above “excellence said to be universal without regard to context”.

Then he discussed long-passed decolonization at the African universities of Makerere (paradigmatically colonial) and Dar es Salaam (anti-colonial nationalist and “home of the committed public intellectual”), with the latter “embedded in space-time context” and “deeply engaged in with the wider society”. The key ‘gunslingers’ in this showdown were universal scholar Prof. Ali Mazrui (Makerere) and Mamdani’s ‘hero’, public intellectual Prof. Walter Rodney (Dar es Salaam).

Makerere ranks in the top 500 universities worldwide, and fourth in Africa. Because of student unrest and faculty disenchantment, however, the university was closed three times between 2006 and 2016. The final time was on 1 November 2016 when President Yoweri Museveni declared it closed “indefinitely”. It was only re-opened at the end of December.

Dar es Salaam is 3021st worldwide (out of 3290 ranked institutions) and 57th in Africa.

UCT is among the top 200 worldwide (but falling) and first or second in Africa. It closes at the whim of fallists when they make it ungovernable.

Stellenbosch University is catching up rapidly.

Then Mamdani put the brakes on, counselling: “resist the temptation to dismiss one or the other” strategy and “bring the two together since each has value”.  The ‘Rodney Strategy’ emphasizes “place, politics and power relations” and “continuous curriculum review” within a disciplinarily-unbounded institution.  The Mazrui strategy pursues ‘universal truth’, facilitated by employing unfettered “ideas”. Indeed, without ideas, “Why have a university at all?”

So, maybe there is room at UCT for both decolonization strategies.

But then Mamdani put the decolonization pedal-to-the-metal and stated that this duel strategy cannot be achieved without a revival of “an African mode of reasoning based on traditional communication and intellectual history” – a “new system with multiple reference points”. A key missing factor in this quest requires serious input from indigenous African languages, suppressed alike by paleo-/neo-colonialists.

Now comes Mamdani’s second “recommendation”.

“Decolonization must be a multi-linguistic project!”

So, in addition to the “non-negotiable” Fees Must Fall demands, UCT must develop new Sotho and Nguni “language centres”, and that these languages should feature strongly in mode-of-instruction, buttressed by massive translation programmes. This will allow 21st century African students to “get to know neighbours” and “theorize [their] own reality”.

Otherwise, at UCT “a student will [continue to] be a technician trained to apply theories developed elsewhere”.

But, then the brakes came on again when Mamdani wisely stated that the locally-focused, politically sensitive, public intellectual and unfettered, global-viewing, discipline-based, ideologically unconstrained universal scholar are “not different persona”, but “two sides of a single quest for knowledge balance”. “Let’s close the gap between them!”

He closed with a final swipe at the Ramphele Executive and offered “a personal reflection” to Price.

“I came in 1996, full of excitement, wanting to learn and make a contribution to a new world. Instead, I found a world unsure of itself, full of anxiety. The leadership of government had changed.  But the leadership of institutions had not. Instead of being receptive to change, the institutional leadership looked with distrust to every initiative for change suspecting it of harbouring a hidden subversive agenda.”

Many of the other people involved in the ‘Mamdani Affair’, perhaps including VC Ramphele, can refute him, but probably won’t try. I will report on this ‘Affair’ in a piece to come.

To Price: Don’t obsess on how much money creating this ‘New Reality’ will cost or wonder where the Sotho/Nguni academics are going to come from. “This is not the time to think like an accountant.”

Perhaps he should become a public intellectual?

My predictions are as follows:

  1. True to form, Price will shout to one and all: “Show me the money”.
  2. When it doesn’t come there will be no ‘decolonization’.
  3. More academics will take severance packages or be retrenched to ‘save’ money.
  4. Price will continue to pander to fallists and ignore UCT’s “entrenched”, “cultural blind”, “Silenced Majority” who just want to learn and conduct research in “safe places”.
  5. When Free-Fees fails (righting focusing on helping the financially most strapped); lawbreaking fallists are not granted more amnesties and unconditional academic readmission; and the IRTC process is impeded because no one can agree on what’s punishable “unacceptable protest” (let alone “sifting” decolonization), fallists will follow Mamdani’s advice and those who feel “imprisoned” will “subvert that process from within.”

