Social – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Free political commentary for the dissenting South African Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:38:49 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://i2.wp.com/rationalstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/cropped-RS-Logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Social – Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 Dispelling the Fearmongering Myths Surrounding the Right to Freedom of Association https://rationalstandard.com/dispelling-fearmongering-myths-surrounding-right-freedom-association/ https://rationalstandard.com/dispelling-fearmongering-myths-surrounding-right-freedom-association/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:15:37 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6428 Written by: Jacques Jonker Every single individual has the inherent right to associate with whomever they want for whatever reason they deem fit. The right to freedom of association entails by necessity the right to differentiate and discriminate against people in your own personal sphere. It is the flagship of individual freedom.  Unfortunately, people do […]

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Written by: Jacques Jonker

Every single individual has the inherent right to associate with whomever they want for whatever reason they deem fit.

The right to freedom of association entails by necessity the right to differentiate and discriminate against people in your own personal sphere. It is the flagship of individual freedom.  Unfortunately, people do not acknowledge and value individual liberties, until it is their own which is under threat.

To anyone with access to a smartphone and bit of data, the heated debate surrounding a baker in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding is not news.

The Masterpiece Cake Shop is owned and run by a certain Mr Jack Phillips, who in July 2012 refused to bake a cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins on the basis that it is in opposition to his religious views. As expected, virtue-signallers on the left pounced on Phillips’ apparent ‘unjustifiable’ discrimination against a gay couple. Apparently, anyone that upsets gay people must be dealt with swiftly by the state. How dare a person decline to render a service to someone based on their religious conscience?

There are a couple of things that need to pointed out.

Firstly, Phillips had to make a choice between extra monies for his business, and his conscience. He chose the latter.

What he did not do, is make a choice between money and the opportunity to degrade homosexuals because he has some phobia of them. A phobia is defined as an irrational fear or hatred of someone or something. Declining to associate with someone on the basis of religious conscience is not a phobia.

Is it bigoted? Perhaps, but we are all bigoted in some way and we have the God-given right to be bigoted. Nobody has the inherent right to force others to accept them as they are; they only have the right to their own freedom.

Secondly, leftists seem to thrive on the false narrative that forced association is acceptable, but forced segregation is not.

Neither of these things are acceptable.

It would, however, be naïve of us to be shocked about the leftist outrage at the Cakegate scandal. Virtue-signalling is nothing new in the world of political correctness. It is therefore necessary that we dispel some common myths surrounding the right to freedom of association; myths that are construed for the sole purpose of fearmongering and to spare ‘muh feelings’.

Myth 1: If businesses don’t have to associate with people, it will lead to marginalisation.

This is simply not true.

Businesses are concerned with turning a profit. A business that discriminates left and right against, say, black folks, gay folks or folks with abnormal unibrows, is simply not going to be as competitive as a business that does not.

It is up to the owner of said business to decide whether or not he or she is willing to make the trade-off between more profit and discriminating against whomever for whatever reason imaginable.

In an economic sense, it would be suicide and at the end of the day it is the discriminating businesses that will be marginalised.

Myth 2: In sparsely-populated areas, the effects of discrimination would be felt more severely as there aren’t more options available to consumers.

If a business voluntarily decides to alienate a market segment, it automatically creates a window of opportunity for new businesses (colloquially known as a ‘gap’ in the market).

This obviously begs the question: What if people don’t have the necessary resources to fill the gap in the market?

This is the very reason economists emphasise economic growth: It would allocate more resources to the people who need them. But what is economic growth really if you could just let the state steal people’s money and spend it on frivolous things such as war and “welfare”?

The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of government, who keeps on printing away people’s purchasing power, thus destroying their chances of being able to provide for their own economic welfare.

Myth 3: Since the economy in South Africa is controlled mostly by white folk, it would be dangerous to give them even more power to discriminate.

You know what would be dangerous, and immensely stupid? For a business to alienate 90% of citizens and thus destroy their market share and possible growth. It makes no sense to do that.

Those businesses that don’t care about committing economic suicide would simply not survive and be forced to shut down. Which is what the politically correct wants to happen to them, no?  Another win for free market mechanisms.

Myth 4: If businesses could discriminate and survive in pre-1994 South Africa, they’d be able to do so again.

To equate the economic environment of Apartheid South Africa to contemporary South Africa is a false equivalency at best.

Lest we forget that the reason the white segment of the population was able to acquire and hold on to so much wealth was because of the discriminatory policies of government. Businesses could afford to alienate non-whites because the government made sure that there was minimal competition that could oust them.

It had nothing to do with the free market. It had everything to do with an authoritarian state manipulating free market mechanisms to the detriment of innocent people.

Myth 5: Giving businesses free reign to discriminate would mean that institutions such as hospitals would be able to refuse medical assistance to some.

Another blatant lie by the virtue-signalling cult so prevalent among the millennial left.

It is no secret (to those who do their research) that in the South African context there is a logical exception to the rule that the law does not impose a duty of positive conduct on people to help others: When a person has certain exceptional abilities that puts them in a unique position to provide much-needed specialised care to people (e.g. medical doctors), that person bears a duty to act in situations in which an “ordinary” person wouldn’t be able to, and thus wouldn’t have to.

It would amount to gross negligence and, quite possibly, criminal liability if a whole building full of doctors and nurses refused to help someone whose head is hanging by a thread.

The common law elements of the law of delict as well as criminal law already deals with such matters. Mind you, I have never come across people who have studied for a little bit more than a decade in order to be able to help people, who would simply let someone die because his tattoo of Jesus offends them.

Myth 6: Businesses provide a service to people, and it is people’s inherent right to have access to those services.

What’s quite amusing here is that there are numerous not-for-profit organisations set up around the world to specifically cater to certain demographics. But the moment an organisation’s status is ‘for-profit’, they are exempted from the right to provide a product or service to whomever they want.

The hypocrisy is mindboggling to say the least. All persons, natural or juristic, should be able to associate with whomever they want.

It is clear to the sane and the rational that there is false narrative perpetuated by the modern left that the freedom to associate with whomever you want will lead society down a cliff. It is pure fantasy construed to fearmonger people so as to make them gullible enough that they would fall for such claptrap.

For a society to be truly free, the people should be able to associate and segregate themselves without an external element of force involved.

Author: Jacques Jonker is a scholar of law and commerce at the North-West University, Potchefstroom.

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Academic Boycott of Israel is path to ruin https://rationalstandard.com/academic-boycott-israel-path-ruin/ https://rationalstandard.com/academic-boycott-israel-path-ruin/#comments Sun, 03 Sep 2017 19:30:19 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6362 The University of Cape Town (UCT) is under internal threat once again, as forces within it threaten to damage the academic integrity of the already falling institution. This threat takes the form of a proposed academic boycott of Israel. The move is being led by UCT’s Palestinian Solidarity Front (PSF), a small but loud group […]

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The University of Cape Town (UCT) is under internal threat once again, as forces within it threaten to damage the academic integrity of the already falling institution. This threat takes the form of a proposed academic boycott of Israel. The move is being led by UCT’s Palestinian Solidarity Front (PSF), a small but loud group of trouble makers, who have united many of the left-wing organisations on campus.

Origins of the Boycott

The PSF attempted to lobby UCT to adopt an academic boycott in the past, but have been shot down by the Academic Freedom Committee and Max Price. This may change, as 2017’s Academic Freedom Committee contains at least two known BDS supporters on its panel. Aliya Chikte, a BDS supporter, has also been appointed to the Committee by the SRC.

Strategic deployment by boycott sympathisers, or just a coincidence wrought by an institution that harbours anti-Israeli sentiments, this is not good. With such a biased committee, the boycott will lose a crucial opposition and gain traction.

This is a great risk to academic freedom, the quality of the intellectual discourse, academic resources and the already tenuous quality of the university.

