Liberal democracy: Roets, Vegter and van Staden

At this point in civilisation’s collapse, I’m tempted to celebrate any attempt to talk about ideas in political and moral theory that are of universal interest. Simultaneously, though, a concern regarding how low my own standards might have sunk leaps out from the idealistic fog.

The topic provoking that thought is something discussed in a recent set of columns in PoliticsWeb and DailyFriend, where Ernst Roets, Ivo Vegter and Martin van Staden debate what liberalism means, in respect of themes such as whether it can accommodate consequences such as negative impacts on individual liberty.

The concern arising from these columns is less that of the dearth of serious critical engagement, but more the prevalence of think-pieces that contribute to stupidity, or at least to filter bubble-driven entrenched views.

Critical Race Theory and the SAIRR

Descendants of the founders of The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) have recently criticised the Institute for straying from their founding principles. While the SAIRR disagrees with Dr Heather Brookes’ (the granddaughter of the founder, Edgar Brookes) assessment, those who read the comments to the first piece would also note that her sentiment is shared by a previous member of their national executive, Prof. Hugh Corder, who resigned in the mid-90s thanks to perceiving this same value-drift occurring even then.

Liberalism doesn’t rule out compassion

There are many things I won’t mention here. If you choose to assume what my views on those things are, go ahead, but if you choose to do so, please realise that you’re simply rolling the dice.

One of those things is speculation regarding the motivations of those who are laying much of KwaZulu Natal and parts of Gauteng to waste in the days following the imprisonment of President Jacob Zuma.

On Zille’s #StayWoke: Go Broke

Helen Zille’s new book, #StayWoke: Go Broke aims to tell us why “South Africa won’t survive America’s Culture Wars”. I read it out of some strange sense of obligation, and perhaps intending to write a review. A short version of the comments below is the one-line review that first came to mind: the book doesn’t say enough to merit any attention.

Coverage of the Muizenberg lockdown protest

Nobody will be surprised to read that journalism leans toward sensationalism in terms of topics chosen for coverage, how topics are covered, and (especially) the headlines chosen to represent that coverage, seeing as the headline is what makes people click through to (maybe) read the story.

South African alcohol bans under Covid lockdown

Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa’s President) reinstated a ban on the sale of alcohol at both restaurants and retail outlets on December 28 2020, and that ban is still in place today, with an end-date to be determined by the whims of the National Coronavirus Command Council.

Trump, Twitter, and freedom of speech

To make my biases clear at the outset, I’ve been appalled at how Donald Trump has been fomenting racism, sexism, and political polarisation ever since he ran for office (he was doing so before, but in a less impactful way).

Storming the Capitol – Trump’s exit won’t fix much

The scenes from the Capitol yesterday, where the process confirming Biden’s status as President-Elect was disrupted by protesters invading the Capitol, made for sad viewing. As do many of the responses to it, immediately as well as nearly a day later.

“Classical Liberalism” and the Institute of Race Relations

Liberalism has always meant different things to different people. I tried to describe what its fundamental principles are, for me, almost exactly five years ago.

Re-reading that piece, the phrase “Iā€™m by and large a ‘classical’ liberal” stands out, because it wasn’t true then, and is absurd now. At that point, I suppose I thought there was more room for social liberalism in the “classical” camp than seems to be the case now.

The (current) metamorphosis of the Democratic Alliance

I realise that most people are focusing on today’s election in the United States (the lizards will win, no matter what!), but I nevertheless wanted to make a few points about South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).