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Why I Wore Black on #BlackMonday https://rationalstandard.com/i-wore-black-blackmonday/ https://rationalstandard.com/i-wore-black-blackmonday/#comments Mon, 30 Oct 2017 15:12:01 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6716 Numbers don’t lie. Numbers have no political agenda. Numbers cannot be prejudicial toward or against any group. Rather, it is what we interpret from the numbers that makes them controversial. Currently, South African farmers experience 130 murders per 100,000 people, as opposed to the general population’s rate of 34 per 100,000, according to national statistics […]

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Numbers don’t lie. Numbers have no political agenda. Numbers cannot be prejudicial toward or against any group. Rather, it is what we interpret from the numbers that makes them controversial.

Currently, South African farmers experience 130 murders per 100,000 people, as opposed to the general population’s rate of 34 per 100,000, according to national statistics which were reluctantly released.

Numbers are numbers and something needs to be said of such a high murder rate in areas that lack many of the social problems which naturally come about in urban areas. One would have to be dishonest to ignore the rate at which people living in rural areas are getting attacked and killed.

In the past year, I have personally come to know some of South Africa’s farming community. One of my closest friends runs a game farm in the Eastern Cape and I have spoken to him on the issue of farm murders. Far from touting far-right conspiracy theories, he was always reasonable and gave me his thoughts on relations of farmers in rural communities, but stressed how bad the situation was.

One night when discussing the issue via instant messaging he sent me a message which really hit it home:

“… the point is that most farmers and their families in the towns and cities around the country have had enough. This is merely protest action but it could increase quite quickly into something else. It won’t now, but in the years ahead with a government who doesn’t help, for sure.”

“… a government that doesn’t help… ”

I’m not an anarchist. I believe government has certain legitimate functions and, without a doubt, I think people from the across the political spectrum can agree that protection of citizens from harm is the most important duty of any government. The farming community in South Africa has not had that. Time and time again they have had to deal with tragedy after tragedy, often in extraordinarily brutal circumstances to almost no public outrage except within their own communities.

SEE ALSO: Farmers don’t need Black, they need Guns by Jonathan Wright

Moreover, this is indicative of a more noticeable disconnect between city-dwelling South Africans and farmers or any other people living in rural areas. Naturally this will occur as the two are two different communities, but it has reached a point now where farmers are appealing to the public to recognise a plight that they face.

This, while Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula refuses to release government crime statistics regarding farm murders. Currently, the only statistics available are from private organisations such as AfriForum, but Deputy CEO Ernst Roets pointed out: “We know that our data in terms of farm attacks in insufficient because we know a farm attack where no one is killed is not newsworthy anymore.”

This is also why there has been pleas to overseas governments from some farmers. This is an outcry from a community that has been ignored by its own government in providing the most basic of duties that a government has: Protection from harm.

With this being said, it is important to note that there are some – usually politically far on the right – who use these statistics for political gain or to advance a narrative.

To the dismay of the far-right and the far-left, it should be known that people can care about crime without it being based on race. Not everyone is an intersectional feminist who can link melting glaciers with gender inequality by using no logic at all (believe or not, that is not even a joke). Not everyone longs for “the good old days” of South Africa when most of its population lacked the most basic rights like free speech or freedom of movement, and the rule of law was almost nonexistent but rather beholden to the evil that was the leviathan Apartheid state.

No, there are indeed some of us such as myself who are concerned about individual rights. I implore any South Africans (or anyone abroad concerned concerned about this) not to associate the issue of farm attacks with any kind of political narrative. It helps no one and only harms the rural community which we are trying to protect. It is also false, but that is for a different article.

Since I have been living in a more rural part of South Africa, I have gained an appreciation for the farmers of this country. South Africa is truly blessed with fantastic natural resources, arable land, incredibly diverse flora and fauna, and from this, great economic potential. It’s easy to live inside the bubble of a big city and assume that chickens come from KFC and apples come from aisle 3 at Pick n Pay, but the toil and labour which got that rib-eye steak or that apple crumble has its origin in a part of the country many people never think twice about.

I support our farmers and I want our rural community as a whole to be safe. That’s why I wore black on Monday and I’ll continue to support them after Monday.