It comes as no surprise to me that the PSF has seemingly gained the support of a myriad (if not all) left-wing societies on campus. The Fallist movement itself has declared support for the PSF. This is to be expected when keeping in mind the unholy alliance of thoughtless Israel bashing and cultural Marxism that infects our campuses.

There is very little, if any, critical engagement with the actual issue of Israeli-Palestine relations by the left-wing on campus. Most students are highly ignorant of the issue on all levels and just follow the cause as they would a meme. The PSF is a bit more clued up, but consumed by a blind hatred. Luckily, they are in the minority. Despite the apparent popular support they seem to have, PSF events tend to not reach over ten attendees (that includes the organisers) throughout the years. This is not the sign of a popularly supported movement.

Rather, the PSF use emotional blackmail and their alliance with vitriolic left to fabricate the evils of Israel and take advantage of ignorant students. Now, this is coming to a beach-head where, if it continues unabated, the institution will suffer severely.

Dangers of Sanctions

Sanctions are stupid. They’re blanket punishment aimed at pushing a population over the edge so that they will hopefully overthrow the offending regime. They do not hurt the offenders directly. Elites in countries facing sanctions do not care about boycotts or blockades. They can get what they need and want through illegal means or continual pillaging. They don’t care.

All the sanctions accomplish is the destruction of the country’s economy with the hope that it will push the population into opposing their government and instate a regime change.

The academic boycott is a form of sanction, but it takes the already ineffective tactic and makes it even more nonsensical.

The aim of the academic boycott, like all boycotts, is to pressure the offender into taking a course of action. In this case, BDS wants Israel to not exist, the compromise being a sacrificing of Israel’s security apparatus to such a degree that they might as well not exist.

These are unacceptable terms for Israel, so a boycott will never result in success.

Another goal of boycotts is to weaken an opponent. But how will UCT boycotting Israeli universities weaken them? We need their content. We need access to their research. Israeli academics have been integral to the development of many fields, especially that of IT and medicine. We need that research to improve our own institutions and our country.

This academic boycott seeks to remove access to those resources. For what benefit? None. Israel will not be weakened. They will not lose prestige. All that will happen is that UCT academics and students will lose access to swathes of valuable resources.

Succinctly: The academic boycott will accomplish nothing but removing UCT access to valuable academic resources, all for the goal of ideological claptrap and hate.

To preempt opposition that suggests that the boycott is necessary to avoid working with institutions complicit with the Israeli government’s actions. How so? Were the universities in South Africa during Apartheid complicit? UCT was called Moscow on the hill. Universities are seldom ever a reflection of the politics of the country. If anything, they are allies against the status quo.

Regardless, when one punishes something, there needs to be some sort of positive outcome. There is no reasonably positive outcome from an academic boycott of Israel. The Israeli universities really won’t care and we will lose our access to resources that we need. All views on the Israeli-Palestine conflict are irrelevant in the face of this.

Conclusion

It is clear that the boycott will not accomplish anything practical. Then, are the PSF and BDS just dumb or is there something else?

In chess, you presume that your opponent knows what they are doing. It is safe to presume that here. The PSF and BDS do not care that the academic boycott won’t really hurt Israel. Their real goal is to entrench a societal hatred against Israel, and Jewish students by extension.

Antisemitism is rife at UCT because of a vitriolic and loud minority. While the left try to act like neo-Nazis are returning, they are the real anti-Semites, hiding behind false accusations against the Middle East’s only stable liberal democracy.

All in all, supporters of academic freedom and good old common sense need to make their voices heard and oppose this foolish and hate-filled move to further destroy UCT and our society.

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What is Decolonisation and How Do We Achieve it at UCT? https://rationalstandard.com/decolonisation-at-the-university-of-cape-town-uct-what-is-it-how-should-it-be-achieved/ https://rationalstandard.com/decolonisation-at-the-university-of-cape-town-uct-what-is-it-how-should-it-be-achieved/#comments Fri, 01 Sep 2017 22:01:14 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6231 ‘Decolonization’ at the University of Cape Town (UCT): What is it?  How should it be achieved? Part 1:  Chibber 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 to 23 August 2017. Event 1 – 14 August – Prof. […]

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

Part 1:  Chibber

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 to 23 August 2017.

Event 1 – 14 August – Prof. Vivek Chibber’s Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture: Eurocentrism, the academy and social emancipation.   

In the pre-lecture announcement, Chibber stated:

“While the commitment to wrest free of Eurocentric biases and even to decolonise higher education is entirely laudable, it leaves open the question of what the content of new knowledge ought to be, and also the structure of new institutions. In this lecture, I suggest that the only way to press forward with these goals, while still upholding democratic principles, is by embedding the critique of Eurocentrism in an egalitarian and humanistic framework. This means rejecting parochialism of any kind, including the nativism that is often presented as a counter to Eurocentrism. Indeed, nativist critiques often recreate the Eurocentrism they seek to displace.”

For anti-colonial movements to win the full human emancipation they fought for, they need to rid themselves of the critiques embedded in nativism and nationalism”.

But, during his lecture, he actually:

  1. equated the African struggle for liberation from colonialism with that between capitalism and socialism and between Eurocentrism and racism rather than Afro-relevance/centrism;
  2. erroneously characterized Europe as the continued centre of morality and science, with Africa being at the periphery and inferior;
  3. advocated the replacement of race by class, producing an ”indigenous elite”; and
  4. predicted that, without such a replacement, “nativism [racial and nationalist discourse that can creep back into leftist thinking] will return.

During question-time, when asked – “When does a black leader become free of Western influence?” –  Chibber replied only when they advocate the ‘best Western’ ‘good ideas’, like socialism. When challenged by a ‘black’ attendee – “But white Marxism and communism have had terrible consequences in this country.” – he countered, “Come up with any strategy that will involve the upliftment of the vast majority of black and brown people in this country that does not involve attacking capitalism… There’s no solution to the problem without class.” There must be a “massive redistribution of resources”. But from whom to whom?

When asked about his views on the classic, discipline/faculty-gated, colonial university populated by traditional, scholarly “universal”, ivory-tower intellectuals versus what decolonist philosopher Achille Mbembe and UCT Transformation deputy vice-chancellor Loretta Feris describe as a discipline-unbounded “pluriversity” populated by Gramscian “public intellectuals” engaged with society and focused on context, Chibber claimed not to understand the concept of a pluriversity. He eschewed the Marxist Gramsci’s concept of public/organic intellectuals, preferring what he terms “committed intellectuals”, academics who might be hired as academic staff, but “spend all their time in trade unions”.

With regard to his views on student demographics, he commented (to loud applause), “What we should worry about is accessibility of poor people to university.” He offered no suggestions on how to help them to develop once they were admitted.

On a constructive note, he stressed the need to develop in-house, competitive, African-rooted intelligentsia who publish in local-language journals, and warned that academic posts should not become “islands of privilege” protected by the tenure system.

In short, social emancipation can only be achieved when a heavily-taxed, partially market-driven economy is totally taken over by a communistic government and wealth is “massively redistributed”. Then, somehow, funds will be found to eliminate university fees and pay multi-lingual, primarily locally published, decolonized, elite academics to develop trade unions when they’re not teaching badly-educated, poverty-stricken students who study socio-physics.

Is this a meaningful ‘strategy’ for UCT’s decolonization and emancipation?

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Profit is Compatible with Christian Values https://rationalstandard.com/profit-compatible-christian-values/ https://rationalstandard.com/profit-compatible-christian-values/#comments Thu, 31 Aug 2017 22:01:00 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6199 The Parable of the Talents For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one: to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took […]

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The Parable of the Talents

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one: to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more.

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents besides them.

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Mathew 25, 14-27

The same story is told, with only trifling differences, in Luke 19, 12-27.

Most Christian churches, for reasons that had little to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ and much to do with the economic interest of their leaders, have been hostile to trade, have disapproved of profit and have particularly disapproved of the lending of money at interest. Yet here we have, in the very words of the Master, what appears to be a glowing affirmation of trading for profit as an admirable activity, success in which earns both praise and material reward, while lending money at interest is shown as an acceptable second best option for those who are unable to trade. What are we to make of this?

