General

Violence will not do it

Almost three weeks ago, Americans commemorated the fifteenth anniversary of the event that has had a decisive impact on global politics ever since: 9/11. Three years later, in 2004, Judith Butler published a book entitled Precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. I didn’t read this book at the time of its publication. The…

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We can fund higher education without it being free

For some time now, I have been concerned with how tertiary education is funded in South Africa and called for the matter to be reviewed with urgency on numerous occasions as we were sitting on a ticking time bomb. It seems that bomb may have exploded.   Having said that, this isn’t a simple challenge…

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#FeesMustFall is unravelling SA’s founding pact

Post-1994 South Africa is founded on the principle of progressive access to privilege. This principle implies that those in the suburbs will continue to live there while those in shacks will be progressively admitted into the ranks of those with houses and amenities. It also implies that those that earn decent salaries will continue to…

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Black rage: Does anger justify the means?

“If you do not approve of our methods and tactics of protest, then you are neither with us nor are you for our cause.” This slogan sets a pre-condition for solidarity with a struggle. It requires that one accepts, in good faith, the methods used to advance a struggle. This pre-condition exposes a weaponised logic…

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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 ANC must undergo creative destruction to re-invent itself and survive

In business when sales and profits over time progressively decline it means, among other key things, that the erosion of the brand has set in and usually the task of rebuilding it can be very challenging and disruptive. But it also means that the problems that caused the decline must first be fixed before the…

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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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Sophie’s Choice

Fathers’ Day is fast looming and for this first-time grandfather the excitement is overwhelming. Surely grandfathers deserve grand presents? How will little Sophie know what to get me? Will it be a loathsome pair of socks or a new laptop computer? If I’m disappointed, how should I react to avoid a repeat next year? Do…

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A Buzz, a Whiz, a Cloud of Dust..

“A buzz, a whiz, a cloud of dust, A wild blood-curdling yell, A ghastly object floating by, Then silence – and a smell!” (Poem on the early days of motoring – source unknown) It’s sad how, as cars have become more sophisticated, motoring has become less adventurous. Modern cars are quiet, smooth, fast, comfortable and,…

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Is Eskom trying to lock us in? If so, we need to break free

A stunning new study recently came out from the Centre for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). It demonstrated that by far the lowest cost option for providing energy to South Africa is to pursue a renewable energy future. This bright new reality, created by the rapid progress in clean energy technologies, provides “sun-drenched and wind-rich” South…

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