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Farmers don’t need Black, they need Guns https://rationalstandard.com/farmers-dont-need-black-need-guns/ https://rationalstandard.com/farmers-dont-need-black-need-guns/#comments Mon, 30 Oct 2017 14:53:06 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6723 I apoglogise for the cynicism and frustration that might be dripping off here, but when it comes to ‘awareness campaigns’, I usually end up bashing my head against a brick wall because I cannot tell the difference between the manufactured outrage, the real outrage, and the fact that neither will actually deliver any results. Another […]

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I apoglogise for the cynicism and frustration that might be dripping off here, but when it comes to ‘awareness campaigns’, I usually end up bashing my head against a brick wall because I cannot tell the difference between the manufactured outrage, the real outrage, and the fact that neither will actually deliver any results.

Another tragedy, another hashtag, another protest for ‘solidarity’ or something similar. Another plea for help from named and unnamed forces, such as government. Another day being reminded that we live under deplorable circumstances, be it crime, unemployment, etc. And then, we go to sleep at the end of the day, and continue with our merry lives as normal until the next social outrage.

I don’t want to take away from these tragedies, but there is a point that society as a whole needs to put two and two together to realise that nobody is coming to help them. Ever. And that even if someone or something does, it’ll likely be too late, or in some unsuitable form.

With the latest campaign focusing on the farm murders, I have asked more than a few people what they believe that this will achieve, and the answer without fail was “to create awareness” or “to show solidarity”. Never mind that you will be hard pressed to find somebody who isn’t aware already, or doesn’t sympathise with the victims.

Nobody offered solutions, or even tried to think beyond what the country will do on Tuesday. The real gripe that I have with this whole scenario, is that a majority of the very people who can do something about it, have not done anything about it, and will continue to do nothing about it. Some don’t even want to do anything about it, instead expecting the SAPS to magically become omnipresent and perfect, or somebody else to take care of them and their needs.

SEE ALSO: Why I Wore Black on #BlackMonday by Nicholas Babaya

I spent my early years on a farm. My father, both grandfathers, two uncles and a few friends of mine are/were all farmers, so I don’t believe that I speak from the privilege of suburbia.

There is literally only one thing that farmers can do to protect themselves, and that is take responsibility and do it themselves. To cut to the chase, farmers (many of whom own firearms), need to remove them from the bedroom safe, buy a holster, and carry it everywhere they go, and always keep it in arms reach.

If they don’t already own a firearm, then they must go out today and buy one, and start the licensing process. Yes, they’ll wait about six months if they don’t already have competency, but then it becomes their own fault for not waking up to this reality earlier. This isn’t a crisis that started yesterday. This is a crisis that has been happening for a long time, and nobody knows this better than farmers.

The real indictment on farmers in this case, is that there are poverty-stricken people that live in shacks in townships, who decide to go through the process to buy a gun, which includes bolting a safe to a wall or floor, and shacks don’t have concrete walls or floors. Yet, these people commit to the ‘boer maak ‘n plan’ thing, and go out of their way to source some concrete, dig a hole in the shack floor for a concrete slab, get a power tool from somewhere, and wire up some electricity, so that they can own a firearm to protect themselves. At the same time, there are farmers who are unwilling to put in this effort. These farmers have no excuse for being unprepared in the moment of their greatest need.

The walls, alarm systems, burglar bars, large aggressive dogs, electric fencing and perimeter lighting with a price tag costing almost hundreds of thousands of rands means nothing when you get jumped at the gate to your fortified compound, or attacked while inspecting a pump 3 km away. Only you can be your first responder. Only you have any power to protect yourself in that moment. Only a gun is going to allow you to do that.

Farmers even have special privileges in that they have greater grounds to apply for semi-automatic rifles for self-defence. No other citizen has this privilege. Of course, no-one should desire a situation so bad that they can legally possess a restricted firearm, but as it stands, this is the reality.

The other day, I was told a story of how a farmer and his wife called a security expert to help them with security measures. As they sat down at the dinner table with the expert, the farmer leaned his shotgun against the table, and his wife complained about him lugging it around the house, and the farmer promptly put it back in the safe. The security expert got up and walked out, calling over his shoulder: “Let me know when you’re going to take this seriously!”

This is the reality: people want to be safe, but they do not want to do it themselves, because “I don’t want to live like I’m a prisoner or a soldier on my own property”. You don’t have to, but it starts with taking ownership of your life, because we do live in the equivalent of a warzone.

This is just one more travesty that highlights how we can never rely on government, nor should we even trust government to be able to assist in anything.