Those who have been embarrassed by this passage (and they have been many), have hastened to point out that it is a parable. It is a metaphor, to convey a spiritual message not a lecture on economics. This is true. The passage opens with the words “The kingdom of heaven is as…”. It is about the kingdom of heaven, and its meaning lies beyond what appears on the surface of the story. I do not deny this for a moment, nor do I have any problem with the traditional orthodox interpretation of the meaning, which is that the parable teaches us that each of us must make the utmost use of whatever capacities or abilities he or she possesses. It is from this interpretation that the common meaning of the word ‘talent’ as in ‘he has a talent for music’ is derived.

Nevertheless, while fully agreeing that the parable is not a lecture on economics, I contend that it does indeed tell us something, in fact a great deal, about its narrator’s attitude towards some questions of economics.

What are Parables?

A parable is a kind of metaphor, as we have already noticed; it compares one thing with another, normally something which is well known and easy to understand with something else which is more difficult. The simplest form of this type of use of language is the simile either expressed as when we say ‘he runs like a hare’, ‘he fought like a lion’, ‘he eats like a pig’, or implied, as when we simply call someone a lion or a pig. Now, the whole point of these comparisons is that they refer to the actual known (or assumed) characteristics of real things, and what is more, they invoke a whole set of attitudes and emotions that are associated with those things. Lions are not merely assumed to be strong and brave, they are admirable. Pigs are assumed to be dirty and greedy, and they are despicable. If we do not believe these thing – whether they are true or not – the simile is pointless, and so we today have difficulty with traditional comparisons with dogs (‘treat him like a dog’, ‘a dog’s life’) because they imply an attitude to dogs which we do not share.

The crucial point is that most simple similes and far more elaborate and extended metaphors, depend on much more than a single simple correspondence of one characteristic, like ‘quick as lightning’. Much more usually, as in the lion and pig examples, they involve a broad correspondence in emotional attitude, in values between the two things that are compared. While this is not quite always true – there are examples like ‘quick as lightning’ – what is always true without exception is that there is never actual dissonance between the emotional aura of the two things compared. It is unthinkable that anybody should ever use something which he regards as despicable as a symbol for something which he regards as noble, nor something which he regards as evil as a symbol for something which he regards as good.

We can see this point illustrated again and again in the parables of the New Testament. The parable of the sower would be incomprehensible if we did not automatically regard sowing as an activity of vital importance. The parable of the Good Shepherd (and indeed all the references to shepherds) would be meaningless if we did not regard sheep as both attractive and useful animals and shepherds as rather admirable people. One only has to contemplate the possibility of the Good Goatherd or the Good Swineherd to see the point. In our culture the Good Dog-owner would do very well but in the culture of the New Testament it would not have done. We are told not to throw pearls before swine, not before sheep. The prodigal son is reduced to caring for swine, not to caring for sheep, and so on for as long as you like.

Trading for Profit is Honourable and Desirable

What is the application of this to the parable of the talents? The basis of the story is the simple assumption, as obvious as that sowing is important and that sheep are useful and attractive, that trading for profit is an honourable and desirable activity, success in which deserves both praise and material reward, and that it is a fit symbol for the pursuit of spiritual growth, or however else exactly we interpret the real meaning of the parable. That Jesus thought otherwise (or indeed expected his hearers to think otherwise) is as impossible as that he thought that sheep were unclean or that shepherds were scoundrels.

The remark about lending money at interest (which occurs also in St Luke’s version), although it comes over as rather ‘throw away’, is still an essential part of the story. The ‘unprofitable servant’ was not condemned for not having made the best possible use of his talents. A second best would have been accepted, though obviously the reward would have been less. The assumption that lending money at interest is a proper thing and in some circumstances a positive duty, is perfectly plain and clear.

If these assumptions were in any way perverse we would have reason to be puzzled by them, but, on the contrary, they reflect a perfect understanding of the economic process. The active entrepreneurial use of wealth in collaboration with others (for that is what ‘trading’ implies) creates both wealth for those who do it (hence the reward to the ‘good and faithful servants’) but also creates widespread benefits for other people, contributing to the general welfare (hence the ‘joy of the Lord’). Those who cannot undertake entrepreneurship can sill make their contribution by placing their assets at the disposal of those who can, and the institution of lending at interest exists precisely to make this possible.

Is not the parable saying that just as the active and conscientious use of material assets in collaboration (trade) creates wealth both for those who do it and for others, so the active development of spiritual gifts in interaction with others enriches those who do it and enriches others as well. Furthermore, just as those who leave material assets idle do not merely remain as they are but are actually impoverished, so those who neglect their abilities actually deteriorate. Finally, the fact that what would have been the best option is closed to one is not an excuse for doing nothing. There are always second-best alternatives available.

What About the Poor?

How are we to reconcile this unequivocal approval of trading for profit with the equally unequivocal call to certain people to give all to the poor and follow me? We can do so very easily, just as we can reconcile the call to certain people to celibacy with the affirmation of marriage (both are found among other places, in Matt. 19). Any doctrine which is seriously meant to be followed as a rule of life must take cognisance of the fact that different people have to fulfil different roles. For everybody to ‘give everything to the poor’ and become wandering preachers would be the shortest way to ensure that everybody, very much including the poor, starved to death; but some people, like the twelve apostles but not only they, did leave everything and follow Jesus, and He certainly considered that what they did was of the uttermost value.

In recognising that different people have to fulfil different roles we have to recognise too that certain roles are incompatible with each other. Those who take on the role of wandering preachers cannot also marry or be property owners, not only because marriage and property will interfere with their preaching but perhaps more importantly because the life of a wandering preacher makes them unable to fulfil the obligations of a husband or wife or a property owner.

The image of the careful, conscientious property owner is presented with obvious approval in many places in the New Testament for example:

There was a certain householder who planted a vineyard and hedged it round about and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower. (Matt. 21-23)

Every scribe who is instructed into the Kingdom of heaven is like a certain man who is a householder who bringeth forth from his treasure things old and new which he has carefully preserved, or created, as the scribe preserves old knowledge and creates new. (Matt. 13-57)

In contrast the figure of the rich men who are held up to condemnation in the parables are all people who squander their assets and use them entirely selfishly. The prodigal son ‘wasted his substance in riotous living’ (Luke 15-13). He is proposing to go one worse than to bury his talent; he is proposing to consume it. The rich man in the story of Lazarus is condemned for his selfishness. He could easily have succoured Lazarus but he did not do so.

Jesus Distinguished Between Honest and Dishonest Trading

There is one last problem. How do we reconcile the approval of trading for profit with the expulsion of the traders from the temple? This, too, is not difficult. Jesus Christ explained his actions in the matter in the following words: “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.” There are two complaints against the traders here. One is that the temple is not the proper place for trading; the other that the traders are dishonest.

It seems likely that the two points were linked; that the traders, under some sort of franchise from the temple, had a monopoly on the supply of sacrificial animals which would be accepted in the temple, and of the supply of the particular coinage that was acceptable for offering to the temple. If this was so, it is not surprising that the traders exploited the pilgrims, and it is very probable that the temple itself shared in the proceeds. If this was so, then so far from being an attack on trading the expulsion was a blow for free trade, but whether it was or not, it is perfectly clear that to condemn dishonest trading is not to condemn trading as such.

So, we see that the countenancing of honest, conscientious and constructive trading which the early Protestants (and some Catholic theologians too, at about the same time) found in the New Testament is indeed there.

Disclaimer: This essay was extracted from O’Dowd’s 1999 occasional paper, “Liberal Reflections”, for the Free Market Foundation. The essay’s name was changed from the original “Trading for Profit” and the headings were inserted by Rational Standard editors.

