Bert Olivier

Of ancestors, shoot the boer and muti

A discourse analysis of utterances by members of the ANC yields interesting results. By discourse analysis here I mean an analysis of linguistic practices through a focus on the link between linguistic meaning and the power relations such linguistic practices serve. First, the ANC’s persistence in defending their right to sing the liberation song containing…

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The ambiguity at the heart of the concept ‘liberal’

The history of politics, or of political struggle and political change, can at least partly be understood in light of the tension between two of the three constituent concepts comprising the battle cry of the French Revolution, triggered by the storming of the Bastille in 1789: “Liberty, equality, fraternity!” There is an irreducible tension between…

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On UFOs and (psychogenic) perception

The recent declassification of previously secret documents by the FBI, and the availability of these on their so-called Vault website, have given the public access to, among others, the documents pertaining to the UFO “incident” at Roswell in the US, dating back to 1947. The incident in question involves, not merely sightings of “flying discs”…

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Human health: On corporate (ir-)responsibility and manganese

Should the public tolerate instances of irresponsible behaviour on the part of corporations or companies where the handling of substances that are potentially harmful to human health is concerned? Most people would agree that the obvious answer is NO – especially judging by most of the responses to recent TL-articles on prospects of “fracking” for…

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Shoot the boer: Is meaning ever conclusive?

In the course of reading some of the reports on Julius Malema’s hate speech trial, it struck me that there was something that was woefully absent from the evidence — pro as well as contra — given in its course. At the outset I should stress that I have not attended the trial, and that…

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Some lessons for ecological sustainability

Last night I was privileged to listen to naturalist and film-maker David Attenborough (famous brother of the equally famous Richard Attenborough) who is visiting South Africa. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of (natural) Science at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Sir David, who drew sufficient people to fill five venues, in four…

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David Harvey on the recent financial crisis

In his recent book, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (2010), David Harvey — Distinguished Professor at City University of New York and one of the world’s most cited thinkers — puts paid to any idea that anyone may have had, that the most recent global financial crisis, that started in 2008…

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The tsunami in Japan: Reality versus simulation

In an age when sophisticated new technologies enable engineers, architects, medical doctors, physicists and molecular biologists to simulate virtually everything that their respective disciplines pertain to, from building designs to protein molecules, the Japanese tsunami comes as a cruel reminder that there is, after all, something real out there. And this “something” sometimes behaves in…

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Do you get me?

Protest on the part of the citizens of a country is a way of making their displeasure or grievances known to governing authorities, whether these have been elected or occupy their positions by inheritance, as it were, in the case of royalty. In the case of despots abusing their governing positions beyond the level of…

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Our society of constant (self-) evaluation

If anyone ever wondered what Foucault’s description of modern, “disciplined” society as one structured by “hierarchical observation”, “normalising judgement” and the “examination” amounts to in contemporary terms, they should read Renata Salecl’s intriguing book, Choice (2010). Salecl provides a reconstruction of the social scene of today in which one can inscribe Foucault’s insights, in the…

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