Farmers, the only black item you need to wear is a modern semi-automatic pistol, and you need to wear it every day. You need to go for training beyond the competency and proficiency process, by signing up for and completing dedicated firearm self-defence courses. South Africa has world class instructors, and a vibrant firearms trade. The avenues are there to be taken advantage of! I started wearing my black back in February with the acquiring of my Glock 19. You should too.

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Artistic expression and free speech are repressed at UCT https://rationalstandard.com/art-speech-repressed-uct/ https://rationalstandard.com/art-speech-repressed-uct/#comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 08:19:55 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6025 Right from its first sentence, UCT Assoc. Prof. Jay Pather’s UCT is not a closed and controlled gallery is a shameless ‘spin’ document bordering on propaganda. Destruction, consultation-free- removal, defacing, blacklisting and covering-up of artwork are anything but “routine” curatorial actions. They are blatant further steps towards the elimination of academic freedom and freedom of […]

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Right from its first sentence, UCT Assoc. Prof. Jay Pather’s UCT is not a closed and controlled gallery is a shameless ‘spin’ document bordering on propaganda. Destruction, consultation-free- removal, defacing, blacklisting and covering-up of artwork are anything but “routine” curatorial actions. They are blatant further steps towards the elimination of academic freedom and freedom of expression at the University of Cape Town (UCT). This nefarious ‘process’ is driven by Fallists and condoned, if not suborned, by an overpaid “Senior Leadership Group” (SLG) that now controls UCT’s Council, Senate, Convocation, Academics Association, illegitimate-“interim”-politicized Students Representative Council and Academics Union. All of these purported non-racialist structures are blatantly pro-Fallist or have admitted, at least implicitly and in the absence of substantive evidence, that UCT is ”invisibly” institutionally racist and needs to be “decolonized” radically.

The author is an eminent academic artist and director of the Isela Zonke Dance Theatre. Yet, he describes the wilful destruction of artwork on UCT’s Upper Campus by several “Shackville” Fallist individuals on 17 February 2016 as “not an ad hoc [done for a particular purpose] incident”, “but one that occurred within a very particular context”. He loosely describes the “context” of “this single wildcat incident” as “a range of issues” used by Fallists before and since to “socially justify” illegal mass intimidation, assault and destruction on a campus that was once a centre of resistance to Apartheid. Then he attributes the mass condemnation of illegal behaviour (even at one time by the Black Academic Caucus) as “sensational generalisations that have followed tumble easily into questioning well-mediated processes of normal transformation” [decolonization?].

Yes, adaptive transformation at UCT, and further afield in South Africa, is needed desperately. What is not needed is raw violence and destruction, censorship, academic “cleansing” and the eradication or re-writing of history. Dismissing the genuine fears of the vast majority of the UCT Community, whom I call the “silenced majority”, as “knee-jerk response”, “hopeless generalisation” and “hysteria” while “contextualizing” arson and alleged sexist assault benefits no one, except their perpetrators?

To paraphrase Pather, “In South Africa, understanding what we mean by “of this time and of this place” is intimately connected not just with South African society in 2017 – a society that remains among the most unequal in the world – as well as the international community.” It is connected with local and international society, going back to the origins of the KhoiSan. To focus only on local and current “developments in our society” is not just short-sighted. It is dangerous. To demand that “UCT [continues] on its way to abandoning the model of the detached ivory tower” [now “silo”] and follow an un/ill-defined path toward “decolonization” dictated “with the full support of a society anxious for stability that can only be attained through transformation” is frightening. Fallists, SLG, Council, Black Academic Caucus, UCT Convocation and SRC – please elucidate what is meant by “stability” [and not simply enforced acceptance] and, for the umpteenth time, provide some even vague details about “decolonization” and its envisioned products and their benefits. Stop stripping South African art from our hallowed halls and denying formally-invited speakers access to campus.

“Currents” don’t “determine art and its creation”. Artists do.  Curation driven by capitulation to reason-and-debate-free demands from law-breaking ideologists is, at best, censorship.  Describing UCT’s non-consultative [at least according to artists affected] “curation” policies as “based on shifting contexts and themes” smacks of Fascist oppression. Prof. Pather’s dismissal of Ivor Powell‘s [who has degrees from the Universities of Cape Town (undergraduate) and the Witwatersrand (post graduate) in English, Philosophy and Art History; and with more than 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and editor] article The art of UCT’s Max Price: Siding with ignorance and misperception as merely “a flippant point of view” and “universalist twaddle”, and Powell as a “slippery humanist” does Pather no credit. To understand more about why Powell writes that, “UCT appears to be building a platform from which it will be in a position to tell you what to think”, Pather should read Price’s A subtle kind of racism