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UCT: end of the beginning or beginning of the end? https://rationalstandard.com/uct-end-of-beginning/ https://rationalstandard.com/uct-end-of-beginning/#comments Tue, 22 Aug 2017 22:01:19 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=6027 The answer to the question posed by Dean/Prof. Suellen Shay in her piece The end of South African universities? is sadly yes, at least for her employer, the University of Cape Town (UCT).   Also, her disclosure statement is incorrect since she receives a very generous salary plus a massive performance bonus from a collapsing UCT […]

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The answer to the question posed by Dean/Prof. Suellen Shay in her piece The end of South African universities? is sadly yes, at least for her employer, the University of Cape Town (UCT).   Also, her disclosure statement is incorrect since she receives a very generous salary plus a massive performance bonus from a collapsing UCT experiencing a “chaos” that she welcomes.  Moreover, her bosses (UCTs “Senior Leadership Group”) led by VC Dr Max Price (all of whom are ‘rewarded’ even more generously) “benefit from this article”, despite her and their collective failure to deliver academic ‘goods’ to struggling ‘black’ students (Smith, Case & van Walbeek – 2014 – SAJHE 28: 624–638).

Her piece focuses on Prof. Jonathan Jansen’s book As by Fire – The End of the South African University.  She starts by erroneously dating the beginning of “the current crisis in South African universities”.  Rather than with the ‘faeces flinging’ of 2015, the “crisis” at UCT has its roots in the 1980s, when its executive chose to ‘outsource’ academic support for poorly educated ‘black’ students to largely short-term contract lecturers, rather than requiring ‘Core’ departments, especially in its School of Education to engage in this educational opportunity.  It further ‘missed the super tanker’ when VCs Ndebele and Price massively increased the intake of ‘academic support’ first year students and failed to maintain the recruitment and development momentum of ‘black’ lecturers and professors created by their predecessors.  Then, she erroneously attributes the “crisis” to “economic, cultural and political issues” rather than UCT’s failure to properly resource and nurture ‘black’ staff and students.

Then, she ‘identifies’ “problems with Jansen’s apocalyptic thesis” vis-à-vis: What in fact happened? Why did it happen? And what does the protest crisis mean for the future of South African universities?

First, she states that Jansen’s “analysis lacks a broad comparative perspective” “in relation to continental and global trends”.  Taking this ‘spin’ avoids admitting the failure of the South African government, Basic Education System, UCT and other local university executives and core academics.  Government failed by strangling funding for tertiary education.  Basic Education failed by allowing a horrific Bantu Education system that provided a semblance of highly limited training devolve into a grossly corrupt/incompetent one that effectively ‘disables’ school kids.  Universities failed by allowing a commodity-driven, centralized administration to spread financial support far too thinly and admitting far, far more ‘disabled’ kids than could be nurture successfully, even if core academics ‘bought into’ transformation.

She refers to “Jansen’s profile and tremendous power” when the power (at least at UCT) was wrested from Deans, HoDs and Senate and vested in overpaid/bonused VCs, DVCs, Executive Directors, deputy ‘everthings’ and a Dean of a Centre for Higher Education Development that did anything but.

She then asks, “Why would academics stay if they believed Jansen’s predictions?”  At UCT, if they would allow me, I could provide a long list of Deans, Heads of Department, Directors of Institutes,  internationally highly rated senior academics and, especially, brilliant young scholars who have or plan to ‘jump ship’.   Older academics with secure research programmes are hanging on to retirement.  Those that are not ‘portable’ keep their heads down and play ‘political correctness’.

Sure, UCT remains massively oversubscribed with local student applications [it was SA’s no. 1 university], but are losing top students to Wits and Stellenbosch which have chosen to resist capitulation to never-ending Fallist demands. [Shay advocates “engaging” them.]  Regarding international student applications [a major source of funding], I hear that they have dropped massively.  Current major donors seem to be hanging on, but who knows?  Certainly not Shay.

Then she refers to Jansen’s “small flag of hope” – civic action.  I agree that Jansen falls short here.  What could happen to buoy the sinking UCT ship are strikes by intimidated junior academic and support staff and class action suits by families of students that have been denied an expected high-quality, cost-effective education.

She follows this with a highly important section An important perspective on leadership.  But, she characterizes “university leaders under crisis” as helpless individuals “under fire, in some cases, literally”. This may apply at UCT, but not at Jansen’s Free State, de la Rey’s Pretoria, Habib’s Wits, de Villiers’ Stellenbosch and Mabizela’s Rhodes.   Had Chumani Maxwele defaced and destroyed university property and assaulted women under VC Ramphele’s administration, he would have been dealt with decisively.  Under the current administration, he evades adjudication until he is pardoned.

Perhaps when a new VC is appointed to replace the promised [but failed] Afropolitan decolonizer Price, things will improve.  However, if Shay’s vision for “compassionate competence” based on profit and prophetic promises, rather than decisive, principled leadership based on delivery prevails, UCT will ‘decolonize’ from a centre of excellence with delusions of grandeur into pluriversity with aspirations of mediocrity.

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Review by peers is essential for high-quality research https://rationalstandard.com/review-peers-essential-high-quality-research/ https://rationalstandard.com/review-peers-essential-high-quality-research/#comments Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:00:48 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5982 This is a commentary on: “How to fix the academic peer review system” by Alex Welte and Eduard Grebe published in GroundUP on 3 August 2017. The authors immediately make their views on the use of peer review crystal clear by using terms such as “holy cow”, “demand”, “feet in fire” to characterize it. They […]

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This is a commentary on: “How to fix the academic peer review system” by Alex Welte and Eduard Grebe published in GroundUP on 3 August 2017.

The authors immediately make their views on the use of peer review crystal clear by using terms such as “holy cow”, “demand”, “feet in fire” to characterize it.

They don’t like it.

Why?

Because peer reviewers can be “jealous old boys” hiding behind anonymity; and the process is “frustrating”, “contradictory”, “misses the point” and “result-diluting” and no longer ensures that published work is “of reasonable quality”.

They then conclude (without citing evidence) that:

  1. “Peer-reviewed journals are no longer meaningful filters.” and
  2. “Most academics don’t seriously “read” journals to keep abreast of developments in their field.”

Yes, peers can be nasty. But my, and most of my biologist colleagues, welcome comments, debates and reviews by peers wherever we can get it. This is because they can, and generally do, help us to sharpen our thinking. When journal reviewers misbehave, there are editors who can deal with (even ignore/replace) them. If reviewers and editors don’t do their jobs properly, journals lose their scholarly reputation; become repositories for the results of second-rate, even incompetent, researchers; and simply don’t get read.

In fact, when I or one of my students have a paper ready for review, we choose the most eminent, ‘toughest’ journal as its publication vehicle. Publishing in nature/science is the ‘golden ring’, with top discipline-related journals being ‘silver’ and local ones ‘bronze’. That’s how one develops a competitive CV, gets cited/challenged by peers and rises in the research hierarchy.

Also, I take the advantage of my institute’s and university’s world-class libraries and the internet to regularly read about 20 discipline-oriented journals as they appear – in addition to Nature, Science, et al. Without this, researchers become mired in the potentially mundane academic past and interact only with one or another bunch of ‘frustration-contradiction-free’ ‘old boys’ with whom they concur.

What’s the authors’ alternative?  One is to “self-publish” with a bunch of academically complementary (complimentary?) co-authors “capable of critical self-appraisal” and deposit manuscripts in “research repositories”. This allows “serious engagement” (with peers?) to discover flaws etc.

In this internet era, isn’t it wiser for researchers to first circulate their findings to respected ‘real’ peers to sort such things out before trying to publish? That’s what a paper’s acknowledgements section is for. The authors’ alternative simply side-steps editors and valid challenges from reviewers who they ‘fear’. Also, it creates the need to search a massive proliferation of ‘repositories’ potentially packed with ill-conceived manuscripts full of “fake news and dubious scientific findings” and needing more work.

