Bert Olivier

The feeling of living in a ‘dystopian’ present

You know that you are living in a “dystopian” or “degraded” era when virtually everything around you emits unmistakable signs that, whatever the underlying reasons might be, instead of signs of hope for a better future, those that signal a future we should perhaps fear (and perhaps feel guilty about), are slowly but surely accumulating….

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The REAL task of decolonisation

Too few people seem to take the work of those two inimitably emancipatory thinkers, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, seriously. And I am not talking about those nit-picking academics who engage with them at an analytic level to argue about whether they got Marx right, or Foucault, or Deleuze, and so on. What I mean…

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A promising PhD-student’s take on the so-called ‘Zupta’- phenomenon

What follows here is a piece by one of my and Prof. Pieter Duvenage’s graduate students, Casper Lötter, who is a PhD-candidate in Social Philosophy at the University of the Free State – it first appeared in the Weekend Post on 5 November: ‘In a recent and valuable contribution, Raymond Suttner asks, “What is the…

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Why one should NOT vote for Trump in America this Tuesday

There are many reasons why voters in the United States should not vote for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, on Tuesday, November 8. These include the fact that he has, on several occasions, shown himself to have a questionable attitude towards women, and generally towards a variety of minority groups in America, at a time…

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Personality differences across the world

When you travel a lot, as we do, to different parts of the world, encountering people from widely divergent cultures, one might think that you would also come across personalities widely different from those you find in your own culture. However, experience has taught me that this is not the case, and that the divergences…

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What most South Africans don’t know, but can probably guess

The book by R.W. Johnson that I recently referred to, namely, How Long Will South Africa Survive? – The Looming Crisis (Jonathan Ball, 2015), is giving a lot of people nightmares, I’ll bet. Not only because of the unsustainable cost of the inflated public service, but for a lot of reasons, all set out in…

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What ‘decolonisation’ means: E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India

With all the talk about “decolonising” university curricula (see http://thoughtleader.co.za/bertolivier/2016/03/23/decolonisation-the-new-ideology/), which has again cropped up among the demands of the protesting students, I thought it might be productive to remind students and academic staff alike of one of the most eloquent – in fact, together with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, exemplary – critical literary…

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The unbelievable cost of South Africa’s bloated public sector

South Africa would be significantly more economically viable if it did not have to carry a civil service sector that far exceeds the country’s needs in numerical terms. This is one of the many things one learns from R.W. Johnson’s candid, if sometimes completely disconcerting recent book, How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming…

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Will “Blockadia” help, or “Is Earth F**ked”?

One of the most revealing threads running through Canadian investigative journalist and tireless anti-capitalism activist, Naomi Klein’s rivetting book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), concerns what she terms the “new climate warriors”, or in one word, “Blockadia”. This unlikely-sounding word names a movement which has arisen in the shape…

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The world has become an uncertain and ugly place

Several things I have read recently have impressed upon me that, despite developments (particularly in the field of technology) that are bound to excite some people, in some respects the world has become more uncertain and “ugly” than ever before. To be sure, it has always been uncertain in an existential sense – no one…

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