In this piece, Price abandons his normal equivocation and admits that the UCT “system” “transformed” under his leadership during the last decade is institutionally racist and has failed ‘blacks’. His failure thereby “justifies” the Fallists’ racially-motivated “anger and alienation” and Price’s endless granting of “restorative” amnesties of miscreants. He also makes it crystal-clear that, with “no doubt”, there is “racism [amongst] white lecturers and students” at UCT. But, he provides no substantive evidence of actionable racism, choosing to rather to cite Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael’s definition of institutional racism. This characterizes it as “subtle” and inferred by victims and not obvious to its perpetrators. Such “racism” is also described within UCT as “invisible violence” by UCT Convocation President Lorna Houston and her kindred “progressives” who use it to “contextually, socially, restoratively justify” naked violence perpetrated by Fallists. Sexist Stokely Carmichael is also not a balanced scholar “without sin”, given his statement that “the position of women in the [Black Power] movement is prone”.

Of course, “there is no such thing as objective curation” and it “is imbued with a point of view”. But whose point of view? No one in the SLG or UCT’s art community submitted rational arguments for the removal of the 74 artworks, including major UCT benefactor (Fund for student support) Robert Broadley’s Flowers in a Vase, Roses in a Jug, Roses in a Vase and Tree in Blossom as being so offensive that they “dehumanize blacks” and “catapults you into unhealed wounds inducing a schizophrenia and distension”.  Apolitical Broadley was a keen golfer and portrait and landscape artist – nothing more, nothing less. The plants he portrays inflict pain on no one. Indeed, neither the SLG nor Pather’s Artworks Task Team (ATT) have explained why any of the artworks are artistically racist or allowed the artists and others to debate their significance.

Quite to the contrary, UCT is now “a closed and controlled space”. Free speech, unless supported by the SLG and not opposed by Fallists, no longer occurs. Alleged assaulters of women walk free and even occupy positions of power. Censorship is the rule, not the norm [see if UCT publishes this piece in the UCT NEWS].  Pather maintains that because “the composition of an audience at a university is much more diverse and unpredictable” than visitors to galleries, and the “residue of the [artist’s] action [whatever that might be] may clash with what exists in a contemporary context”, the SLG’s precipitous actions sanctioned by the ATT are warranted. Neither the SLG nor ATT explains how their in/actions “create an open enough field for these identities to be played out with enduring principles of respect, listening, acknowledgement”.

The University as a Public Space

YES! “The point of the matter, which is being quietly sidestepped in the articles in question, is that the realism, texture and nuance of the contemporary moment can no longer be left to be described, critiqued, expressed and circulated by a single demographic.”  That “demographic” is a small minority “constituency” of radical, destructive Fallists. Pather can’t deny the integrity of the artists nor dismiss their views by claiming that they “benefited under apartheid and indeed developed international reputations as a result”.  This slimy characterization of the likes of Breyten Breytenbach, Willie Bester, Richard Keresemose Baholo, et al. emulates Maxwele’s treatment of Rhodes’ Statue.

I close not with my views but with quotes from “blacks” and VC Price.

18 April 2017

At a meeting of the Internal Reconciliation and Transformation Steering Committee – Samuel Chetty related the experience of staff during Fallist “protests”: “We brought our concerns to management but little was done. … Frankly, management did nothing to protect our safety.”

25 March 2015 at the Rhodes-Statue-Meeting in Jameson Hall

Assoc. Prof. Xolela McPherson Tennyson Mangcu: “I wasn’t going to come here tonight because I stopped trying to explain things to white people a long time ago. … I find the issue of standards racially offensive. … Í am not here to justify myself to anybody.”  Since being “promoted” to full professor and described by Fallists in print as a self-serving, “condescending and anti-black” “house negro”, his pro-Fallist position seems to have slackened.

An unnamed speaker: Identifying himself as a “black” Advocate (lawyer), attributed inordinate attention given to Jewish students/staff complaints about swastikas sprayed on a building “because they have money” and “black pain does not measure up to Jewish pain.” His comments were met with cheers.

“Black” woman accounting postgrad: aggressively asked Price: “What exactly have you done in your two terms? … I call upon you to stand up and take leadership. Put your values and policies and implementation where your mouth is.”