How does one evaluate the work of peers? The authors’ answer (without guidelines) is that “you have to be savvy”… and “eventually the cream will rise to the top”.

Then, “funders and academic employers, groaning under the weight of the modern knowledge edifice” will implement (unspecified) “more nuanced evaluations” (by peers?) of your research. The will lead to the “collapse” of second-rate peer-reviewed journals.

The authors’ strategy is likely to produce a morass of mediocre ‘research’ that still requires review by peers – the already overloaded readers.

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Women’s Day – Reviewing Books on the Liberty of Women https://rationalstandard.com/reviewing-womens-month-books/ https://rationalstandard.com/reviewing-womens-month-books/#comments Tue, 08 Aug 2017 22:01:32 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5926 South Africa has witnessed unprecedented infringements of liberty, particularly that of women and young girls. Women’s Month comes after a wave of increasing cases of femicide, FeesMustFall naked protests, and the EndRapeCulture movement in many universities. A great deal of feminist literature has been written to challenge the status quo, allow for contestation and powerful […]

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South Africa has witnessed unprecedented infringements of liberty, particularly that of women and young girls. Women’s Month comes after a wave of increasing cases of femicide, FeesMustFall naked protests, and the EndRapeCulture movement in many universities.

A great deal of feminist literature has been written to challenge the status quo, allow for contestation and powerful lessons, to realise the importance of self-sufficiency, and to pose a question to practices which may threaten individual freedom and fulfillment. I have selected some of this literature to review in this article.

Dissatisfied with the way women are portrayed by male authors, these selected writers have exposed various forms of authoritarianism and subordination as well as mapped ways to overcome them. These books encapsulate human efforts for the imperatives of survival and women’s citizenship. Suffice to concede that these texts set a feminist agenda par excellence through the development of a feminist voice and female emancipation, as is evidenced by the characters in the books. These creative arts do not merely seek to entertain the audience; they are intended to trigger, to educate and appraise the institutions and practices that may hinder the both individual men and women’s prosperity.

Changes: A Love Story, novel by Ama Ata Aidoo (1991)

Ama Ata Aidoo‘s Changes dissects the theme of marital rape, which compounds the issue of male sexual dominance, as it actualises and expresses the distinctive power of men over women.

The concept of marital rape is quite new in the African lexicon. Asare-Kumi reminds us that it “names a probable situation women face in their various marriages but are unable to name or afraid to speak about since sexual intercourse is the prerogative of [a] man”. In her writing, one of the characters, Esi, is in deep thought on how to deal with this, as it is evident that such an idea does not exist in any of the indigenous languages. One cannot understand what one cannot name; that which has no name does not exist. Hence there is no synonym for marital rape in traditional African contexts. Through this appraisal, the writer questions men‘s sexual dominance attempts over women‘s sexual independence. The point that Aidoo intends to drive home is that a woman has a right to do as she pleases with her body, and does not require permission from anyone else.

Aidoo‘s novel does not conceal the dilemma of women’s professional advancement in relation to their personal lives. This is better articulated when Fusena abandons her studies and career ambitions in pursuit of becoming a full-time wife and mother, which in essence allows her husband more room to focus on his burgeoning career.

At the end of the book Aidoo expresses an obvious concern – that society is not ready for an assertive, strong-willed and educated woman. Even though Esi’s economic independence and courage to take charge of her life is commendable, she is on the receiving end of strong criticism from both her family and her husband’s for eschewing her role as a mother since African society does not favour the neglect of constructivist roles as a woman.

Purple Hibiscus, novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)

More recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote Purple Hibiscus. In it, she draws on the theme of domestic violence and silence.

On many occasions, Eugene beats his wife and children when his wife Beatrice fails to obey his orders. Eugene resorts to violence as a punitive measure, and Beatrice miscarriages as a result. When his children share a room with a heathen, they boiling water is poured on their feet.

The legitimate form of power Eugene wields (as head of the family and as a provider) heralds his will over his family. According to Foucault (1983) “… the mechanisms of power enables certain persons to exercise power over others.” It is with this in mind that one learns that Beatrice has become accustomed to her husband‘s violent behaviour, therefore, she remains stoic. Whenever a fight ensues between Eugene and his daughter Kambili, Beatrice pleads with her husband to stop. This is indicative of the glaring power structures in an institution such as marriage.

Through the relationship between Eugene, his wife, and children, Adichie examines the complicity between power and oppression. The employment of violence is a mechanism designed to help keep women ‘in place‘ and discourage them from challenging patriarchy. Eugene Achike‘s violent endeavours is a reflection of how some men as heads of families resort to violence in an attempt to enforce obedience from their families. Adichie puts forward an important theme of female education to raise women‘s consciousness and independence, a theme aptly expressed by many writers such Aidoo in Changes where Esi‘s economic self-sufficiency because of her education always allowed her to move away from her matrimonial home, when marriage became inimical to her human progress.

The Joys of Motherhood, novel by Buchi Emecheta (1979)

Emecheta provides an incisive yet alluring excavation on the theme of men and masculinity.

As she articulates, manhood in a traditional Ibo society is a privileged position. As a man you are entitled to polygamy and the man benefits through his wives’ labour. Consequentially, it becomes the man‘s responsibility to bear male heirs who will carry the family‘s bloodline. If a man is infertile, albeit concealed to protect him from public ridicule, his manhood is in question.

The more children a man has, the greater he has achieved and is extolled.

There are other privileges that are associated with this achievement, such as drinking palm wine and being installed at the peak of the social food chain. But according to Emecheta‘s writing, traditional culture evolves as a result of colonialism. Ultimately the main character, Nnaife, finds solitude in his progenies and feels like his wives have mistreated him. Emecheta’s book is an oblique to recognition of choice as an instrument to freedom.

Should you buy these books? Most certainly; not because they are insightful, but call for changing perceptions and seeing women as a powerful and human social group. These books, most importantly, birth a project of writing and righting women’s narratives.

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On St John’s, Panyaza Lesufi, the Rule of Law, and Private Education in South Africa https://rationalstandard.com/st-johns-lesufi-rule-of-law-private-education/ https://rationalstandard.com/st-johns-lesufi-rule-of-law-private-education/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2017 14:39:52 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5925 Education certainly ranks as one of the most contentious political topics in contemporary South African discourse. We not only have one of the worst education systems in the world, but education is so politicized that it is difficult to have a serious discussion about the topic in the first place without someone being deeply triggered. […]

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Education certainly ranks as one of the most contentious political topics in contemporary South African discourse. We not only have one of the worst education systems in the world, but education is so politicized that it is difficult to have a serious discussion about the topic in the first place without someone being deeply triggered.

The recent controversy at St John’s College in Johannesburg is the most recent manifestation of this.

To cut a long story short: A geography teacher made racist remarks directed at some of the pupils in his classroom. Whether this happened over an extended period of time or not is unclear; however, late last month this burst onto the public scene.

The teacher was investigated by St John’s, which found him guilty and demoted him, and gave him a final warning. This was not enough to satiate public outrage, and the Private Education Terminator, Panyaza Lesufi, was called in. After having a discussion with school management, God-King Lesufi declared that he was disappointed, irritated, and felt that he was being undermined by the school. According to him, St John’s was defending racism, and set a deadline that the teacher be fired later that same day… or else.

The teacher quickly resigned before Lesufi’s deadline.

Setting the scene: Yes, the teacher should have been disciplined

Before the obligatory accusations of bigotry come flying my way, let me be clear about my opinion about authoritarianism in schools.

As a libertarian I am often grouped with ‘conservatives’, which is unfortunately part of the baggage our movement gets from its American associates. When it comes to schooling, I am certainly anything but ‘conservative’.

I labored through twelve years of primary and secondary education, hating every waking second of it.

