The Value of Logic
2016 is going to be a difficult year on South African campuses. Already, we have seen unrest at the registration of a few top universities in the country. The University of Pretoria (Tuks) has already gotten its dose of vandalism from protestors intending to shut down the university for various financial reasons. The protestors have gone so far as to say that Tuks is ‘intentionally excluding poor students financially’. Based on this logic, all sports-car dealerships in the Pretoria area should watch out, as angry protestors might try to shut them down for excluding people who can’t afford sports-cars financially.
The Democratic Alliance has recently put up an enormous billboard in Johannesburg which reads ‘More people jobless under Zuma’s ANC and counting…’ followed by a picture of Msholozi himself. In response to this, the ANC accused the DA of being racist. This was notable due to the severe lack of any sort of mention of race whatsoever. One also has to bear in mind that the left has an ever-changing definition of ‘racism’ as a concept. Not too long ago, I was accused of being racist for saying that Xhosa was a more difficult language to learn for an English speaker than Afrikaans.
These are only a handful of incidents during which our population has just been left with a shortage (or complete absence) of logic. This frustrates me greatly as a lack of logic makes meaningful discussion impossible and ultimately is the cause for the backwardness of South Africa. People believe what they want to believe, rather than what is true.
In addition to this, if any view of yours is in dissent, the Critical Theorists of South Africa have convenient ways to shut you down. Martin van Staden wrote in his article about Critical Theory about how logic is now being seen as a Western construct and therefore something to be criticised. When looking at the news and seeing examples such as those in the first two paragraphs, this is not difficult to believe. I will be honest and say that I have yet to encounter a leftist who has openly stated that they have abandoned logic. Nevertheless the real effects of populists who cannot reason are quite frightening and very harmful to society.
But what is logic anyway? We don’t often ask ourselves this question because logic is grounded in our very nature of thinking. Without the ability to reason, our species (and any other species for that matter) would have become extinct a long time ago. It is thanks to logic that our prehistoric ancestors were able to deduce that e.g. eating certain plants would give them enough energy to survive. Even today, we use logical reasoning probably hundreds of times every day. Why call the doctor when we are sick? Logic dictates that the doctor will have the skills to get us better again because he or she has studied medicine for many years. In disagreements and arguments, logic is the standard to which the parties involved try to match. The most logical should be deemed to be the most correct. We don’t think of things in this way because they have become so second-nature to us. These aspects of life are where logic has become ingrained.
When it comes to issues of politics and society, a great problem arises in that the logical thing to do may not be the most pleasant thing to do. It’s when we let our emotions get the better of us that we make bad decisions. As an example, I think the notion of free university tuition in South Africa is a very emotional one. It’s something which sounds so nice and convenient for everyone and so many people are willing to fight for and cause harm to others in doing so.
The problem with abandoning logic here is that you become removed from the reality of the situation. The concept of free tertiary education in South Africa strikes me as being fiscally near-impossible in addition to being horrendously cruel to our small, hardworking tax base. In the hundreds of social media posts I have seen promoting #FeesMustFall, not a single one has addressed the issue of how on earth our handful of taxpayers are supposed to pay for it!
#FeesMustFall is of course, a student movement. What about our government? What about the people who spend our tax money? Well, the depressing reality is that the ANC has proven their logical prowess to be comparable to that of a disgruntled pre-schooler. Let’s take a look at the original statement made by the ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa about the DA’s billboard:
‘Even in that message in [sic] the billboard, its depiction, if nothing else, expresses the character of a racist party. In their narrow view, unemployment in this country is caused by a black government.’
Now let’s dissect this:
Zizi Kodwa is trying to assert that the billboard shows the ‘character of a racist party’ because the DA thinks that unemployment is caused by the government and the only reason for thinking this is that they are a party whose membership is mostly black people. Not only is there not a single shred of evidence to support this psychological analysis, there is also very good reason to think that the DA has other, non-racial reason to think that the ANC has caused a surge in unemployment. Kodwa seems to have conveniently ignored this more likely possibility and jumped to nice and convenient ad hominem attack typical of their political standpoint. There is no reason to think that the billboard is racist and plenty reason to think that it isn’t. This is very illogical. Remember, this is the spokesperson of the ruling political party.
It is now likely that you will come across all sorts of people from various movements who are gaining support despite them having a severe lack of rationality. I write this to all the people (especially on campuses this year) who value logic and reason to stop tolerating this nonsense. If our country goes down the path of mindless, unfounded attacks, our country will never prosper. We need to point out fallacious logic where it lies. Make no apology in logically destroying that which is false, yet still accepted as true. Unless the people of this country value the truth over all else, we will never prosper.