Unidentified ‘Black’ man: Claims that he sent an 8-page document to VC without response that described education at UCT as “mental slavery and colonization”.

Former student and SRC member: “This varsity doesn’t care about you; it’s not going to help you; and it’s not going to listen to you. … Max Price and his management team have failed you.”

Black male student: “For many years my multitude of emails, letters, affidavits to Price have been ignored”.

20 March 2015 – VC Price: “no-one would be left behind”.

Max – Please re-iterate this to the whole UCT Community, including Sam Chetty and the assaulted UCT women who have yet to receive “restorative” or any other kind of justice from your “system”.

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Does UCT have any principles left? https://rationalstandard.com/uct-principles-left/ https://rationalstandard.com/uct-principles-left/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:20:13 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6643 Is the University of Cape Town (UCT) abandoning ‘universality’, academic freedom, excellence, pursuit of the ‘Truth’ and non-racialism in favour ‘pluriversality’, characterized by contemporary contextually powerful ‘values’ and ‘principles’? “No one will be left behind.” – Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price – 20 March 2015 N.B. Information in this ‘Twitter’ history of UCT and comments on […]

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Is the University of Cape Town (UCT) abandoning ‘universality’, academic freedom, excellence, pursuit of the ‘Truth’ and non-racialism in favour ‘pluriversality’, characterized by contemporary contextually powerful ‘values’ and ‘principles’?

“No one will be left behind.” – Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price – 20 March 2015

N.B. Information in this ‘Twitter’ history of UCT and comments on recent ‘developments’ there are elaborated on at great length and fully documented in various pieces to be found on my blog: timguineacrowe.blogspot.co.za

Born under a bad sign

Since its beginnings nearly a century ago, the University of Cape Town has adhered to goals and principles: ‘universality’, academic freedom, excellence and pursuit of the ‘Truth’.  Sadly, for its first 40 years of existence, it was institutionally colonialist, sexist and racist, with academic ‘power’ being vested in a ‘feudal’ system dominated by senior academics within an ‘Old Boys’ network. This notwithstanding, the UCT administration was small, efficient and had to “justify its existence” by “relieving the teaching departments of the responsibility for those duties which can be carried out more efficiently through a central office”.

By the 1950s, UCT was becoming increasingly Afrocentric academically and women students and staff began to demand and receive status and some meaningful power. But, although Vice-Chancellor T.B. Davie formally rejected institutional racialism in 1950 in response to massive and increasing ‘legalized’ Apartheid, this was done in principle only.

From the late 1950s until 1980, UCT’s leaders, academics and students fought a ‘rear-guard’ action, resolutely opposing the overwhelmingly powerful forces of Apartheid while transforming her from a “second-tier, male-dominated, ‘whites’-only athletic institution where intellectual advancement [was] not altogether discouraged” into a global centre of academic excellence.

But, still UCT remained racialist in practice.

Adaptive transformation and missed opportunities

From 1980 until the end of the millennium, institutional colonialism withered, with some tenuous ‘hold-outs’ in the humanities and social sciences. Sexism and racism (even in tenuously overt form) were dealt with aggressively. During the administrations of VCs Stuart Saunders and Mamphela Ramphele, UCT transformed rapidly and adaptively to remove the vestiges of the nefarious ‘isms’ while retaining a “non-negotiable commitment” to UCT’s goals and principles. Both VCs endeavoured to recruit ‘black’ (sensu Biko) academics from within and outside of South Africa.

However, as it became possible to dramatically increase the numbers of ‘black’ undergraduate students, Saunders and Ramphele succumbed to the resistance of academics in core departments to incorporate first-years into ‘normal’ educational streams.  Many of these initially deliberately ‘underprepared’ (especially by Bantu ‘Education’) kids were relegated to an Academic Support Programme (ASP) that evolved into the Academic Development Programme (ADP) and, ultimately, into a new faculty-like structure, the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED). To cut a long story short, many of these ASP students maintain that they were “marginalized”, preventing them from acquiring the expected academic ‘goods’. More than half of ASP students admitted failed to obtain a UCT undergraduate degree, and more than 80% took four or more years to obtain less than stellar degrees and were often saddled with massive financial debt. Hence, very few of these bachelor’s graduates pursued even more demanding post-graduate study and research. Thus, rather than growing its own academic ‘timber’, UCT failed to ‘grow’ the ‘forest’ of ‘black’ academics so desperately needed today. It didn’t miss the boat. It missed the super-tanker.