The very institution of school, to me, seems to beget conflict. If you are a minute late to school, there is conflict. If you want to go to the bathroom at an inconvenient time for the teacher, there is conflict. If you are unable to do the petty homework assigned to you because you had other, more important tasks to attend to, there is conflict. If you aren’t clean-shaven or your earrings are ‘too large,’ there is conflict. If you decide to go home early, knowing that your final period teacher is absent and your class is expected to simply ‘wait out’ the last hour of school under supervision, there is conflict.

Of course, the education system calls this discipline, when, in fact, it is simply petty conflict in a deeply and unnecessarily-authoritarian environment. School sucks, and the paradigm according to which schools operate, must fundamentally change for it to be considered a proper part of the liberal Western civilization founded on reason and freedom.

In that light, do I feel sympathy toward the geography teacher who was fired? No; none at all.

SEE ALSO: Doekgate: Keep Calm and Think by Martin van Staden

He was complicit in a system that makes school attendance compulsory, meaning that each and every pupil in his class had absolutely no choice but to be there. This, in turn, means that the pupils have to endure whatever he decides they have to endure, including his classless racist ‘jokes.’ I would have felt more sympathy for him if pupils were allowed, like customers in every other sector of society, to simply stand up, leave his classroom, and go home. But they couldn’t, and he knew this.

Public vs private: Panyaza Lesufi should mind his own business

But my opinion that St John’s College should have taken action against the teacher is not a policy statement. It is my opinion, and had I been a parent, it is the course of action I would have demanded, in addition to demanding various other reforms which would give my child the freedom to escape the environment which he by law must submit to.

Policy is a different beast, however, and in policy, the key question is whether the school is a public, taxpayer-funded school, or a private, voluntarily-funded school.

If the school is taxpayer-funded, my opinion is scripture. Why? Because at the end of every month when my paycheck is processed, and every time I purchase something, that school gets my money without me having a choice in the matter. And, because I believe firmly in the adage that he who pays, says, if St John’s were a public school, whatever I demand must, rightly, happen. How this is to be squared with the wishes of other taxpayers is not my concern, since I don’t endorse the system of public schooling. If this principle means public schools are impossible to run, then I stand firmly and happily by it.

But if the school is private, and funded entirely, without subsidy, by the customers of that school, my opinion is devoid of any consequence. Because I don’t pay, I don’t get to say. I may condemn something the school does, but my words and deeds do not carry with them an intrinsic force which must properly be complied with. The school can do as it pleases, insofar it does not violate the inalienable right of the parents and children to opt out of the school if they wish to do so.

Panyaza Lesufi, who is Gauteng’s Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education, has been on a personal crusade against private primary and secondary education, just like his colleague Blade Nzimande in national government has been on a crusade against private tertiary education, for years. It is as if these two individuals live in a different South Africa than the rest of us; a South Africa where education is so great that we actually have the luxury of squabbling over their ideological preferences.

This crusade is largely unconstitutional and violates the Rule of Law. The Constitution gives everyone the right to create their own educational institutions, including schools, universities, and their curricula. The only constitutional regulation of those institutions is they may not discriminate based on race, and their standards must be equal to or superior to that of public institutions. The third ‘requirement’ is that the institution must be registered with the State, but it is reasonable to say that the State is obliged to register the institution if it adheres to the other two requirements. The Rule of Law, on the other hand, demands that all government conduct be reasonable, i.e. not arbitrary.

St John’s, Lesufi, and the Rule of Law

Lesufi said he felt disappointed, irritated, and undermined by St John’s response to the matter, and demanded that the school, on that very same day, do what he commanded, or else.

The Rule of Law is often distinguished from the ‘rule of man’, which means that the passions and opinions of our rulers are what govern our day to day lives. The Rule of Law demands that law, which is regular and largely fixed, informed by steadfast legal principles, govern.

All government conduct must be rational, meaning that the intervention must be connected with a legitimate government purpose (those enumerated functions in the Constitution), must be reasonable, meaning that there must be evidence-based, non-ideological, legal justification for the intervention, must be proportional, meaning that the intervention solves the mischief and does no more, and must be effective, meaning the intervention must actually be reasonably capable of achieving its stated end.

St John’s, being a private school, instituted its own disciplinary process against the teacher. It punished that teacher by demoting him, cutting his salary, and giving him a final warning, meaning that any new violations will result in his immediate dismissal. Then Panyaza Lesufi rode in on his high horse, deemed the process to be disappointing and irritating, and that it apparently undermined him as the God-King of Education in Gauteng, and declared it essentially null and void. He replaced it, on the spot, without due process, with his own preference for how the situation should have been resolved. In other words, he acted arbitrarily, and his conduct was informed solely by his passions and ideology, rather than the age-old principles of the Rule of Law.

Of course, my detractors might claim that St John’s was under no obligation to comply with Lesufi’s commands, and could have violated his deadline and taken whatever legal course followed.

While this is true in a Rule of Law-respecting society, in South Africa, this is dangerous and suicidal for any private school. As the MEC for Education, Lesufi is the monarch of the fiefdom of education regulation in Gauteng. ‘Disappointing’, ‘irritating’, and ‘undermining’ him is like disappointing, irritating, and undermining the father-figure in a deeply conservative household; you are going to lose that battle.

Other than taking St John’s to court, knowing that our courts do not shy away from intervention in the affairs of private schools and thereby setting a dangerous precedent, Lesufi could simply have engaged in regulatory bullying. Need your teachers certified? Nope. Need your course certifications renewed? Not today. Want to engage in activities with public schools in Gauteng? Better luck next time.

Conclusion

Getting on your regulatory master’s bad side in a society like South Africa’s is the death-knell of any private institution. In America, this is not the case, because the extent of government’s control over what happens privately is not nearly as deep as it is here. There, companies can openly criticize regulators and politicians, knowing that their property and interests do not depend on their goodwill with the political class. This has never been the case in South Africa; certainly not under Apartheid, and certainly not now.

Clarity of thought is extremely important when it comes to education in South Africa.

Professor Sarah Nuttall, who is evidently an ideologue for social justice, is certainly not part of the rational and clear discourse needed in matters of education. She and people like her seek only to fuel the outrage culture which will lead to further arbitrariness, and consequently further unnecessary caution among entrepreneurs who wish to establish private educational institutions, and finally, the ultimate destruction of primary and secondary education in South Africa for everyone.

If it is still unclear that our last hope resides with private innovation and enterprise, as it evidently is to Nuttall, it might be time to fundamentally reassess our trust in the institution of government.

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Lwazi Lushaba and the Black Schema: A Response https://rationalstandard.com/lwazi-lushaba-and-the-black-schema-a-response/ https://rationalstandard.com/lwazi-lushaba-and-the-black-schema-a-response/#comments Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:17:29 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5857 “I tell them (first year Political Science students), there is no possibility of friendship between you as a Black person and you as a White person.” Lwazi Lushaba, Lecture on the Black Schema Anyone following the decolonisation movement in South Africa will almost certainly have heard of the University of Cape Town political sciences lecturer, […]

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“I tell them (first year Political Science students), there is no possibility of friendship between you as a Black person and you as a White person.”

Lwazi Lushaba, Lecture on the Black Schema

Anyone following the decolonisation movement in South Africa will almost certainly have heard of the University of Cape Town political sciences lecturer, Dr. Lwazi Lushaba. A very knowledgeable and charismatic educator, it is not surprising that he is popular amongst fallists and other ‘decolonalists’. This combination of expertise and the ability to translate that knowledge in a manner accessible to first year students is very rare.

A lecture was recently posted online where Lushaba drew on the work of South African psychologist, Chubani Manganyi, in particular his 1973 work, Being-Black  in the World. The lecture is fairly long and I can’t address all of it in a short article, but I would recommend readers view the lecture for themselves. However, I will be addressing a particular theme present in the talk, namely, the matter of the ‘Black Schema’.

Lushaba makes the argument that a person’s conceptualisation of themselves and in particular, their bodies, is drawn from two sources.  First, a Personal Schema that one develops when younger and then a Sociological Schema as one ages. The Personal Schema is a representation of how we perceive ourselves, while the Sociological Schema is based on stereotypical notions of how we ought to be. It is imposed on the person from the outside. This Sociological Schema forms a type of ‘purity test’, in other words, it determines whether we are ‘good enough’. Lushaba goes on to argue that for black people, the Sociological Schema is highly prejudiced in such a way, that it negates whatever Personal Schema the person has.

In turn this creates a kind of existential crisis, where the black body is no longer considered good enough, as it cannot conform to the ‘white’ standards imposed by the Sociological Schema. On the other hand, white people do not suffer from this problem or conflict of representation as the Sociological Schema is being informed by ‘white’ standards. In other words, there is no conflict between their Personal and Sociological schemas, thus ensuring that whites cannot be inflicted by this schematic dissonance. Meanwhile, black people are alienated from their own bodies. In many ways, this is an echo of earlier work by Frantz Fanon.

This alienation causes black people to disconnect from their own bodies; their bodies are not ‘good enough’ as they are not ‘white enough’. An ‘existential vacuum’ is formed where they experience profound anxiety and despair over their bodies.

Whites, meanwhile, are spared this fundamental dissatisfaction with their bodies. Lushaba goes on to hypothesise that having a strong traditional culture on which to fall back on acts as a potent resource to protect oneself from the inevitable assault of the Black Schema.

What struck me about the lecture is that Lushaba provides no substantive evidence for the Black Schema theory. Manganyi too, provides limited evidence. This does make it somewhat difficult to assess the validity of the theory. However, there are alternative sources that can be examined.

Epidemiological Data

If Manganyi’s theory is correct, then one can hypothesise that this clash of schemas will lead to a greater incidence of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – where the patient is harmed by recurring obsessions about faults with his or her body. However, the data on BDD does not support this idea in the slightest.

In fact, even in the United States, where the condition has been most widely studied, white people are more likely than African Americans to suffer from BDD. Likewise, allied disorders like bulimia and anorexia, where the sufferer has distorted body schemas leading to disrupted eating patterns, again, white people are overwhelmingly more likely to suffer from these disorders.

This clearly runs counter to Manganyi’s Black Schema theory. If anything, the data suggest that if a Sociological Schema of the body did exist, then it would be most incompatible with white people rather than black people.

Another issue, although Lushaba doesn’t mention this, is a case study that Manganyi cites. In it, he outlines a case where a woman develops depression as a consequence of divorce and subsequent stress of financial difficulties. Strangely, Manganyi is surprised at this as he states that ‘neurotic’ disorders are a problem of the wealthy. Again, population data doesn’t support this idea at all. In fact, wealth is a protective factor against depression. A combination of financial difficulties and social stressors (such as divorce, bereavement) are almost universally considered risk factors for depression. Seminal work by Richard Rahe, for instance, puts divorce second only to the death of a spouse as a major life stressor. Financial difficulties also rate highly. A Black Schema hasn’t caused this case of depression, but rather stressful life events; in this case, divorce.

Manganyi’s own case study, thus, in no way supports the Black Schema hypothesis.

Experimental Evidence

Lushaba argues that the Personal Schema is formed first, and then we come to clash with a Sociological Schema. This, in turn, leads to a kind of cognitive dissonance in the case of the black population.

Well known research from as far back as the 1940s has demonstrated that black children have a preference for light-skinned dolls. Now, you may think that this is a ‘gotcha’ moment – proof positive of the Sociological Schema that holds whites up as the standard of ‘purity’ and denigration of blacks.

Not quite.

The same evidence also supports two other important facts. First, the racial bias is only found in children aged four to five. Before this, their schemas are so badly constructed due to underdeveloped cognitive abilities, that they cannot even reliably identify their own race. A typical two year old will claim they most look like a white doll one day and a black doll the next. However, by the age of seven, virtually no such biased thinking exists. For instance, when asked which colour they would prefer, seven year olds tend to answer with their own skin colour. A recent study in 2016 found that only 15% of black seven-to-ten year olds preferred a white-coloured skin, and likewise, just 14% of white children wanted darker skin.

This suggests that rather than a Personal Schema forming first which is then supplanted by a Sociological Schema, the opposite happens. We are initially incapable of cognitively forming a coherent racial schema, we then internalise a racially-distorting schema, but by the age of seven, we are cognitively capable of in turn form our own unbiased Personal Schema – which the evidence suggests we do.

Case History

One critique that a reader might throw at me is that I make use of very reductive data sets; maybe the use thereof is ineffective at identifying more nuanced psychological phenomena. In other words, the form of evidence is inappropriate.

So, to remedy this issue, I shall explore the work of Eastern Cape clinical psychologist, Ntombizanele Yibe-Booi, who conducted an in-depth case study of a Xhosa traditional healer (Igqirha) by the name of Nomzi Hlathi. What is interesting about this study is that Nomzi appears to have developed what Western psychology would refer to as early-onset schizophrenia. Of course, as one would imagine, Nomzi’s account is framed in a very particular cultural vocabulary. Nomzi Hlathi is what might be described as a ‘Red’ Xhosa, in other words, someone who is very much bound up in a traditional Xhosa worldview. In fact, she has a ‘double dose’ of this – she is initially brought up very traditionally, but later has a second dose as she goes through the formal training of becoming an Igqirha.

On one hand, this worldview provides a very clear and meaningful framework which to she uses to interpret her experiences. However, what is quite striking about the case is that a) the course of the disorder is identical to that of Westernised patients, for instance, the symptoms are not only identical (even down to lack of self-care), but their course of emergence is the same. b) Importantly, the underlying social dynamics are the same; just as her Westernised counterparts, she is at various points in her childhood and adulthood stigmatised by the community because of her symptoms. Despite a shared cultural framework, they find her symptoms bizarre and attempt to isolate her. c) Her family also become very anxious and fearful around her, at one point; her grandmother beats her out of fear. d) Even the trigger of the disorder, namely parental divorce, is common to early-onset schizophrenia in the West.

Having a double dose of cultural capital doesn’t appear to provide any real buffer in terms of the onset, course and social dynamics of the disorder. Sure, it changes the vocabulary and terms of reference, but being immersed in a traditional culture doesn’t seem to provide a better or for that matter, a worse coping resource.

Again, this goes against the Black Schema hypothesis, as Lushaba posits that a traditional culture automatically provides additional resources to draw upon, thus protecting against harmful stressors.

The case of Nomzi Hlathi suggests it makes little difference in real terms.

Conclusion

Due to the supposed systematic nature of the Black Schema hypothesis, it would seem that epidemiological data would tie in closely and support it. Instead, it clearly demonstrates the opposite.  Likewise, experimental work and case histories also confound the hypothesis.

While Lushaba provides a compelling narrative, the evidence is just too thin on the ground to buy into the hypothesis. If such a thing as the Black Schema exists in any way, it can’t be systematic.

Towards the end of the lecture, Dr. Lushaba added a sting in the tale. He argued that because of the existence of the Black Schema, whites and blacks cannot possibly be friends.

If the Black Schema hypothesis is false, surely that means we can all just be friends?

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Opposing Decolonization Means White Supremacy? Hold Your Horses, Social Justice Warriors! https://rationalstandard.com/opposing-decolonization-means-white-supremacy-hold-horses-social-justice-warriors/ https://rationalstandard.com/opposing-decolonization-means-white-supremacy-hold-horses-social-justice-warriors/#comments Tue, 18 Jul 2017 01:04:15 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=5789 “Social justice writer and blogger” Luke Waltham recently wrote an article for The Daily Vox titled, “Those who are against decolonisation are white supremacists”. The average reader whose mind is not clouded by preconceived, prejudiced, and collectivist notions of what people think by virtue of being of a certain race, would immediately notice the problematic […]

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“Social justice writer and blogger” Luke Waltham recently wrote an article for The Daily Vox titled, “Those who are against decolonisation are white supremacists”. The average reader whose mind is not clouded by preconceived, prejudiced, and collectivist notions of what people think by virtue of being of a certain race, would immediately notice the problematic thesis put forward in the title. Indeed, the title is enough to reject the entire article outright, as any argument which proceeds from such flawed premises would always also be flawed in and of itself.