Also during the same period, UCT’s administrative sector grew massively in cost, personnel and power at the expense of deans of faculties and heads of departments. Its senior leadership grew from a modestly-salaried, supportive registrar and vice-chancellor with secretaries and a small number of functionary support staff into a highly powerful-paid-bonused Senior Leadership Group (SLG) including: the VC and registrar with several administrative assistants, two deputy registrars, four Deputy VCs, a similar number of Executive Directors, all ‘supported’ by assistants and secretaries.

The actions of this unjustified hegemony have become increasingly self-promoting, less efficient and increasingly focused on financial priorities. This ‘corporatization’ has led to the academic ‘emasculation’ and early retirement and/or departure of staff who have left to flourish elsewhere.

Since 2000, the SLG has massively increased the admission of subsidy-earning ASP students without a concomitant increase in academic and decentralized support staff or a sensitization or retraining of extant personnel. Furthermore, it retained (or failed to proactively ‘contextualize’) potentially offensive symbols reminiscent of the ‘bad old days’ and steadfastly ignored legitimate requests and complaints from aggrieved staff and students.

In the meantime, core academics, even within the School of Education, continued to evade educating and/or engaging with ASP students, leaving the ‘gap bridging’ to CHED.

Fealty to retaliatory racialist fallism

When faced with initially non-racial protests that emanated from the choreographed defacement of Rhodes’ Statue, the SLG failed to act decisively. This inaction allowed the process to be co-opted via a blitzkrieg enacted by a retaliatory racist black nationalist minority (supported by the racially exclusionary Black Academic Caucus (BAC) and the UCT Association of Black Alumni (UCTABA)) and an even smaller number of destructive anarchists. The SLG steadfastly ignored requests from those illegally intimidated and assaulted by the now self-identified fallists for community-wide consultations/referenda. The SLG re-compounded this strategic error by repeatedly granting amnesty to multi-lawbreaking fallists, tacitly condoning their illegal acts.

Unlike VCs from Wits and Rhodes universities, VC Price, in particular, allowed his personal ideology to influence his actions/inactions to the point of formally admitting that UCT remains institutionally racist and that its goals and principles must be continuously re-evaluated within a “powerful contemporary context”. This set the stage for the capitulation/collapse of the Academics Union, Senate, SRC and Council to fallism by mid-2015 and culminated in the November 2016 Agreement between a handful of SLG members and nine highly radical, destructively decolonist fallists.

This agreement created the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission Steering Committee (IRTC SC) which is de jure dominated by pro-fallist ‘constituencies’.  The IRTC is charged with making recommendations that could profoundly affect the institutional and academic future of UCT. Although the IRTC SC has met multiple times, it is currently deadlocked vis-à-vis the appointment of commissioners and how to deal with lawbreaking Shackville fallists. There has been no definition, let alone discussion, of decolonization. Despite this, key IRTC SC member (and former vice-chair of the BAC) and Transformation DVC Loretta Feris (with SLG approval) invited highly controversial mathematician Chandra Raju to speak on decolonizing science in general and mathematics in particular at UCT.

During his seminar and subsequent discussions and e-mails, Raju defamed, inter alia, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, plus internationally-renowned mathematicians at UCT.

DVC Feris vision for decolonization calls for UCT transformation into “a pluri-versal space” “where there is more than one central truth”.

Finally, at the UCT Fellows’ Dinner on 11 October 2017, VC Price defended Feris’ invitation and Dinner co-host Research UCT DVC Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng proposed that the Fellows chosen to speak formally use the word “power” as their focal topic.

Tellingly, one of the speakers included the most famous quote of British historian and moralist Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The time is long overdue for the return of academic power at UCT to the educators and researchers whose work makes UCT Africa’s top university.

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‘Check Your Privilege’ – Children Being Punished for Their Parents’ Good Choices https://rationalstandard.com/children-punished-parents-good-choices/ https://rationalstandard.com/children-punished-parents-good-choices/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 22:12:15 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6631 Written by: Jonathan Witt Over the past week a really silly video purporting to tackle privilege began to be shared online, as if it highlighted some great truth. After watching the clip, and reviewing its fallacious implications, I decided to tackle the content thereof in a stream of tweets which read essentially as follows: In […]

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Written by: Jonathan Witt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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