However, given that I am not a philosopher, I have entertained Waltham’s short rant, and, even after reading the whole piece, I have arrived at the same conclusion.

Waltham’s entire article is one, big strawman argument, wherein he not only misrepresents the very valid arguments against so-called ‘decolonization’, but he ignores them entirely. Other than being a strawman, the entire article is also a non sequitur argument, in that his conclusion does not follow from what he attempted to argue. Let’s take his piece apart.

“The reality of the decolonisation debate, and the views argued, is that there is an exceptional amount of ignorance and lack of understanding from the majority of those who argue against it.”

This first excerpt was presumably inserted by a Vox editor.

So, according to this editor, opponents of decolonization are ignorant and don’t understand the concept. Sure, that’s one view. But based on this, how can Waltham later conclude that opponents of decolonization are ‘white supremacists’? Would a Zulu be considered racist if he were unable to speak French to Frenchmen? Would an extra-terrestrial alien be speciest if they were unable to make heads or tails of English literature? No? Then how can someone be a ‘white supremacist’ if they fail to understand decolonization?

They can’t.

White supremacy is the notion that the white race is superior to all others. It does not depend upon an understanding or lack thereof of concepts which emanate from the social justice left. A true white supremacist would be a white supremacist regardless of whether or not they understood the notion of decolonization. And those who aren’t white supremacists cannot be called white supremacists if their only error is not understanding.

“If someone were to ask you for the name of a well-known black scientist, professor or academic, you would most probably find yourself stuck, unable to answer.”

This is true, although there are some notable exceptions. Walter E. Williams, author of South Africa’s War Against Capitalism, is a brilliant black academic. Thomas Sowell, who once remarked that he is not a ‘professional black man’ but rather a professional economist, is a similar brilliant mind, who many within libertarian circles regard as virtually unmatched.

The lack of notable black scientists, professors or academics, however, has nothing to do with decolonization, unless one argues that ideas are racial.

Decolonization, as Waltham later defines it, is about opposing “the notion that our society and our education system should be based solely off of Eurocentric ideas.” I agree with this definition.

Why, then, is the race of these intellectuals questioned? Waltham, a white man, is a proponent of decolonization. Presumably if he were to become a law lecturer and later a legal intellectual, he would incorporate the ideas of decolonization into his work. Would he not qualify as part of the decolonization movement, then?

Thomas Sowell – a radical capitalist and individualist – is a black economist who would likely oppose decolonization with all the fiber of his being. Does he, however, qualify as an academic who is black? Or will he be discounted because his ideas don’t line up with the narrative?

Clearly, confusing race and ideas is problematic, and social justice warriors carry on doing it regardless. To them, as we know, being ‘black’ is not a matter of skin color, but a mentality. (This same rule does not apply to whites, however. If you are white, you are cursed with it for life.)

“The first ignorant, white supremacist response would be, ‘Yes, that’s because all the best inventions, discoveries and ideas have come from Europe and the West.’ This, of course, is wrong.”

Waltham continues to confuse ideas and race. Thinking that the best ideas have tended to come from the West does not make one a ‘white supremacist’. Thomas Sowell and his ideas are a product of the West. Does my belief that Sowell’s economic ideas and analysis are vastly superior to that of his peers in Africa make me a white supremacist? Surely not.

But Waltham also confuses ideas and geography.

“Europe” is a place; “the West” is not. The West is an intellectual tradition – or, at least, that is what it became. Sowell is a Westerner, but not a European. I am a Westerner, but not a European. Half of my black lecturers at university were Westerners, but not Europeans. My 98% black colleagues at African Students For Liberty in West and East Africa are Westerners, but not Europeans.

I agree with Waltham, however, that it’s ignorant to attribute ‘the best ideas’ to Europe. Communism, Critical Theory, Critical Feminist Theory, and Critical Race Theory are all products of Europe, after all. And yes, it would be ignorant and, indeed, white supremacist for someone to claim that the best ideas come from whites. But that is rarely said by any serious intellectual. It’s a strawman.

“Regardless, it is extremely important that as an African state and as people living in Africa, we oppose the notion that our society and our education system should be based solely off of Eurocentric ideas.”

I agree on the point about Eurocentrism, and that is why I have dedicated my life to fighting against Marxism, lite socialism, and Critical Race Theory – all products of Europe.

But Waltham’s argument that ‘as’ an African state and ‘as’ people living in Africa, we should follow a particular mode of thinking, is silly, dangerous, and totalitarian. As an individual, I will think according to whatever system I choose. If Waltham’s argument is that we should not impose these systems of thought on our children, then I agree. I am a big proponent of privatizing education and giving education firms and individual schools the ability to decide for themselves what they will teach. Ditto universities. I would love it if students could tick ‘Afrocentric,’ ‘Eurocentric’, or ‘Westocentric’ on their university application forms.

Waltham, of course, is not arguing for that, and I suspect he is likely a big fan of state-provided education. In other words, he wants to force kids as well as university students to learn according to an imposed curriculum with no real choice in the matter. So what he and other proponents of decolonization propose is no less authoritarian than what we currently have, and what they claim they are fighting against.

“Instead, we need to create an inclusive, open system that composes of African ideas, African education and African knowledge.”

Yep – authoritarian, but also doublespeak.

An “inclusive, open system” but that imposes “African ideas, African education and African knowledge”? How exactly is it open and inclusive if I have no choice in the matter?

“It is nonsensical to argue that there is nothing we can gain from integrating African knowledge and education.”

Another strawman argument. Nobody has seriously argued against integrating African knowledge and education where it is relevant. Teaching African philosophers alongside European and Asian philosophers is a great idea. Replacing European philosophers with African philosophers in the curriculum is, however, not such a great idea.

What is important at the end of the day is a diversity of ideas, not of origins and races.

“Our society needs to deconstruct systems of white supremacy and instead, uplift and equalise the ideas, knowledge and sciences of both black and white people. “

Quite, but let’s not ‘deconstruct’ those things which are not “systems of white supremacy”. In South Africa, we are fortunate that all of our systems of white supremacy – collectively known as ‘Apartheid’ – have already been deconstructed.

Of course, Waltham and company will argue that capitalism and a host of other ideas are part of ‘white supremacy’, which really makes his entire article irrelevant. He might as well have simply said: “Only those who agree with a certain ideology are good, and the rest are white supremacists.”

Lastly, ‘ideas’ cannot be ‘uplifted’ and should certainly not be ‘equalized’. An idea has no dignity – it cannot be offended or harmed, so it doesn’t need to be ‘uplifted’ or ’empowered’. You can advocate for a certain idea, but that idea has no independent right of existence. If people like the idea, they will accept it. If not, they won’t. And ideas are certainly not equal nor are they supposed to be. The ‘idea’ that a woman need not consent to sexual intercourse for it to be fine is not equal to the idea that consent is imperative. Ideas should be debated and argued on their own merits – not abstractly ‘equalized’.

Conclusion

The non sequitur in Waltham’s article should be evident.

It does not follow that favoring Western thinking equals ‘white supremacy’. It does not follow that being a black person means one supports decolonization. It does not follow that integrating African knowledge means imposing it on people. It does not follow that ‘deconstructing’ white supremacy means deconstructing everything the social justice warrior disagrees with.

Similarly, Waltham attacked a strawman. Virtually nobody has campaigned to exclude the ideas developed in Africa from education. What people have opposed, however, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Let’s find a compromise. Those universities and schools which want to ‘Africanize’ ideologically should be allowed to do so. Those universities and schools which want to ‘Westernize’ ideologically should be allowed to do so. Those which want a perfect 50/50 balance should be allowed to do so. This, however, means that government needs to lose its monopoly on education and allow the people to decide for themselves in the open marketplace.

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